My writing and art! Main @cjadewyton and polished work on @jade-wyton
‘Oh, sorry, didn’t mean to scare you,’ Raidus chuckled. ‘I was just talking with your friend over there and couldn’t help noticing such a beautiful girl out here on her own.’
‘He’s actually my brother. But thank you,’ Stars mumbled, brushing her hair out of her eyes with a hand.
As she looked around awkwardly, Raidus glanced back at Ka’harja and gave him a confused look, mouthing, she’s your sister?
Ka’harja nodded, frowning, and motioned to his throat. Raidus obviously understood the threat— But seemed to think it was funny as his grin reappeared, much to Ka’harja’s annoyance.
‘You look nice as well,’ Stars finally managed, bringing Raidus’ attention back to her.
2 little bits from the prologue of the second book in Don't Lose Hope! Ka'harja is 11 here. Just a bab!
I cut out the middle bit because I just want to show off these two scenes, specifically, of Distro being a better mother than Kay'oten.
cw: child abuse mention
‘Ith not?’ groaned Ka’harja. He wasn’t sure what else there was to do; gathering firewood had been his last chore for the day.
‘Not if you want to learn how to make potions, it’s not,’ Distro winked at the boy.
‘I’m too tired to read,’ Ka’harja told her. ‘I’ll do twi-th ath much reading tomorrow. I promith.’
‘I was thinking about a more hands-on exercise.’
Ka’harja’s heart skipped a beat. ‘You’re going to let me make a po-thon?’
‘Unless you’d rather go to bed—’
‘—NO!’ Ka’harja didn’t feel tired anymore. ‘I WANT TO MAKE A PO-THON! What po-thon am I going to make? Invi-thability? Levita-thon? Explo-tionth?’
‘A herbal tea,’ Distro told him. ‘Cottonflower.’
Ka’harja’s heart sank. ‘That’th not a po-thon.’
‘Cottonflower tea is the most important potion you will ever learn to make,’ Distro frowned. ‘And it’s the one potion I expect you to never charge people for. Do you understand?’
Ka’harja gave a huff; and then, when he caught Distro’s frown, he nodded.
‘Do you remember what cottonflower tea is?’ she asked.
‘It’th the one for nurlakth,’ said Ka’harja. ‘When they get the thelf-feeding thickneth.’
‘Good lad,’ Distro raised a hand, hesitating when the child flinched. ‘Don’t be scared. High-five.’
Ka’harja swallowed, and slowly raised his own hand— And let out a loud giggle as Distro smacked their palms together.
‘That’s my boy!’ she cheered, ruffling his hair and giving his ears a playful tug. ‘Now, into the pantry with you!’
Ka’harja rushed to the kitchen, opening the pantry door wide and slipping inside.
He almost gasped; he’d never been allowed in the pantry before, and he couldn’t believe his eyes as they trailed along the shelf-covered walls. It was like a rainbow of plants and poultices.
‘What did I just say about talking back?’ Distro asked. ‘Did I say to do it? I think not.’
‘I know you don’t real-ly mind,’ Ka’harja grinned. ‘If you did, you’d hit me, juth-d like my real kekik would.’
‘No, I wouldn’t!’ Distro snapped. ‘Don’t talk that crock to me! And don’t you dare compare me to a Har’py.... And what’s this talk about “real” kekiks? As long as you live with me I’m your mother. Plain and simple.’
‘Not by blood,’ mumbled Ka’harja as he began to tear the leaves into small pieces. ‘You’re juth-d looking ath-ter me.’
‘Exactly! That means I’m your mother,’ Distro yanked the leaves out of Ka’harja’s grip and began to snip them into neat squares with scissors. ‘I don’t know what you think mothers are supposed to do, but I’m telling you now; a real mother is the one who loves you most. Nobody will ever love you as much as a real mother will.’
‘But my real moth-der doeth-n’t loth me—’
‘Nonsense! Of course I do,’ said Distro as she scooped the leaves into a ceramic cup. ‘Now, do you remember what to do after cutting the leaves?’
