DARK MAGICK RISING (Part 8)
Copyright 2016 by M.L. Rhodes
Jarrad took Wesley’s hand in his. His were cold, but Wesley let him spread open his fingers and examine the itchy scar on his palm, still new, but obviously healed over.
“You know I didn’t have a scar there before,” Wesley said. “This just happened last night. And now, it’s healed. And the same thing happened to Wen. His was…deeper. So it took longer for it to heal, and he did lose some blood before that. So he’s sleeping, regaining his strength. He’s totally okay, though. I promise. But he doesn’t want anyone to know right now because he doesn’t want to have to explain it and have everyone poking and prodding at him, trying to figure it out, when all he wants to is to get some rest so he can go back to work. You know how he is.”
Jarrad looked at Wesley’s hand a few more seconds, then lifted his gaze to his face. “But wouldn’t it be better to have Lilia check him out anyway, just to be sure?”
“Jarrad, if Lilia gets involved, then your mother’s going to find out. And that, most of all, Wen wants to avoid because he doesn’t want her worrying about him.”
The last part was pure inspiration on Wesley’s part because it actually felt like the truth. He was certain Wen did feel that way. And from what he knew of Marta, Wes suspected she would be anxious. She’d trained her sons to be fighters, like she was, because after so many years of exile, the draegans who survived the longest were the ones who could defend themselves against the high sorcerer’s raids and death squads. But at heart, she was still a mother who loved her sons, and Wesley knew, training or not, she worried about them.
“He said she’s got enough on her plate without having to be upset over something that’s already taken care of.”
Jarrad sighed and dragged a hand through his short curls—another difference between him and Wen, whose hair hung to his shoulders in a wild tangle of waves except for the occasions where he pulled it back with a leather tie.
“Mum would worry. And fuss. She always fusses when we get hurt.”
“Wen didn’t want that. Trust me, I had a hard enough time just getting him to go to bed. He wanted to keep working, come report in himself…all so your mother wouldn’t worry.”
Another sigh and another restless drag of his hand through his hair, and Jarrad finally nodded. “I guess I see his point. If Mum found out, she’d pester and fret and try to keep him from working, or from doing anything for that matter. Plus, Wen’s so damned noble, what would probably upset him most would be having her be afraid for him. He wouldn’t want to put her through that.”
“You swear he’s okay?”
“I swear. He’s just sleeping. Once he wakes up he’ll be fine and totally back to normal.” Gods, Wesley hoped so, anyway.
“All right,” Jarrad said slowly. “As long as you’re sure.”
“I am.” He tried to sound more confident than he felt. Not that he didn’t think Wen was truly all right, but he still couldn’t shake the feeling the storm was only just beginning.
“And what about you? You look awful, Wesley.”
“Great, thanks.” He groaned and rubbed his eyes, noticing his palms really were itchy. Damn. “I have a meeting with my bed, too, as soon as I fill Iann in on what happened last night.”
“Your bed…or my brother’s?”
“Wha—?” he asked sharply, glancing up at Jarrad.
Jarrad rolled his eyes. “Oh come on, surely you don’t think I haven’t noticed the tension between the two of you. He’s my brother and you’re my friend. All those hours you’ve spent training together? For weeks now I figured you two were either going to end up killing each other or you were going to wake up one day and realize how sickeningly perfect you are for one other and finally fuck.”
“Bloody hel, Jarrad!”
“Please. Since when are you a prude, Wesley?”
“I’m not!” So why then did he feel heat sliding up his cheeks? “This just doesn’t seem like the time for this conversation. And… Well, you don’t have to be so damned blunt.”
That drew a chuckle from Jarrad. “Since you and Wen are both still alive, and you were all gooey-eyed at each other last night before you went hunting, I figure you finally came to your senses. Besides, you smell like him.”
“I borrowed his spare cloak.”
“Because mine was soaked from the hot springs and the snow, and so was his. So are my clothes, if you’ll bother to notice. This cloak happened to be dry.”
Jarrad shook his head and gave Wesley a smile that was an odd mix of humor and what, for a brief moment, appeared to be a flicker of sadness, as if he were resigning himself to something. Wes wondered at it, but it was gone almost before he saw it, and Jarrad was back to normal, leaving Wesley to question if he’d seen it in the first place.
“It’s not just the cloak. We draegans have an acute sense of smell, and, like I said, he’s my brother so I am familiar with his scent, you know. I’m…I’m happy for you, though, Wes.”
Wesley felt himself blushing again. “Thanks,” he murmured, wondering why it felt so awkward to be talking about this with Jarrad.
“And good luck. Because Wen can be a right stubborn git when he sets his mind to it.”