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Love As It Is - Part 1

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Intro

The archaeology student was smart, almost scary-smart. And so pretty that professor Jones had trouble gathering his thoughts after only one glance at this brilliant first-year. When he tried to understand what exactly was so attractive about this girl, Sienna Richards, he could not put his finger exactly on it. Was it her lustrous honey- blonde hair? Or her vivid blue-green eyes? Or her open and kind smile? She was just… radiant. And it was as if all bad things just rolled off her. She befriended another positive local girl, Sarah Osborne, and seemed to take no notice whatsoever to enviers and campus squabbles.

 

The Bartoli family could not believe their luck. All three brothers were in love with their new nanny, even if they were reluctant to admit it, and even Lorie somehow magically transformed into an almost normal happy child after only a month of the nanny’s stay at the manor. It was unclear how Sienna managed to juggle all her responsibilities, her fun time, and relationships, but everything she did seemed effortless and filled with love and joy.

 

***

It was a beautiful sunny morning when Sienna, fresh as a flower, descended to the kitchen to find there a lovely breakfast decorated with her favorite strawberries.

Nicolas, the eldest brother, happily grinned at the girl.

“Today, Peter was inspired to decorate the plate…”

Sienna laughed, amused. She kissed the eldest brother on the cheek as a way of bidding him good morning and delightedly attacked her breakfast.

“Dear Peter! This looks almost too beautiful to be eaten!... Mmmmm… and it tastes divine! So, I guess it is rather your confection, Nicolas!”

The long-haired young man in front of her laughed softly, well pleased by Sienna’s guess.

He did not respond and went to make a fragrant espresso.

The girl made justice to the Bartoli’s culinary skill, pleasurably lipped the espresso, and observed the young man with a clever twinkle in her eye.

After finishing the drink and clearing the plate, she came to the man, hugged him warmly and kissed again, this time on the lips.

“Thank you for breakfast. Have a nice day!”

Then she turned, took her canvas sack, and went to the exit in a flurry.

 

A flashy sports car was idling near the gate, both younger brothers conversing inside it in low voices.

“Morning, gents!” chirped Sienna, grinning at them. She lowered to them and kissed them both on the cheeks. “Today, my breakfast was a piece of art, Peter! Thank you!”

Peter, the middle brother with lustrous black hair and clear emerald green eyes, lowered his gaze, content with the girl’s gratitude.

The youngest brother, Drogo, a blond young man with silvery eyes flashed a piercing glare at his brother and winced.

“That’s low, Pete!” he grumbled and opened the passenger door for the girl. “Hop in, little thing, I’m in a mood for driving this morning.”

Sienna smiled and climbed into the car.

“Are you planning on coming to the King’s Head tonight?” she asked both brothers nonchalantly while making herself comfortable in the seat and putting a scarf on her head to prevent the wind from tangling her hair.

Drogo’s lips curved in a devious smile.

“Naturally. I have to protect those succulent little boobs of our favorite nanny!”

Sienna just smiled, never taking offense, and turned to Peter.

“And you, Pete?”

The black-haired brother was frowning, offended by his brother’s rudeness. Then he hesitated and nodded.

“I’ve heard there will be live music by an interesting group tonight…”

Drogo let out a loud derisive laugh.

“Since when are you interested in contemporary music, bro?”

Peter winced and shrugged his shoulders. He did not deign to answer, but Sienna already slipped into her usual role of bridge-maker and started talking about the band in question.

 

Having kissed goodbye to both brothers at the entrance to the campus grounds, Sienna glimpsed Sarah’s shining face in the crowd and waved to her, completely oblivious to some people’s glares at her and the Bartoli brothers. The friends hugged and hurried to their first class.

This morning, the crowd was buzzing in anticipation of the upcoming Friday party.

Sarah grinned.

“I can’t wait for this evening to come!!! This will be so much fun!!! Please say you are coming, dear! Please-please!!!”

Sienna smiled at her friend.

“I promise you to have a proper girls’ night out sometime during the weekend, but tonight I have my two knights chaperoning me to the King’s Head, and I know how your relationship with Bartolis can spoil your mood!”

Sarah pouted discontentedly but soon brightened up again.

“The King’s Head? A cool place! Say, can you at least move around the place without them staying glued to you? We could still have fun if I go there and we move closer to the stage where the music is louder since your blood-sucking knights have too sensitive hearing…”

Sienna laughed and shook her head. She looked into her friend’s eyes and gently told her:

“Sorry, dear, I just want to enjoy some male attention tonight. We will have our girly fun tomorrow, sweetie, you better enjoy the campus party tonight!”

Her friend already learned not to argue with Sienna, for when the latter set her mind on something, she could be as blunt as much as she was sweet at other times, and it was never a good idea to start disputing her decision. On the other hand, her friend Osborne was also a girl who knew how to get things her way…

 

The archaeology class was as brilliant as ever, and Sienna was greatly enjoying both the teacher’s witty performance and his outstanding good looks. The professor was well aware of his raging popularity among female students but managed to remain approachable, kindly, and respectful to all his students.