Ka’harja shook his head and Distro let out a heavy sigh.
Another short story I finished not too long ago. I wasn't originally going to post it here but why not? If you want the properly formatted version (w/ italics and all) you can get that >>here<<
A little under 2,000 words :)
When they had first met she had been too young to remember his face; just a babe, fresh-born from her mother, Ishkin Sky Watcher.
It had been far too easy for Ashta to steal her. Her mother was weak from the birthing and her father, Kamker the Stray, had been crippled from his fall off High Cliff. And from what the nameless one had heard the soother had been young and without a protector.
Ashta had killed the adults and taken the newborn before she‘d been given her name; and with no remaining family there was no one to read her name in the stars after she’d been saved.
She was was glad she remembered none of her time with the man. The four months had left her skin too scarred to hold Sky Watcher ink, though soothers from Sunrise Beach had come to help with special pigment purchased from seces. They had travelled the entire territory to bring her the dye after her tribe’s own didn’t hold.
It had been a gift the Sky Watchers had never been able to repay; though the people of Sunrise Beach had never asked them to do so. It was a kindness without expectation of return. And now, thanks to that kindness, the nameless one’s tattoos marked her as a maker; and though the ink had faded from black to grey over the thirty years she’d served her tribe it still held its pattern firm and strong.
She was grateful for that.
There was a shout, and the crowd looked up to watch as protectors strapped Ashta to Caller Ziat’s judgement stake.
He had finally been caught while stealing poultry from the people of the Red Forest. A pathetic crime to end his reign of terror.
But at least it was ended.
Fearful gasps and mutters rippled through the gathering as Ashta slowly raised his head and the nameless one pushed her daughter, Inntin Sky Watcher, safely behind her back and away from the evil man’s gaze. Luckily his glare didn’t fall on the nameless one or her family. Instead it dug into Caller Ziat’s own scowl.
‘Ashta of the Low Mountain,’ Caller Ziat spoke loudly, their voice projecting over the cliffs so that those standing lower would hear. ‘You stand before the five hundred and eighty-three leaders of the Lim’tar tribes and their people, at the peak of Caller’s Mountain where the Ancestor stars may pass their judgement. There is no tribe on Lim’tar that you have not wronged. Your crimes are many, and you have yet to deny a single one as your own. Do you wish to deny them, now?’
Ashta responded with a snort and turned away from the Caller. The crowd flinched as he looked them over, and the mutters started again.
‘You have left deep scars on my people,’ Caller Ziat continued, their voice a hiss. ‘Scars I can never forgive. You understand what is to happen to you?’
‘I’m not scared of the Taking,’ Ashta smiled, now. ‘There is nothing you could take from me that could kill me. Not truly. I shall live on, forever remembered. Forever feared. A whisper parents tell their children to keep them placid. I will have power. And I will have legacy. Strip me of my belongings, and strip me of my flesh. Strip me of my life. I will never die.’
Caller Ziat bowed their head and whispered a quiet prayer to the Ancestors. The nameless one didn’t hear all the words, though she was sure she’d heard it before.
‘Temela of the Deep Valley!’ Caller Ziat raised their head, speaking loud enough to make the crowd jump. ‘You may Take, first.’
The crowd parted down the middle, and Temela Deep Valley stepped forward. The nameless recognised him, she realised; found on the edge of the Sky Watcher’s territories years ago, bloody and bruised and terrified into silence. He’d been a child, then. Much like her. It had taken over a year before he’d finally muttered his birth tribe’s name to a soother and been taken home.
The nameless one had missed his company. They understood each other in a way not many others were able.... As she caught his eye they shared a solemn nod and she knew he was thinking the same of her.
He looked better, now, after near-forty years. He bore the marks of a protector and he no longer limped or flinched. Instead he stood strong over Ashta, and looked down at the man with a glare that did nothing to hide his anger.
‘Aah, I remember you,’ Ashta’s grin grew all the more wicked. ‘Your mother’s name was Kitkin, wasn’t it? Her and that familiar of hers put up quite a fight.... But they both tasted wonderful.’
