A sharp crack echoed through the night as a wooden screen door slammed somewhere along the dark neighborhood. Bright stars winked down at their audience of two as deep voices argued nearby, drowning out a soft sigh.
“Absolutely not! You are out of line. I am done playing nice with you.” Sebastian’s mop of shaggy black hair bounced around as his head jerked in anger at the tall, stoic alien-human hybrid staring down at him.
Alyssa flopped back against the roof of their little house and shoved a hand through her faded purple hair. She’d heard that same argument so many times over the last year. “Jess,” she whined, “I just can’t take it anymore. Why can’t Valel get it through his head that he has no claim over me? It’s making Sebastian so cranky that he’s been snapping at everyone.”
“Yeah, it’s getting out of hand. Even Lorn said something about it, and he never complains. I guess Bas stormed out of a meeting the other day when Valel wouldn’t stop badgering him.” Jess, Alyssa’s best friend, sat with her knees pulled up and her arms wrapped around them. A soft breeze blew frosty blonde locks away from her heart-shaped face.
“He didn’t tell me about that.” Alyssa groaned. Sebastian had been bottling things up lately instead of talking to her. “I think he’s afraid he’ll say the wrong thing and send me running into Valel’s arms. No matter how many times I tell him I love him and only want to be with him, he still gets this hurt look on his face. You think he’ll ever get over what happened?”
The two of them perched on the roof, overlooking the backyard, and gazed over the other houses behind theirs as Sebastian and Valel continued to argue on the street behind them. Jess sighed and rested her cheek on her knees.
“He loves you, Aly. It’s just going to take time. I can’t imagine what it’d be like knowing your girlfriend has an uncontrollable attraction to someone else.”
“Unwanted attraction.” Alyssa scrunched up her face, blinking back tears. “If Valel would just back off, then maybe we could breathe a little. Sebastian already has so much to stress and this isn’t helping, at all.” She rolled over onto her stomach, scooting up to look over the roof’s peak. The sight of Sebastian jabbing a finger against Valel’s puffed up chest made Alyssa cringe.
“Ugh!” She dropped her head, scraping her forehead against the rough shingles.
Jess turned to take a look and groaned, patting Alyssa on the back.
“That’s it! I’ve had enough of this. Sebastian has a video conference in the morning, and I do not want to go to bed alone again.”
Alyssa and Jess crawled to a ladder that Sebastian had propped against the roof a while back for a night picnic. That had been the last real date they’d had since Alyssa’s confession months ago. The arguments with Valel had become a daily thing, sometimes multiple times a day these last few weeks.
As soon as her feet left the last rung, Alyssa stormed around the house, veering around two muddy spots from the nearly constant rain of Seattle. Crossing the front yard, she slipped on the wet grass but kept her footing and continued to charge toward the tiresome quarrel in the crumbly street of their older neighborhood.
Quickly glancing around, Alyssa caught the familiar sight of straight black hair as curtains fell back into place in the window of the house next door. Her step faltered as she suddenly worried the noise was disrupting a certain child’s sleep. I should’ve stopped their arguing sooner. It’s long past Lyssa’s bedtime, and Kora is too shy to say anything.
“You have no say in the matter,” Sebastian barked. “The insubordination and the interference in our personal lives… How many times does she have to tell you she doesn’t want you?”
“What she says is unimportant,” Valel said, unwavering and unaffected by the raging man before him. “Our bond will prevail.” Seriously? Unimportant? What an ass!
“You’re a fucking broken record! It only persists because you won’t back the hell off of her.” Sebastian put all his weight into another finger jab, but Valel still didn’t budge. “You know what. I’m done. You’re out of here. When I speak with the president in the morning, I’m telling him your ass will be on the next shuttle back to New York.”
Jess’ shoulder brushed Alyssa’s, and they shared a long-suffering look. With a deep breath, Alyssa pushed herself between them, grabbing Sebastian’s stiff finger before it could find it’s mark again.
“That’s enough, you two.” She stared up at Sebastian, who kept his fiery cobalt eyes glued to the hybrid at her back. Something brushed the side of her waist. Jess sighed loudly, and Alyssa knew Valel had touched her… again. Thankfully, the fabric of her jeans protected her skin. Now was not the time for a shared vision.
Alyssa stepped forward, pushing her body against Sebastian’s. He attempted to maintain his position, but she pushed harder until he stumbled back a step. The piercing look he gave her nearly melted her bones. A mix of heated anger, surprise, and lust filled his eyes as their bodies met and he was forced to give her his attention.
“Enough,” she breathed, her eyes searching his, then sliding up to see the scar bisecting his eyebrow.
As his body softened and his shoulders relaxed, Sebastian lowered his hand, winding his fingers with Alyssa’s. He raised his gaze to Valel, triumphantly. Alyssa turned her head, giving Valel a view of half her face but not looking at him. She saw him out of the corner of her eye as his hands curled into fists.
“Go,” she said firmly. When he made no move to leave, she wrapped her arms around Sebastian’s waist. “Go, Valel. Now!”
Burying her face in Sebastian’s chest, Alyssa held her breath until she heard Valel’s boots stomping away in long strides. She let out her breath and dropped her arms. Without another word, she turned and headed for the house. Jess followed on her heels, but Sebastian remained where he was until the women reached the door.
“I’m so tired, Jess,” Alyssa muttered as they entered the house. “This has gone on for months. I don’t know how much more I can take.”
“Do you think Bas will actually send Valel away?” Jess stood in front of her bedroom door, her head bowed in thought. Nearly two years in the rebel coalition had taken a toll on Alyssa’s sweet, bubbly friend. She’d grown into a strong woman. They both had.
“I don’t know.” Alyssa leaned against the wall with her arms crossed. “He’s invaluable as a fighter but his singular focus on me doesn’t appear to be lessening in any way. In fact, I swear he’s getting more possessive by the day. Sebastian needs breathing room to run this coalition. Kayn has been circling our planet for a year. He could come back any day, and we need to be ready.”