Miist was hardly coherent enough to know what was happening when she woke up one morning to having a blindfold tied over her eyes.
She groaned as someone ushered her out of bed. She fell clumsily to her feet and said, in utter calmness, “If you’ve come to kidnap me, I want you to know that I can kill you in under four seconds using only my mind.”
“It’s just me,” Miist heard a familiar voice said in a heavy whisper.
“Nathaniel. What the hell?”
She could feel his hand on his back, pushing her through the room. She tripped several times on random crap she’d left lying on the floor. After this crazy escapade of Nathaniel’s was over, she was going to clean up the bedroom. She meant it this time.
Her arms were held out, feeling for any walls or door frames in front of her because she didn’t trust Nathaniel’s ability to lead her through a dark room for anything.
“Golden hills, Nathaniel! Just tell me what you’re doing. For tide’s sakes!”
She nailed a door frame with her shoulder as they entered, what she assumed, was the living room. She was hit in the face with the strong scent of sugar and bread. Her anger dissolved at the thought of eating cake.
Miist blinked several times, squinting at the harsh morning light. As her eyes adjusted, she saw a place set at the table, a probably-edible breakfast steaming there. There was a cake on the counter top, flags hanging from the windows, and candles all around the table. She didn’t need to count to know that there were twenty.
“Oh, Nathaniel,” she gasped, throwing her arms around his neck. “I don’t believe this!”
“Hurry and eat your breakfast.”
He pushed her toward the table, and she let him.
“It smells delicious,” she said.
“Oh, that’s the cake. I—um—made it. No guarantees on how it’s going to taste.”
“When did you get up and do all this?”
“Earlier,” he replied. “Don’t worry about. Just eat.”
She grinned, flopping like a sack doll into the seat. He eased her chair closer to the table and she took a whiff of the eggs and sausage.
“If it’s bad, then don’t worry,” Nathaniel said, rushing over the pantry. He pulled out a box. “I have oatmeal as a back up.”
“That’s pretty hard to screw up,” Miist affirmed.
“Right? That’s what I thought.” He looked at the box with his brow lowered, like he was reading a newspaper.
Miist scooped some of the eggs into her mouth. They were far from cold, and she fanned at her open mouth as she reached frantically for a glass of juice. She took a gulp and washed down the scorching eggs, sighing in relief as her mouth returned to a normal temperature.
“Do you have more plans for today?” she asked after taking another, less agonizing bite.
Nathaniel’s eyes jerked up to hers, wide and worried. “Should I?” he asked.
Miist laughed. “Not necessarily. I was just wondering if I needed to get dressed.”
He set the oatmeal box down. “Do you want to do something? We can? We can go out and visit Baeou. Or we could go to the park. The fair is there right now. Or we could—”
“Actually,” Miist said, holding a hand up. “I think I’d like it if we just hung out here.”
She nodded, spinning her fork around on her plate.
“We could do that.”
“I mean, only if you don’t have plans,” she said.
“I swear, I don’t have a single thing planned,” Nathaniel replied.
She grinned. “Cake first.”
Nathaniel tripped over his own feet a little walking across the kitchen to the cake.
She couldn’t help but laugh.
“Believe me,” he said, lifting the cake off the counter. “It get less funny every time.”
“Is that how you gashed your eye?”
Nathaniel furrowed his brow, looking confused.
“The scar,” she said, running her finger down from her forehead to her cheek over her left eye. “I was kidding, obviously. I don’t really think you got it from tripping…you didn’t, right?”
“No,” Nathaniel replied flatly.
Miist’s stomach twisted uncomfortably at the darkness she saw wash over Nathaniel’s features. She’d seen him fight for his life, and he’d never made a face like that. “I’m so sorry,” Miist found herself saying. “I didn’t mean to…is that a bad subject?”
Nathaniel exhaled heavily and shook his head. The look vanished from his eyes as quickly as it had appeared. “No. No, it’s fine. I kind of forgot about it, honestly. The scar, that is.”
“It’s kind of hot, actually,” she said, her smile returning.
The front door swung open, smashing against the wall.
Miist and Nathaniel jumped, looking up at the intruder.
“Oh,” Miist squeaked, eyeing the dark-skinned acaeth standing in the door. “You didn’t say your roommate was going to be around.”
Nathaniel made a sound like he was choking.
“Your roommate?” the intruder demanded. “And what is she doing here?”
“It’s her birthday,” Nathaniel replied with a shrug.
“Oh, bloody tides,” muttered the roommate, turning back the way he’d came and slamming the door behind him.
“Ignore him,” Nathaniel said. He didn’t sound upset about it in the least.
“So…he won’t be around?”
Nathaniel was quiet for a moment as he cut out a piece of cake and set it in front of her. “We’ll lock the door.”