Ember propped the flashlight against an inside corner of the snow castle. She took the bottle from his hands to lean in the opposite corner, then sat down at the ice table. Laiken exhaled away his thoughts and joined her, setting down the mugs.
“We should wait a bit for the Kahlua to chill,” she said.
He nodded, afraid to say a word, because if he did, he might confess everything he was feeling inside. Meeting Ember had sparked new emotions. And these new emotions had him wondering if they were anything like Grandmother felt for her human friend…lover…whoever it may have been. The one she left behind.
“I can’t believe you made this. How long did it take?”
His attention snapped back. The Ashrai measured time differently, so he wasn’t sure how to answer. He pulled off his hat, shoved it into his pocket. “It was done before the sun rose.”
Her expression lifted as she blew out a breath. “You worked all night?”
“Yes.” He swallowed at the nerves jabbing inside. The image of her crying in the window flashed through his mind again. “For you. I wanted to make you smile.”
Her mouth dropped open, pink lips unable to express what she might have wanted to say. Or maybe, like him, she wasn’t sure how much truth to divulge. He could see her struggling, her gaze latching onto his. They’d just spend the whole evening laughing and eating, sharing bits and pieces of themselves, without really sharing anything at all. The Ashrai were honest. They were bold. He didn’t know how much longer he could keep his mouth shut about their worlds. He was more than intrigued by her. Not only did he want to sweep away the sorrow he’d seen through her window that first night, but there was more.
Maybe he felt a little missed happiness himself.