After as well and Ethan leaned to

After pulling off her slippers and sliding them underneath the bed on her side she slipped into bed Ethan pulled his wife close and sighed. She pushed him back down to the mattress. The man who had come home to her was broader in the shoulders, his chest deeper and as sculpted as those palace statues she’d admired so often. Aryanna’s hands came up to touch his face as well and Ethan leaned to kiss away the tears leaking from the corners of her eyes. “God, I missed you.” She locked her hands around his wrists, lifting herself off the mattress to seal her lips to his. Ethan though, took it over masterfully, scattering pins as they combed through her hair, gliding over sensitive skin.

“And I have missed you.” Ethan hissed.”I’m sorry.

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” Aryanna apologized. “It looks like you could use some of that too.”He handed her the same jar. “Just don’t apply too much.

“”Just enough to cover the wound with a thin coat.””I think I taught you a bit too well.””Perhaps.” Aryanna said.

There was not an ounce of extra flesh on him. Now every warm, flat surface of skin rippled and flexed with hard muscle, his arms might have been carved out Damascus steel, even the pulsing blue veins on the backs of his hands were mesmerizing. She nuzzled her nose into his neck, inhaling the clean, soapy scent, trying to memorize it against the lonely nights to come and his arm came around her again, one of those warm hands pressing her head back down on his chest where the strong, heart beat echoed her own. Here, across his left shoulder, her fingers outlined a ridge of scar tissue.

Down over his left side, she met a series of furrows, at least three side by side. Sunlight gilded the long, lean length of him and she caught her breath at the magnificent sculpturing of legs and thighs, the quiescent beauty of his stillness in sleep. She tallied a thin red line scoring his right ankle, and what looked to be deep bruise across his right flank. He half turned toward her, murmuring I missed you, as he nestled her head under his chin, one arm wrapping around her. Her hand slipped over his shoulder. And stilled.

The marks beneath the pads of her fingers were barely noticeable, but they were chartable still, if one knew the legend of the map. Some time ago – likely during his captivity her husband had been flogged. The scars of it were old and textured, hidden beneath skin toughed by the elements, but she could feel the scars, the shallow valleys between them, though it was unlikely anyone else would notice.

The surface was a long sweep of smooth skin beneath her questing palms. A hand came up to bracelet her wrist, drawing her hand back down with authoritative gentleness. Her fingers curled in his, hesitantly at first, and then.”What happened?” She whispered.

She felt the stillness in him, a vastly different motionlessness than the peacefulness of sleep she had only moments ago been admiring. Instead of answering, he kissed her again, a long, slow, deep kiss she’d often dreamt about during his long absence. And loved her so thoroughly she knew he thought he had erased all thought. She knew better than to ask a second time.

The few precious hours they had together would not be wasted. He kissed her again, chastely on the forehead, and whether purposely or thoughtlessly, turned over, buried his face in the pillow one arm around his wife like a protective shield. The thought of leaving her weigh heavily on his mind.***But unlike Ethan, Aryanna was unable to sleep. Ethan felt her move in restless sleep. Thanks to their bond he could be there when she awoke.

“Easy.” Ethan soothed, as he pulled his wife close. “Are you okay?””Just old demons I suppose.” Aryanna confessed. “I’m surprised your own haven’t come to haunt you.””Yeah, well perhaps I’m a bit better at hiding it.

“Aryanna stared into her husband’s eyes. “Ethan, you can’t carry that weight alone.”He turned to her, meeting her eyes, “I know but the demons I face would give you nightmares.

I’d rather not distract you.””Distract me?” Aryanna glared at her husband. “Ethan, we’re in this together forever.

I was hesitant before I opened to you. Why can’t I return the favor? I used to think you’d give up on me. But you didn’t. I won’t give up on you either. Never have, NEVER will.

“”Why? Because your mother was thought to be a witch and wrongly burnt at the stake?” Ethan questioned. “Believe it or not I was there when it happened.”


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