Lufner spent the rest of the day away and returned just before sunset.
He met a sizeable sack near the door after closing it behind him and looked around, soon coming upon his wife in the bath.
He walked around to face her and she only dipped deeper into the water. Her hair was loosened and piled on top her head in fear of getting it wet.
She finally looked at him and gasped when he discarded his shirt and pants. He then climbed in with her and sighed at the warmth.
They never took baths together despite her wishes.
He preferred quick washes and deemed it boring to waste away in a tub of water.
This was new and although delighted, Namitha dampened her pleasure and stood to leave.
Namitha complied albeit reluctant.
"I don't think I want to, Lufner. In case you forgot, earlier we had a fight."
"I don't remember a fight."
"Well I do, and I-..."
Namitha caved in and Lufner took her in his arms and pressed her head to his chest. She brought arms to wrap around his waist, sighed, and melted into him.
"Will you ever forgive me?"
"I forgive you."
Namitha pulled away, regarding him with a quizzical brow. Forgiveness was granted too easily, so she tested the waters and leaned into him. The candles in her mind, flickered bright when he moved his face cleanly to the side.
Namitha blinked and tilted her head. She should have known.
"Am I to be punished, Luffy?" she asked.
Namitha wondered if Lufner forgot the position they were in.
"I won't beg this time."
"Never said you had to."
Namitha thought she could throw him off-guard by straddling him but he didn't think things through the moment his fingers brushed her sides and strum her ribs.
Her hair she tried desperately to keep dry, was soaked wet when she coiled backwards from him. Water splashed everywhere and Namitha hurried to the water's surface.
Her ears filled with his laughter and Namitha screamed the moment Luffy gained in on her, cornering her in the tub and tickled the living daylights out of her.
Never had she laughed so hard in her life. She hated him at that moment.
"Bastard," she giggled and gasped, leaning against the tub as her husband grinned down at her.
"Bastard," she said again and waited hopeful when his smile went away and as he studied her face. His eyes went from hers to her lips.
Still, he would not kiss her.
Namitha's bottom lip quivered and she went to him and cried in his neck. His arms came tight around her frame. Just when she felt herself slipping away, he kept her together.
"Stop saying that you're sorry. We will grow from this."
"Do you doubt me?"
Namitha shook her head and Lufner pressed his against hers.
"Do you doubt me?"
"What did I say we will do?"
"We will grow from this."
"And do you know why? Because you are the wife of Lufner Modig. You're no ordinary woman."
Her hair was now loose and wet. Lufner brushed strands behind her ear and held her face in his warm hand. He drew closer and stopped the moment she brought her chin up to meet his lips.
He forgot and coloured. Namitha was a lot of things. One thing he knew and appreciated was that she was a striking, irresistible, and beautiful woman.
It did not help that she was stark naked and pressed up against him. It did not help that she was his wife.
Lufner rested his head on her good shoulder. He did not mean to get her bandages wet. He made a mental promise to dress them again later.
Her arms surrounded him and she patted his damp hair.
"I made stew. It is not the best but it should last you till tomorrow if eaten sparingly."
"Let's eat some now."
"I made it for you."
Luffy frowned and pulled away.
"I'm returning to my mother's house for a little while. I think we could use the break."
"We did not speak about this."
"I thought you will be open to the idea. I disappointed you, remember?"
"That does not mean I do not want you near me. I have my own mind. I can think for myself and that is not what I want."
"So I should stay?"
Lufner muttered to himself, dipped brows and frown still present on his features and he left the tub and room, returning soon after for his wife who he took by the hand, dressed with one of her loose white gowns and lead to the fireplace.
The fabric of their clothing clung to their undried bodies and Lufner sat alone at the dining table eating while his wife sat close to the fire where she dried and brushed her hair.
"Do you want to go?"
Namitha looked over her shoulder at her husband, rested her brush beside her, and ran fingers through her wavy hair.
"This is my home and the gods alone know how much it will pain me to part from your side. I belong here. With you."
She turned back around facing the fire missing the moment her husband's shoulders straightened and a touch of a smile appeared on his lips.
"Are you not hungry?"
"I'll eat tomorrow."
Nothing passed her lips other than a drink of water and a small helping of fruit that morning. How the events unfolded that day, made her lose all appetite. The only appetite she had now was for her husband but according to him, she was to be punished.
The quiet shared between them from time to time was comfortable and warm, and as a consequence of their togetherness, they became good friends. Lufner talked her ears off from time to time and Namitha had to confess that sometimes she would too. They got along well. Too well despite the occasional spats and disagreements. Friendship was the glue that kept them together.
She looked over her shoulder again, smiled, and stood.
Lufner was downing his third bowl and slowly lowered it when Namitha came into view. She helped herself across his lap and graced an arm behind his shoulders. Lufner straightened and steadied her with a hand wrapped around her waist.
She smiled again and he smiled too. A little smile. One of her favorites.
