There Be Mature Content Here
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Luna the Baby Bunny
My brain just won’t stop looping Pyx’s voice. And it would be awesome—No. It would be so incredibly kind—if my mind would be freaking replaying the good stuff. You know, his deep, sexy rumblings of:
‘I wanna do what you wanna do, Luna…’
‘Please. Touch me, Luna…’
But, nope. I’ve gotta be subjected to:
‘Luna,’ spat out in harsh disgust.
‘Fuck me,’ uttered in frustrated anger.
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That last one—’fuck me’, I’ve been muttering that one to myself all morning long as I’ve been baking bread.
Okay. I’ve been burning bread.
But the burning’s done its job. I just wanna be left alone with my hurting heart. So when Gary’d stuck his head through the door awhile ago, he’d gagged out something about Jo and fled.
Ah, my dependable biohazard-rated baking skills. I can always rely on them to enforce my ‘go-the-hell-away’ moods.
Jo’s voice cuts through my ‘let’s-all-pity-poor-Luna’ sulking.
Not catching a word she’d said, I turn toward the modular’s door. “What—”
Water hits me in the face, drenching me from head to toe. But, I’m still sorta shocked and definitely confused.
Did Joia just dump a bucket of water on me?
Looking up from my drenched clothing and the puddle pooling under my boots, I gape at Jo, who’s casually resting her hip against the jamb of the open door.
“What the hell?” I shriek.
She cocks a brow at me. “I said, ‘I got a bucket of water.'”
And, yep, she’s idly swinging an empty bucket by its handle.
“Seriously, Joia!” I kinda sputter as I wipe water outta my eyes. “What about a warning?”
“Warning.” She cuffs. “That’s cute.”
“You know, next time—”
“Fuck next time.” She dismisses me with a wave of her hand and an eye roll. “But let’s talk about what you know, Luna.”
“What I know?”
“Yep. I’m all ears.” Jo points her stop-fucking-around finger jab at me. “Talk, Baby Bunny.”
What I know…? Heck, I know a lot. Like, I know that I don’t know how to fix Rez’s or Jo’s or Emys’s fertility problems. I also know that I don’t know how to fix the mining drill. Or how build a house outta sticks. Or heal the miners. Or get the kids to take vitamins.
Or how to sexually entice a super hot alien warrior—who doesn’t want me but still had a freaking hard on anyway—to the point where he simply says ‘screw it’ and then screws me.
Because if I could just figure out that last dang thing—how to successfully seduce Pyx—than every-freaking-thing else would be so easy to solve.
Jo hums. “So, that’s what you think.”
She’s not asking me but telling me in that very Jo way of hers. Because—I’m not messing around here—Joia knows everything.
I sigh, and yeah, it’s mulish and self-pitying. “That’s what I know.”
Jo stares at me, and this is what’s so freaking unfair. She’s proven that she knows what I’m thinking, but I’ve got no clue what she’s thinking.
“Right.” Jo nods, then calls over her shoulder. “Refill!”
“It’s gonna take a bit,” she shrugs, “but whaddya gonna do? I gotta use a slower delivery service this time.”
I’ve got no idea what she’s talking about. Which now means that I’m feeling antsy. “Jo?”
“So, back to this whole ‘what you know’ bullshit.”
“What about it.”
Jo gives me her ‘are you shitting me’ look. “I just said it’s bullshit.”
Okay. I’m just gonna take a wild guess here. “So me wanting to fix stuff, so that I can fix other stuff, is bullshit?”
Jo simply resettles against the doorjamb, crosses her arms, and glares at me.
My head starts to throb as my blood pressure spikes. “I’m not in the mood for this, Jo.”
“I know.” Jo’s nodding along. “Totally smelled your mood all the way from The Tower. That’s why I’m here.”
My heart drops. “You mean, my bread?”
I sniffle. “It drew you here?”
“But…but the bread’s…” Aw, heck. My next words are sobs. “It’s to keep people away!”
Jo pushes away from the jamb and sets the bucket on the floor. “Luna?”
I wave my hands around the kitchenette. “I even fail at burning bread!”
Jo rushes to me and pulls me into her arms. She’s hushing me and stroking my sopping wet hair as I cry.
Oh my god. Even when I try to screw something up—like creating such a stench that it drives folks off—I freaking fail.
