Elvirina belongs to the Thumánn people, a breed that appears human. Their secret society is set apart by their unique gifts, a very different way of life and lastly how they love their men. At birth, every Thumánn female is appointed a soul mate. At the age of seventeen, Elvirina is more than ready to start her adult life with her given soul mate– Joshwin. Living apart from their own people, but existing amongst humans, Elvirina and Joshwin are forced to change schools. A shift in their relationship occurs when Elvirina encounters the enigmatic Blake at her most vulnerable moment and must face the consequences.

Oct 21, 2011

Chapter 46: Betrayal


Joan came by that afternoon. She was humbled, awed and impressed that she was invited to our home. She did a lot of poking, prodding, measuring and asking questions, while putting it all in her little notebook. Looking at her face, my pregnancy was the best present that she had ever received. She met with every single member of the family and asked more questions. I stopped paying attention at some point.

One question that I had was the result of the blood tests that she had done. She answered curtly that they hadn't come back yet, but this morning, she had received an acceptance letter from the research program that Blake had orchestrated. I didn't have a clue what kind of research project it was.

The day was as hot as yesterday and we all chose to participate in our all-time favorite activity. We went to the lake where everyone, except me, cliff jumped. However, I dared something new as a result of Blake's encouragement. I lay out in the energizing sun only in a bikini top, while trying hard not to feel embarrassed about showing my scar or take notice how the others stared.

Everyone went full throttle for the first year’s cliff jumping, but because I was pregnant, I stayed below and cheered everyone else on. Joshwin made Chrystan swear not to tell our parents about this back tattoo and then showed it to him as well.

After dinner, I put in some effort at home and told Dew to leave the kitchen, which I wanted to clean for him. He grumbled a bit, but left me to do it.

“I missed you yesterday.” Joshwin startled me when he kissed my bare shoulder. I had flung on strap shirt when getting back from the lake. “What did you do?” There was an edge to his question that I didn't quite understand.

“I got my necklace fixed. Blake tried and failed to teach me how to play basketball, but we didn’t do much else.” I edited out what he didn't need to know. I already missed Blake so much that it was unhealthy for me.

“He'll be fine,” Joshwin encouraged. He let his hands slide under the summer top, while pulling me flush against his body. His hands rested warmly and freely on my swollen stomach. The skin on skin contact was heavenly, but so unexpected. “Four days without nausea and counting.”

I wiggled around in his arms and faced him. “I’m really trying to not think about it, so I don’t jinx it.”

“Good choice.” He laughed briefly as he moved his hands up my back. His touch had a different edge to it, one that I didn't recognize. I savored this rare moment of contact and nuzzled into his chest. He let me without distancing himself from me.

I settled outside on the back porch with my sketchpad and started drawing while the light was still good enough. My skin started to feel sticky and sweaty to the point where it was unbearable. I wasn't sure if it was nausea returning or something else. I showered before going to bed to get rid of the clingy feeling. After I put on my panties, the claustrophobic feeling ripped at me and protested to the idea of wearing more clothes. I didn’t want to irk Joshwin, so I would just make sure to stay on my side of the bed when being this exposed.

Towards the morning, a dream drifted into my mind. It was one that I didn't want, but I couldn’t control it or push it away.

Joshwin wanted me.

In my dream, he touched me with the hands of a lover, real sensual intention and on purpose. He put his hand on my stomach slowly letting it glide over to my breast, where he softly and expertly kneaded and played his fingers over my skin. It hurt and was thrilling at the same time, but as everything else with Joshwin, the dream vanished before it could really offer me any kind of relief. Even in the fantasy, he refused me.

In the morning, I did what I'd promised Blake. I talked to Joshwin about Blake’s fear that he would be less involved as a father compared to him. Joshwin listened attentively.

“He thought that I wouldn’t listen to him, didn’t he?” Joshwin said pensively, before he loaded another spoonful of muesli into his mouth and chewed. I nodded vaguely. Joshwin swallowed. “I would kind of be disappointed if this subject hadn’t surfaced at some point. Look, Elvie. I’m just as confused as everyone else. Right now, I only do what is expected of me, but the three of us need to redefine how we live. You as well as I know that we live in between two worlds. One isn’t better than the other, but we just need to figure out what leg to stand on together.” He picked up my hand and kissed my palm. His intense gaze held mine. “Let’s have this conversation when he gets back, okay?”

