Home > Prodigy (Legend #2)(10)

Prodigy (Legend #2)(10)
Marie Lu

I straighten and reach up to his shirt. My hands touch the skin of his shoulders. I try to keep my breathing even, my mind sharp and calculated. But as I help him pull off the shirt and reveal his bare arms and chest, I can feel the corners of my logic growing fuzzy. Day is fit and lean under his clothes, his skin surprisingly smooth except for an occasional scar (he has four faint ones on his chest and waist, another one that’s a thin diagonal line running from left collarbone to right hip bone, and a healing scab on his arm). He holds me with his gaze. It’s hard to describe Day to those who have never seen him before—exotic, unique, overwhelming. He’s very close now, close enough for me to see the tiny rippled imperfection in the ocean of his left eye. His breaths come out hot and shallow. Heat rises on my cheeks, but I don’t want to turn away.

“We’re in this together, right?” he whispers. “You and me? You want to be here, yeah?”

There’s guilt in his questions. “Yes,” I reply. “I chose this.”

Day pulls me close enough for our noses to touch. “I love you.”

My heart flips in excitement at the desire in his voice—but at the same time, the technical part of my brain instantly flares up. Highly improbable, it scoffs. A month ago, he didn’t even know I existed. So I blurt out, “No, you don’t. Not yet.”

Day furrows his eyebrows, as if I’d hurt him. “I mean it,” he says against my lips.

I’m helpless against the ache in his voice. But still. They’re just the words of a boy in the heat of the moment. I try to force myself to say the same back to him, but the words freeze on my tongue. How can he be so sure of this? I certainly don’t understand all these strange new feelings inside me—am I here because I love him, or because I owe him?

Day doesn’t wait for my answer. One of his hands trails around my waist and then flattens against my back, pulling me closer so that I’m seated on his good leg. A gasp escapes me. Then he presses his lips against mine, and my mouth parts. His other hand reaches up to touch my face and neck; his fingers are at once coarse and refined. Day slowly moves his lips away to kiss the side of my mouth, then my cheek, then the line of my jaw. My chest is now solidly against his, and my thigh brushes against the soft ridge of his hip bone. I close my eyes. My thoughts feel muffled and distant, hidden behind a shimmery haze of warmth. An undercurrent of practical details in my mind struggles up to the surface.

“Kaede’s been gone for eight minutes,” I breathe through Day’s kisses. “They expect us back out there in twenty-two.”

Day twines his hand through my hair and gently pulls my head back, exposing my neck. “Let them wait,” he murmurs. I feel his lips work softly along the skin of my throat, each kiss rougher than the last, more impatient, more urgent, hungrier. His lips come back up to my mouth, and I can feel the remnants of any self-control slipping away from him, replaced with something instinctive and savage. I love you, his lips are trying to convince me. They’re making me so weak that I’m on the verge of collapsing to the floor. I’ve kissed a few boys in the past . . . but Day makes me feel like I’ve never been kissed before. Like the world has melted away into something unimportant.

Suddenly he breaks free and groans softly in pain. I see him squeeze his eyes shut, then take a deep, shuddering breath. My heart is pounding furiously against my ribs. The heat fades between us, and my thoughts snap back into place as I remember with a slow, sinking feeling where we are and what we still need to do. I’d forgotten that the water’s still running—the tub is almost full. I reach over and twist the faucet back. The tiled floor is cold against my knees. I’m tingling all over.

“Ready?” I say, trying to steady myself. Day nods wordlessly. Moment’s over; the brightness in his eyes has dimmed.

I pour some liquid bath gel into the tub and splash the water around until it froths up. Then I get one of the towels hanging in the bathroom and wrap it around Day’s waist. Now for the awkward part. He manages to fumble underneath the towel and loosen his pants, and I help him tug them off. The towel covers everything that needs to be covered, but I still avert my eyes.

I help Day—now wearing nothing except for the towel and his pendant—to his feet, and after some struggling, we manage to get his good leg into the tub so I can lower him gently into the water. I’m careful to keep his bad leg high and dry. Day clenches his jaw to keep from crying out in pain. By the time he settles into the bath, his cheeks are moist from tears.

It takes fifteen minutes to scrub him, and all of his hair, clean. When we’re finished, I help him stand and close my eyes as he grabs a dry towel to wrap around his waist. The thought of opening my eyes right now and seeing him na**d before me sends blood coursing fiercely through my veins. What does a na**d boy look like, anyway? I’m annoyed by how obvious the heat of my blush must be. Then the moment’s over; we spend another few minutes struggling to get him out of the tub. When he’s finally done and sitting on the toilet seat cover, I walk over to the bathroom door. I hadn’t noticed before, but someone had opened the door a crack and dropped off a new pair of soldier uniforms for us. Ground battalion uniforms, with Nevada buttons. It’s going to feel weird to be a Republic soldier again. But I bring them inside.

Day gives me a weak smile. “Thanks. Feels good to be clean.”

His pain seems to bring back the worst of his memories from the last few weeks, and now all his emotion plays out plainly on his face. His smiles have become half of what they used to be. It’s as if most of his happiness had died the night he lost John, and only a tiny slice of it remains—mostly a piece that he saves for Eden and Tess. I secretly hope he saves a part of his joy for me too. “Turn around and change into your clothes,” I say. “And wait outside the bathroom for me. I’ll be quick.”

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