Abigail snuggles in Dorian’s arms, enjoying the afterglow. She studies her husband, tracing his fine features with her fingertip, eliciting a sleepy smile and deep rumblings of pleasure. Her touch traces a line down his neck to make random circles on his chest, and she can feel his breathing deepen slightly.
“Dorian…?”, she murmurs, almost whispering in his ear.
“I wanted to ask you something.”
“What do you think about just staying here?”
The man’s eyes snap open and he looks down at her. “What do you mean?”
“Well…”, she begins, still running her finger along his skin, now on his abdomen. “Scarlet and her council have been so kind and welcoming. And Duke Faisal clearly respects your knowledge and skills. And I’ve been so happy spending time with a sister who doesn’t criticize every little thing I do. I finally feel like I belong somewhere.”
Dorian frowns. “You want to leave Kyonin?”
“I’m tired of being looked down on and treated like dirt. It always feels like the elves barely tolerate our presence, and only because they know they’ll outlive us. That prejudice isn’t here at all. The most powerful woman in the land is a half-elf. They welcome all races, even the kobolds. We fit in here, Dorian.”
“But what of my career and duty to the Queen?”
“What of it? You know very well that you’ll never be given a proper command. Even if you saved the entire kingdom single-handedly, the senior officers would object to a half-human rising high in the ranks. And you’ll be old and feeble long before any of them are ready to retire.
“Here you’re already respected, and Duke Faisal and General Carson value your input and observations. His grace even gave you a public commendation for service during the battle at Abu-Al-Bazit. There’d be so much more opportunity if we stayed.”
Dorian looks thoughtful. “His Grace did already extend the offer of a commission in the army. But my resignation would not be well received at home.”
“By whom? The other officers? You know very well they’d be just as happy to have one less half-breed in their exclusive club. Your family? Your parents face the same prejudice and will understand. My family? Father has already planned to return here soon, and if Valainistima is unhappy about it, all the better!”
“You should be more careful, Abigail. Your stepmother is not someone to anger lightly.”
“I’m not scared of her!”
“Yes. But you should be.”
“So…”, her touch creeps even lower. “Can we stay?”
Dorian smiles and pulls her hand up to kiss it lightly.
“I will give it serious thought. Tomorrow. Right now, you’re going to have to finish what your fingers have started.”