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Big Plans

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Dani Barnes
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm

Joined: 29 Jan 2017
Posts: 18
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Can Be Found: Oakham Mount, or Maple Grove
1375.00 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 10:31 am    Post subject: Big Plans Reply with quote

"Thank you so much for helping," Dani was saying as the last box was set down on the kitchen table. Not that Zach had actually had that much that needed moving, but his little branch of the Granger family had insisted on buying new kitchen sets, bedding, and small furnishings for her spartan little cottage on the Grove when he'd announced he was moving in.

A small group of Grangers and others were making their way from the little cottage known as Paradise Roses, for the quaint cluster of roses that grew nearby, leaving Dani and Zach alone at last, after a long day of moving. "It was nice of them to help," he said to Dani, waving as the last of them departed.

She tossed her hair out of her eyes, tilting a warm smile over at him. "That's what family does," she reminded him, nudging gently. "Not sure every family outfits an entire house just because their golden boy is moving into it, but I'm not complaining!"

"Golden boy?" he echoed, brows arching upwards. "Is that what you think I am?" he asked, unsure what that meant exactly, though he did have blond hair. He had a feeling it meant something else though.

"No," she assured him, running a hand down his back. "It's a term of affection in this case, between family. But no, I don't think you're my golden boy. I'm pretty sure you're my man."

It hadn't been that long ago when most of his family here hadn't even known of his existence, and now he was surrounded by more family and friends than he'd ever had back home on Zhodani. A lot had changed in the past year, and Dani had been a big part of those changes.

"I assume you mean that in a good way," he said, turning to face her, a fond smile lighting up his face.

"Oh, it's a very good way," she promised, grinning as she leaned in to kiss him gently. "So now we get some of these boxes unpacked, and make a plan for what we're eating tonight. Sound good to you?"

"That is ... How do they put it? It sounds like a plan?" he asked, more statement than question, though he wasn't entirely sure of the phrasing. He was still learning about Rhy'Din and how things worked there, but he had proved a fast study.

"Good!" It had taken time, but Dani had finally got used to the odd formality in the way Zach spoke, no longer teasing him about it unless it was very out of place. She winked at him, patting his rear end familiarly. "Pick a box and get unpacking, then."

"What does it mean, Golden Man?" Zach asked, brows arching upward again at the way she patted his rear. It seemed to be a gesture of affection with her, but he understood it could also be a form of discipline.

"Golden boy?" Dani glanced over at him as she opened one of the two boxes on the kitchen table, pulling out the still boxed up full dining set. "It's a turn of phrase that's usually used to refer to a teen or young man who is the best of the best and popular with it," she explained, not entirely sure she was the best person to be explaining this, since she rarely used such terms in the appropriate context.

"Oh, I see," he replied, brows furrowing thoughtfully at her explanation. "But I am not the best of the best, Dani," he pointed out, unsure what that even meant. Back home on Zhodane, he and his siblings had been expected to fight to the death in order to inherit their father's legacy, but he had no interest in doing that and refusing had left in disgrace.

"It can be used as a tease as well - a gentle one," she clarified for him. "It was a compliment, Zach. Okay?"

"Okay." Zach nodded, taking her word for it. He believed that she meant what she'd said; he just wasn't too sure about it himself. "What would you like me to do?" he asked, looking between the two boxes on the table.

Dani raised a brow, remembering all over again that he'd been royalty for most of his life. "Open the box, take stuff out, unwrap it, and put it away somewhere," she told him fondly. "Somewhere logical."

"Okay," he replied, agreeably, as he pulled open the second box to see what was inside. He assumed somewhere logical meant that kitchen things probably went in the kitchen, etc. Inside the box, he found more kitchen things that he hadn't brought with him but that had been very generously supplied by his extended family members. "Do you think your parents mind us living together?"

"They'd have said something if they were worried about it," Dani assured him confidently. This, she was certain of. Jem never kept her mouth shut when it came to her concerns, and Austin wasn't much better. He was just a little more discreet. "Why, did they say something to you?"

"Nothing in particular," Zach replied with a shrug. "Only that they want the best for you and that they don't want you to get hurt," he added. "I assured them that I agree and will do everything I can to keep you safe and happy."

Dani's smile softened. "You said exactly the right thing," she promised him. "That's all they were looking for, an acknowledgement that you care enough about me not to let me get hurt emotionally or physically."

