Authors: Bonnie Lamer
I expected Xandra to look at least somewhat repentant. No. She has to cover her mouth to keep from laughing out loud. Tabitha is even worse. Even though she is also dressed in the same bikini, she is in tears she is laughing so hard. She doubles over and slaps her hands on her knees. I do not think she is capable of standing upright at the moment. If she does not settle down soon, she will need medical care for heart failure. This is the first time in my life that I have wanted to smack
in the back of the head. I never would, of course. Though, give me a week in this bikini and I may be willing to do a lot of things I thought I never would. Like strangle Xandra.
Kegan walks into the room wearing – surprise – a black bikini. In the far reaches of my mind, I can see the humor in that. He looks as confused as I am angry. “Is this some strange punishment for our sword fight from earlier? We were in the process of making reparations,” he says to Tabitha.
Tabitha’s loud chortles of laughter keep her from responding. Her face is now an alarming color of red as her amusement is heightened by Kegan’s appearance. She wipes at her tears of hilarity and manages a shake of her head.
“Tabitha did not do this,” I growl.
Kegan looks at me like I am crazy. “If not Tabitha, then whom? Whoever did this obviously wields a great deal more magic than most, but I am assuming it was not you since you would not have put yourself in a bikini.”
“No, it was not him. Nor was it me or Tabitha. It was Xandra.” Grandmother strides into the room in her new black bikini. I am surprised that she is not spewing lava of anger from her mouth. Instead, she looks calm and collected. “Apparently, your first lesson in subtle magic has gone slightly awry,” she says to Xandra.
“Slightly awry?” Tabitha manages and then is lost to laughter again.
“I’m so sorry,” she says to me, not Grandmother. “I swear, I didn’t do it on purpose.”
“Of course you did not,” Grandmother says. Then Grandmother turns to me and gives
a harsh look as if I have done something wrong for being annoyed about sporting a bikini I cannot remove. Turning back to Xandra, she says, “Now, we will need you to reverse this.”
Xandra is miserable when she says, “I’m not sure I can.”
Kegan, ever the suck up, says, “Grandmother, perhaps you or Kallen could assist in the process if Xandra needs time to rest after using so much magic?”
Grandmother gives him a tight smile. “If I was able to reverse this, I would not be strolling around the house in a black bikini. I suspect, neither would Kallen.”
Kegan looks at Xandra in shock. “You can create magic that Grandmother cannot reverse?” Xandra’s response is an uncomfortable shrug.
“Tabitha, if your mirth subsides sometime soon, we would all appreciate your assistance in guiding Xandra’s reversal magic.”
“Of course,” Tabitha says, still wiping tears from her eyes and gasping for oxygen between words. She gives a last look at me and Kegan and barely restrains herself from diving back into the ‘I am too amused to speak’ pool. Still grinning and shaking in silent laughter, she places her hands on Xandra’s temples and says, “Alright, dear, I need you to focus now. Though, I must admit that I have not had such fun in a very long time.”
“Tabitha, if we could move this along, I have a meeting at the palace in an hour.” Impatience seeps out of every one of Grandmother’s words. It appears her calmness is simply a ruse to make Xandra less nervous. I am not sure I could manage that at the moment.
“Fine, fine. Xandra, this is very simple. All you need to do is imagine the bathing wear disappearing from everyone but you. Return us all to our previous state of dress.”
Xandra pulls way too much magic and then flings it out at us making us all stagger backwards a couple of steps. Funny, I have never found getting dressed to be painful before today. Something else I have never done before today is wear a giant fig leaf. Like the stupid pictures in the books in the library at Xandra’s house. The Cowan version of a Fairy.
Her small ‘Oops’ is not at all comforting.
Kegan has converted to the amused camp headed by Tabitha. He is looking at Xandra with adoring appreciation for her power and how she looks in that bikini. My mood drops down another notch. Grandmother’s patience is also starting to fray around the edges.
“Perhaps it would be easier for you to simply imagine us sky-clad. Then we will attire ourselves as we see fit,” Grandmother says.
Xandra nods. She is embarrassed that she is causing this trouble and even more so that she now has to make us all naked. Not the scenario I was imagining as I came up the stairs. I would much rather be naked in her room without my grandmother, cousin and caretaker. But, here we all are. Naked in her room. I shake my head and dress myself in shorts and a t-shirt. Grandmother dresses and leaves the room without a backward glance.
Kegan, however, is taking his time deciding what he is going to wear. He seems amused that Xandra averts her eyes when faced with his nudity. I slap him hard on the chest and growl, “Clothes.” The expression on my face when he turns to look at me must give him an idea of how close he is to death. He puts on a pair of shorts, testing my patience as he leaves his chest bare. I do not miss the appreciative glance Xandra gives him before averting her eyes again.
