The next time Sean and Claire had the unfortunate occasion to run across her parents, was slightly less than two weeks later. They had made their way to town, where an animal auction was being held that afternoon. The two had made several trips to town of late, procuring all the items that would make their new home complete, and the horses were the last item on the list now that Sean was nearly finished with the building of the barn next to the small cabin.
They took their seats at the auction, smiling happily to each other, while not allowing much more affection in public other than just the small distance they kept between themselves at all times. Though there wasn’t complete truth in her parents’ accusations, there was still the case of having to behave a great deal more conservatively when among the townspeople who surrounded them on their daytrips. Mostly it was just suspicious looks as Sean was a stranger to most, though, a few did know of who his employer had been, and Claire was still a bit of a black sheep. However, now that Haven and his women had virtually disappeared, leaving both Claire and her new beau behind, most attempted to give them the benefit of the doubt, provided they never behaved anything but completely conservatively, in public.
As they awaited the beginning of the auction the two spoke quietly to each other, commenting on various horses that awaited sale that day. The two would have struck anyone as a completely happy young couple in love. And for the most part, that’s what they were, their stormy childhoods and family connections aside. But then, those less desirable family connections had to be confronted once more as Claire’s parents arrived at the same auction.
At that moment, Sean was speaking quietly about a gray stallion he was interested in, when Claire’s eyes drifted to the doorway of the auction house in the heart of the small town. She immediately tensed as her eyes fell upon the new arrivals, and being as hyperaware as he was of every bit of her body language, it being a body he desired so completely, and hadn’t yet experienced, in every way, anyway, Sean quickly noted the change in her demeanor and moved his eyes just as quickly to the door to see what had caused it.
“Great.” he said, obviously not happy about their arrival either, “Do you wanna go?” he asked her softly, forcing back the urge to not reach over to comfort her with his touch, mentally reminding himself that they were no longer in the privacy of their home.
“There’s not another auction ‘til the end of August.” she answered him with a brave breath, though couldn’t keep her eyes from virtually staying glued to where her parents greeted a few friends, still just inside the entrance, “And the plan was to have the horses by tomorrow, remember?” she reminded him, managing a small smile.
“Oh, no, I completely forgot about tomorrow.” he told her with a wry sarcasm, as tomorrow was the day that neither of them could stop thinking of for even one moment.
“Shut up.” she teased with a more sincere, though brief smile, as her eyes turned back to watch her parents once again, tensing again as she saw the local priest approaching to greet her mother and father.
“Mr. and Mrs. Wallace.” Father Collins moved over to greet them with a smile, which Camilla returned, while Benjamin simply nodded, his eyes moving around the room, “Allow me to be the first to congratulate you. Looking forward to seeing you both tomorrow.”
“Pardon?” Camilla asked him with a furrowed brow, as the next day was not a Sunday.
“Don’t be so modest, I know you’ve got to be overjoyed: Especially with as worried as you always were about that one.” he smiled again as his eyes accented the statement by looking over to the seats where Claire and Sean sat, Claire’s eyes moving downwards as he looked toward her. Camilla’s and Benjamin’s eyes also moved to follow his gaze as they spied Claire and Sean, Claire looking away while Sean had to use all kinds of willpower to keep from glaring back in their direction. Seeming oblivious to the tension between the two couples, Collins continued, “I knew that with as pretty as that little girl was, she’d eventually find a gentleman who managed to look past her, quirks, shall we say?” he teased as he patted Camilla on the shoulder, before moving away to greet another member of his congregation.
“What is he talking about? Tomorrow?” Camilla asked her husband under her breath, once Collins had moved away, as she tried to hide her own response to finding her daughter there, not to mention the odd conversation with their priest.
“How should I know?” Benjamin scoffed as he centered another cold look on his daughter and future son-in-law before heading off to find where there may have been drinks being served.
