What they were doing together at two-thirty in the morning, at his house and unchaperoned, was how bad things happened between good boys and girls. It was how reputations were sullied, rumors were created and how –in the old days- if her father were to suspect anything, and if he had means, he could force the boy to marry her to keep her good name. However, as suspicious as it was for her to stay with him into the early hours of the morning, Sedna and Nereus had nothing to worry about. Some people, if they knew, might think ill of their behavior but what else was there to do? Sleep? It was summer. They were not tired and why not enjoy the night while they could. Plus, regardless of everything else, this would be the last time she would see him this summer. And the last time she would likely see him in this capacity, ever. Once she left the Hamptons she would be ripped from this world she had been introduced to and thrown back into her home. The possibility of her coming across it again was slim to none, and if she did, things would not be as they were now. He would likely be married. She would likely be dating someone her friends forced on her.
There would be no more of this. There would be no more of her falling asleep in his arms as they watched a midnight B-flick. Nereus had fallen asleep sometime back. She could tell because he was not longer making comments about how terrible the movie was or how fake the monster looked – as if he should know. At that time she made the comment: "what should have they modeled it after you?" He did not like that and to show his displeasure, retreated to the other side of the couch and pouted for a good fifteen minutes. Throughout it all she toyed with him. Nudging him with her foot and asking for him to come sit with her. He ignored her. Though he could not ignore when she crawled over and cuddled up to him; putting a pillow to his chest for her lay upon. He gave in then and wrapped his arms about her and held her there. The blanket came seconds after and together they stayed. And despite her arguments against such intimacy and his persistence for it, neither said anything.
She peaked up at him. His eyes were fully closed. And he was relaxed. She smiled as he looked so adorable unguarded in that state, and with him being in such a way she let herself be too. Is this what it would be like if they did, not marry per se, but… Sedna wanted to giggle. And then what? Once he woke up and decided that there was no reason to sleep on the couch but go to bed, what then? Would he carry her there? Lead her by the hand or just expect her to follow? And once they were in their room would they just brush their teeth, change and say goodnight. Or would they brush their teeth, change and cuddle. She smiled at the thought. Or would she pushed him up against the wall and kiss him goodnight or him push her down on the bed and start to kiss her neck…
Sedna sat up. Ripping herself out of his arms caused him to wake with a stir. She removed herself promptly as he came back conscious. Running his hand through his hair he asked, "What's wrong?"
"Nothing." She sat at the other side of the couch with the blanket over her legs. "I just…got scared." She lied.
He looked at the television screen. There was a commercial on. "Over a sweeper duster?"
She tossed the blanket at him, fully getting to her feet. "It just went to commercial?" On the television screen, the commercial gave her away as in the right hand corner the countdown from thirty seconds was now a merger five. It did not go unnoticed.
"Delayed reaction?" He laughed.
"Whatever." She needed to go somewhere where she could clear her mind. The bathroom was an obvious choice, but if she stayed to long inside it might look strange. Her eyes caught sight of the backdoors off the dining room. Outside the deck looked right over the sea. The night air would be cool enough to dull her thoughts, and so that is where she went without a word. She could feel him watching her. She noticed he did that a lot. Never did it rub her the wrong way and neither did she mind. She just wondered what about her he was trying to figure out. To tease him about it, she blew him a kiss. Laughing at the shock on his face, Sedna plopped herself down on one of the deck chairs. This is what their entire summer should have been, warm nights with teasing glances and good food. And speech that included numerous amounts of double talk and near scandalous touches, for a touch on the lower back could mean a great number of things or hanging onto one's arm for no apparent reason. On a completely different note, maybe this would be the time to tell him about her friends and their matchmaking skills. Indeed, she was feeling wicked. Mostly she wanted to see his reaction to stroke her own ego or give her fuel to make this parting easier. In time he joined her outside with a large slab of cake on a plate, her birthday cake. Maybe he should have written his own name on it instead of hers since he could not seem to get enough of his own creation.
"I could turn on the air if you're hot?" She sat down with her on the chair meant for one. He took his liberties with her this last time and rested up against her. And in response, she ran her fingers through his loose silky hair as it draped over her legs. He must have taken it out of its normal braid between here and the living room.
"I must say, prince fish, I love how you can wear your hair. I never thought a man could pull it without looking…lame."
He smiled, licking his fork slowly. "I used to wear a bow in it too. Can you imagine that?"
It was as if he gave her permission to dream. "And with black Hessian boots, a dark blue waistcoat, cream breaches that are too high and likely cut to show off your…and a crisp white undershirt that your sister sewed for you, right?" She got the description from her latest romance novel, and without having to tell him Nereus knew that. He sighed as she continued, "I bet you looked quite strapping."
