"Why are you coming towards him like that?" Sam almost growled. "If the king was here, he'd have you banished."
"I have to be near him," she murmured. "He will be my mate."
"Hey, don't ruin a perfect thing," Shay protested, pushing the small mera away. But she picked herself up off the ground and kept coming.
"Ted!" Sam called, and the winged mera appeared in the room quite quickly. Upon seeing the situation, he grabbed Lyra and commanded her to sleep.
"Why is she acting like that?" Jaik asked his cousin. "Did she suddenly fall in love with me or something?"
"Are you blind to affection from girls?" Shay giggled. "She's liked you for a while, Jaik. She did start acting a bit stranger when you saved Grace and I, but nothing as extreme as this."
"I hope it's nothing that'll get her banished," Jaik worried. "She's a nice girl, from what I've seen anyway."
"If it involves her mother, she won't just be banished," Sam muttered. Jaik was going to question Sam on this point, but Ash interrupted him.
"This is verging into royal territory now so we'd better go home," Ash decided smartly. "Come on, Shay. Ted, bring Zak home around dinner time." The winged mera nodded before carrying the sleeping body of Lyra up the stairs.
"Bye, Jaik. I'll be back later," Shay promised as she gave him a gentle hug. Jaik was grateful that she was so considerate, because his chest wound was hurting in anticipation of more pain. In his sudden fear of pain, he forgot all about asking Sam about Lyra's mother.
As soon as Jaik's family had left, Sam shifted on the bed so that he was out of the way for Daria to unravel the healing bandages.
"It's better if you don't look," he suggested. "Daria told me that your chest wound is quite bad and also I know from experience that if you look at a wound, it's going to hurt much worse than it normally would because you're paying attention to it."
"Thanks for the tips," Jaik smirked gently. "It'll still hurt anyway, won't it?"
"Yeah," Sam admitted. "You never get used to it but I don't want you to get to the stage where you have to get used to waking up covered in those bandages, which is why I'm sending you away to your parents."
"And why doesn't your dad do anything about Rick hurting you?" Jaik queried. Gerald's answer earlier had left him more unsatisfied than ever.
"He's worried that Rick might hurt me even worse if he says anything," Sam admitted with a sigh. "If he doesn't hurt me, he might kill mum. It's like he has some power over her."
"Like whatever possessed Lyra?" Jaik asked. His chest gave off a twinge of pain and he looked down to find that Daria had been slowly unravelling the bandages around his chest. His wound was now exposed and it looked horrible, like a weeping sore. It seemed to burrow into his chest for quite some way and he went to touch it, but Sam grabbed his hands and held them firmly against the bed. He could only watch as Daria exposed more of the burned flesh, but he was glad to see that his chest was the worst of it. Daria wiped the residual goo from the bandages off his scales and suddenly the wounds all began to burn like nothing he'd felt before. He supposed that it was like when a human burned their flesh, or when he was too passionate with Alin. It hurt so much that he cried out in pain but quickly clamped his jaws shut, not wanting to show his pain. He groaned and shuddered, enduring the pure agony until Sam turned his head and kissed him.
"Thank you," Jaik murmured as Daria continued wiping away the goo. He couldn't help but steal another glance at his chest, and he found that what had looked like weeping pus was actually just the goo.
"I have to clean your wound now," Daria warned him. "Would you like me to get Chloe so you don't feel the pain?"
"Why didn't you offer that in the first place?" Jaik frowned. "Just make sure she isn't on heat." Daria giggled before walking away to fetch the guardian mera.
"Dad?" Sam gasped when the king accompanied Chloe to the room. "I didn't know that you were here with mum."
"For some reason, Rick just can't seem to soothe my heat," Chloe smiled. "Only Gerald can do that." The gems on her arm-band were, once more, dull. So dull, in fact, that they looked black.
"That's unheard of," Sam pointed out. "Maybe it has something to do with that arm-band."
"Why would Rick give me a gift that prevents him from soothing my heat?" Chloe laughed. She had a rich laugh, like that of a celebrity.
"Why, indeed," Gerald murmured. He gave his former wife a chaste kiss on the lips before leaving, looking happier than he had in days but deep in thought at the same time.
Before Chloe bit Jaik, Daria injected some kind of serum into his neck. She later explained that it was so that the guardian venom would only cause numbness and not outright kill him. Jaik felt a little drowsy afterwards but he stayed awake until Daria once more swathed him in bandages. He had to stay awake to keep his wings firmly folded against his back, but he quickly fell asleep as soon as the bandages had been tied off.