YAKOV SMILED AT everyone and pointed to the clock.

'The first hour is up, please move to the next opponent on your right.' He swept an arm in the direction. I couldn't believe an hour had passed though my arms ached and I dripped with sweat. But I don't want to move on, wailed the silly voice in my mind as I stared at Alek. It's all good now, my rational voice thought in amusement, and you'll have time with him later. I thought the expression in his eyes said the same thing. He reached out to grab my hand, then gave it another one of those long and seriously inappropriate kisses, making me blush. Not that you could tell with how red and sticky I was from the lesson. With reluctance, I headed off to Rumal for instruction.

LOI REELED FROM her hour with Sabyn. She'd felt a little smug at the beginning due to her kenjutsu training but this? This was a different ball game. It had been a proper fight and they'd both broken several swords. She hoped Daron might go easy on her, or at the very least spend a decent amount of time explaining stuff. She mentally crossed her fingers while she walked over.

DARON SMILED AT Laura who looked hot and flustered after her hour with Sabyn. Of the four girls he knew she was the best swordswoman and he wanted to have a closer look at her style. It appeared quite different to anything he'd seen before. He began with his stance and explained how and why he preferred it, then asked her to show him her preferred stance, before they set into it.

LOI WINCED AT the vibrations that echoed down the wooden sword and up her arm. Daron preferred what she would consider a German style of sword fighting, a lot of flicking. It was very quick and she had to focus hard to follow and try and keep one step ahead of him. 'A breather,' she gasped and stepped back quickly.

Daron lowered his sword and they spent a few moments catching their breath before setting back into it. She took the opportunity to observe how the others did. Sian battled Alek with a determined expression. Quick and lithe, she darted out of his reach then lunged back in. It appeared to give Alek a good workout. Loi grinned. He's lucky the fight between him and Cat is over, she thought, otherwise this practice could be dangerous to his health. Sabyn led Kassie through some steps. Cat and Rumal almost danced their sword styles suited one another so well, but Cat looked stressed. She fought with a constant frown and Loi thought she spotted see the tip of Cat's tongue between her teeth. The aura of gloom she'd carried had vanished and Loi smiled, thrilled for her friend.

WHEN YAKOV CALLED out finish time I was ready to drop. The thought of training in the afternoon felt most unpleasant.

'Lunch is in two hours time. We've made it later so you have time to clean up and have a short siesta if you like,' Yakov called.

Relief ran through me, though I felt comforted to see that the men looked almost as tired as we did. Alek stopped me before I left with a blinding smile and another kiss to the hand. I flushed hot when Sian and Loi let loose loud wolf-whistles while everyone else laughed. We headed off to our room when a thought that had occurred to me before popped back in my head. 'How did he know the word siesta?'

The others stared blankly at me.

'Yakov, how did he know the word siesta? He suggested we take one remember?'

Sian shook her head with one of those half smirks that suggested she'd figured this out ages ago. I exchanged a glance with Kassie. Sian, much as I loved her, could be a right know-it-all at times. I waited for her explanation, head cocked and an eyebrow raised. She paused at my expression, her face assuming a look of passive innocence. 'I don't think Yakov said the word siesta. I think we understood it as siesta. Think about it, Cat; you didn't really believe we were speaking English did you?'

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