The Denbouroughs’ ball did happen later that week; and the gown Claire made was beautiful, and the music Sean played was beautiful. As the hour just passed midnight, Sean excused himself from the crowd momentarily to have his nightly meal. He moved quietly to the kitchen, his eyes falling on a handsome young servant who had been serving the appetizers to the human portion of guests that night. Sean then nodded to him as he stepped into the pantry, the servant knowingly following.
Sean had the young man pinned against the shelves with his own body, just ending that passionate Kiss as Claire found her way through the door behind them, obviously having trailed Sean from the ballroom. Sean removed his fangs from the young man’s neck and leaned back against the shelf himself to recover, though smiled slightly upon seeing that Claire had followed him from the party as well.
“Did you need a bite to eat too?” Sean smiled over at her as he slowly regained his composure, while the handsome young waiter shakily left the pantry again, still feeling the aftereffects of that passionate Kiss as well.
“I took care of that earlier, while I was helping Anastasia dress” she offered, which caused Sean to raise a brow “I fed on one of her other servants” she quickly clarified as she saw Sean’s expression.
Finally mostly recovered, Sean spoke again “so then what brings you to the pantry, dear?” he asked with another smile.
“I needed to talk to you, and this is the first break you’ve taken” she told him simply.
“Well, I am the night’s entertainment” he smiled as he finally moved to close the distance between them and placed a gentle kiss on her cheek.
Claire attempted to brace herself before speaking “so, if you really want us to do this…”
“What do I want us to do now?” Sean asked with furrowed brow.
“Become their lovers” she offered quietly.
“Did I say that?” he asked innocently.
Claire simply sighed again, as though it took a bit of strength to continue her thought “if you really want us to do this” she began again “then I’ll need some sort of transition” she attempted.
“Transition?” Sean repeated as he continued to grace her with a questioning look.
“Between not being with any Kindred besides you, and being with two that we don’t know all that well yet, and who are in turns, either my equal or stronger than me” she managed to get the words out, though nervously.
Sean looked down a bit as he easily followed her train of thought “meaning you’ll need to first be with someone else;” a slight pause “another Kindred who you do know rather well, and who isn’t as strong as you” Sean finished, though his voice dropped slightly as he glanced at the door behind them.
“And who I’ve already somehow managed to trust with something as precious as Erica” she finished more softly, watching him for any sign of disapproval at her words.
Though Sean did do his best to try and keep his expression blank “so that’s why I’ve seen you constantly watching Aidan all night?” he replied, though his voice managed to stay even.
“But I wanted to see how you would feel about it first” Claire admitted, her voice only slightly more steady as he had no apparent reaction just yet “I know how you felt when you had just thought he and I had become lovers again” she added more quietly, continuing to watch him.
“Well, I can’t help memories of being forced to have you pulled from my life for an entire decade the last time you two had been lovers” Sean stated quietly.
“That won’t happen again” she assured.
“I know, but it is the first thought I have when I think of you and Aidan together” he then moved on “and when he was with Taylor’s version of you; it had been right after I’d finally gotten you back again, after so very long” he reminded quietly.
“Both very different circumstances than we’re in now” Claire assured, trying in vain to read his aura again.
Sean paused in thought “which is why if that is what you need this time, before you can open yourself up to something newer; then I get it I suppose” Sean replied in the same soft tone.
“So you would be alright with Aidan and me…” her voice trailed off as she continued to watch him.
“If that is what you think you need to help get past some of those trust issues, then that is what you need” he offered with an attempt at a smile “I’ll never be thrilled any time that you’re anywhere other than my bed, but I do get it” he assured.
Claire sighed softly as she moved closer to push herself up onto her tiptoes and place a gentle kiss over his lips “I suppose you need to get back to the party” she stated after the kiss ended. Claire then squeezed his hand slightly as he turned to the door “and thank you” she added in a whisper as he simply nodded before moving through the door again.
When Claire made her way back to the ballroom, Sean had already begun playing a haunting tune for the entertainment of those assembled. She smiled over at him one more time before making her way to the corner of the room where Aidan had been speaking softly with a young noblewoman. Upon sensing her approach, Aidan’s eyes turned to Claire “pardon me, won’t you love?” he told the young girl softly as he moved to meet Claire on her approach.
“Courting someone new?” Claire greeted him.
“Again, I need to remind you; I’ve already had one wife” he teased as he gently kissed her cheek in greeting.
“So, you’ve told our hosts quite a bit about me and Sean” she continued as she stood close to him while keeping her eyes on the rest of the crowd.
“Nothing that was untrue” Aidan assured.
“Can we honestly trust these people, Aidan?” Claire asked more seriously as she looked back up at him.
“I have known them a very long time” he reassured “and besides, I’m sure Sean has already dissected their auras quite thoroughly” he added with another smile.
Claire allowed a somewhat shaky sigh before looking up at him “I’m trusting you here, Aidan” she told him softly.
