1705 - SEBASTIAN - Panther in Her View
1705 Grier Country (Elsabet captive for five years)
She’s been my captive five years now. Sebastian mused as he heard Elsabet’s light step roaming the corridors. She’d discovered the many floors of WaterRose, the Flood Room below and the endless solars, parlors and decorated chambers above.
She came to an abrupt halt. She senses me. He realized.
When she spun about, he moved into the shadows to avoid her gaze.
She glimpsed the silken black creature with yellow eyes moving along the dark side of the hall on silent paws. A far cry different than the tiny slithering thing she’d seen with him years ago.
“What are you?” She squinted to see him creeping in the cracked door of Bast’s chamber on the second level.
The torchlight seemed too bright to keep the creature in such dark shadows.
Squinting hard, she saw the faintest outline of what looked to be feline vanishing past the door. Long tail disappearing inside.
She shook her head. Stepping quietly to peer into the chamber, she gasped.
Bast, half covered, lay in his bed. Back against the headrest. Twirling a long chain in his hand, heavy with the gold cross pendant. Another rested on his sternum. His face was almost sad, but he stared at the doorway, waiting. His hand dropped, fisting the chain.
She jerked from view. Plastering herself against the wall as she tried to find a hiding place in the hallway.
Please. Hiding from me?
A little late for that.
“I saw you Valkyrie.”
“Nay!” She denied. Slapping her hand to her mouth she squeezed her eyes shut.
“I can hear your racing heart.”
“What was it!” She demanded daringly. Certain he knew what she spoke of.
“Come here and I’ll show you.” He purred. His tone making clear they didn’t discuss the same animal.
“How is it just roaming here without me seeing it afore?”
There was a long pause as he considered offering her the teasing comment floating in his mind.
“I’ve never seen it before?” She added into the silence. Quickly trying to clarify as she aptly sensed his war with his humor.
He gave a low chuckle. “Are you going to continue shouting at me from the hall or come in here like a civilized being?”
“Are you going to put on clothes like a ‘civilized being’?” She challenged.
Why? His heavy sigh depicted his reluctance. How about you come in, instead.
“I don’t find you amusing!” She snapped.
You find nothing amusing. Little Viper.
“As I’ve noticed.” He said dryly.
She heard the muffled grumble as he presumably, pulled on clothing.
“Animals are quite attracted to you.” She called from her position against the wall.
As should you be.
“Aye.” He agreed.
“I can’t imagine one that could stand to be away from you as that one was.”
“But it roamed without you.”
“I know there’s no way you’re unaware of its presence here.”
“What makes you think that?”
“You love this...WaterRose as you call it. You’re everywhere here.”
Everywhere but where I want to be. He pictured her there pressed against the wall. Quaking breaths shaking her slim body.
“I’m well aware you miss nothing.” Her tone was scathing.
Grasping the edge of the wall he pulled himself around it, much closer than expected. His chest heaved as his body pressed to her side and her shoulder. “I hadn’t expected you so close to the door.” He explained with an unabashed smirk.
“The Hell you weren’t!” She hissed.
You’re right. I knew exactly where you were. I can hear your heart racing.
She sidled along the wall scowling. “The clothing of someone civilized would include a shirt.” Her tone was acidic.
Who says that?
“Why would you ever mistake me for such?” He lifted a brow. “You keep accusing me of being no less than an animal.” He cocked his head in challenge. “I’d prefer to wear nothing, so I’d think you’d be grateful I’m wearing pants.” He angled his palms downward and glanced to emphasize his point.
When her gaze followed his, he hooked his thumbs in his waistband and slid it low enough to bare the muscled line curving over his hip.
Her eyes trailed the movement hungrily. Despite all her objections.
Ah, you do desire me, you deceitful Little Harpie. His dimple flashed as he quirked an inviting brow when she looked up.
“What are you smirking about?” She spat.
Follow me. I’ll show you.
Grinning unabashedly, he commented. “It’s nice to see you missed me enough to stop by.” He gave her his back and strode back into the dim chamber.
She scowled and followed him to the doorway. “What was that thing that went into your room?”
But not a step further.
“A cat.” He tossed the coverlet back.
“That was no cat.”
“It was.” He faced her again.
“Then it was a very large cat. I’ve seen smaller dogs.”
“You’re not going to tell me, are you?” She deflated.
“You could’ve just said that.”
“And missed an opportunity to talk with you?” He tilted his head.
“You could’ve enjoyed your rest.” She hissed scathingly.
“Alone?” He asked hopefully.
Or with you?
Spinning on her heel she tossed over her shoulder. “With your cat.”
He roared with laughter. Sure, she heard his crude retort though she refused to acknowledge it.
“What was that ruckus about?” Teverius asked.
Me discomforting a beautiful woman. One who stared at my body like a next meal.
One I’d like her to test.
“My little ward.” Sebastian shucked his breeches again and slid back under the blanket, just as Teverius appeared in the doorway.
“Taunting her again?”
“Every opportunity that arises.” He nodded. Shifting under the coverlet to get comfortable.
It dawned on Tev that Bast was just now settling there. “Were you naked a moment ago?”
“I’m still naked.”
“Uck!” Tev tossed up his hands and moved from the doorway. “We’ve talked about this. You always prop your chamber door when you should be closing it.”
“It’s a mite stuffy.” Bast’s nose wrinkled in distaste.
“Anyone can walk by…”
“Don’t worry little brother. Someday you may be as big and strapping a lad, as I.”
“You’re appalling. Truly.”
“I’m unashamed.” Bast shrugged.
“Be nice to that woman.” Tev called into the chamber as he strode by heading for the stairs.
Why in the Hell would I do that?
“Are you taking off?” Bast leaned up to call down to him.
“Yes. I have to go work with my hounds.”
“The Demon Dogs?” Bast muttered disgustedly.
“They are no longer Demons. I have tamed them to my hand.” Tev called up from the bottom floor.
“A dog is a dog. No less demonic, no matter how tame.” Bast called.
“Not everyone favors cats.” Tev muttered, returning to Bast’s doorway and leaning against the jam.
“I forgot the treats I found for the hounds in Grier, back in my chamber. Speaking of them reminded me.”
“My ward does.”
“Does what?” Tev blinked in confusion.
“She likes cats.” Bast bragged.
“Huh…” Tev murmured thoughtfully. “Perhaps you should become one then, aye?” Tev winked at him.
What in the Devil?
“What are you getting at?” Bast leaned up. Intrigued.
Tev is nothing if not ever clever.
“If the girl has a weakness for cats and you have a weakness for she…Perhaps were you a kitty you’d have more opportunities to be close to her…”
“I am a cat.” Bast blurted.
Tev sent a quick look over his shoulder. “Does she know that?”
No. Bast gave a satisfied purr in his throat as he slumped back, registering Tev’s implications.
“Your mind,” He pointed a finger. “Is a dangerous thing.”
“Well,” Tev responded, stepping back from the doorway as he said the last. “All is well and good then as long as you keep your dangerous thing,” He nodded to Bast’s coverlets. “Carefully covered whereas I will not have to look on it.”
Bast shrugged and as Tev walked away again, he called after him. “Jealousy is a frightful awful feeling, is it not?”
“I hate you!” Tev laughingly called back.
No, you don’t. He knew.
“Everyone says that…” Bast grumbled. Rubbing his back against the pillows like a slinking cat before settling in.