The Inherited

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Chapter Thirteen

It was raining the next morning. The entire sky was covered in swirling grey clouds, which were illuminated every few seconds by lightning bolts as they split the sky, forking their way toward the ground. I sat at Leopold’s desk, wrapped in his duvet, a cup of tea in hand, watching the raindrops shatter as they hit the balcony. There was a knock at the door and Angela slid into the room.

“Your family is awake now if you would like to go and see them, Mademoiselle,” she reported. “I can go and run a bath for you if you wish, and lay some clothes out.”

A rush of cold, damp wind blew through the open French doors making me shiver. I pulled the blanket tighter around my shoulders. “No, it’s fine. I don’t think we will be going anywhere today. I will be alright like this,” I told her. I reveled in the thought of having a day off from lessons, and from going to events.

“Very well, Mademoiselle,” Angela bowed, then left me alone in the room again.

I sighed, placing my mug on the corner of the desk, and then stood, letting the blanket fall off my shoulders to the ground. It was time to go and see my family, see what the plans were for today. They were leaving in the morning, so this was their last day in Solis. It was unfortunate that it was raining, as the weather didn’t give them the opportunity to go out with a bang, unless you counted the thunder.

I quickly pulled on a pair of Leopold’s sweatpants, something that Mme. DuBeche had failed to include in my own wardrobe, grabbed my teacup, and set off through the corridors.

“Mornin’ Bells,” said John, around a mouthful of croissant when I entered their living room. He was seated on one of the plush couches, wrapped in a bathrobe. My mother smiled at me from beside the food trolley that had been brought to them, as she loaded her plate up with scrambled eggs. I went over to her and poured some fresh hot water into my cup.

“So what do you guys want to do today?” I asked as I dunked my teabag up and down. “I was going to take you to the beach, but I don’t think that would be much fun in this storm.”

“I was kind of hoping to explore the castle a bit more. I want to take some pictures of the architecture and stuff,” my mom said, taking a seat next to John on the couch.

I sat down across from them, next to Alec, and placed my tea on the coffee table, hugging one of the decorative pillows. “You should check out the throne room, the chapel, the concert room, or...”

“You should come and show me your favorites,” my mother said, “I’d love to get you in a few of the shots. It’s not everyday you get photos of your royal daughter in a castle.”

I smiled sadly. “I can’t, at least not ’til later tonight. The castle is open to the public on Thursdays. We are not allowed out of the private apartments and living quarters to prevent a guest or tourist from seeing or photographing us unaware. You’re free to wander though, but you would enjoy taking a tour. The guides will explain the history of the galleries, staterooms, and the ballroom. I can hook you up with the guide who knows the most about the architecture. Later, I can show you around the private rooms.”

My mother looked at John who rolled his eyes and then stood. “I’ll go get changed,” he sighed. Renee clapped excitedly and followed him into their bedroom.

“You gonna go?” I asked Alec.

He shook his head. “Nah, I’ll stay and keep you company. I don’t need to see the ballroom after I’ve lived in this place for a week. The bathrooms alone were enough. I mean, who needs gold faucets?” He winked at me and smiled.

The doors to the suite suddenly flew open and a very wet Tess walked into the room, leaving a water stain trailing behind her on the Persian carpet.

“Date get rained out?” smirked Alec.

“Date?” I asked frowning.

“Yup, Tess goes out riding with that stable boy every morning,” he told me. “Didn’t you know?”

I shook my head, “I had no idea.”

“It’s no big deal,” shrugged Tess. “I didn’t want to make it out to be something it wasn’t. l’m only here for a week after all.”

Alec rolled his eyes, “Right.”

“So you like him?” I pressed, twirling one of the tassels on the pillow around my fingers.

Tess blushed and began walking toward her room, “I gotta get changed.”

“She must have it bad to be this quiet,” I smiled at Alec. “I think this is the first time she’s been short on words for over a year.”

“He gave her his email so they could stay in touch when she’s back home,” he whispered to me conspiratorially.

“I heard that,” grumbled Tess, her wet clothing smacking against the hardwood as she discarded articles to the floor.

“That’s so cute! We could be like a big family if you guys just stay here. I’ll have Leopold, Tess will have Alexander, and Alec will have his Sous Chef, Nessa,” I gushed teasingly.

Alec began to laugh and then thought better of it, “Hey!”

I shrugged, “It’ll never happen. We will all go back home and go back to school.”

