The early morning chill, conveyed by an invasive breeze that had entered my bedroom via the window I had left unlatched before giving in to the seductive call of sleep, combined with the first rays of dawn illuminating my sleep encrusted eyes made for a potent alarm that refused to let me wallow in the comfort of the sheets.
Yawning widely, I carefully extracted myself from the tangle of limbs and tails I had gotten into with Ceres. Despite the blankets and the time of the year, the nights in the capital got quite cold compared with the maritime climate of the Felidae estates. It was no wonder that Ceres was curled up into a ball. Her nudity and the drying sweat from our intercourse chilling her.
If she didn’t take a bath soon, she could catch a cold. Specially since her fire mana had very little in terms of heat. Rubbing the sleep and gunk out of my eyes, I shook her by her shoulder.
Ceres batted away my hand and mumbled, “Nhhh. Go away. Let me sleep.” Grabbing hold of the blankets, she tugged on them, curling up tighter and thoroughly disappearing within them.
I poked the cloth covered lump on my bed a few times but when all that did was elicit a few irate wriggles, I shrugged and gave up. I felt a bit guilty about overdoing it last night so I decided to let her sleep in. She must have been exhausted.
The rising sun was warming the room and her catching a cold wasn’t that likely. After all, she was a Tier 2 fire mage, whatever the peculiarity of her fire. Still, I latched the window on my way to the bathroom to block the chilly breeze.
Yawning again, I mechanically completed my morning routine before scrounging through the closet for a set of casual clothes. Donning a faded yet supremely comfortable linen shirt and a random pair of shorts, I went about the room gathering our hastily discarded clothing.
Chuckling as I found my boxers had somehow made it to the top of the closet, I folded and put the discarded garments into the laundry bag, careful to keep Ceres’ bridal attire separate. I quite enjoyed this process. The crumpled and in some cases torn garments that lay scattered all over a room after a particularly passionate night of lovemaking told their own story, calling up the memories of the night.
I cherished every moment with my girls and engraving the moments our minds and bodies had blended into my memory was just one of the ways in which I celebrated our bond.
Thus, it was with a smile on my lips that I set out to greet the new day, only to be met with a hurdle right at the outset.
Deimos had forgotten to unlock the door.
She had locked the both of us in last night, a demonstration of her desire to have Ceres experience her first night with me uninterrupted. Yet, true to form, the forgetful little thing hadn’t bothered to unlock it in the night.
Sighing, I called upon my shadow mana and touched my shadow upon the door. My hand darkened, then began to blend with the shadow as it passed through the door, emerging from another one on the other side.
Fumbling around for a bit, I found the latch and unlocked it, letting myself out.
Making my way to the kitchen, I brought out the utensils and ingredients and soon, a succulent breakfast of ham, cheese and eggs was on its way to completion.
Hearing the sound of footsteps coming from the living room, I glanced over my shoulder as I flipped the omelette in the pan and brought it over the fire.
Deimos flopped down onto the sofa, looking half asleep as she yawned and rubbed her eyes with the back of her hands.
“Morning. What’cha making?”
“Good Morning. Nothing special. Omelettes stuffed with cheese and ham.”
Deimos cocked her head in a puzzled manner. “A little heavy for breakfast, ya?”
“Well, I worked Ceres hard yesterday. She’ll need the energy when she wakes up. Anyway, where is Phobos. It’s rare that she gets up after you.”
“Phi-Phi said that since there aren’t any pressing matters today, she wanted to be lazy. Last I saw, she was rolling around on the bed.”
I smiled. “She’ll love some room service then.” Taking the pan off the fire, I slid the last of the four stuffed omelettes onto a plate before tidying up the stove and counter.
Deimos came up and began helping. Working together, we managed to tidy the counter up within minutes and we carried the plates to the living room, setting them down upon the table there. I was just about to carry one of the plates to Phobos when the doorbell rang.
