CHAPTER 48

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A knock is heard on the door, and Nabir enters immediately, gasping in shock the same way Saya had done earlier.

"My Lady! This is beautiful!" she says, walking to her and touching the fabric along the way.

"I know! I was just as surprised as you are!" she replies smiling brightly. "The king is really spoiling you now," Nabir winks at her, making her giggle. "By the way, the awkward position, Xerxes put you in today was uncalled for," Saya rolls her eyes playfully.

"I didn't even know what to do in that situation!" Nabir exclaims laughing.

"It was a really awkward one. So, you went to the building Xerxes got for me and learnt to style my type of hair from the people of Laine?" Saya asks. Nabir nods her head, taking a seat by her looking at what she's doing. "I felt like I had failed because I could dress you, but not your hair."

"You are a fast learner. Would you like to learn embroidery?"

"Of course my lady! I know the basics but your hand is too skillful!" Saya laughs, handing her a scissors and chalk. "Pick a fabric you want to use, I'll teach you." Nabir gets up grabbing a golden fabric. "What do you want to make?"

"A dress My Lady."

"That fabric will be a bit too light, grab one of those," she points to the ones on the other table.

"My Lady no! You don't know commoners are not allowed to wear certain fabrics? They're too expensive for us to afford. If I ever wear it outside I will be labeled a thief!" Nabir explains with fear.

"Nabir nothing will happen! Everyone knows you are my friend!"

"My Lady please. At least just not now. Let me start with this one." Saya reluctantly agrees, going back to what she's doing.

"I have not seen Peter around for some reason," Saya initiates before looking at Nabir when she doesn't respond, her face is red. "I wasn't even gone for three days, what happened?" the princess smirks.

"Nothing! He's just training harder now that we might go to war. I heard the resistance is getting stronger, but don't worry My Lady, it's nothing King Xerxes and King Stephan can't handle."

Saya nods, "Do you think the war will go on for a while?"

"All that needs to be done is to destroy their base camp, according to Peter," Nabir explains, concentrating on her work.

"Someone is definitely closer to Peter," Saya says but Nabir tries to cover it up, failing miserably. She opens up about how Peter has been actually nice to her since after she called off the engagement. It seems she's getting over the commander but she's scared. She confesses to Saya about having a heart too easily made glad. It makes her feel insecure and act naive and foolish. However, Saya gives her advice on that. She cannot blame her heart for following what and who it wants to follow, she just has to be cautious and never say something till she's completely sure about her feelings. The ladies talk for so long that they forget about the clothes they're making. They end up going to the garden to care for the plants and take a long walk before coming back to start another round of sewing and embroidery.

Saya comes back to the chambers with a bowl of fruits in her hands. Xerxes is not there even though it's getting dark outside. She changes into her nightdress immediately and by the time she's almost done with her fruits, he walks through the doors shirtless, all sweaty.

Saya turns from the window and sees him. "Goodness why are you sweating so profusely?" she asks, walking up to him. She looks down at his sheath, he was training.

"The war is coming," she mutters, piecing everything together, feeling a lump in her throat. "The men have to be ready", he adds, walking to the bath already prepared. Saya does not want him to go to war even though she knows he has to. She sits on the bed in deep thought. What if the war is not a short one, will he miss the birth of their child? She's heard women die at childbirth, she does not think she can do it without him by her side. They even have to wait till after the war for them to get married because they don't want the resistance targeting Saya again. He better come back to her safely, war is not pretty.

"Saya," Xerxes calls, pulling her out of her thoughts. He is already wearing his pants, his hair wet, standing in front of her. How long has she been thinking?

"What is it?" he asks, putting his hands on either side of her, kissing her forehead.

"How long will the war last?"

"Maybe as short as the battle at the border."

"You came back hurt from that one," she says, fear in her eyes.

"Have faith in your man. I'm not weak," he replies, comforting her. Everyone knows King Xerxes is anything but weak, still she cannot shake off the fear of him maybe not coming back.

"You have to be back for the birth of our baby,"she says, a tear escaping her eyes. He nods kissing the escaped teardrop, and then her lips. "I promise," he replies after breaking the kiss.

She wraps her hand around his neck, hugging him, sniffling. "Okay, now sit down, let me do your hair." They break the hug and Xerxes sits on the floor between her legs. She likes his hair length so she decides against cutting it. She takes her wooden comb and parts his hair from behind. The part goes right above his ear to the other side. She combs that part out and puts it in one braid. She then parts the front into three, straight line sections. She carefully cornrows each part like a feed-in style till it gets to the section at the back. After that, she loses the back braid and combs it up, putting that part and the remainder from the cornrows in a ponytail. Saya then selects a few sections in the ponytail braiding them.

"I'm done," she finally says. Xerxes gets up and goes to the mirror, Saya following to see his face and the hairstyle from frontal view. He looks even more handsome. Xerxes looks at himself but gives no reaction, he then stares at Saya through the mirror. The young woman doesn't notice as she's still carefully looking at the hairstyle with a faint smile, satisfied with the outcome. She finally meets his gaze and quickly averts her eyes. How long has he been staring at her through the mirror? He turns to her, Saya looking back at him. "Do you like it?"

He nods, taking her hand, walking her to the bed. She gets in with him, turning to face him but not looking at him. She moves her finger on him, slowly but carefully, tracing the scars she sees.

She feels her baby kick again. Since the first time the child kicked, the baby has been very active kicking nonstop. She gently takes Xerxes hand placing it on her belly, the baby kicking even harder.

"Someone is eager to meet their father," she says giggling. "He is very active," Xerxes comments.

"Are we on day 'he' or 'she'?" she asks looking up at him.

"I lost count."

 She laughs at his words. All this man does is stare and frown. Saya wonders which her child will inherit if not both. She carefully looks at him as if trying to memorize every detail so she wouldn't forget when he's out on the war ground.

"Kiss me," she says. Xerxes leans into her, claiming her lips, Saya's hand moves to his cheek involuntarily, responding. He breaks the kiss looking at her.

"Again," she whispers to him, and he does so.

"Again," for the third time, Xerxes obeys. This time he explores her mouth, his hand moving to her thighs. He breaks the kiss leaving Saya breathless. He then starts kissing her cheek and her neck. She smiles, removing his hand from her thighs, and shrugging him off. He frowns at her actions but she pecks his lips. 

"It's payback for what you did in your study today. You won't be taking me tonight my love." Saya turns, backing him and smiles to herself. She can feel his frown on her, she's sure she turned him on. Xerxes wraps his arm around her bringing her closer till her back is against his chest. He kisses her cheek and shoulder but she doesn't budge. His hand moves to her thighs but she slaps it off.

"I'm too tired, go to sleep my love."


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