“Okay,” I agreed.

School was the same as ever... almost. Blake was missing from my first class and it gave me less of a purpose to be here. However, something, that I had willingly ignored, couldn't be avoided any longer - finals. They were in a little more than two weeks and all through the last week of school. Apparently, I was the only one not in a twist about studying, plus something, that I had no recollection of, surfaced. It was called The Fantasy Team Draw. Vapid girly voices kept buzzing in my head with names. I found it to be infuriating.

At home, Joshwin was stranger than usual. I was seriously starting to consider if he was bipolar. I loved the attention from him, but it was as unpredictable as a lightning bolt. It had the tendency to vanish before I even really registered what was happening. While lying next to me, I noticed that Joshwin’s sleep was uneasy because he was tossing and turning nonstop. His eyes were darker, almost like he was brooding. He often watched me with those dark eyes and an unreadable expression. Normally, his feelings were posted in his features, but now, I could see neither rhyme nor reason in them. It was confusing. Secretly, I feared that our friendship was falling apart, but deep down, I was sure that wasn't true. I just couldn't figure out what it was. He was becoming something of an enigma to me.

Afternoons were set aside for studying, but I persuaded Joshwin to go to the plateau and let me do some artwork instead. Joshwin sometimes studied, but he was completely unfocused due to pain, but he never complained. I, on the other hand, closed the last of the fillings Thursday afternoon and was left with nothing to do.

I plopped down beside him with an empty feeling in my gut and hands itching to do more. Joshwin leaned his head in his palm and watched me with gleaming dark blue eyes. I wondered what was beneath the oceanic surface. I couldn't shake the limp feeling of confusion with him.

My stomach churned, while threatening that I should eat or nausea was headed my way. I fished a pear out the bag of supplies that we brought just in case. “What is it, Elvie?” Joshwin picked up on my mood, as always. I pondered whether I wanted to have this conversation now. At that same time, I sank my teeth into the fruit. Juice from the pear trickled down my fingers and arm because it was overly ripe and deliciously sweet.

“I'm confused,” I answered as I tried to manage the spilling fruit juice. Joshwin stared ominously at my hand and then sucked in his lip. His fingers coiled around my wrist, while pulling my pear-clutched hand towards his mouth. “Do you want a taste?”

His answer was deep and his eyes were dark. “Yes.” His mouth drew open, but his teeth didn't break into the fruit, instead his tongue snaked up my wrist and licked the moisture running down my arm. I stared bluntly at his eyes that were burning into mine. He watched me closely as his mouth closed around my index finger and liberated it from the sticky juice with a warm suckles. The softness of his mouth burned inside of me, bringing need and a sleeping monster inside of me horribly alive in one helpless second.

Joshwin smiled coyly. “What are you confused about?”

I swallowed thickly. “This... you! You know what this does to me.” My voice sounded so strung out. A small response rumbled in his throat and the same coy smile lingered on his lips. He tugged on my wrist and bit into the fruit. As he chewed slowly, his eyes smoldered, but were otherwise completely unreadable. The silence was eerie and the only tangible sound was my gasping breath and my pulse thudding in my ears. My body was already alert and ready to beg for him. “Joshwin... are you trying to tell me something?” I whispered. My throat felt so dry.

He didn't answer. His only response was his lower lip that fell into his mouth, as he licked it slowly. If words escaped him, that shouldn't stop us. I retrieved my hand from his hold, leaving the pear on the wooden floor.

“I’m going to try something here. Say stop or you don’t have to say anything at all, Joshwin. Do or say what you want.” I tugged on the cord at my back holding my top in place and peeled the fabric from my breasts. The scrappy top fell soundless beside me.

I waited. I waited countless minutes for any kind of response.

His face was stoic, but his eyes were burning intensely. His hand balled into a fist, where the skin whitened over the knuckles, but his slow breath gave nothing away. He didn't move an inch. I picked up my top, put it over my chest again and tied it. “It’s okay,” I murmured quietly, while refusing to let this count as one more rejection.

