~ The Rain ~ pg 11

Four of the men were quick to lose their cloaks and tunics even before they had retrieved their dry replacements. Alex was not one of them. He was too aware of Fiora sitting behind him. Her silence thus far had not gone unnoticed. In fact she had not said a word since her ability had become ineffective against the elements. Somewhere in his mind, a memory sparked. Her silence did not mean her comfort. Alex turned to her, slightly amused to find her eyes screwed shut against the images of bare-chested men. He took advantage of Civyl’s distraction and drew closer to block the sight from her before asking, “How do you fair, my lady?”

She did not open her eyes as blue lips parted to whisper out, “I am fine.” Even as she said it, a violent shiver shook her body.

“You are not a very good liar,” he admonished, daring to take one of her hands. They both gasped at the touch, Alex for the fact that even through his numbed senses her fingers were like ice. Fiora’s reasons were left unsaid, but her eyes popped open to stare him as she snatched her hand back. He swore under his breath as she shivered again, harder. “You are not fine,” he chided in a harsh whisper. “Not even close!”

She kept her eyes on the hand she had reclaimed, unspoken thoughts racing behind her eyes. “I do not-t wi-ish to b-be a bur-rden,” she finally voiced through chattering teeth.

“Fiora-“ he was about to chide her again when a louder voice intruded.

“Is there a problem over here?” Civyl’s wisdom forsaken question was close behind him. Alex cringed inwardly turning to regard the man as he attempted to finish cinching his dry trousers while hunched over.

Alex knew he had no right for the jealousy that washed over him. Still, he could not keep all of the ire from his voice. “Your promised has neglected to mention the extent of her chills.” As if to punctuate the point, another shiver wracked Fiora’s body. “I would have noticed it sooner – been able to protect her from elements better – if you’d have let me walk with her.” Civyl’s nostrils flared at the challenge in his voice. Good. The man had been so concerned with keeping them apart, he’d neglected Fiora’s needs. This was his fault and he needed to know it.

Nivia shoved her way over, already sporting a dry shift. Where she had found the privacy to change, Alex could only guess. Her tongue clicked and her head shook as she examined Fiora’s exposed skin. “Do you have a death wish, child?” she admonished. Fiora was too overtaken by shivering to even respond. “Borris,” she hollered, “toss me something to change her into.” 

The man obliged though his toss only made its way to Alex’s hands. He recognized the clothing instantly as Avery’s nightdress. Alex bit the inside of his lip to keep from making an audible sound. A neat patch had been sewn over the hole in the shoulder, both front and back. Tears stung the corners of his eyes but he quickly blinked them away. She must have mended it while they were holed up in Hailie.

Nivia was, thankfully, quite oblivious to Alex’s inner reaction and turned a stern head toward Civyl. “You, help me undress her. The rest of you turn around.”

The End

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