Panting, Evander and I lay sprawled on the sparring mat, drenched in sweat and covered in bruises and blood. Neither of us held back during our match, and it dragged on for what had to of been an hour or more. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to push myself this hard, and quite frankly, I’m exhausted. Not that I would ever tell him that.
I sit up, barely withholding a grunt. Evander hasn’t opened his eyes yet and laying there must be suffocating with the blood draining down his throat. I might have broken his nose. That’s fine; he broke one of my ribs.
I nudge his clave with the side of my foot. “Sit up before you drown.”
Shakily, he lifts his hand, flipping me the bird.
The corner of my lips twitch up, and I reach for him, hissing because I forget about my damn rib. That makes his eyes snap open, my right arm hovering in the air between us, my left hand wrapped around my rib cage to cradle my injury. His eyes roll from mine to my outstretched hand, to the arm wrapped around me. He blinks lazily, looking pretty out of it, and I finish reaching for him, grabbing his wrist and pulling him to a sitting position.
“What’s wrong with your ribs?” he asks, the words garbled from his busted face.
“Broken,” I admit, grinning.
His eyes go wide before his expression settles into a smirk. “Good.”
I’d roll my eyes at his obvious contempt, but it’s not as if I haven’t earned it. Besides, this is the side of him that I like best—the side that has a backbone; I still remember the tiny-tot he used to be. Ah, such naivety. Now, he’s just as bitter as the rest of us.
“Take care of that”—I jut out my chin, indicating his nose—“before you permanently mar your face. Wouldn’t want to disappoint all your fangirls.”
Evander blushes bright red. “I don’t have fangirls.”
“That’s not what I heard.” I grin. “You forget, your buddies liked to run their mouths.”
We fall silent.
I’ve scratched old wounds. Working for the guild is dangerous, to say the least.
Shakily, I get to my feet and go to the counter where I’d deposited my mages’ belt. I flip open the pocket holding my healing potions and grab three—two for him, one for me. Then I carry them back over to the mat where he’s staring into space, looking like I kicked his puppy. That would’ve been nicer than mentioning his fallen teammates.
Blowing out a breath, I squat down in front of him, shaking the vials in front of his face.
He blinks, his watery gaze adjusting to take in the sight of the sloshing, green liquid. His lips curl down as his gaze meets mine.
“Peace offering,” I say, wiggling them again.
He continues glowering as he reaches to take them. Once he does, I sit on the mat across from him, knee propped up, pressing my arm against it and balancing my weight. My rib is throbbing now, and it’s getting difficult to breathe. I uncork the potion and throw it back, the awful flavor like rotting meat sliding over my tongue.
I cough, pounding my fist against my sternum to encourage my lungs to overcome the shock of the taste. “You would think these geniuses could figure out how to make it taste better,” I mutter, flicking the glass vial across the mat. It clinks onto the cement floor.
“Don’t be a dick,” he wheezes, but I know he agrees.
“Can’t help it,” I retort, laying down on the mat and closing my eyes. “Just who I am.”
When the healing magic kicks in, I grit my teeth against the burn. My rib reattaches itself, the jarring sensation of bone growing and fusing together enough to make me see white for a minute. That sensation is so powerful I hardly feel the sting of my bruised skin healing itself.
Evander gasps, loud and harsh, and I grimace. My ribs hurt like a bitch, but at least it wasn’t my face. I really shouldn’t haven’t broken his nose…but it had been an accident. I hadn’t expected him to duck when I’d turned, and…well…he took the full impact of my knee to the face. I would apologize, but he wouldn’t believe me.
“Wuss,” I mutter.
“Awe, Evander. I’m flattered,” I joke, opening an eye to peek at him. “I didn’t know you felt that way.”
His ears turn red and he gets to his feet, kicking me in my freshly healed rib on his way out.
I can’t help but laugh.
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