Ch. 3 – She Liked It
"So fly yourself above the clouds. Live your life where you are now."
-- Darkness Round the Sun , Alexz Johnson
The first thing Audrina noticed was that whoever was speaking had a sexy voice. Very sexy, if she was honest with herself. It was commanding and smooth and masculine and... just plain sexy.
She sat up to see who such a remarkable voice could belong to and she wasn't at all disappointed. The owner of the voice was just as amazing as she imagined.
He had thick, dark hair that was pushed away from his face by his large hands. It was long and layered, the hair on the nape of his neck brushing his shoulders, the hair framing his face falling around his eyes and his brazen forehead. His eyes were a clear midnight blue. He had tan skin that stretched over wide shoulders, a narrow waist, and long legs. There were muscles everywhere, some subtle and lean, others obvious and bold. The light colored shirt and dark slacks did little to hide his body. His lips were full, with a pout that was nothing short of irresistible. Even his hands were large, powerful, and graceful.
Audrina could think of only one thing to do—offer a smile. It wasn't returned. "Uh... yeah. I'm just a little..." Audrina sighed, her smile turning into a grin. "Thank you, so much. This room is beautiful!"
He glanced around the room in an aloof manner. "Hmm. I guess. I'm to join you for a private dinner. As I understand it, we're supposed to spend as much time together as possible." His eyebrow rose, and the look was so demeaning that Audrina found herself wanting to shave that perfect little eyebrow right off. "I'm sorry to say I'm not exactly aware of all the reasons you appeared on my doorstep. Care to fill me in?"
Audrina couldn't stop herself from standing up to answer his infuriating eyebrow with a look of her own. Without thought, she tossed her hair up into a big messy bun. "I wouldn't care to fill you in on anything. My familial problems are my business and you, Master Lucian, are no part of it."
Both eyebrows went up. Audrina immediately had the feeling that few ever stood up to him. "I'm sure I have the right to know the history of the..." insert condescending look here, "woman I'm being asked to marry."
Audrina considered herself somewhat of a pacifist. But she wanted to hit him. "Woman? Hardly. I'm no more a woman than you are a man. AndI know nothing about my betrothed, yet you don't find me complaining, Darling. In all the years you obviously spent learning to be a gentleman in the truest sense of the word, didn't you learn that complaining is on the 'don't' list?"
Instead of getting angry, something Audrina would have thoroughly enjoyed, his expression grew colder. "I'll be back in 50 minutes. Be ready. Semi-formal."
With that, he turned and with all the presence of the King of England, he left.
Audrina stifled the urge to throw something at the door when it closed behind him.
"Ok. I'm simply going to ignore the fact that that pompous, idiotic, beautiful jerk is going to be my husband," she said aloud to herself as she took her hair down and flipped it to one side. She decided to enjoy the fact that she got to try out her new shower so soon, so she made her way into the bathroom, happy to see a large stock of towels, soaps, and washcloths. She looked through all the drawers and gasped when she found a refrigerator with cases of rose petals and bottled water and Vault energy soda.
She loved the scent of roses. Her father must have told them.
She took a case of roses and started to run a bath instead. She found rose scented bubble bath and poured it in, waiting for the bubble to appear before sprinkling on the petals. She deserved to be pampered, even if she was the one doing it. She climbed in and savored the scent and feel of the water for a few minutes before she actually began to wash. In 20 minutes, she smelled wonderful and was going through a wardrobe that had all of her clothes in it.
Finally she settled on a simple white dress with blue and green flowers on it.
Audrina sat at a vanity in her room and did her hair and makeup. She blow dried and straightened her thick, dark brown hair and without thought, she ran her fingers through it and flipped it to one side. Her father had always hated when she did that, but the way she did her hair was a show of her emotions, one that she did without conscious thought. She added black eyeliner, clear lipgloss, and black mascara. She had barely put on a pair of heels before there was a knock at the door. When she opened it, she saw Lucian there, dressed nicely in a deep red shirt and dark gray slacks. He was beautiful.
