Anda Barrows

Chapter 15 Part 12 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

Temmin spent the rest of the day trotting after Allis and Issak, with Anda and Senik trailing behind all three. They met with higher clergy, sat in on a nervous postulant class identifying anatomy on one another before a stern but surprisingly unpuckered Sister, and then a quiet tea with Anda and Senik.

Perhaps, thought Temmin, he should begin his studies on his own if he were to be serious about this business. For instance, Senik fascinated him. As the handsome postulant moved first among the hallway crowds and then the small group in the Supplicants Chamber, he changed from moment to moment, instantly shifting to reflect whoever he spoke with. Was he really as beautiful as Temmin had first thought? Yes, and that affected how others treated him, certainly--it was clear Senik was a great favorite, much called on by the Most Highs for various tasks, and the Embodiments' servant of choice. Even so, Temmin detected a deep desire to please behind the sly, insinuating smile. Or was that just the face he turned toward Temmin? Either way, Temmin was pleased with himself for his growing discernment, until Senik caught him looking and to his surprise rebuked him. "Don't think you know me, Your Highness. You haven't learned a thing yet."

Chapter 15 Part 11 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

Issak put his head on the pillow beside Temmin, who lay there red, sweating, and barely awake; Anda crawled up beside him and kissed him, an unknown yet familiar taste on her lips. "Different," Temmin mumbled. "Was different."

Issak ran his fingers gently up and down Temmin's golden-furred belly. "Men are better at it than women," he agreed.

"Not this time," said Temmin.

Chapter 15 Part 10 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

Temmin slid his arms around Anda from behind until his hands closed on her breasts, so soft and heavy, heavier than Arta's, kneading until she tilted her head back against his shoulder with a low growl. Under his fingers, her nipples grew hard, the wide circles of brown skin around them puckering and pebbling. "Are they supposed to do that?" he asked shyly. "It's not because I'm hurting you?"

"No, you're not hurting me, it means I like it--or that it's cold out," she laughed. "It's normal. Don't yours do that?"

He rolled her nipples between his fingers; he remembered Emmae liked it. "I hadn't really thought on it. So...it means you like my doing this?"

"Very much." Anda turned over in his arms.

Chapter 15 Part 9 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

As she sorted through the piles humming to herself, Temmin absently tugged at his cravat. Naked, Anda had a look of abundance, he grudgingly thought. Swelling breasts, rounded arms, a soft belly, full hips, lush thighs. "Fertile" came to mind; her body reminded him of the rolling hills of oats near home, of wheels of cheese, of bowls of ripe fruit, of jugs of cream, of honey, and nuts, wine, and good, thick bread. Not plain, or fat. Edible.

Chapter 15 Part 8 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

The war of the wardrobe began. In the end, Temmin and Jenks reached a compromise: correct but comfortable clothes, not too formal, in exchange for the finest new small clothes the favored royal tailor could make on short notice. "If you're going to sit around in your underthings..." mumbled Jenks, letting the thought go unfinished.

On the day, Brother Mardus and his men escorted the Heir through the city and down the Promenade, handing him off to the Temple's Own at the top of the pink marble stairs. In their midst stood the ridiculously handsome Senik. To his surprise, the postulant kissed Temmin full on the lips. "That's how we say 'hello' here. It's also how we say 'goodbye,' 'thank you,' 'you're welcome'..." Senik waved an encompassing hand. "This way."

Chapter 11 Part 3 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

The Guards saw him coming. They shouted for him to please wait, Your Highness, you must have a detail with you, sir, please, sir, slow down! But he showed no signs of doing so. The Guards managed to open the gates enough for a single rider, and he thundered past. If he saw a gateminder gallop off toward the Guards' compound, he paid him no mind.

Snow melt swelled the Feather River; its roar swallowed the sound of Jeb's hooves as they pounded across Kingsbridge into Old Town. Traffic brought his pace to a trot, giving the crowds a chance to recognize him. He heard the now-familiar cheers, and a path cleared enough for him to reach the Promenade without slowing to a walk.

Chapter 10 Part 7 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

When he'd recovered himself somewhat, he found he'd been deposited on the couch. The anger left him, replaced with fear and shame. Tears filled his eyes. The twins held him, soothing him like a child. Was he the powerful or the powerless? Powerful, he supposed--he was the Heir to an empire, but he hadn't thought much about it until recently. Did his soul really crave power? If not, why did it attract him so? Ibbit was right; men were inherently depraved, or at least he was. What had Fennows said about patronizing whores--"the Lovers' Temple makes you think about it."

"I don't want to think about it, I don't want to be like that," he sniffled as his tears subsided.

"Tem, you already are 'like that,'" soothed Allis. "You know so little about yourself, but you told me everything on our ride."

"Did I? Then tell me how evil a man I am."

Chapter 10 Part 6 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

They walked into the Great Hall, an enclosed courtyard where entwined statues of Neya and Nerr rose three stories high. In niches along the wall stood individual statues of the Twins in all Their various aspects; hundreds of flickering candles stood before each one. Elaborate offerings lay before the giant statues spilling onto their feet: towers of sweets, a profusion of flowers.

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