“Oh, Baby Bunny,” Jo says in a sing-song-soothing voice. “I know that when you burn baked goods that you wanna be left alone. That’s why I came.”
“Why you came?”
“Because you need me, Luna. So, I’m here.”
Oh that’s just…
I’m crying harder now. And I’m hiccuping. I hate hiccuping and sobbing at the same time. I sound like a heehawing War-donkey. Which may sound like I’m talking about an Ancient Earth donkey, but War-donkeys don’t look anything like an Earth donkey. War-donkeys are these six legged—
Jo pinches my arm. Freaking hard, too.
“Ow!” I pull outta her hug.
“You don’t sound like a damn donkey.” She’s frowning at me. “And you’re not a failure.” Then her expression softens. “You’re just mated. That’s all.”
Oh crap. I’m not ready to get into this with Jo. “Rez told you about Pyx?”
Jo levels me with a look.
Right. “You told her about Pyx.”
“Damn right I told her.”
Yeah. That makes way more sense. Because—you know—Joia knows everything. Which means…
I gaze hopefully at her. “How do I fix it?”
Jo looks at me, her gaze honing right onto mine. With Jo, it’s not about how you look—and right now, I look like a dripping wet mess—but what she sees.
I can already tell, I’m not gonna like her answer.
Jo hums, then says, “What’s your gut telling ya?”
“Fine, your instincts. What’re they telling ya?”
Oh. That’s easy to answer. “That I should pounce on him.”
Damn right, we should bounce on him, cheer on my shebits. And then we should lick him all over like he’s a chocolate bar left out in the sun.
Jo chuffs—a single dry chuckle of amusement. “So go do that.”
“Pounce on him?” I laugh and wipe the snot from my nose. “Right. Tried that. Didn’t work.”
“Didn’t work.” Jo’s calling me out on my sorta lie.
See, pouncing on Pyx did work. He’d actually asked me to try it again, but instead of throwing myself at him, I kissed him. Then everything worked out so right. Until Pyx tore my skirt, and he’d looked at the fabric in his fists and…
He wasn’t looking at the pieces of my torn skirt. He was looking at his hands.
I know that Pyx feels the same way about his hands that I do about mine. Our hands are cursed because they’re not always controllable. They don’t always do what we need or want them to do.
I’d asked him to get my skirt off. He ripped it—oh good god, did he rip it—off of me. And as my clit tingled and my core dampened—both reacting to that intense display of Pyx’s eagerness and urgency—he’d asked me if he’d hurt me.
I moan as I hang my head. I am such a damn insecure idiot.
It’s not that Pyx doesn’t want me; he just doesn’t want to hurt me.
“Heya, Jo,” Gary says as he ducks his head through the open door. “I, ah… I got that other bucket ya wanted.”
“Stand down, Gary,” Jo says, sounding disappointed. “Someone’s having an ‘it’s about damn time’ breakthrough.”
I’m totally having a breakthrough. Pyx wants me. He really does.
“Course he does.” Jo cants her head toward Gary and his bucket full of water. “But that bucket’s on stand by. Ya hear me, Baby Bunny?”
“I hear you, Jo.”
But, come on. Who cares about a stupid bucket of water? It’s not like I can get any wetter.
Wanna bet? My shebits ask.
Not now, you horny idiots. Later, sure, freaking drown yourselves in Pyx-inspired bodily fluids. But right now I really gotta focus and plan.
Jo’s on to something here. Pyx wants me, which means that this whole seducing him to mate him thing, and then breaking the bond thing, should be super easy.
Well, it will be super easy once I figure it all out. All I need is a plan.
My mood perks up for the first time since last night.
Jo mutters. “So sick of this—Gary! Gimme that bucket.”
Pyxis The Restrained
“Is this the decoy cabin?” Kinixys asks.
I shake my head. “Nope. That one burned down.”
Which means I no longer have a decoy cabin.
“Do you think I need to build another one?” I ask all my siblings—Emys, Kinixys, and my new sibling-by-mating, Rez.
The four of us are gazing at the cabin that I am building for Luna. All around us, Briarwood is filled with the sounds of small game—birdsong and the rustling of foraging ground animals. The larger predators—respecting Luna’s claim to the territory—are noticeably absent.
