Authors: Marianne Knightly
“What does that mean? Are you overanalyzing things again?”
“No,” she said slowly, though he could tell he’d hit the right mark.
“You can ask me anything, and I’ll answer truthfully, if I can.”
“What do you mean, ‘if you can’?”
“Well, some things are state secrets. I can’t tell those to anyone, not even my other siblings. But, if there’s something about
that you’d like to know, I’ll answer it.”
Her fingers danced over a pale scar on his chest. “Where did this come from?”
“From the accident. I’ve got a few of them scattered around. I don’t pay much attention to them anymore. The worst one was actually on my head.” He shifted his head to the side and lifted his hair with his free hand, revealing a long pale line etched into his scalp. “It’s why I wear my hair long, to keep it covered up.”
“Would it bother you to see it in the mirror every day? You said you didn’t mind your other scars.”
Nate let his hair fall and placed his hand over Charlie’s leg, which was thrown over his. “No, it wouldn’t, but it would bother my father, and others. My hair was short – like my brother, Alex’s – when the accident happened. But every time I caught my father glancing at the scar, I also caught a look of pain on his face. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I just grew it out. Even when I pull my hair back, it still stays covered.”
“I think maybe he was just feeling pain for you.”
“Maybe.” Nate thought about that. It could be true, especially given his father’s reaction earlier that day. “Are you saying you’d prefer it if I cut my hair short?” he teased.
“No! I mean, whatever you feel comfortable with is just fine.”
Nate chuckled. “Whatever you say, Charlotte-mine.”
They laid in silence for a few more minutes, each of them idly caressing the other, until Charlie’s stomach let out a small moan of protest. She blushed beguilingly and he couldn’t help but kiss her.
“I’ve been a terrible guest, haven’t I?” he murmured against her lips. “You went to all that trouble cooking and I’ve completely ignored your hard work.”
“It’s not.” He kissed her again. “Let’s get something to eat. You can ask me more questions if you like.”
As they stood up, Nate tossed her his shirt. “I’d like to see you wearing that, unless you’d like to wear your dress again.” Nate guessed she didn’t mind wearing his shirt when she slipped her arms through the massive sleeves. He couldn’t wait to put it on later, and smell her scent comingled with his.
“What will you wear?”
“That lovely robe of yours, if you don’t mind.”
He heard the water running and she came out a minute later holding the robe. “Thank you. I’ll join you in the kitchen in a moment.”
After she left, he slipped on the robe, which had covered Charlie well enough, but didn’t do much for his frame. The tip of his cock and then some hung down past the edge though, if he hadn’t ripped his boxers off, he could have covered himself better. Well, there was nothing for it.
When he walked into the kitchen a moment later, it was to find Charlie plating large portions of a creamy, white casserole. “That looks delicious. What is it?”
“It’s a cauliflower macaroni and cheese casserole.” She put down the serving spoon she’d been using and licked her fingers before she turned. Just seeing the tips of her fingers in her mouth had his cock twitching, and she clearly noticed it.
Her mouth dropped open, then shut. “Um, it’s, um, comfort food. My comfort food.” Her eyes met his bemused ones.
“For you, maybe. Do you want your shirt back?” she asked as she fingered a button.
“If you take that shirt off, we’re definitely not eating dinner.”
“Well, um, are you comfortable in that?”
He walked towards her, forcing her back against the counter. He placed a hand on either side of her, boxing her in. The tip of his cock brushed against her, and he was almost close enough to bury himself inside of her.
“I’d be more comfortable naked, Charlotte-mine, but I sense that might be distracting for you.”
He watched the line of her throat as she swallowed. “Um, yes, just a little.”
“Then, I’m fine.” He gave her a hard kiss and stepped back before his more base sensibilities took over. “Do you need any help with dinner?”
She shook her head and cleared her throat. “I’ll just be another minute. Why don’t you get the wine from the living room?”
After he topped off their glasses and set them down, he sat and watched Charlie’s quick, efficient movements. A change came over when she was in the kitchen, he noticed. Her eyes became focused and determined, her fingers quick and competent. She sliced some avocado over the casserole and added some vibrant, leafy greens alongside it. He watched her squeeze lime juice over everything and then lick her fingers again.
He took a few deep breaths to get his body under control. Charlie would never be one for spontaneous sex, even if he was. His body would need to get used to that.
She set their plates down and they dug in. “This is lovely,” he said after a bite of the cheesy dish. “I thought Americans liked the macaroni and cheese you find in a box.”
Charlie chuckled. “Some might, but this is actually my favorite version. I mix it up a lot, use different kinds of veggies in it, but cauliflower always works best, at least for me.”
“I suppose you did have a tough day, partially because of me.”
“It also seems to have ended pretty well, because of you, so I can’t be too upset.”
Nate smiled. “Did Lola teach you how to make this?”
Charlie shook her head while she swallowed the bite of food in her mouth. “I found the recipe somewhere – I can’t even remember where anymore – and just started playing with it. I was in high school, I think.”
“Well, you’ve certainly got a talent for it. Why did you decide to focus on desserts?”
Charlie moved some food around on her plate before answering. “People are almost always happy when they eat desserts. Weddings, birthdays, even pastries for breakfast.”
“Or brioche,” he said with a smile, recalling his own favored breakfast treat that Charlie made for him.
Charlie smiled back. “Or brioche. It’s not that people don’t enjoy dinners or lunches or other meals, but everyone looks forward to dessert.”
But few had ever looked forward to her, had they? No one, save Coco and perhaps himself and Lola, had ever longed to see her, or cared for her. What did it say that people longed for her dessert more than her? “What do we have for dessert today?”