“Please,” said Tess as she reentered the main room, running a comb through her damp curls. “You’re gonna stay here. Even of you do come back to Arizona, you’ll end up back here with Charming eventually.”

Alec nodded, siding with her, “You’d be stupid not to. There is no way you could give up on an opportunity like this. Especially since you and Leopold are head over heels for each other.”

“I know, I know, but I just...” I cut off, and buried my face in the pillow.

“So are there any other takers?” asked my mom when she emerged from her bedroom, trying to put in her earrings.

Tess and Alec shook their heads.

“Good choice,” muttered John, beside her.

“It really is interesting, you guys should go,” I told my friends.

“I think we will wait for the after hours Fred version,” said Tess. “We had the general tour so we didn’t get lost, which was fairly in depth. Besides, I gotta have stuff to explore on my next visit.”

“And I need to start packing,” added Alec.

“Suit yourselves,” my mother replied disapprovingly.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Is that everything, Mademoiselle?” M. Arsnault asked the next morning.

“You didn’t forget anything, right guys?” I called into the back seat of the limo.

They shook their heads.

“I think we are good to go,” I relayed to my guard.

He shut the trunk and walked around to our side of the car and opened the door for me. He was just about to shut all of us in the vehicle when I head a shout.

“Attendez, attendez!” it called. Frowning, I glanced out my window toward the front doors of the castle. Alexander and Nessa were running down the marble steps. They sped across the pebble drive, skidding to a stop right in front of the car.

“Uh, guys?” I said, nudging Tess in the arm. She and Alec were frozen to their seat, wide-eyed with surprise, and blushing scarlet. “Well go on then,” I urged, “but make it quick or we will be late.”

That was all Tess needed, she sprung up from her seat and out of the limo, throwing herself into Alexander’s arms and pressing her lips to his. Alec followed slowly, hesitantly, awkwardly running a hand through his hair. He smiled at Nessa when he finally made it over to her, and accepted the basket she handed to him. Then, Alec bent down and placed a kiss on her cheek.

Alec and Tess joined us in the limo after a few minutes, and the car took off out of the castle gates, headed towards the airport.

“What was that?” asked John.

Tess shrugged, busying herself with her iPod. Alec smiled and pulled a muffin out of the basket that Nessa had given him, “Travel snacks.”

The castle was quiet with everyone gone. It was strange how it was both peaceful and unnerving when it was this empty. My family was gone, I had no Phillipa or lessons to busy myself with, no Leopold to escape with, it was just me. Angela and M. Arsenault helped me fill the time. We went over the plans for the Governors’ Ball the next day, I beat them both in a game of Go Fish, and ate dinner. I was relieved when it was finally late enough to make going to bed seem reasonable. I changed into a pair of PJ’s and crawled into the center of Leopold’s bed, stomach turning in anticipation for the next day.

“Fred!” Phillipa cried as I walked into the Yellow Room the next afternoon. She skipped over to me, throwing her tiny arms around me in a delicate hug.

“It’s good to see you too, Phillipa. How was your trip?” I asked, once I was released from her hold. It was nice to see her again. I had grown accustomed to seeing her everyday for the lessons, so our week apart, while relaxing, had been strange.

“Amazing!” she said, smiling brightly. Abruptly, her face becoming serious, she continued, “We can talk later though, I need to make sure you know the schedule and details for today, then I have to go and get ready myself.”

“M. Arsnault went over everything with me last night,” I told her as I headed over towards the changing screen. I stripped out of the bathrobe I was wearing and pulled on the thin cotton nightgown-like dress I had to wear under the corset and hoop frame.

“Tell me,” she said, “I just want to make sure.”

“I enter with Leopold, at three, exactly. We are to walk around and talk to the governors. He will introduce me to people. I am not allowed to drink anything but water while socializing. He will give his speech at four. Lunch will be served by four thirty. I am to sit directly across from Leopold at the Prince of Mortimer’s table. I will not finish everything on my plate. Our exit is at six,” I recited obediently, then emerged from behind the screen.

Phillipa nodded her approval, “Good.”

I frowned suddenly, “Phillipa, is Leopold back yet?” I would have expected to see him the second he had arrived but it was now two hours until our entrance and he was no where to be seen.

Phillipa shook her head. “He was held up at the base, but should be here shortly. At least, he better be. Anyway, I better go. I will see you later,” she said and kissed me on the cheek before she whisked out of the room, leaving me with Angela and Mme. DuBeche.

