It has gotten so dark now that the stars and the moon are the only light. Something so serene about how peaceful it is. Being completely alone. Apart from the heavy nostril flares from a bored stallion I lean against. His black fur glistens in the moonlight beneath my cheek. Everything comes to life at night. The hoots in the trees from owls. The rustling of quick pattering paws across the fallen leaves and twigs. The splashes into the stream from frogs.
"Have you ever heard such natural beauty Bravo?" I ask, stroking down his long neck. Snuggling closer to his side for warmth.
Of course I am going back. I don't want Finn to worry but just for this moment this is for me. I'll hate myself when I go back to having people looking for me. I'll hate the way Finn will have been in turmoil. But for the last few hours I have been lonely. I've always thought I was lonely before. I felt alone but surrounded by hundreds of people. This right now is being lonely but actually alone. I like it. It doesn't bring sadness to my soul. Instead brings peace. Selfishly I don't mind hating myself tomorrow just for a short while longer.
It isn't until a loud whistle echoes through the trees. I turn my head and move back as Bravo stands up. Standing with him I stroked him trying to keep him calm. Until the whistle happens again. This time slightly louder. With a shake of his head Bravo begins to gallop off into the trees.
"Bravo." I shout after him. Stopping at the tree line. It's so dark I can't see which direction he went. "Bravo." I yell louder.
Well shit. Here is me saying I like being lonely. Closing my arms around myself. I shiver. Suddenly abandoned by my trusty steed I realise I am royally fucked. I'll have to wait until morning to find my way back. Turning to sit back in the patch of flat grass from Bravo and myself. I hear the horse coming towards me. Moving quickly. Turning back praising how brilliant Bravo is. I see a bright light that shines on my face and I have to cover my eyes. Burning into them I squint placing my hand over them.
"Finn?" I say hearing them jump from the horse. The light is still on my face so I cannot see.
Then the light is dropped to the floor and hands are capturing my cheeks. Lips are crashing into mine. An all to familiar heat from his sweet smell. His soft lips and his hard body. Matteo. I fist his top between my hands. Kissing him back. Devouring each other with need.
"Don't ever do that again." He says leaning away from the kiss before kissing me again. "I felt physically sick." Another kiss. "How could you be so …"
I cut him off. Wrapping my hands around his neck and reaching up on tiptoes. Kissing him and licking across his full bottom lip. He opens to me and I lead his tongue into our very own dance. Sweet and sensual with so much between us. Hurt, betrayal, not knowing when it will end. He knocks the air from my lungs with one single touch. With a kiss he sets me on fire. Anything more and i know i will never be the same. Yet I want it. I need it.
"I'm sorry." I whisper against his lips. I'm sorry for hurting him. For getting so close knowing that the odds were not in his favour. For wanting him and kissing him still while the odds are so much further away from him.
"Fuck I wish I could be angry at you." He says his hands are still holding my cheeks as he looks down at me. His eyes searching my face. "I know the french are helping your father."
"I didn't know until he told me at breakfast."
"I know." He kisses my lips again so gently and delicately like I would break. "I also know you feel something for me. You wouldn't have been upset enough to do this if you didn't."
I felt like running away could rid all the demons that haunt me. All the feelings that try to overwhelm me. I am meant to be a princess. To be poised and polished like a china antique. I am meant to be better and stronger than others. With Matteo and the explosion of feelings he sets off inside of me I can't escape. Neither do I want to even try. I should turn away each time I see him. Instead I watched him like a woman who'd been starved would salivate over food. I keep hoping for more. I look for more and inch towards something that is so out of reach.
How can I even choose Matteo once I am queen? When the french have dedicated troops to help my country. We are now indebted to them. That debt demands to be paid. By me. Not my father, which of course he already knew when he accepted the help.
"Matteo …" He goes to interrupt me but I place a small hand over his delicious lips. His eyes darted to mine. "I cannot promise anything. Spain now has a debt. One that needs to be paid. You know and understand that. As the oldest son you will be king either way. As I will be queen of Spain." He mumbles something against my palm. The corner of my lips spreads up before I speak next. "But me as just Bella. I want you. I like you even with your annoying charm. With the fact you tempt me to be a delinquent. I care for you. As Bella. Not as princess Isabella. As Isabella i have a priority and if we can pretend just for a time. That when i leave here a decision will be made and probably not in either of our favours. Then stop arguing with me. Stop wasting time. As just Bella and Matteo we could be just us."