"Is that was you think of me? Some trashy romance novel hero?"
"Hero, no, of course not. You don't have the personality to be one. And besides, old timer, you did live during that time period so…" She felt it odd to bring up that fact in normal conversation.
"I did, yes, but I always preferred a dark green to blue."
She shook her head, "I rather would have seen you in blue. It suits your better." From his slice of cake she swiped a large helping of frosting. He grabbed her hand before she could bring it to her mouth, pulling it back down to his own to suck it from her finger. She closed her eyes. She never saw him get to his knees in front of her straddling her legs. He speared a piece of cake on his fork and held it to her lips. When she opened her eyes she saw him smiling at her.
"I would do this to each night you know." He fed it to her slowly, watching as she licked the icing from his fork and from her lips.
"Feed me until I couldn't move?" Every time he cooked for her she felt stuffed.
"That, yes, but we could work it off." He winked.
Just the thought of it made her want to hide her face in her hands. That or try it. "Nereus, you're terrible."
He smiled, putting the cake on the chair beside theirs. "How many times have you told me that?"
"Enough?" She let her left arm rest around his waist.
"And am I so terrible that you find me repulsive?" He moved closer now, pressing his first kiss against her cheek.
She groaned. What did he want to hear? She did not find him –that- revolting. She wanted to, she desperately wanted too. She tried to think of their age differences, the fact that he was a fish prince and sometimes he could be a borderline jerk. "Yes, I do." She lied. "Still do, always will…"
He kissed closer to her lips, "Sedna, I just figured something out about you."
"What?" Her other arm wrapped around his waist.
"You love me!"
"What?" She was brought of her sleepy stupor. "I never said…," she rolled her eyes. "You just dream about it, but what can I say? Maybe after all of this I do and I just want to suffer." She smirked.
He laughed, kissing her on the lips now. "You're terrible."
"So," she pulled him closer, cuddling him. "What if we just stay out here? You can go get that blanket and you can be my pillow?"
"You don't want me to take you home now?" He settled beside her in the chair pulling her against him.
Her eyes had begun to close, thought at his words one popped open. "Oh no, because I want you to ravish me, Lord Mayfair. Sully my reputation I don't care."
"Why Lady Hatchbrook you don't know what you are asking. You might regret it later."
"I don't Lord Mayfair. And maybe you were right earlier, maybe we are match. But a few months, is that so soon to know such an answer? And I don't have fins…" She removed his hands from his waist and wrapped them around his chest. "Did anyone tell you that you smell good? You always do. What cologne do you wear?"
"I don't. It's all natural."
Her eyes shot open, "you mean, that smell of yours is natural?" He nodded. She started to push him off the chair. "Ew, you've been putting out pheromones. The heck, I'm not some fish chick."
He held her closer. "It's been working."
"You know, now that I think about it," she continued pushing at him. "I should be worried that I'm making some fish obsessed over me. I mean, it's a little scary when you think about it. And no, it's not working."
"Whatever." He teased, rubbing his cheek up against her shoulder like a cat. "Now you can't get rid of me and you'll always think about me and you'll come crawling back."
She stopped her struggles, merely looking at him as she flicked him on the forehead. "You seriously have some issues. Don't you know you're just a fling? And when I go back home I'll go back to my other boys. I have a harem you know."
He smiled at that, "You told me you didn't, but I don't care."
"You should. I like those boys better."
He closed his eyes, resting his head against her upper chest. "Dun care."
She sighed, "I just can't believe in three centuries no girl has given you any attention. It's quite sad, fish prince, it makes you look desperate."
"Sedna," he said, as if falling asleep. "I want you to have my babies even if they are half-breeds."
She paused because his words struck a chord within here. By when he said half-breeds he could have meant one of two definitions or both. "Would you claim them?"
He laughed, "of course."
It was time to burst his bubble. This façade had to end. "Yesterday, for the first time all summer, my friends and I were all able to meet in one spot. You know how nice it was?"
"I bet." She knew he thought that he was being slick by taking this time to cuddle in closer. Indeed, she had suggested that they sleep out here, but now she was debating that.
"And you know what they want me to do when I get back home, which I definitely considering…"
She watched him, "there is this guy they want to set me up with. I saw his facebook today and he doesn't look half bad, well, not at all. And we share a lot him common." She felt his body tense. "And funny thing is, we are in the same major. He likes fish too."
An odd silence passed between them. "Isn't that good for you, Sedna, but I thought you didn't date."
"Well, fish man, you opened my eyes to that new venture. It wasn't half bad as I thought. And when I find someone utterly compatible, it might even be a delightful experience."