I walked over to the vanity that was set up on the far wall of the room, and sat down in the plush armchair. Angela came over immediately and started drying my damp hair into soft curls. I chatted idly with her as she worked, trying to help the long process of my preparation pass more quickly. Once she was happy, she set to work braiding my long hair and pinning it up in some sort of complicated yet stunning looking creation on top of my head. Guests were beginning to arrive; I could see through the Yellow Room’s windows as they walked about the gardens.

Half an hour later, my hair and makeup had been deemed complete. Mme. DuBeche readily stole me from Angela and placed me up on the pedestal. She wrapped the corset around my waist and began lacing up the back, squeezing the breath from my lungs, as Angela stood before me and let me grip her shoulders for support.

A knock on the door interrupted their work.

“What?” Mme. DuBeche snapped, clearly upset her limited time was being wasted.

The door opened and Leopold walked in. Mme. DuBeche quickly realized her mistake and dropped into a low curtsy. Angela bowed as well, and then quickly led the seamstress out of the room, giving Leopold and I privacy. The second they were gone, I ran to him, bare feet slapping against the hardwood as I crossed the room, and threw my arms around his neck. “You’re back,” I cried, burying my face in his chest.

Leopold wrapped his right arm around my waist, pulling me to him. A brief flash of guilt shot through me at the thought of ruining Angela’s hard work, but it was instantly forgotten as he pressed his lips to mine in an urgent kiss. I replied greedily, my hands sliding down his chest, across his ribs, to his back, nails digging into his shoulder blades, as I closed the distance between us.

“Ah, attention,” Leopold grunted, as he winced. I let go immediately, and tried to jump back from him, worried and confused as to what had happened. Leopold did not loosen his hold on me though. I could feel his rough fingers tightening on my skin through the thin fabric of the dress, as he rested his forehead against mine, trying to catch his breath.

“What’s wrong,” I asked, my voice laced with concern.

“A small accident,” Leopold replied, straightening. “Hurt my shoulder slightly; it’s nothing to be concerned about.”

“Are you sure?” I asked him.

Leopold nodded. “I will be alright, but Fred, do not tell anyone. I will explain it all later, alright?”

I frowned. This wasn’t sounding good. “I’ll stay quiet,” I told him, “for now at least.”

Leopold laughed slightly, “I would expect nothing less. I am so happy to see you, ma belle.”

He kissed me again, lightly. I kept my hands at my sides, worried I would hurt him again. A clock chimed somewhere within the castle. Leopold pulled away, swearing under his breath.

“I should go,” he murmured, but made no move to leave.

“Are you ready?” I asked him, as I carefully placed my hands in his hair, plying with the curls at the nape of his neck. That had seemed a safe place last time.

“I think so. You?”

“Never,” I replied honestly.

Leopold smiled and leaned in to kiss me one more time before detaching himself from me, “I will see you soon, ma belle.”

Angela and Mme. DuBeche ran back into the room as soon as Leopold left, and began wrapping my in the layers of boning, lace, and petticoats at top speed until I was dressed, floppy hat and white gloves included.

“These,” said Angela, producing a large velvet box, “Are from the collection of the Arcadian Royal Jewels. Governor Richard and the Queen have asked that you wear them today.”

She opened the box. Inside were a necklace, bracelet, and earrings, all made of oblong shaped emeralds surrounded by diamonds. Once my body was adorned with the jewels, they stood back to admire their work.

“You are perfect, Mademoiselle,” smiled Angela. Mme. DuBeche nodded in agreement, clearly satisfied with the final result.

Angela checked her watch, eyes growing slightly large. “It is time for you to go now, Mademoiselle,” she told me.

Angela helped me maneuver through the halls in my big dress until we came to the formal entrance to the garden. Other members of the DuMont Family were arriving as well. Beatrice and Phillipa wore dresses similar to mine, but in dusted rose, and gold colors. The men were all in morning suits, complete with coat tailed jackets, waistcoats, ascots, gloves, and top hats, all in varying shades of the grey scale.

We quickly took our formation. Phillipa and Hector first, followed by Leopold and me, then Felip and Beatrice. The flourish sounded, the national anthem started playing, and Phillipa and Hector disappeared down the steps. I took a deep breath and grabbed hold of one of the hoops, lifting my skirt slightly as I had been trained. Leopold offered me his arm, and together we descended the stairs into the garden with the governors and their families.