"Of course, I do, Dani," Zach said, as though she should know that already and so should her parents and anyone who knew him. "I love you," he added, as matter-of-factly as if he was stating that the sky was blue or that RhyDin had two moons.

There was a cardboard scrape from the other side of the table as Dani lost her grip on the wrapped packet in her hands. She stared at him, her expression almost impossibly soft. "You do?" she asked softly. "You ... you've never said so."

"I ..." Zach stammered, lifting his head to meet her gaze, looking a little confused by her response. He wasn't embarrassed exactly, but he sometimes forgot that Dani couldn't read his thoughts the way a Zhodani woman might. "I thought you knew," he told her quietly. Why else would he be here if he didn't love her?

She set down the packet in her hands, moving swiftly around the table to kiss him, letting him taste her smile and the answer in it before she drew back just far enough to look into his eyes. "I hoped," she told him softly. "I love you, too."

He smiled, setting down whatever it was that he had in his hands and looping his arms around her waist as she found her way into his arms. "I am glad to hear it," he replied. He wasn't an empath so he couldn't "feel" what she was feeling, and though he could read her thoughts, he had learned to shield himself so that he didn't pry into other people's minds without their permission.

Dani beamed up at him, rising onto her toes to kiss him again, arms curling about his neck as she pressed close. "I never quite know," she admitted quietly. "I never know if you're doing these things with me because you want to, or if it's because you feel like you're expected to. I never want you to do or say anything you're not happy with, sweetheart."
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Dani Barnes
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm

Joined: 29 Jan 2017
Posts: 18
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Can Be Found: Oakham Mount, or Maple Grove
1375.00 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

He furrowed his brows at her, wishing she understood all he was feeling in his heart for her, but unsure how to put it into words. "Dani, I am here with you because I want to be. Because I love you, and I want to spend my life with you. I am sorry if I did not make myself understood. It is ... hard to put these things into words sometimes."

"I know," she promised gently. "And I understand that saying it out loud is very different to the mind-talky thing you're more used to. But it means a lot to hear it." She kissed him again. "I really do love you, Zach."

He returned her kiss, taking his time in savoring the sweetness of her lips, before speaking again. "Do-do you want to spend your life with me, too, Dani?" he asked uncertainly and a little bit timidly.

Her fingers combed tenderly through his hair for a moment. "I do," she nodded, her voice quiet with warm affection. "I don't think we're just dating anymore, Zach. I think we're together, and we will be for a long time. Hopefully for life."

"I do not know if I should tell you this, Dani, but my people mate for life," he said, a little tentatively again, as he didn't want to shock her or scare her off. Once he decided to give his heart to someone, there was no taking it back.

She blinked, a little startled by that. But then ... wasn't that the hope, when they'd started out? That it wasn't just a fling, that it was for life? "What does that mean, exactly?" she asked cautiously. She'd learned not to take everything at face value.

"It means that once we bond, there is no taking it back. It is why I have been trying to go slowly. I understand that humans are not the same as Zhodani. That they do not always want to stay together. It is not so much a physical connection as an emotional one, but it is one that is very important to my people," he explained. Though he was half-Rhy'Din, he had been raised on Zhodane, and some of those traditions had stuck.

"Oh." Well, at least she'd asked. Dani colored a little as she cleared her throat. "I, uh ... I assumed that you, um, you weren't interested in, in sex," she admitted, somehow managing to display laudable respect and understanding at the same time as a laughable inability to spot that her boyfriend did actually want to do more than sleep beside her. "I mean, I wouldn't object. It's not the sex that matters, it's the person. We've been together for over a year now, I ... I love you, not your genitals."

Zach actually smiled, charmed at her obvious awkwardness at the mention of sex. "Of course, I am interested, but I did not want to hurry you," he said, pulling her a little closer, eyes bright with mingled happiness, affection, and amusement. "I want you to be sure, Dani." As sure as he seemed to be.

"What, um, what happens when you ... when you mate?" she asked curiously. Odd, that a girl who was so tactile and forward with every other kind of affection was a little shy of this part.

"If you were Zhodani, we would share our minds, as well as our hearts and bodies," he answered with a small frown. "I know that is not possible between us, but that does not mean I do not wish to share my life with you, Dani. My heart is yours already."

"Do-do you know if your mom had that kind of experience?" she asked. This was a step up - a couple of years ago, Dani wouldn't have asked any questions at all.

