There is a quiet knock at the door, and I put away the empty bowl before answering. Zink is waiting in front of the house in a skirt and fitted shirt, her gloves and apron gone. She practically glides in the darkness, and looks up at me with bright eyes. She is beautiful, as I have told her many times before.
She comes inside, to the kitchen. When I ask if she would like a drink, she requests only water. I pour a glass for both of us, resisting the urge to open a bottle of wine for myself. Tonight is a night for wine if ever there’s been such a night, but Zink does not believe in alcohol, and frowns at me for drinking. I do often wonder what sort of a drunk she would be. I am reckless, which may be the reason she is against my drinking.
She sits on our kitchen table. My mother would scold me for doing this, or for allowing it in Zink, but I don’t care. I down my glass of water, imagining that it is something stronger. There must be some look in my eye, for Zink asks,
“What happened to you today?”
With everything else, I’d forgotten that I’d walked out on her and the twin girls in her shop. Her tone is asking for nothing else, an explanation and then an apology. She deserves both, so I do what I can.
“I met those girls and their family this morning. Soraliyn, with the Mind Gift, started itching at my thoughts and staring at my projections, chiding me about them. I haven’t had much contact with the other one, but I ran into their brother this afternoon. I don’t like them. I’m sorry I abandoned you, but not them. There’s something weird in all of them.”
“As in they have Gifts and you are jealous,” Zink says, half rolling her eyes. I start to protest, but she goes on, “They are both helpful and smart about herbs, though neither has studied them before.” She stops and looks at me for a second, almost troubled. “Eravyn has your old Gift, Energy. She’s quieter, and seems sort of lost out here around this great dearth of Gifts. You can’t hate her for having your Gift, though.”
I want to. I want to find this girl and scream at her, steal her Gift away. How can she have my Gift, mine? I suddenly ache so badly for my lost sense that my stomach turns. I grit my teeth. Zink continues, either oblivious to or ignoring my anger, almost certainly the latter.
“They aren’t as young as I’d thought, either. The girls are twenty and their brother Nicola is thirteen.”
“They still look like babies to me,” I say. I am being unreasonable, I know. Still, I wish she’d validate my doubts, or at least discuss them, instead of wave them away. I can only feel the two years between our ages when she translates seniority to superiority and invalidates my thoughts. At twenty-four and twenty-six, we are old enough that the difference shouldn’t matter.
I pour another glass of water. At this point I would certainly choose whiskey over wine. Zink comes with her empty glass, too, sliding in front of me to fill it up herself. She touches my wrist lightly with her fingertips, and goes to sit back down.
I close my eyes for a moment, shaking my head out and trying to make sense. Just a touch and I want her with all of my blood. Her exposed legs shout to me, and I am tracing with my eyes that hard, lean curve that runs her length. This ache is a familiar one, of fire and ease and desperate, desperate need. The air is too dense now, too hot and still. The need, oh the need.
She gives me her eyes, and they give me her consent.
I have her in my arms, now, and her mouth on mine. Oh the fire, fire. I carry her roughly to my bed, and shut the door.