We had to circulate through all of the guests, making sure that they saw each member of the royal family, and that we spoke to all of the necessary people. After that we moved on to the food tent for Leopold’s speech and lunch. I let Leopold guide me forward, stopping every few steps to talk to someone and to make introductions. My face started hurting from smiling so much, and I was surprised my glove hadn’t been worn through with all the lips that had kissed it.

I watched him carefully, still concerned about his injury. I couldn’t tell what was wrong exactly, but he was favoring his right side, which couldn’t be good as he was normally left-handed. I tried to hide my distraction from the guests, which wasn’t too hard since most of them seemed very eager to talk to me.

Trumpets flourished somewhere amongst the flowers, and the guest began making their way towards the giant white tent. It had been set up between the rose garden and the orchard and housed six round tables, the podium, and cascades of gossamer and white flowers. It was humid in the tent, making it even more difficult to breath in my corset. I winced, and pressed my hands into my ribs, as Leopold lead us through the arch into the makeshift building.

“I must go and take my spot,” Leopold told me when we arrived at our table.

“You’ll be great,” I assured him, squeezing his hand. He smiled and then disappeared into the crowd of governors and their family’s, careful to avoid the large girth of the ladies’ skirts.

“You look absolutely stunning in that dress, Princess. Like the exact replica of your grandmother Queen Winifred.” I froze, the little breath I had catching in my throat. I recognized the voice, it belonged to Antoine. I should have realized he would be here.

“Hello, Antoine, nice to see you again,” I said, voice tight, as my manners kicked in. This could go wrong in so many ways. I searched the crowd for Leopold, not sure if it was better if he saw me with Antoine and came to my rescue, or if he didn’t and things would clear up by themselves, in what I hoped would be a less messy manner. I finally caught sight of Leopold speaking to an old, tall man near the podium, distracted. I resolved to handle this myself, and turned to face Antoine. “Are you enjoying yourself?” I asked in smooth French.

Antoine cocked an eyebrow, “You have learned some new tricks, Princess, they are grooming you well,” he said, ignoring my question. Then he leaned down, close to me, his breath hot on my ear, “Have you thought about my offer since last time we met? It is not too late, we would still have time.”

I pursed my lips, “Sorry, the answer is still no.”

Antoine straightened, reaching a hand out to tuck a stray piece of hair behind my ear. I shivered as his fingertips brushed my neck, “Hmmm, I guess I will have to be more persuasive then.”

I was saved, or so I thought, when the horns flourished again. It was time for the speech to start.

I made a moved toward my chair, causing my unwanted hero to jump into action.

“Here, allow me to assist you,” purred Antoine, pulling out the chair for me.

My eyes grew in alarm. Sitting down in a hoop skirt was an event that required planning, and his assistance did not mesh with the schedule. “No, please it’s fine. It’s really much easier if-” I started, but it was too late. Antoine pushed my chair in before I had time to lift one of the hoops, and he hit the wooden ring dead on, sending my entire skirt flying forward and into the table. There was a loud crash as the silverware and glasses were disrupted, and were sent flying to the ground. Guests who were already seated at the table jumped up, trying to get away from the chaos. I was pinned between the chair and the table, watching as red wine slowly sped into the tablecloth, and ran right into the white lace of my skirt. I winced as the boning was disrupted, causing it to pull and dig into my already tender skin.

I looked around quickly to see that nearly all the eyes in the tent were on us. It was as if the world had frozen, waiting for direction from one of the hierarchical superiors on how to act. Instinctively, my eyes found Leopold. He was speaking in a rushed manner to M. LaFevre, not looking pleased at all.

“Mademoiselle, if you would please come with me,” said M. Arsnault, breaking the still scene, as he appeared beside me. He grabbed hold of the chair, freeing me, and stayed close on my heels as we fled back to the castle.

“Thank you,” I told him, as he helped me back up the steps to safety.

“Just following orders, Mademoiselle,” he replied, taping the intercom device in his ear. “You are to go see Mme. DuBeche in the Yellow Room.”

“Oh, no, no, no!” gasped Mme. DuBeche as she leapt to her feet when she saw my dress. “What happened?”

“Someone knocked over a glass of wine,” I told her as she pulled the dress over my head. The wine had seeped down through the layers of petticoats.

“Idiots,” she mumbled angrily under her breath. “No matter, we will just have to modernize you a little bit. I am thinking, Edwardian period.”