His grip loosened around her. "Someone compatible? Well I hope it works out for you." He said, not looking up at her. "Or maybe I should take you for my own now. We can talk about the details later." he sat up, taking a moment to put his long hair into a hurried ponytail. Sedna sat up too watching him. That was her mistake. Once he was finished he wrapped his arms around her again and picked her up. Throwing her over his shoulder like a beautiful sack of potatoes, he pulled her phone from her pocket and threw it onto the chair. Stunned, Sedna could do nothing as he started from his deck and down the walkway toward the water.
"What are you doing?" Her self-conscious girl self could not believe he had picked her up to easily. It made her feel good to think she was so light when recently her shorts were starting to get a little tight from eating too much.
"I decided we could go for a swim since this is our last time together."
"Nereus, you're silly." Laughter welled up in her. Besides, only idiots swim at night. All those creatures in the water…" He was not stopping. They came to the sandy beach; the sound of the waves pushed at her ears. "Ok, let me down."
He didn't listen.
"Wait, I thought you said you had a gift for me?" She struggled in his grip. "This is supposed to be my birthday and going away party."
"I cooked you dinner. That's enough." His feet waded into the shallows.
She gripped tighter onto him. If he planned to fling her into the water as a joke, it was not going to work. "You want me to remember you in a good light?"
"Dunno, but if you don't stop talking I won't give it to you." The water came up to his knees.
"I thought you were taking me home. It's two in the morning. And not to mention there are creatures out at night, you know this. The tides and currents are stronger at night." She gasped when she figured out his plan. "You're planning to eat me! No wonder you did all this and all this time you've been making me fat on your words to lure me out here!"
He sighed, "I thought we have been through his already? I'm not…"
She started struggling as hard as she could, yelling, "Let me go!" Out of the corner of her eye she saw an outcropping of rock pushing out from the smooth surface of the water. If she could make it over there somehow she could possibly escape him and get back to land. It blew her mind –even as she continued to yell- that Nereus took her to the outcropping and plopped her down on its flat enough surface. He stood waist deep in the water in front of her. She made a mental note that they were not far from the shore. She could swim desperately and reach the shore under forty-five seconds. The hype in her voice stopped as soon as her legs felt solid rock. "Put me down?"
He held his arms over his chest while shaking his head. "Sedna, that was weak."
"Well, what was I suppose to do?" She looked around. A coming wave seemed as if it were going to hit them, at least him, but to her amazement in went entirely around them. "Wow."
"I brought you out here because I wanted to give you your gift." The moon shined down upon them and the water around them. It gave him a him a soft glow.
Sedna was about to comment how pretty he looked in the moonlight. Yet, hearing that pulled her out of her thoughts once again. She looked around. "Because your deck is not sufficient enough? Safer?"
He held up a finger meaning for her to wait as she ducked beneath the water. When he popped back up seconds later he leaned on the rock letting the water drip from his body onto the rock. In his head he held a box made from polished wood, which she immediately thought of driftwood. "It's not that it is any safer, but…" He stopped, a small smile coming to his face. She wondered what was going on with him. "…this is how we do things, Sedna. A guy would bring a girl to the surface or out to sea to give her a gift under the moonlight. It's very…special. I mean look at it." He motioned to the dark sea and the shining on the surface. "And then just to have you and her out here. It's…well…" Right before her eyes he ran a hand through his hair. Within seconds it was completely dry. "Sedna, I thought you might like it out here when I gave you this."
So he was not trying to eat her or drown her. That was all she was thinking. However, his words about why there were here pulled her back into the moment. It was sweet of him. She watched as he lifted the lid of the box. Inside was coated with blood red velvet, or she thought it was red. That did not matter as she saw the shine of diamonds against the light and the gentle glow from pearls. She gasped again, this time quietly as she could not believe what sat in front of her. A necklace –a three tier chocker- made of natural cream pearls that in the front held a diamond pendant. "It's just a little something." He said.
"Nereus." Was this her gift? She could not contain her smile. "It's beautiful."
That made him smile. "I hope it fits."
It had not hit her yet that the pearls were natural and the diamond was real, "You didn't have to. It did start to hit her that this was a lot. A necklace?
He shook his head. "I thought it would be nice as a going away gift. Your birthday gift is inside. I didn't want to bring that out here and you have to promise me not to open it until your real day."
"Ok." She could not stop smiling.
He sighed, "Sedna, I have to admit…" He took the necklace out of the box. Automatically she turned her back to him and lifted her ponytail. She could feel the cool surface of the pearls against her skin. "…you are not the type of woman I ever saw myself falling for."
"No, not at all. Maybe a one night stand you would have forced me into behind the barn, but never in public."
He laughed. "Again, you're terrible."
"It's just the truth, fish man, wasn't it?"
"Yes." He smiled clasping the lock of the chocker. "But, Sedna, I don't think I would have had to force you."
