Multilayered Love

BY : NeirahAhrai
Category: +. to F > Fairy Tail
Dragon prints: 3092
Disclaimer: I do not own Fairy Tail, nor the characters from it. They are copyright of Hiro Mashima. This is strictly for entertainment purposes as I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Mutual Trust



Neirah had the most unexpected song stuck in her head, but at least it was something she could bounce her hips to. It had hit her when she was doing the dishes that morning and it had stuck long past cleaning up after supper. She tucked her toddler into bed at his regular hour, and from eight o’clock to nine, she had figured laundry folding would be a good use of her time.


She hummed out into the dusky yard rocking her hips into an elegant pirouette beneath the clothesline. It seemed ever since that song had snuck into her head, she’d been having a fantastic day. She wished she could say the same about her husband though. He’d been sulking around gloomily for the better part of the evening. She tried to pry an answer out of him, about whether work was what was dragging him down, but he wouldn’t specify. Her lips curled into a glum pout as she considered that she might have been the cause.


She gave one of his shirts a shake, took a silent moment to marvel at the sheer size of her husband’s clothes compared to hers, as usual, and then put it in the basket. She had considered she was being too hard on him. She’d been shrugging off even the subtlest displays of intimacy. She figured the more she deprived him of, the faster he’d feel the full effect. And if she was being honest with herself, she really needed him to start feeling to full effect before she lost her mind.


It was a good thing she had that fun little song stuck in her head because if she didn’t, she might start brooding too. She knew they were playing a game, but the game was dragging into the second month. She honestly hadn’t expected that it was possible for her to need her husband as badly as she had begun to need him.


When she first found herself infatuated, the attraction she felt was purely platonic whereas his was far more carnal. That was fine with her. She was so young and new to everything that she had really needed his inspiration and guiding touch the first time they’d laid together. But even after they had, it had taken her a very long time to start to feel a more animal draw to her husband.


It had started when Zade had given him the scar he currently kept over his right pectoral, the day she’d almost lost him. She supposed it was his fault for bringing up that night when he brought home sushi and flowers, but she’d been thinking about it a lot the last few days. She still remembered the blood between their bodies the moment he confessed his love for her, the way his desperate heart begged reciprocation. She watched his life fade that night, and all he wanted was to be with her.


She hadn’t given it much thought at the time, she was far too overwhelmed. But it had started coming back to her in her thoughts and her dreams, that same pitifully humbled look in his exhausted expression that said what words couldn’t as he gave his life to her entirely. Since that day, he had entrusted everything to her, his life, his heart. That was what had appealed to her first and inspired their marriage.


But recently, that scar and mark of surrender had been on her mind. The night before, she’d woken to Alex’ cries of nightmares and tended to him. Poor Laxus was so beat from their day at the fair that he didn’t even hear the boy sobbing down the hall. When she came back, she’d lingered a moment just watching him sleep, something she hadn’t done since that day. It was then, as her fingers traced the jagged lines of that scar, that symbol of faith and affection, that she felt something stir inside her.


She couldn’t contain herself and soon, her touch was wandering. Before she’d known it, she’d swept the sheets from his chest entirely to facilitate the keen meandering of her fingertips. If he had been conscious to observe her, she admitted that she’d probably looked a little silly with such a vexed expression knotting her brow. She’d always teased him for his bulky stature, deeming it unnecessary, but as she teased herself with memories of the times he’d been bled out and bruised to see his family protected, she started to warm to it. As she dipped the exploration of little nails over relaxed hills of toned muscle lines, she reconsidered each one as a line of defence. He was a man built to protect, he’d proven that the day he’d peeled Zade’s sword out of his own chest before obliterating Ghoul Knight’s master. He’d surrender his flesh and blood for the ones he loved, to hold them, to say what needed to be said. That strength, that raw, primal need to protect…


It turned her on.


Neirah’s fluttering heart reminded her that, like it, the remainder of her laundry still beat on the line. She quickly snapped her jaw shut, unaware that it had gaped so daftly as her thoughts wandered. Maybe it was all his talk of animals and the primordial attraction he had to her that had caused her thoughts to wander. She only felt bad that it had taken her so long to see it. He’d always acted so insulted that he didn’t have the power to claim her passions simply by removing his clothes. Lazy. He seemed to like the compliments though, words to feed a broken ego. Now that she was starting to feel something she’d never considered before, she’d be sure to remind herself to feed the famished beast a little more frequently.


Neirah purred gently and picked up her laundry basket. As tedious as their games had become, Laxus was right; they were learning an incredible amount about each other. In a way, it almost made her consider that they weren’t in love at all the day they married. They were still feeding off the lust that saw her carry their child down the aisle. They were only just learning to love four years later. It helped that he was so willing. She was a little surprised that she’d managed to convince him to join she and Mirajane so easily. He really was indifferent to all that she wanted to try. He trusted her to make decisions that would benefit the both of them and she silently prayed she wouldn’t let him down.


She almost hopped up the stairs before she was reminding herself that she had already put her son to bed. Folding laundry was usually quiet but that darn song…


Neirah grunted in a squeaky tone as she braced her basket between her hips and the door to free one hand. Upon doing so, she popped the door free and just managed to scramble around in time to catch the other side of the basket before all the clothes were on the floor in a heap. She paused a moment on the other side of the door to consider why she just hadn’t set the basket down but she shook it off quickly with a disgruntled snort.


This time she did set her basket down and closed the door behind her with a gentle click. “Sweetie, if you’re in here, keep the door closed. The last thing I need our child to see is my racy un-” Neirah slowly darted her peripherals from side to side to make sure Laxus wasn’t in the room with her as she set down her laundry at the foot of the bed. It just made it even more suspicious when she slowly pulled his collar off the neatly made arrangement. “That’s weird,” she whispered quietly. “I could have sworn I had put all of his stuff away…”


It didn’t take her long to realise that she’d been set up when she felt her husband’s arms fold around her waist, clutching her into the tender kiss he laid on the nape of her neck. “You did,” he whispered huskily.


Neirah turned ever so slightly into his nearness, her perplexed expression desperate for clarification. “Then why is your least favourite toy sitting out on the bed?”


Laxus diverted his gaze from hers entirely as he pressed his brow against the back of her head to hide his shame. “Put it on…”


Shivers crawled up Neirah’s spine to hear the desperation in his voice.


