47 - The Power of Green and Blue

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"My dear, sweet wife." Reuben said it as if it were the most malicious threat in the history of the world. If he hadn't loved her with the heat of a thousand suns, he might have done something violent to her. "You told the duke what?"

Ayla shrugged. "You're going to win the tournament, aren't you? I don't see how it's an issue."

"You just bet your home—our home—and all the people in it. You made the bet with a cheater."

"But is his cheating going to stop you from winning?"

She was so nonchalant about it, so... infuriatingly calm. But then Reuben saw the slight downturn of her mouth and the way her eyes darted away for just a second. No, she wasn't calm. She was terrified that she had just made a horrible mistake.

Maybe it wasn't supposed to work like this, but Ayla's fear did something to Reuben. It took the fear that had been blossoming in his own chest and snuffed it out, like a good gust of wind snuffed out a candle. Reuben had defeated armies for her. Now he only had to defeat a few men in the arena. And even if he was injured, he was still twice the knight that any other man in the tournament was.

The more he thought about it, the more brilliant it seemed. He had had a good influence on Ayla. After twelve years of marriage, she had finally started gambling. Not that it was much of a gamble when she was betting on Reuben, but still... it was progress.

He just couldn't let her know that the duke had seriously injured him during their swordfight. If she knew about that, she might start to panic, and Reuben couldn't have that.

He stepped closer to her, closing the already small distance that had existed between them. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a few of his fellow knights staring. He didn't care. Let them watch the master at work. "Do you know what I want to do to you right now?" Reuben asked. He put an arm around her waist so she wouldn't get away.

It had been months since he had seen her. Months since he had felt her warmth and looked into those sapphire blue eyes of hers.

"I'm guessing it involves something that we shouldn't do in front of other people," she said. A blush spread across her cheeks.

Reuben nodded. "But do I care what I should and shouldn't do in front of other people?"

"Uh... not generally, no."

He kissed her with all the fervor of a starving man who had just sat down at a feast. She resisted at first, but Reuben didn't let her squirm away. She had gotten used to him kissing her in front of other people at Luntberg. She would get used to this, too.

"You're not angry?" she asked breathlessly when Reuben finally decided it was time for a break.

"Why would I be angry? My valiant efforts to corrupt the most virtuous lady in Christendom are finally working. Besides, we both know that no one else ever stood a chance of winning this tournament."

"But I included Xander in the bet. Just in case."

"Hmm. I'm sure that'll make him feel all grown up. Now, I have at least an hour before my next matchup. That's enough time to talk to my Thomas. Where is he?"

Ayla blinked. "I thought you were going to suggest something else."

Reuben chuckled. "Like what?"

"Like..." Her blush deepened.

"There's time for that later." If we do that, you're going to find out I'm injured. That would worry you. Unfortunately, there will be none of my favorite activity until after the tournament ends. "Where's Thomas?"

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