Author: Dianaartemis PM
I just wanted to feel needed. That’s all. I don’t care about happily-ever-afters or true love. I just want a reason for being here and reason to be considered useful. Even if I have to go through some very bizarre things to get there.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Fantasy - Chapters: 3 - Words: 18,774 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 09-09-08 - Published: 09-07-08 - Status: Complete - id: 2568805
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Summary: I just wanted to feel needed. That's all. I don't care about happily-ever-afters or true love. I just want a reason for being here and reason to be considered useful. Even if I have to go through some very bizarre things to get there.
A/N: I still think this is a weird story, lol. But it was fun to write!
Thank you for reading!
Part III: Lessons of Love
The next few days went by in a blur and not even my curse could stop me from being unbearably curious about everything around me. I felt like a child who just learned to read and now I can't help myself from trying to read as much as possible. I suppose it is only because of my nature that all the servants that have visited me are not completely discouraged by all my questions.
I have learned that Charlotte is a Witch, mostly specializing in potions for curing. Annabel is a Mind-Reader, which frightened me dreadfully at first. But she assured me that she wouldn't read my mind unless it was absolutely necessary. Lynn is a Pixie, and I didn't believe her until she showed me her rather gossamer wings. She told me that she usually hides her true appearance.
And, to my utmost delight, Laurence has been quite open with me now that I am in on this secret world. And it feels wonderful to have real conversations with him like any other husband and wife, even if the topic is usually quite bizarre. I find myself having to hold back when writing to my parents, so that they don't expect something is abruptly different now.
"Suzette?" I look up from where I am penning my letter and see Laurence is there. The more he says it, the fonder I am of his use of my given name, "We have prepared your room, if you wish to see it," As I was resting in his room until I was well, I am now strong enough to walk and go to my own room.
I nod, folding the letter, "I am ready," I stand and follow him out the door.
He holds out his elbow and I take it gratefully. I do not get sick or dizzy anymore, but I am still unbalanced and weak. He leads me through the halls and I am surprised that he does not take me back to the bridal chamber. He gives me a small smile, "I thought it would be better if we moved you into more suitable quarters," And only a couple halls from him, he stops at an unfamiliar door.
I give him a curious look before reaching out and opening to the room. As I look inside, I recognize it now; it is the lady's quarters. The room is much larger and contains more cushioned chairs around a grander fireplace. There are also more rooms leading off to dressing rooms and a bigger wash chamber. I step into the room in awe and see my sparse belongings laid out accordingly.
The Duke follows behind me, "Is it to your liking?"
I duck my head, "It is far too splendid for one such as me," I wonder if he catches my meaning, "The bridal chamber really suits my character more."
He waves his hand, "Nonsense. That room is far too small and I would have moved you out earlier if I realized it sooner," I can tell he can't read my expression, "I will let you settle yourself as I fetch Annabel to assist you."
I blink up at him, "Assist me?"
"Yes, for tonight, you will be joining myself and some of my companions for dinner. If you wish, that is," I nod, suddenly remember that Laurence often spoke of letting me meet with other magical creatures that he is good friends with. I didn't suspect it would be so soon, but perhaps he is eager.
I nod again, mostly affirming to myself, "Yes, that would be fine," I don't try to pretend that I'm not nervous. And as Laurence leaves my new rooms, I feel a sudden apprehension towards them. My mind was so filled with new information the past days that I had completely forgotten of my feelings of being a mother. If Laurence was so worried about my safety, I am sure he never wanted a child, for they would be even more foolish and weaker than myself. Putting me in this room is practically a promise that having children is out of the question. For all I know, being a Charmer makes me incapable of having children.
But I should be grateful; the Duke is speaking to me now. And though we may not be as close of friends, we are certainly associates, which is more than we ever were before. And now that I have the opportunity to get to know him further, I'm sure we will become decent companions before long.
Annabel comes in and I feel ten times more comfortable with someone else in this large room with me. She quickly dresses me and fawns over me. And though it may be just my affect, I know that I am looking much better than I did a week ago. My eyes have gained their luster back and my skin is pleasantly fair. She dresses me in an inconspicuous deep plum dress and ties up my hair. I look at my reflection; I had missed seeing my hair done so nicely.
I head to the main foyer, wondering if I should greet the guests or let Laurence do it instead. My answer comes to me when my husband comes into the hall. He smiles when he looks at me and holds out his arm, "Come Suzette, Benedict will lead them into the parlor. We will wait there for them."
