Luc looks human, but he's not. He's a twelve thousand year-old immortal who's accustomed to hiding what he is, what he does, and what he feels. So when the three year-old in his charge is upset by a mean bully, Luc must counsel what to do.
Set up: A Deshai is a student in the Thieves' Guild. A teacher is a Sen'dai. In the Tarthian Empire, training often begins at age three.
Scene set up: Luc has taken Senthys shopping in an exclusive store. A human client inside with her young child takes offense at the presence of a "dirty halfbreed" like Senthys. When the woman demands that management throw Luc and Senthys out, she gets what's coming to her and is herself asked to leave. As this opens, she has picked up her child, who'd been standing next to Senthys, and gone out the door in a huff.
"I'm so sorry, Mr. Saint-Cyr." The manager touched his arm.
"Thank you, but I'm more concerned about my Deshai. Excuse me." He turned toward Senthys and held out his arms.
The boy ran to him.
Luc scooped Senthys up. "Did she hurt you?"
The boy's eyes glittered with tears. One slipped down his cheek. "I took a bath."
"Oh, Senthys." Luc hugged him close. "That woman was mean. You are not dirty. Not one bit." He cupped his hand around the child's head, lacing his fingers through the long curls. "I'm sorry she hurt your feelings."
With his head on Luc's shoulder, Senthys sniffled. "It's okay."
"No, it's not. It's never okay to be mean." He traced small circles on the boy's back. "Can you look at me?"
Senthys lifted his head.
"It's okay to admit when you're hurt or feel bad." He wiped the boy's tears. "You don't have to pretend you're okay."
"I don't?" Senthys played with Luc's tie.
The manager and assistant both hovered nearby, adjusting stacks of clothing yet he felt their surreptitious attention as if it were touches. This had turned into a far more public outing than he'd anticipated. Nothing to do but wade in and clean up the mess.
"It's okay to be sad. Everyone is sad sometimes. You don't have to hide pain." Here he was saying the words, when he couldn't do the same thing with Pietas.
"Wili says only babies care about feelings."
"Does he?" Luc adjusted Senthys in his arms, and tugged down the hem of the boy's shirt. "Wili is wrong. It's okay to cry. It's also okay to tell people when they hurt your feelings. Remember how you told your brother he hurt my feelings?"
"If an adult is mean to you, you can come to me and I will defend you. I will try to keep mean people away from you, but if they say anything to you, it's okay to tell me. It's okay to be scared and it's okay to be mad. What is it that we don't do?"
"We don't hit or claw."
"That's right! Good job, Senthys." He hugged him. "You played nicely. Nothing you did was wrong. None of her yelling was for anything you did. You were a good boy."
"I was?" The boy looked so pleased with himself that Luc couldn't help but laugh.
"Yes, you were." He gave him a small squeeze. "Would you like to help me shop now? And then we'll get ice cream."
Senthys wiggled, trying to get down, so Luc put him back on the floor. The boy took his hand and looked up at the manager. "Ma'am, I would like some new clothes, please."
Luc could have burst, he was so proud.
The woman bent toward him. "I'd be happy to help you."
"Thank you." Senthys turned his blue-eyed gaze up at her, offering a blazing smile. "You're pretty," he declared, with a boy's innocent charm.
She blushed. "Why, thank you."
"You make my Sen'dai happy. He likes you." He tugged Luc's hand. "Right?"
"What?" He blinked up at Luc, the image of a perfect angel.
"Kids." Standing, the woman looked up at Luc through her lashes. "What can you do?" With a flirtatious smile, she beckoned to them.
Who knew having a child offered such a distinct advantage with women? With a new appreciation for his young Deshai, Luc followed.
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Would you like to review A Stolen Heart?
The story is complete, and when published, will include a bonus book, Behind the Scenes of A Stolen Heart. In it, I'll share secrets with you about the characters -- things that aren't revealed in the book.
I'm hoping to find reviews and reviewers. Is that you? I have advanced pre-edited copies in epub, mobi, and pdf waiting for you to download on Story Origin and BookSprout.
This version is self-edited and will be sent out for its final edit next week. I'd be happy to get questions if you have any, or if you were confused by anything. An early review would be a great help. Thank you!
You'll find Luc and Senth mentioned in many books in my story universe.
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