I'm thinking of putting this scene in 'My Treasure, My Tool', the next book planned in 'Tales of the Navel/The Shadow Forest'.
“Manflesh? Tough with arrogance and rigidity?” Duessa let out a laugh, which was mostly hiss. Gabrielle noted the way all eight of her knuckles whitened, as some of them gripped the railing in front of her. Others formed childlike fists.
Duessa raised her her arrogantly. Gabrielle wondered if she was defying the spirit with her words to come back to haunt her. Duessa had an almost superstitious dread of words at times. She also had a dislike of mature males, which felt quite personal.
“We have our marriage feasts of boymeat. Best to savour them, while they’re still young and sweet,” Duessa said. Two of her eyes opened. They were an almost human hazel, wistful and pensive. “Best to strike them down, when they’re young and bursting with hope. It’s better than waiting for their dreams to curdle into the sourness, which is every man’s lot.”
Including Damian’s? Gabrielle wanted to ask, but she didn’t dare.
“Sweet or seasoned?” ‘Brie asked instead. She leaned against the railing as well. Its stone was smooth and impersonal. It carried no sentiments, or judgments. “Experience is what truly adds flavour to anyone, man or woman.” She shot Duessa a sidelong glance. “One wonders why one of your marriage feasts might be like, if he lived to attain such experience. Especially if he was extraordinary to begin with.”
“Are you flirting for Damian’s life, ‘Brie?” Duessa asked. Her third pair of eyes opened. They were a brilliant, blood rose, unveiled from under thick, curling eyelashes. Gabrielle wondered which marriage feast had gifted her with a pair of eyes so like Damian’s own. “Or are you saying one of my ladies is missing out on a feast beyond measure, in not allowing my nephew to ripen properly?”
“You of all people appreciate the value of patience,” Gabrielle said. “Whether it’s in giving yourself time to savour a meal or a man.”
“Such a value is not limited to men,” Duessa said. Her fourth pair of eyes opened. Hot and hungry, they moved over Gabrielle’s lips, the curve of her cheek, following the line of her throat.
A part of Gabrielle wanted to shrink back from such dangerous attention. Memories of Rafaelle came back, of her trembling hands, as they brushed Gabrielle’s hair. Only Duessa wasn’t ashamed of her desire for the younger woman of a different species. Duessa Ashelocke wasn’t ashamed of anything.
“I’m willing to make a deal with you, ‘Brie,” Duessa said, as her tongue emerged to moisten her red lips. It was easy to imagine her rouging them with young men’s blood. “I wonder if you’ll take it?”
“I’d be a fool, if I dismissed it out of hand,” Gabrielle said, tensing from something other than the delightful fear of shared desire. Ashelocke deals were legendary double edged swords for those who accepted them. “However, I’d be a fool if I accepted it too quickly, as well.”