"I know that my father loved my mother very much," Zach replied, unsure if he should mention that she was only one of many wives and mistresses. He frowned a little at the thought of that, worrying she might misunderstand if he were to tell her of that.

The answer wasn't really what she was looking for, but Dani had never pressed him to tell her details. Her fingers stroked against his cheek thoughtfully. "I wouldn't have asked you to live with me if I wasn't hoping for a lifetime with you," she told him quietly. "I love you, Zach. I can't see that changing, ever."

It worried him to keep something from her - even something that had very little to do with how he felt about her - something she would understand completely if she could read his thoughts and share his feelings. "Dani, I know this may not be the time, but I need you to understand something."

"So tell me." She tilted her head as she held his gaze, fingertips still teasing in and out of his hair as she waited patiently for him to find the words to say what he needed her to understand.

But there was an easier way, and that was to let her into his head to share not only his thoughts, but his life experiences. "There is another way," he told her, taking her hands to draw her away from the kitchen to a place where they could be more comfortable - the couch.

She let herself be lead, curious enough not to ask too many questions when he was clearly planning on explaining in a manner she might not be quite ready for. She'd do anything for Zach. "What's this other way?"

He waited until he had her settled comfortably on the couch before he answered her question. He still held her hands in his, turning to meet her gaze. "It would be easier to show you than tell you," he said, though that was hardly an explanation.

"What are you going to do?" Dani asked him. They'd been over this a few times, but he had finally learned not to just go ahead and do something outside the range of normal human ability without at least warning her ahead of time.

"Open my mind to yours; share my thoughts and experiences," he replied, though he didn't plan on sharing everything that was stored in his mind, as that would be overwhelming. He would pick and choose what he'd allow her to see, but perhaps she would come to understand him better that way.

"All right," she said slowly. She knew he could dip in and out of her mind at whim, though he was usually good about not doing that without a very good reason. "What will it be like?"

"It will be like watching a movie, I suppose," he replied, uncertainly. It all depended on his self-control and how much he held back. He didn't want to overwhelm her with all his emotional baggage, as well as his life experiences. "Don't worry. I will be in control, so you will only see things as they happened. You will not hear my thoughts or feel my emotions." Unless she wanted to, but he thought that might be a bit too much for her.

"All right." She smiled, squeezing his hands gently. "I trust you. I know you won't let it get out of hand."

He knew he could have handled this differently. He could have simply told her what he needed her to know, but this way she'd have a more complete understanding of him and of his past. "Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and try to relax," he instructed, letting go of her hand, so that he could very gently touch his fingers to her brow.

A little wary, Dani did as she was asked, closing her eyes as he released her hand. She drew in a slow, deep breath, and let it out just as slowly, unconsciously tilting her head toward his touch as she waited for what would come next.
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Dani Barnes
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm

Joined: 29 Jan 2017
Posts: 18
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Can Be Found: Oakham Mount, or Maple Grove
1375.00 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If he touched her mind, he'd be able to tell she was feeling wary, but this wasn't about reading her thoughts and emotions so much as it was about sharing his. He opened his mind to her as slowly and carefully as he dared, like cracking open a door to get a peek of a room, but not seeing the entire room or the house it was part of. She only saw flashes at first, before he focused his mind on what he wanted her to see. Little snippets of his life as a child on his home planet, where his mother had tried to protect him and keep him as sheltered as she could from the harsher realities of life on Zhodane. His parents had truly loved each other, but as a man of noble birth, his father had been expected to take multiple mates in order to produce a multitude of children. Though Zach's mother had been his favorite, she was not of Zhodani blood, and therefore, her son had been looked down on as a half-breed. His father, though, had never treated him as such, but in fact, seemed to favor him over the others, which only deepened their resentment. Not only had Zach's mother been his father's favorite, but he had gone so far as to bond with her in a way he had not dared bond with the others with whom he'd mated. It wasn't until she'd died that the bond became apparent, and he, too, died shortly afterward, as if her death had taken a piece of him with her and he could not go on without her.

When she opened her eyes, Dani was crying - not in shock or upset by what had happened, but with sheer compassion for the love that had filled Zach's childhood, and how quickly it had all disappeared. She reached out, wrapping her arms around him tightly.

"I'm not going anywhere," she promised in a whisper. "I swear to you, I am not leaving you ever."

