Downstairs Guinevere found a sleek town car waiting for them. Not all that surprising that he was able to call on one. The university wasn't cheap to attend, he had to have money. But when the driver got out and greeted Alistair by name with a posh English accent and gave her a slight bow she became a little impressed.
Her parents had money too, though they wouldn’t have used it for a town car and driver, what if they saw a personal moment?
“Who is this lovely lady?” The driver asked. Alistair looked to her as if he didn’t know her name. When he raised a brow she understood, he was giving her the chance to change her name. She mentally went through all of the nicknames for Guinevere, and dismissed them all. “Wren.” She said finally, using her pen name.
Alistair nodded approvingly. “Could you take us to the shop please, Daniel?”
“I’d be happy to sir.” He said opening the door. Alistair dragged her in with him and buckled her in beside him.
“What shop are we going to.” She asked, knowing he wasn’t going to answer.
He shook his head, “It’s a surprise. Where did you get the name Wren?”
She shrugged, “It’s a surprise,” she said with a smirk.
He nodded in acknowledgment of her ribbing, “I find it fitting.” He said cocking his head.
She didn’t say anything but stared intently at the floor, smiling at her shoes. “So really, where are we going? What is this all about?”
He clicked his teeth together as he thought about how to answer. “I’m not going to tell you where we’re going, that’s a surprise. But as to why?” He let the sentence trail off for a moment. “There is something about you that interests me, you’re a beautiful woman that is more complicated then you would like people to believe. You’re in pain, I’ve seen it before and what happens when that pain is ignored. I don’t want that for you. So humor me for one evening?”
Guinevere nodded slowly. “Fine.” She said as the car pulled to a stop at a large three-story building. Her heart raced, and her body froze when she stepped out of the car, assisted by Alistair. The building was obviously closed, which meant only one thing…. “You- Clarke, Alistair Clarke.” She choked out stupidly. He winced slightly as she continued, “As in Clarke’s the department store chain.” She said staring at the bright sign that loomed over them. She was right, he could afford a town car, or a fleet, or a city, Clarke’s was a multi-billion-dollar industry. Well shit.
Alistair watched Guinevere carefully. Shock crossed her face, then fear, wonder, embarrassment, back to fear. He’d wondered what her reaction would be, wondered if he’d see dollar signs in her eyes as he’d seen with most people.
He wanted the woman from that afternoon. When he’d looked up and met her eyes, the shock and wonder had been plain on her face. He’d thought her pretty and delicate. He could see that she had money based on her clothes and her attendance at the university, but she lacked the I’m above you attitude he’d come to associate with it. Turn about was fair play so as she’d studied him he’d studied her.
Her interest had thrown him, but at the time he’d figured she was just interested in taking a holiday on the wild side or she knew who he was. When she hadn’t sought him out after class, he’d found her.
He wasn’t proud to say he followed her, but he couldn’t get her out of his head. As he followed, he got closer the worse the neighborhood became. He’d seen the cocksucker that grabbed her and had moved in to help when he’d seen that flash in her eyes. She wasn’t as delicate as he’d thought. He’d watched as she elbowed him in the gullet and had almost decided to leave her to it when he’d seen the glint of the knife.
Before he’d made a conscious thought, he was pushing her out of the way and taking the bite of the blade. Dispatching the bastard, he’d turned to see her wide eyed and gobsmacked sitting in a puddle. He winced inwardly waiting for the inevitable tirade that princesses were known for. But it hadn’t come. Instead she’d scrambled up and apologized to him, before taking his injured arm into her small hands.
When she’d touched him the last of his preconceptions had fallen away. As he watched her now, he hoped he hadn’t been wrong. He reached out to take her hand without thinking and winced as a sharp pain lanced up his arm. Her shock vanished, and she stepped close to him to examine his arm.
“You okay?” She asked brushing her fingers above the wound. It was still wrapped and bandaged from her first aid so she couldn’t see it but it amused him that she smoothed the edges of the tape anyway, securing it again.
He nodded smiling, “Ready?” he asked pulling away from her grip on his arm but taking her hand and leading her through the ornate glass doors.
“There you are, kept me waiting! This the one then?” A beautiful woman came striding toward them with black hair accented with red streaks. The same eyes, ethereal features, and even the same style, this had to be his sister. Her black punk outfit was composed of a mesh top that showed a black kami underneath and a plaid skirt with little silver chains.
Guinevere was instantly envious, but a little wary of the woman. Especially when Alistair nodded, and the woman grabbed her arm and dragged her to a bank of escalators. She cast a frantic look over her shoulder to find Alistair strolling away in the opposite direction. What the hell was going on?