“I made some crème brûlée.”
“Well, I won’t lie. I’d much rather have you for dessert right on this table, but crème brûlée sounds like a fine second choice.” As Nate took a casual sip of wine, he watched as Charlie’s eyes popped wide and her fork halted in mid-bite for a moment before she put it in her mouth.
Charlie finished the bite and cleared her throat. “Tell me about your tattoos,” she said, clearly changing the subject.
“What would you like to know?”
Charlie pointed to one on his forearm. “Well, that one, for instance. Does it have a meaning?”
Nate pushed back the robe’s sleeve, until it was well past the elbow. “This one is a griffin, a mythical creature that’s part eagle and part lion. Very fierce. It represents bravery. It’s also one of the creatures on the Vallerian coat of arms. I got it in France not long after the accident. I thought it might make me braver.”
“Or maybe it reminded you of home.”
Damn, she was smart. “Yes, maybe so. Maybe it did both.”
“What about the others?”
The griffin sat on a series of chains which swirled down and around his arms, leading to a series of broken chains near his wrist. “I think you can probably guess what these mean.”
When she nodded, he undid the robe and let it fall off of him, his body and soul completely exposed. “This one,” he said as he pointed just above his heart, “is a swallow. It’s often meant to symbolize devotion.”
Charlie was unmoving, her attention fixed on the art coating his body, her food forgotten. “To her?”
Nate shook his head. “This one was for Valleria, and my family.” He stood up and turned, revealing a smattering of tattoos on his back and along his legs, though the latter were covered by his light brown hair. He pointed to his other arm, near his shoulder where another ‘sleeve tattoo’ began.
“This is an angel. I have words built into the complex design underneath, asking for prayers.” The long lines of swirls and calligraphy ended near his wrist, where a date in roman numerals was embedded. “This is the date Valleria became its own nation, right after the fall of the Roman Empire. Valleria has survived for over fifteen hundred years; it reminds me that my own time on earth is fleeting.”
He jumped when her fingers touched his back, tracing the lines of the images that adorned him. “They’re beautiful,” she whispered.
He turned and wrapped his arms around her. “You’re the beautiful one, Charlotte-mine.” The urge to take her was like a flash of lightening: sharp, pulsing energy that demanded you yield to it or run the other way before it was too late. It was too late for him.
He ripped his shirt off of her, buttons flying, food forgotten, and dropped his mouth to her breasts. Her breath caught as the shirt fell away, as they both faced each other with their most elemental selves.
He turned them and pushed her against the wall, lifting her onto her feet while his mouth destroyed any resistance she had left. His cock teased her body below, and the urge to rut was only diminished by the pain she would feel if he took her now with her body unprepared.
He carried her into the bedroom, dropping himself over her, her moans spurring him to move faster. He quickly put on another condom and slathered himself and her with gel, taking a few precious moments to make sure she was writhing before he plundered.
One swift, hard thrust and she cried out, not in pain, but in pleasure. The heat between them vicious, their bodies and lips insatiable. The graceful arch of her body, the curving arc of his in return as he thrust and thrust and thrust again.
He felt her tensing when her mind wanted what her body alone couldn’t quite give her. He reached for the vibrator without hesitation, turning it on high and pressing it between them. Her hips jumped off the bed, propelling him up in the air, too. For brief moments, he felt as though he were flying.
She came mere moments later, that delicious contraction of her tight channel, that never-ending heaving of her body as she held onto the rare pleasure for as long as she could.
He roared again as he came, unable to hold back, not caring if she heard the beast that he really was.
He collapsed on top of her, panting and weak. He groaned as he shoved to the side and stumbled to the bathroom. After removing the condom, he got a damp washcloth and returned to bed. She protested when he started to clean her, but he silenced her with a kiss.
“I don’t think we should do that again,” she muttered as she glanced around the room.
He stilled. Was this it? Was she done with him? “What do you mean?” he asked, tossing the washcloth aside.
“If you keep ripping your clothes apart, there won’t be anything left for you to wear when you leave in the morning.”
His smile turned into a full blown belly laugh. He rolled onto his back while it spent its course and felt more relaxed than he had in years.
“Did I say something funny?”
His smile turned serious fast. “Oh, Charlie. I don’t care about the clothes. I’ll walk naked through the secret corridors if it means I get to spend time with you.”
“Really.” He tucked her against him and kissed her head. “I’m sorry I keep interrupting your dinner. Shall we try dessert?”
“I thought we just did.”
“Why don’t I bring it in? We can eat it in bed.”
As she started to shift away, he took hold of her arm, keeping her in place. “Don’t cover yourself.”
“You want me to walk naked into the kitchen?” she asked aghast. “I can’t do that. I still have to set the hard caramel on top of the brûlée and torch it.”
“Well, since I want you safe, put on that flimsy fucking robe I left in the kitchen, but you’d better be naked when you walk back in here.”
Her mouth formed a perfect circle. “Oh. All right.”
He watched her run away, her cute ass twitching as she made her way to the kitchen. There was one condom left, and he intended to use it. He knew that once he saw her eating the creamy custard naked, all bets were off.
An alarm roused Nate from his sleep. Since he was particularly warm and cozy – as was his cock, currently nestled against a very fine ass – he didn’t move to silence it. The woman in his arms, however, began to pull away from him.
“Just a few more minutes, Charlotte-mine.”
She turned off the alarm, then turned in his arms to face him. His eyes blinked open and he saw their hair splayed out over the pillow and tangled together, his various-colored strands mixing smoothly with her brown; for a moment he couldn’t tell where his hair ended and hers began.