I picked up the pear again, opened one of his books, and started to read. Beside me, Joshwin grew gloomy as his mood shifted yet again and he lay down on his stomach grumbling. I had no clue how to approach him or if I offended him or not.

During the night, Joshwin was even more anxious, bouncing around like the bed had fleas. He woke me up several times, but I dozed off immediately again. When I woke up, I wasn’t surprised that the bed was empty. He had too much energy to sleep for as long as I had. One thing clouded my mind today and only one thing, my Blake was coming home tonight. He would be here around midnight and my insides buzzed with anticipation. The tournament was going rather well. The finals were today and he was playing. I really wanted to go see the game, but it would be an eight hour drive and out of the question.

I spoke to Beth shortly at school. She approached me to let me know that she was happy for Blake and me. I wondered shortly if she found me as intimidating as I found her. She had all the qualities that I admired in a person. She had guts and tenacity. I had none of those.

The nausea was still manageable, but my pregnancy was getting harder to conceal, mainly because I had grown the habit of stoking my stomach in a very specific and telling way.

The afternoon was quiet. Both Serenity and Chrystan were studying. Serenity went all in because she cared and Chrystan studied because this was it for him. He was graduating. We still had another year to go, so I wouldn't finish by any means. The baby would come before that, but I only went because Blake wanted me to.

The car broke down again and Joshwin threw his shifty mood into the engine. I tried to make an effort to study, but I couldn't stop my mind from wandering to my returning husband. I missed him horribly. I wondered if that was why Joshwin was steering clear of me today because Blake was coming home.

I counted the hours and around eleven and showered again to make time pass. At midnight, I sat curled on the porch waiting for him. The pent-up energy had taken a big bite out of me. I was really exhausted, so at about one in the morning, I changed tactics. I moved to Blake’s room and climbed into his bed. This was a more comfortable position to wait in than to be stuck on the hardwood floors.

While feeling very woozy, I registered fingers running up my mark. “Are you sleeping?”

“You're home.” I mused, feeling quite relieved. It loosened all the knots in my stomach to hear his husky voice. My husband was home. I rubbed my face against the pillow.

“Yes... sorry, I got detained,” he answered huskily.

“I'm just glad that you’re home.” I opened my eyes. We were in the few days a year where it didn't really get dark outside and when it did, it last only a few hours. I turned around because I wanted to see his face and the dim light luckily revealed his normally beautiful features. Sitting on the edge of the bed, his face startled me. The darkness under his eyes, the flat tone to his complexion and the hollowing of his cheeks was startling. Besides that, he had a bit of a shiner.

“Me too.” However, compared to the darkness in his face, his smile was brilliant.

“I missed you like crazy.” I cleared my throat to make my voice less raspy.

“Mmm,” Blake mused softly. I felt his warm lips press again my shoulder. Then, he dipped lower inhaling deeply at my neck, while soaking his face in my hair for long moments. I relished his closeness until he drew back from the crook of my neck. I traced a finger under his eye. I was glad to see the darkness was already retreating. He closed his eyes tiredly and leaned into my touch. “I love you so much,” he whispered hoarsely. His hand drew under the sheets where he placed a warm palm tenderly against my skin and eased it around to the slow growing bump. “Nauseous today?” He rubbed my belly gently.

“Not too bad.”

Blake grinned. “Did you make Joshwin throw up lately?”

“No, not as far as I know.”

“You've grown,” he said, while smoothing his fingertips lightly against my skin.

“Not much.” I reached for his face and cupped it in my hands.

“I can feel that you have. I missed it,” he mused almost sadly.

“You’re home now.” I sighed. He kissed me slowly and gently his tongue coaxed my lips apart. He tasted different. “Did you drink?” I mumbled against his mouth when I could sense the alcohol on his tongue.

“Yes... I had a few victory beers with Harrison and Brian on the way home. Beth picked Harrison and me up and drove us home. My friends have been complaining that I’m a bore lately, as you might have noticed.” Blake spoke against my mouth.

“You won?” I blurted, totally embarrassed that I forgot to ask.

“Of course we did,” Blake scoffed. I giggled.

