April 19, 2014

In Which Camaline Does a Friend a Favor

April 3, 1185

Where did I put them?

Camaline ran a finger along the spines of the books, as if its presence would change a title to one she wanted. Aydelle's daughter Hanna was earning a little extra pocket money at university tutoring other students in math, and Aydelle had asked Camaline if she had any remedial texts to spare. She could have sworn to the presence of at least a couple in her office, but damned if she could recall exactly where she'd placed them. If Aydelle hadn't asked, no doubt she would have caught sight of them front and center every time she approached the shelf.

But... well, she could do a friend a favor, and she would. Their romance had been over long enough that awkwardness had little right to linger--and even if it hadn't, denying an innocent party valuable materials would have been a petty act indeed. She'd find those damn books even if she had to tear her office apart trying.

But she wouldn't have to tear it apart just yet, or so the knock on the door told her. She'd have to deal with whoever it was first. "Yes?"

"It's me." Xeta. Strangely, after a year in her position and with three of the four teachers having been there from the beginning, Xeta was the only one familiar enough to get away with 'me'. "May I?"

"Of course." She backed away from the bookcase as her friend entered, unsure what exactly she wanted. Xeta had come to her a few times about her pregnancy anxiety, but the last time had been some while back, and their frequency had been on the decline before that. Not that they never talked about anything else, but surely she would have gone to Rona first for any other concerns, and waited until the end of the day for mere visitation... "What do you need?"

"Uh... well, it might be a bit of an awkward favor, but I won't make a fuss if you say no."

"All right." In the interests of tact, she opted not to point out that discussing pregnancy was as awkward as it ever got for her. "What do you need?"

"It's about my part in the masque." Of course it was. Could anyone talk about anything else these days? Camaline had declined the offer of a part herself, having less than zero interest more than maybe--maybe--watching the thing. She hadn't expected to be alone in that regard. "I'm playing Lady Morgause's daughter-in-law, Lady Dindrane. I had a chat with Morgan about her character, and I think I can relate to her on most levels, but there's one thing that, um..."

"That what?"

"Well..." Xeta's lips broke into a sheepish smile. "Apparently Lady Dindrane... has an affinity for the female of the species."

"Oh." That explained why she'd been the choice over Xeta's sister. "Uh... well, I'm not really sure if I can tell you how to play that. It's not a personality trait."

"Ah, yes--sorry. But that's not quite what I wanted to ask." Her friend grimaced again, a not-insignificant red in her cheeks. "I just thought that maybe I could get in her head a little more easily if I, uh... had some experience in that regard."

And that really explained why she'd been the choice over Xeta's sister. "You don't mean--"

"Oh, no! No, I don't want to do that! Not that there's an issue with... that..." Her blush swelled, apologetic. "I just thought maybe a kiss?"

"A kiss."

"Just one. It's not totally inappropriate to ask you that, is it?"

"No, I don't mind." At least... she didn't think she did? It had been a while since her last kiss, and Xeta was not devoid of charms. If she was to develop some sort of fondness, a good friend was not her first choice--and nor was an employee. "It would just be a one-time thing, correct?"

"Yes, of course."

"All right, then." All right. Was it all right? Probably not if she was wondering what Xeta's breasts looked like beneath the shapeless work robes... "Um. Now, or...?"

"Now is fine."

"Oh. All right." What had been the first step in that kissing lesson of all those years ago? A hand to the shoulder? She put her hand on Xeta's shoulder. And Xeta's was on her...

...side? That was rather forward for a first kiss. More-so if it wasn't supposed to mean anything. But if Xeta had only ever kissed Jadin, then forward was all she knew.

Stop thinking about it so much. Just lean in and give her a kiss. She drew a little closer, caught between wanting to and not wanting to want to. Stop it. You've done this hundreds of times. Just get it over--

"Ow!"

And that was the problem with over-thinking. "Shit! Sorry."

"No, it's fine." Nonetheless, Xeta massaged the bridge of her nose between her fingers. "Really."

No, it wasn't fine. But it was probably for the best anyway. "Look, if you don't want--"

But apparently she did.

Huh. A few more seconds than anticipated passed, but Camaline hardly noticed. Strange, how a kiss could bring all other thoughts to pause like that, how time stopped for the brush of lip on lip. Strange, and nice.

Perhaps a little too nice.

And over as suddenly as it had begun. "Well, that ought to do it. Thanks, Cammie."

Oh. Right. "Uh, no problem. Anything for a friend and all."

"And you're the best friend. And just so you're reassured--when I tell Jadin that I actually went through with this, I won't tell him it was you."

Right. Jadin. "All right. Um... thanks."

"Any time."

