Dax walked into the house and his life turned on its head in less time than it took to close the door behind him. A man with neatly trimmed black hair sat by the fire. He had shoulders too wide to belong to any of Dax’s brothers. His feet were propped up on the hearth, the silver embellishments on his boots glittering by the light of the dancing flames. He turned and blue eyes swept up and down Dax once, twice, three times. “Dax, my boy! Where have you been? I brought you a gift. Come here and see.”
It was only when he stepped forward that he realized gold lay in piles about Jem Torellion the elder’s chair. His brothers sat cross legged in the sea of precious metal, their fingers combing through coins with possessive interest. “Don’t just stand there, boy. Light, you’re big- come give your father a hug.”
Dax pushed the memory away. It had taken forty bloody years, but Dax finally knew his father had chosen to leave, had chosen to stay away for ten years, and had chosen to return with coins and fine clothes...and nothing else. I may not have riches, but I do have a heart. I do love my children. I do love you! Gold felt out of place in the sea of blue and gray, but it shimmered nonetheless as he looked down at Elia and searched for the right thing to say.
She was troubled, too. He opened his mouth to reassure her, to try and explain, to plead his case once more. First her finger and then her lips covered his mouth, however, stopping the words before they began. All the breath went out of Dax’s body at once; confusion warred with utter joy and after a split second of conflict, the Tairen simply gave up. Whatever happened would happen; none of it mattered. For now he had warmth and curves and breath and soft sounds of want, pounding heart and clutching hands and-
Elia broke away and Dax made a small sound of protest, quickly forgotten. Light flooded him, something shifted....and the world came into focus, brighter and more immediate than before. Dax rocked back on his heels, then reached up and touched his temple with careful fingers. “What-” he started, then his eyes widened as he felt an unmistakable flood of feelings that did not belong to him emanating from a place that had been empty for far too long.
“Elia,” he breathed after a long pause. Light help me, she did it. He dropped to one knee without preamble and gathered her good hand in both of his once more. He wet his lips. “By the Light, I will draw as you say draw,” he told her. “I will sheathe as you say sheathe, come as you say come, and go as you say go. My heart and service are yours, from this day to my last. I swear it, Elia. Forever.”
He pushed himself upright, his good humor returning like a sun from behind clouds. “I suppose this means I should get used to climbing stairs,” he commented in a dry tone. “Unless you’d like to Gateway us to your quarters and save us the hassle just this once?”