For that comment she had to knock his shoulder. He didn't mind and instead laughed in her face. "Fine, if you feel better about it. I would have forced you…though I have to say, aren't we terrible for even joking about this sort of thing? Or…" he leaned close. "Do you like the idea of it?"
In almost a comical expression Sedna's entire hand filled his face as she shoved him away. He flailed. "Oh my gosh, Nereus, quit making think I have issues. Look, I think it is clearly established that all this you're doing as a last hurrah. One last go around with the chambermaid, but I'm not putting out."
He licked her palm to make her get off him. She did, promptly. "I wouldn't want you to. That would be unseemly of me to even suggest such…" Nereus stopped as he saw the look on her face. She was smirking as if she knew an answer to an unsaid question.
She touched the necklace. "You know, you like me because I'm not what you're used to. It's ok. So you're a little curious of the other side before you settle down. I'm not insulted, but I'm keeping this. It was a gift and I've enough court shows to know I'll win in small claims court."
He gave a small smile and stared down at the rock's surface. His finger traced over no visible design. No words came from his lips forcing her to continue on the conversation. "So, after this, this is goodbye?"
Nereus glanced up. His blue green eyes wavering. "I believe so. You'll be in the city soon and I'll be out of state. By the time I get back home you'll be gone…there is that one charity event but I don't count that as being here…"
"And what about next summer?" Her voice had an edge of desperation to it. "Or Christmas."
"You said you switch off didn't you? Louisiana?" He said. "And I'm never here at Christmas. In fact, I don't know where I'll be."
When she realized what she had said she shook her head. "It doesn't matter now does it?"
"I guess not." Nereus smiled, holding out his hand. "I bet your grandmother won't believe you're out past three."
"No, she wouldn't." Sedna took it. Her hand felt so right in his.
"And," he waited until she moved to the edge to pick her up. "What about your boyfriend. He won't like it if you want to see me, Sedna. I hate to say I intimidate most guys. To say that I'm your ex might make him a feel a little inadequate."
"Whatever." She rolled her eyes, as they started back to shore. "Is it because of your attitude or your strapping good looks or the fact that you probably look at it like you want to eat them?"
He put her down once they got to the shallows. The water high was just high enough to brush over her their feet. "You know." His hands let her go. One went to his hip the other as if he were contemplating. "You're right. We couldn't get married and whatever I was thinking was a state of delusion. I couldn't handle a woman like you Sedna. Talking back to me and such… it's unconceivable."
She nodded. "Told you. So um…want to take me home now and give me my other gift? And we can get back to our normal lives?"
"If you wish." He smiled.
"Oh yes," she grinned before eying his shirt with concern.
"What?" He became concerned himself.
"It's just... there is something on your shirt." She pointed toward his chest, leaning in closer.
He looked down. "Is there?" That was his mistake. She flicked him on the nose as soon as he did. With a laugh of triumph she pushed him further into the water, and with him being off balance he stumbled back a few feet, she ran for the pathway leading back up to the house; hoping not to slip with her sand covered feet. "Sedna!" He yelled after her as he tried to regain himself. Once he did he was in hot pursuit. Only time would tell of who would make it back to the house first and if Sedna's plan to lock him out of the house would succeed.
She kept him outside for over twenty minute mocking him through the backdoor and the various windows that he tried to open. When she decided to let him in gave her the hand, and when she asked if he was ready to drive her home he gave her the hand again and went to bed. She could not believe it. And she could not believe it more when he went he tucked himself into bed and turned off the light. "I'll take you back in the morning." He laughed, hugging his pillow to him. "I'm tired now."
"Wow." She climbed onto his bed, starting to shake him. "You're taking me home, now."
"Would, but you locked me out." He closed his eyes tighter. "I can't drive when I'm tired."
"Fine," she stopped. "I'm going to walk."
"Ok…" He turned over to face her. "Bye."
She glared, "you're just going to let me walk home? In the dark."
"You want to. I shouldn't try to stop you a second time." He smiled big. "But I said I'd take you home in the morning, besides…" he trailed off as his breathing steadied. Sedna could not believe it. He had actually gone to sleep.
"Serious?" She watched him for five minutes expecting him to pop awake in a jest. He did not. Glancing at the clock she saw that it was going on three thirty. Morning was only a couple of hours, maybe even two or three at six if she woke him up. Until then, she could take a little nap herself. Grabbing one of his pillows she decided to head to one of the spare bedroom or the couch. And on her way out she stole his blanket too. She just laughed to herself as she heard him groan and mumble her name.
A/N: What did I say? I said I would make no more promises because I end up never following through...once again...I won't. I can't finish in a couple days. This week was just one of those life changing weeks. So... at least I made an update. This week I concern that better than gold...or a big slurpee. :o