Chapter 25 – Can’t Hide It

In the afternoon, Tahia and Manika meet at the easel. Tahia is to paint Manika’s portrait as promised.

“I have already painted your mother this morning. And your portrait will be just as beautiful or even better”, Tahia muses.

Manika was very pleased with the skill Tahia presented. She painted the portrait quickly and as she had promised it looked very beautiful. The portrait joins Zaleena’s on the new gallery of Creators.

Tahia takes a break at the meeting area and watches Nieva gardening for a while. But soon, Nieva comes up to her.

“I saw the portrait you painted today, it was very good work”, the gatherer tells her.
“Thank you, Nieva”, Tahia is flattered. She doesn’t really know why, but this compliment from Nieva means a lot to her.

“I can paint your portrait too. I would love, I mean, I would like to”, she suggests shyly. She had wanted to do that since the day she had met Nieva. This woman fascinated her in a strange way. Her heart thundered in her chest waiting for an answer.

“I think there should be a portrait of you! Your smile is much more beautiful than mine”, Nieva replied. Tahia giggles. “But of course, I would gladly be your model.”
Tahia feels relieved. The women spend a while together on the bench talking about all and nothing. Tahia has never been so happy.

When Tahia goes back to the compound, Baato meets her at the door.
“Soo… I saw you and Nieva are getting along well? That’s is very … nice”, he says.

“Soo…are you…you know… are you?”, he stutters nervously. Tahia could have gotten him punished for asking too many questions but she just smiles.
“Yes. So?”, he looks at him her face at the edge of a grin.
“Well, I.. alright then”, Baato seems surprised and confused.

Suddenly, Tahia bursts into laughter. Baato feels very embarrassed. So that’s why Nieva was never really interested in him. He could have known. What a fool he was.
“Don’t worry, Baato”, Tahia giggles, “I won’t get you into trouble.”
And with a mysterious smile, she leaves.

Meanwhile, Taam and Manika enjoy every second of their time together. Taam can’t stop looking at Manika, in his eyes she is the most beautiful woman on the planet.

“Come with me”, Manika whispers and they both leave for the breeding chamber.

“You are so beautiful, Manika. I can’t believe my luck. I would always chose this again over anything. I don’t care what it means for me. I’m happy”, Taam confesses.
“I love you, Taam”, Manika whispers.

Manika wants to spend as much time with Taam as possible. She knows he will be sacrificed once she conceives and she dreads the moment. But right now there is only him in her arms and she pushes everything else away.

When Manika comes out of the bathroom, Zaleena is waiting.

“Well? Is there a heiress on the way?”, she asks.
“Uhm, not yet, sadly”, Manika laughs nervously and tries to play it off.

“You should probably try again quickly then!”
Zaleena is suspicious. Manika didn’t lie about her not being pregnant but Zaleena could sense that she was hiding something…

Next: Chapter 26 – Final Passion

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