Chapter 11: Truth Hurts
There were sounds of water being splashed, and other noises that had roused me from my slumber . I sat up in bed with half opened eyes looking around the room. My sister Nyah was sound asleep in the bed next to me, which meant someone else was in the bath. I debated whether or not I should call out to Norio because there was no way of knowing that it was actually him. This was a Phaloan safe house, which meant Norio wasn’t the only one of them that had access to this place. I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly before I got out of bed. I did my best to be quiet as I walked towards the bathroom doorway. The wood floors weren’t as cold as I was expecting them to be thankfully. I put my body against the wall next to the doorway and cautiously peeked around the wall. With one eye peeking from behind the wall, I got more than an eye full. The door was open enough for someone to peek their head in, but closed enough that you had to push it open to walk in. That little amount of space allowed me to see more than enough proof that Norio was the one in the bathroom. He was standing up in the middle of the wooden tub rinsing himself off, his back facing the door. My face felt so warm suddenly. The sight of him bare before me awakened something in me that kept me there shamelessly oggling him and too afraid to move at the same time. The swell of his buttocks as the water flowed down them, down his toned thighs and calves back into the tub. His strong arms glistened with water droplets. Something even more than the sight of his nudity kept my curious eyes glued to him. There appeared to be dark red tattoos of wings on his upper back that stretched down nearly to his waist.
My private viewing ended when he suddenly turned around and looked me square in the eyes. He didn’t look angry, he looked as surprised as I was. I gasped and nearly fell trying to run out of the room. I cursed myself for not simply staying in bed. Considering the fact that I didn’t have anywhere to run to, all I did was have a seat in the cafe and hid my face in the circle of my arms on against the table. As if things weren’t already awkward enough, I was going to have no choice but to talk to him about EVERYTHING now. His power, the tattoo, seeing him like that… I hoped my sister would stay asleep, prayed even.
Some moments later I heard a door open and then close. Footsteps came closer, and closer to me. I felt him beside me and I didn’t want to see his face. I couldn’t, I was too embarassed. I felt his hands touch my arms and I moved away from him.
Malaika – I’m sorry. I am embarassed and ashamed. Things are akward enough without this situation…
I heard him sigh before I felt my chair being pulled back from the table. I was left sitting in the chair looking down at the floor hard enough to burn a hole through it.
Norio – Princess, look at me.
Malaika – How can I?
Norio – Well you didn’t seem to have a problem looking at me a few minutes ago so…
I suddenly looked up at him quite offended.
Malaika – How dare you! Are you implying that I was spying on you or something!?
He started to smile then, and my frown wilted. I looked away from him just as quickly as I’d looked up at him.
Norio – See? That wasn’t so difficult was it?
I crossed my arms over my chest and continued to concentrate on not looking at him. He was wearing his black pants and black hooded shirt again, but the image of him bare was on replay in my mind.
Malaika – So you’re going to tease me now are you? Don’t act so familiar…
He came to me and pulled me up from the chair by my shoulders. I was forced to look up at him now. My eyes were wide, and my lips were half parted and quivering. Norio’s dark eyes were suddenly very serious, it scared me.
Norio – What’s changed? I can’t place it. Everything I do either embarasses you or pisses you off now. This time what happened wasn’t even my fault. Things are different and I don’t understand what I did wrong. Talk to me.
I was frozen. I wanted my lips to move and my voice to come out but all I could do was stare up at him like a little frightened doe. It was painfuly obvious that he wasn’t going to let me go until I spoke to him. I closed my eyes briefly and tried to calm down.
Malaika – Alright, I’ll talk to you. Please let me go.
Norio let go of my shoulders without me needing to ask a second time. I opened my eyes to see him still staring down at me, unmoving. I started nervously playing with my fingers as I spoke.
Malaika – I don’t understand it myself, I’ve never felt this way before. I first wish to apologize for invading your privacy. I heard noises and wanted to make sure it wasn’t anyone else. I didn’t look away out of fear and shock…
Norio – Relax, I’m not mad at you. What else?
Malaika – Your power. Are those tattoos on your back related to that?
Norio – My mother is a Phoenix, the only one known to exist in our current time. I have her power but nowhere near as strong as hers. I’ve had the marks on my back for as long as I can remember. I was told that all children born from the Phoenix are born with these tattoos. People seek the power and hope to use us for their own selfish purposes, which is why I hide myself the way I do.
I wasn’t sure what to say. I had only heard stories about Phoenixs and none of them ever mentioned people born from Phoenixs. I became curious as to who his father might be.
Malaika – I never would’ve expected you’d be a Phoenix of all things…What of your father?
Norio – My father is the reason for my mother’s magic induced coma and my life as an orphan turned career criminal. He’s still alive, but if the Gods look upon me favorably I can change that.
My eyes widened slightly hearing him speak about his father in such a manner.
Malaika – You’d…kill your own father?
Norio – I’d watch the light leave his psyhcotic eyes and smile as he takes his last breath. I want to be the one to end him and I will have no regrets. My father is an evil, disgusting man Malaika. I pray that you never come to meet him but it would seem there’s a chance you might…
Malaika – …Norio, who exactly is he?
Norio – Now isn’t the time to tell you, I’m sorry but it just isn’t. I promise that I’ll tell you eventually.
Malaika – But why won’t you tell me now?
Norio – Because there’s a possibility that everything will change for the worse. Trust me when I say that it’s better if you don’t know for now.
I nodded slowly. I didn’t understand, but I let it go. I didn’t want to press him too much. We still had other issues to adress if we were going to travel together comfortably. Norio looked at me as if he was studying me, taking in every detail carefully.
Norio – Why don’t we discuss the bathroom incident since that’s what you seem so uncomfortable with.
He said before taking my hand and walking over to the stairway and sitting down with me. I looked everywhere but at his face. The embarassing moment was still fresh in my mind on loop.
Malaika – You’re the first man I’ve ever seen naked, the first man I’ve ever traveled with…I feel so awkward in situations like this because I’ve never been in them before. Forgive me…
Norio – There’s nothing to forgive. You’re royalty, which means your father would never leave you alone with a man much less let them touch you unless you were married to them. You still have your innocence which is something you need to protect. It’s okay that you don’t know how to interact with men, no need to rush towards the knowledge either…
I looked over at him then and he had a slight smile upon his lips. I didn’t think he’d be so understanding.
Malaika – Thank you for making this a little easier.
Norio – I can’t get too close to you, for your own sake. You understand that right?
Malaika – I…Yes.
Norio – I’m just a lowly criminal, there’s no future for you and I. No matter what you feel, always remember that. It may already be too late to say this but I needed to say it anyway.
Malaika – I see…
I looked away from him and I was silent for a long time before I got up from the stairs. Before I could ask him how he felt, he shut me down. The last thing I wanted was for him to see me cry and my eyes were stinging already. I began walking away, towards the sleeping quarters.
Norio – …Malaika, I’m sorry if I-
Malaika – No, you’re right. It’s a childish thought…Good night Norio…
I did my best not to sound like I wasn’t already crying, which wasn’t easy. I went back to bed and once I covered my head with the blankets, I silently cried. I cried until I fell asleep. It was the first time I cried since this journey began and I knew it wouldn’t be the last time.
TO BE CONTINUED….COPYWRITE ALEXANDRIA REEVES