“Please,” he begged airily. “I… need somethin’ and if I’ve gotta play the dog just to get some, I will…” He closed his eyes, his grip on her strengthening. “Please put it on…” 


If ever she’d heard a breakpoint reached, that was it. Neirah forced her release by turning into him and weighing the sincerity in his gaze. It was an effort she immediately regretted because whether nostalgia inspired the recollection or not, there stood the neglected stray begging for a pat and a warm bed. She took a deep breath, struggling not to embrace him as the kind and doting wife. “Laxus, Alex is in bed.”


“I’ll be quiet…”


Neirah’s stomach rolled with the look of helplessness in his gaze. “What if… he needs one of us? If he has a bad dream?” Anything to not have to admit that the way he was looking at her terrified her.


His chest was already pumping deep breaths into anxious lungs and he didn’t care if it was obvious that he was intoxicating himself with her presence. “Neirah, I’ve been thinking about you all day,” he nearly whined. “I got myself so worked up… I got nothing done.” He reached back and raked his fingers through his hair, tugging desperately on the ends to remind himself of her touch. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me today. Normally I’m cool with this shit but I just… I was thinking… and I can’t…” He turned to face her and tried to ease the trembling in his hands as he attempted to fill his expression with certainty. “I need you,” he rumbled weakly. “Something, anything… a lash, a kiss.” He dipped down and bopped his brow up against hers, closing his eyes and rolling his head from side to side against her. “I’m so fucked up right now…”


All Neirah could do was try and sneak her throat clear. If he was able to beg her for affection like he was exhibiting that night, they clearly had a way to go before he broke. She gently reached up and laid her hands on either side of his neck. “What’s wrong, Prince?” Her purr was low and alluring as she teased his senses with the sound of the collar jingling from one of her hands. “Did something happen at work?”


“I sat at my desk all damn day,” he assured her in an exhilarated tone. “I just… I was thinking… I got you stuck in my head and I couldn’t get you out…”


Neirah snickered soft reassurance. “I had that same problem today with a song.”


Laxus flashed desperation in his gaze again before taking her face in his hands and trying to hurry her into a response. “You’ve been on replay in my head for days. I’ve gone through withdrawal symptoms kinder than this.” He withdrew his hands and paced a lazy circle. He felt like if he didn’t find something to brace himself against, he was going to fall over. He settled with bracing one arm up against the bedroom door and using the other to support his dizzy head. “Everything that wasn’t your voice just pissed me the hell off. I tried to get you out, but I just can’t imagine it anymore.”


He flashed her a hopeless gaze as he straightened again. “It’s been so long since we were easy. Everything now is so new, so different. It gets better every time. I can’t just pinpoint one set of feelings to calm me down anymore. There’s too damn many and I want them all so bad that I just can’t think straight. It might not be so bad if you were there, but you never fucking show up anymore because you’re not a wizard, so I just have to sit there in fucking agony all day just wishing I could steal a taste.” His fingers shook as he bared teeth in an agonised grimace and slowly raised unsteady fingertips to her lips. His body temperature fluctuated unnaturally with the feeling of her skin igniting against his fingers and if he wasn’t so sure he wasn’t, he might have sworn he’d caught fever. “I don’t know how much more of this I can take,” he whispered meekly. “Neirah, I can’t wait for us to have the house to ourselves. I need it now…” Growing a little braver with his approach, he slowly stepped into her, took her hands and raised them back to his neck. Then, to try and regain some form of stability in front of her, he spoke his conclusion against her lips. “I need it so bad…”


“You’re not being too specific with what you need,” she started tenderly. He was already perspiring.


“A dog isn’t real specific either. It just barks and wags its tail in hopes that its master knows what it needs.”


Neirah smiled modestly and brought their lips together into a vanilla kiss. “You’re lucky that I’ve had an idea on the go since the last time we played,” she proclaimed confidently. Her throat worked as he bowed his head into her hand with a blissful sigh as soon as she started to wrap his collar around his neck. It was almost like its presence was comforting. She was left to assume that once his collar was on, and she was in control, he knew he’d be given what he needed. “But we can’t be up too late.” She took his head in her hands with a stern frown. “You look exhausted, and if you don’t start getting some sleep, the guild is going to think I beat you.”


There was a complacent vacancy in Laxus’ expression as he stared back at her. “Maybe just a little bit?”


Neirah snorted her amusement and released him to go to her toy drawer. “I’m not in the mood,” she assured him sternly. She wasn’t lying. The last thing she wanted to do to her poor aching husband was kick him while he was down. “Now sit your butt down and try to relax while I get some things ready and put my heels on.” She giggled playfully. “You aren’t exactly easy-access to little people.”


Laxus dropped to the mattress of their bed and stared vacantly into the room. He didn’t watch her rummage around, he didn’t need to. He couldn’t help but feel comforted as he sat there slack with a cool leather strap wrapped snugly around his airway. If nothing else, it had become an excuse. When he was wearing it, he didn’t have to be in control or think. He didn’t have to hide. At first, he had worried about Neirah’s little plans, about provoking his common decency right out of him, but since they’d begun experimenting, he was discovering that he liked it. All his stresses, all his pains, they all left. It didn’t matter if she was whipping him, teasing him. So long as she was in control, he was comfortable. All he had to do was be his uncensored self and believe that his beautiful bride could keep the benefit mutual.


His weighted gaze rose to her muffled clicking when his wife strode out of the ensuite with her fingers raking through the waves of her braid being unbound kink-by-kink. She had caught his glance and smiled playfully with his inquiring gaze. “Cotton balls,” she publicized. “So that my promiscuity doesn’t wake our son.”   


Neirah crossed the room and leant over her husband’s lap, one palm on either thigh. “Or are you wondering why I’m so modestly dressed?”


Laxus inanely shook his head. “You can’t call yourself promiscuous looking like that…”


Neirah snickered softly and smoothed her finger over his lower lip. “Don’t worry, it’s all a part of my plan,” she droned. “Now, if you promise to behave, I’ll let you keep your magic.”


“Mira’s not here, is she?”


Neirah sighed. “No. But if you don’t get your head in the game, I’m going to bypass our fun little intermission to see you to a medic.” She placed her palm against his brow just in case. “You’re really zonked right out, Daddy.”


He just groaned and melded into her touch. “I’m runnin’ on empty here,” he droned gutturally. “The kind of healing I need won’t come from any doc-”


Neirah caught the impish flash of life in his gaze before she slowly shook her head. “My wardrobe has yet to feature a nurse’s uniform.”


