The sudden knock on the door caused Jack to jump up from his chair. He swept an arm across the desk, pushing the small pile of coins, jewels, and trinkets into his satchel. Once the evidence was out of sight he checked his belt to ensure his knife was still in its sheath before cautiously approaching the door. The knock came again, a little less sure sounding. Jack slowly pulled the door open and peered out into the hall.
“Oh, it’s you!” he opened the door fully and gestured for Nadine to enter. She smiled and quickly entered the room. Once the door was firmly shut and locked, the two embraced with a deep kiss. After they parted from the kiss, breathless, Jack finally said, “It’s been a while. Here I was thinking you’d forgotten about me.”
Nadine’s smile quirked into a mischievous grin. “I could never forget the sneaky thief that stole my heart, now could I?” She held up a translucent blue stone set in gold on a gold chain. “Although a foolish thief to give away his heirlooms.”
Jack pressed his forehead against her and said in a low growl, “I could ransom your heart back to you, for the right price.”
With their bodies still pressed firmly against each other, Nadine knew exactly what that price was. “I think I may be the one taking the most advantage of that deal.” She pressed her hips into Jack’s, and he gave a quiet moan in response. He wrapped a hand under the curve of her hips and lifted her, pressing their bodies even closer. She wrapped her tail around his buttock and spiraled it down his leg, giggling and kissing him on the face and neck while he walked them both to the bed, the action hindered by her tail. They fell onto it together, tangled in each other in a knot of limbs that writhed and moaned and struggled awkwardly out of clothing. Then all the focus became sensations of touch and the sounds of breath and elation, until they fell still and quiet, listening only to their heartbeats. They were still thoroughly entangled, just in a slightly different knot. Nadine smiled contently with her head resting on Jack’s chest, encircled by his arms and lying on his outstretched wing. His heart was a steady drum in her ear.
“Jack?” she asked.
“Do you love me?”
His heart’s rhythm faltered a beat, then sped. She listened closely to the syncopation, fearing his response. Finally, in a voice of mild wonder, he said, “I think I might.”
She felt herself smile, “Perhaps?”
He paused, then nodded firmly, “Yes. Indeed I believe I do.”
Nadine raised her head and looked him in the eye. “You promise?”
His gaze never wavered. “I promise.”
Her smile grew, “Well, then I guess I love you too.”
“You are very considerate,” he snarked, then kissed her chastely. “So now what do we do with this situation?”
Nadine laid her head back down thoughtfully for a moment. Jack’s heart had slowed back to a normal pace, and he began languidly stroking her hair. “Let’s move to the country,” she finally said.
He laughed. “We’ll be a sight, won’t we? I don’t think those country folks will know what to do with themselves.”
“If we live near the shore, I’ve heard they don’t really mind. Nothing really surprises them after the humans started trading with us. We could be happy and normal there.”
Jack listened closely to the longing in her voice, and the sadness. “Then we’ll move to the coast. I’ll get a job at the docks, and you can knit and gossip alongside dragonians and humans.”
She popped her head back up. “Really?”
“Yes, my love.”
Nadine sat up, “I can have everything situated in a week, maybe less. Might be better to do it quickly. Maybe tonight?”
Jack sat up and pulled Nadine to him. “Shh. Why the rush? Do you have a husband you need away from or something?”
“No. No, nothing like that,” Nadine replied quietly, turning her face away.
“Well then how does this sound: two weeks to get affairs settled here. I’ll send a letter or two ahead to see if I can’t get a job lined up before we get there. I have enough money to get us down and tide us over if you can’t secure any funds. Then we’ll have a stage whisk us away to our future together.”
Nadine was still a moment, then nodded.
“Then it’s settled.”
“Do you promise?” Nadine asked again, quietly.
Jack gently placed his fingers on her chin and turned her to face him. “On my blood, I promise you.”
“You would swear on your blood?”
Jack nodded. He pulled his belt from the pile of clothes and unsheathed his knife. “I would swear on my blood for you.” He handed the knife, hilt first, to Nadine.