He did not bother to show her what had happened afterward - how his brothers and sisters had fought for the scraps, like a bunch of dogs, and how he had left to take his mother home, heartbroken and in disgrace at his refusal to take part in their struggle for supremacy. The connection was broken, and he couldn't help but mirror the tears in her eyes, even as she wrapped him in her embrace. He wasn't sure what it was exactly that he'd been trying to tell her by sharing those memories, except that he wanted the kind of love his parents had had and he wanted it with her.

Her fingers combed through his hair as she clung to him, letting the emotions wash through her at their own pace, accepting quietly that this was a commitment she might not have fully expected, but wanted, more than she had ever wanted anything in her life. She drew back, swallowing hard, drawing her hand gently along his cheek.

"Let's do it properly," she said softly. "Marry me, Zach."

Zach blinked, clearly not having expected such a strong reaction from her, though he was not unpleasantly surprised. In fact, though he looked clearly astounded, his expression quickly softened, his heart daring to hope. He already knew that she loved him - as he loved her - but he had not expected her to understand and accept all that he'd showed so quickly and completely.

"Marry you?" he echoed, incredulously. He knew she was talking in terms of Rhy'Din customs, but even that was more than he had ever hoped for. "Dani, are you sure?" Even after everything he'd shown her?

She smiled at his question, drawing him close to rest her forehead against his. "I'm as sure as you are," she told him fervently. "We're in this together, for life. So let's make it official and let our families get the concern and complaining out of their system sooner rather than later."

After all he had showed her, and still she wanted to share her life with him. It made him smile, inside and out. "Who shall we tell first?" he asked, though he had a feeling she'd insist her mother should be the first to know, which was only fair.

Dani considered this for a moment. "Um ... can your cousin Dominic keep a secret from his wife and kids?" she asked, mischief lighting up her eyes for a moment.

Zach's brows flickered upwards in curiosity at her question. "I suppose, but why must he keep it secret?" he asked. He could tell from the expression on her face that she was planning something, but he wasn't sure what that something was exactly.

"What if we ... threw a housewarming for our friends and family and it just happened to be a wedding at the same time?" she suggested with a half-shrug. "I know Dominic can perform the ceremony - he's done it for a few different people."

"When would you like to throw this housewarming?" he asked, smiling at her suggestion, a little amused even at the idea of surprising everyone with an unexpected wedding. He wasn't sure exactly what a housewarming was, but he thought he got the idea.

She considered it for a moment. "Next week? We could have a barbecue, if the weather holds up, make it an afternoon rather than an evening so my parents can go home and not expect to stay overnight."

He blinked again, a little surprised at her answer, but once again, not unpleasantly so. "So soon. You're sure then," he said, as if needing to make sure she would have no regrets. He could have read her thoughts and known for sure, but he trusted her.

"Yes, I'm sure," she promised. "I love you. That means I am sure. Are you sure? Because this is a big step for both of us. It isn't all about me, Zach. If you have any doubts at all, you need to tell me."

"I am sure, Dani," Zach replied without hesitation. Hadn't he just proved that by sharing his heart, and letting her take a peek into his head and his past? "I love you, and that is not going to change, now or ever," he assured her, taking her hands in his again.

"Then trust me," she reminded him affectionately. "I am sure." She squeezed his hands, leaning close to kiss him with smiling lips once again. "And this way, we don't have to dress up like confused penguins."

He was only too happy to return her kiss, but he looked a little confused at the mention of penguins. "Penguins?" he echoed. "I am not sure I understand."

"Black and white," she explained with a gentle laugh. "Tuxedos kind of make men look like confused penguins to me." She wasn't entirely sure he'd ever seen a picture of a penguin, but she knew he knew what a tuxedo was.

"I'm afraid I will have to take your word for it," he said, not too worried about it. He smiled again, feeling like he was on Cloud Nine - whatever that phrase meant. "We should celebrate," he said. "Or should we wait until the wedding?"

"We still need to unpack and decide what we're having for dinner tonight," she reminded him fondly. She was definitely Jem's daughter, to be able to stay practical even when her heart was singing.
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Dani Barnes
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm

Joined: 29 Jan 2017
Posts: 18
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Can Be Found: Oakham Mount, or Maple Grove
1375.00 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"And then, we will celebrate!" Zach insisted with a grin. "Leave it to me!" he added, looking like he was a man with a plan. Hopefully, the contents of their kitchen would cooperate with whatever he had in mind.