I glanced at the window and the vague light filtering in. “What time is it?”


“I thought you'd be back earlier.”

“So did I, but turns out that I had a date.” Blake grinned and cocked a teasing brow at me.

“You what?” I spat. Jealousy threatened to poison this blissful homecoming.

“Brian seems to be under the impression that I'm not getting any lately, so he arranged a very pretty cheerleader for me.” Blake croaked leaning over me. “If he only knew…” Under the sheets, a teasing finger drew around the curve of my breast. Dark envy raised a wave of unhealthy anger.

I hated girls thinking that they could grab at my Blake, but for all they knew, he was available. He pursed his lips, then leaned in and drew the tip of his tongue up my neck. “Too bad, she was blond... I solely prefer jealous black haired wives.” A throaty laugh rumbled through his chest as he dragged the sheet completely from my body. A possessive humming traveled up my spine telling me exactly what Blake wanted. It wasn’t far from my train of thoughts as I slung my leg across his lap and straddled him. I was welcomed into his embrace with a hungry passionate kiss. Heavy breaths feathered across my face repeatedly as the heat between us blossomed.

“Did you forget to put your clothes on or were you waiting for me?” Blake mused, clearly satisfied. His hands were firmly on my body and holding me close.

“I was waiting for you,” I moaned. My hips twitched longingly against Blake. “I want you.” I confessed with throbbing need pumping through my veins. My mouth demanded his feverishly, while my fingers were digging into his shoulder blades under his shirt.

“Really?” He crooned the second that he buried his face in my neck, desperately kissing my skin and started nibbling. His hand stroked my inner thigh suggestively, moving further in between my legs. His fingertips smoothed through the slick wetness, before he eased a finger into me. Blake hummed with pleasure. I gasped powerlessly when my body flooded with sensation as Blake teased me with what he knew that I wanted.

“Don't stop,” I begged when Blake shifted his weight under me. I couldn't take it, when my body was screaming for more.

“Who said I was stopping?” Blake carefully nipped me just below my jaw. He pulled me closer and had his finger grinding deeper into me, while meeting that ache blooming inside of me. Defenselessly, my head fell against his shoulder and I moaned wantonly. It felt so good to have him close again, but I needed more. His tongue slipped across my jaw searching up towards my ear. “Will you let me try something, baby?” His voice was rough and deep in my ear.

“Anything,” I gasped. I didn't care what. I was too focused on deeper needs. My hips twitched impatiently when Blake's hand vanished and the delicious teasing stopped. I was grabbed by the waist and pulled over his lap. After being placed on my back, I felt the sheets scurry underneath me then Blake carelessly yanked me to lay flat and comfortable on my back. His lips were on mine when he crawled over me again. His gaze was devilish as his hand moved back down below my waist and teased my tender spot. My foggy mind ravished the caress and begged for more.

While breathing heavily, Blake sat back in his heels and ripped his shirt off at the same time that I went for the closing of his pants, almost tearing them open. I slipped my fingers over his erection and touched him, but before I could dip my fingers beneath the fabric, he pushed me back down on the bed. Feverishly, he started kissing my neck. His mouth was warm and wet, while caressing my scar. I succumbed to his attention when he sucked my nipple and bit down on the peak. I hardly noticed when he moved further south, leaving a few tender kisses at my stomach. Something soft and moist suddenly touched the inside of my thigh. Panic surged through me when I realized what Blake was about to do. My body tensed and it was like I split into two halves, one painfully aware of my previous dream and wanting to try more than anything and the other terrified to accept that kind of intimacy.

Instinctively, Blake picked up on my minor panic attack and peered up at my face through his lashes. He was intensely studying my face as his chest rose and fell with each heavy breath. He slowly dipped his head lower again as his hand leisurely caressed my thigh. Carefully, he grabbed a hold around my leg and pushed it aside, basically opening me. Little by little, his gaze fell and lingered directly on my completely exposed privates for a long moment. My heart worked like a jackhammer in my chest because he had never pushed me this far, but I trusted him.

