“What made you late?” Kanesha asked over lunch.
“Surtur. He’s trying blackmail now. One of his people got a bit rebellious and now he’s threatening to hurt her if I don’t go to him. He was also…showing me photos of home.” I managed to laugh a bit.
“Oh. Home as in blazing inferno of Hell.”
“I…” A pause. “I don’t think I have the words to do it justice. It’s not like you think. There are flowers. Flowers of pure fire. Rivers of lava and ash that flow across beautiful waterfalls. It’s not Hell. It’s…it’s an elemental realm, and it’s beautiful and deadly and destructive.”
“You want it.”
I paused. “I…no. I don’t. I would like to visit. I would like to walk past those rivers, and feel their heat. But I won’t be his queen. I won’t help him destroy the world and conquer Asgard.”
“He implied…” I let out a breath. “Conquer. He fancies himself as being All-Father for the next cycle with me as queen consort. I can’t…I don’t want that to happen.”
Kanesha nodded. “And you don’t want to marry him.”
“No. I don’t. I know I’ll be pushed into some kind of marriage, but I hope to have at least some choice. Enough not to piss off my dad. I…”
There was one person I wanted to marry, but I couldn’t admit that to Kanesha. Maybe to anyone else on the planet, but not to her. Never to her.
“I…wish I was just a regular girl.”
“So do I.” She reached out her hand towards me. Our fingertips touched and then she pulled it away.
But there was a spark between us in that moment that couldn’t be denied. A spark of shared feeling. Did she want me as much as I wanted her?
She wanted me. I hadn’t really seen that clearly before, but she wanted me and the most I could give her, now or ever, was a few nights. Snatched moments.
Or, perhaps, I could stay with her for the rest of her life. I knew it would be painfully short for me, but there might be time. I shoved that hope to one side. It was a day dream, one built on the thinnest tapestry of all.
I did not love her. I wanted to, but I couldn’t let it happen. I would have a husband some day, likely children, and I would be happy with that. At least I was attracted to men. Some men. Tyz’vel had known how to attract me.
Surtur didn’t. He knew I did not want him that way, so he tried to seduce me with waterfalls of fire and packs of fyrhunds.
He knew I would never love him. And as I had that thought, the fire alarm went off.
“Not again,” Kanesha complained.
“It’s not the…go. We need to be out of here now.”