‘You’re disgusting,’ Temela responded, stepping forward and pointing an accusing finger when Ashta simply shrugged. ‘You’re a vile creature which is only pretending to be alk. And I want your wings, so you can never be mistaken for one of us again.’
Ashta laughed, then. And stretched his wings wide. ‘Well, then. Come and take them!’
Temela drew his knife, and as he did the nameless woman felt Inntin squeeze her hand. She turned and quickly ushered her daughter through the crowd and down the rocky incline. She felt her Chosen, Breen Sky Watcher, trail behind closely; and when they finally made it to the back of the crowd the nameless scooped her daughter up and pressed her into Breen’s arms.
‘Papi,’ Inntin muttered, burying her face into her father as Ashta let out a agonised shriek.
‘I know. I know,’ Breen kissed the girl’s head. ‘We can go home soon. I promise.’
It didn’t seem a promise likely to be fulfilled, the nameless one thought as she turned towards the screaming. She could see Caller Ziat, standing on their platform, but Ashta was hidden behind the crowd. Just as well; the Taking was only just beginning, and Ashta had harmed many people. This was not going to be a pleasant thing to watch. The less Inntin saw of it the better.
The woman would have left her child behind, if she’d been able. But until Ashta was dead she couldn’t bare to let her daughter leave her sight.... A feeling that was shared by many, she realised, as she glanced around the crowd and saw others pull their youngsters close.
Ashta’s death would ease the anxieties of parents from every tribe in the territory. And perhaps it would help those from the Low Mountain regain their footing in the tribe hierarchy. It wasn’t their fault Ashta had become such a monster; they had tried as hard as the other tribes to stop the man, and had done more than anyone to help those he had hurt.
She sighed, bowing her head as Ashta let out another scream. She would be asked forward soon, when the Caller Ziat thought it was her time. And then she could Take retribution. Though, she didn’t feel she needed it. She was old, almost retired, and she’d made peace with herself long ago. Whatever she took from Ashta wouldn’t heal her. No piece of severed flesh could bring back her family or heal her scars.
Though, she raised her head again, peering over the crowd. Perhaps there was something else she could take....
A whimper from her daughter, and the nameless one turned back to her family.
Inntin was more important than revenge.
‘Come, love,’ she sat on a nearby stone and beckoned her daughter to join her. When the girl crawled into her lap she pulled twine from her pocket. ‘Let me show you another tassel knot.’
It was long past sunset when Caller Ziat raised their hand and beckoned to the back of the crowd, where the nameless one sat in a circle of children.
‘The maker without name, from the Sky Watchers in the far mountains,’ they called, drawing the attention of the group. ‘Step forward. It is your turn to Take from Ashta, and to seek healing from the Ancestors.’
A kiss to her daughter and her Chosen, and the nameless rose to her feet. The crowd parted to let her through as she walked, and she made it to Ashta quickly; though she didn’t rush. There was no need to. She knew what she wanted, now.
‘You,’ Ashta breathed, smiling through bloody lips. ‘Do you still drink goat’s milk? Or did they wean you?’
‘They weaned me,’ she responded, returning Ashta’s smile with one of her own. ‘Though, I do still indulge myself during spring, if there’s left overs after milking.’
Ashta snorted, and glared up at her with his one remaining eye. ‘I found your family just in time, don’t you think? Another day and they may have named you.’
She caught a twitch of Ashta’s lip as he scowled, and she was satisfied to know he hated her indifference. ‘Was it hard, growing up without a name?’
‘Yes,’ she responded honestly. When Ashta smiled again she crossed her arms and returned it. ‘Don’t think to mock me, old man. You don’t know what I’m here to take.’
‘Oh? What is it, then? Tell me,’ he laughed, and looked around the crowd. ‘Tell them all! What do you wish to cut from my flesh? My ear? My foot? My heart?’
The man’s face fell. ‘My... what?’