Audrina blushed when she thought she could hardly measure up to someone like him, and she looked away, missing the look that passed over his eyes when he saw her.
"Miss Laurens, I want to apologize for my words earlier. I understand how difficult this must be so I'll do my best to make the transition easier on you."
Audrina's face blossomed into a smile. Her father had always said she was too trusting. He was probably right. "I'm sorry too. But right now I'm hungry, so lets go to dinner.
The left corner of his mouth lifted in what Audrina assumed was a smile and he held out his arm to lead her. He acted relaxed, but his body seemed almost high strung. Audrina wanted him to loosen up so much.
"Miss Laurens, you look nice."
Audrina's eyes widened in shock and then in embarrassment, and she quickly looked down to hide her blush. She flipped her hair over to the opposite side without thinking. "Thank you. You look nice too." Audrina missed Lucian's small smile.
He led her down a grand staircase, but not the one that leads to the entrance of the house. This one led to the back, possibly the side of the house. Once outside, Lucian began to speak. "These are the gardens. One of the largest privately owned gardens in the area. The work has been featured in various magazines and on television. They're yours to enjoy."
Audrina looked at the expanse of flowers, trees, shrubs, paths, ponds, and brooks and knew she would love the place. "Thank you," she murmured again. She had a feeling she would be saying a lot of thank yous in the times to come.
Lucian led her to a small table and two chairs that were set out. Audrina grinned in excitement and put her hair up into a messy bun. Lucian pulled out her chair before seating himself.
Audrina watched his eyes stray briefly to the side, and moments later a man set small menus in front of them. She was amazed that he could command with a simple glance.
Shrugging, she looked over the small menu, prepared specifically for that moment, as it listed macaroni and cheese, fried chicken and blue cheese, and hot chocolate and whipped cream as one mea. Audrina couldn't hide her grin as she look up at Lucian. She was excited to see a brief smile in return.
"Are you ready to order?"
Audrina giggled and nodded and once Lucian held out his hand for her menu, the same man was there to take their orders.
"What may I get you, my lady?" asked the very debonair waiter.
"I think I would very much enjoy the macaroni and cheese, along with the chicken and bleu cheese. Hot chocolate with whipped cream, along with water, for a drink."
The waiter winked and turned to Lucian. "And for you, Master Lucian?"
Lucian looked at Audrina's ever growing smile and a flicker of annoyance, maybe impatience, crossed his face. "I'll have the same." He handed the menus over to the waiter, who was trying to hide his own smile. He turned back to Audrina. "I'm going to trust your opinion on the matter, as I haven't had macaroni and cheese since I was a child," Lucian said.
"Oh, well I should warn you. The list of foods I eat could possibly fill about half of one side of a menu," Audrina said bashfully.
Lucian's eyebrow raised. "That's highly unlikely. I could guess your favorite food is macaroni and cheese, and then chicken and bleu cheese. What's your favorite fruit?"
"I don't eat fruit."
Lucian's other eyebrow went up. "Everyone eats fruit."
"I very rarely eat watermelon, I've eaten a few apples in my life, although I prefer them with hot, melted cheese. And I like sundae cherries, not the real ones, but I only eat those if I get a drink that requires them. And if I'm in an extremely weird mood, I'll eat an orange. But those weird moods are few and far in between. On average, you shouldn't expect to see me walking around with any type of fruit in my hands. As a matter of fact, to say I've had one type of fruit a month would be a huge over statement."
Lucian frowned. "Is that so? What about vegetables? I don't suppose you eat any of those."
"I hate them. All of them," Audrina grinned.
"Well I suppose we'll have to compromise. I'm having a fruit bowl set out at lunch every day. I expect some of the fruit to be missing. Each day."
Audrina waved a hand. "Oh, that wont happen. One fruit a week."