“Another cabin?” Rez asks, but there’s something about her tone that’s got me hesitating before answering.
Is there something obvious that I missed?
I look around the site. Emys has broken off from our group and is methodically walking around the unfinished cabin.
“Yes,” I say, but drag my reply out, trying to stall.
Shit. Did I fuck something up here? Something that only a human would notice?
I turn to Rez. The twin strips of brow hairs on her forehead are wrinkled, which means she’s either annoyed or suspicious.
“Look at the size of it.” Rez spreads her arms wide, the tips of her fingers barely spanning the width of the main doorway. “You’re gonna make a decoy of all this?”
“All this.” I nod, catching her meaning. She’s clearly annoyed. “You’re right. It needs to be bigger.”
Kinixys scoffs. “A lot bigger.”
“Bigger?” Rez is shaking her head. “I didn’t—”
I don’t catch the rest of what she says. I’m already off, walking around the outside of the cabin—which I’m certain it’s a cabin because I’m using wood to build it—and recalculating its bigger and better dimensions.
I shake my head as I mentally note the new measurements. What the hell had I been thinking? Spending time inside Luna’s modular had proved that the cock-swelling scent of her arousal can completely saturate a confined space. Plus, it also proved—well, reaffirmed—that my mate-fevered hands would respond to the honey-sweet scent of Luna by falling into a dress-shredding, get-Luna-naked frenzy.
If Luna and I are gonna remain mates—er, roommates, then we each need our own domains.
Hell, if I could, I’d install two enviro systems—similar to the operations of individual docking terminals of a space station, but I don’t have the supplies for that. And without equipment to constantly scrub and vent the air, I gotta rely on spatial proximity protocols to keep myself under control.
So, yeah. The cabin needs to be double its current size. No. Triple.
“It is rather…small,” Kinixys says as I round the corner and mentally log the cabin’s new specs.
“Small? This… lodge… is small?” Rez looks from the cabin—not sure what a ‘lodge’ is—to Kinixys and I.
My sibling and I both nod.
“Seriously?” Again, she looks from the cabin to us. “It’s freaking huge.”
I don’t know why she’s being so cynical. Kinixys and I are agreeing with her.
“I did make a huge mistake.” I gesture to the minuscule dwelling. “It’s a crappy cramped cabin. Doesn’t even have enviro systems, let alone any curtains.”
I really need to get going on those curtains. And I’m gonna need a shit ton of them now, since there’ll be an equal shit ton of windows for low-tech ventilation.
Rez just looks at me, blinks, then hollers, “Emys!”
“Yes, Rez?” Emys, who’s made it up to the exposed fourth floor of the cabin, looks down on us.
Yeah, I still need to get the walls up on that level. But, then again, if I’m expanding the entire cabin, those walls can wait another hour or so.
“I’m tagging you in.” Rez frowns at Kinixys and me as she points to Emys. “Your turn to babysit the ‘Bigger Is Better Boys’.”
“How many times have I told you, mate?” Kinixys throws up his arms. “The Akupara nest on our eggs. We do not sit on our infants.”
“That’s why we call them hatchlings.” I add. “Because they’ve hatched from the egg.”
I’m confident that what I’ve said is correct. Is it helpful, though? I’ve got no fucking clue. Perhaps humans do sit on their young.
“Whatever.” Rez huffs and rolls her eyes, then turns and walks away. “I’m gonna go dig out that elephant-sized bolthole some more.”
“Fabulous!” I call out to her. Although, like ‘lodge’, I’m unfamiliar with her unit of measurement. I turn to Kinixys and whisper, “What’s the universal volume of an elephant?”
“Rather small,” he whispers back, sounding unimpressed yet also oddly confused. “They’re supposedly animals, native to my mate’s ancient homeworld, that would frequently wander into rooms occupied by humans. Then the humans would either discuss its presence amongst themselves or simply ignore it.”
Well, fine, I really don’t get it.
But I’m thinking that this elephant creature must be compact in stature, because human doorways are short and narrow.
“Ah.” I nod agreeably, even though the in-progress-bolthole is way larger than an elephant. “But still, the bolthole should be bigger. Right?”
“Much bigger,” Kinixys says.
“Em,” Rez growls, drawing out her scandalously thrilling nickname for my sibling.
