This scene from Ring of the Dragon features Pietas and Dark Hair, the Kin female who is helping him hunt for a specific horse (hynder). They have traipsed across a huge portion of the world, and have finally found a human who knows where the horse is. In addition, the human has invited them to hitch a ride on his transport and promised to give them a lift as far north as the Ruh River the next morning. Pietas has a moment alone with Dark Hair, who understands his claustrophobia and the reason for it. All in all, things are starting to look up. For Pietas, that usually means they are about to fall apart.
Dark Hair patted Pietas on the shoulder. "You come. I scrub back."
The head had white walls but no windows. Not dark, but so closed Pietas could not force himself to enter. The shower stall also housed the toilet and sink. The floor sloped toward a central drain. A vertical life-pod. Worse than prison. In prison, you could pace.
Dark Hair edged around him and turned on the water. "Look. Big towel. You like this, I know. Soft." She stuck one hand under the water. "See? Is hot water. You come." She beckoned. "I help you. Stay with you."
Pietas took a step back.
"I stay here." She held out her hands. "You come. Feel better, you get clean."
With his gaze locked on hers, taking one halting step after the other, Pietas crossed to her.
Dark Hair took his hands and smiled up at him. "You like hynder get new saddle. Is okay. Saddle not bad. I promise." She stood on tiptoe and kissed him.
With her aid, he stripped and she placed their clothes outside the door for Mase to collect.
Pietas stepped under the steaming water. Closing his eyes, he let the water pour over his head and down onto his shoulders. The tension of the day eased. With his eyes closed, he could picture himself aboard his ship, in his bathing chamber. Safe. Not locked in. Free.
He let out a long sigh. "I needed this. Thanks."
"Will like clean clothes."
"He very nice."
Dark Hair moved Pietas's hair over one shoulder. She ran both hands across his back, making circles as she bathed him. "You not like Mase?"
"I don't know him. I've been lied to, fired upon, stolen from, and otherwise abused too many times to trust without proof."
"Hmm?" He turned to find Dark Hair standing on a stool. He had to tilt back his head to meet her gaze. "Why?"
"Close eyes. I wash face."
When he had, she washed from his brow to his chin. "You rinse."
He stuck his face under the water, wiped it with one hand. "Thank you."
"Turn around again, I wash hair." She poured shampoo into one hand.
Pietas turned his back, and angled the spray away from his face. "If you're trying to make up for robbing me, it's working."
She gave a low purr. "Good." Her claws on his scalp sent shivers down his arms.
After the shampoo, she soaped his chest, and when he'd rinsed, curled her fingers into his hair. With her standing above him, he had to tip back his head to accept her kiss. How he'd love to lift her into his arms, press her against the wall and have her heat surround him.
Dark Hair pulled back. "Have idea."
She directed him to sit atop the closed toilet seat, and faced him. "You hold here." She placed his hands on her waist. With the water cascading over them, she lowered herself onto his lap.
She halted. "This cause pain?"
"Pain?" He pressed his brow against hers. "What pain?" He pulled her down to him and parted his lips for her kiss.
Antonello Brothers: Immortal - Because Romance Lives Forever
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