Or rather, tinkled. It was a contraption that consisted of a set of brass chimes connected to a rope tied to the knocker at the entrance of the apartment.
Surprised by the early house call, I set the plate down, making my way to the door, discarding my apron and hanging it on the back of a chair on the way.
Wearing their standard ochre uniform with white shoulder pads was a courier. Looking down, I saw that his boots were decorated with two silver wings by their sides, denoting his status as a silver-winged messenger. To hold this post, one had to at least have Tier 3 magical capability.
The Hermes Courier agency was one of the most widespread organizations in the Empire and even beyond. Their reputation for reliable and fast deliveries were based upon their large well-trained reserves of wind mages who were focused on only one aspect of their element: speed.
The courier gave me a friendly smile and spoke, “Mars Felidae, I presume?” seeing me nod, he continued, “A very good morning to you. I’ve got something for you with me. If you would verify your identity and put your signature here… there, done. Now, a sample of your blood. A small vial will do. Good. Now…”
After several tedious procedures, the courier left after delivering a small suitcase which had a lock sealed with wax and sealed with the Duchess’ symbol.
Coming back to the living room, I found that Phobos had joined Deimos on the sofa. Yawning, setting the both of us off into yawns of our own, she smiled at me as she asked, “How was last night, Husband?”
“Fun.” I said with a grin as I set the suitcase addressed to me on my lap and broke the wax seal on it. Using the key that came with it, I unlocked it revealing three more boxes and a letter addressed to Ceres on the inside.
Curious, Deimos craned her neck over my shoulder while Phobos leaned forward, resting her chin on one palm. The first two boxes contained Ceres’ glasses. A chunky wooden framed one for reading and another ornate silver wire-rimmed one for regular use.
The reading glasses were well worn with several mild scratches on the rim and the lenses. Ceres had been wearing these when I had met her for the first time. The regular glasses on the other hand was relatively new.
The final box had Ceres’ name on it and so I left it alone.
Handing Deimos the case with the regular glasses, I said, “Go call Ceres please. The breakfast is getting cold.”
She nodded and walked to my room while I closed the suitcase, setting it aside.
Phobos and I sat in a comfortable silence, basking in the other’s presence. She broke the silence first. “I’ve been thinking of visiting my parents. A lot has happened. Deimos broke through and shortly thereafter, I broke through to Tier 2 and officially married you. We did well in the competition, you even added another wife to our family. We should go and pay them a visit. It’s been nearly two months since I saw them last.”
I nodded, “Sure. I was going to suggest a detour to their workplace on the way back to the clan estate. But, I plan to stay here for the month. This way Ceres can keep in touch with her parents easily as she slowly gets used to living with us. I don’t want her getting homesick a week into our marriage. Also, I have some unfinished work here.”
“Unfinished work? Is it your Master’s proposition?” Phobos asked curiously.
“To some extent… yes. But, I have some projects of my own to handle.” She didn’t inquire any further and we lapsed back into a comfortable silence.
The sound of my bedroom door being pushed open attracted our attention and we turned to see Ceres exiting closely followed by a grinning Deimos.
The reason for her mirth was apparent. Ceres was wearing one of my shirts, the bottom knotted to keep the garment from slipping off. As for her lower half, she was wearing one of my shorts, clinched at her waist with the help of her obi from the previous day’s attire as a substitute for a belt.
I slapped my forehead. All her clothes were in her unpacked luggage. Of course, she had nothing to wear.
She adjusted her glasses, refusing to make eye contact, especially with me as she blushed, probably remembering last night as she walked over to the dining table with much steadier steps now that she could see better.
The four of us sat around the dining table with Phobos by my side. Sending a prayer of gratitude for the food to whatever gods might be listening, we dug in.
Ceres was ravenous from her exertions and ate just as fast and heartily as the rest of us.
After we were done, Phobos and Deimos busied themselves with clearing the dishes as I handed the suitcase to her.
It was time to see what her mother had sent her.