This is a drawing of Sance again, the dragon who used to be a horse. I’m experimenting with color. The castle in the background is the new capitol of Caldhart, after the floods submerged the old city. Our little group of adventurers is having a brief conference on Sance’s back while they go to investigate what’s going on with young king Geoffrey, who has been acting like an ass.
Stuart, shirtless, pulled Diana into the house and up the stairs to the bedroom they’d started in earlier in the evening. There was a faintly musty smell in the room, though the window was still open, and Diana turned around and tugged Stuart towards a different room.
“No, honey, this is where we’re staying for now,” Stuart said, wrapping his arm around her waist and pulling her into the room.
“I don’t want to be in here,” Diana said. Stuart scooped her up under the knees and dumped her without any ceremony on the bed.
“What’s your objection, dear?” Stuart asked, his voice a little short.
Diana was not at all willing to explain that it smelled suspiciously like a place Stuart had been doing things in, so she got up and attempted, once more, to leave the room.
“Look, baby,” Stuart said, blocking the door. Diana whirled and made a beeline for the window, but Stuart came after her, picked her up, and dropped her on the bed again. “Look, we’re staying together. I don’t care how you feel about that right now, Di. We’re together and we’re about to cuddle. Unfortunately I no longer have a shirt, so you’re just going to have to make peace with being against my skin. Do you want to be on top of the blankets or underneath?” Stuart asked, standing beside the bed with his hands on his hips.
“You sleep on the floor, then,” Diana said. Stuart rolled his eyes and got on top of her; she yelped and attempted to struggle free. Stuart trapped her arms and legs and gave her a light kiss.
“Shut up about sleeping apart, Di. It’s not happening. I need to be holding you just in case, so get used to it,” Stuart said.
Diana thought about biting him, but decided he would probably kiss her a lot more if she did. She wanted to ask, ‘In case what?’, but she was pretty sure he was referencing the possibility that she would vanish suddenly, or he would.
“Now tell me what just happened with that naked person,” Stuart said, settling his weight more evenly on top of Diana, who was still shocked enough to hardly feel his much larger body all over her.
“Get off, though,” Diana said. Stuart shook his head and kissed her mouth. “No, really,” Diana said against the muffling touch of his lips. Stuart shook his head in a no and kept on kissing her. Diana sighed with a mixture of frustration and annoyance and Stuart laughed, drawing out of the kiss and nuzzling along her cheek. “What are you laughing at, Stu?” Diana asked, trying to still the pounding of her heart, which appeared to have caught up to the fact that Stuart had been kissing her after the fact.
He was still, to Diana’s disgust, very good at kissing, and he was still, to her fury, touching her in a way that somehow made it feel all right. He was acting more like a teddy bear than a boy squashing her. Diana told herself her body was being stupid, and was a little alarmed to find that her flesh was less revolted by his touch than it ever had been before.
Well, that’s annoying, Diana reflected, as she had been relying on her visceral disgust at Stuart lasting for all eternity.
Stuart had gone on rubbing his face against Diana’s jaw, and she drew in a steadying breath.
“Why did you laugh at me, Stu?” Diana asked again. She was appalled to find that she sounded, once again, like a fond girlfriend. What is wrong with me?! Diana demanded in her mind.
“I was just laughing because you’re sweet and fun, and I like you. I was happy,” Stuart mumbled, shifting in a cozy way on top of her and pressing a kiss against her jaw.
“Stop kissing, Stu,” Diana said, blushing. Stuart shook his head in a no and went on with the most benign necking Diana could imagine anyone had ever given anyone else.
He’s protecting me, Diana thought, and her insides went chilly, though Stuart’s body was very warm on top of her.
“Well, um. What happened with Tiffany is–um,” Diana said, shifting a little and turning her face away. Stuart let out a grumble of satisfaction and licked Diana’s neck. “No licking! That tickles!” Diana squealed, trying without any success to shove Stuart off.
“You’re so cute,” Stuart said, looking down into her eyes. Diana was alarmed to see that he was, once again, looking extremely fond of her.
“Well, thanks. What happened with Tiffany–”
“Do you think I’m cute?” Stuart asked, nuzzling back into the curve of Diana’s neck.
“No. I super hate you, Stu,” Diana said, suppressing the quaver of anger, betrayal, and fear that rose up through her throat. Stuart mumbled happily and kissed her skin again, acting as if she’d said something pleasantly romantic. “I said I hate you,” Diana explained, moving her arms a little.
“Good, baby. I like it when you hate me. That’s good for your heart, I think,” Stuart murmured, letting more of his weight fall on her.
Diana was pretty sure she was about to start bawling for a whole lot of reasons. Stuart lifted up just his face and looked down at her with a perky smile.
“Now explain what happened outside,” Stuart said, looking like a romantic hero who had never done anything wrong in his life.
I hate you, Diana thought, and she was greatly relieved to find that she meant it again.
You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, the hunter’s bonus dad is learning proper war band behavior.