“Damn it…”


“Now, to make sure you don’t completely slack off tonight, I want you to go stand in the middle of the room between the bed, the closet, and the dresser.”


Laxus snorted and climbed off the side of the bed. “Tsk, I should be insulted that you consider standing effort.”


Neirah’s sly expression didn’t waver. “I haven’t started yet,” she reminded him.


Laxus kept a wary eye on her as she advanced, an over-exaggerated roll in her hips. She only used it on the rare occasion that she was entirely self-assured. It made his mouth water. “You always give me mixed signals,” he murmured huskily. His weighted gaze followed her predatory circling of him, coming to rest on hers as she pressed up against his chest and traced his jaw with a single finger. “I don’t know whether I should be worried, or horny as hell.”


“Hmn, and how ‘horny’ do you suppose hell would be?”


A shiver made him growl as his agitation festered beneath his skin. “It’s a fucking expression,” he growled. Her lips were so close that all it took would be the slightest effort on his part to bring them together, but he knew better than to test her and reach for something he hadn’t earned. His breath shuddered upon expulsion. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t tempted to take what he knew he needed. “So… what are you gonna do to me tonight?”


Neirah gave a low purr and withdrew a new toy from behind her back. Noticing that he immediately flinched to the unfamiliar sight, she stifled a soft giggle. “Relax, Prince,” she crooned. “It’s nothing fancy, just a more reliable way to blind you. I picked it up while Mira and I were out shopping the other day.”  


“What was wrong with the scarf thing...?”


Neirah flashed him a sly grin. “It was used on me when Mira was here and I could peek. Yes, I found out that someone’s been cheating for the past month or so,” she teased. She held up the new thick leather strap that would successfully blind him to all of her intentions. “And if you play nice, it will be the only sense that I deprive you of tonight.”


Laxus’ throat worked as he watched his world blacken, feeling a little disoriented as he tried not to waver off-balanced with the loss of his sight. He really hadn’t anticipated standing to be difficult. “I’ve got a funny feeling that you’re gonna be bringin’ me to my knees any minute now.”


“That’s not my intention.”


Laxus whirled to where he hadn’t expected Neirah’s voice to emit behind him, but thanks to his new blindfold, he certainly wasn’t going to get a peek at how she moved so quickly.


“Stay still.”


A chill raced down his spine with the unexpected nearness of her whisper to his ear, and as commanded, his body tightened to keep him from tossing. It was in the next moment that he felt her fingers tracing his opposing arm that he realised what she was doing. She was moving in the shadows so he couldn’t anticipate anything that was to come. “You never answered my question,” he instigated uneasily. “What are you gonna do with me?”


“You’ve never been so concerned about what my plans were for you during nights prior.” Neirah slipped her fingernails down his chest, meandering in lazy circles as she watched his skin react to her touch. “Nervous or excited?”


“Desperate,” he corrected curtly. “I’ve been hoping for this all day…”


“Well I hope I don’t disappoint you, but tonight will be pretty tame.”


“All that matters is that I have your attention…”


Neirah sucked on her lower lip and just admired him for a moment in the warm light of the bedroom, her fingers catching on the hem of his sleep pants. “Actually, most recently, you have been doing that a lot.”


Laxus parted his lips, an airy wheeze catching in the back of his throat as she muttered her words in that smooth and sultry tone he’d come to be so weak towards. What was more was that she’d kind of given him a compliment. He’d gotten so little attention for her attraction to him that when he managed to coax a little something out of her, it affected him greatly.


Neirah gently rolled her tongue between his shoulders, the sudden mirroring of her presence startling him into flinching. She smiled at her own whiles and laid her fingers lightly between his shoulder blades. Then, with a look of triumph in her smile, she started to slide her delicate touch all the way down his back until she was dusting her affection against his tailbone. “Do you want to know what turns me on about you?”


Shit, fuck yes…


He tried to steady his breathing before he even attempted to rattle out a reply. “Yes, ma’am…”


She slowly knelt behind him, her touch flirting with the hem of his pants while she kissed his tailbone and smoothed her palm over his haunches. “That sounded rehearsed,” she tormented. She felt his body buck when she snapped her teeth around his elastic waistband and gave it a playful snap to match her smile. “You really are on edge tonight,” she purred. She might not have been able to see his face but she’d bet her last jewel on the flash of teeth.  


“Neirah…” He really didn’t mean for his words to sound so pathetically desperate.


She pulled his pants down over his hips and gave his rump a tender kiss. “For tonight, I want you to kill the filter,” she commanded. Her words were as firm as the grip she had on his backside as she slowly smothered her breasts against his back upon her ascension. She hummed her approval before slipping her hands around his hips and clutching his stomach. “Do you think you can handle that?”


His retort was dark and rumbling with impatience. “Pretty sure I can,” he assured her. “Not guaranteed you’re gonna like what I have to say though.”


“Mn, that’s the spirit.”


If Laxus wasn’t blindfolded, Neirah would have had a good view of her blushing husband, wide-eyed and fidgeting as she pulled away from his body and cracked her open palm over his naked backside. He was accurate to assume that without her announcing it as something she loved about him, his ass was on the list.


His breath caught against her fingertips when she suddenly pressed it to his lips. “I want to turn it into a little exercise, kind of like the one you started the other day in the bath. I’ll tell you something about you that turns me on, and you can do the same.”


“You know I suck at getting my point across…”


“Not when you’re free to talk trashy,” she purred. She gave his nose a gentle flick and watched him throw his head back with an aggravated snort. “So, what’s it gonna be, Sparky? How badly do you want to know what you’re doing right?”


“I fucking hate it when you call me that,” he snapped bitterly under his breath.


“I know you do. I started calling you that to be a condescending little brat.”


“I’ll try,” he admitted humbly.


“Hm, your effort pleases me,” she crooned. “How about in exchange, I will tell you two for your every one…”


Laxus inadvertently trembled as she whispered her words against his ear, but the part about it to excite him the most, was that she had enough to divulge in that she could offer such an accommodation. “You have… that many?”




His throat worked with his dry swallow and his breathless whisper barely escaped his chest. “Tell me…”


Neirah stepped in a slow circle around her husband, her fingers gently scaling his bare arms. It was hard to pick one to start with, but as her nails flirted with his skin, she was finding more of a direction. “Your arms, for starters,” she acknowledged in a hoarse whisper. She watched his hastened breath race past parted lips as she gently tightened her grip on his upper arm to give the lax muscles a slow squeeze. “I find it amazing that such powerful arms can hold me so tenderly through the night.” She pressed his arm between her breasts and wrapped both her exploring hands around him. One of her hands intertwined with his clammy palm while her other hand followed the subtle mapping of veins before her feather soft caress was sliding between his knuckles. “And your hands. The way they touch me.”


