The Eshe house was quiet for most of the morning, recovering from the chaos that had taken place. It was just a matter of time before the town was buzzing about the guardsmen inviting themselves in and ransacking the house.
Obi stared up at the ceiling, refusing to admit that he was awake even though he had been studying his rooms for hours. The amount of sleep he had gotten was dismal and disappointing. He had hoped for a long respite from all of the problems screaming for attention. He was starting to think that he needed to get the ceiling painted because the vast white was becoming a weight on his chest.
Lekan and Ihyana danced through his mind, arm in arm as the revolution wreaked havoc. Partner that witch’s brew with less than optimal sleep, and he got strange plans that braided all three issues together into unlikely scenarios. In one of them, Lekan and Ihyana eloped and ran away to the far east, and came back to claim the throne.
Sighing heavily, he squeezed his eyes shut and tried not to think of anything. He just needed to get up, make sure Lekan was with Qui’in or teach the boy something himself, go send a message to Sefu, go find a way to transfer Ihyana to a more living scenario without anyone seeing her, go make small talk with Conya.
He clung to the last option, imagining her small smile, that quiet laugh. He curled tight around the solid feeling she gave him, gathered the strength to get up so he could face another exhausting day. So he could smile at Conya.
Just as he was about to swing his feet to the floor, the door opened quietly. He could hear Sefu from somewhere else in the house.
“Tell him that old men don’t need to be out at night. The cold isn’t good for our joints.”
He closed his eyes, suddenly drained again. “What does he want?” he mumbled. “It better be a national emergency.”
“Well, you know Sefu. He may just want to catch up on whatever he missed. Regardless, he wouldn’t tell me about his business here.” Conya’s voice was silky as he sat up quickly, running a hand through his hair as he frowned at her. “I do think it’s time for you to get up though. You’ve slept through the cool part of the morning.”
Getting up hurriedly, he cleared his throat. “Are you going to make a habit of waking me up when an unexpected guest is at our door?”
Conya smiled. “I don’t know. Would you like me to?”
He was in the midst of pulling a suit on in his closet when he paused to look out at her, an eyebrow raised. He laughed when she raised an eyebrow in return, looking more than a little cheeky. “I guess I would. Your face is prettier than my valet’s.”
She leaned into the closet a little. “What a compliment.”
He glanced up in surprise as he put on his socks. “A good night’s sleep did you some good.”
Nodding, she watched him, seemingly curious. “Sefu isn’t that picky about what you wear. Why don’t you go for comfort instead of formality?”
Staring at her as if she was insane, he shook his head. “How can anyone respect someone who goes to greet them in their sleep clothes?”
She frowned. “Sefu’s your friend.”
Obi shrugged. “Who respects me.” He tied his shoes. “What does it matter how I dress?” Standing, he brushed his jacket to straighten it and looked at her from between clothes. She was wearing something red. It seemed powerful.
“Do you relax around anyone?” she asked, surprisingly blunt.
He left the closet, brushing past her easily, thinking. “Um…” Studying her, he tried to see what answer she wanted from him.
Laughing softly, she waved the question away. Her enigmatic smile kept him from knowing what she was thinking or if he had upset her. “Moving onto more important matters, you overslept breakfast, and you promised.” She leaned forward, and he seemed to forget to take a step away. She turned to the door and made as if she was going to leave.
“I’ll see you at lunch then?” he asked as he caught up in time to open the door for her.
Sefu was waiting at the door, wriggling his eyebrows. “I need to speak to you.” He glanced at Conya. “Thanks for getting him up for me.”
She took the cue, smiling serenely as Obi shot a glare at him. Patting his arm, she floated away noting before she turned away, “Lunch.”
Holding up his hand, Obi started, “Do not-”
“You two are so slow!” Sefu cried on top of his friend’s words. “Just put us all out of our misery. We know what’s going on.”
Obi looked down his nose at him before heading toward the stairs briskly. “My personal life does not revolve you, and I do not appreciate your lenient use of ‘we’ to make your claims sound more impressive.” On the stairs, he took pity on his friend and glanced at him with a small smile. “You use banter in an attempt to soften blows. Just tell me. Please.”