‘I want your name,’ she repeated, standing tall and addressing the alk around her. ‘I Take Ashta’s name as my own, and forbid it to be used in mention of his crimes. When our descendants remember Ashta, they will remember painted pottery and alpaca-fur tapestries. And when they speak of this nameless man’s acts, they will forget they were that of one man. His horrors will be mistaken for the acts of many, and so will seem like simple crimes.... I Take his name.’
‘You bitch!’ the nameless man pulled against his post and let out a hideous hiss.
‘So be it,’ Caller Ziat announced. ‘You have chosen to Take his name, and so it is yours. You may step back, Ashta Sky Watcher.’
‘No! I’m Ashta!’ the man on the post screamed. ‘Ashta Low Mountain! Give me back my name!’
Ashta bowed her head low to the Caller, and stepped back into the crowd without another word.
‘Give me back my legacy!’
‘Leep of the Sunrise Beach?’ Caller Ziat ignored the man below them. ‘Come. Take justice from the nameless, and seek healing from the Ancestors.’
Leep Sunrise Beach stepped forward, now, and Ashta recognised her as one of the soothers who had helped to tattoo her. And she remembered the man’s crimes; two murdered sons. And as Leep glared down at the man, Ashta knew she would not be kind to him.
‘Doesn’t he ever shut up?’ she growled, yanking out her knife and gripping the nameless one’s face in a hand and forcing open his jaw. ‘Lets see how well you scream without your tongue.’
A little rough, and I definitely want to fix it up a little, but I'm glad to finally be writing the scene where Gavin comes out to Dale ;u; Dale hesitates for all of 5 seconds before his Good Dad Insticts kick in.
But that second time... it had just felt right to him. And he supposed it had to her, as well.
She’d cried on the way up the stairs that day.
It was strange, how things had turned out. Everything was so different— But also, so much the same.
The biggest difference, really, was that Talia had been happier.
Their relationship hadn’t been a magical fix and she was still having a lot of trouble being open with him.... But she was definitely happier. And right now, that was all he could ask for.
This was only the second time she’d let him stay over in the three months since they gotten together. He’d have stayed over every night, if she’d let him. Or had her stay at his house— Which she still wasn’t comfortable with.
Dale was distracted from his thoughts as Talia stretched and stole the blanket, and he had to bite back his laugh as he stole it back. He tugged her close against his chest, catching a glimpse of the alarm on her bedside table and quietly cursing that he only had another ten minutes with her before it went off. Though, as he heard Gavin’s feet hit the floor in the other room, he realised he wasn’t going to get it.
Dale had barely let out his sigh before Talia’s door creaked open and the light from the hall shone in.
‘Gav, it’s not even seven yet,’ Dale muttered. ‘Don’t you want to sleep a little longer?’
‘No, I’m awake,’ Gavin replied. ‘I.... I want to talk to you about something, Dale. It’s important.’
‘Alright,’ Dale took a deep, throaty breath, and forced himself out of bed. He stretched, then stumbled down the hall after Gavin. ‘Guess I’ll make breakfast for everyone, huh?’
‘That’d be nice,’ Gavin said, pulling a chair from the table to the kitchen. ‘And we can talk while you do?’
‘Yeah, course,’ Dale yawned as he went through the cupboards. ‘Bacon and eggs?’
‘Yes please. Scrambled?’
‘Sure,’ Dale pulled out what he needed and, with another yawn, started cooking. ‘So, what did you want to talk to me about?’
‘Well... it’s about...’ he hesitated. Then sighed. ‘Dale, you had a lot of girlfriends before my mum, right?’
‘Yeah, a few,’ Dale replied. ‘Why?’
‘Well... I want to know.... How do you ask someone out?’
Dale felt himself chuckling. ‘You have a crush?’
Gavin gave a nod, a blush creeping over his cheeks as he looked to his feet and kicked out at the wall. ‘I’ve been watching you and mum, and I think how I feel is the same.’
‘Ah,’ Dale gave his own nod. ‘I see.... That’s cool. What’s her name?’
‘No— Not a girl,’ Gavin admitted. ‘It’s Jacob.’
