Elle made sure Mias got a full summary of the past day’s events after removing themselves from the reception’s vicinity and up to the guest room. They passed Retti on the stairs and saw fit to have her mention to Marius that Elle was safe, and for them both to keep Cassius under control if they could manage it. Their discussion wasn’t long, but Elle didn’t believe Mias was completely powerless to do something about the situation. Surely there was something they hadn’t thought of.
“You know you can transform,” he reminded her.
“I can’t do that in a crowd of people. I’ll be stepped out if not noticed. I suppose I could run into an empty hall, but that still leaves my clothes as evidence… and what happens when I need to change back?”
“If you’re truly in danger, I doubt your modesty is going to keep you from doing what it takes to survive.”
“But that’s just it Mias, ‘survive’. This isn’t the forest and I’m not really a mouse. I’m a human who just wants to have an ordinary life, and granted that’s already impossible since the day you grabbed me, but when do I get to just enjoy being with you like you wanted?” She asked, knowing if she phrased it in that way, he’d have further motivation to meet her needs.
“If you had just accepted your fate sooner, Elias wouldn’t have found you so intriguing,” he said bluntly.
“So you’ll blame me?” She huffed.
“No, I blame Elias. Thorn in the side that he is, he’s never taken this much interest in the personal aspects of my life. He must see the same fire in you that I do, we are twins after all, and like me, if he can covet that and hurt me in the process, it’s too tantalizing to leave it be.”
“And you think even if Durias permits me to stay with you, he won’t give up?”
“No, he’ll have to exercise subtlety and that’ll only make things worse.”
Elle groaned and rose from her chair to pace the room. “So really, no matter what we do, it’s pointless.”
“Not if we can get Durias on our side, which I have every confidence we will. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but rather we have only one of my brothers to worry about,” he got up to stop her pacing. “Elias is a burden I’ve learned to live with, it’s not pleasant, but it’s doable.”
“You’re asking me to live with that bastard constantly threatening my life?! Have you not heard what I’ve been saying?! I’ve been paranoid enough these past few days! I don’t want to have to cling to you 24-7 because I’m afraid every rustle in the bush, every flap of a curtain, every little dump in the night might be him coming to get me!”
Mias realized he’d taken her rattling too lightly. Fear preyed on the mind of many men, and to see a mind such as Elle’s plagued by it did not sit well with him. He’d spoken callously. He’d never been afraid of Elias, just regarded him as an unwelcomed pest whenever he chose to show up, and a pest that was easily dealt with. Elle didn’t have his powers or any offensive skill to give her the confidence enough to stave off the fear; not even confidence in him. “Do you truly believe I cannot protect you?”
“It’s not about what you can do Mias, it’s my life, remember?! You don’t have any idea how frustrating this is for me! If he’s not going to leave us be, why can’t you just kill him?!” She shouted before catching the end of her sentence by covering her mouth.
Mias was certainly surprised to hear her say that, but his eyes narrowed and his mouth straightened to a very solemn expression. “You don’t think I’ve considered that option?”
“I-I’m sorry, I…”
“It’s understandable,” he smiled a little and rested his hands on her shoulders. “Your fears aren’t unfounded, but you are letting them get the better of you. I’m asking a great deal of you, but if I didn’t believe it were possible, I wouldn’t ask you to.”
Elle sighed and lifted her hands to cup his cheeks. “I want to…”
“But just how to do expect me to live knowing that psychopath has it out for me?” She asked, touching her palms against his chest.
“Well, unpleasant as it is for me to say… Elias and I are twins, whether we like it or not. Even if he were to get his hands on you again, I doubt he’d kill you. He’s gone through enough trouble now where killing you wouldn’t satisfy him.”
“So what? He’d torture me then!”
“In way, yes, but… probably not in the way you’re thinking.”
“Exactly, so think of him only as a very demented pervert. If he’s going to kill anyone, it’ll be me and he’ll never get the chance, so you don’t need to fret so much.”
“Not fret about a demented pervert? Really?!”
“Sex is hardly the worst thing he can do to you.”
“I’d rather he kill me than touch me! Not when he looks like you! Even if I live, how would I ever be able to stomach being with you again?!” Elle didn’t expect Mias to blush at the comment, but he did, very lightly, but she could tell.
“You don’t want him to ruin it your image of me?”
Elle felt her cheeks brighten as well. Perhaps that comment showed too much of her true feelings.
“I didn’t think I’d be so happy to hear that,” Mias smiled, tilting her chin up to look her in the eyes. “You value me that deeply?”
“Y-Y-You’re the one I’m sleeping with… I-I don’t have any intentions of adding to my list of partners… so… I suppose… I do…”
He grinned widely.
