Bal’s fingers tapped a sharp, irritable rhythm on the polished oak table in the center of the library. He observed the space where Nayome had just vacated, a heavy frown casting a dark look over his features. He felt as though he had missed an opportunity, and something unspoken had grown in the space between them. There was a distance growing between them that was not sitting comfortably with him.
He needed to figure out what he wanted before he pushed any further. He knew he couldn’t get Nayome out of his head, that was for sure. But he could sense the walls she was putting up and he had to respect her boundaries.
The memory of her, surrounded byteinein the forest that first night still followed him, but that wasn’t all. Her courage in the face of all of this, the way she had adapted, broadened her perspective on a daily basis without letting the weight of it crush her. It was impressive. Nayome was unlike anyone he had ever met before, and he wanted to know more. But the reality of their situation, the literal distance between New York and Scotland, was a real issue. If he couldn’t imagine bridging that gap, what was he doing pursuing this?
He knew what he was doing, Bal thought bitterly, sitting back in his chair, taking a final sip of his cocoa and setting it down on the antique silver inlaid tray. His body was screaming at him, and he wasn’t thinking straight. He wanted Nayome like he hadn’t wanted anyone in…maybe ever. Even tonight, with her sweater buttoned right up to her neck, leaving everything to the imagination, he had struggled not to reach out and smooth a wayward strand of hair. It had been difficult for him not to reach for her, attempt to finish what they had started on the roof earlier today. But the look in Nayome’s eyes stopped him. She had looked wary, almost nervously at him when he appeared in the library. After what they had shared, he didn’t understand why. After everything he had done, risked for her, why didn’t she trust him?
With Gabe having witnessed her magic as well, they had two seperate accounts—enough to convince his people she was of thedruid.He was hoping he would have an easier time when he got back to the Glen. But his people would not be happy with him. He may even face charges for endangering them the way he did before it was known Nayome could be one of them. So far, Gabe was the only one who knew how much he had shared with her, but word was bound to get out. Gabe would have to report to the elders, or risk repercussions on his own head.
Running a frustrated hand through his hair, Bal turned and smiled as Flay appeared in the doorway, a gentle light from the hallway spilling into the library through the open door.
“Master Balfor, you look weary.”
“Just tired is all,” Bal said, collecting the empty dishes and helping Flay stack them on the silver tray.
“Mhmm,” She said idly as she tidied up, shooting him a knowing glance. “Miss Nayome seems lovely, doesn’t she? It’s refreshing to have someone new in the house.”
“It’s been a while,” Bal agreed, deciding not to take the bait. He could see the calculating look in Flay’s eyes and knew where she was going.
“I couldn’t help but notice the way you looked at her…I’ve known you since you were a lad, Master Balfor, and I have to say I approve of your choice.”
“Don’t go there Flay,” Bal grumbled.
Flay tutted, clearly not intimidated in the slightest. “She could be good for you, she could be good for all of us. Breathe new life into this old stuffy place.”
“That’s awfully modern of you, Flay.”
“I may be old, but that’s no reason to stay livin’ in the past, you ken?”
Bal let out a bark of laughter. “You’re a gem, you know that?”
“I’m just sayin…our past is heavy, it needs to be respected, learned from. But don’t let history blind you to a good thing when it’s dangling right in front of your nose.”
Bal smiled, Flay’s words turning over in his head as he considered Nayome. “Maybe you’re right, Flay.”
Flay patted his arm as she finished loading up the tray, heading back towards the door and the kitchen.
“You will do well to remember it, boy.” He heard her mutter as she made her way down the hall. Bal grinned at the informality. He was sure Flay had meant to say it out of earshot, since no matter how often he asked, he’d never made any inroads on dropping the formal titles. Fitz would have had a conniption if he had been here to hear it, he thought, chuckling to himself.
Flipping through the volume Nayome had left earmarked, he spent some time going through the different passages until he found the section he was looking for. Writing a quick note on a slip of paper, he slipped it in as a bookmark and tucked the book under his arm, headed towards the guest chambers. On his way to his room, he bent down and placed the book in front of Nayome’s closed door. Hesitating a moment, Bal reigned in the part of him that wanted to knock. He felt himself stirring, body hardening at the thought of her inside, preparing for sleep. That button up sweater would have been discarded, her hair loosened, before she slid into the comfortable four poster bed.
Swallowing a groan, he straightened up, gave himself one moment to stare longingly at the closed door before walking the rest of the way to his room. This was going to be a long few days. Despite his discomfort, Bal couldn’t help but hope Gabe took his time sorting things out with the Feds, so he could get a few extra days with Nayome.