Just What I Feel

“What will you tell her?”

Ezra frowned slightly. He turned around and looked at Chris. If felt like it wasn’t all that long ago their roles were reversed. He was the one standing where Chris was, helping him prepare for his marriage to Winnie. Now, Chris was helping Ezra to prepare for his marriage to Morgan.

He looked thoughtful for a moment. “The vows, you mean,” he said. It wasn’t a question. It was a statement. They both knew that Ezra hadn’t written his vows yet. It was the day of the ceremony, but he had yet to put the words down on paper.

Chris stepped closer and said, “Are you going to write them?” The unspoken question was, Was he reconsidering marrying her? The answer was the same.

“No,” he said, shaking his head. He laughed and shook his head. “I’ll just… speak from the heart. I’ll tell her what I feel when I see her standing there, in her wedding gown.”

“You aren’t afraid that you’ll freeze up?” Chris asked, sounding nervous.

Ezra laughed and shook his head. “I’ve never had trouble talking, Chris.”

When she smiles

Keenan watched Sera from the window. She was kneeling at the edge of the garden plot that surrounded one of the trees in the courtyard. Her brows were furrowed as she wrestled with the weeds.

Finally, she pulled the last of the weeds loose of the soil. Then, she stood and looked at the plants that remained. She nodded to herself. She rolled her shoulders and turned around. Her gaze traveled up the wall of the palace, until it reached the window where he sat.

Her lips curved upward in a smile. It was like the sun had come out.

Nothing better than anticipation

Bertram couldn’t help a faint smile when he took Beth’s hand in his. He led her to the dance floor, then turned to face her. He gave her a little bow, as she curtseyed. Then, he led her in the dance. He’d dreamed of this moment since Keenan had mentioned that a group would be coming from Equisetia.

“I’ve missed you,” he said, his voice faint. “Have – have you been well?” It wasn’t what he’d meant to ask. He’d meant to ask if she had begun seeing someone.”

Beth nodded. “Busy,” she said. Her brows furrowed slightly. “I’ve missed you too, Bertram. There’s… there’s been talk of a group from Shynian Intelligence being assigned to the embassy in Equisetia.”

Blinking, Bertram shook his head. “I hadn’t heard,” he admitted. His brows furrowed. He wondered if he could convince Urban to let that team be his. He wondered if Beth would want that.

“Maybe – maybe you’ll be part of the team?” Beth said, tilting her head to one side.

Again, Bertram smiled. “Maybe I will,” he said. He would definitely ask.

Just Dance

Keenan frowned slightly at Bertram. “What are you doing?” he hissed into his partner’s ear.

Bertram flinched and whirled to face him. He adjusted his glasses. “That girl,” he said, tilting his head towards a lovely young woman that was speaking with a few of the other visiting dignitaries. “She works for the president of Equisetia.”

“Oh,” Keenan said, his eyes widening in recognition. “You used to work security for him, right? Is that…” he faltered trying to remember the name of the girl Bertram had been seeing before he was recalled to Shynia.

“It’s Beth,” Bertram breathed.

Keenan smiled and grabbed him by the arm. “Just dance with her,” he said. “Don’t be shy. Don’t apologize for things that aren’t your fault to begin with her. Just take the girl in your arms and give her a turn on the dance floor.”

Bertram sputtered protests, right up until he was standing in front of the girl in question. Then, he flushed and bowed. “M-Miss Sebohn,” he managed, “may I have this dance?”

Beth smiled. “It would be my pleasure,” she said, taking the hand he had extended to her.

Then, Keenan stepped back to admire his handiwork. He would play the matchmaker and move heaven and earth, if necessary, to get them together. They were too cute of a couple for any other eventuality.

Never Noticed Before

Morgan frowned slightly. She’d never noticed before that Ezra sent her such lingering gazes. Now, as she stood on the stage singing, while Devin played the piano, she wondered how she could have possibly missed it.

She finished the song and then bowed, as the people in the club applauded. “Thank you,” she said, into the microphone. “We’re going to take five.”

“That was lovely,” Ezra said, as she stepped up to him.

Morgan looked at him for a moment. “The song or the singer?” she asked.

His cheeks darkened and he leaned closer, so that no one else would hear when he said, “Both.”

