“Uh uh.“ Elia catches his wrist before he reaches for his queen. "Wrong move.”
Calen makes a pained sound, flopping back into his cushions. The force sends a couple of them skittering, and his whole body whomps into the pile. His embarrassment skitters into her mind like a frightened animal; she makes sure her laughter holds no trace of mockery.
“Can you really call it playing a game together if you’re picking all of the moves out of my head?” His voice is muffled. He thinks about staying under the cushions forever, or at least until his face is less red.
“Of course I can,” she sniffs, leaning carefully over the table to offer him a hand. “You still have to figure out why it’s the wrong move, and which is the right one.”
And the real game is in learning how he thinks, what he sees when he looks at the board. So far, she’s learnt that he’s a terrible chess player, all straight lines and obvious moves. To be honest, the only way she’s keeping any patience with the game is by eavesdropping; playing fairly with such a desperate novice would be the height of frustration.
He takes her hand. She hides a smile at his impulse to pull her down with him. It’s not an awful thought, but that’s something he has to earn, no matter how lovely a specimen he is.
“Come on.” She smiles prettily at him, letting her hand linger over his skin as she lets go of his hand. “Have another look at the board. Don’t rush it, okay? My time is yours for today.”
She winks. His cheeks remain firmly red. “That depends on how well you do today.”