I look at him nervously, "What were their names again? I'm afraid I have forgotten," It is not like me, but I feel so out of sorts.
His eyes soften, "Lord Christian of the Flen is a Medium, King Arnold of the Trydenity is a Ghost, and Mistress Delilah is a Mage of the Desertlands. They have been very good friends of mine for some time. Though Arnold can be a bit of a stiff, I am sure he will warm up to you quickly. Well, as much as a Ghost can, I suppose," He smiles and I look at him, wondering if he is making a jest.
I seat myself in the cozy parlor and try to be as calm as possible. Laurence speaks with one of the kitchen staff about what the serve. In not nearly enough time, we hear a knock on the door and I rise as Benedict answers. He bows to both of us and stands aside and a bespectacled man and beautiful woman enter, announcing them as Lord Christian and Mistress Delilah.
The man is fairly normal looking, though I had never heard of a Lord of the Flen, I suppose he stays inconspicuous. Laurence informed me that Mediums are taken to magic quite easily and may suffer many difficulties from it. The woman that follows him is positively stunning. I have never seen such a dark skin color and despite her long hair, she wears it down, adorned with beads and jewelry that jingle pleasantly as she walks. Her outfit is most unusual as it appears to be only pieces of cloth tied together by many ropes and fastens. But I am eternally grateful that it is at least decent, if unusual.
While Lord Christian greets Laurence warmly, Mistress Delilah stares at me directly and comes forward. I curtsy to her as she approaches, "Good evening, Mistress. I am Lady Suzette," I hope the introduction is fair enough, I know she is foreign and I have no idea of her customs.
She smiles and her pure black eyes seem to sparkle. She holds out her hand and I cautiously give her mine. To my astonishment she leans forward and kisses at, just as a knight would do for a princess. She grins up at me, her accent making her words seem elongated, "Greetings, Lady Suzette. I have heard much about you."
My eyes flicker to Laurence's wondering what he said about me. I tilt my head, "I do hope it was to your favor."
Mistress Delilah smirks and straightens herself, "There are only good tidings when speaking of a Charmer, my lady."
Lord Christian comes over, peering over his glasses in earnest, "Please to make your acquaintance, Lady Suzette, I am Lord Christian," He bows, smiling interested, "I beg your pardon, but I have never met a Charmer," He looks at me a little too closely for comfort.
Mistress Delilah puts her hand on his cheek in a most intimate fashion, but Laurence told me of no relationship between the two. She smiles slyly as Christian visibly shakes himself, "Disregard him, Lady Suzette. Being a Medium means he is quite susceptible to your magnetism."
Laurence move to my side, putting a hand protectively on the small of my back, "Let us sit and have tea until Arnold decides to grace us with his presence," His hand on my back guides us both towards a two-seated couch opposite of where Lord Christian is sitting. I'm wondering if he did it on purpose.
Mistress Delilah immediately tucks her legs easily under her as Benedict pours the tea for us. As much as I would desperately want him to be a part of the conversation, for my comforts sake, he will stand in the back of the room unless he needs us. The Mistress looks at me over her tea-cup.
"So, tell me Laurence, what have you made of the Haunt that harmed your dear wife?" Her eyes slide to him as she says the words.
I look down at my own cup, feeling uncomfortable. I don't like thinking of the Haunt any more than I like thinking of my own death. My husband sighs deeply, "I'm afraid there is little I can do. There is no way for me to track him and the reason for his attack was because I stopped business with him. I suppose that he has gotten his fill of revenge and he will trouble us no longer."
She nods, sipping her tea. Lord Christian puts down his cup a little too loudly, "A shame too, for such a beautiful, innocent woman to be targeted."
I feel my cheeks flush and it is only the years of lessons that keep me from completely going red. Delilah easily reaches over and flicks the lord's ear. She doesn't even turn her attention away from her tea cup. Of course, the action doesn't distract me from noticing Laurence move ever so closer to me.
I desperately hope no further conversation comes up about me. I can tell Lord Christian is holding himself back from giving me immoral glances. But we are all interrupted as a person walks through the closed door. It makes me start and my tea cup clatters obnoxiously. No one notices as Laurence stands to greet King Arnold.
The Ghost looks like any normal person, except I just saw him walk through a perfect solid door. I find myself staring at his feet, which dip precariously into the carpet. And every so often get gets an annoyed look on his face and lifts himself back to the proper surface of the floor. Otherwise, he looks perfectly regal, even wearing a rather ancient looking crown.