“I will see to this, Sibling Mine.” Emys, who’s now next to us, gestures toward the bolthole. “Go on.”
To a human—well, a non-H.A.R.E. human—my sibling would’ve seemed to have ‘materialized out of air’ to join us, when all she did was use her natural speed.
Rez, mumbling something about digging with her hands to avoid wringing some necks, hops into the bolthole without a backward glance.
“We don’t sit on our young,” Kinixys grumbles, his faceplate—thus his focus—riveted on the spot where Rez’d had dropped outta sight.
I turn to him. “Truly? Humans think that?”
And also a bit disturbing.
Kinixys dips his chin. “As soon as my mate understands the distinction between nesting on eggs and rearing hatchlings, I’m certain she’ll be an excellent mother.”
“She will be an excellent mother,” Emys says, “but that’s not what she’d meant by babysit.”
“Really?” That’s even more fascinating.
“No,” Emys says in her dry, unflappable tone.
“Cause I’m willing to try it,” I say.
“As you always are.”
“As I always am.” I nod.
But, honestly, I don’t wanna waste time trying that or doing mathematical conversions of elephants to cubic units.
I just wanna expand the cabin so that finally Luna and I can live together as roommates who never see—or smell—one another.
Emys levels her gaze at me.
I’ve got a sinking feeling in my gut. “Did I just say all that stuff about not seeing or smelling Luna out loud?”
“Aloud,” Kinixys gratingly huffs, though his faceplate is still fixated on the bolthole. “It is always aloud, Sibling Mine.”
I hold up an interjecting finger. “But your mate—”
“Your mate,” Emys cut me off as she turns to Kinixys, “has tasked me with supervising the both of you.”
“Supervise?” He jolts, as if startled, then he heaves and releases a low growl. “That’s what babysit means?”
“Perhaps you should remind your mate that you are a sub-commander,” Emys says evenly. “That you are given orders.”
“Which I carry out without supervision,” Kinixys grumbles.
Emys nods. “Then you should—”
“I’m gonna go dig.” He strides away, veering off course to snag a rope before dropping down into the bolthole.
Emys and I stare after our sibling who’s all riled and fixated and very much obsessively possessive of his mate. Kinixys is downright adorable right now.
Which makes me both jealous and restless. An urgent need to do things for Luna surges up inside of me. I need to take action—any action—now. Like, right-fucking-now.
I lean toward my remaining sibling. “You should go dig with—”
Emys’s refusal’s fair. I mean, Kinixys did take rope with him into the bolthole. “You think the bolthole’s gonna collapse on them?”
“Yes,” she says without an ounce of concern in her voice. “Then they will dig themselves out.”
“Dig themselves out.” I nod. “Outstanding.”
“Is it outstanding, Sibling Mine?”
No. It’s not. It’s fucking annoying and frustrating.
I don’t want my siblings here, within Luna’s territory, mucking with her cabin. What I want is to obey my mating instinct’s demand that I hunt Luna down and please her however she wants to be pleased.
And, Aku willing, pleasure her however she wants to be pleasured as well.
That’s all I want.
“That’s all your mating instincts want?” Emys shifts on her feet and cants her head as she gazes up at me. “Or that’s all that all of you want?”
Huh. Kinda forgot that my super cunning sibling’s still here—shrewdly listening—as I confess out loud that my supposedly dormant, yet definitely socially abhorrent, mating instincts have woken up.
Oh, and that they’re fired up for Luna.
Since we are outside the Bale, Emys, Kinixys, and I are wearing armor. Which means we’re covered from crown to heel with our solid, matte faceplates in place. I cannot see Emys’s face to gauge her reaction to all of this.
And to be honest, even if I could see Emys’s face, her formidably unflappable composure is harder to read than a rock. Seriously, I could probably write volumes about the tender thoughts and feelings of a geological aggregate compared to only four or five descriptive words for my sibling.
Well, okay. Not true. I’ve got one descriptive word because I know my sibling well.
Emys’s always processing, and right now she’s assessing me.
See, a real Akupara wouldn’t have carelessly blurted to their commander—not to mention The Last of us all—that he’s succumbed to primitive instincts that our people’ve been relentlessly suppressing for generations. Plus, a real Akupara wouldn’t somewhat admit that he’s been completely disregarding proper decorum by making no attempt to rein in his unleashed mating drive…
So, yeah. “I kinda fucked this the fuck up. Didn’t I?”