She followed his sister to the basement floor of the Clarke building and found Nirvana. She gasped when it came into view and heard the small chuckle from the woman dragging her into what looked like hell.
“Welcome to Armageddon, doll.” She said finally stopping and turning to Guinevere. She looked her up and down for a moment before speaking again. “I’m Haven,” She murmured holding out a hand. Guinevere took it and before she could speak Haven continued, “You’re a size six, right?”
Guinevere nodded, and when Haven grabbed her arm again she planted her feet. “I’m only going to ask this one more time.” She said her voice taking on a dangerous edge, she was through with surprises. “What is going on?” Haven’s expression stayed blank for a moment then she smiled.
“Not a push over then, good. What’s going on is I’m going to give you a makeover assisted by my brother who is dying to do this for you.” She explained as she pulled her over to a changing room with multi angle mirrors and sofa. “I’m going to go grab one of everything in your size and then Ali will be down to help with your style.” With a wink she was gone weaving between the racks outside the changing room.
“What the fuck?” She breathed then looked around to see if anyone heard her.
“I assure you neither my sister nor I is going to admonish you for swearing.” She blushed and studied her shoes again until she was startled out of her shyness when his hands encircled her waist.
“What are you doing?” She sputtered. He didn’t answer but continued to circle and study her.
“How opposed are you to showing skin?” He murmured, finally looking her in the eye, but she could tell his mind was somewhere else. When she said nothing for a long moment and just stared at his matter-of-fact expression he raised a brow.
Sighing she gave in, “I’m not, so long as I don’t look like a hooker.” She tried to stay still like a mannequin and ignore his hands as he continued to move over every inch of her, evaluating a muttering to himself until his sister reappeared.
She was followed by two men, each towing a large golden rack packed with clothes.
Alistair went to work, grabbing an empty rack from nearby and filling it with items from the racks the men had brought and then dismissing them. “Haven love, when this is more defined can you find some shoes?” He asked as he picked through the sea of black he’d selected.
“What kind of shoes?” She asked prompting him to stop his perusing and roll his eyes.
“Did I not just say when this is more defined?” Guinevere watched them bicker back and fourth and grinned at the a-typical sibling rivalry. Haven stomped off and Alistair went back to his perusal.
For a moment, as she watched him she wondered if he might be gay as he flicked through the clothes but dismissed it when he turned to study her again. It wasn’t strictly professional. Desire flicked across his gaze as it burned up and down her body. Their eyes locked for a moment and the air between them grew thick with something she couldn’t identify.
The moment was broken when Haven returned with a dolly carting multiple shoe boxes. There were boots, flats, and sandals among the boxes, but what caught her eye and had her all but drooling was a pair of leather knee high boots with silver buckles and sparkling studs. Before she’d made a conscious thought she had moved away from Alistair and was holding the box in her hands stroking the supple leather.
“Like those, do you?” Alistair asked stepping up beside her and laying a hand on her shoulder. “I think we’re good here, Haven. I’ll let you know when it’s your turn.”
Your turn buzzed in Guinevere’s head, but she was too captivated by the shoes. Alistair had wondered back of to the rack of clothes he’d chosen, flipping through it for a moment before pulling a skirt and blouse off it. He held his selection out to her. When she gave him another blank stare he shrugged and thrust them into her hands along with the boots. Rolling his eyes he said, “Humor me,” and gestured to the changing room.
“I seem to be doing a lot of that lately.” She grumbled, but she really wanted to try on those shoes.
When she emerged again, Alistair was sitting on the couch. “Well, well, well, there’s the Wren from the cupboard.” He said studying her again with that clinical gaze that made her feel like a bug under a microscope.
She rolled her eyes. “My name is Guinevere.”
He tilted his head and gave her a wicked smile, “Is it now?” He stood and took her shoulders and turned her around to face the wall of mirrors behind her. “You sure, Love?”
He was close enough to hear her sharp intake of breath. The woman in the mirror wasn’t Guinevere. She wasn’t preppy, pink, and perky. The woman in the mirror wore a tight black blouse with red corded ties up the front that gave the illusion of a corset making her average breasts look sexy without being reviling. The ties accentuated her small waist and gave a little more volume to her slim hips. The skirt was a black creation with pleats that flashed crimson when she moved. The boots gave her a little more height and made her small butt look higher and her legs longer. No, this woman was onyx and crimson, edge and danger. This woman was Wren.
She stared at herself for what seemed like forever and her mind raced. Was this woman who she really was? What would her parents say? Did it matter? How long was she going to bow down and accept their expectations of her? What would they do if they saw her right now? What would they say? Who was she? Did she want to find out?
