I found Julay ensconced within her old quarters at Gossah’s Pleasure Emporium. She was sprawled across the bed, her face buried within the pillows. Silent sobs wracked her entire body. Approaching the bed with care, I pressed a hand against her left shoulder to gain her attention.
She whirled about to face me, her cheeks streaked heavily with tears. “What do you want?” she snarled, her violet eyes cold and unyielding.
“We need to talk.”
She settled herself upon the bed, wrapping her arms about her pillow. “Go away! There’s nothing I want to talk to you about.”
“Jules . . .”
“D – Damn you!” she hissed, throwing the pillow in my direction. “Get out of here!”
“Julay, please, let me explain.”
She bounded off of the bed, jabbing her right index at my face. “Explain what? That you were kissing another woman? In your room, no less!”
My cheeks grew warm with embarrassment. “It wasn’t what it looked like!”
Her eyes widened, anger shining in their depths. “It wasn’t what it looked like!?” she asked. “Were you not kissing someone else?”
“Well, yes, but . . .”
“You were on your bed. Naked!”
My face grew hotter. “Not entirely.”
“Not entirely?” she spat as she backed me up against the wall. “I know what I saw, Marius.”
I slumped with defeat as I realized there was no easy way of telling her the truth. “She’s my intended,” I admitted softly.
Her mouth trembled as she absorbed my words. “What?”
“She’s my intended.”
A fresh wave of tears coursed down her cheeks. “T – That’s not possible.”
“I didn’t think so, either,” I replied, running an unsteady hand through my raven curls.
She moved away and sat down on the edge of the bed. “How?” she whispered. “When?”
“It’s a long story. I recently found about everything.”
She wiped her nose on the cuff of her sleeve. “And you didn’t tell me?”
Rubbing the back of my neck, I stared at the floor. “I was workin’ up to it.”
“You were indeed working up to it,” she grated through clenched teeth. “From within her bloody skirts!”
My neck popped audibly as my head rose in her direction. “Jules!”
“Don’t Jules me, Marius. You no longer have that right.”
“I never meant to hurt you.”
She tossed her head back and glared at me. “Sure, like I’m going to believe that! And to think I thought you were different from the men I’ve known in the past.”
“But I am!”
She reached out to grasp an empty cup she’d left on the small table standing near the bed. In the blink of an eye, it flew towards me. I ducked down just in time as it shattered against the wall above me. The splintered glass fell all around me, several jagged pieces cutting into my flesh. Her mouth hung open as she watched the small cuts seal themselves closed in seconds.
“What are you?” she asked, her voice barely a whisper.
The glass crunched beneath my feet as I marched over to the bed. I sat down beside her, clutching her left hand in mine. “Are ya sure ya wanna know?”
“T – Those cuts . . . They’re gone!” she gasped, our argument forgotten.
I rubbed away a streak of red from across my wrist. “I can heal meself,” I stated softly.
Releasing a pent-up breath, I stared deep into her eyes. “I’m a shape-shifter.”
My palms became a tad sweaty as I swallowed past the lump in my throat. “I can take on the shape of a wolf.”
She pushed herself away from me, fearfully cowering against the bed’s headboard. “T – That’s impossible!”
“Nay, Love. It’s not. I thought so, too, but me eyes have been opened. There’s a lot I need to tell ya.”
Her head thrashed back and forth, her eyes scrunched tightly closed. I knew, then, she’d never accept me for what I truly was. The myriad of emotions crossing the contours of her face was astounding. Fear, anger, disbelief – I saw them all before her eyes opened and a cold, unyielding mask settled upon her face.
“Get out,” she said, her voice flat and without emotion.
She stood, smoothing some of the wrinkles out of her rumpled skirts. Her eyes narrowed as she stared back at me. “Get out, Marius,” she hissed. “And don’t come back!”
“But . . .”
“Get out!” she cried, reaching for the empty basin sitting on the night stand.
I hurried out of room, yanking the door closed behind me as the porcelain shattered across the wall nearby. Leaning against it, I held the doorknob tight as I listened to the commotion Julay caused within her room. The sound of glass repeatedly breaking came through loud and clear, as did the muffled noises of her tossing other items to the floor.
I yearned to march back in there. To reassure her, and tell her that I loved her still. Yet I knew she wouldn’t take my words at face value. She refused to believe me and probably thought I’d said what I said in order to cover up what I’d done with Daeanyara. It didn’t matter what the truth really was. Nothing I was to say or do would change her mind about anything. I knew that now.
Yet my heart and mind refused to let Julay go. She was mine and would always be. I’d do anything to make her believe in me again. Somehow, I needed to try.
But how? I wondered.
A light bulb went off inside my head as I considered the situation at hand. Julay was stubborn, but she believed in the truth. Right now, her faith in me was gone. I just needed to restore it. Grinning broadly as I thought of my next move, I marched off toward where I’d tied my horse and prayed that I’d be able to make Julay see my side of the story with open eyes.