Emys continues looking up at me. “How so?”
“In every fucking way possible.” I spread my arms wide, gesturing to all of my failings. “I’m fucking up Luna’s territory with a tiny shitty cabin that I am not even sure she wants, but my gut tells me to build it anyway. I shredded her clothes like a wild animal, and every time I even think of touching her or smell her—”
And there it is. My fucking fuck all tell.
“Fuck my hands.” I spat lowly.
“Scent does many things to a mated Akupara.”
By Aku, do I know it. I’ve manually shutdown my armor’s purifying cycles—the ones that scrub my breathable atmo and clean both me and my armor—because Luna’s scent from last night is still clinging to my skin. And if I wasn’t constantly breathing in her alluring scent, then I wouldn’t be able to focus on anything. I wouldn’t be able to keep building her cabin. I’d be back in Two-Four-Kay hunting her down and presenting myself for courtship.
Courtship. That word socks me in my gut, right through my plastron.
“Shit.” I hiss out, scoring my throat in my process. “I fucking fucked up.”
Emys sighs. “It appears that you’ve spent too much time with Rez and Joia. You’ve adapted their particular phrasing.”
“I fucking fucked up because,” I drop my gaze,”we’re not in courtship.”
“Not in courtship?” Emys’s tone flips from astonished to admonishing. “Pyxis Koxánec Tinir Proruptus Umara, The Restrained, look at me.”
I flick my gaze to Emys whose posture is now regimentally rigid and mutter, “I never declared myself to Luna.”
“You didn’t declare yourself?”
I shake my head. No declaration, no courtship. No mating.
“Well,” Emys gestures to me. “Did Luna initiate courtship with you?”
“She—” My heart’s pounding in my ears.
Luna did initiate courtship with me. Hell, I remember the heat from her palms seeping into my bare skin as she cradled my face. I can even recall the look she gave me. She’d gazed at me—hushed me so tenderly—that in that moment, I knew it. Luna saw me.
And yet, she’d still wanted me.
“Pyxis,” I can hear it in Emys’s voice. She’d just commanded me to answer her.
“Yes.” I grate out. “Luna initiated courtship.”
But, by Aku, why on Warren’s would she?
“Have you accepted?” Emys asks.
I look at my hands, forcing them to not curl and compress the scutites of my armor again.
When Luna’d kissed me, I’d fought to remain hyperaware—to make the moment last—but everything about her had been too distracting.
I’d been determined to lap up every scent and taste molecule of her arousal, sucking greedily on her lips and nipping at the warm column of her neck. The more I’d devoured her, the more I wanted her. My appetite’d spun into a frenzy, driving me to seek the tantalizing source of her arousal and feast from her core. Then the sound of ripping cloth had slammed into me harder than a pulse blast.
Fuck. I can still see Luna all too clearly. The remains of her skirt were hanging from her waist, leaving her legs bare. On her skin were red marks—the beginnings of bruises—shaped like my three-fingered hands. I’d bruised the luscious slope her hips and tender skin of her thighs. Also, her lips were swollen and her neck sported angry, red spots made by my crazed nips and sucks. The worst of them lingered right over the spot where she’d been the warmest and her pulse had been fluttering wildly under my tongue. There her scent had been most concentrated…
“As I’ve said, Sibling Mine,” Emys cuts into my grim thoughts. “Scent does many things to a mated Akupara.”
“But I am not mated to Luna.” I’m barely managing to be a roommate to her.
“Yet.” Emys says.
She shakes her head slowly. “You heard me, Pyxis. She initiated, did she not?”
Again, the phantom warmth of Luna’s palms on my skin pulses through me, streaking straight to my cock.
Which is weird. Not the getting aroused part. That happens whenever my thoughts turn to Luna. Basically, it’s been happening a lot lately.
But, it’s weird that it’s happening while I’m talking to Emys.
“Yeah,” I say, just to fill the silence. “She initiated.”
“Then I stand by my ‘yet’,” Emys turns to leave, but then pivots back toward me. “Which means the next move is yours.”
I shake my head. “But what if I hurt—”
Emys raises her hand, cutting me off.
I wait for her to fill the silence, because usually—in a charged moment like this—Emys has something amazingly insightful to share.