Her mind continued to whirl until it landed on the memory of her first day in the dojo and how it had felt when she looked in the mirror and saw the black uniform, how it had felt when she’d qualified for her first belt, won her first fight in a tournament. The last thought to go through her mind, as she lifted her gaze off the mirror and to Alistair’s intense expression, was the day she’d had to quit martial arts to continue being the prodigal princess.
“You win.” He said, her voice even and quiet, but there was no defeat in her tone only acceptance. She turned to face him and mentally turned away from the proper princess, feeling the pressure she’d put on herself fall away as she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him soundly.
To her surprise he didn’t push her away, didn’t go ridged, but simply slid his hands from her shoulders to her waist and held her there.
“Hmm. I do enjoy winning.” He murmured when they broke the kiss to breathe before pulling her back and taking her mouth again. No, she wasn’t a princess. Her kiss was a sin that burned hi, her tongue danced with his and explored rather than deferring to him. Neither had control, but they moved together until a cough broke them apart. “Go away, Haven.” He growled as he felt Wren tense in his arms.
“You’re taking forever. You can snog your girlfriend later.” She started then quieted when he leveled her with a look.
“I’m not done with the wardrobe yet, you’ll have your fun when I’m finished.” She rolled her eyes but left. This time the words sank in and Wren gave Alistair a questioning look.
“Don’t worry, love. I handle clothes, my sister will handle the rest.” He said reluctantly letting her go. She didn’t ask what the rest was, she just let him lead her back to the dressing room, taking the next outfit he’d chosen.
Everything he chose fit her perfectly, both personality wise and physically. The whole wardrobe walked the line between edgy and gothic harlot. Tight black pants in denim and leather, shorts of the same, some with small chains and zippers, some with flashes of color usually crimson or royal purple. The clothes progressively became more risqué until he had her dressed in a crimson crop top and leather skirt that barely covered her ass.
She raised a brow and Alistair shrugged looking her up and down, but after a moment he just stared in thought. Looking up suddenly he called for Haven.
“Ready for me?” She asked.
He nodded, “Yes, but what do you think?” He asked. Wren got the feeling they were discussing something she wasn’t privy to.
“When I’m done with her absolutely.” She said after a moment of examining her the way Alistair had.
“Okay, love. Change back and go with Haven.” She did as she was told allowing Haven to drag her along until they came to a cosmetic counter set up like a vanity.
Wren was sat on a stool while Haven began to play with her face. “You have perfect skin and bone structure.” She said as she chose cosmetics seemingly at random. “So, no foundation or contorting for you, we’ll just play with your eyes a bit and maybe a little color on your lips.” She started with eye shadow that tickled and Wren tried to stay as still as possible. “Why is my brother so obsessed with you?” Haven asked out of nowhere and startled Wren into flinching. Haven’s tone was curious but slightly detached, which gave Wren the impression it wasn’t really an innocent question.
“Well Doll, he doesn’t play dress up with every girl he meets and….” She trailed off shaking her head. “Anyway, I’m just curious what caught his interest.”
She thought about it for a moment, “I don’t know. I only met him this afternoon. Some idiot attempted to mug me, and Alistair stepped in to help.”
“That explains the bandage on his arm. How did he end up wanting to use you as a barbie doll?” Haven asked putting the finishing touches on her eyes.
“Oh, he got hurt and I kind of insisted he let me mend it. When he saw my closet, I think it gave him a heart attack.”
Haven’s gaze glanced over her, before she put some deep red substance on her lips.” Other than the fact that what you’re wearing didn’t come from Armageddon there’s nothing wrong with it.” Wren’s face flamed, but before she could say anything Alistair came in.
“She raided Umbridge’s wardrobe without all the wool and cats.” He said startling them both.
“See, I was being polite and didn’t mention that I didn’t need your help or that you knocked me into a puddle in a dirty ally because you wanted to play hero.” She quipped and firmly pressed her lips together when their eyes fell on her. “I-.” She started before she saw his smirk in the mirror.
“There she is.” He said giving her a wink. “She’s quite right though, she had things well in hand and I went and bungled the whole thing.”
“I’m not worried about your hero antics.” Haven said, “I’m more concerned about the pink wardrobe. Trying to be some sort of princess?”
“Not a princess,” Wren growled and had them both laughing.
“No, no longer a princess.” Alistair mused, “More like Dark Angel.” He glanced toward a door that had employees only written on it.
“You going to show her?” Haven asked, but he shook his head.
“No, it’s getting late and I need to get her fed and back home before she turns back into a sugar plumb.”
“I thought it was pumpkin?” Haven said confused, fingering Wren’s hair. “If you ever want to do something with this let me know.”
Wren started to say no way in hell, her parents would kill her, but then reconsidered. “I’ll think about it, then let you know.” Sha said before letting Alistair take her hand and lead her out of Armageddon.
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