“And you’re letting this go to your head already? Mias, I’m being serious,” Elle frowned.
“I know, which makes me even happier,” he beamed, locking his arms around her bottom and hoisting her up. “I want you make you happy too, but you need to let me… and that means not letting anyone aside from me occupy your mind.”
“Mias…” It was a sweet sentiment, but not exactly an easy one to follow. Still, he made it damn difficult to oppose those eyes and that smile. She wanted to put her faith in him, she truly did, but letting go of fear to embrace only him seemed negligent and foolish.
“Surely it’s not as hard as you think,” he continued. “You spent a great deal of this separation missing me, didn’t you?”
“I never said that,” she said defensively.
“You don’t need to say it, I know. The expression when you first saw me spoke volumes about your stress. All that melted away when you realized I was here.”
She blushed and averted her eyes to the side. He was beginning to read her well.
“I missed you too,” he said softly, kissing her exposed cheek as he lowered her back toward the floor. “The world was never so boring without you by my side.”
Elle doubted she was that entertaining, but it was nice to hear, and she certainly deserved to hear nice things, it was the least he could do for her. “What I wouldn’t give for a regular ol’ boring life again…”
Mias chuckled as he felt her lips brush past his neck and kiss along his jaw line to his lips. Elle’s compliments were never straight forward, not that he mind. He held her lips as began pulling up her dress and petticoat to get at her under garments.
“You actually held off longer than I thought you would…” Elle blushed, feeling him grab her bloomers and pull them down.
“It took a great deal to not pounce on you the moment I saw you,” he purred, holding her hip as she stepped out of the garment. “Is that all…?”
“Y-Yeah,” she nodded. “I’m wearing enough layers, having underwear would have been too confining…”
“Good, I don’t think I can wait much longer,” he said as he unbelted himself and stepped back to his chair to take a seat.
“You wanna do it like this?” Elle asked, but didn’t object as she straddled his lap.
“Mhm,” he grinned, finally freeing himself from the confines of his trousers. “Not everyday you’re dressed so finely; be a shame if I didn’t thoroughly experience it.”
She blushed again and felt his hands cup her bottom and pull her onto him. She tightened her fingers around the bunched up skirt of her dress as he entered, but quickly moved them around his neck once their connection was complete. She let out a deep exhale and flushed redder as she once again grew accustom to the sensation. “Mmn…”
“Elle…” he whispered her name past her ear and hugged her tightly to feel each pleasurable shudder she gave as she adjusted.
It never ceased to amaze both of them how calm the world became in such moments. The fact that they could shut out their stresses for even a few minutes surely meant it all wasn’t as bad as it seemed. With release came a sort of mental freedom along with euphoria, and that was Elle needed to feel better.
They sat in silence for a few minutes afterward; Elle coiled around him snuggly while Mias rested his head on her shoulder. It wasn’t until Elle heard a low grumble between them caused that either moved.
“Hungry?” Elle asked.
“Don’t mind it,” he told her, nuzzling his head into her neck. He didn’t mind a few hunger pangs, but apparently his stomach took great offense to not be sated since noon and gurgled again.
“There’s plenty of food downstairs,” Elle smiled, leaning back on his lap. “You won’t be able to go another round if your stomach is empty, right?”
“I suppose…” He sighed. It was truly a shame to move from such comfort, but seeing as he couldn’t keep his gut silent, resigned to let her dismount.
“Okay, you go eat and I’ll freshen myself up,” Elle smiled, taking a sideways glance into the mirror and shrieking when she saw how smudged her makeup was. “Oh my god! Why didn’t you tell me I looked like a smudged painting?!”
“It didn’t seem relevant,” he answered honestly.
“Jeez, I look horrible… go get some dinner already!” She scolded.
“Alright, my dear. Message received.” Mias chuckled as she shoed him out of the room all while trying to belt his trousers back up. He didn’t understand why she was so embarrassed, he was the one who ruined her makeup in the first place and didn’t give a damn what the results were. Passion was sometimes messy after all.
Passionate or not, Elle didn’t like looking like some dejected clown and as soon as she pushed Mias out the door, ran straight into the bathroom to rectify the problem. It was easy enough to remove, probably why it was easily smudged in the first place, and Elle was just thankful to return to her normal appearance.
Deciding she was unlikely to return to the reception, she slipped out of her dress and brought it back to the trunk. She smoothed out the wrinkles as she draped it over the lid for it to air out a bit before being packed. She removed the ornaments from her hair and gently brushed away the curls and then over the puffed out strands with a wet comb.
