Republic: Softer

“You used to be softer I think.”

A fingertip danced an unending circle around her navel, its path dissolved at each turn by an interspersing of warm breath across her skin. Underneath, a muscle now tensed.

“What do you mean?”

Nescient blue eyes rolled up to meet her guarded greens. “Only that – and I don’t mean it badly – before you were softer. Maybe because you were younger—maybe after a year in-village you have a… a soldiers body, more muscle.”

Flesh and sinew at once conspired to shift from his burden and reclaim their sovereignty. “You need to go or I’ll never get any sleep.” She freed a foot from the blanket and pushed him gently onto the floor.

“Heather!” He affected his most incredulous expression in the hopes of eliciting an apology, or a quarrel?

She granted him neither. “You may be able to run on an hour’s sleep but I can’t Owen. I’m not all soldier.”

Her use of his last name stamped the message clearly; the window to intimacy was shut and the only way out was the door.


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