She quietly buckled his elbow and drew his hand back towards her lips for a gentle kiss. She placed multiple soft pecks against his fingers, his knuckles, his wrist. She sighed softly and let his hand fall back to his side, her gentle kisses dropping to the underside of his arm instead. “Sometimes, when you’re working, I’ll just watch you write. Wishing I could roll your sleeves up just a little further.” She kept a careful eye on the man panting ragged breaths alongside her as she pressed her fingers against his knuckles and guided him to curl his palm up between her thighs. She may have still been clothed, but even through her panties, there was no mistaking the dampness growing at the mere thought.


His next breath rattled as he shuttered out the vacant sentiment. “F-fuck…”


“I wasn’t lying,” she whispered delicately against his deltoid. She was almost sorry she had to pull away from him to keep up her mystique, but she was careful to observe the needy flinch in his fingertips as he lost her heat. “Your turn, Prince,” she encouraged. “What dark little secrets are you keeping from your wife?”


“I don’t… think…” Competent thinking was a skill he seemed to have lost sometime during the night. He never thought that when she was at work with him she was concealing arousal just by watching him push paper. A part of him was furious, another part amazed. All those nights he’d just let her sit there when all he wanted to do was bend her over his desk. He was rethinking a little bit of everything. “Mine isn’t gonna sound… as good…”


“Do we need to skip your turn?” She smiled as she watched his head fall into her touch and in response, she took a hold of his face between her fingers and thumb. “Come on, Sweetie, I know you have a thousand things you want to say.”


“That’s the fucking problem,” he hissed. “They all wanna come out at once.”


“Then take a moment to gather them,” she demanded playfully. “What turns you on the most about your precious little wife other than her breasts?”


“Her voice…”


Neirah was taken back so powerfully that she actually fell back a step. It was a good thing he couldn’t see her because she was sure her bewilderment had met her expression. “H-her voice?”


“It can… take control of me so easily,” he muttered quietly. “I can have the shittiest day at work, come home and hear her singing to our kid and I’m right back on cloud nine. The prettiest little fucking voice… And her laugh… The way she smiles even when she’s mad. She has this tone, it’s so fucking sexy even if I know it’s about to put me in the doghouse. It can bring me peace, or set me on fire. It could even break my heart or make me lay down my life if it cracks even a little with pain or fear. And the way she says my fucking name… The way she whines it or… It’s… I know… fucking pathetic...”


Neirah caught his hand moments after he raised it to cup his face and smooth it over his jaw. She could see the rosiness in his cheeks for his bold confession, but she didn’t want him to feel awkward about his feelings. She was afraid that was why they were having a difficult time getting his emotions to flow. He was humiliated by them, by his weakness. “It’s my turn,” she reminded him.  


Laxus flinched, his breathing hitching as she captured his jaw again. Her nails sank into his cheek until he winced and grunted with the pain, soon after, she was able to part his teeth. His heart raced and broke a little to think he was about to be gagged. He had really tried to make his confession adequate. To his surprise though, the next feeling to lay on his tongue was a single one of her fingertips. And it was tasteless. Not the tang of her hand cream or soap, no salty or sulphuric hint of perspiration. Nothing but the smooth, gentle stroke of her little finger from the centre of his tongue to its tip.


“This is another thing that turns me on,” she admitted certainly. “That thick, awkward tongue of yours; tripping over your words, underestimating it entirely.” She took a step back so that he didn’t feel her shiver with delight. “Let’s just ignore that it's forbidden magic when it's between my thighs for a minute and focus on the early seeds of its ability to make me wet.”


Laxus just wanted to keel over onto the floor, his body was aching so badly. She was on fire that night. He could hear it in her seductive drawl. Just speaking such lewd words was getting her off. It made him ache even more fiercely to believe that she might be touching herself under her sundress. Something he was helpless to see when he was blindfolded.


“Your clumsy attempts at articulating your feelings are so unbelievably charming that they make me want to moan.”


He was moments from stammering out a defence when he felt her lurch forwards and cover his mouth with hers. He was hesitant at first, but the fierceness of the hunger boiling inside him was inescapable, and like always, he wound up surrendering to her will. At first, he was conservative with his response, but the way she teased and whined silently against his lips, he was losing control of his decency. Soon, that thick, awkward tongue that she loved so much was plunging past her teeth to the sound of his possessive growl.


He was surprised when she pulled away with a gasping breath and a shuddering whimper, her whines accelerating even after she was free. She butted their brows together, her wheezing, minty breath a whisper away from his burning lips.


“And there’s two,” she breathed out in an exhilarated tone. “The way your tongue devours, controls, completely overwhelms. In our kisses, in the bedroom, when it stumbles on its beautiful words to try and impress me…”


“And the two…? You just added a bunch of-”


Neirah’s upper lip quirked to one side with a breathy little hiss as she gave in to her own wicked games, finding her resolve weaker and weaker by the minute. “All those little noises that you make. All those little grunts and growls. It’s like you speak your own language when you're aroused.”


His expression faded with embarrassment for a second time that night. He never took notice of it before. He really didn’t think he was that noisy when they were together.


Neirah picked up on the hesitancy in his expression. As thick as the leather was over his eyes, she could still see the flush in his cheekbones. “Don’t worry, you’re not one of those pitiful men who whine and scream their wives’ names.”


“That’s because those men are gay.”


Neirah snorted with his dry remark and she smoothed her hands down his broad chest. “Please don’t stop now that you know,” she quietly begged. “It’s so subtle, somebody watching might not even notice.”


“Fuck, why would you say that? Is somebody here?”


“No,” Neirah whined feverishly. “It’s just us…” She leant into him and placed a delicate kiss on the corner of his mouth. “And I love the little noises you make. They’re so spontaneous and… almost feral.” She hummed her approval as the tension leaked from his body and he relaxed before her once more. “I’ve learned to read them pretty well. Which ones mean you’re anxious, which ones mean you’re close-” She made sure that he felt the gentle grind of her hips against his. “The ones that mean you’re hungry,” she teased.


“Nng, bitch.”


