Miranda led Shauna to the medical tent. They saw Janice immediately. She looked up from her book and nearly fell off of her cot.
She glanced at Shauna and meekly glanced down at the ground. Glanced back up for a split second and directly back down. Shauna wasn’t much better. She was staring directly at Janice, mouth open. Occasionally she made a move to speak and stopped.
Miranda sighed. “I’ll step outside. You can call for me when you’re ready to return to your people.” She excused herself from the awkward reunion.
Janice and Shauna hardly noticed her depart. They were too engrossed in looking at one another, avoiding each other’s gaze, grasping for the right words & keenly feeling their period of separation.
Janice was the one who finally broke the silence. “You look great,” she stated. “And you’re the new leader of the clan, I hear.” Her gaze went to the ground. “Your lover must be very happy.”
Shauna took several steps forward and knelt beside Janice. “You know that you were the only lover for me,” she whispered. “The only one I’ve ever had. Only one I’ve ever wanted. When I thought you were dead I almost…” she paused, searching for words she needed in that moment. “It was like a part of me died as well. I couldn’t even consider anyone else. All I wanted was to make Kiel and Torla pay for taking you from me.” She gently stroked Janice’s cheek. Her voice softened. “And then I find out you’re alive and well and that you haven’t taken a lover either.”
Janice pressed Shauna’s hand with her own. “I never stopped caring,” she whispered. “I just… I couldn’t stay there and let Kiel destroy me. I’m sorry. I should have found a way to…” She stared at the ground.
“I don’t blame you,” Shauna said. “I won’t even blame you if your feelings have changed. I won’t make you come back with me when the war is over. And if you do return, I won’t force you to become my lover again. But, if you desire it, I would still be yours.” She leaned in. “I’m going to try to kiss you now. If you don’t desire it, say no, push me away or hit me.”
She moved her face towards Janice’s slowly, puckering her lips. Janice could tell that she was being given ample opportunity to avoid it. She leaned her own head forward and met Shauna’s lips with her own.
It wasn’t long before they were fiercely embracing, tasting one another’s tongues. Janice leaned back on her cot with Shauna on top of her. She could feel Shauna’s hand going beneath her shirt.
Shauna stopped and pulled away. The pair were panting heavily.
“Forgive me, you’re injured,” Shauna said. She glanced around. “And we’re not alone.”
Janice felt her face flush. “I should be released and ready for duty soon. When I am… Would it be okay if I share a tent with you?”
Shauna kissed Janice’s forehead. “I’d like that. We’ll pick up where we left off today.”
She made her way out of the medical tent where Miranda was waiting. “You weren’t watching, were you?”
“No,” Miranda answered. “I thought about it until I heard you two moaning.”
“Well, we didn’t go so far as you may think,” Shauna said. “I’ve been told you’ve been a friend to her.”
Miranda nodded. “Janice and I have a lot in common. It’s helped us bond. Truthfully, I’m glad you still love her. She’s never stopped talking about you, regretting that she couldn’t stay by your side.”
Shauna smiled. She lightly punched Miranda’s shoulder. “Once she returns with me, I’ll extend an open invitation for you and her other friends, Dame Axtun and Sir Roderick Yerda, to come see her whenever you please.”
“Thank you,” Miranda stated. “Shall I guide you to your people’s spot in the base?”
“Of course,” Shauna said. “We can have a long chat. I’d like to hear about what things have been like for her. And I would like to get to know you. All three of you.”
Miranda nodded. “I’ll talk with Patricia and Roderick. I’m sure we can make some arrangements, once this whole thing ends.”
Caroline was going over her plans for their morning conference when Ida entered her tent.
“Lady Swifthoof what…”
Ida silenced her. “We are betrothed. It’s only appropriate that I stay with you.” She found herself a soft spot in the tent to lie on. “Just don’t do anything while I’m asleep.” She curled up with her head against her flank.
Caroline tried to focus on finishing her notes. This little charade was going to be difficult. Especially with the attraction she secretly harboured towards the pretty centaur. But she was far too old to start carrying on like a young girl experiencing her first love. She’d just have to stay composed.
She glanced at Ida’s sleeping face and suddenly felt very young and foolish.