His eyes drifted to my face again, burning with undisguised desire. Leisurely, he moistened his lips. “Tell me if you want me to stop... but I want to taste you.” The raw edge to Blake's voice did unspeakable things to my body. I bit back my trepidation and nodded. He kept that bone deep piercing gaze on my face, as he lowered his face in between my legs. I watched his mouth fall slightly open and give the first enticing sweep across my sex with his tongue. The softness of his mouth was astonishing and oh so beguiling as he really started to work over my skin. Wantonly, I spread my legs wider and let him suck and nip and kiss my sensitive flesh. Who the hell knew how captivating this felt? It took only a few short moments until my mind completely shut down. I only felt the warmth of his mouth working against me so intimately.

“Oh, God!” I groaned and my hand smashed against the head of the bed. An explosion coiled from the pit of my stomach influencing every cell of my body. This pleasure moved my body in ways that I never even thought possible. The sensation was unbelievable and Blake kept teasing my spot with his tongue. It hummed uncontrollably down below. I was sucked away from reality when another wave unexpectedly thrashed through me. A restraining hand held against my waist when I gasped loudly for air. What an awesome coming home present to hit a climax this extraordinary.

“I thought that you didn't believe in God,” he whispered smugly, while carefully grazing his teeth against my ear.

“I do now,” I whispered sluggishly with the effects of my climax still washing through me. I opened my eyes to see Blake's content face hovering above me. My fingers knotted into his hair and pulled him demandingly down to me. I was a little surprised at the slightly salty taste of his mouth because it was different from his normal tangy taste. It dawned on me that it was me that I tasted on his lips and for some strange reason, it burned hotter inside me. I had no time to process it because it took less than a second until I felt Blake sink deep into me, filling me and bringing me to a different sense of high... one that I knew.

I woke draped across Blake's stomach and bathed in an energizing sunlight streaming through the window. By the sun’s position in the sky, I could tell that we had slept in. As I lay with my head against his stomach, my fingertips traced over the planes of his chest and followed the contours of his muscles. This morning, there wasn't even a hint of the familiar queasiness. I felt perfectly fine.

“Baby, I'm human. I played ten games in five days and you had a go at me all fucking night, not that I am complaining, but I'm sore, beaten and dog-tired. I need sleep, Elvia.” Blake grumbled and folded his arm over his eyes. I grinned. Sure we slept in, but the sun had also been up when we had stopped making love had been replaced by the need for sleep.

“I wasn't doing anything,” I refused softly and smoothed my hand firmly over his chest.

“Sure you're not,” he mumbled, clearly wanting to go back to sleep. I decided it was probably better to let him rest and find some breakfast for myself.

“Blake's home,” I said when I sat down at the table. I hadn't expected Joshwin to be having his breakfast so late.

“I know,” Joshwin answered curtly. Of course, he did. My face heated.

Blake came down for breakfast about half an hour later, surprisingly giving up on more sleep. Since breakfast had been over for hours, he started by filling his plate in the kitchen the same way I had and going through the masses. It was so good to have him home and my mind wandered into heated images of Blake’s warm tongue snaking over my excruciatingly sensitive spot. I couldn't push my smile away.

Beside me, Joshwin groaned. He dropped his fork, so it clinked loudly against the plate. I knew why, so I cleaned up my inappropriate thoughts and gave him an apologetic smile. He seemed to accept it. What Blake and I had was private, but I was so amazed with the intoxicating feeling of what he could do to me, as well as the raw and pure force of my climax.

“I feel so much better today,” I said joyfully forcing another subject.

“I know,” Joshwin answered briskly. He picked up his fork again speared a piece fruit, while chewing grimly in silence. You would have to be an idiot to have missed his terrible mood. I decided to leave him alone to mope. I just didn’t understand his mood.

Mom finished packing a few things for a day out of the house with Junius, when she rushed upstairs. Dew was in the kitchen, just moving about.

“Joshwin, I could really use your help today,” Kasardian said before he folded the paper from yesterday and left it on the table. As Blake stretched in his chair, Joshwin's face froze and his eyes clouded over with darkness. Jeez, what was his problem?

“Sure Kasardian... I'll be there in a sec,” Joshwin answered stiffly. Kasardian nodded, before passing us and aiming for the back door. Joshwin turned and glared at me. I was sipping my tea and reaching for the paper. His face was unreadable. What?