At length, Lufner cleared his throat and said:
"I should not say this but you were amazing today."
Namitha had prettiness but she also had strength and Lufner liked strong women. How fortunate was he to call one his wife?
And the way she stood up to Hanlaug despite their difference in strength and experience had Lufner fawning over her way more than he planned.
Namitha bit back a grin.
"Thank you. Zollo was a surprisingly good teacher."
Lufner narrowed his eyes.
"You could have asked me."
"And ruin my plans? Impossible."
Namitha's husband was jealous. She wondered what happened to Zollo. Wondered if he had gone into hiding. Little did she know that Zollo was now sporting a broken nose and a slight case of a dislocated jaw. Usoff was let off the hook with a warning: No more secrets.
Sparring with his wife was sacred to Lufner. That was their thing. Not Zollo's.
"As soon as your arm heals, spar with me. Maybe I will let you win."
"I want to win fair and square so I'll be ready. Just name the date."
Lufner grinned and Namitha used the opportunity and his good mood to sit astride him and cross arms behind his neck. His hold strengthened around her waist.
"I want you to know, Luffy, that even though I wanted to restore my pride as your wife today, I did it for you. I may not have thought deeply on the matter but I love you and will demonstrate my love for you any chance I get. That is the truth."
Lufner exhaled slowly.
Namitha nodded and kissed Lufner's forehead and brought him close under her chin.
It did not change that she was in the wrong. She just wanted him to know that.
Some time passed and Lufner said:
"I have something to tell you but promise me you won't get mad."
"Why would I be mad?" Namitha laughed and waited on what was to be said.
"I will tell you in the morning."
"Why not n-"
Lufner kissed her on the lips and Namitha sighed deep and leaned back giving access to her neck which Lufner peppered with soft kisses.
Namitha raked fingers through his hair and seized his lips.
He wanted to distract her to change the topic but Namitha was just as determined as he was.
She rocked her hips against him and Lufner threw his head back, released a low moan, and whimper the instant Namitha tightened her thighs.
"What do you have to tell me, Luffy?"
She breathed each word, grinded on him some more, and pulled his hair. If her goal was to get a word out of him now, she was doing it wrong. Behind Lufner's eyes, he had slipped somewhere between life and death.
Lufner lifted her and took her straight to bed.
She should not have done that. Should have known better.
"Wait, Luffy!" Namitha sweat-dropped and the moment her back hit the mattress, Lufner had gotten on his knee, lifted her skirt and had hooked both his arms around her knees, and worked his way up her thighs with hot open-mouthed kisses.
Namitha's breath caught in her throat and she shivered and gasped with each kiss. She bit her lip and jerked whenever he met a sensitive spot. She was ticklish to a fault. Especially between her inner thighs.
He parted her with two fingers and lapped up her wetness with his tongue.
Namitha jerked her strongest then and groaned when Lufner continued without yield. Her sighs became moans. In between them, she called his name.
"Do you want me to stop?"
From his wife's lips came no answer and he continued till she was as limp as a leaf, detached and helpless, blowing about in the wind.
When done, Lufner climbed up beside her and she folded in herself, panting, catching her breath. Drowsy eyes stared back at him till they finally dipped closed and her breathing steadied.
She climbed on top of him then, pushing him flat on his back but collapsed for her legs had turned to mush and neither her bones nor nerves could keep her up.
"I have not forgotten about what you said."
"I will tell you tomorrow."
"Tell me now."
Namitha tried raising her head but she barely stirred. Her entire body was heavy and tired. Lufner brushed fingers through her smooth hair and massaged her scalp. Namitha sighed blissfully and snuggled under his chin.
"For now, just rest."
It did not take long for her to succumb to sleep. She even snored a bit which her husband found was the cutest thing ever. She rarely snored so when she did, it was always a treat.
He wanted the night to drag on but tomorrow came around quickly.
"You did what?!"
Lufner backed himself into a corner, remembering that she never agreed to his promise in the first place. She was at the start of her chores for the day and had woken up in a fantastic mood. Lufner thought it best to dampen it with an impossible request.
"You cannot do that."
Lufner had seen Namitha mad a handful of times but never like this.
"She already agreed."
"How could you? Have I no say in the matter?"
"It is for the best, Nami. Trust me."
Lufner bravely approached her, wanting to calm her. He reached out and took her hand which she pulled away. She took a step back and said,
She stopped herself and panicked. Her heart became troubled seeing the hurt in her husband's eyes. And it was all her fault.
Namitha went forward and hugged him and his stiff shoulders relaxed in her hold and she brightened the moment Lufner breathed a sigh of relief.
"Trust me, Nami."
He embraced her and kissed her cheek.
It took every ounce of strength in her to not stand her ground, to prove her point, and to tell him exactly why his idea could not and would not work. But he asked something of her which was a matter of importance. To accept his trust.
And trust him she did.
To be continued...