I woke up, lying on my back. I inhaled gloriously fresh air as I sat up and gazed out of the cave at the lilac-coloured sky. I pulled the rug which had been loosely draped over me at some point during the night up around my shoulders. Beside me, Romulus was still asleep, looking gorgeous as ever. I touched his hair, as if to check he was real but mainly to remind myself how soft it was. The brush was light and gentle, so it was pure coincidence that Romulus woke up (but brilliant coincidence at that).
I watched him as he slowly sat up. He had a wonderful grace of movement, even when he was tired. He smiled at me.
"You stayed overnight," he murmured.
"That was the idea," I said, reaching out to stroke the skin above his sternum. I looked up to see him watching me with the same intent look in my eyes that I had had.
"I took something from you," he whispered, grinning. "Something irreplaceable that can't be returned." He chuckled.
I shivered at how seductively he was speaking. He pulled down the rug around my naked body and put his arms around me, leaning in to kiss me. My arms went around him too.
Romulus broke away to say "I miss that sensation of melting, don't you?"
"Ohhh yes," I replied, moaning slightly with desire, and faster than a lightning bolt, I was lying back on the rug which served the same purpose as a mattress, with Romulus caressing my skin and me tasting him as we kissed. We lost ourselves again.
When we had redressed (me in my nightclothes since they were the only things I had with me), Romulus led me out of the cave and into bright early morning sunlight. We strolled to the house and he let us in. In the kitchen, he poured us a glass of light green juice that tasted like apple and honeydew melon, and made us a slice of toast, which in Asteria was triangular in shape.
Peter walked in, wearing a dark green T-shirt and black jeans.
"Morning," he said jovially to me, while shooting a glare in Romulus' direction.
"Hey Pete," I said.
"I'm so relieved that Romulus actually shared something with you," Peter said. "I couldn't bear the thought of you out alone in the dark."
"Oh, Romulus is actually pretty good at sharing," I said.
Romulus stifled a laugh. ‘Don't,' he thought in my head. ‘He'll go berserk.'
"How so?" Peter asked curiously.
"Well, I slept between a couple of rugs," I answered truthfully.
Peter frowned slightly. "He slept on the cave floor? That's not like him at all."
I bit my lip to stop myself laughing. ‘Is he really that innocent?'
‘No,' Romulus thought-replied, sounding mildly anxious. ‘He thinks you are.'
Peter smiled at Romulus. "Is Tilly causing you to change?"
At that, I burst into laughter. Romulus did too.
"What's so funny?" Peter asked, looking annoyed. "And there was me, starting to think your personality was improving. You've even affected Tilly in some way."
I laughed harder. "In a very great way," I said recklessly.
Romulus shook his head. "No, Tilly, don't," he said but he was still laughing.
"Don't what?" Peter said suspiciously. "What aren't you guys telling me?"
I stopped laughing, sobering up. "We can't tell you," I said seriously.
Romulus looked grave. "It's a private joke between Tilly and I."
"Very private," I said.
Peter rolled his eyes and sat down. "Thank goodness I don't get annoyed easily."
"We really appreciate that," I told him. "You're like ... a golden beacon of tolerance."
Romulus raised an eyebrow. "Since when have you thought that?"
I kicked him beneath the table. ‘I'm trying to appease him,' I thought. "My appreciation has been delayed," I replied, shrugging. "He's always been patient."
Peter smiled. "Aw thanks, Tilly. I had some ideas about how you could discover yourself if you need a hand."
Romulus raised an eyebrow challengingly. "Tilly would prefer my help, I'm sure."
I rolled my eyes. "Quit fighting. I'll see how my own methods work, although I'm not entirely sure what they are."
Peter nodded. "You'll come up with something."
"I'll of course be inspiration and help you motivate yourself," Romulus said, giving his wicked smile.
"First things first, I have to be seen to wake up at home. Now, usually, I get up at nine and my parents are already up. My bedroom door is usually shut so I assume they don't check up on me."
"We'll leave about eight o'clock then," Peter said. "It's seven now, so you can spend another hour with Romulus."
Romulus and I stood up.
"Oh, and Tilly remember you can say no," Peter said, sounding like a parent.
We held our laughter in until we were out of the house.