Camilla took a deep breath and scowled after her husband before steeling herself to head toward the seats where Sean and her daughter sat, both obviously tensing upon her approach. She took another breath before forcing an obviously fake smile to a few more acquaintances as she took an awkward seat next to her daughter.
“Exactly what is Father Collins congratulating me for, and why is he looking forward to seeing me tomorrow?” she asked Claire furtively, still speaking through clenched teeth behind her forced attempt at a pleasant expression.
Claire took a deep, obviously annoyed breath at her mother’s presence before forcing an answer, “I already told you. We’re getting married, remember?” she returned quietly, though with obvious sarcasm.
“What? Tomorrow?” Camilla asked loudly as she turned toward her daughter, then forced another nervous smile, as a few of the people surrounding them glanced back at her raise in volume.
“Yes, tomorrow.” Claire answered with another shake of her head, “That’s why we’re here today. We needed to get horses for the carriage ride home from the chapel tomorrow.” she offered with a lack of enthusiasm, her tone sounding slightly bitter as she mentioned the church, as she had become less and less fond of any Christian establishments over her last few years of friendship with Chantarell.
“And when, exactly were you planning on telling me about any of this?” Camilla asked, trying to force her volume to remain low through the shocking news.
“Yes, cause you’ve been such the supportive mother.” Sean scoffed, though nearly under his breath.
“I’m talking to my daughter, here.” she told him roughly, still understandably upset by their last conversation.
“No, you’re talking to the woman who’s going to be my wife, at this time tomorrow.” Sean told her just as roughly, looking away with another shake of his head, not immediately noting Claire’s involuntary smile at the sound of his words, despite the tension of the rest of the conversation.
“How can you afford to be buying horses now, anyway?” Camilla moved on, proving that, though the fact was well-hidden, some tiny portion of Claire’s lack of docility, was indeed hereditary, “Aren’t you unemployed, now?” she retorted, obviously quite pleased that ‘that nasty Torrence household’ had abandoned their little town.
“Actually, my employer, that you hated so very much, left me quite the financial bonus before he left.” Sean told her bitingly.
“He did?” Camilla asked, his words slowing her own tirade a bit, “Enough to give Claire a decent life, after all?” she asked, though sounding plainly dubious of his words.
Sean just scoffed and bit his tongue to keep from spitting out his immediate reaction to her comment, “Yes, quite a bit actually. It’s just too bad we don’t have any loving relatives to share our good fortune with. What a shame, really.” he told her sarcastically, causing another slight glare from her, before she forced her attention back to Claire.
“So, when is this wedding?” she managed to ask.
“Why, so you can decide to not ‘forever hold your peace,’ after all?” she returned, matching Sean’s sarcasm to mask her fear that one of her parents might actually be cruel enough to try and stop their wedding, after all.
“We weren’t trying to stop your wedding. Just trying to stop him from ruining your reputation before it ever happened.” Camilla returned, her voice lowering another decibel.
“Is that why you told me to go find a ‘proper girl?’” Sean scoffed again.
“I was angry.” Camilla stated, as close as she could state, to an apology, though it hardly was one either of them were likely to accept, “But if you want to be with her, and you can give her a decent life; Then that’s better than I had hoped for her.” she told them, somehow thinking she was adding to the apology, though it only came out as more insulting, somehow.
Sean just scoffed again, as Claire just cast her sad eyes downwards, managing to be hurt by her mother’s words, yet again, “It’s at ten.” she told her somberly, “Come if you want. But only if you really want to. For once, be a mother, and don’t ruin the day you never thought I’d have anyway.” she told her in a whisper, moving to stand, grasping Sean’s wrist as she led him off to find a seat anywhere else but with that woman.
It was a bit late that evening when Sean was finishing up on getting their two newly acquired horses set up in the barn, while Claire was inside cleaning up after the quick meal she had made an attempt at cooking for them. As she finished putting everything away, she glanced out the window, not able to help her smile as she allowed herself to watch Sean for several long moments, still not able to believe that she was finally going to have a chance at ‘happily ever after’ after all.
