Lydia stared at the chessboard. The game would be over in two moves, her king checkmated, if she didnít do something drastic. She studied the board for a moment longer, then picked up her queen and set it down. Looking up at Ian, she noted his pleased smirk. He swooped in with his own queen and captured hers, only to discover a pawn, of all pieces, waiting for him.
"No!" he cried in dismay, watching as his queen was captured and his king swiftly checkmated. Lydia smiled.
"One never notices the little guys, eh, my dear?" she laughed at his rueful expression. Ian swept the intricately carved pieces into a heap in the center of the board in mock frustration, then slowly began to rearrange them.
"Itís getting late, Ian, do you really want to play another game?" Lydia asked, smiling at him in her most seductive manner. He raised an eyebrow at her.
"Games, in your condition, my love?" Ian touched a hand gently to her stomach, feeling the fluttering of a babyís heartbeat beneath his palm.
"My condition?" She lifted a hand to her forehead and pretended to faint in her chair.
Ian smiled at her. "Come on, Iíll race you upstairs then." He stood, and extended a hand to his wife. Lydia took it gratefully and pushed herself up to her feet. She leaned against his comforting warmth for a second, then started to walk slowly towards the staircase.
"Iím going to beat you up there," she called gleefully.
Ian paused for a moment to study his wife as she was framed in the light from the candles. Her dark hair and eyes shone as brightly as they did when he had first fallen in love with her so many years ago. They had been separated in adulthood for a few years as he tried to establish himself as someone worthy of marrying into House Dragon. When he had heard the news that Lydiaís family was dead, he rushed back to console her, only to be captured and used by her traitorous brother Malcolm in an attempt to completely destroy the rest of House Dragon. Lydiaís love for him and ultimate hate of Malcolm had freed Ian and destroyed Malcolm for good. He had fled, terrified that she could use magic to harm another individual, even if it was her dangerous brother. Ian returned to marry her when he realized that his love for her was more powerful than his fear of her magical abilities.
He smiled in the shadows, thinking about the time since their marriage. It had been nothing but happy, with no talk of magical powers or the tragedy of Lydiaís family. And now they were having a child, someone to share their newfound joy.
Lydia looked back at him, one hand on the railing. "Are you coming?" she asked softly. Ian gazed up at her, smiling again, and hurried to join her upstairs.
Site contents © 2001, Josie Chang. All Rights Reserved.