“And I appreciate it” he responded, though did give her a slightly questioning look.
Claire swallowed hard as she cast him one more glance “so I need you to help me with something” she gathered enough strength to begin.
“What would that be, love?” he asked, the question remaining in his eyes.
Not quite able to vocalize her request yet, Claire simply took his hand in hers and began leading him from the ballroom with her. Aidan continued to wear a slight look of confusion, but nevertheless easily followed her from the room and up the ornate staircase in the hall outside the ballroom.
When they finally arrived at the door to one of the many unused guest rooms, Aidan finally found his voice “this is rather mysterious, Claire” he stated with a small smile which faltered only slightly once she pushed the door open and led him inside with her. When she went on to close and lock the door tightly behind them, the questioning smile on his face did take on a rather mischievous turn “getting curiouser by the minute.”
“So, you and Sean both seem to think we can trust Daniel and Anastasia?” she stated as more of a question.
“And you don’t?” he asked with another raise of his brow.
“I’m trying. But I need some help” Claire managed.
“And what kind of help would that be?” Aiden allowed another small smile.
“You know I have issues being intimate with other Kindred” she attempted.
“Yes, I believe I am painfully aware of such” he teased.
“But you still introduced us to them, more or less” Claire pointed out.
“They are dear old friends, and fans of yours and Sean’s. I had no logical reason not to allow them their wish to meet you both” he stated simply.
“So, everyone thinks my reasons are illogical” Claire stated as she looked down.
“Claire? What is this about, really?”
Claire then sighed again, “if I’m to trust these people, I need to work my way up to it” she managed to try her explanation again.
“How so?” Aidan gave her another questioning glance.
“By first allowing myself to be intimate with the only other Kindred I’ve ever known as a lover. Even if it was before he was Kindred” she forced the words through a whisper.
Aidan looked further shocked by that statement, as it took him more than a moment to find his voice “did you just ask me to take you to bed again?” he repeated, though his words were more than hesitant.
Claire steeled herself to continue, though her eyes were cast down “I’ve managed to trust you as a lover back when you were still mortal” a shaky sigh “and I even somehow managed to trust you as Erica’s first lover when you were not” she paused to gather more strength “so, logically; I should be able to trust you as my own lover again, even if you are Kindred now.”
Aidan looked more than a bit shocked by her words “I sensed you when you approached tonight, so I would like to assume that this is really you…” he stated shakily.
“It is” she assured with an attempt at a smile.
“And, what exactly is Sean’s take on this idea?” he forced himself to ask.
“Sean and I are in a very different place now than we were back when Taylor made him believe you and I had rekindled our intimacy.”
Aidan narrowed his eyes at that statement, “is that meant to assure me that Sean is quite aware of, and has somehow complied with this endeavor of yours tonight?” he asked, though his words were still quite slow and hesitant.
“Yes Sean knows, and he seems to understand that this is the step I need to take before I can ever trust two other Kindred who are less familiar to me, and more powerful than you.”
“So I’m a stepping stone of sorts?” he asked, though did not seem all that offended despite his words.
“You’re a happy medium between ‘no Kindred’ and two strangers that are either my equal or stronger than me, generationally speaking” she had to add as Aidan was indeed older than either Daniel or Anastasia. That fact would normally make him more powerful than either of them; but his blood was still less powerful, considering he was embraced by Claire, who was much less powerful than either Haven’s or Thomas’ childer.
Aidan appeared to be in thought for another moment before speaking “well, I suppose that if it means getting to feel myself inside you again, being a stepping stone doesn’t sound too terrible” he chided with a small smile as he moved to pull her in for quite the passionate kiss.
When the kiss finally ended, Claire did manage to smile up at him “I take it that means you accept my proposal?”
“I’m aching to accept it” he assured her with another grin as he began pulling her back toward the bed with him. Claire couldn’t help giggling a bit at his statement as they reached the bed. Then Aidan looked down into her face again “so which is it that you honestly are these days? Submissive or dominant?” he had to ask before continuing their encounter.
Claire looked down with an awkward smile before trying to find an honest answer for that “I guess I’ve been both in the past” she admitted.
“If I recall our decade together, and your time at the club; and discount the time you were Taylor” he had to add “you definitely lean toward submissive most often.”
“I guess that’s because I had nothing to fear from my lovers before. I could be that without worry” she attempted an explanation.
“Do you honestly fear me, Claire?” he asked gently.
“I’m trying not to” she admitted “but until I’m there…” she didn’t finish her statement as she simply pushed him into a seat at the edge of the bed.
Feeling the strength with which she took the upper hand, he couldn’t help another grin “so dominant is what you shall be tonight then?” he teased as her hands moved to begin sliding his coat down his arms.
Claire offered another smile as her fingers moved to the buttons of his shirt “I think it’s what I need to be… at least for now.”
Aidan grinned again as his eyes moved to her hands “then do with me what you will, my sire.”