‘Jacob?’ Dale paused. ‘Connor?’
Gavin nodded, though he still didn’t meet Dale’s eye.
‘Oh, well, that’s fine,’ Dale shrugged, and quickly scraped the food out of the pan and onto a plate. He headed to the table, ruffling Gavin’s hair as he passed. ‘Jacob’s pretty cool, isn’t he?’
‘Yeah,’ Gavin gave a smile, and finally looked to Dale as he dragged his chair back to where it belonged and started serving himself breakfast. ‘Yeah he’s cool.... Do you think I should ask him out?’
‘Why not?’ Dale turned to the hall as he heard Talia’s alarm go off. ‘He seems nice, what have you got to lose— Hey, save some eggs for your mum, right? She’s mean when she’s hungry.’
‘She’s mean anyway,’ Gavin giggled.
‘Yeah, but you’re not spending the day at work with her!’ Dale retorted, gently smacking the boy’s hand away from the food. ‘Eat what you’ve got already, you little brat!’
Stars can be very manipulative. Everyone keeps underestimating her because of her disability, so she said "screw it, I'mma use this" and learnt how to twist words around so nobody can argue with her.
Luckily, she (mostly) uses this power for good; like stopping her grandfather using her stepmother's old name.... This time it's pretty obvious what she's doing (she's usually at least a little bit subtle)
‘Distro, yes, sorry,’ Rorlbar sighed. ‘I still don’t see why you changed it.’
‘I just liked this name better,’ said Distro. ‘There’s nothing wrong with changing your name.’
Rorlbar simply shrugged.
‘I changed my name!’ Stars beamed. ‘And I love my new name a lot. It’s very nice. Kekik Distro’s new name is also very nice.’
‘It’s just hard to get used to,’ Rorlbar shrugged. ‘I’m her father, I’ve used Koktansi for years—’
‘—My kekik started using my new name the day I asked her to,’ Stars cut in, sounding a lot less pleasant than before as she put down her fork and rested her hands on the table. ‘You’ve had over ten years to get used to kekik Distro’s new name. If kekik Distro wants you to use her new name, you should use it. It’s very uncomfortable to be called by your old name when you don’t like it. And if you’re her yalfit, you should want her to be as comfortable as possible. You want kekik Distro to feel comfortable and loved, right?’
‘Well, yes of course—’
‘—Good,’ Stars said firmly, her ears flicking up as her eyes narrowed. ‘So you agree? Using her new name is best and you’re not going to use her old name anymore?’
Hey! Just added chapter 13 to A Man Worth a Million! :D Dale and Talia have FINALLY gotten together!
Ya'll can read the draft so far here: https://cjadewyton.com/my-writing/kladstone-romances/
It was good to hear him laugh so much.
And just as she thought about it, she heard him start laughing, and wondered what joke she’d missed as Dale turned into the apartment’s parking lot and slotted into one of the spots.
She’d only half-undone her seatbelt before Gavin leant over the seat and planted a kiss on her cheek.
‘I’ll meet you inside!’ he decided, reaching into Talia’s pocket for her keys. She didn’t have time to suggest otherwise before he was out of the car and halfway into the stairwell.
‘Gavin wai— Ugh,’ Talia leant back in her seat as her son disappeared.
‘There he goes,’ Dale’s voice floated into the car as he pulled open Talia’s door for her. ‘Fast little bugger, isn’t he? Nyoom.’
‘Nyoom,’ Talia repeated, though a little flatter than Dale had said it. ‘Sometimes I wish he’d slow down. Just a little bit.’
‘Aw, but then he wouldn’t be Gavin, would he?’ joked Dale. Then he offered Talia his hand. ‘Come on. You alright?’
‘Yeah, I...’ Talia hesitated, then took his hand and let him pull her up. ‘I’m fine. I just....’
She lost her train of thought.
And when Dale waited patiently for her to continue she felt her cheeks start to burn, and she looked away and pulled her hand back.
‘Talia?’ Dale’s voice was soft as his hand took hers again and gave it a squeeze that trapped butterflies in her stomach. ‘Hey.... Look at me?’
