His beauty has gradually impressed itself upon me. I feel his intellect, the force of his will, but more than anything, I feel his masculine vigor.
We lay there talking. Because he asked, I told him what I thought of him back then. He listened thoughtfully and said, “I always found you witty, intriguing. But I felt I should take the older sister, the beauty, and that you would do quite well for Lucius. That’s the kind of asshole I was.” He smiled and said, “I truly didn’t know. How could I? And perhaps it was a way to keep you close to me.” He looked genuinely repentant, kissed me, stroked my cheek. “I know better now,” he said.
Until then, we had kissed and held hands — nothing beyond the most innocent embraces. He looked down and then met my gaze and said, “I want you.”
His candor left me speechless. Over the last few days, I’d started to believe that matters could remain innocent, that we could cultivate some childlike bond, and he could truly be a brother to me.
“I can’t,” I said. “If we do that, I will fall in love with you.”
He said, “Oh, darling, I wish you would. Oh, Valeria, tell me it’s not too late — say that you forgive me.” Or words to that effect. We kissed, and he unpinned my hair, stroked it, combed it with his fingers. “Darling, please, I want all of you. You wouldn’t be so cruel.”
He stripped me slowly and reverently, as if it were an act of love. I found I could not stop him. He is so very beautiful, and was so kind, delicate and attentive. I don’t know how to write it — I hesitate to put the words on paper.
I knew it was him. I did not, could not deny him.
“You’re so beautiful and strong. Valeria, my darling,” he whispered in my ear, though there was no one there to hear him. “Let me love you.”
I gloried in it.
He held me close, and I could smell and taste him. He held my gaze and gripped me and held me in place. I knew it was him. He called my name again and again. “Love me, my darling. Say you will — say it.”
I could not deny him. I tried to turn away, to avert my gaze, but he held me there and forced me to meet his eyes, whispered, “Valeria, please, I need this. I need you.”
And so I said it. I called his name and told him I loved him. There was a kind of recognition between us, even as he found release.
And I do. I love Tereus.
For a linked table of contents, listing all of the Shelawn family adventures, click here.