“I’m sorry, Star Flower.”
Bree sighed. She sat on Trevvis’ rooftop patio with her back pressed up against the short sandstone walls. Trevvis sat a length away from her, grazing his hands across her legs, which rested in his lap.
“You said that already, Trevvis,” Bree groaned. “And I already said I forgive you.”
“I know. I just – “
“Sometimes you should just keep your mouth shut.”
Trevvis smiled. “So someone keeps telling me.”
“Well, whoever she is, she sounds incredibly clever. You should listen to her.”
Trevvis chuckled. “If only she were here all the time to give me advice.”
Bree’s smile slipped from her face. It always came down to this.
Trevvis was a wonderful man. He was caring, passionate and – while he was sober – she cared for him greatly. But each time she left he turned to alcohol to cope with his loneliness, and Trevvis was not a nice drunk. He became rude, possessive and jealous. Bree hated it. Passionately hated it.
Every time she came home she prayed to Cayden Cailean that Trevvis had stayed strong in her absence and every time her heart broke when she found her Trevvis gone, with that blasted drunk in his place. She was sure he blamed her for his drinking. Worse, she blamed herself. If she never had to leave, Trevvis would be sober, and they would be fine. Life would be perfect.
But, she couldn’t stay. Cayden Cailean had entrusted her with a divine mission and that required her regular absence. Trevvis knew that. Surely the fault, then, lay with him? Bree sighed. It didn’t matter how she tried to justify her actions or where she placed the blame. She felt horrible every time she left, horrible when she came home, and horrible the whole time she nursed him back to sobriety. And the guilt! The guilt clung to her like a shroud. It was only while she was out in the wilds hunting the gnoll slavers as her god had commanded her that she felt any measure of peace.
“You know I can’t stay.”
Trevvis’ eyes lost their luster. “I know, I just wish – “
“So do I.”
The first sliver of orange sunlight peeked its way over the horizon, casting the land in a brilliant glow. The shadows lengthened, then receded. Bree smiled. Dawn had come.
“Let’s start over,” she said. “Forget the past, and the fights. Forget the pain. Just… start again.”
Trevvis smiled. “As long as we don’t forget the love and the making love.”
Bree blushed. “I couldn’t forget that if I tried.”
“I’m glad to hear it, Star Flower.” He sighed. “I have a question then, to get off of my chest before our new beginning.”
Bree raised an eyebrow. “Oh? What is it?”
Trevvis shuffled nervously. He turned his eyes from the sunrise to her face. He was anxious. Worried. His thoughts weighed heavily upon him.
“It’s about your – ” He frowned.
“You can ask me anything, Trevvis. I’ll answer you truthfully.”
He nodded. “It’s about Santon and Kelestair.”
Bree tensed. “What about them?”
“That they care for you deeply is plain, but I…”
“They’re my friends. Of course they care for me.”
“It is more than that!”
Bree shook her head. “No. It’s not.”
“Then you’ve never sought solace in their arms? Never kissed them or – “
Bree scowled. “Froth and foam, Trevvis! Of course not!”
“Have you thought about it?”
“I’m not a whore!”
“Not even when you didn’t come home the other night?”
“I said no. Besides, I did come home after worshipping with Kelestair, but you were passed out drunk in your own vomit, so I went to my home to sleep instead.”
Trevvis sighed in relief. “I was so – “
“Yeah, well, while we’re on the topic of questions that need answering, I want to know why you call me Star Flower.”
“Cut it out!” Bree growled. “I know what a Star Flower is!”
“It is a beautiful white flower, whose petals turn red at the tips. Its stem is covered with soft golden hairs. They’re – “
“They’re poisonous! Is that what I am to you? Poison?”
“Who – “
“Brotis told me!”
“Brotis is a bitter, twisted, bitch. You shouldn’t listen to her.”
“At least she told me what your name for me means!”
“That is not – “
“It is! Am I poisoning you? Killing you? What is it?”
“A Star Flower is poisonous, but it is a form of self defense.”
“So I’m dangerous?”
Trevvis laughed. Bree scowled.
“Yes, but that’s not why you’re my Star Flower.”
“A Star Flower is a companion plant. It is poisonous, which keeps predators away, but also protects all of the other plants nearby. It presence nourishes the surrounding plants, causing them to grow stronger, faster, and healthier. Just as you cause all those around you to flourish. You protect us, and cause us to reach higher, to try harder, so that we are worthy of your attention and care. You inspire all of us to be, somehow, more than what we are.” Trevvis smiled. “And yes, you are deadly to those who try to eat you, as I’m sure the gnolls can attest.”
Bree’s frown shattered.
“You aren’t poison, Star Flower. You’re life.”
She smiled. “You mean it?”
“I am never a greater man, than when you are in my arms.”
“I love being in your arms.”
“And I love you.”
Bree’s heart melted. Her worries were forgotten. “When you’re you – really you, I mean, not the possessive drunken bastard that booze turns you into. But when you’re just you, I… Oh, froth and foam! I’m not making any sense, am I?”
“None at all, Star Flower.”
“You should really keep your mouth shut.”
“You know someone told- “
Bree’s heart fluttered. “I love you, Trevvis.”
Trevvis’ eyes widened. His smile outshone the rising sun. “I – “
“I hate you once the booze takes over, but I… I love you.”
“I only wish I knew better how to cope with your absence.”
“Well, a good start would be not drinking.”
“I know but – “
“No buts, Trevvis. I love you, but I can’t take you drunk. You’re cruel and you treat me as your property.”
“I’m sorry, but – “
“No! I can’t take coming home to that anymore.”
“No. You won’t have to. I won’t drink anymore.”
Trevvis nodded. “I promise, Star Flower. You won’t have to come home to that other man again. It will be just you and me in the future. Forever.”
“I should only be gone three weeks this time.”
Trevvis’ body tensed. He let out an audible hiss. “Three weeks?”
Bree’s smile turned mischievous. She slid her legs beneath her and crawled over to Trevvis, drawing her body along his own. Need clouded his eyes. She pushed him down, onto his back and then straddled him. A groan escaped his lips.
She leaned overtop of him and whispered into his ear. “How about I give you a taste of what you have to look forward to when I return to find you sober?”
Trevvis ran his hands along her thighs but then paused. His eyes darted back and forth. “On the roof? Are you sure?”
Bree caught his eyes and nodded. She sat up, allowing her weight to fall gently upon Trevvis’ pelvis. He hardened at her touch. She unbuttoned her blouse slowly, revealing her flesh to him in glimpses. The sunlight set her tanned skin aflame, and turned her blonde hair into a halo of golden light. She was radiant.
“Oh, gods, Star Flower… I love you.”
Bree’s heart skipped a beat and a shy smile spread across her face. His words affected her even more than his presence. She drew his hands up to her lips and kissed his wrist. “I love you too, Trevvis.”