Shelly left Fane at his room after their evening meal, promising to show up the next day. She had reserved several hours with a local wise man who supposedly had some old scrolls she was chomping at the bit to see and was unsure when she would come to him.
He took the key Shelly gave him and turned it in the deadbolt. With a pop, the burnished wood door swung open into a tidy little room. , though the furnishings themselves were ornate, the composition of the layout with minimal. A bed, nightstand and dresser occupied one side, while a wardrobe and a washstand occupied the other. A nondescript door hiding near the wardrobe led into a bizarre bathroom. The whole thing was tiled from floor to ceiling. A metal cover rested over the top of the toilet paper. A squat toilet would have seemed intimidating unto itself until Fane realised there was a shower head above the toilet and no sign of a designated shower stall. Fane gulped. “When in Rome,” he mumbled to himself.
His bags from the airport had been deposited near the foot of his double size bed. The ornate gold silk sheets were garish. A mosquito net draped around the posts. Sadly, the ceiling lacked a fan, but tall windows and a transom above the door would pull a breeze into the room in the evenings. He jiggled the lever at the transom and popped the windows to see if his theory worked. Almost immediately, a cool breeze from the evening air wafted the scent of rhododendron and night flowering jasmine into his room. Three stories below his window, the electric lit garden spread out to the dark wall, the city’s neon lights blinking away on the other side.
He was to be housed in the palace rather than the barrack. Though he was to train the guards of the palace, he was considered an esteemed guest of the Prince and was therefore granted the privilege of staying in the main building. Once he was established formally as Orlov’s bodyguard, he would be moved into a different area of the palace.
He had never truly had a room like this to himself before. He shared a room with four other men on base, and a hospital room shared with two others was not going to count either. He luxuriated as a king, even for the evening, with the exotic smells and the lushness of silk bedding.
Fane wanted to lay and enjoy the heady smells but forced himself to unpack his bags. After hanging his few uniforms and shoving his sparse civilian wardrobe and suitcase into the dresser, he noted to himself he would need to ask about where to do his laundry.
He stripped out of his uniform and hung it to air until he knew where to clean it. He pulled on a pair of green checked pyjama shorts. Wandering into the bathroom, he spent the better part of a minute fighting the foreign faucet handle for water. Once on, he proceeded to brush his teeth. He figured it’d be a good idea, while he was in there, to figure out how the shower head turned on to cut down on wasting time in the morning figuring it out. That one took a lot longer to master. After a good five minutes and soaking himself, he decided it’d be fortuitous to take a shower then, rather than in the morning. The water was a tepid cool, refreshing in the evening warmth.
He fingered a particularly garish raised scar on one of his obliques, a habit he had gained over time. His body was covered in small surgical scars and red marks revealing a past under an unreadable map that held no keys. He felt like he wasn’t quite complete when he had to look at himself like this. Training religiously in physical therapy and then with his fellow soldiers had shaped his muscles. Eating a regimented diet kept his body fat low. His physique was cut and sculpted, his personal work mismatched with the lines and stitch marks brushed across his legs, torso, chest, and back.
His arms had not been left alone. His hands thankfully had come out with minimal scarring that was hard to notice, and the few marks on his face were only visible when someone knew to look for them. With a uniform on to hide the body scars, he could feel like an average person, but naked, like this, he was reminded of his missing memories.
Turning off the water, Fane confronted a distinct lack of towels. He rummaged around in the few places that could possibly store them and came up empty. He shrugged and pulled on his boxers and pyjama shorts, the wet distinctly unpleasant. The evaporation off his back was refreshing in the night air, though, and with a lack of fan, it was probably the only real relief from the heat he was going to get that evening.
Orlov had informed him that he’d have to leave his armaments back on base due to international policies. He had promised to equip him with whatever he needed when he got into the country. He felt naked without his personal knives, without the habit he had of taking off the sheaths, cleaning and organising them before sleep. His pattern was all kinds of disrupted.
He switched the light off to the room. The stone box was left in grey shadows, the stars and moon battling the illumination of the lights in the garden. He laid back on the bed, staring up at the connectors of the mosquito net. Night creatures croaked from the burbling fountains. He sighed. Rolling over on the slick sheets, he mused over the ornate whirls of roses embedded in the gold-leafed metal of the headboard. He had not expected this. Any of it. He had never expected to actually leave the base and make himself into something. The mosquito net picked up in the breeze, blowing a ghostly shadow over him. He hoped that he could do something useful. A guard quibbled with another at the gate. His mind drifted as his eyelids fell. Jet lag was trying to get the better of him.
A hand wound around him. It traced feathers across his chest, embers down his abs and fire across his obliques. A steady base thumped in his ears. It was dark. Gold flashed across his vision. His back arched unintentionally as a sweet numbness seeped down his torso to his hips. The brush of cool softness raised electrical ripples along his skin. Heat cut into his breath. His legs were tangled with something.
He was pinned. Fire lashed out. His body seized, winding tighter under an onslaught that made his hands clasp and his jaw clench. What is this? He tried to understand, but his mind tumbled as his body incessantly scrambled for a high at the edge of his fingertips. A groan escaped as a bolt of electricity ran through his core and his arms tingled in anticipation. His breath hitched as pressure pushed against him.
He came awake, panting. Where am I? He looked around, not sure. Fane swatted at sweat dripping down his cheek. Silk blankets and pillows twisted around him in knots. He gulped in shaky breaths, startled and hard as hell. The bodyguard stared down at the blankets, at his betraying body. He had no memory of ever waking up like this before. It was always the nightmares. The grey tentacles scuttled from some dark merciless abyss with a haunting screech of death that would wake him.
This, though. This was so many levels of different. Silk sheets shifted. Sliding, grazing, teasing. He dashed for the bathroom, the sizzling in his bloodstream not relenting. His head was going to explode if he put himself off much longer. He caught himself, only just, before his betrayal took him over the edge, his limbs both hot and numb under the deluge.
The hell…? He breathed deep, cleaning himself up. It couldn’t be past midnight yet, but he was wired and tired at the same time. He sank back against the cool tile of the bathroom. Resting his head against the wall, he tried to recall what he had seen in the dream. Nothing but the intense feeling of soft skin, of silk. He eyed the bedsheets through the door. Picking himself off the floor, his legs wobbled like a newborn calf. He eased back to the bed. Warily he ran his hand along the material. Electric fire zapped up his fingers, the tender coolness of the material setting all his senses on edge. Ah hell no, he told himself. He pulled the sheets off the bed and ran his hand along the plain cotton of the mattress, the intense sensation dissipating. He wasn’t going to sleep on silk again. That was too dangerous.
Chapel Orahamm (C) 2022-2023. All Rights Reserved.
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