“Your turn,” she instructed. She propped one of her fingers against the underside of his chin and grinned in delight as he caught his breath the moment his head was tipped back by her pressure. “Try not to be so smooth with this one or this game is going to end with your head between my thighs.”


Laxus could just envision the steamy cloud of condensation forming when he huffed his strenuous sigh. “You say that like it’s a threat,” he grumbled. “You don’t have any idea what it’s like, do you?”


“Oh? Might this lead to something that turns you on?”


“If you can call it that,” he muttered dimly. “It’s less of a turn on and more something strong enough to get me off.” He paused for a moment and considered skipping the intensity of his desire to be just there, between her thighs. She had obviously noticed that sometimes she would wake up to him sleeping there, his head resting against the steady rise and fall of her lean tummy while the comfort of her dreams filled him with peace. He noticeably recoiled to his own thoughts, to think that he could arouse himself by a scent she radiated. “No, it’s nothing…”


“Tell me,” Neirah whined tenderly.


“No, it’s, I was gonna say somethin’ else and-”


Laxus was startled by the crack of Neirah’s nine-tailed whip and he barked so loudly that he was more afraid of waking his son than he was for the sting of pain sure to follow. He immediately gritted his teeth to bear the burn that came from the first couple layers of skin burned off beneath the lash. It had been so long since he’d felt it. And despite his obviously pleasured groan, he snapped back at her as edgily as ever. “The hell was that for?”


“I told you no filter. I told you to speak. You disobeyed, dog.” She casually set her whip on the dresser and sifted through the shadows behind him, ready to take him by surprise when next she needed to enrapture him once more.


“Ok, fine,” he almost whined. “I just… it does something to me. It’s… it’s not something I’m real proud of, ok? I don’t know why it happens so bad with you. I never really noticed it with anyone before. I just… when I catch that scent, I’m just done. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing. Working, savin’ the world, I’m so fucking done. All I want is to spread your legs and…”


Neirah’s thighs were trembling as he spoke and she couldn’t help but finish his sentence for him nostalgically. “Drink me…?”


“Yeah, just like that,” he groaned. He reached back and rubbed his nape, catching the perspiration bead that was tickling his neck. “Fuck, it’s disgusting, I know… I can’t help but feel like it’s some other fucked up side effect from this stupid magic. You’re a dragon, I’m a slayer… It’s just-”


“Ok, it was hot, don’t kill it,” Neirah cautioned.




“Laxus, it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m not human. It has nothing to do with magic. It has everything to do with a man who’s captivated by the woman he married. It’s all in your head.”


“No, it can’t be just that… There’s gotta be more to it… It’s so screwed up.”


Neirah reached out from where she was sitting by his hip and pressed a gentle kiss to his thigh. “Can I tell you a secret? You have to promise you won’t tell anyone…”


He flinched, immediately tipping his head towards the sound of her voice. “I promise that if I do tell someone you can hurt me,” he assured her.


“You’re not the only man in our guild who has this problem.”


Laxus lowered his head, despite not being able to see where Neirah curled her arm up and around his inner thigh. “Your brother?” It wasn’t the most comforting alternative. Levy might not have been a dragon, but Gajeel still practised a similar magic.


“Elfman, actually.”


Laxus gave his head a noticeable shake. “How the hell did you figure that out? No, you know what? I don’t want to know.”


“Relax,” she crooned kindly. “Evergreen and I are actually developing an ok relationship since she became a mother.”


“That’s a little fucking personal to be chatting about over lunch.”


“Laxus, you’re missing the point,” she purred. “The point is that neither of them have anything to do with dragons.”


“It’s disgusting.”


“It’s natural,” she purred. “Besides, common sense, Prince. If it were a side effect of your magic, it should be making you want to kill me in my sleep, not want to bed me.”


“Fuck you and your logic,” he growled.


“Mn, edgy,” she mewled. She slowly climbed onto her knees, kissing a trail up his thigh the entire way. “I guess that means it’s my turn, hm?”


“Can you do me a favour and think of one that’s really bad because I’ve gotta admit that I’m having a hard time recovering after admitting the last one.”


“Oh, like I hadn’t noticed.”


“I hate you.”


“Well, for starters, I’ll admit that I was a little unsure of it at first. But now, I think I get just as hot as you when you’re indulging.”


Indulging…” Laxus shuddered.


“And, if I had to admit something that makes me a little uncomfortable to do so…” Neirah took a deep breath. “It kind of turns me on when you open me to you… Not just for when you’re indulging-”


“Fuck, stop saying that…”


Neirah stepped into his chest and wrapped her arms around him. “But anytime you’re making love to me-”


“We lost the ability to call it ‘love making’ when we found out I get off from the taste of your pussy.”


“Do you want to get whipped again?”


“Oh please…”


“Boy, you really are driven by your senses.” Sound, scent, taste, touch – they all seemed to be making his list. “It’s embarrassing, but it’s also really thrilling… to think that another person could know my body better than even I could. That I can trust you with my most intimate secrets is an amazing feeling. One that most certainly turns me on.”


Laxus tipped his head towards her voice. “That seems kind of hollow coming from someone so beautiful,” he reasoned.


“What? Pretty girls can’t be self-conscious? That seems a little unfair when apparently pretty boys are allowed the courtesy.”


“Patriarchal society. Get used to it, Sweetheart.”


“Fine,” Neirah pouted. She pressed her body up against his, tracing lazy circles around his lower back. “Then I’ll refrain from announcing a new type of hierarchy that places your dragon wife on top of the food chain and add that there are other types of immodesty I like…”




“Sometimes, when I ride you, you squeeze my butt and press my thighs wider in your lap. Next thing I know, I can accommodate more of you. It’s delightful,” she crooned whimsically.


It made him irritable to hear her croon her dirty secrets so adorably. “Delightful? Are you having fucking tea with the King?” Laxus hissed out a hard, steamy breath as his little wife stood tall to slowly slide her wet tongue up his throat, and with his accommodating tipping of head, she finished just beneath his chin. ‘Fucking chills…’ He groaned.


“Then let me try it your way, Sparky,” she challenged. “I like it when you wrap my legs around your neck and slowly slide every wet inch of your cock inside me until I can feel that thick, pulsing, beast in the back of my throat.” She finished her words against his recoiling lips. She quirked her lips into a wry smile. “Better?”


There was that sudden need to keel over again.