I simply nodded, not entirely sure what she was talking about, hoping that meant it I could loose at least half this dress.

She worked quickly, removing all of the layers of hoops and fabric, freeing me of the hoop that got me into this mess in the first place. Unfortunately, the corset stayed. The dress was pretty and lighter. Sheer lace covered the shoulders and the high collar. The rest was a light sea foam colored silk that flowed down from the bodice to the floor, interrupted only by a blue sash at my waist and embroidered beads at the hem and train. I kept the gloves and jewelry, but my shoes and hat were changed to something that matched the color of the dress.

“Alright, go. Do not let anyone ruin this one,” Mme. DuBeche chided, shooing me out of the room.

M. Arsnault was waiting for me just outside the door. He led me back to the garden, to my seat at the table. Leopold had finished his speech, and the guests were now working away at their first course. The men at the table stood as I approached. Leopold caught my eye. He was still angry and tense; I could see it in the line of his jaw.

I took my seat between Antoine and an older woman. She was the Countess of Merabelle from what I could remember from my lessons. If so, she and her husband owned the largest cross-country skiing facility in Solis.

“I am so sorry, Princess,” said Antoine beside me. “It was not my intention to ruin your lovely dress. If it is any consolation, this one is even more beautiful than the last.”

“It was an accident, it’s fine,” I said, probably a little too tersely and coolly.

I turned away from him, toward the Countess. “So Countess, how much snow do you think we should expect this winter?”

By the time the national anthem started playing again, I was relieved to go. I jumped up from my seat, grabbed onto Leopold’s arm, and bee-lined it up the stairs after Felip and Beatrice. Every one separated quickly, eager to get out of their costumes.

I went straight to my bedroom and flopped down onto my bed, tired and sore. Leopold followed me, slamming the door shut behind him.

“What happened?” he said, voice like death.

“He was being nice...creepy but nice, and it backfired. It was more of an inconvenience then anything. Just ruined the dress,” I murmured into the sheets.

He stopped pacing and took a deep breath. “As long as you are okay. I hated that I had to leave you again.” The bed shifted on either side of me, and Leopold placed a delicate kiss on the back of my neck. With a moan, I rolled over to find him hovering over me, his strange eyes boring into mine.

“Sorry I missed your speech,” I wheezed as he continued to kiss up the column of my throat.

“It was not very exciting,” he dismissed, then captured my lips. He had more of his weight on me than usual, probably due to his injury. My ribs ached in response and I squirmed underneath him.

“Leopold,” I squeaked, “can’t breath.” My voice must have come out strangled and strained because he quickly rolled off of me.

“What’s wrong?” he demanded searching me over with a concerned glance.

“Corset,” I managed to choke out.

“That I can help with,” he smiled. I gasped as he slowly helped me into a sitting position and then moved behind me, “Phillipa always hated these things.”

His hands pulled skillfully at the cords that laced up my back and I gulped greedily at the air as it flooded my lungs once the corset loosened. “Thank you! How did you know to do that?”

“Phillipa was always asking me to help her loosen her corset after her assistant had done it up, ever since she passed out the first time she wore one.”

“Genius,” I stated, slightly upset she hadn’t given me the heads up to do the same to mine.

“The corset my be uncomfortable but the dress, both of them, look absolutely stunning on you,” Leopold said while ghosting his hands up and down my relieved ribs, his breath hot on my neck.

I leaned back into his chest, “I’m starving.”

“We just ate.”

“I couldn’t breath, do you think I was able to eat?”

He laughed lightly at me, “Very well, let’s get changed and see what we can find in the kitchen.”

Leopold left my room and I quickly called Angela in. I was out of the wretched dress quickly with her help and pulled on some sweat pants and a t-shirt. Hopefully most of the guests had left and wouldn’t see me walking around. The maid left and a moment later there was a light rap on the door. I quickly answered it and Leopold took my hand and began leading me through the halls. He had changed out of his morning suit and was now in pajama pants and a t-shirt that fit tightly over his muscles. We walked through the dining room and pushed open the door to the dark empty kitchen.

I frowned, “It’s a lot smaller than I thought it would be. Where is everyone?” It was true, it looked more like an average kitchen than it did the kitchen of a five star restaurant.

“This is just the breakfast kitchen. We use this one on a daily basis and the main kitchen for important events or for big crowds. All of the staff is in the main kitchen right now, cleaning up.” He let go of my hand and walked toward the stainless steel fridge. He reached into the freezer and pulled out a container of chocolate ice cream. He raised the tub at me in question and, when I nodded my head, he grabbed two spoons and leaned on the island. I pulled myself up on to the counter beside him and took the spoon he offered.

