Rhyley was frustrated. Things had been going so well. And now he and Sandra were back on square one. Was it so wrong, he asked himself in annoyance, to want a little bit of time dedicated purely to the physical side of a relationship? It wasn’t fair how Fate had given him a soulmate so intent on justifying everything. She had been enjoying that kiss, before she’d started feeling like ‘something was wrong’. And now Rhyley knew that she would remember it in anger, because it hadn’t been justified, or justifiable, or whatever it was she bloody wanted from him. Rhyley planted himself angrily on the couch in front of the common room television and watched the programme that was on (some documentary about dolphins), furious at the world. He was an idiot to have thought that she would let go of her principles for a moment, even on the day of the month when Rhyley felt his best. Stupid Wolf Dream, stupid Sandra, stupid him. He might as well go to Roger Steelfang... But he decided against it. He leant his head back against the back of the couch and closed his eyes. He remembered the kiss on Sunday. Sandra wasn’t incapable of putting him in a positive mood. If he held on, and tried to be patient, he might even love her one day. Admittedly there was his desire in the way of bonding with her but it couldn’t be impossible. She was his soulmate. Like he’d told her as she’d looked into his eyes, so captivated and so ignorant of whom she was.
The kiss had been good; her reaction to him had been good. He held onto the positive thoughts as he stood up and returned to where Sandra was still sitting, doing her homework. He came to sit beside her. She studiously ignored him.
“I’m sorry, Sandra,” he told her.
Sandra stopped writing and looked at the page for a moment, as if asking it what to do. Then she looked up at him.
“Are you? Are you really? You said you’d try to go at my speed - only yesterday.”
“But I also said I wasn’t used to restraining myself.”
“Rhyley, what d’you want from me?” Sandra asked. “Because if it’s just sex, you can get lost. I thought we were getting somewhere, but if you can’t be bothered to respect what I want, you can just forget it.”
It struck Rhyley that ‘forgetting it’ might be easier on him, and better for Sandra. But then he really thought about it. Could he really date other girls knowing he had a soulmate? He and Amelie had ended things just so he would be free for her. Even if Roger took her away, could he date other girls knowing that he had just given up with his soulmate?
“No, I want to try,” he heard himself saying. And he felt how true it was. Even if he didn’t love her yet, she was meant to mean something to him in the future. And okay, yes, it would be slightly satisfying when he did finally make love to Sandra after they’d got married.
“How can I trust you, Rhyley? How can I ever let myself believe a word you say?”
Rhyley didn’t know. He shrugged hopelessly.
Sandra reached out and touched his shoulder. He looked into her pale-coloured eyes and saw pain.
“I don’t want to hate you,” she told him. She smiled wryly. “In fact, I kind of want to kiss you right now. But I can’t let you walk all over me like I don’t matter. You have to decide, Rhyley, if you can really respect me, or if you’ll fail every time you try. And I think you can control it, even if you don’t think you can.”
Rhyley nodded, struck by something in her words. A self-assurance, and a belief in <i>him<i> too. He rested his head on her shoulder.
“I just wanted to kiss you again,” he told her.
“Well, the better you’re behaved, the more it will happen,” she murmured, her words slightly teasing - as in seductively teasing. Rhyley lifted his head and looked at her, surprised and amused.
“Yeah,” she told him.