Laurence informed me that King Arnold, like most Ghosts are simply people who lost the ability to move on into the afterworld. They are always filled with regrets of their past life that they remain among the living until they fulfill it. In King Arnold's case, he regretted dying before seeing his only daughter properly wedded off. Unfortunately, because he died of a plague, his daughter did as well. And now he can never move on because he could never see his daughter married.
I suppose it makes him bitter, for he always has a scowl on his face. I stand to greet him and I give a low curtsy. Though, Arnold may be dead, he was a king a long time ago, "Good evening, your highness."
King Arnold seems to like that and nods politely in my direction, "Lady Suzette," He mumbles in a deep, groggily voice. He turns back to Laurence, "She seems in fine health, my friend."
Laurence smiles, "Yes, it took her several days, but she has perfectly recovered."
"A she looks perfectly beautiful as well," Lord Christian pipes in and I hear him gasp as Mistress Delilah pinches his cheek. He looks away from me then, the first time that night, rubbing his face sorely.
I am suddenly wondering if being introduced to magical creatures is really such a good idea.
The rest of the night passes by smoothly besides for a few intervals in which Mistress Delilah had to subdue Lord Christian.
I end up retiring early, as our guests stay late. I am still weak and it would not do for me to doze off in the midst of conversation. Charlotte is waiting for me in my room and hands me a cup of tea. She smiles, "It will help take away any lingering nightmares. Drink it slowly, it is still scalding."
I gratefully accept the cup, "Thank you, but I am so tired I doubt I'll dream of much of anything."
Charlotte watches carefully as I drink the liquid, it taste tangy and sweet. I don't think I've ever disliked anything she has ever made me. Once I am finished she bids me goodnight and I undress. It feels good to slip into a loose nightgown, as my dress was beginning to feel stifling. Or perhaps it was because I was so nervous the entire night. Even when the conversation went to other things, I could still feel Lord Christian's eyes on me.
I lift the sheets and settle into my new bed, it is much larger than my old one, but during my brief stay in the Duke's room, I found that his bed seemed more comfortable and to my liking. I feel my face redden at the thought, but I presume that is was only because of the material his mattress was made out of.
True to Charlotte's word, I fall into a peaceful sleep. And I don't wake until the light begins to shine through my window. I sit up, only feeling a minor stiffness from lying in one position for too long. I look and expect to see Charlotte arranging my breakfast, but instead I see Annabel standing there.
"Good morning, Suzette, you must get up now. His lordship has some news for you and he wanted to see you as soon as you woke," She holds out a dress for me to wear, "Come now, best to not keep him waiting."
I let her dress me as quickly as she can while I was still half-asleep. Soon she ushered me from the room and to Laurence's private study. This is my second time being here and I am glad I was invited this time. Annabel knocks and I don't even hear a response before she opens the door. I step in, a little nervous, but still mostly tired. It feels like it will take forever for me to gain back my normal alertness that I carefully crafted for so many years.
The Duke is sitting behind his desk and I don't even wait until I seat myself in one of the cushioned chairs. Hopefully he will understand my rudeness. Laurence smiles and stands, "Thank you for coming so quickly, Suzette. I sent Benedict to retrieve some breakfast if you are hungry for it."
I nod gratefully, "Thank you," I pause, "What is it that you wanted to ask of me?" I smooth my skirts nervously.
He smiles and sits across from me, "Mistress Delilah suggested it last night after you had retired for the evening. At first I wasn't so sure if it was a good idea, but everyone agreed it was worth a trying," He hesitates and I wait patiently for him to continue, "Delilah said that, despite your lack of practice, you are one of the most impressive Charmers she has ever seen," I feel my face flush, thinking of Lord Christian's hidden looks. I am not sure I want to be impressive. Laurence smiles easily, "Arnold is usually always in a foul mood and last night he was the most at ease I had ever seen him. So Delilah recommended that I start introducing you to some of my clients. She said that with your influence, they would mostly likely be agreeable and not prone to do anything dangerous."
I look at him, wondering if my effect could be that good. It would be terrifying, meeting so many magical creatures, but it would be such an honor for me to help with Laurence's business. I would truly feel like a lady of the home if I could have the opportunity to help my husband make money.
Laurence gives me a hard look, "But I don't know if it is such a great idea. I mean, if my clients actually meet you, they would be less obligated to harm you, but it could bring up a whole host of other problems. I want to make sure you understand fully before you make any decisions."
I nod my head, "But if what you say is true, then I could be very helpful to you. It would be my honor to assist you in however you please," I nod my head graciously.