“Lift your arm, Blake,” Joshwin sneered. My eyes fled to Blake. Oh no, there could only be one reason.

“No,” Blake refused and shifted in his seat. Peripherally, he glanced at me.

“Let me see it,” Joshwin growled again and his lips flattened into a hard uncompromising line.

“There's nothing to see,” Blake answered defensively.

“Elvie!” Joshwin gritted his teeth. I didn't respond because I read Joshwin's face perfectly well. He was fuming and looked beyond betrayed. In a flash, he was out of his chair, grabbed Blake's arm and forced it up. The evidence of yet another broken rule came into view - Blake's tattoos.

“Hey!” Blake complained, while thrashing against Joshwin hard grasp. He tried to rip his arm down again, but Joshwin held it up with brute strength.

“Dammit, Elvie.” Joshwin growled, before he stomped toward the backdoor. He was fuming.

“What are you arguing about?” Kasardian’s voice was firm, but confused when he held the back door open just as Joshwin was about to rip off the handle.

“Nothing,” Joshwin and Blake muttered simultaneously.

“Elvirina?” Dad turned to me, clearly wanting a response. I kept my mouth closed, so I wouldn't betray either one of them. I was the perpetrator, the villain.  I was the one that had violated the sacredness of our artwork.

“You don't need to worry, Dad,” I tried to soothe. We were all at risk. Dad couldn't know what we had all been doing for recreational fun.

“Joshwin is furious and I want to know why?” He prompted. “So what happened?” No one answered. Clearly Kasardian took it upon himself to investigate. He leaned in, while pushing his terrifyingly strong hands against the tabletop. Blake sighed in defeat and lifted his arm revealing the inner side where one third of his tattoo perturbed from the black sleeve. Kasardian yanked the fabric further up revealing the length of the swirls covering the letters spelling Elvirina.

I groaned and squirmed in my seat.

Kasardian blanched. “How the hell could you do this to Joshwin?” he fumed. “You know very well that you are not allowed to make soul mate markings and least of all on a second husband!” The timber of dad’s voice was loud and thundering through the room.

“I know, Dad,” I mumbled. I wasn't about to say Blake wasn't exactly the only person that I had been marking lately.

“This is the most disrespectful thing you could do.” Kasardian’s tenor vibrated through the room. “That better be the only one?” He snarled.

Blake sighed again and lifted his other arm, doing his best to conceal his amusement. “For heaven’s sake,” Kasardian groaned loudly. He slammed his hand against the table and I flinched. “Where are your morals and your loyalty to your soul mate... and you can take your arms down now.” He pointed callously towards Blake.

“Oh, right.” Blake arranged his sleeves again.

“Answer me, Elvie,” Kasardian hissed loudly.

“Don't talk to her like that, Kasardian,” Joshwin intervened frostily.

“Well someone around here should learn some manners and respect. This is your right, not his.” Kasardian seethed, before he glowered at Blake. “Did you put her up to this?”

“No! Dad, don't blame Blake and don’t speak to Joshwin that way!” My voice was suddenly loud and fierce. He might be my father, but Joshwin and Blake were my family. Dad ignored me.

“He meddled before, Elvie! He needs to learn his place in our world.”

When Joshwin raised his voice, it was loud and cutting and my dad had no time to stop it. “Kasardian, this is my family, my responsibility and you do not talk to either of them like that!” I was quite shocked when Joshwin basically told Kasardian to shut up – just not in so many words, but his loud growling tone certainly implied it. Joshwin went still as a statue staring at Blake. “Sorry, Elvie,” he mumbled and pulled his shirt over his head to reveal what I had done on his back. He slowly turned and let Kasardian see the full extent of my disrespect to our sacred traditions. “So that puny semblance of a marking Blake has on his arms is nothing compared to my mark. I am just as guilty as they are,” Joshwin finished.

“Great, Joshwin, get us in more trouble.” Blake groaned, though I sensed a flicker of appreciation for what Joshwin just did. He sold his own hide to bail out Blake... at the expense of me. He protected his brother. He protected the weakest person in this conflict.