“Um, do you guys want to go swimming now?” Xandra squeaks.
“I will leave you young ones to your day,” Tabitha says. “Xandra, we will try again later, and next time, we will try to find something to do that will not get Kallen’s feathers ruffled as they are now.” She gives me a pointed look and then laughs again as she shakes her head. This will be one of those stories she tells over and over when she wants to irritate me. And it will work.
“I am still up for it. Perhaps you and I can go on ahead and give my dear cousin here time to recover his temper. Though, that may take days. His tempers are quite persistent.” I am going to count to a thousand now before I tell him what I think of his idea. If I do it sooner, there will be physical action that comes with it.
“Do you want to go?” Xandra asks me.
Hmm, leave her to go swimming with my obviously infatuated cousin or enjoy the view of her in her bikini myself. “Yes.” The word comes out a little harsh as my emotions swing back and forth between lust and annoyance.
Xandra puts her hands on her hips. “I already said I was sorry; so could you please stop being a jerk about it? It’s not like I actually hurt you this time.”
Kegan has another laugh/cough moment before he says, “An injury to a man’s pride is sometimes more painful than an injury to his body. Shall we go now and let Kallen follow when he is ready?”
My voice has a distinct growl in it again. “I believe it would be more pleasant for Xandra to swim with the man she loves, not his cousin.”
“Not if he keeps being such a jerk,” Xandra grumbles in the charming way she says all of her thoughts out loud.
“Well said,” Kegan grins.
“Look, I’m going swimming. If either of you want to come with me, fine. If not, that’s fine, too.”
Kegan’s face sobers. “It is not safe to swim alone in the ocean. You do need to have someone with you.” At least he has something besides lust on his mind.
Xandra shrugs. “Right now, I’m willing to risk it.” Then she walks out of the room.
“Kegan, you are sorely testing my patience. I love her and I will not let you come between us.”
Kegan studies me a moment with his brow wrinkled. “You do love her. Huh.” Then with a smile, he says, “Come on, I am just trying to get your goat. I am not seriously interested in stealing her away from you.”
I snort. “As if you could.”
There is a grin on his face now. “Careful cousin, you know how neither of us hates to back down from a challenge.”
I raise a brow. “You would be wise to back down from this one.” I walk away and I hear him chuckle behind me.
As I walk down the stairs I ponder my behavior. I thought I had prepared myself for the reaction of other men to Xandra. Considering my violent jealousy with simply introducing her to Kegan, I am not off to a good start. If I am not careful, I will end up pushing her away so I need to stop acting like a territorial ass and give her reasons to stay with me not leave me. Right after I pay her back for the whole bikini thing.
She is already on the beach when I reach her. Swinging her up off her feet, I throw her over my shoulder while I hold onto her legs. Her long, sexy legs. I find I like this view of them.
“Kallen, what are you doing?” she shouts over the noise of the waves.
“Exacting my revenge,” I say as I run the rest of the way to the water and when deep enough, I sending her flying. She is sputtering when she comes back up. I fold my arms over my chest and admire the view.
“You’re going to pay for that,” she says.
“I believe you are too small to throw me in the water,” I gloat.
Before I can react, she has pulled magic. A tidal wave of massive proportions rises above me and swallows me whole when it comes down. My turn to be the sputtering one. I am not one to give up easily, though. Diving after her as she retreats towards the shore, I pull us both underwater as she laughs. She slips out of my hold underwater and pushes up to the surface. Following her, I reach out and once again am able to toss her over my shoulder.
“Put me down,” she laughs, gently pounding her fists on my back.
“Certainly.” I throw her back underwater.
This time, I follow her. Pulling her to me, I capture her lips with mine as I bring us both to the surface. A deep groan escapes my throat when she wraps both her arms and her legs around me and deepens the kiss. I crush her against me wanting to feel every inch of her skin against mine.
Of course Kegan chooses now to come after us. “Are you trying to drown her or seduce her?”
“Ignore him,” I murmur against her lips. “He will go away eventually.”
Xandra giggles. “That’s not very nice.” It would be nice for me.
I shrug. “I never claimed to be nice.”
“True, but it would still be rude to ignore him.”
“Go away!” I call over the waves. “There, I am not ignoring him. Happy?”
She slaps my shoulder. “You’re terrible. Stop acting jealous of your cousin.”
I scowl. “And I suppose you would have no problem with a beautiful cousin of yours joining us?”
She grins. “I don’t have any cousins”. I toss her back into the water.
She comes up laughing. “Will you please stop doing that?”
Turning to Kallen, she says, “Come on in, the water’s great.” I pick her up and throw her in the water again and she is still laughing.