His magical muscles were atrophied. They hadn’t been put to any use at all in longer than he cared to think about.
He treated it like any other muscle he needed to work. He stretched it more than was comfortable, but not enough that he couldn’t move the next day. He glanced over at Sylviane, who looked, more than anything, curious.
“Good set of Words,” she murmured. For a moment, forgetting that he was not being Kept by her, he braced for the praise – and, in a part of his brain that wasn’t really listening to reason, to the insult that would come right afterwards, with the downswing of his mood without his consent or control.
None of that came.
She looked mildly curious, that was it.
Leander cleared his throat.
“So.” The reason he’d been doing the Workings, right. “Nobody’s listening to us. There’s no surveillance.”
“I should hope not.” Her heart wasn’t in that. She clearly knew it was a possibility. “So…?”
“So you got squirrely,” he coughed and cleared his throat a couple times, but there was no glare or anything except what he interpreted as patiently waiting for him to continue. “Uh. When you were talking about your dad and the business.”
“Oh.” She looked away, chewing on her lip. “That’s generally where people laugh.”
“Miss, I happen to have a sense of self-preservation. Besides. Why would anyone laugh at that?”
“Because most people think I’m a party girl. So, ha, majoring in parties, right? Great for business…?”
Leander was lost. But he could read her tone. “Hey. You’re the boss.” Right, she didn’t want to be thought of as a party girl. Right? “So far, all I know of you is that you don’t want a bodyguard and you talk to me like a person.”
That hadn’t been exactly what he’d meant to say.
She was looking at him like he’d said something profound.
“I’m not a party girl,” she said slowly. They were still walking, although they’d come to some sort of park. Leander turned into it. There was a playground – no kids – a basketball court – three kids – and a pavilion, and more trees than he was used to in an urban place. “I mean. I like to have fun, but that’s just being human. Ah.” Her hand went up to her ear.
Interesting tell. She hadn’t dropped her Mask; nobody had told him to, either. He had no idea what her ears might look like in her fae face, but clearly they made her think about not being human.
He was overthinking. He must be nervous.
The sky might be blue, too, and water wet.
“I get what you mean. I probably like to have fun, too.” There, that took the whole stress and attention back onto him. Not something he generally liked, but it made her relax.
He shrugged a little more expressively than he normally would. “Look, your family’s given me the first actual decisions I’ve had in – uh. A while. So I don’t really know.” He gestured at the park and the trees. “This is nice. Not fun, but nice.”
“Soooo…. I could take you to a party?’
“Well, you can take me wherever you want. That’s the whole point of being your bodyguard-with-a-boyfriend-cover. You asking if I might enjoy going to a party? Going to remind you, I can’t drink while I’m on duty.” Because he could, he wandered toward the monkey bars. They were decently high up; he could reach them but only by stretching.
“So if I want to get you drunk, I’ll have to do it on your off-time, hrrm? I’ll keep that in mind.” She leaned against the end of the monkey bars and watched him, an expression on her face that he couldn’t read.
He was pretty sure he didn’t have an off-time, but she could sort that out with her father. “Something like that.” He ran his fingers over the bars, then, because he could, pulled himself up until he was looking over the top of the bars.
It felt surprisingly good.
“So party, sober.” She climbed up the ladder until she could look him in the eyes. “You think you might like it?”
“I might.” He dropped down, then pulled himself up again to look at her. “Might be miserable, though. Depends on the party, depends on the people… depends on you.”
“You’re willing to try it?”
Why did she keep asking things like that?
“Yeah.” He cleared his throat and thought about that again, pretending he actually had a choice. “Yeah. I might like it.”