Dad gasped when he saw the extent of my extracurricular activities. “In all my days...” he gasped with astonishment. His eyes fled from Joshwin's bare torso to me, probably analyzing my guilty face. “Sibilla!” He called out loudly. It took a few seconds for my mom to appear at the top of the stairs. Dew materialized from the kitchen, as did Junius from the back door.

Joshwin stood fearless in the middle of the room, looking like a Greek God in his grace and resolve. Pride and not a speck of shame covered his frame. He owned what we had done with an uncanny determination and all the way down to the heels of his feet. I had to admit that I don't think I had seen anything hotter than Joshwin in this very moment.

Mom rushed down the stairs with her skirt flowing behind her. “Elvirina, tell me that you didn't do this,” she huffed, while taking in Joshwin's tattoo.

“Yes, she did, Sibilla,” Joshwin answered calmly. Mom dashed around to face him with her eyes wide. The room was dead silent. I didn't even dare to breathe. Something seemed to settle between them.

“Okay,” mom answered an unspoken question. She picked up her things like nothing happened and took the hand of Junius, who was ogling, and dragged him outside.

“Sibilla?” Dad gaped.

“Not your fight, Kasardian.”

“But...” She cut him off bluntly.

“Not your fight, I said.” I knew that firm tone instinctively. She paused and her voice softened. “They will handle it, my love.” Mom closed the door behind Junius and her. As quickly as Dew had materialized from the kitchen, he vanished just as swiftly into thin air. Only Kasardian was left with us and he was clearly fuming that mom had overruled him and he couldn't do anything about it. He slammed the door behind him, when going back outside.

Blake let out a big sigh. “That was interesting.”

Joshwin's jaw locked. With maddening authority shooting across his bare chest, he slowly turned back to us. “Don't you think for a second that I am done with you!” He snarled and then glared at me. “Has he marked you?” He hissed. I didn't dare to answer, not even my well build-in authority dared peeking her head out in defense. “Has. He. Marked. You?” Joshwin demanded icily.

“No,” I breathed, stricken by this different, ungentle and rage filled Joshwin. His gaze flitted back to Blake, who sat surprisingly still with his eyes on the table now. Joshwin forced his eyes shut and smashing his lids together, probably as a mean of control. Air slowly oozed from his flaring nostrils.

“You were planning on it.” He snarled. It wasn’t a question.

“Yes,” Blake gave a wisely simple answer to my big surprise. Joshwin pinched the bridge of his nose and gritted his teeth. His eyes opened again seething with menacing fury.

“I have had it with your secrets, your sneaking about, planning and plotting. Blake, you chose this life our way. There are rules, you know that and you need to start living by them. You have no fucking chance in hell of understanding how you just insulted me. We are playing on my side of the fence which was your own choice, so you better man the fuck up and show me some goddamn respect.” Joshwin's voice ripped loud and icily through the room. His eyes were burning. He didn't leave time for any kind of response, but fled up the stairs and slammed the door to his room.

I sat there paralyzed and my head was dizzy from lack of oxygen. I had never ever seen anything like that in Joshwin. I couldn't even be sure that I believed what I just saw. Joshwin displayed emotions that I never knew existed in him. He basically exploded.

“Breathe, sweetie.” Blake brought me back to reality by stroking my back gently. I hauled in a large portion of air and found his stricken face. “I knew that he would be mad... but not that mad. I didn't even know that he could.”

“Neither did I,” I gasped. My vision stopped blurring when I was breathing normally again. “I’m so sorry, Blake. I never should have agreed to mark you, but it’s best to leave him alone for a while... I think.” I muttered, while taking my plate to the kitchen. Joshwin was my enigma, but it was like disclosing a new person in front of my very eyes.

Dew glanced at me from the corner of his eye, but said nothing. He had definitely heard the whole debacle. I tiptoed upstairs drowned by a strange exhaustion. I had just gotten up, but now, I was in serious need of rest again. We went to Blake's room and inexplicable lay down on the middle of the floor. I was just frozen. Blake placed himself with his head at my feet.

“You know, that is actually the first time that I've seen him react to us, well, since you went off the deep end and slept with me and he was about an inch from kicking my ass into next week.  It was a real fucking response. Oddly, it was kind of nice to see him be so human.” Blake voice was low, but then he groaned. “Well, you know what I mean.”