“So spill,” I said, popping a spoonful of ice cream into my mouth.

He shifted nervously, frowning into the tub, “You know the storm Thursday? There was a fishing boat that had gotten too close to the cliffs and capsized. We were sent in to rescue the crew members. They sent me down with a line to bring the fishermen up. A big gust of wind hit and made the helicopter dip, throwing me into the side of the cliff. My left side hit the rock pretty hard. Luckily, I was on the way down and did not have someone attached to me. Anyway...” he trailed off. He handed me the tub, and pulled off his shirt. My eyes grew, and I choked on my ice cream as I saw it.

Leopold’s entire left shoulder blade was bruised black, the inky color changing into terrible shades of blue and purple as the mark bled across his upper back, ribs, shoulder, and biceps. Before I could help myself, my hand reached out and ghosted over the area. Leopold tensed.

“Did you have it looked at?” I asked.

Leopold nodded, and pulled his shirt back on. “The doctor on the base looked at it. No permanent damage, just really bad bruising to the muscle and one or two of the bones.”

“Are you taking anything for it?”

“Painkillers. Nothing else can really be done about it,” he shrugged and took another spoonful of ice cream.

“You can’t be going back to the base like that. You have to let Felip know or...” I tried but Leopold cut me off.

“No. I promise I will be all right. I have been put on desk duty next week. I will not be doing anything strenuous. I have to stay,” he said determined.

“You need to get better,” I insisted.

Leopold sighed and turned to face me, “Please do not say anything. At the end of the summer I am going to be graduating from the Defense Flying School at the base, and will be allowed to pilot the planes. As soon as I graduate, I am dropping out of the military so that I can ascend to my full royal duties. The Air Force is important to me, I hate that I have to give it up, so please stay quiet so that I can just finish this term. I promise I will be careful.”

His tone had started off defensive, but by the end he was nearly pleading with me. I was surprised. I hadn’t seen Leopold seem so worried about something before. His arms were braced on either side of me on the counter as he looked down at me, waiting for an answer. I wrapped my legs around his waist, and rested my hand on his jaw.

“All right,” I agreed hesitantly, “I’ll stay quiet.”

“Thank you,” he smiled and kissed me chastely on the lips, “Now what do you say to some TV?” he asked.

“Sounds great,” I said, “but I think Phillipa said she wanted to talk with me tonight. I should probably find her.”

“I do not think that will do,” Leopold said, eyes burning.

“Oh no?” I asked, as I hopped off the counter.

He shook his head, one side of his full lips pulling upward, “No. For one, it’s getting late. For another, I want to keep you to myself, I shared all day.”

I stood on my tiptoes and brushed my lips to his. “Fine, but you have to tell her,” I whispered. I was a little keyed up from the ice cream.

“Hmm,” said Leopold pulling back. “Maybe you are right, you probably should go see...” began Leopold but I stopped him with my lips. I walked him backwards until his back was gently pressed to the counter beside the fridge. One of my hands slid down his chest and into the hem of his t-shirt. His stomach muscles contracted and a trail of gooses bumps rose at my touch. I smiled against his lips, “I think she will survive until tomorrow.”

Leopold’s large hand was suddenly on the small of my back pulling me closer to him, his mouth back on mine. My hands trailed down to his hips and I hooked my thumbs into the waistband of his pants. He growled deep in his throat as he took control and spun us so that I was now against the stainless steel door of the fridge. He was kissing me hard, our chests pressed together, my hips digging into his thighs, my hands in his hair.

“Fred,” he said, his voice thick and heavily accented, “Fred, nous devons nous arrêter.” I understood his words, knew they made sense. It would not be good if someone walked in and found us like this. He kissed me again though, clearly not interested in following his own advice.

He caught hold of my wrists, and pinned them above my head, against the cold metal of the fridge. His kisses slowed after a minute and he pulled back, his forehead resting against mine, “We have to stop.”

I stared into his strange eyes; one the color of grass and the other a glowing ember. “Maybe I should go see Phillipa.”

Leopold licked his lips, “Probably not a bad idea. I need to see Hector anyway.”

He released my hands but didn’t move back. “Your eyes are so pretty,” I told him.

The edge of his lip twitched. “Go, Fred. I will find you later.”

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