1712 - SEBASTIAN - What's Mine
1712 WaterRose, Meadow Mountain, Grier Country (Elsabet captive for twelve years)
More years passed quietly. With Elsabet sometimes as bitter and cold as always. But occasionally softer, almost pleasant.
As Sebastian returned to WaterRose tonight, knowing the hour was late, he opened the door quietly and crossed the foyer toward the library. As he passed the dais where the stairs broke into dual slopes, he felt a presence. He glanced up and saw her peering from the shadows at the top of the stairs.
Watching me. He pushed his hood back to see her better.
“Elsabet.” He smiled, lowering his head in greeting. He glimpsed the light blue of her eyes, though she said nothing. Hearing the swish of her skirts as she turned and walked down the hall.
Returning to her chamber.
He reached the library, tethering his hair back from his face as he took his plush red seat. Sinking into the comfort of it and feeling his body ease from his recent endeavors.
His hand reflexively reached into the jar of exotic nuts he kept on the center table. Shocked to find it empty. He splayed his fingers to grasp the jar and lifted it, hand still inside. Inspecting the empty bottom.
She ate them all? He groaned in disappointment and reached for his sherry decanter. Gripping it where it was nearly tucked behind the chair on a small stand. Catching a glass with his finger, he pulled them around, into his view. Stopping when he realized his sherry was empty.
He heard the faintest sound from the doorway. A giggle?
His head whipped that direction. “You did it apurpose!” He pointed a finger. “You barbarian!”
He leapt from his chair and ran to the doorway, laughter on his lips as he reached it. Seeing her light blue dress vanishing up the stairs.
Chuckling he returned to his seat. Once there, he relaxed and stared at the winking gold flower decorating the mantle. Just above it was a decanter from upstairs, half full of amber liquid. Near it was clay bowl.
He knew, without a doubt, what’d be in it. Sighing he stood and lifted them from the mantle. Pouring his drink and returning the nuts to the small jar. Replacing the small glass lid after grabbing a handful.
Devious Harpie. He chuckled to himself. Pleased to see mischief in her.
Only as he settled in again did he wonder if she’d hoped he’d chase her up the stairs. Intriguing thought…
For one pretty moment he envisioned a relationship with her. Filled with teasing pranks and her mischief. Blue eyes sparkling as she laughed merrily. Chasing her and possibly little ones up and down the corridors of the stronghold he’d designed and built with his own hands.
What a beautiful dream.
The following evening Sebastian finished checking the different levels, visiting with some of the knights, and inspecting the flood room to ensure it wasn’t rising. Afterwards he headed to the library to await her. Surprised to find her there so early in the eve.
He stopped to watch her. Like observing some beautiful graceful creature in a comfortable habitat.
She sat in the library engrossed in a heavy volume resting on her knees. She reached up from the book to tuck a stray lock of silvery hair behind her dainty ear with soft fingertips. Blue eyes intent on the pages before her. Lips parted with her even breaths.
Her every movement was a flutter or sway.
Like a bird.
She sat in the large chair next to the fire.
My chair. He saw her skin spike and eyes slide from the pages. She senses me.
Setting the book in her lap, she crossed her palms over it. “I can feel you.” Her challenge was met with long silence.
Not yet. He thought. But I’d like you to.
He relented. “You don’t sense me as well as I do you.”
“Yet I know your presence all the same.”
She stiffened. “Why don’t you show yourself?”
Why? Hesitating, he strode into the library. Entering the oval of candlelight next to the nearest shelf. Propping a shoulder there, he leaned to cross his ankles. Giving her a long study, he assessed her vibrant blue eyes in dancing firelight.
“Why do you only appear after dark?”
“Are you inconvenienced? Am I interfering in your snooping?” He lifted a blonde brow. Looking over the library before returning his gaze to her.
You know I am.
“It’s when I prefer to be awake, yes.”
“What is it you search for so desperately?”
“Doesn’t every library have a book of lineage about the house and its lord?” She stood. Trying to appear casual, but her voice was tight as she began moving through the aisles to replace the book.
“Seeking to know your enemy?” He said when she returned.
Her eyes fell, cheeks drawing in as she searched for an answer. A new book dangling from her hand.
Precisely what she was doing.
“If you can’t escape on your terms, you’ll find a way around me and my magic? Is that your newest plan?”
“I’m not one to play docile captive.”
Go ahead and look. Keep busy searching. It’ll take more than a book to outmaneuver me, Little Harpie.
You’re not going anywhere.
“If you think somewhere in these aisles, I keep my secrets…” He inspected perfectly squared nails thoughtfully. “You’d be right…”
“You could just tell me where it is?”
Not a chance.
He shook his head and crossed his arms again. “Now what fun would that be?”
“Then you could simply tell me how Sebastian Bodane came to be King of the Castle of Water?” She mocked.
It’s not me you care to know about. I know better.
“So that’s the answer you want?” He mulled it over. “So, which is it you search for? A book of lineage, a book of heritage, or something of lore?”
“Which one would have your tale?”
“You wish to know about my world or my amulet?” He asked perceptively.
Perhaps my amulet.
He lifted a brow. “So, you’d know how to escape me or how to kill me?”
“And what if my answer was ‘perhaps both’?”
Then you’d be honest for once…
His gaze searched her face. “Haven’t you learned yet that with me you get much more than you bargained for? Especially when attacking me.”
Sneering she bit her tongue.
“Didn’t anyone warn you about this?” He lifted his chain from under his shirt.
“Iceron cautioned me but I believed it’d be a simple enough mission.”
Then you were mistaken.