The gossip went that he remained single due to his extensive and frequent travels and expeditions, having being spotted a few times in local bars in the company of one-stand acquaintances. Sarah and Sienna were of the opinion that until the young professor kept away from the students, the dean was willing to turn a blind eye on the man’s personal affairs. Other students were not as understanding of the hot teacher’s situation and kept provoking him with the lowest possible cleavages, baiting poses, and a multitude of other womanly tricks. Sarah and Sienna were only wondering at the handsome man’s outstanding stoicism and continuous impeccable manners.

 

Finally, the sun painted the town in the shimmering hues of old gold, the classes were over, and the two friends headed to the exit from the main building. There were still a couple of hours remaining until the party, and they were discussing ways of spending this time when Sarah’s face instantly fell as she spotted two Bartoli brothers strolling back and forth at the entrance to the campus.

“Ah. There are your guards, Sienna! I still hope to catch a glimpse of you later tonight!” she kissed her friend and swiftly made herself scarce.

Drogo and Peter grinned at their lovely nanny and, as soon as she approached them, hugged her from both sides.

Drogo grumbled:

“Your Osborne sticks to you like glue! Why did you tell her that we were planning to go to the bar instead of the party? Now she will shadow you the whole night!”

Sienna smiled.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Sarah just loves live music, same as me, so it was just natural to tell her…”

Peter shook his head.

“Ah, dear Sienna, your kind heart sometimes borders on naïveté – Sarah is interested in you… the other way…”

Sienna frowned and looked warily at the brother.

“Peter, I don’t think this is right. She is just a friend…”

But Drogo interrupted her with a loud bout of pealing laughter.

“Yeah, right…!” then he changed his tone, flashed a credit card before Sienna’s eyes, and explained, grinning: “Nicolas was so kind as to offer us a proper preparation for the night… What’s your favorite fashion shops in town, little thing?”

When Sienna scoffed at him, he added:

“Dibs on helping you try on new clothes, little thing!”

The girl playfully curved her brow and retorted:

“You just keep on promising!”

Both brothers exchanged complicit wistful glances and squeezed the girl between them even tighter.

 

Professor Sebastian Jones was quietly enjoying his beer and eyeing young women in the King’s Head when the bar began filling with people coming for the live performance.

Luckily, the bar was far away from the campus, and there were few students and still fewer of those who attended his classes, the majority having preferred the on-campus party.

The Osborne girl showed up not long before the start, politely nodded to him, and kept on looking for someone. The professor took a glance about the room too, well aware that the two friends were practically inseparable, and if there was miss Osborne, miss Richards was bound to show up as well. His interest in the crowd raised a notch.

A supporting group was well into their performance when the professor spotted three persons entering the bar and heading to the counter. Those were the two Bartoli brothers and the stunning miss Richards. She looked dazzling in her cool nightclub clothes instead of the usual University uniform - the elegant asphalt-grey striped jumpsuit with spaghetti straps that enhanced the gracefulness of her shoulders, and a wine-red biker jacket… Truth be told, she was breathtaking. The two handsome brothers, well aware of the precious gem in their charge, never left her side and generally behaved very possessively. The professor could only agree with them.

Sebastian frowned when he saw the beautiful girl lean against Peter’s chest, her face obscured by the notorious blond pest’s back. The whole scene looked disturbing, and it made him worry about the girl.

 

Sienna smiled, leaning against Peter’s refreshingly cool torso and feeling his arms sliding around her waist. Drogo hovered over her, his face no longer sardonic, and finally lowered to languorously kiss her on her glistening wine-red lips. His palms subtly reached the sides of her breasts, squeezed them together, and his thumbs brushed her nipples. The girl moaned, and both brothers began covering the girl’s skin with kisses, all three oblivious to their surroundings.

With mounting apprehension, the professor was about to rise from his seat, but then he heard the girl’s gentle laughter and saw her graceful hands tousling Drogo’s hair.

After a while, when the leading band entered the scene, the trio disentangled from each other, ordered drinks, and started listening to music. The tunes were energetic enough for miss Richards to jump impatiently to her feet and start dancing.

That’s when miss Osborne joined her, and the two girls began having fun under the watchful eye of at least three men.

When a slow melody began, professor Jones resolutely made his way to the girls and asked miss Richards to a dance.

Miss Osborne grinned, winked at her friend, and stepped back, giving the professor the needed space next to miss Richards.

The beauty fearlessly looked him straight in the eyes, smiled, her lips now devoid of all traces of lipstick, and nodded. She obviously liked the professor’s initiative. Here, far away from studies, he was more relaxed, more charming, and manlier if it was possible at all… but most importantly, he was warm! Hot even, which the girl was enjoying the most. She trustingly leaned against his chest, smiling.