Laurence smiles slightly, "Well, if you feel prepared, I am meeting with someone today. She is not prone to violence, but she can be very stubborn. I am currently working on a minor treaty with her and her orderlies and it would everything a great deal less painful if you were to loosen her up a bit."
I look at my clasped hands, "What type is she?"
He looks a little sheepish, "That's the tricky part, she is a Mind-Reader and much less cautious than Annabel when using her powers," He pauses uncertainly, "If that bothers you at all, please don't hesitate to refuse my offer."
I breathe in deeply. I don't know about having someone read my mind, though I am sure there is little there for her to be interested in, "What is her name?"
Laurence smiles slightly, "Madam Coe'dan."
"Well, that sounds like a fine name and I am sure she is a fine woman," I look up and meet his eyes, "I will meet with her if you need me to."
He still looks worried, "If you are sure. I'll just have you bring tea to her while I organize my papers. It won't be long and I'll keep Benedict with you," He turns and looks at the clock, "It is best you go into the waiting room, she should be arriving soon for her appointment."
I stand, "Then if you have nothing left for me. I shall make my way."
Laurence suddenly reaches out and takes my hand, coming closer, "Just be yourself and everything will go along perfectly," His eyes flicker away for a brief moment and then, to my upmost surprise, he leans forward and places a soft kiss on my cheek. And, his face suddenly flushing, he mutters, "I'll go retrieve Benedict for you."
I watch him and he leaves the room before me. He had never shown affection towards me. My cheeks abruptly flush and I try to quell it. It is absurd for me to get so light-headed over a simple kiss. We are married for goodness sake! Most women my age have received more than just chaste kisses.
I find myself smiling secretly as I leave the room, but to no matter. The kiss makes me feel special, perhaps more special than if he joined me for our wedding night. I try to shake such silly musings from my thoughts. I must prepare myself for meeting Madam Coe'dan. I should look just fine, because of Annabel's efforts. I go into the small waiting room. Not suitable to entertain guests, but well enough for a tea for two.
I open the door and see Benedict already setting out a breakfast tray as well. I smile gratefully, "Thank you Benedict," and I sit down to satisfy my stomach. He grins.
"I'll be in the back room if you need me," His eyes shift, "Wouldn't want to interrupt a womanly chat." He grins as I swat his shoulder.
"As you should," I smile and take a deep drink from my tea. It is quite refreshing and I am finally feeling up to par.
The door is knocked and I stand, "Please enter," I say in my sweetest voice. Now I don't know about being a Charmer, but I do know my manners. The lessons my mother taught me are going to be put to perfect use. I'll make sure of that.
The door opens to our doorman and he ushers in a wizened old lady. She is wearing an unfashionable amount of jewelry and when the servant motions, she refuses to remove her over-sized hat. I curtsy to her, as she may be above my station. She gives me a glance before turning up her nose and glaring around the room. I am momentarily taken aback, having never received such a rude greeting.
Benedict steps forward, "Lady Suzette, this is Madam Coe'dan. Madam this is Lady Suzette," When the older woman doesn't make a move to curtsy or even look at me, Benedict gives me a long look before exiting the room.
I motion to the food platter laid out, "Please, Madam, would you care for a cup of tea?" I ask, my voice soft and unimposing.
She glares at me, "You're here to soften me up, aren't you little Charmer?" Her nose curls and I find myself stepping back half a step. I knew she is a Mind-Reader but I thought I would have least felt something when she did so.
I try smiling again, making sure it doesn't seem too forced, "Even if I was, I don't presume I could succeed in such an endeavor," Which is true, though Laurence may have confidence in my magical abilities. The only thing I am sure of are my mother's lessons and the manners that were ground into me since birth. I don't know if she read my mind again or just resigned herself to spending a few moments with me in any case. She seats herself haughtily in the chair across from me and folds her arms together.
I hold out a clean tea cup to her, "Would you like some tea? It is quite fresh, I assure you. Or perhaps something to eat?"
Madam Coe'dan gives me a disdainful look at all the food laid out, "There is an unseemly amount of food here," She gives me a sickening look and I find myself cradling the teacup against me.
"I apologize if it offends you. I am rather famished at the moment," I hold up my hand, "but I will call for Benedict if you don't wish to see it."
She holds up her hand and I lower mine, "That won't be necessary," She looks into the corner of the room, her face a little more deflated now, "You are still recovering from an illness. It would be a bad mark on my character to let you go hungry."