“Stealing from a man is never simple.”
She scoffed. “Quite often it is. They’re easily distracted by something lovely.”
I’m distracted by very little. He was not inclined to admit that her statement incited him because he knew there was a grain of truth in it. He’d thought of little else since she’d entered WaterRose.
Stepping close he used a crooked finger to lift her chin, ignoring her wince at the contact. “You’re quite lovely, yet still I keep you at my mercy…So you see…Stealing is never simple.” Shaking his head slowly he kept her eyes. “There is always a consequence. Be it to your person, your time, or your soul.”
“Ye think I still have one?” She laughed coldly.
“I know you do.” His face was solemn. “I’ve seen how you act with the animals here. You’re no soulless murderess as you’d have me think.”
“Bring me some fluffy bunny and tell me so then.” She grated through clenched teeth.
After a long pause he turned and left the library without another word.
She watched him leave. Staring at the doorway, she gnawed her cheek before finally collecting the book she’d been reading.
In the early hours of the following morning. Sebastian had gone to the chamber on the floor level to evade the company of the other knights in an effort to ease enough he might take one of his rare rests. He blew out a long breath and was quiet for a couple hours in an effort to sleep.
But he heard a whispering step outside his door. Too soft for any knight in this castle.
The door groaned slightly as it eased open. There was little hesitation as the step approached.
He felt slight weight on the bed near him where someone put a hand down. He sensed someone leaning over him. Felt the barest hint of strands of hair brushing his cheek. He was overcome with the scent of wildflowers.
What’s she doing?
Or even more interestingly. How many times has she done this?
What if she intends to kill me?
Instead he felt the barest touch of fingertips over his bare chest. Grazing over his skin tentatively. As if curious?
He felt the weight of her hair across his torso as she leaned her face near his shoulder and neck. Felt the slight breeze as she took in his scent. Heard the slight parting of her lips as she studied him.
Making him smile.
“Are you smiling?” She reared back, irises flashing to red at his small, telltale movement. Horror was written over her face when his eyes snapped open.
He took in the view of her pretty face and the ample display of cleavage the nightgown offered.
Before she could bolt, he put a hand over hers on his chest, pinning it to him. His other circled her waist to topple her down onto him.
She squealed and struggled to writhe away.
“Mmm.” He murmured. Rolling her to tuck her into the corner against the wall. He draped a leg over hers and an arm over her waist heavily. Snorting as though he were only moving in his sleep.
She pushed at him, struggling against his superior weight. “Sebastian!”
“Told you, you’d say my name.” He murmured.
“Lord Bodane!” She corrected “Get off me.”
“Why? You come creeping into a man’s chamber what’d you expect to happen?”
“Him to be asleep!”
“I know!” She kicked her legs trying to toss him off her.
“Lay here. Sleep next to me. You’ll be surprised at how warm I can be…”
“Oh, no you don’t!”
He lifted his brows invitingly. “Perhaps I do…” His palm flattened over her stomach.
She yelped and nearly levitated from the bed. Running for the door as soon as her feet hit the floor.
He rolled to his back and propped an arm up, so his palm rested under the back of his head. “Come back soon!” He called laughingly.
“Never!” She shrieked, fleeing down the hall. Footsteps thudding.
“You’ll be back.”
Romance Advice from Mardichi
“What was tha’ abou’? She near razed the house.”
Sebastian grunted at the sound of Mardichi’s burr as he casually entered the chamber as though it were his own.
What are you doing here? His smile died as the barbarian interrupted his pleasant reflecting on how soft she’d been and the panic on her face when he’d got ahold of her.
“Ye do know a well-sated woman does not flee in terror?”
Since when would you know…Bast’s eyes narrowed. Recognizing he was in a sour mood. Either because she’d left or because Mardichi had intruded.
“She’s afraid of herself. Not me.” Bast murmured, tucking his face into the pillow to avoid the man.
“Just the same if she’s bolting yer chamber well into the night, yer failing to satisfy ’er.”
“Is a barbarian trying to give me romance advice?” Bast twisted his face to ask derisively. Before tucking it back into the pillow. Still catching her scent from where her hair had been moments ago.
“Nay. Advice on laying with a wench.”
Not a wench. Wenches belong in taverns.
This woman belongs in my bed. Only mine.
“Careful.” Bast’s arm shot out to point a staying finger.
“Ooh…” Mardichi sat in the plush chair in the far corner and wiggled his shoulders into the comfortable depths.
He’s planning to stay awhile. Bast groaned inwardly.
“Don’t.” Bast lurched up to look at him. “I’ve warned you brother. Do not goad me.”
“Ohh…” Mardichi made a disappointed sound. “I’ve never before found something ta goad ye.”
“Insult me as you wish.” Bast muttered. “But do not call her names. You don’t know her.”
Mardichi sighed, conceding. “’Twas no personal insult on ye woman. Most women are wenches.”
“I know.” Bast calmed. “But she is something unique. Different.”
“Hateful and sweet.” Mardichi chuckled. “I know. I’ve seen ‘er wit’ ye.” His tone softened. “’Tis endless amusement to me tha’ she sees ye complete as ye are. Nothin’ more. Nothin’ less. She sees ye wit’out the magic.”
The depth of that statement struck Bast. “Once in a while, Brother, I see rare glimmers of wisdom in you.”
She’s vulnerable to me as a man. Not to my magic. For some unknown reason that caused a rise in his body that made it uncomfortable lying on his stomach.
“I know.” Mardichi groaned. “’Tis ’cause I couldna find any drink in this blasted castle.”