A Festival of Delight Chapter 1

By ???

I knew something was going on in that head of hers the minute she started scowling at her breakfast. Jess never scowled at her breakfast. She always scowled at me eating my breakfast. And, of course, the minute I saw her scowling, I had to ask. "Say, Jess, what's got you puckered up like a sour lemon?"

Jess looked up and the frown disappeared. "Huh?"

I copied her face of before. "This. I don't think your breakfast could have taken much more." My frown wavered, vanishing altogether when the expected slap or shout wasn't there, a regular occurrence the past several days. I was starting to get worried. "Jess? Hey. What's the matter, babe?"

After looking down at her breakfast again, she pushed the plate away. She reached into the pocket of her skirt and pulled out a letter. I recognized it as the one she'd just gotten from Luna and Alex. She stared down at it for a second or two with that same scowl, and then passed the letter to me. I took it and read through it. Luna was still planning on competing in the Althena Festival with Alex accompanying her on his ocarina, of course. Some of Luna's friends who'd planned on entering had gotten ill. There were a lot of new people coming in to Burg just for the Festival, and the judges were thinking of changing the prize to something that would draw even more tourists. When I looked back over at Jess, the expression on her face was weird. She looked almost confused.

I handed the letter back. "Okay. What's the big deal?"

Jess took the letter without any of her usual insults to my talent for missing the obvious, or snide comments of me being denser than a doorpost. Needless to say, I was beginning to freak after so many days of not-the-usual-behavior. Especially when she stared down at the letter with a growing scowl until I thought the thing would burst into flame. Finally, she threw it down and leaned back in her chair with crossed arms, grumbling about "impossible notions" and "paranoid suspicions".

"Babe, I'm sure I won't understand a single syllable of what's got you so bent out of shape, but could you please throw me a line?" I figured that would give her the perfect opportunity to give me a good sarcastic slap across the face with her quick wit that was just so much damn fun.

It didn't.

"I don't know how to explain it, Kyle," she said with a shrug of her shoulders. "I just don't feel right about that whole letter. It's like an itch in the back of my brain."

And that's exactly where I scratched my head. "Like what?"

"The part about the sick friends, for starters. Especially when the prize is specifically aimed at drawing people in." Her eyes met mine. "What would you do at a Festival if you wanted to win? Take out the competition, right?"

"Of course, but only if it were something really good," I countered, shocked that she'd used my previous life as an example without dissing it in the next breath. "Singing Festivals generally don't pull the big purses, Jess. Just skirts and wenches."

"And they can be more dangerous than anyone if fame is the prize."

And she had a good point. "Well, did you want to take a hike over to Burg and check it out?"

Jess' frown disappeared as her eyes met mine. "Really?"

Not only did she sound shocked, it was like she couldn't believe I'd made the suggestion. I smirked, feeling a little bit more comfortable with the tiny slight against my person. "Well yeah, sure. Don't like innocent girls being picked on. Just tell me who to whack and I'll do it."

Jess leaped from her chair and came around the table in a rush. I was sure I was going to feel a resounding smack against the back of my head for something I didn't know I'd done, but all I got was her arms wrapped around my neck and her body pressed against mine as she gave me a big kiss on the mouth. I stared at her for the briefest instant in shock, and then gave a shrug and wrapped my arms around her as I enjoyed the moment. Hell, might as well. There was no telling what I'd do in the next few days. That moment could have been my last in a long dry spell. Besides, we'd only been married for a little under a month. I was still enjoying the perks.

And there were so many.

Deciding against sending our breakfast onto the floor to make room for a little jaunt of healthy affection, we scurried to the little living room of our small house in Meribia to start making plans for the trip to Burg. It was a little weird, but only because she kept giggling and flirting whenever I made a not-so-innocent suggestion of sleeping arrangements and meal times to keep up our strength. Once the weirdness factor wore off, I started getting a little more daring with my suggestions. She'd never really appreciated them before. Yells and slaps were what I'd gotten before. Of course, marriage was supposed to do some pretty odd things to people. Maybe it mellowed out priestesses when it came to sex and humor? It certainly put a twinkle in my eye.

So, the trip was planned, the tickets were bought, and then we were packing up a few knickknacks when she made a suggestion that curled my toenails.

"When we get to Burg in the next couple days, we should enter the Festival."

I shut the suitcase on a finger and swore, sucking on the offended digit as I stared at her in dumbfounded silence.

Jess came over and took my finger out of my mouth, looking down at it a moment before giving it a slow kiss with a sidelong glance. My jaw dropped and I couldn't think of a blasted thing to say. Since when did she do something as blatant a come-on as that? She had to be toying with me.

"It's the best thing to do to keep the suspicion down to a minimum. I mean, we didn't do so bad at the Blue Dragon Shrine -- we certainly did better than Mia and Nash -- and it might be the best way to figure out why I have a bad feeling about the Festival. After all, how suspicious is it for two of Alex and Luna's friends to enter? I certainly can't think of anything."

I cleared my throat, determined to give her one more chance to give me a good old slap across the face. I needed to preserve my sanity somehow! "Weell, besides that fact that I can't carry a tune in a bucket and your yowling sounds like a fire slime in heat? Sure. Nothing suspicious there."

Jess just laughed and reached up to plant a nice, long kiss on my lips. My brain emptied while I caught the fleeting thought that somehow I'd lost the real Jessica in Althena's Fortress.

"It's a Festival, Kyle. We don't have to sound good. We just have to mean it."

"Uh... yeah. Sure.... Jess, are you feeling okay?" She stepped closer and wrapped her arms around my waist. I didn't mind all that much, I just wanted it to make sense to my oversexed mind.

"Perfectly wonderful," she purred with a very meaningful look up at me. "How about you?"

"F-Fine, I guess. A little weirded out. You haven't yelled at or slapped me in about a week. You haven't even frowned at me, and this morning at breakfast doesn't count."

She stepped forward and backed me up against the dresser. "It's an amazing thing, babe."

I swallowed hard and actually tried to fight to keep my mind from going god-knows-where. Hadn't I had many a dream with exactly this happening...? My mind got lost in the memory. Now those had been awesome dreams. "W-What is?"

"Marriage. It releases a lot of tension." Her hands went down the back of my trousers and gave my butt a pinch.

I didn't do much else the rest of the day except for relieve tension.

Cold Fusion

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