I smile, a real one this time, "How gracious of you to say, Madam. But, disregarding my personal health, please help yourself if you feel the need at all," I reach out a snag a fresh roll; it has honey dripped on it and smells delightful. It is rude to eat before a guest, but it would be even ruder to let my stomach protest loudly.
Madam Coe'dan gives me a long look before reaching out and taking a berry tart, "You're a very polite young lady, who was your tutor?"
I take a modest bite out of my roll and swallow it before replying, "My own mother, the Countess of Dalesmire."
She nods and swallows her tart, "Very nice. I hope your family is well. Heard some terrible rumors, you see. Please pour me some tea, dear."
I put down my unfinished roll and carefully pour her some tea while speaking, "They are very well, despite some setbacks over the years. My brother is in Season abroad right now, perhaps you have heard of him?"
I watch in almost amazement as she nearly empties the cream into her tea, swirling it around until the liquid is nearly white, "Not as much as I would expect from such a prestigious family, even if you are down on finances. He is quick to keep his nose out of trouble, I suppose."
I give a small laugh, I can't help it, "Yes, though he is quick to get back into trouble. But I am glad to hear that the gossip trains can't catch him. Though I couldn't say from experience," I pick up my roll again and take another bite.
She gives me a long look and I will myself not to shrink back under her scrutiny, "Married before going to Season, interesting," She sips her tea, still staring at me, "I suppose your family is trying to get a head start on the rest of the gentlewomen."
I feel my cheek dusting pink, knowing that she is reading through my mind, "I suppose," I say softly and pick up my tea cup, hoping to hide behind it until my skin turns a normal color.
Madam Coe'dan sighs deeply, "But it seems their tries are for naught, you are not even close to having a child. Am I wrong, Lady Suzette?"
My face deepens in color, wondering if it is polite to hold such a topic of conversation with someone I just met. Of course I am not even sure if it is polite to hold such a conversation with even my mother, "You are correct, Madam," I murmur, softer, but still clear enough to hear.
The older woman suddenly smiles, "Don't be so shy, my dear. With what I know we are practically close friends," I try to keep my eyes from widening in the horror of what private things she could know. She doesn't comment on it, or ignores my thoughts, "But I do commend you on your resolution, a weaker woman would have taken on a lover out of sheer frustration."
It is not hopeless of me to wish my face a normal color. I must be positively red from head to foot, "I-I could never do such a scandalous thing as taking on a lover," I say, willing my voice from shaking, "It would go against all my morals," I purse my lips and set down my tea cup, it still clatters loudly.
Madam Coe'dan smiles wider, "Others have broken for quite less. Yes, I wouldn't be surprised if you were with a child from another man!" She laughs, a cackling noise, and I know she is just mocking me now.
I look stubbornly at my hands, "It would be very selfish of me to even think of such an act. My lord has been very good to me. I wouldn't want to betray his trust in such a way," I can't help but think of his brief kiss he gave me before I came. I suppose I could live my entire life without children if it meant he would give me that kind of kiss every so often, "It is only my place to be thankful for whatever he chooses to give me. And I am."
She suddenly leans forward over the table, "Hm? You're wooed by a simple kiss? Never would have expected that from a Charmer," I flush anew and she smiles wickedly, "Perhaps your only problem is you don't ask or go after for what you want, Lady Suzette. Why with a fine gentleman like the Duke of Windslan, I would have ravished him whether he gave his expressed permission or not."
I can't help it, my mouth hangs open. Never had I heard a lady of stature speak so crudely and so openly. And, unwarranted or not, my mind is abruptly filled with the sight of Laurence being ravished…by me. I duck my head, my face burning so hotly I must be perspiring. I can't look up, though every proper fiber in me is screaming that I should.
The Madam unexpectedly stops laughing, but her smile is wider than ever. I can feel it, "That's a good girl," I glance at her, confused, but she looks at the door, "Don't eavesdrop on your own wife, Lord Laurence, it's rude," I nearly start when the door suddenly opens to reveal Benedict and Laurence standing there. My husband stares at me sheepishly, his face also flushed.
I look back down at my folded hands before rising, "M-Madam Coe'dan, it was a p-pleasure to chat with you," I force myself to look into her eyes and she is still smiling, looking rather accomplished.
She steps forward and takes my hand gently, "Yes, Lady Suzette, a pleasure indeed," He practically trots away as I will my mouth to remain closed. She turns back as Benedict and Laurence accept her into the hall, "Let us have tea again soon, my dear."