She dared to turn back, and as she met his soft, kind eyes she felt the butterflies trying to push out of her throat.
‘Talia,’ Dale managed, his voice cracking with the same emotions that had paralysed Talia. ‘Please be my girlfriend?’
And the butterflies escaped her as a laugh.
She didn’t mean them to.
But they escaped her, and she found herself choking on giggle after giggle as she collapsed back into the car and covered her mouth with her hands.
She had known that the question was coming, but she hadn’t expected it to sound like that out loud. She hadn’t thought he would say it like that.
She couldn’t breathe.
It was too much.
‘Yes!’ she managed. ‘Yes! Yes! Yes, Dale! Yes!’
‘Are you real?’ she asked.
Scaychie hesitated. ‘What?’
‘Are you real?’
‘I.... Uh, yeah.’
‘Oh, good!’ the woman stood up straighter, tucking her wings behind her back and pushing her hair out of her eyes. ‘Sometimes it’s hard to tell. You know?’
‘N... no,’ Scaychie answered, feeling her brow furrow at the strange woman.
‘Oh, well...’ the woman’s ears flicked back. But then, they flicked back up and she smiled. ‘I’m Keeyata. What’s your name?’
Scaychie just eyed her.
When she didn’t reply, Keeyata’s ears folded back down, and she stepped forward, gently placing a hand against Scaychie’s shoulder before pulling back and letting out an anxious laugh. ‘Oh, ah— Hah, you are real!’
‘I said that,’ Scaychie grunted.
‘Yes, but you may have been lying.’
Scaychie just shrugged.
‘Uhm...’ Keeyata shuffled again. Then offered another nervous grin. ‘I’m Keeyata. What’s your name?’
Again, Scaychie stared. And again, Keeyata edged forward.
‘Am I speaking?’ Keeyata asked. ‘Out loud?’
Scaychie sighed, and nodded. ‘Yes. Yes you are. My name’s Scaychie.’
‘Oh, that’s a nice name,’ Keeyata’s grin grew, before she held out a hand.
‘What do... do you want something?’ Scaychie asked. ‘Why are you...’
She trailed off as Keeyata slowly took her hand and gave it a timid shake.
‘What... is this?’ Scaychie asked.
‘Hello,’ Keeyata said, giving another shake. ‘Mother Tarasi said this was polite.’
‘How... is touching my hand polite?’ Scaychie grimaced. What kind of... weird custom was this?
‘I’m not sure,’ Keeyata responded. ‘I never understood it. But Mother Tarasi said to always do it when saying hello. Because it’s polite.’
‘Mm,’ Scaychie felt herself frown as she pulled her hand away. Then she leant forward and butted her head against Keeyata’s. ‘Well, uh.... Hello. I guess.’
‘Wh—‘ Keeyata’s eyes widened and she stumbled back, as if Scaychie had butted her hard. ‘What the fuck?!’
‘I was saying hello,’ Scaychie snorted. ‘That’s how dassens greet each other. Were you raised felinic or something?’
‘No, no, Mother Mairas was dassen,’ Keeyata replied. ‘But my brother and I are from Canis! With wolvens?’
‘Yes. Wolvens,’ Scaychie grunted.
‘Was that really how you say hello?’
‘Yes...’ Scaychie trailed off as she spied Linzor a little ways off.
Keeyata seemed to notice her tense, and glanced to see what she was looking at.
‘Oh! Linzor!’ Keeyata ran to her brother. ‘Linzor!’
‘What?’ Linzor growled.
‘Scaychie showed me how dassens say hello! Can I show you?’
Linzor rolled his eyes and gave a huff. ‘Fine.’
She headbutt Linzor so hard he fell over.
Little avio, little avio, for your second mother you must behavio
‘Yes. I would appreciate it,’ he said sweetly, nipping Scaychie’s cheek. ‘It has been quite a few nights since Eish’lee and I were able to be alone together. Setani’Selina is asleep in her resting place, try not to wake her when Geoff’Selulu gets tired.’
