Chapter 5: Terms
“First thing,” Beatrice said. “We may not pretend when there is no one around.”
“But---” Erik’s protest was cut short when she held her hand up.
“Not negotiable,” she said. “Next, no inappropriate touching”
“You may not kiss me in public. In fact you may not kiss me at all.”
“Do you not think you are taking your terms a bit too seriously?” Erik wondered.
“Absolutely not!” Beatrice retorted. “If we do not have ground rules, no doubt you would go out of control with all of this pretend!”
“Is it so wrong to lose control?” Erik murmured, closing in on her. He loved this! He couldn’t keep away from her too long because her face turned to her normal color, and he loved seeing her blush.
“For you it is,” she retorted, trying to keep her trembling under control. “Look at you now! We are not even to the docks yet and you are closing in on me like a predator closes in on its prey every chance you get!”
“And such beautiful prey, at that, eh?” he couldn’t help but reply. He gently ran the back of his fingers across her cheek as she stared at him in surprise. His smirk faded as he kept looking at her. He studied her face and found himself gazing over her naturally pouting lips, wanting to taste them. “If you had not told me to stay from your lips, I think I would kiss you.”
“If I had not told you to stay from my lips, I believe I might let you,” Beatrice confessed in a whisper. She swallowed and her gaze fell to his lips, as his gaze stayed on hers. Why did he want to kiss her? Did he care why? The only thing that mattered was that he wanted to, not his reason. But to know his reason would put him at ease, a bit.
He moved closer to her, their breath mingling for the second time that night, their eyes locked and they felt exhilaration sweep over them. The carriage hit a bump in the road again and the jostling pushed Erik fully onto Beatrice, his face landing on her neck. She squeaked in surprise, feeling his lips on her neck above all else and the two didn’t move.
“Erik?” Beatrice whispered, and he looked up at her in question. “I would like to add one further addendum.”
“Y-Yes?” he managed.
“I will not sleep in the same bed with you. We shall have separate sleeping areas. Am I understood?”
Beatrice had no idea why that thought came to her mind, but thought it would be best that he understood that now than go through the trouble of telling him later.
“Understood,” he simply replied and found he really couldn’t keep himself from doing just one thing to make her blush. He gently brushed his lips to her neck just below her ear in an open mouthed kiss, closing his eyes to savor the feel of her soft skin through them then pushed away and sat up to look out the window. Beatrice stared at him in disbelief as her face stained red all over her face, neck and chest. She sighed shakily, and looked out her own window.
Though Erik had seen how he made her blush, he didn’t feel as satisfied by the sight as he had before. Being so close to her left him with mixed emotions and the fact that he had done what he did surprised him to no end. This was all happening so fast his new emotions for this girl were changing. He saw her at first as a friend, unable to forget his Christine. But now, he was slowly and surely getting to know her again and getting to know his feelings for her were starting to become anything but friendly. An indication of that was when he teased her about their roles when they reached the docks. Why insist on playing husband and wife? To be close enough to her and never let her leave him. He wouldn’t be able to bare it if another left him alone.
Erik looked at Beatrice who was now staring out her window, her fiery, luscious curls tumbling all around her shoulders and back. He remembered the feel of her skin and licked his lips turning away from the sight of her to look out the window again. Oh, yes, he had enjoyed touching his lips to her skin, and he had enjoyed being so close to her. He had enjoyed it a little too much. Their pretend would be interesting to play while they were in Spain and anywhere else they were going to be.
“Erik?” Beatrice’s small voice called.
“Yes?” he replied, unmoving.
“It is a rather cold night,” she said so softly he almost didn’t hear.
“Yes, it is,” he replied, still not moving. Beatrice sighed in disappointment and turned back to her window. She had mentioned it hoping he would move closer to hold her to keep her warm because she wanted him to be close to her again. She had savored the feeling of him being close to her, and wanted to feel him hold her.
Deciding to take the matter into her own hands, Beatrice slid next to Erik making him finally look at her with a look of total shock on his face. She wrapped his arm around her shoulders and snuggled her face to his chest, resting one of her hands on his chest.
“Does this not break one of your rules?” Erik wondered, jokingly.
“I made them,” Beatrice smirked. “I think I should be allowed to change the terms of our arrangement when I see fit, don’t you?”
He scoffed, and pulled her a bit closer, realizing how cold she must be. His chest rose and fell slowly as he inhaled the scent of her hair then looked out the window. He had smelled her hair. Now she understood why he was acting like this, he was coming to care for her in a way she had never thought any man could come to care for her. How could she show him that she accepted his feelings for her? She knew right away of one way, but thought to save that for when he confessed himself.
She looked up at him but he didn’t notice and still stared out the window, his mask facing her. She realized how mysterious the mask made him look, alluring and powerful in some strange way. She slowly reached up and touched it then slowly curled her fingertips around one of its edges.
“What are you doing?” Erik suddenly asked, still not looking at her. He had known she was touching his mask, even if he didn’t acknowledge it until now.
“You need not hide your face from me, Erik,” Beatrice murmured, lowering her hand and resting it on his chest again. He looked at her in surprise. “I have told you, I do not care about your face. It is the man behind it that matters to me.” She smiled warmly and touched her hand to the visible side of his face. “And if we are to be ‘husband and wife’ we should trust each other, should we not?”
She slipped her other hand to his mask and gently removed it.
“Beatrice…” he breathed, but she placed her fingertips to his lips. She placed the mask on the seat in front of them and kissed the deformed side of his face, tenderly. Tears started to fall freely from his eyes and she kissed them away. He still could not believe that anyone could even look upon his face, let alone touch it as this woman was doing.
“Do not cry, mon ami,” she whispered. “I accept you, and will never reject you, dear, sweet Erik.”
She wrapped her arms around his chest, and he held her closer, burying his face in her hair.
“Thank you,” he whispered. “If you wish, I will buy you anything your heart desires when we reach Spain.”
Beatrice giggled and looked up at him with a sweet smile.
“My heart desires nothing but your safety and happiness, mon ami.”
“My happiness would be yours.”
“Oh, ‘dear,’ I cannot resist it when you are romantic,” she smiled. Erik frowned in confusion at her, but then realized she was pretending as if they were married.
“I cannot help it,” he replied with a smile. “I want to give you everything if it would make you happy.”
Beatrice giggled again and snuggled against his chest.
“You are not…attached, are you?”
“No,” she sighed in relaxation. Erik couldn’t help the grin that spread across his face. Good, she wasn’t attached to anyone. It made it that much simpler for him to keep her with him.
“Would you ever consider becoming attached at any point in your life?”
“Beatrice?” He looked down at her to see her sleeping peacefully, and couldn’t help but smile. He silently and slowly moved for his mask and placed it back on his face then pulled his cape around her a little more tightly and pulled her closer to him. She had been right before, it was a cold night, but surely the fire of their obvious spark would keep them at least a bit warm.