“Good.” Doug nodded at Arnbjörg. “Much better. Focused.”
Arnbjörg bowed back, trying to hide a smile. “Thank you, sir.” Much better was practically shouted praise from Doug. She was getting better. Focused! “I’ve been practicing.”
“On?” There was a challenge in his question.
“Oh, just the air. Jaya doesn’t really want me getting into fights…”
She didn’t like admitting that. She sounded – well, she sounded controlled, which was accurate, as such things went. She was controlled. She ran her hand over her necklace. She was owned. And with everything else going on, nobody seemed to think being owned was even weird, as long as you weren’t badly owned.
“She doesn’t like the fuss, I guess?” she added lamely. Doug had this habit of making you want to fill in the silences. Continue reading →
“Good,” Doug grunted, as Arnbjörg pushed back against his strike with a block and a shouted No. “Fun power.” He took a step backwards, nodded. “Again.” Again, and again, and again, blocking and pushing with her power and striking back, until sweat drenched her hair and she felt like her arms and legs were made of rubber. “Good. Enough.” Doug leaned against the wall and gestured at her. “Walk.” She paced the small training room, once, twice, until he gestured to her, enough, and leaned against the wall with him. “Fun power,” he repeated, and then, “Aelfgar kids. Always have fun powers.” Doug didn’t say anything without purpose. Doug barely spoke. Arnbjörg glanced at him, waiting to see what else he’d say. Continue reading →
Doug had been not nearly as impressed with Arnbjörg’s new power as she’d hoped he would be, but he’d said “Interesting. Work on that,” which she took to mean that it was at least an acceptable power — if not as cool as some of the others she’d seen — and as tacit permission to tell everyone and everything no.
She tried telling a door no when it was trying to close in her face, but it only hesitated for a moment before swinging shut. She had told Rand no, which was very pleasing, if only to watch the look on his face. She hadn’t quite been brave enough to try telling Luke no, but when it came to Calc class, she was more than willing to look Professor Solomon in the eye and say “No, sir.” The look of surprise on the professor’s face was wonderful. The way he coughed and took a step backwards. “Well, isn’t that interesting. Arnbjörg, please stay after class, and -” “No, sir,” Arnbjörg repeated. “Aah, ahem. Well, then. If we could take open to page seventy-two-” “No, sir.” This was surprisingly fun! “Would you just shut up?” She was not expecting that from Leofric, of all people, but all of a sudden he was glaring at her from across the classroom. Arnbjörg smiled widely. “No. No, I’m not going to. I don’t have to, for once, and I don’t see why I should.”Continue reading →