and waded into the water.
She was sitting in the water, the waves lapping at her bare skin, her breasts just barely touching the water’s surface. It was daylight now so he could see her clearly. Her skin was not as dark as he had thought it was initially. She was a warm cocoa color, her nipples dark and as large as a gold coin. Her eyes, now plainly visible in sunlight, proved to be an iridescent green and regarded him with open curiosity.
“May I watch you boil the waters?” she asked him.
“It is not a spectator sport,” he said almost irritably. But he couldn’t figure out if it was because she didn’t understand that what happened to him was involuntary and painful or because his body inexplicably tightened with a curious attraction toward her.
Why did she have to be so damn beautiful? Perhaps if she were less so he would find her more aggravating, find her intrusive to a fault. Because he thought he should be reacting that way, he did so without really feeling the temper of it.
“And yet I have watched you every night. Is it as painful as it looks? You burn…like a star. I can feel the warmth even at a distance.”
“And a distance is where you should stay,” he bit out.
“But…it is beautiful. A star in the shape of a man.” She stood up and walked toward him. She reached to touch him, but he pulled away.
“It hurts. It is pain beyond anything you can imagine. There is nothing beautiful about it.”
She was undeterred. She moved forward again, her hands coming to rest on his chest. Jaykun felt the coolness of her hands through his tunic. It was compelling, the sensation of her touch somehow alluring to him.
“You are not hot now. Your skin is simply warm. Like any man’s would be?”
It was a question and he found that curious. Hell, he found everything about her curious. She was curious in both being and action. She was sloe-eyed, her cheeks full at the apple. She had the gentlest nose and thin little brows that crested in the middle. Her hair was straight, sleek, and shiny. It was wet from her lower back down and overall a perfect sheen of black. There were no lights to her hair, no sign of fairness. It was simply rich and dark.
“That will change very soon. And you shouldn’t be near when it does. You will get hurt.”
“I will be careful,” she promised him. “It happens the same every night at dusk?”
“Yes. Every night.”
“It is a long story,” he said evasively.
“Well, I believe there will be time later and you can tell me then. It won’t last all night.”
“Only half of it,” he said, his tone scoffing.
“It could last the entire night,” she pointed out. “It is lucky that it is only a short while.”
He supposed she had a point. But then again, she didn’t have to suffer every minute of it in excruciating, burning pain as he did. She was watching it from the outside. It still made him uncomfortable to think of her watching him as he lay vulnerable and burning. It was almost like…like being stripped naked in front of someone he would much rather keep hidden from.
He cast an anxious eye toward the sky again. “You must leave,” he said sharply.
“I will stay,” she persisted. “I will watch as I have done every night these past nights. And then, when you are done, I wish to talk to you for a little while. I have so many questions.”
“What if I do not wish to talk?” he said abruptly. Inside his body he could feel it. Feel it starting. Warming his skin in an all too fleeting sensation of comfort, chasing away any coolness in the air or brought by the waters.
“You will talk,” she said assuredly. “I am sure of it.”
“Leave,” he pressed. Then in a more gentle tone, “Please.”
She smiled at him, backing away and moving to the farthest edge of the cove. Then she sat down on a flat boulder, not in the water, crossing her legs and smiling at him expectantly. And whether he wanted to or not, he was going to put on the show