“Shit… that’s… fuck that’s good…” He tipped his head back with a desperate spit of breath. “It’s been so long… I almost… I almost forget what it felt like… what it feels like…”


“There are so many things I’ve learned to love about you,” she whispered headily. “Attractions that I never felt before.” Her fingers started to roam, tracing the lines etched in his body with his tension. “I guess I thought you were a little over-glorified once.” Her fingertips paused over his right pectoral and slowly traced his scar. “But now, what I see before me is more than a man. It’s more than being strong, more than loving the mother of your child. It’s something deeper.”


Laxus was slightly startled when she moved away from his body, her voice moving around the room with her ventures. All he could do was ache for her return.


“I never expected you to be so passionate. Maybe it’s not a fierce passion, but the way you love me is far from tame. The way you clutch me against you, a tension in your arms with restraint, need. You’re afraid to break me, but you need to feel all of me at once. The way you kiss me, so deeply. You don’t settle for a calm and contained lovey kiss, no. You have to savour every taste.”


Laxus’ heart was already beating too fast for his chest to take, but when she suddenly returned, she gently slipped her hand in his with a meek whisper.


“You’re thorough. Even if you didn’t know my favourite colour, you knew what I liked, how to make me feel comfortable, how to cherish me in a way that saw us both to heaven and back. You weren’t a terrible husband, you just focussed all your energy on learning one subject at a time.”


Laxus’ fingers twitched as she raised his wrist in front of him and stepped into his hand, leaving his clammy palm to curve around her engorged naked breast.


“Every curve, every weakness, every fear…” She reached out and jerked on his collar, lowering him into her demand with one hand as the other gave his haunches a needy squeeze. Her pressure encouraged two things, the sinking of his head and the eager grind of his erection against her tummy. With his descended arch, she gently rolled her tongue around the channels of his ear and proceeded to whisper her words against him. “And I never thank you enough for doing that. You taught me everything I know about the love we share. The physical, and everything that runs deeper. Sometimes, I feel like I am the inadequate one for coming down so hard on you… acting like I’m afraid to tell the one I married that he is an amazing man. I could never imagine my life without you by my side,” she breathed. In a moment of exhilarated weakness, she reached around him and raked her nails over his shoulders. “Every hard, bulky inch of you, pressed against me. Whispering my name and growling against my breast as you fill me.”


“Neirah…” His needy groan was filled with anguish and surrender. He needed her, but what tore him up inside was knowing he couldn’t have her. Not yet.


“Yes, just like that,” she nearly moaned. She reached out and took his second hand, guiding it to her chest to join the other. “You’re fidgeting,” she whispered sweetly. “When you don’t have pockets or something in your hands, you’re a terrible fidgeter.” She sighed and pressed her skin tight into his touch.


Laxus bit out a low curse, grinding up against her now naked body as he leant his head into her neck and kneaded her breasts. Her nipples were hard, and by the sounds of her stifled moans against his chest, they were aching for attention. She was working herself up just as badly as she was rousing him. “These too,” he reminded her. It was his turn, after all. “God these… fuck…”


“Say it,” she encouraged vacantly. “Laxus, I love it when you talk to me like this. You do it so rarely…”


He felt his way around the mounds until he had one of her taut nipples beneath his trembling fingers. As soon as he had captured it, he dipped low and sucked the dark nub between his teeth. For a long settling moment, he just listened to her gentle moans; moans restrained so not to wake their sleeping son. “These,” he rumbled huskily. “I don’t care if it’s shallow.” It really sounded like he was trying to convince himself more than anyone that his love for her breasts was justified. “You have the most perfect breasts I’ve ever held in my hands.”


Neirah’s cry was a little alarming when it came out so shrill and unexpectedly loud. She immediately ground her teeth to keep from repeating the offence. “Laxus…”


“Fuck, you don’t even realise… I used to get jealous of my own kid. Twenty fucking minutes felt like a lifetime. Hardest year of my life.” Laxus grit his teeth and nuzzled his kisses deeper into the sensitive crook of her neck. “And all those nights listening to you complain about how sore you were. Every time you’d crawl into bed under my arm and just drop my hand on those beautiful naked breasts. Do you have any idea how hard it is to sleep at full mast?”


“I’m sorry.” She was and wasn’t. He had been so accommodating when she was breastfeeding their son. Her breasts were so heavy and sore, and all the time it seemed. But every time she got up to the sound of his cries to feed him, Laxus would stir. He didn’t necessarily leave the bed, but he was awake. And when she needed it, he would help her relieve the pressure.


Some nights, when Laxus wasn’t a complete sleep-deprived zombie, his dedication would actually bring her more than just relief. It quite often sparked a relaxing indulgence in mutual masturbation. She would be the first to admit that she was excited for that to return; such slow and intimate exchanges. He’d made her so hot…


“Jealous of my own kid,” he groaned. “I’m fucking sick, Neriah… I’m sick in the damn head…”


“Then suck them now, Laxus!” She demanded passionately, if not under her breath. “Don’t just talk about it, you brute, do something about it!”


Neirah gave a startled shriek as she was hoisted completely off the ground. She quickly stifled her cries and wrapped her thighs around her lover’s waist. With his vision still blinded, she helped to guide his head to the breasts that he’d raised to a more accessible level against him. She threw her head back immediately as he latched on to one of her nipples, giving it a hard twist between his teeth. “I’m sorry,” she whimpered against his head. “I didn’t mean for things to go this far.”


“Tighter,” he demanded deeply. At first, she thought he meant her thighs, but that was when he reached back and encouraged her grip on his head. “You know this has turned me on from day one.”


Neirah’s expression grew sated as she leant back in his embrace and tugged on the roots of his hair, demanding his pressure. “I love it, this… Laxus, I love you,” she whispered breathlessly. “I’m sorry it took me so long to see it, you beautiful beast.”


“Shut up,” he growled desperately.


She shivered at his rough tone. It was a rather harsh adjustment that only came when he was really worked up and far from reclaiming the filter she encouraged him to use. It was the kind of rugged demeanour that would have him say brutal things like that without a second thought. She never condemned him for such a passionate loss of control. “I won't,” she whispered into his ear. She adjusted in his lap so that part of his erection was pinched between her bucking thighs. “I promise I mean it. Can you feel how ready I am?”


“Fuck off, Neirah…”


She moaned and raked her fingers over his strong upper body, starting with the chiselled lines of his flexed arms. Her thighs tightened around his hips, her heels sinking into his haunches as she clung to him. “There it is,” she whined through her smile. “The tension that’s afraid to break me, but needs all of me right now.” She sighed and increased her pressure on his biceps. “You’re so strong… I’m nothing but a doll to you.”


