Downstairs, in the tavern, we ate a hearty meal of roasted chicken, potatoes, and wild rice. We sat at a corner table, where the music and chatter all around us afforded a chaotic anonymity. Galadin wore a white shirt, with tight cuffs and generous sleeves, loosely laced at his collarbone. His tawny hair was clean, but unruly as ever.
He spoke above the tavern’s roar. “So, you’ve never seen Tilliya Island?”
I shook my head.
“I think it’s time I show you.”
“You don’t have a ship,” I shouted.
“I know where I can get one.”
Galadin drew an invisible “x” over his chest. “Cross my heart.”
When the waiter came by, I ordered Draeberry wine. Galadin raised an incredulous brow.
“Same for me,” he said, and the faery waiter flew back to the bar. He looked at me with a one-sided smile. “One glass of that, and I’ll be having my way with you.”
The waiter returned. I wrapped my fingers around the cold glass. “Oh? I doubt that.”
Five glasses later, we were dancing. A visiting gypsy band played. Their tambourines, bongo drums, and fiddles surrounded us with sultry melodies. The music animated our bodies, drifted around us in a seductive, rhythmic embrace. He clasped my body against his. We shimmied and swayed—so different than the ballroom dancing to which I was accustomed. His hearty laughter was as intoxicating as the wine. I never wanted this night to end. In his arms, I was free to be myself, to let down my guard and allow my heart to soar. Galadin had made me believe in myself, and if we never shared another night like this, I would always be grateful to him for that.
Among the crowd of strangers, no one cared that we danced like lovers. My breasts pressed into his chest. I gripped his back, and we swished as one being into the rising tempo. When my leg traveled up his thigh, he gripped my knee and I let my shoulders and head fall back away from him. He swung me in a half circle and then pulled me up again. Our faces were so close, his hot breath caressed my lips. I kissed him wildly, and he stumbled.
When I pulled back, he said, “Gawd, you’re beautiful. Jesh quit beatin around the bush and shtay with me tonight.”
I sighed and shook my head. “Sure. Let me help you to the room.”
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