He knocked against her with his shoulder, moving gently enough, but she pulled out of his way apologetically all the same. Then she gave him a sheepish grin that was a different kind of apologetic all together.
“You’ve got to stop that. You know you’re not a servant anymore, right?” He laughed, reaching out to take her elbow gently.
“I know, I know. It’s just a life time of habits I’m trying to break. I promise I’ll get it under control so that I don’t embarrass you.”
“Aw,” he leaned over to kiss her on the temple, “You don’t embarrass me. I love you, flinches or not.” He grinned as her blush meant the compliment hit home. “But people will take advantage of you if you still act like a maid. My family’s friends are not always kind, and they got to the position they are at by taking advantage where they could. I don’t want you to get hurt.”
“I like my friends more than your friends,” She complained softly. It was a sign of how far she’d come. Usually she would have only said something negative about anyone when they were tucked away alone in their bedroom, where she was absolutely sure that no one would hear her and report back to the master that she no longer actually had.
He threw his head back and laughed too. “Oh, I agree. Your friends are much better than most of my friends. But I’ve become quite accustomed to my way of life, and I promised you absolutely everything you wanted, and that means that we have to deal with the assholes that make up my social circle. Do you think it’s worth it still?”
He asked it as a joke, but he still held his breath as he waited for her reply. But he let it out with her laugh. “Of course it’s worth it. You’re worth anything.”