The food was set out on the table and candles were lit against the invading darkness. She looked at the food and instantly knew it would be delicious. Her hot chocolate was set out in an exquisite mug and the design of the whipped cream was very pretty. The water was set in a wine glass.
"One fruit every other day. Now no more interruptions. We must eat." Lucian bowed his head and Audrina had to hold back laughter at how effectively he ended the conversation.
They both ate in a silence that was only slightly awkward. Audrina wasn't really thinking of him as her fiance yet, as she wanted to know him as a friend first.
However, when they both reached for a napkin at the same time and their hands brushed, she wondered if friends first would work.
The simple brush of his skin sent a hardly innocent tingle through her body. It surprised her, since she'd never even been kissed. She'd suffered through the curiosity that everyone goes through growing up, but never had she felt desire towards a specific person.
She looked up at Lucian with a blush, wondering what his own response would be. She hadn't expected the emotionless mask that was in place.
"Come. Let's go to my chambers so that we can discuss things."
Lucian rose and waited for Audrina to stand before he came to her side. When he offered his arm, she placed her hand in the crook of it, and she had to ignore the feelings she was getting low in her stomach. Lucian seemed agitated and she knew he wanted to remove her hand. She wanted to grin deviously. Obviously she wasn't the only one feeling the attraction between them.
Lucian silently led Audrina back into the house and she sighed with relief when she went to the bedroom door. Lucian turned a questioning look Audrina's way and she blushed. "I didn't exactly know what you meant by 'chambers.' I was hoping you weren't going to lock me in a dungeon or something."
"Were I going to lock you in a dungeon, I'm sure I would have said 'let's go to my dungeon.' As I never mentioned the word, and I'm pretty damned sure we don't have one, you've got no reason to fear."
Audrina couldn't hold back her laughter and she once again saw a ghost of a smile cross Lucian's face.
He produced a key from his pocket and unlocked the door that led to where their rooms were. And then, instead of going to her room on the left, Lucian led her to the right. Audrina couldn't deny she was very excited to see his room.
When Lucian opened the door, Audrina couldn't stop herself from walking in curiously and looking around.
The room was massive, with beige carpet and off white walls. All of the furniture was a warm, golden brown wood and all the décor was red and blue. In the center of the room was a white couch with red and blue pillows that faced the massive sleigh bed, adorned with deep blue blankets and red and blue pillows. Huge picture windows with blue curtains circled around the bed. There was an armoire and dressers and far beyond the couch was a desk area. There was also glass doors that led to a balcony, and a doorway that Audrina assumed led to the bathroom and closet.
She liked it. "I like it."
Lucian nodded, never taking his eyes off of her. "It works. Come on. Let's sit and talk. We've got a lot to discuss." He led her over a window seat and sat at one end. Audrina followed his lead and sat at the other end. Lucian cleared his throat. "The first thing we need to discuss is how we're going to pass this next year. Our fathers are hoping this will at least become a friendship, if not a love match by then. We are supposed to be in a relationship as of now. No dating others. If anyone asks, we are boyfriend and girlfriend."
Audrina looked out the window. "I doubt my father is hoping for anything other than what he has now, and that is me living here. As far as my being faithful, I've never even been in a relationship before so there's nothing to worry about."
"Never?" Lucian asked curiously.
Lucian could tell by the tone of her voice that the conversation was over. "I hope one day you'll be able to trust me with what happen between you and your father," Lucian said quietly.
Audrina looked up at him and part of her longed to tell him, just to talk about it. "It's not that I don't trust you," she said, putting her hair into its bun. When he opened his mouth to speak, Audrina cut him off. "So what else do I need to know about this agreement?"
Lucian hesitated. "My family is expecting me to give them an heir. So eventually, we're expected to have children."
Audrina frowned. She remembered Mr. Paulio telling her about that, but she still found it hard to believe that families would marry off their children for such a cold reason.
