Lorrik wasn’t surprised to hear the sounds of pursuit. It was likely Nerice. Solaria moved far more quietly, and Castra knew him well enough to leave him alone when he was irritated. Nerice was pushier.
Usually, he loved her for it, but right now, he wasn’t in the mood.
“What was that all about?” Sure enough, it was Nerice’s voice that entered the room half a moment before she did.
“What was what?”
“Don’t play dumb,” Nerice scoffed. “You stormed out of there like a sky scorpion with a lancer up its back end.”
“I did not.”
“You did, too! Do you want me to get Solaria and Castra back here? They’ll agree with me. You know Solaria is incapable of lying.”
“Can you not bring more people back here?” Lorrik snapped. “I came back here to work alone.”
“You’re upset,” she said. “You can’t deny that. I want to know why.”
“Some things are private.”
“Since when have we started keeping things from each other?”
Lorrik looked up from the glow of his tablet. The chromatic shine of his skin cast pools of light all around the room, including on Nerice’s worried face.
“Is this about Elluala?” She asked gently.
“No.” Lorrik shook his head. “I haven’t spoken to her in a year.”
“That doesn’t mean she has nothing to do with this. You were devastated when you two decided to go your separate ways.”
“I know. I was there.” Lorrik closed his eyes. His words came out harsher than he’d intended. “We didn’t decide to go our separate ways. She left.”
“That’s why I think celebrating Valentine’s Day could be really good for you.” Nerice reached out and placed her hand on Lorrik’s shoulder.
“Celebrating love when I have no love to celebrate? How will that help?”
“You speak as if the only love worth celebrating is the romantic sort.” Nerice bristled. “Does the love you have for your friends mean so little that it’s not worth celebrating?”
“Don’t do that,” Lorrik warned, fighting a smile.
“Do what?” Nerice arched a brow.
“Do that thing where you make me feel like an ass.”
“I only do that when you actually are being an ass,” she laughed softly. “Admit it. You know I have a point.”
“The love I bear for you, Castra, Solaria, and Tryden. You’ve all shown great loyalty.”
“That’ll come in handy if we ever go to battle,” Nerice snorted. “Until then, just eat some heart-shaped cookies with us and smile.”
“Heart-shaped cookies? Who would ever want heart-shaped anything?” He thought of the shape of his heart, which did not make an appealing image.
“They aren’t real hearts. It’s hard to explain. I’ll show you the research I’ve done so far. It’ll clear up a lot of the confusion.”
“I don’t think anything will clear up the confusion as to why we are celebrating a human custom when we aren’t actually friends with any humans.”
Nerice pursed her lips and considered his words.
“You’re right. Maybe it’s time we made some human friends.”
“Maybe not if they like to eat their own hearts.”
“They like heart-shaped things,” Nerice corrected. “There’s a difference.”
“It still sounds weird to me.”
Produced by: Eugenio Zorrilla.