But we just stand there, staring at one another.
I bite back a rough scoff. Me. Patient.
But then the ground trembles beneath our feet and a cloud of dirt explodes from the bolthole.
I jolt, lunging forward, but Emys smacks her hand onto my plastron, halting me.
“Patience, Pyxis,” she says soothingly.
Fucking patience? Rez is down there!
And yeah, Kinixys is down there too, but that surly grump can fend for himself. After all, he’d been trained in subterranean infiltration maneuvers. The tunnels he’s dug beneath enemy fortifications are always the last to collapse.
But my heart’s battering against my ribs because Rez isn’t—
“Rez,” Emys gestures to the bolthole, “is highly capable.”
I blink, just to make sure I’m seeing things correctly. Rez is there, popping her head up outta the crumbling opening of the bolthole.
I gape at her. “Rez?”
“Oh. Heya, Pyx.” She’s using her fingers to scrub at her hair, dislodging clumps of dirt and small rocks. Her arms are bare and faint pink lines are visible around her wrists. “So we found some structural integrity issues with the structures and shit.”
“Indeed,” Emys says.
And I’m glad my sibling said something, because I’m kinda speechless right now.
“Yeah, so,” Rez dips her chin, gesturing to the ruined bolthole, “we’re just gonna go back to re-integrity-ing all the structural shit. You know, tying up—um, tidying up and all that.”
“Certainly.” Emys nods. “All of that.”
“Yep,” Rez scratches at her head again. “Gonna go do all that.” She starts ducking into the hole, but then pops back up. “And we totally don’t need any help. We’ve got this. Totally got this under control—”
The rumble of Kinixys’s voice rises up from the hole.
Rez groans. “I’ve fucking got this, Kin. Go find my pants.”
Kinixys says something else.
“Whatever.” Rez huffs as she ducks back into the hole. “It’s not like they don’t know we’re naked.”
Unfortunately, that is true. With Rez popping outta the ground, only revealing her head and bare shoulders and arms, it’s really fucking obvious that they’re naked.
I grimace. “So, that was…”
“Being mated to a human,” Emys says, her voice flat.
“Right.” But I don’t get it.
“Who is capable.”
“Capable of being buried alive?”
Emys sighs. “Capable in ways that match her perfectly with Kinixys.”
“Got it.” I think.
I mean, I get what Emys’s saying about Rez being resilient for a human. But Luna isn’t Rez and I’m not Kinixys. My sibling had spent the better part of a decade ruthlessly molding himself into the perfect Akupara warrior. Even though Kinixys is no longer The Last, he still embodies all attributes of that title. Because he’s mastered self control, he can be with a mate like Rez.
Hell, my own mother named me The Restrained outta sheer hopefulness rather than acclaim.
“Pyxis,” Emys places her hand my shoulder cop. “Luna is capable as well.”
Of course Luna is capable. She tenaciously tackles projects and never lets failure undermine her determination. In fact, she values her mistakes because they help her learn.
My failures, though, have become a mounding pile that soon will bury me.
My heart sinks. “Whereas I’m—”
“Whereas you’ve yet to accept.”
“To accept her courtship? Because I really can’t do that.”
Luna deserves better.
Emys sadly shakes her head at me. “You’ve yet to really accept anything.”
This chapter is complete! I’ve enabled commenting and have added my own thoughts as well.
As always, thank you so much for reading!
Slow & Steady Home
The Velveteen Tortoise Home
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From Slow & Steady: The Velveteen Tortoise
Copyright © 2020, 2021 by Bex McLynn
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One thought on “Slow and Steady – The Velveteen Tortoise – Chapter Nine”
Okay, folks. We’re about 44,000 words into this really, really, REALLY slow burn romance. This chapter wraps up the ‘deepening’, which is when Luna and Pyx can no longer deny their desire for one another. The next part, which (I promise) leads to sexy times, has Luna and Pyx revealing glimpses of who they really are… and that’s gonna be really fun and sweet to write.
I also gotta say thanks for hanging in there during another long hiatus. I did expect to take a break around the holidays, but I didn’t think it’d be this long. (Eep!) So, very sorry about that. Now that we’ve settled into 2021, I hope to get back to posting a chapter a week.
As always, thank you so much for reading!