She picked up her bloomers from the floor and put them over the gown, stepped out of her shoes, and then reached around to unlace her corset and petticoat. She expected no difficulty in untying a few knots, but when she was unable to do so, once again found herself frustrated. “Oh bloody hell, Retti, what sort of knots are you tying?! Ugh!”
Her battle for material liberation waged onward as Mias returned to the room with an already half eaten plate of food, a glass of mead, and a large buttered bun held in his teeth as he needed at least one free hand to open the door. He paused to assess Elle’s predicament and finding the battle amusing, decided to sit and watch her attempts as part of his dinner theatre.
Elle paid him no mind, her stubbornness now making it impossible for her to ask for help. These knots would be bested by her, she just had to get one and the rest would follow, and for her determination, she was able to unloop one of ties, but the victory was short lived once she realized it only made the lacing more difficult to unravel. “You’ve got to be kidding me…”
Mias smiled and finished his plate and downed the contents of his goblet. He’d let her struggle long enough, and after wiping his mouth on his napkin, left his seat to offer his assistance.
“Unf!” Elle continued to ignore him and wrestle with the ties herself until she felt him standing behind her.
“Let me help,” he said calmly, his fingers taking the place of hers and with the added benefit of seeing what needed untying first, began to untangle the mess of strings.
“If I could just get one bloody knot—!” She huffed, ready to go off on him.
“Shush.” Her temper wasn’t going to do her any favors with removing that dress.
Elle reluctantly resigned to his assistance and faced forward after pulling her hair off her back to hopefully make the process easier for him.
Years of practice getting a woman out of her undergarments meant the knots didn’t stand a chance against Mias’ fingers. He pulled loose the first one with ease and began loosing the laces all while staring down her narrow shoulders and small back. Her size considered, it was a wonder how much fight she had in her at times, and for the many trials she suffered, her flesh still remained unmarred and perfect. He felt compelled to kiss her in the hopes it’d preserve such perfection, and so he did, gently placing his lips against her shoulder blade.
Elle blushed the instant she felt his lips on her skin, but despite its pleasantness, felt the need to remind him of his first priority. “Y-You’re supposed to be helping me.”
“Am I not?” He asked, pulling loose the laces that dropped her petticoat and freed her from the constraints of the corset.
“U-Um…” Elle murmured quietly and blushed brighter upon feeling the warmth of his breath near her ear.
“Permit me…” He said softly, undoing the last of the lacework that kept her corset on and finally removing the garment.
Even Elle would have thought she’d be far more accustom to being naked in his presence without blushing, but embarrassment and modesty weren’t the cause of the red tint to her cheeks. It was ironically freeing in some odd way to have him see everything, have him touch everything...
At present he was kissing her neck while his right hand groped her breast and the left slowly crept over her hip and down her thigh. Undressing her was always worthwhile if he got to sample the contents therein, and he was still quite famished from his journey. He could go a few days without sex, but a few days without seeing her was what spurred him onward: grabbing, groping, kneading, grinding… everything he could do to get as close to her as he could, but it wasn’t enough. He wanted more.
Elle was already squirming from the actions of his hands and feeling her knees weaken as she struggled to stay standing. She turned to Mias, grasping at his shirt to steady herself and to then strip him down. She wanted to feel him too. Thankfully she didn’t have any complications removing his clothes: his shirt, his trousers, his boots, all of it, until he was as naked as she was and clutching at her desperately to remain close.
“You have no idea how much I want you,” he whispered wantonly, stepping back behind her to pull her onto his lap as he took a seat on the bed.
“I have a pretty good idea…” she blushed, feeling him poke against her buttocks.
“Heh…” he smirked and kissed her shoulder once again, and then slowly down her arm.
Elle reclined against his chest and watched him with amorous admiration as he kissed her wrist, hand, each of her fingers, her palm, and then back up her arm. She loved it, loved him… and found herself pursing her lip to avoid saying it unnecessarily. She wanted him to know, but was still to afraid to say it in fear he’d take it lightly like he did every other woman who graced his bed. He wouldn’t though, would he? After all they’d been through, it’d be understandable, wouldn’t it? He might even… like it.
“I’m not restraining myself,” he whispered in her ear once he kissed back up to her neck.
She felt her skin prickle in delight from those words, even when he threw her onto her back all she felt was that delicious twisting in her gut and the desire to have him fulfill it. She didn’t want to hold back either, and did so by practically dragging him on top of her when he hadn’t been quick enough to mount her himself. She kissed his lips over and over until she grew short of breath and had to let her mouth only linger at his.
“Mm… tell me you missed me…” Mias ordered with a purr, prodding himself against her entrance.
