Rose for a Thorn, Part 2

He hadn’t meant to drink nearly so much, but it looked like Mirium needed it, though his belief in her story as the night went on faded and he began to get a headache. She cried on his shoulder again, and he rocked her, thinking maybe the increased drunkenness would cause her to fess up that the sob story wasn’t true. The scent of her stage makeup was strong in his nostrils.

Halfway through the evening, she sat up suddenly, causing Tyrric to doubt she really was so drunk. She spent a few minutes rubbing her tears — and the rest of her makeup — from her cheeks.

“I miss him,” she then murmured, leaning back against him, as if mistaking him for the back of her chair.

“He’s miss-able,” muttered Tyrric.

“What?”

“He’s — look, maybe we shouldn’t be talking like this,” he said suddenly.

“About Keelath?” said Mirium muzzily.

“About him, behind his back,” corrected Tyrric. Mirium only murmured a muzzy agreement. Tyrric was reminded strongly of his promise to Keelath at the words, and it curdled in his gut. Maybe it was the drink, or maybe it was that Mirium was a beautiful woman, or maybe it was that jealousy and suspicion only seeking an outlet…

He kissed her.

She stared back at him, and didn’t seem to know what to do about it. Tyrric added another kiss, daring her silently to return it, to confirm in his mind his suspicions of her dallying with other men besides his brother. Her lips opened slightly to his, and he couldn’t tell if it was inviting or in fatigue. He ran his hands down her back.

“No,” Mirium murmured, but she was too out of it to pull away.

Tyrric did, though. It was how he had been schooled, and it was the right thing to do, even as the unfairness of it beat him around the head. He sat quietly for a moment, and he persuaded her to only drink water when her hand next groped for the glass. When she could stand, he escorted her back to her wagon.

“You’re a gentleman, Tyrric,” said Mirium after she stumbled up the steps, in such a haphazard fashion he was afraid she’d fall. Her natural dancer’s grace kept her on her feet, though. “You’re a good brother to Keel. If I ever had any doubts about his… his courting me, well, they’re settled now.”

She then stumbled inside, leaving him standing there and feeling positively rotten.

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