‘No other girl is making milk,’ Tru’man replied with a shrug. ‘At least, none I trust with my children.... And I thought you would enjoy a night away from Linzor.’
Scaychie couldn’t argue. A night away from the Orange Beast sounded like a gift from the gods....
‘Milk!’ two voices cried out from Scaychie’s arms, and her gaze shot down to look at the wiggly little boy.
‘Oh, yes, he’s figuring out how to use his speaker,’ Tru’man chuckled, nipping his son on the nose. ‘You’re very talented, aren’t you? Behave for kekik Scaychie.’
‘Yalfit!’ Geoff’Selulu responded, his voice echoing as if he was speaking for two people as he tried to grab his father’s hair. ‘Kan!’
‘Yes, kekik Scaychie will let you kan,’ Tru’man dodged his son’s tiny hands and grinned at Scaychie. ‘He wants to eat.’
‘I’ll feed him,’ Scaychie reassured. ‘You go.’
Tru’man nodded and turned, putting his arm around Eish’lee as they wandered into the distance.
‘Kekik?’ Geoff’Selulu’s voice broke. ‘Kekik kan? Milk? Kekik going?’
Scaychie tapped the bump on his throat gently. ‘Scaychie gives you kan.’
‘Milk!’ he said, in his usual voice. Then he opened his mouth wide and a second voice, higher than before, escaped him. ‘Meelk!’
‘Yes, milk!’ Scaychie replied.
‘Milk!’ Geoff’Selulu cried out before nuzzling against Scaychie’s shawled-covered chest with enthusiasm. ‘Now!’
A quick exerpt from chapter 13 of A Man Worth a Million! Dale and Talia are FINALLY getting together!
This is one of my favourite scene changes in the book so far shdhd.
‘Mm,’ Talia tapped her foot anxiously, her eyes still on her paperwork as her hands found their way behind her back and her glasses slipped forward to the end of her nose. ‘Work.’
‘Work,’ Dale repeated. Then he gave a shrug and turned to his office. ‘Well, then. I guess I’ll just....’
He’d barely taken two steps before Talia’s hand found his arm and he turned back, just in time for her to lift herself onto her toes and peck him on the lips. He felt his entire body stiffen as she dropped back down and looked away again.
‘We’ll talk after work,’ she muttered. ‘I just need some time to think about things.’
‘Yeah,’ Dale gave her a nod. His knees were so weak he thought he might collapse as he swallowed and licked his lips— Tasting that lipstick again. ‘I understand. Just... after work, right?’
‘Right,’ it took all of Dale’s effort to turn back to his office. And his heart stopped when he saw Aiden standing awkwardly in his doorway, half-filled bag of garbage in one hand, broom in the other.
‘Oh... Uh,’ Aiden looked past Dale, and Dale could only guess that Talia was glaring daggers at him as he blushed and rushed to the elevator. He pressed the button too many times, both while waiting for it to arrive and waiting for the doors to close.... And then, as they were closing, Dale saw him drop his things and pull out his phone.
Probably to gossip to Meg. Who would tell Trish. Who would call Talia.... And who knew how that would go?
Dale certainly didn’t— So he hurried into his office and closed the door.
Talia was furious at Aiden. The bastard had slunk off home after telling Meg about the kiss, and Talia hadn’t been able to strangle him to death in the break room like she’d been hoping to after she’d gotten off the phone with Trish.
Smart idea he had, fucking off after a stunt like that.... But he had to come back to work someday, and when he did.... She was going to kill him.
Dale pulled up into the pickup bay of Gavin’s school and Talia let out a heavy sigh. She knew it was coming. He hadn’t said anything the whole drive, and they had to talk about it before they picked up Gavin.... He’d ask questions about that morning. And Talia had no idea how to answer any of them.
Dale’s fingers rapped against the steering wheel for a moment before he leant back in his seat and let out a sigh of his own.
‘So,’ he started.
‘You want to talk about what happened?’
‘I don’t know,’ said Talia. ‘I guess we have to, don’t we?’