Lucian could feel the tension coming from Audrina and he sought to lighten the mood. "I shudder to imagine so many little girls running around this house, all as energetic as you. I think I might actually go mad." He threw in an actual shudder for effect.
Audrina laughed, but she couldn't help but wonder about Lucian. He spoke, acted, and probably thought completely as an adult. The last thing anyone, never mind a gorgeous guy, your age should be thinking about is how many little girls will be running around the house they're next in line to inherit.
"So Miss Laurens—"
Audrina held up a tiny hand. "Please. I can't handle that anymore. Audrina. Anything else but Miss Laurens."
Lucian nodded. "All right. Audrina. But only if you call me Lucian." He threw in a smile.
Audrina tried to ignore the sexy smile and the sexy way he said her name. "Now that I think about it, that's quite impersonal. Aren't engaged couples supposed to have pet names? Like Pooh-Bear!" Audrina had to suppress a giggle at his feigned look of horror.
"I don't think I'd like Pooh-Bear very much."
"What's your middle name?"
Audrina gasped in delight. "Well if that isn't the most roguish name I've ever heard! I love it! But honestly, I love Lucian. I think I can stick with that. But don't worry. We'll get you an amazing pet name eventually."
Lucian smiled again. "Well it's only fair that I have something to call you. Audrina... Maybe Dray. I'm sure that's what you were called before." He worried his bottom lip thoughtfully. "I like Dray. Is that all right?"
Audrina dropped her mindless staring at his lips for a more casual look. "Yeah, of course."
Lucian gave Audrina another small smile, and had to stop himself from downright grinning when she gasped as he kissed her hand. "Until tomorrow, M'Lady," he said regally, and he was rewarded with another laugh. He led Audrina to her own bedroom and finally let out a grin when he heard her lean against her closed door and sigh. He went back to his room to call his friends and let them know his fiancee was gorgeous—among other things.
Meanwhile, Audrina was still drooling against her door. After a few minutes of engaging in pointless fantasies, she decided to take another bath of roses, and then she dried off and climbed into her brand new bed with no clothes on.
Lucian was beautiful. She knew he had a sense of humor and it was obvious that there was more depth to him than what he let on. However, it seemed like all he was willing to show her was the cold, gentlemanly exterior. Audrina wondered what it would take to make it past it.
Lucian lay in his bed after his own long shower and even longer phone conversations with his friends.
Audrina Rae Laurens. Dray. What was there to say about her?
He couldn't deny the attraction he felt the moment he saw her, jumping childishly on her bed. She was enchanting, adorable, smart, observant, innocent, yet utterly sexy. Lucian could tell she had no idea just how attractive she was, and that made her more irresistible.
She gave her smiles freely and everything she was feeling was written on her face. More so in her eyes. She walked, not so much with elegance, but with grace, and she had the sexiest sway to her hips, and a strut that he couldn't ignore.
Her eyes were beautiful. Lucian knew he'd always know how his wife felt. And her lips were another story. Lucian had had several relationships before, some based solely on desire. But he'd never wanted to lick someone's lips as much as he wanted to lick Audrina's. And really, who wanted to lick someone else's lips?
He hadn't failed to notice that she put her hair up when she was determined, troubled, upset or thoughtful, or that she let her hair back down when she was calm or happy, and then she flipped it repeatedly from left to right.
But for Goodness' sake, she was infuriating!
There was so much hidden below the surface with her. Lucian knew something was amiss, more than what his own father told him. And as her future husband, it was his duty to figure it out.
Lucian rolled over on to his side, frowning as he thought about the reasons his parents decided to find him a wife themselves. They thought him cold? Was it not his father who taught him to be the way he was? And just because he wasn't buying any wedding rings didn't mean he was a confirmed bachelor. He'd been in a relationship when they dropped Audrina on him!
But that wasn't important anymore. He was stuck with his midget of a fiancee, and hopefully, things would work out for the best.