This vanished somehow. Should be the first scene of chapter 17.
She looked up to see Liam watching her, a small smile on his face. “What?” Adaeze found herself feeling just a bit shy.
“I missed you.” Liam shook his head, then sat down at her feet. “I knew I would, I just…” He twitched a shoulder. “Didn’t realize how much.”
Adaeze put her hand on his shoulder. “I missed you too.” She laughed. “I forgot for a few moments who you were. Thought finding you again would be hard and…” She leaned forward to rub the back of his neck lightly. “And then you found us.”
“I always know where you are.” Liam leaned slightly into her caress. “I could be a thousand miles away and I could still close my eyes and point to your location on a map.” He leaned forward then, and shifted awkwardly. “I, uh…” He exhaled, then handed her something wrapped in an intricately woven cloth. “This is for you.”
“I thought you gave out all the presents you bought already.” She felt a small thrill of excitement. They traveled all over the world, and yet actual presents were a rare thing.
“This one is…” He shifted again, and she saw a bit of blush rise to his cheeks. “It’s special. It’s um…” He looked away, then touched the shark’s tooth around his neck. “It’s from Koert.”
“You told Koert about me?” Her eyes widened. That was a surprise. He’d been worried, before he left, that the queen might take offense if she knew he was Ilael.
“I…” He looked down at the deck. “Somehow I didn’t have to. He just…” He blushed harder. “I don’t know what it is.”
Carefully, she opened it. Her eyes widened as she looked at the gold circle. The ends fastened together with a bit of leather lacing, and the design looked alien to her eyes. Abstract patterns, like… Like those on the vest Liam had been wearing when he’d returned to them. Wilder designs. “It’s beautiful.” She slid down so she was sitting next to him. “Help me put it on.” She held up her wrist.
“It’s not…” He took her arm, and instead of securing it to her wrist, he slid it up and put it around her upper arm before tying it, then twisted it so the laces weren’t visible. Then he touched the pattern, running his fingers across it. “The pattern signifies water. The waterfall the Wilders call the Breath of Life. The birthplace of all rivers.”
“That’s…” She looked at the burnished gold against her arm. “Perhaps Koert has a gift of his own.”
“I’ve always thought so.” Liam brushed a bit of hair from her forehead.
She leaned forward to press her forehead against his. “I’m glad you’re back.”
“Me too.” He smiled.