Laxus took immediate offence to her words and he soon jerked away from what was distracting him so that he could speak. “You’re everything to me…”


She flinched with the grind of his snarl. “I didn’t mean…” Neirah whimpered sadly as she was set on her feet. For a long moment, he just meditated on the spot to catch his breath before he was pacing small, desperate circles. He raised his hand and she was sure he’d remove his blindfold, but he didn’t. Instead, he just raked his hand through his hair. “Laxus?”


Her eyes barely had enough time to widen as the cool steel of his gaze was meeting hers for the first time in the better part of an hour, and before she knew it, the room was lighting up beyond the candle she’d lit. By the time the stars had left her eyes, she was narrowly able to comprehend the feeling of her dainty frame being trapped between the bedroom wall and his bulky mass above her. She didn’t even have time to comprehend the volume of the thump her cranium made when it was knocked up against the wall. All comprehension soon faded when his lips crashed against hers.


She could feel it, all the tension beneath his skin threatening to burst from inside him. He was coated with a sheen of perspiration, his breaths ragged with denied affections. His skin was hot and sticky, something someone would expect to see in a man who’d spent a day in training, not an hour standing in the middle of his bedroom.


She quickly wrapped one hand around his neck, sinking her nails into his spine as the other clutched his face. The type of immodesty that got her hot had definitely come out to play in their kiss. Somebody watching them would have seen more tongue between the two newlyweds than what they concealed.


No, it had almost been four years, no matter how short. She had been married to the man in her arms for long enough that she should have said these things to him long before that night. Things that he responded passionately to hearing. He was a little broken, a little weak, he liked to be praised, like to be treasured. It was something she had never expected from him. She didn’t think anyone really expected it from their mighty guild master. He was always so strong… but the problem with being strong was that no one ever took the chance to ask him if he was ok… no one but her.


Inside, he was torn. He knew what he wanted, he knew what he needed, but he couldn’t free himself to take it. He could feel the heat of her body melting into his skin. Her kiss was just as deep and immodest as his own, and if his tongue wasn’t so ‘thick’, she may have had a better chance at devouring him rather than the other way around. But he was thick; thick and hungry. His kiss was ravenous, but it wasn’t enough. He reached between them and took a tight hold of his cock, his snug grip rubbing his own shaft in slow, milking strokes.


It had been so long since he’d been inside her. Her legs up over his broad shoulders, her back hollowed and lips swollen from their kisses as she sang his name. Her beautiful breasts presented into view with every heaving breath as that desperate look of innocence flushed her cheeks beneath him. Like the first time, every time.


And he knew the feeling she liked, the one she spoke of. When she said he was wet, it wasn’t natural. He towered above her in stature, in every manner. Luckily, her pregnancy had helped with her ability to accommodate him, but it wasn’t quite enough. He remembered the time she was considering like it was yesterday. It was hell for him. It wasn’t long after she’d given birth to their son and she was having a hard time getting wet on her own. It was killing their sex life. He was knelt over her and trembling with need, stroking his own arousal that he’d just finished lubing up just right to slide into her. But when he started, she begged him to go slow, and that’s what he did. He’d never seen her eyes so big, her pupils so dilated. She was entranced. She gasped more passionately with every inch to fill her and used her discomfort as an excuse to keep him on a tight leash. He spent the better part of thirty minutes stroking her so slowly that he thought he was going to break. He’d never heard her moan so loudly or felt her clutch him so tight.


His body started to tremble as their kisses grew fiercer, their body’s so close that all it would take was a slip of his hand to see them joined. That was when she pulled away and moaned his name, and it kinda sounded a bit like that.


Neirah whimpered her disappointment as Laxus jerked away from her, and when she was free to look back at him, she could see lean strands of electricity on the fingertips and forearm that were braced alongside her head against the wall. She slowly raised her hand to the arm supporting him, her touch delicate as she dusted the static away. His head was bowed, his gaze wide as he stared at the ground between them, his breathing laboured with restraint. “Are you ok?”


Neirah gasped softly as he slowly butted his forehead up against hers with a defeated sigh. “I’m sorry,” he whispered hoarsely. She narrowly spied where he slowly raised his fingers from his arousal to hook a finger through the loop of his collar. “I’ll put myself to bed.”


Neirah was quick to capture his face before he could move away from her and turn away. That small smile wasn’t going to fool her. “Please don’t stop,” she begged. She swallowed dryly as the silence extended between them, their gazes searching one another’s desperately. “Laxus, we’re so close…” She closed her eyes and traced his lips as he laid his fingertips on the swell of her cheek.


“Not close enough,” he assured her.


They were both too confused with the double meanings to both of their replies before they were surrendering to their instincts and simply kissing away the frustration.


“Are you feeling better?” Neirah whispered breathily.


Laxus didn’t move his brow from hers as he closed his eyes and spoke. “Yeah…”


Neirah smiled at his simplicity and gently stroked his hair, soon, her smile was turning impish with her thoughts. “You know, you were a good boy today…” She tried to put as much confidence in her expression as he looked back at her with a hopeful gleam in his eyes. “And I’ve recently discovered that it’s not exactly comfortable to sleep at ‘full mast’.” She watched his throat work before leaning forwards and licking the gentle bob until she was chasing a hungry groan from his heaving chest. She gently curled around his head and whispered her promise into his ear. “And I’ll give it to you any way you want it…”


He shifted a peripheral glance towards her and his grin grew sly. “Any way?”


“Any way, Prince.”


A predatorial rumble rattled his chest as he buried his face in her kinky auburn locks to inhale her sweet sakura scent. “Then go take a seat at the foot of the bed,” he nearly commanded. The intensity gave his wife shivers. “I’m gonna fuck that beautiful chest until I fill you.”


Neirah’s tongue worked eagerly behind her toothy grin as she prepared her cheeks for the intrusion. “Yes, sir…”


So much for laundry.



The sun was hot in the morning sky as Neirah and Levy walked through town with their canvas bags in tote. It was common for the two to spend the day together every now and then when the market was in town. Mostly, they liked to bellyache about their husbands, this time, Neirah had a more direct agenda.


“Wow, way weird,” Levy announced hesitantly. “He kept it on the whole night?”