“I missed you…!” She told him with the utmost sincerity and kissed him again.
He grinned; his ego met he slid his hips forward and exhaled happily while she sensually gasped and tightened her thighs around his waist. “Ah… Elle…!”
“And you… really missed me?” She asked breathlessly while raking her hands down his back. “You’re not just saying that?”
“Of course I missed you,” he smiled, licking her lips. “No one scowls at me the way you do.”
“And no one annoys me like you do,” Elle jabbed back before an extra deep thrust made her cry out. “Ah!”
“Mmn, and yet here we are once again with me between your legs and you loving every moment of it,” he grinned teasingly while his hand gently touched her face. “Or am I wrong?”
“It’s a double-edged sword,” Elle reminded him, arching her back and tightening her grip on his waist, and of course, he made a pleased noise in response. “You can’t one-up me when you’re weak to the same thing.”
He chuckled and nodded his head. “You have me there…”
She smiled and brought her hands up to hold his head. She should tell him and just get it over with. The way they were having their little back-and-forth made for a good opportunity, but even in this moment with Mias’ dark eyes gazing down at her while their loins were still joined, confessing love seemed out of place. Of course a woman would scream she loved her partner in the height of sexual relations, so this probably wasn’t the ideal time to tell him. She ought to just enjoy him like she usually did, without any of the emotional drama.
“But you still have a long way to go to besting me in bed, my dear,” he grinned and sat up, taking a firm hold of her hips while he got to his knees. One thrust from the new angle and Elle’s toes curled.
“Ah! Mias…!” She cried, her hands grasping the bed sheets tightly and twisting them as he steadily rocked himself back and forth. “NN~!”
“Oh, you like that?” He asked teasingly, pushing himself harder to enjoy the scene beneath him: Elle biting her lower lip and squeezing her eyes shut while still smiling, her breasts bouncing with each thrust and little beads of sweat dripping down her warm, pink flesh. She was so beautiful, especially in the heat of sex – it was hard to keep a clear head when all he wanted now was to make her cry for him, and he did.
He never grew tired of hearing her call his name, and yet he felt something amiss despite the pleasure. He loved her so deeply, more than he knew how to express with words or actions, but telling her he felt that way simply wasn’t a good idea. Of course given all the other unfortunate situations the two found themselves in, loving each other hardly seemed like a hindrance. She loved him, surely she did. She wasn’t immune to him like she pretended to be, so maybe as with her missing him, he just needed to get her to say it.
“Tell me you love me…” He ordered softly as he descended from his high and melted against her.
“What…?” She didn’t quite hear him and turned onto her side to nuzzle up to him.
“Tell me… that you love me…” he repeated, a little less courageous than before.
“W-Why do you want me to say that?” She blushed. Had be been reading her mind somehow?
“I want… to hear it…”
If he just wanted to hear it, it didn’t matter if she meant it or not, Elle thought to herself. It was an easy way to release some of her pent of affection for him without him asking too many questions, but now she was curious: why did he want to hear such a thing? Was it because she was the only woman up until now who never said it? Or did he have some fantasy with her being head over heals for him? If that were the case, she really better not encourage him, but what an odd thing for a man like Mias to ask her.
Still, she wanted to, and this might be her only chance short of gathering enough courage to make an actual confession. Consider it practice, she told herself. Practice.
“I… love you,” she said quietly, trying not to put too much emotion into it.
“Again,” he commanded, zeroing in on her lips.
“I love you,” she repeated, putting a little more sweetness into it.
That’d do, he decided when he kissed her. Wanting for more was what often got him into trouble, but even so… just how was this wrong?
“Mias…?” Elle stroked his hair after their kiss ended and he went silent. “Is something the matter?”
“I’m tired…” He offered as his excuse, but still curled up to her for warmth and comfort. “The past few days have been exhausting.”
“Mhm,” she certainly agreed on that. “I suppose there’s no need to go on nattering if you want to get some sleep.”
“You’ll stay close to me, won’t you?” He asked, closing his eyes.
“I’m not going anywhere,” she smiled and kissed him to make good on her word. As they composed themselves for sleep and Elle found herself cradling Mias in her arms, the whole situation didn’t add up to be some fulfillment for ego or fantasy. Men didn’t play the emotional guessing game women did, even Mias with all his secrecy didn’t seem the sort to force the concept of ‘love’ into a relationship. There was no place for it. He hadn’t a need for love – his other mistresses confirmed that, so what did that leave for an answer then? That he actually loved her? He was going through a great deal of personal trouble all for her sake, so there was an undeniable fondness there… but fondness wasn’t love, and she had to stop confusing the two.