I move my hand from his lips now. Biting my own in nervousness. I am asking a lot of him. I am asking that he gives me something to remember. He gives me the best month and days of my life. Before I have to return to reality. A storm of emotions swirl through me. A heat still throbbing between my legs, all from being this close to him. His large shoulders make my palms itch to touch them. That large chest of his made my stomach twist into knots. His sweet, spicy smell makes me want to inhale deeply. Hold my breath and keep the scent of him in my lungs forever.
"Bella." His voice was a low hum. His thick thumb taking my lip from between my teeth. "Princess Isabella and Bella are one and the same. I … Care, for you not just because of being one or the other, but for both. The selfless princess. The wild almost reckless young Bella. The woman who considers herself an equal to every single person. Not just those of her standing." He smiles slyly. "But i am not selfless. I am selfish and I aim to take exactly what I want. You cannot promise me more than your time here. But i will consume every minute of it. Making it difficult for you to walk away. Because if it was down to me Bella. You would marry me."
"It's been two weeks Matteo."
"Do you feel this?" Taking my much smaller hand in his. He places mine flat against his chest and his over it. The heat of him burning my skin. His heart thumping away rapidly in his chest as though it may try to break free any moment. "Your looks may have drawn me in but your personality has me bound to you. I will not pressure you Bella. Ever. But I will make this decision harder on you."
Our eyes meet. My heart feels as though it is almost beating in time with his. His pale brown eyes draw me in, my body leaning in the rest of the way.
They say you only know you love someone when you let them go. Imagine knowing you'll have to let someone go. That your heart already aches long before it should. Do I love Matteo? It would be most unsensible. So foolish to fall in love so quickly. Such a painful risk. How can you feel like you miss someone already and they are right before you. Staring directly at you with the same tortured pain reflected in their eyes. A mixture of emotions that swell within us.
"We really shouldn't make this any harder."
"But we are going to." He says surely.
"It will only make it more painful."
"And staying away from each other wouldn't hurt just as much?"
"I'll still owe a debt."
"And I will still be waiting. Hoping." He counters.
"I don't want to hurt you."
"We both know the time for being hurt is already passed. Either way someone is going to be upset."
"Just Bella. No expectations. No promises."
"Only that you'll not kiss another man. You won't even think about doing it."
I smile. "I think you make that rather difficult."
"Do you dream of me?"
I throw my head back laughing. "Cocky much."
"You do, don't you?" He lifts his brows and smirks.
"Good because I go to sleep hard for you. I wake up even harder. Every shower i have taken since you've been here, i've stroked myself until i grind out your name between my teeth. Speaking of, I am surprised I haven't needed an emergency dentist. You are terrible for my teeth."
"You are just as bad for my underwear." I say frankly. His eyes widen and his hand over mine tightens. "I've never been so wet."
The lust that flashes in his eyes that darken, his pupils dilating. Even in the moonlight I see his cheeks tighten. His jaw lock.
"Bella you can't say shit like that to me."
"Because it will make me want to find out for myself."
With another sly smile at him I pulled my hand from his chest.
"We should get back princey. Finn will be furious and worried."
With a growl Matteo places me on the lighter stallion he rode here. Climbing up behind me, a hand around my waist.
"What about Bravo?" I am confused.
"He will follow. You think I am letting you out my sight again? I think not my Bella." He whispers the latter into my ear before flicking his tongue against my earlobe. A shiver running down my spine. Not that a chill could touch my back. Matteo's chest is plastered against it.
Even though we voiced all of the negatives about this thing between us. Though we both know that my country, my debt will come before my own desires. There is just no arguing the feelings between us. The lust that fills the air. The deep connection that is only growing. Distance would be good. It would allow me to think. But i don't want to. So I lean further back into Matteo and place a hand over his, that is around my middle. Entwining our fingers. The odd whistle from Matteo for Bravo to follow. Which he obediently does. The hiss of wind going by. Nothing else needs to be said between us.
We are neither strong enough to keep away or both too stubborn to do so. Maybe if I let go with my body and have the things he makes me want. Maybe then my heart will stay closed off. It could just be physical. But even as i think so. His large fingers wrapped in mine twitch. His arm tightens around me not ready to let me go. I turn my cheek to his chest and know. I don't want to let go either. Even if I can't understand. Even knowing the pain coming. I will make it through. My heart will make it through holding dearly close these precious moments.