It’s #QueerBlogWed! Every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, I’m posting a segment of ‘Waiting for Rebirth’. This story is the prelude to all other ‘Tales of the Navel/The Shadow Forest’. Maybe it’ll interest you enough to buy ‘The Hand and the Eye of the Tower’, ‘Stealing Myself From Shadows’, and other Tales of the Navel/The Shadow Forest, once they’re published?
We pick up right where we left off on Monday. Duessa Ashelocke is reaching the end of her patience with both her nephew and the Navel itself…
“Such a ridiculous notion,” she scoffed, glancing at me. “My own nephew, using light! I suppose this is some sort of artistic metaphor.”
“Light and shadows constantly dance around each other, waiting for rebirth,” Damian said. His voice was very soft, as he looked at me. “It’s going to be the theme of my painting.”
“Of course it is,” Duessa said. Her amused contempt returned, as she looked from me to Damian. “Well, you’ve chosen a lovely model, even if you are wasting your time.”
“Thank you,” Damian replied, relaxing a little bit. “It’s always a joy to have your support.” Sarcasm and humor laced every word, as he smiled at his aunt.
Duessa’s lips twisted, caught between a smirk and a grimace. “I think that’s enough truth and insincerity for one visit. I’ll return to my lair and leave you to your dubious sanctuary.”
“Give my best to your Valentines,” Damian said with utter sweetness. “I’m certain they must be feeling quite drained.”
Valentines? This was a comment that made absolutely no sense to me, although it clearly made sense to everyone else. Duessa scowled, while Gabrielle looked a bit pained.
“Hilarious, as always,” Duessa said, raising her eyebrow. “Let’s hope your painting is at least is worth a few laughs.”
With those words, she moved in an angry rustle of skirts towards the door. Damian steered me out of the way, before they could knock either of us over. Nobody moved, or breathed, until she’d opened the door and exited. The chimes clanged against each other, while the air sighed with relief.
The air? No, it was Damian, Gabrielle, and myself all exhaling at the same time. Damian looked from me to his employer out of the corner of his eye. His lips twitched. Gabrielle didn’t even bother to hide her grin.
Any tension remaining in the air dissolved into something much more welcoming.