Today’s brief features a new character, Salehi. Also from my Golden Collar series, he is the slave master and trainer for much of the series. This little bit poked me and I thought I’d share it for this week’s brief.
Salehi brushed his fingers over the railing as he took the stairs to the first floor of the tower. He nodded to the guard sleepily keeping watch at the bottom then continued on his way. The moon shone brightly through a window to his left and he paused to look up at it.
Twenty-four Midwinter moons, now, he’d seen rise and set from inside the palace. He breathed in the sharp desert night air and let his eyes dance from star to star as he tried to corral his thoughts. His eyes slid closed as he fought his longing and wishes.
In all these years, he’d rarely allowed himself to think about what he might have had were it not for that fateful night all those years ago. Regrets did little for him, instead he preferred to change what he could and learn to accept what he couldn’t. These restless thoughts most often drifted to a particular person sleeping in a room in the East Wing. His “what ifs” and “might have beens” almost entirely revolved around that man, more than anything beyond the palace walls.
Salehi shook the thoughts off and continued down the hall. As he passed each guard, he greeted them by name and they returned the greetings, smiles on each face. Salehi’s slippered feet took the steps without his thought, turning here or there as he came to the corners and cross halls.
He found himself once again stopping at the end of a hall. The guard behind him said nothing as Salehi’s eyes landed on the set of double-doors half way down the hallway. He leaned back against the wall and took a few deep breaths.
He didn’t know why it had become so difficult for him to stay away. He didn’t want to think about these things, wasn’t interested in the feelings he’d spent so many years trying to bury.
He swallowed as they welled to the surface and the longing and ache he’d worked so hard to ignore took over. He fought to keep his breathing even as images he’d struggled to forget over the years came back to him. His eyes closed and he gritted his teeth to try to push them away.
The battle, as had happened every night for the last month, was in vain. The same face looked down at him first in love, in want, in need. Then it shifted, to anger, to loathing, and the ache intensified into pain, going through him.
He opened his eyes, forcing the images back, ignoring the wetness on his face. He allowed himself to stare at the door for a few more seconds then he stood up. Why are you getting to me like this? Why now?
But, of course, no answer came to his question. Salehi turned on his heel and took the first few steps of the walk back through the palace. As he did, he heard the unmistakable click of a door opening behind him.
He stopped, afraid to turn around, afraid to keep going, frozen in place. There was no reason whatsoever for him to be in this part of the palace at this time of night. His new duties didn’t take him out of bed like his last did. No, that now fell to Cyrus and Nadir.
He listened to the soft scrape of slippers over marble. Were it not so quiet, he wouldn’t have heard them. But it was, even the nearby guard not making enough sound as he left to mask them. Salehi worked to control his breathing and calm himself.
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