And with that Benedict closes the door behind her, giving me an apologetic glance, before leaving me alone. I collapse back onto the couch and put my head in my hands, thoroughly mortified. My mother used to test me on 'difficult' conversation techniques, but none were so close as mortifying as that was. I don't think I'll be able to face Laurence for some time now.
Once I mostly recover, I exit the room and walk back to my private chambers. Carefully avoiding going past any of the parlors or Laurence's private study, for fear of running into Madam Coe'dan again. Once I am in the safety of my own rooms, I breathe a sigh of relief and collapse onto my bed.
I must have dozed off, for I start when there is a knock on my door. I sit up, expecting Annabel or Charlotte to be checking in on me, "Come in," I call, moving some loose strands of hair that had fallen over my face.
I immediately stand up when Laurence enters the room. I flush when I realize that I must look like a mess, I should have redone my hair after I woke. I pat it uncertainly. He softly closes the door behind him, "Madam Coe'dan just left, and I thought I would come and see if you were alright."
I nod, "Just was a bit tired, nothing more. I'm sorry I didn't see her off. How was business with her, if I may ask?"
To my surprise, Laurence's face also tints pink, "It went as well as I could have hoped. She was mostly preoccupied in debating with me on other matters. She seemed to have enjoyed her visit with you," He isn't looking me in the eyes and I can already suspect what she might have been 'debating' with him on.
I cough, trying to hide my growing blush. I can't believe she enjoyed are little chat, or perhaps she really did take great pleasure in trying to humiliate me. Now that I think about it, she was smiling a laughing a great deal. To hide my embarrassment I reach up and try to salvage my hair, "I'm glad that I helped. Sorry for my appearance now."
He looks at me, worried, "Are you not feeling well? I hope I didn't over exert you."
I lower my head and I unfasten some pins, "I am feeling quite fine, I doubt anyone can come out of a conversation with Madam Coe'dan feeling better then worn."
Laurence laughs and my hands freeze in surprise. He has quite a nice laugh that does not seem to occur often enough. I look up at him and I see him reach out and take my hands away from my hair, letting it fall messily over my shoulder, "I've never understood fashions and styles. But I do like you hair down," His eyes trail my dark tresses, dreadfully tangled without a brushing. My face pinks and I can't look away from him. And he is suddenly staring back at me with an unknown intensity. One of his hands reaches up and tugs on a particularly curly strand of hair, "Your quite beautiful, Suzette. Have I ever told you that?"
My face feels heated, but not uncomfortable as it did with Madam Coe'dan, but more pleasantly. I shake my head, "No," I whisper, like I am afraid to speak.
It feels like we are under a spell and Laurence's eyes seem to have gone glazy, "Oh? I suppose I should remedy that," And, like he is moving underwater, he slowly leans forward and I find his lips on mine.
At first I freeze, having never kissed anyone in my life, and in my petrified state I find myself looking over my lessons of protocol and manners to decide what to do for me. But when Laurence's hands move behind my head and around my waist to pull me closer, all of it flies out of my head and my arms react by entwining around his neck. It feels wonderful and my entire chest feels warm and airy.
I almost resist when he begins to pull away, but I realize that breathing needs to be brought into the equation again. I look up at him and it takes me a moment to realize that I can't focus on his face so close.
He suddenly smiles, much brighter and more dazzling than any of his others, "You know, Suzette, I was thinking."
"You were?" I interject. At this point it is a legitimate question.
He lets out a soft laugh, "I mean, before I came here," My face suddenly flushes in embarrassment and his arms tighten reflexively around me, "Anyway, I was thinking that it would be better if I were to hire a female Guardian for you. So that she could follow you to more private settings where Benedict can't."
I smile and lean forward to rest my head against his collarbone. It is so warm and comfortable. I can hardly believe at how audacious I am being, but I can't bring myself to pull away, "That sounds splendid," I murmur.
I hear him cough awkwardly and the hand in my hair plays with it restlessly, "Good. I was also thinking that a female Guardian would do well as a nurse, as I expect a child will need plenty of protection if it is to grow up in a house such as this."
I lift my head and look up at Laurence. He eyes flicker nervously away, "Do you mean it?" I ask, and I feel like I am holding my breath.
His eyes meet mine, and he gives a sheepish smile, "Yes and I must apologize with being so slow about it too," He gives out a short laugh, "I never imagined that, of all people, Madam Coe'dan would be the one who point out how lacking I have been as a husband," He looks down at me, giving a hopeful smile, "Could you ever forgive me?"
I smile, feeling lighter and bolder than ever before, "I suppose I might," I jest and lean up to take the kiss I was waiting for ever since the first.