The fleeting grasps you’d gotten at sleep showed when the rising sun prickled at your eyes, drawing a few stinging tears and another, harsher, ache that had nothing to do with the light. Carefully, you rolled over, trying not to disturb the covers, and looked at Natalya’s back.
The covers had slipped down, exposing one shoulder and a slanting window of her pale back, trailing strands of silvery hair slipping down her skin. Asleep, she seemed so fragile; without the daggers and steel of her flashing eyes, the cruel curve of her lower lip that sharpened with anger, Natalya was a vision of vulnerability, the angles of her bones softened into swooping curves by sleep and soft light.
It was rare for you to wake before her, and you usually savoured the opportunity to drink in the sight of her. Today you found yourself doing the same, but the usual sense of giddy joy and disbelief that such a beautiful, beauti