“Yep. And practically begged me to let him wear it last night,” Neirah ascertained. “I had to wait until he was really asleep before trying to undo it. I felt so bad. His neck was really raw. It took me ten minutes to heal him.”


“I’m still stuck on the fact that he wore it to bed even after you suggested taking it off. He’s clearly really comfortable in it.”


“He didn’t look comfortable…”


“No, like… well, I can only imagine he feels comfortable with what it stands for,” Levy educated. “I mean, when his collar’s on, you’re in control, right? And he likes it when you’re in control. He must feel comfortable trusting you with his… er… well, you know…”


“But that’s the thing,” Neirah started sheepishly. “We uh, kind of cheated last night. Things got a little hot-and-heavy and I sort of let him take back a little control. I could understand why he acted so positively to the collar before we started, but it was different when we were ready for bed.”


“Gee, Shads, you’re really hard on the guy,” Levy teased. “Maybe you’re reading too much into it. He did look really tired yesterday, maybe he just wanted to sleep. Then again, Gajeel and I aren’t into anything even remotely as intense as you two. Oh, by the way, remind me to pick up a new stethoscope today. Your dopey brother ate my last one the other night.”


Neirah puffed her cheeks out with her defiant pout. “Hey! This is hard for me too,” she justified. “God it’s been so looong!” She seethed exasperatedly.


“Whoa, Shads, too much information,” Levy teased. She humbled her expression to see genuine distress in her friend’s expression. “But out of curiosity, exactly how long has it been now?”


“Two months…” Neirah sighed and started to level with her friend again. “I’m starting to worry about him. He’s acting really weird on a normal basis; at work, at home. The only time he seems like himself is when we’re alone in the bedroom. He’s not eating right, he certainly isn’t sleeping well. I can’t keep justifying that this is ok when the only time he seems to be himself is when we’re fooling around.”


“You don’t have to convince me,” Levy muttered sheepishly. “I popped into his office today to ask if he wanted a hand with paperwork and he said ‘black, no sugar’. I was so confused that I had to go ask Mira to decode. I had no idea Laxus drank coffee. It must be his replacement for liquor.” Levy heaved a heavy sigh and put her thoughts towards her friend’s dilemma. “Have you tried maybe keeping his collar on during the day?”


“Oh my god, Levy, be serious.”


“I am!” Levy snorted curtly. “Look, you’re the one who broke your husband, you could at least hear me out.”


“Oh please, you and I both know he was broken long before I got my hands on him.”


“And that’s probably why you two clicked so well. Your broken pieces complete each other,” Levy mused as she took her friend's hand.


“Not funny.”


“Well, Laxus seems to really trust you and trust when you’re in control. At this point, the collar’s just a symbol of his willingness to do what you ask.”


“When you put it like that though, it makes me worried that I really have broken him.” Neirah sighed and looked out over the bustling market as they entered the girl’s favourite café at the edge of town. They took a seat, prompt with their orders and carried their conversation in the more private setting of their booth.


“I know it seems worrisome, but come on Shads. Laxus hasn’t always been the most emotionally stable guy.”


“But I’m trying to fix that, not make it worse.” Neirah sighed and laid her head in her hands, her braid flopping over her shoulder. “He’s just so uncertain about everything. Any impulse he has he just completely ignores, even the productive ones. I’ve been watching him lock his emotions out. Slowly, I’m getting him to look around that corner, but just when I think he’s ready to embrace it, he shuts me out again.”


Levy sighed sadly and stirred her spoon absently in her teacup. “Well… to be fair-”


“Please don’t say it,” Neirah begged.


“Shads, you can’t just bury that part of his past and that’s exactly what you’re trying to do. You weren’t there. I was, so was he. Shadow, he almost killed your brother, and that was only because he got in the way of an attack meant to kill Natsu. I know Natsu could be annoying but they grew up together. Gajeel was an enemy of the guild not long before. It was really scary stuff.”


“I know,” Neirah muttered feebly. “I hear about it a lot. He still has nightmares about it and can’t look at me all morning. When the two of us and Gajeel were with Infinity Dragon, I managed to get him to come to terms with his magic. I know it scared him thinking that it was what took control of him, but when he realised it was really his unstable emotions all along, and that he’d lost the excuse, he clammed up. He apologises when he even gets the slightest bit demanding with me. Ever since he lost control of his temper, he’s barred off all emotions like they’re going to turn him into some kind of monster…” She looked up at Levy helplessly. “I don’t want my husband to shoulder those demons when I’m right there to help him. I just thought… maybe if I could get him to focus the extremes passionately, he would see how harmless it is to indulge a little. Then maybe he’d realise that it was a fluke that pushed him to such extremes back then…”


Levy’s gaze grew concerned with the sentiment Neirah offered. “Are you sure it was?” Levy didn’t waver as her friend’s saddened and uncertain azure gaze flashed her way. “Shads, if you succeed in whatever games you’re playing… are you sure it’s safe for you to be on the receiving end of what’s to come…? No offence, but you’ve been out of practice for a while… you’re not the wizard you used to be…”


Neirah quickly turned away, swallowing the doubt that she didn’t allow herself to show to her husband. “You don’t know him like I do, Levy,” she whispered tenderly. “He’s not the monster that he considers himself to be. He’s a loving father and husband, and easier to hurt than I ever imagined. That day wounded him so deeply that I can’t even find the scars to heal them. He needs to let it go before it holds him back any more than it already has. I can’t let him waste his whole life in an emotional cage…” She turned her faint smile to Levy with a hopeful look in her eyes. “If nothing else, I have to trust him, like he trusts me. I feel like together, we can work this out. And seeing him to the edge of passion only puts me at risk, not the guild, not his son. I can handle myself, right? This is the safest way to do it.”


Levy considered the steam of her tea before smiling sweetly back at the other woman. She may not have held the most confidence in the situation, but she loved her friend dearly and would support her to whatever end. “Well, Mira seems to think you’re headed in the right direction.”


Neirah stifled her giggle to match Levy’s. “You heard about that, huh?”


“It was pretty obvious,” Levy teased. “Every time she and Laxus made eye contact he snorted and walked away. Mira giggled. She’s been teasing him about it ever since.”


“Yep, I’m not holding anything back,” she assured the woman across from her. She lowered her voice to a meek whisper. “I’m not going to let anything come between us again…” She looked out the window into the bustling market, watching the reflection of her own sad smile beam back at her. “If I have to come to accept that I’m not a monster, so can he…”

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