“I know.” I muttered, not even smiling at his joke. We didn't speak just stared at the ceiling for hours. I couldn't believe that was my Joshwin downstairs. That man, who was a man to the core of his bones, had spoken with that kind of authority and on top of that Blake hadn't uttered single a word. Was there possibly something below the surface that I didn't see?

I looked at the white wall in Blake’s room that wasn't so white anymore. Dozens of sketches, words, dates, essentially Blake's and my life together adorned the surface. I peeled my back from the floor, picked up a stump of a pencil and wrote. ‘We betrayed Joshwin’. I marked it with the date like everything else. I assumed the same position on the floor again. I wasn't sure when I dared to talk to him again or how long he would need until the fumes had settled.

Light was dimming when there was a knock on the door. “Blake?”

Blake lifted his head to find my face at his feet, his lips twitched nervously. “Yes,” he answered carefully. My heart started pounding erratically in my chest at the mere sound of Joshwin's voice.

“Can I come in?” Joshwin asked. Blake threw me another timid look before he swallowed thickly.

“Yes.” His head bumped back against the floorboards. The door opened. I closed my eyes, while pulling air in through my nose and waited for another demonic outbreak. I opened my eyes to find Joshwin staring at us in wonder. Okay, it had to be strange finding us sprawled on the floor like this. I fumbled around and began sitting up. Blake mirrored my behavior.

Joshwin slowly sat down on Blake's bed. His face was unreadable again. He was clutching something in his hands. “I’m sorry that I yelled like that. It was unfair. I er… I had a rough night.” His eyes were dark and deep, as they rested on me for a short moment. Was he conveying some sort of message? I didn’t have a clue or time to figure it out, before he spoke calmly again. He was once more like the Joshwin that I recognized. “I lost my head and my temper. I know that I’m not the easiest person to talk to, but it hurts me when you two go behind my back. It makes me feel like I can’t trust you. I don’t want to feel like that. I need to be able to trust my family.” He paused, like the weight of the world was on his shoulders. “It’s basically all I’ve got.” He looked down, but not before he cast a glance at Blake and turned something over in his hands. It was my black boxes. He carefully balanced them on the bed poster staring at them. “I have two only conditions... you ask and I am there when you mark her.”

“Okay,” Blake dared a single worded response. Blake and me looked at each other for a short moment. “We’re sorry. We didn’t mean any harm, but we should have known how it would make you feel.”

“Thanks,” Joshwin said gently. “Welcome home, Blake.”

Three days later, I was placed with my back bare, facing the wrong way on a chair. Joshwin was holding my hand and Blake was behind me.

Joshwin had mellowed out and somehow oddly regained his normal calm composure, his very smooth equilibrium. His shifty mood had placated and he was able to produce a genuine smile that didn't seem overly excited or ready to plunge into a gloomy pout.

Honestly, I was nervous, not due to the pain of the needle, but more due to Blake's lacking talent when it came to holding a pen, a lot less a needle. I had practiced with him and Joshwin had been kind and done the outlining of what Blake wanted to do, so he would only have to do the fillings.

I wasn't completely sure why Joshwin insisted on being present while doing this, when he had agreed to let Blake mark me. That was just another thing on top of a major pile of things where I was starting to realize that I didn't understand him. Joshwin had become something of a mystery to me... and Blake.

“Are you ready?” Blake asked, sighing nervously.

“Yes,” I answered, finding Joshwin’s amused eyes. He enjoyed Blake being this rattled. We were in my room, due to the explosion that occurred the other day when my parents had found out what we had been doing. Mom had left it up to us to fight our battles and Kasardian once again needed a few days to find forgiveness. But this was us, our family, our battle and we chose to do what we saw fit, as long as we agreed.

I felt the needle puncture my skin as Blake's slightly shaky hand worked across the small of my back and not up my spine. That was where Joshwin had drawn the line when Blake had asked. I was happy that there was no indifference in that reply. It was simply out of the question.

At the end of the night, I was officially marked again. In the pit of my stomach, it felt good. It was a strange fulfilling pleasure to be caring Blake's mark also.