A Perfect Sunset

- A Serialized Novel -

A reluctant queen becomes involved in intrigue in a kingdom ruled by a tyrant and on the verge of revolution.

Author’s Note: When I started this story, I had this ending in mind from the beginning. That is to say, I knew this scene was coming because it gave me the title, but it didn’t come out on paper the way I had envisioned it.

That Perfect Sunset

“I have something I want to show you.”

“You do?” Agache asked, smiling. He reached for her hand, and Jis gave it gladly, wanting even more of a connection with him than she already had. This was what she’d envied in watching Anokii and Gekin together, and she was glad that they at last had this. She knew, too, that their relationship would always be twinged with some guilt for when they’d started feeling something for each other, but they had not taken that too far, and that knowledge must sustain them as they continued to grow their love now. At least the people had what they deserved—some sort of happiness after what they’d endured, and while she knew they would all carry their scars, while their land might never be united, they could look to the future with hope instead of fear.

She shook that thought away, giving her husband a smile. “I do.”

“That expression on your face is one that I have learned to fear after the time that I have spent with you,” he said, and she laughed. He did not fear anything about her, but she liked the way he teased her. She always had, under all the annoyance. “What torment have you devised for me?”

“I am the queen, not the king, and the new king—you—are a different sort of ruler. We do not torment anyone.”

“That depends on the definition. I think your behavior last night was rather… torturous since you were not willing to let me touch you and yet you would not stop touching me.”

She felt herself flushing. She had been rather bold, even at one point using esibani training against him. He had not complained too much. She’d believed he enjoyed that. “You are displeased?”

“I did not say that.”

“Is that what you’re hoping that I am planning now?”

“I am not sure I can endure more of that.”

“You survived the king’s torture. His brought you near death. Mine was… well, pleasurable.”

He nodded, stopping to touch her face, caressing her cheek before kissing her. She could let them get lost in this, it would be all too easy for them to do, but she had something else she had wanted him to see. She could not allow them to become distracted, not yet.

“Come. We don’t have much time.”

“Why are we rushing? I didn’t think there was any need of urgency. We have had a quiet time since our second wedding. There are quite a few among the Biskane who are very pleased to have you as their queen again, and I think you have made my rule seem more favorable than I could ever have expected. We may even be able to sustain this peace.”

She nodded. “I hope so. I do not want to think we shall lose it, not for our sake or for the people’s. I know there are some rumors of unrest, but I do hope that we can find a nonviolent solution to that. With most of the Nebkasha already settled in the new land, tensions have decreased considerably, and I think the Biskane are starting to accept you and life without the cruelty of the king to keep them harsh and angry all the time.”

He shook his head. “I have little to do with that. It is only that most who would have fought the changes are already gone.”

She tugged him forward. She doubted that he would ever acknowledge his part in keeping their land at peace and their people happy, no matter how long he managed to rule. “Here.”

“Jis, I do love you, but this is the same balcony we have been on many times before and—”

“Look, Agache. Look at the sky. The sun. It’s… Well, it’s beautiful, this combination of the clouds and the colors, but it’s more than that. After so long in the oppression of the twin suns…”

“Yes, I see what you mean, niniamant,” he said, closing his eyes, and she smiled as she saw a faint glow about him. “It is a perfect sunset.”

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