That it should all end

“I had no idea you were seeing someone,” Ezra said. His brows furrowed and he leaned forward, resting his chin in his hand. “How’d you two hook up anyway?”

Winnie laughed. “I had just finished a tough job and went into this club to blow off steam,” she said. She looked thoughtful and said, “They had this rocking band and they were singing. Chris was behind the bar. I made him dance with me.”

Ezra chuckled softly. He couldn’t imagine anyone making Chris do something he didn’t want to do. At the same time, he could see Winnie convincing him that dancing with her was exactly what he wanted to do. “You make for a pretty intense couple,” he said.

“If we can make it last,” she said. Winnie’s brows furrowed. “Sometimes, that’s easier said than done, especially in this business.”

Frowning, Ezra thought about Morgan. Could he hope to maintain a relationship with her? They were, almost literally, from different worlds. He bit his lip and stood. “Let’s go to Chris’s club,” he said.

Winnie smiled. “That’s what I like about you, Ezra,” she said. “So impetuous.” She stood and nodded. “Let’s go!” They didn’t know if they could make things last, but they would enjoy the ride while they could.

A Matter of Perspective

Ezra sighed softly and tilted his head at the painting. Then, he tilted his head the other way. There was something off about it and he couldn’t figure out what it was. He checked the anatomy of the figures. There were no extra fingers, the thumbs were on the correct sides, everything was positioned in an anatomically possible fashion. That wasn’t it.

He began checking through the background, looking for something that was out of place or disproportionate in some way. His brows furrowed and he bit his lip. “What’s wrong with this picture?” he asked of no one in particular.

“How big is that tower supposed to be?” Morgan said, pointing at a spire on an island in the left corner. “It looks tiny!”

Ezra laughed and shook his head. That was the problem. A trick of the angling in the composition. The tower was meant to be far to the background, but the base was too close to the bottom of the image. Shaking his head, he grabbed up his paints and began covering the top with various shades of green.

Morgan laughed as the top of the tower vanished behind foliage. “That actually helped,” she said.

Nodding, Ezra said. “It’s a matter of perspective and angles,” he said, shrugging. He used various shades of brown to suggest branches, then layered more green. Soon, he stepped back and nodded at the change. “Thank you,” he called, as he turned to wash up his palette and brushes.

Hope in Something Real

Keenan listened to the music play and watched Sera sway to the rhythm. A faint smile touched his lips. For the first time since he’d married her, he realized something.

He’d married Elayne for reasons besides love. He’d married her to secure his position among her people – to make it so she wouldn’t be able to harm him. He’d gained four children from the union and he wouldn’t give them up for the world. He had no regrets where that was concerned.

However, that had been an act of desperation. He’d place his hope something false. It shouldn’t have surprised him that it had all fallen apart.

Things were different with Sera. He’d married her because of a family obligation, but more had grown out of their union. He loved her and, unlike Elayne, she returned his affection. Even if they only ever had the one child from their union, his marriage to Sera was, somehow, more real than the one he’d had to Elayne.

He bounced to his feet and crossed the room. Catching her hand gently, he smiled. “I love you,” he said, his voice soft. Then, he kissed her tenderly, in a way Elayne never would have tolerated.

Sera relaxed into the kiss, then, as he broke it, she smiled. “I love you too, Keenan,” she said.

Life imitating art imitating life

Chris glanced over at the last painting Ezra had given him for the club. Although he might deny it, this piece might be the last thing he’d ever paint. A frown touched Chris’s lips at the thought. They’d had their differences, but he knew that art was Ezra’s life. To lose something so precious…

“You’re thinking about her,” Devin said. Chris looked at him sharply. “Don’t need my powers to know I’m right.”

“Guess not,” Chris said, his voice soft. He nodded towards the painting. “Ezra called it ‘The Loss’. It’s… rather fitting, I suppose.”

The scent of her beauty draws me to her place

Bertram smiled faintly as he watched Beth at work. She would struggle to find just the right words. Her hair had fallen free of the pins and her glasses were slipping down her nose. To his eyes, she was beautiful.

He stepped into the room and set the small boquet down on the desk. “For you,” he said, his voice soft.

She looked up from her writing. Smiling, she plucked the card out of the flowers. Her smile grew as she read it to herself. She set the card aside and turned back to her work. Now, all the more beautiful, because the smile didn’t fade.

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