Someone else knocked--a man from the sounds of it. That would do well to quell the tingling between her legs. "Come in."

"Camaline?"

Well--there was no one quite like her stepbrother to bring the mind back to speed. "Searle? What are you doing in Naroni?"

Was there ever a good answer to that question? "I have some bad news."

NEXT CHAPTER:

8 comments:

Van said...

Sorry that this one is a little sluggish. It's been a sluggish couple of days.

Penelope said...

It had better not be Laralita! She was just getting her life back! (Says Penelope, who gardens like a fiend.) Unless the bad news has already happened on camera and I just don't remember? *ponders*

Eh... Xeta. This was a bizarre interaction, unless of course she was just looking for an excuse to kiss Cammie, which would seem unlikely since she is in love with her husband. Or maybe it was precisely because she is in love with her husband. I can think of few things that would get Jadin going more than knowing that Xeta is running around making out with other women. Oh dear though. Poor, lonely Camaline. Surely she is too smart to fall in love with someone she can never have? Oh wait, I take that back. Camaline only falls in love with people she can never have, or at least not have in a permanent or exclusive way. I wish this chapter had been from Xeta's perspective.

morgaine2005 said...

*singing* I kissed a girl, and I liked it!

... That's from Xeta's perspective more, I think. We already know that Camaline likes kissing girls.

Although I have to say, if any straight man in Naroni was likely to be ok with the knowledge that his wife was running around with other women, it would probably be Jadin. He'd probably think that was one of the hottest things he'd ever heard ...

But yeah, this does seem like another great way for Camaline to get her heart broken. *sigh* She needs someone who's into women and doesn't have any other pesky attachments in the way.

And -- I don't think it's Laralita that's in trouble? If only because I'm pretty sure that's her in the preview pic. But Searle-the-no-longer-dying showing up in Naroni is rarely a harbinger of good tidings.

Plus, I must admit that I did like Camaline's line about forward being all Xeta knows. Yup ... that would be the measure of it.

Winter said...

Xeta has always had a little weird streak in her - good weird, not weird all the same. I think Xeta could wrap her head around a thing with Camaline if they both wanted it. She did develop a master plan to get Jadin and doesn't seem to mind that he goes after everything with two legs. There's a little streak of weird in her, at least for a Naroni noblewoman, so she might be open to her own fling. Camaline seems to have a nice sized crush on Xeta already.

That looks like Laralita in the preview, so it's probably not her. My guess from the preview + Searle coming to see Camaline at work is that it's one of their half-siblings :/

Winter said...

>> good weird, but weird all the same.

Let's pretend that didn't look like I wrote it drunk. XD

Van said...

Pen: That is indeed Laralita in the preview pic, so it's not her. But with her pose there, plus Searle's knowledge of the event, it's probably someone close to her.

Some method actors will go pretty far to get in touch with their characters, but I don't know if that would be Xeta, so there may be other forces at play here. I could see her being curious. Or having a saucy anecdote to give Jadin a rise, though I don't know if she'd be comfortable using someone she was close with just for that.

Camaline does tend to fall in love with inconvenient people. :S As for why this wasn't from Xeta's POV... well, Xeta's POV would have not only revealed all motivation, but also would have gone into how she felt about the kiss afterward. At this point, the ambiguity of Camaline's POV serves me better.

Morgaine: From the looks of it, she at least didn't dislike it. XD

Jadin is enough of a good-hearted scoundrel that he'd probably be grudgingly okay with Xeta having a fling with another man. Xeta having a fling with a woman? The only thing he's likely to complain there is that he didn't get to watch.

Alas, yeah, a not-so-serious fling with a married woman who does love her husband is not what Camaline wants in a relationship right now. She wants to be exclusive; otherwise, she'd probably still be sleeping with Aydelle.

Heheh... all Xeta's had is Jadin before this, and we all know that subtlety is not Jadin's strong suit. XD

Winter: With the way most Naroni citizens tend to get with the first person of mutual interest (which is a problem, but I don't like writing romantic false leads), it would not be the strangest thing in the world if someone who'd married their teenage sweetheart and was still with them was bi and didn't know it. Xeta would not be the least likely candidate for that scenario either.

It's true that she is extremely lenient where Jadin's extracurricular activities are concerned. Probably even in Jadin's mind, she's earned the right to have some capacity of an affair if she wants it. Camaline would be a convenient option from her standpoint if she's at all interested in women, since they get along fairly well and there's no chance of any scandal babies.

Penelope said...

Aww, I feel bad for Camaline. Will she ever find The One?? Inquiring minds want to know.

Van said...

Well, she's still quite young, and she rolled a reasonable lifespan, so there's plenty of time.