Dani's eyes widened at his sudden enthusiasm, but she laughed, gesturing for him to get to it. "All right, then," she conceded cheerfully. "I'll just stand around looking pretty."

"I mean about dinner," he clarified, his whole face lighting up with his smile. He had already been in a good mood, but now he seemed to be almost delirious with happiness.

And it radiated off him, infectious enough that - had Dani not already been in a delighted mood herself - she would have easily joined him in that state. "Oh, I see," she laughed, rising onto her feet herself. "Still gotta unpack, though!"

He could have done it telekinetically, but it would have made him weary, and he didn't like wasting his abilities on mundane tasks he could accomplish without them. He followed her to his feet, reaching for her to draw her into his arms. "I love you, Dani Barnes," he said, his eyes bright with more than just happiness.

"Mmm, you know what, Zachary Granger?" she teased, looping her arms about his neck as he pulled her close. "I reckon I love you, too."

He might have teased her about her choice of words, questioning whether she really meant that or not, but somehow in his heart, he knew she was telling the truth. He didn't need to read her thoughts to know it; the proof was right in front of him - in her eyes and her smile and most of all, in her kiss. Even so, he needed to prove his own love, taking her in his arms and offering a kiss that was warm with passion and love and hope.

She giggled softly as he kissed her, tightening the wrap of her arms about him affectionately. "Mmm, more kisses like that and we're not going to need a wedding ceremony," she murmured impishly.

"Why's that?" he asked, touching his forehead to hers, not looking like he was in much of a hurry to unpack. He had been in Rhy'Din long enough to understand a little about marriage and mating ceremonies, but he still wasn't quite following her train of thought.

Her smile softened gently. "Because I want you, Zach," she told him gently. "And if we get too carried away, we'll go all the way and be bonded before we've done the bits that'll make my parents more comfortable."

His brows arched upwards again, surprised by what she seemed to be telling him. "But how would they know?" he asked, assuming her parents possessed no telepathic or other such talents.

"That is a good point," she admitted. "But people, when they're in love, when they've been as intimate with that other person as it is possible to be ... it shows, somehow. You just know."

"So, we should wait to be intimate until after this homecoming then?" he asked, as if he was unsure what she wanted from him exactly. She had said that she wanted him, and yet, it seemed she wanted to wait until after the bonding ceremony, in order to please her parents. It wasn't much to ask to wait another week, and yet, he found himself wishing otherwise.

"House warming," she corrected gently. "No, we don't have to wait. I was teasing you again, I'm sorry. I tend to use humor to try and protect myself from saying anything that might get me rejected, even though I know you won't hurt me. It's a habit."

"Rejected?" he echoed further. "Dani, no matter what you fear, I promise I will not reject you," he told her, with a solemn expression on his face. "If you wish to wait, I will be patient. It is only a week."

"It's a habit I'll break," she promised him quietly. "For you. Because of you. I don't ever need to be afraid that I'm going to get settled with you, and you'll leave. I know that. So I'll work on it. Promise." She kissed the tip of his nose affectionately. "And if it happens before, then so what? Let's just ... let it happen."

It was unlikely to happen while they were unpacking anyway. The moment seemed to have passed, but he smiled anyway, trying to be patient. "And if it happens before the house-warming," he said, a little hesitant whether he got that word and its meaning right or not this time.

"We'll still have the housewarming," she assured him. "Because that's about them, and not really about us." She trailed her fingers along the line of his jaw. "It's a natural thing. Let it happen when we're both in the moment for it."

"And we are not in the moment now?" he asked, uncertainly, mostly teasing. Of course, he understood the biology of it, though he had never experienced it himself. Sex was something of a ritual back home on Zhodane, but he was on Rhy'Din now.

"Not right at this second, no," she giggled, brushing the tip of her nose against his. "We can probably make the moment happen again. Just, you know ... after dinner?"

"I am sure we could," he agreed, smiling in amusement as her nose brushed his. "Shall we finish unpacking then?" he asked, knowing that had to be finished at some point, even if they'd distracted themselves from it.

"Sounds like a plan," she agreed, echoing his own words when she'd first proposed unpacking and cooking in the first place.

He kissed one more time, as if just for good measure, before taking her hand to lead her back into the kitchen to finish unpacking.

Less than an hour after officially moving in together, and they were engaged, ready to make that firm commitment sooner rather than later. So what if their families thought they were rushing? They knew better.
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