impertinences: (from in the shadows)
you're too young & eager to love ([personal profile] impertinences) wrote on November 5th, 2016 at 08:10 pm
At my Muffin's request, some Roman and Harrow and Lene!


~~~~


There’s a dinner of roasted lamb and salted oysters, glasses full of wine and whiskey, the scent of cigarettes and cigars muddling the smell of fresh meat in a layer of ash. Roman does not eat; he helps the women to the seats instead, picturing the long columns of their throats and how vivid their blood must be. There’s so many heartbeats, all of them thundering in his ears. Arletta’s is weak, sporadic. It lessens the more she drinks. He pours her three glasses of chardonnay, one after the other, and watches her pick at the assortment of desert fruit on her place, how she sucks the pieces into her mouth, her sly eyes never straying from Harrow’s thin lips.

The room is hot from the amount of bodies present – the couples, the affluent men of power, the bodyguards and companions – but Roman alone is cool to the touch. Women find reasons to press their fingers to his wrists and do not wonder why.

Harrow grins at him from across the table, a wolf in gentleman’s clothing.

They have this in common.

They have many things in commons.




Afterwards, Arletta whispers something into the shell of Harrow’s ear, her hand slipping invitingly across his arm when she steps away. A linger and a promise. Lene follows her, the black lace and sequins of her dress catching the candlelight, her face stoic in its impassiveness.

“She’s very pretty.”

“Who’s that now?” Roman does not lift his eyes. He has moved on to business now that the hour is late and the swarm of guests has departed. He feels the hair on the back of his neck stand. There’s tension in the room, a palpable warning, and none of it stems from the pile of documents spread before him on the table.

“Who’s that?” Harrow mocks with a laugh, the sound wet in his mouth, as warm as blood. (For a moment, Roman feels hungry. His teeth ache.) “Arletta’s little mouse of a guard. Though I know as well as any how deceiving looks can be with these beasts.”

He knows better than to say he hasn’t noticed. Instead, he tells Harrow that they’re all pretty – it’s a shame, a waste of good looks on a lowly set of DNA. With a sigh, he crumples one of the papers in his large hand, the Minister’s official seal a hard clump of wax in his palm. “Your sister is a pain in the ass. She’s ordering new pamphlets on the spread of disease - ”

“Why are you changing the subject?”

“What subject is that?”

“Ita sees everything, you know. She’s rather astute. She reminds me of that which I have forgotten.”

Roman looks. He’s forgotten the swan. She’s as still as a statue, perfectly poised, kneeling beside Harrow’s seat. He wonders how many even noticed her throughout dinner, if Arletta had stepped over her as others step through ghosts. He settles back into his own chair, grinning. “Are you spying on me now, brother? At least give me another drink before you interrogate me.”

Harrow laughs again – the same sound as before, the simulacrum of a laugh. He passes the bottle of whiskey though, feigning good nature, and Roman refills his glass himself.

“No, no. It’s alright. I have thought all this time that you have been so much the soldier. The red right hand. But here you are … hot blooded after all, I’m relieved. I don’t know how I never saw it before. How long has she been visiting you? Does Arletta know? We pulled the security cameras. She was seen outside of your room four times before you left to check the Eastern perimeters. Four times.”

Roman drinks. He is slow in his movements. “Du bist verruckt, bruder.”

Harrow grins. He leans forward, an elbow on his knee, his left hand forming a threatening point. “Now see, that’s very good. That language of yours. You only speak it when you’re drunk, but by my count that is your first drink of the evening. I, too, am astute. What’s her name?”

“You know her name.”

“She must be very talented or you must be very much enthralled to have kept her a secret so long. Arletta will be disappointed, however, to know that her own bodyguard has been fraternizing under her nose. She doesn’t like surprises, that woman. I would hate for her –”

“What would you hate, Harrow? This is getting boring, and I have work to get done. So say it. What do you want?” He is too sudden, too quick with his tone. There is a flare of annoyance in his voice that Harrow notices, and it is as if Roman has suddenly shown all of his cards.

“I am only hurt that you have not bothered to share, considering how gracious I have been with my own gifts.” He places his hand on Ita’s head, his fingers stroking her pale hair. “It is a curtsey that I even ask, you understand.”

Roman’s smile splits his mouth the way a fist might. He is all teeth. “You call this asking? If you want to fuck the bitch, fuck her. But if she calls out my name instead of yours, tell yourself it’s only from habit.”

For a moment, Harrow wraps his hand into a fist, Ita’s hair caught between his fingers. “Ah, defensive I see. Would you like to watch?”

It is his turn to laugh, and Roman’s is not like Harrow’s – full of bitterness and threats – but strong, barking. “I’ve seen enough of you as it is. My imagination will be adequate, I assure you.”

They do not shake hands, but they might as well.




Lene is out of her dress when he finds her in his room. He sees it, still catching the dim light, laying over his lone chair. She has swapped the lace for one of his white dress shirts, the sleeves rolled up on her slender arms, but the buttons undone so that he can see all the expanse of her flesh. She is a canvas like this – entirely fresh – waiting for his markings to color her.

“I only have a few minutes, but that dress was torture. I thought you would be hungry after all that meat and those women. Do you even notice how they look at you anymore?” She’s smiling, her voice easy, her movements languid when she slides from the center of his bed to sit on the edge.

“I’m not looking at them, liebling.”

“Liar.”

He smiles, but the swiftness of his movements do not match the softness of his sentiments. He crosses the room in three strides, a strong pillar wrapped in a suit, and leans his face into the tender crook of her neck when she wraps her arms around him. He thinks he hears her laugh when he kisses her skin, her shoulder, the inside of her elbow. He bites at her collarbone, her fingers tangling into his coarse hair, murmurs a spread of German over the top of her breasts.

She tugs on a fistful of his hair. “Casanova, we’re running out of time.”

“I’m not hungry.”

“I would ask if you died, but …”

Roman chuckles, a cinnamon sound warm enough to blanket his nerves, and slinks to his knees. He’s still tall. He has to dip his head to press his mouth to her stomach. She smells like grass and mountains, heat from the surrounding desert, and blackberries. When he kisses her hip and licks the salt from the skin, she tugs on his hair again, pulling his head back taut so that she can finally see his eyes. “What’s going on? You’re acting … this is different. Did something happen?”

“Keep pulling and I’ll want to use these fangs.”

“Roman.”

He does not sigh. He has never quite mastered that sound – the frustration or distress it requires to be believable. He settles back on his ankles, half disappointed by the easy way Lene releases her grip. She has a beautiful face he realizes, not for the first time. Her mouth is full and plush. He wants to tell her that he reminds her of a doll when she’s like this and that all things deserve to be cherished, even the ones who are strong enough not to need it. He wants to tell her that if he were a different man, he would be more frightened, more possessive, more capable. He wants to tell her that she is a weakness for him.

Instead, he says nothing.

He blames the whiskey for his softness, watching as she removes his shirt and slips back into her dress. He lets her go.

Much like Harrow, his words are only good for biting.
 
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