On that thought, she smiled out the window one last time before moving towards the back of the room, where the large steel tub waited next to the cooling pots of water she had heated only a short while earlier, before she had reminded herself to tidy up after their meal, as housework was not high on the list of her talents, though she was making an effort, anyway.
She poured the still warm water into the tub, glancing toward the window again with a smile, as she began unbuttoning her dress, still wearing the smile, despite their unpleasant run-in with her mother earlier. Being back at home, alone, with Sean, always seemed to improve her mood, somehow, she thought with another grin as she dropped the dress to the floor and began on her under things.
As Claire lowered herself into the water, her thoughts continued wandering to Sean, and more specifically, to the fact that in less than twenty-four hours, she could finally, at last, have him in all the ways she wanted him so very badly. She couldn’t help smiling at the thought as she leaned her head back, enjoying the feel of the warm water, and even more so, her imagined visions of what it would be like to finally feel him inside her.
As her imagination supplied her with all sorts of visions of what it would feel like, considering how he had already proved he could make her feel, with his hands alone, she laid her head further back, closing her eyes as she continued imagining that one last thing that was so close to coming true, at last.
Claire then gave into all those desires being stirred within her, slowly moving her hands down over her breasts, lingering upon them a moment there in the warm water, envisioning that it was Sean’s hands touching her, instead. She then allowed her hands to move even lower, down over her stomach, and further beneath the water.
Her own imagination inflaming her desire that much more, Claire moved to slide her fingers inside herself, imitating the way Sean’s own fingers had moved against her, and inside her, so generously giving her that pleasure again and again over the past several nights they had spent in each other‘s arms.
Her moans had just started becoming a little more audible, when the inevitable interruption occurred, “I love that you like doing things for yourself…but there are some things I must insist on you still letting the man of the house do to you, or for you, I mean.” Sean teased with a huge grin as he returned to the house, absently letting the door fall shut behind him, as his body immediately reacted to the act he had caught her in.
Claire’s eyes shot open at the sound of his voice as she immediately bolted upright again, causing a bit of the water to flood over the edge of the tub as she pulled her fingers away from their task, turning a brighter shade of red than he had ever thought was possible.
“God Sean!” she croaked, just then remembering to modestly cover her bare breasts, which were easily visible above the water line, in her now upright position.
“Oh, were we to that part already?” he continued to mercilessly tease her as he still somehow managed to remember to reach behind him to lock the front door, before his feet had to move him towards her.
“I thought you were outside!” she continued in the same hoarse voice, still that lovely shade of red as she tightly held her arms over her breasts, despite how familiar Sean had become with them over the last two weeks.
“Apparently I was, for way too long. You’ve obviously been quite neglected.” he continued his teasing as he reached the side of the tub.
“You weren’t supposed to see that.” she told him, still barely audibly, though still managing a smile, embarrassed though it was.
“Oh, don’t even think of apologizing.” he smirked as he moved to sit on the stool that the towels were previously residing on, now allowing him quite the view of the rest of her body beneath the water as he was now right next to the tub. He then allowed another grin as he began unbuttoning his shirt, “It was the second most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, after all.” he told her in that seductive tone that came way too naturally to someone who was already as flawlessly beautiful as he.
“Second?” she swallowed as he finished removing his shirt, dropping it to the floor as his hands moved to his pants as well, “What’s the first?” she said in the same breathless tone, loosening the grip her arms had around her, due to her own distraction as he also began to undress.
“The first? The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen?” he repeated as he stood to kick away his shoes and begin slowly pulling his pants away from his gorgeous body as well, no longer retaining any of the modesty he displayed the first time she had ever insisted on watching him undress, “That would be the way you look when I'm the one who makes you come.” was his simple answer as he moved toward her, his words making his plans more than obvious.