The man was moved and at the same time felt somewhat awkward at Sienna’s display of complete trust. Her gesture, even if a bit childish on the surface, communicated to him that she was well aware of him being a man and her being a young woman and that she was completely accepting it. It was as if she was telling him: “I trust you to be a gentleman.” Her openness and fragility spellbound the professor more than her looks or her sharp intellect and rendered him defenseless against her charm. Now he understood how the Bartolis were feeling around this young woman and unexpectedly felt a pang of envy.

But although he obviously enjoyed her company (his body could not lie about this!), his gaze kept searching for something on her neck…

Sienna smiled at the man, squeezed his hand and said, looking him straight in the eye:

“I’m fine, Professor Jones, and while I appreciate your concern, let me tell you that you will find nothing on my neck, or anywhere else, for that matter. My faithful bodyguards never hurt me, they consider me to be a part of their family, and as such are very careful with my fragile body, so you shouldn’t worry, sir.”

Sebastian returned her look and gravely nodded to her.

“Sorry for disturbing you, miss Richards, but I felt obliged to make sure… I am happy to see you in good health and good spirits.”

“I like the way you dance with me, sir,” she told him in a sincere and gentle manner, without any hidden agenda, just stating the fact.

The professor gave her a bright smile:

“I enjoy dancing with you too, miss Richards.”

She looked at him inquisitively.

“You move well. Is this because you practice dancing, or is it some other activity that gives you such smoothness?”

The man smiled.

“Oh, thank you for the compliment, Miss Richards. But I must admit that my primary focus for this dance was to check on my student’s safety. Otherwise, I’m afraid my dancing skill is a bit rusty…”

The girl laughed and cheerfully shook her head.

“Nonsense. I just know that you can feel the music in your bones!”

He shrugged his shoulders and smiled.

“That’s why I go to places with live music.”

Sienna warmly smiled at him.

“Good to know, sir.”

They kept dancing for a while longer, silently relishing in the heat and cordiality of their bodily contact, none of them wishing to break it.

Sometime later, professor Jones cleared his throat and asked:

“What do you reckon, miss Richards, would it be interesting to you and your fellow students to participate in a study excavation? There is a site just outside the town limits, where your group could be exposed to a field study, you’ll learn to read the terrain, work in accordance with the protocols that we have already covered, and you’ll get the taste of a real excavation…”

Sienna stirred in his arms and started eagerly nodding.

“Where? Where exactly is this site?” she uttered breathlessly, squeezing his hand in her enthusiasm.

Professor Jones laughed.

“Oh, I like such fervor in my students! The site is just a dozen kilometers along the south-east road, the local Muscogee culture. I already got all the necessary permits and was planning on visiting it this weekend to decide upon the scope of works and what precisely my first-years would be capable of doing…”

The girl stirred, her eyes ablaze.

“Take me with you! Please! I am not local, I had no idea that there were such points of interest in these parts! Please, professor! You will make me very happy!”

Sebastian sighed, looking the girl in her beautiful lively eyes.

He hesitated.

Then finally he smiled and said:

“Why not? I will pick you up on Sunday from the Bartolis at noon. Does that suit you, young lady?”

Sienna grinned happily.

“Definitely!”

 

The rest of the evening Sebastian made no attempts at whisking the girl away from her friend Sarah and her two lascivious bodyguards, trying to figure out if he was right yielding to the girl’s wish and feeling involuntarily happy when meeting her joyous eyes from time to time.

 

***

Sienna opened her eyes and squinted into the morning sun. Her shoulder felt numb from the weight of Nicolas’s head. Carefully, she observed her surroundings. The three brothers were clinging to her in their sleep like cats, and, like cats, were making it impossible for her to move.

Gently, she started disentangling herself from the mound of arms and legs, removed Drogo’s hand from her breast, and suddenly met Peter’s green gaze fixing her motionlessly. She smiled at him and lightly brushed a strand of hair out of his face. The brothers started to stir, stretch themselves and randomly stroke the girl.

Finally, the whole crew left the bed and went to their rooms for the morning ablutions.

Sienna smiled at the sunrays filling her room, made the sun salutation series then went to the bathroom.

Having completed her morning rituals, the girl hurried to her charge’s bedroom and spent the next hour taking care of Lorie.

 

Nicolas smiled, having heard another peal of girlish laughter from upstairs, and sighed contentedly.

“I must admit that hiring Sienna turned out to be the best decision of the century,” he said quietly, turning the pancake.

Peter frowned. His nimble fingers were picking the ripest strawberries from the basket and removing green petals from them.

“You realize, however, that it will not last long. We cannot keep her with us forever, she has her own life to live…”

Drogo sighed, fiddling with the espresso machine.

“Spoilsport! You’re such a whiny wuss at times, bro! Why would she need to leave if we take care of all her needs?”

Nicolas shook his head.

“Peter is right. Even a golden cage is still a cage. The only thing we can do is offer her to start her family here, under our roof, or bring one here if she chooses to…”

Drogo bared his canines.

“A man under our roof?! Have you got completely mad, my brother?! Are you saying that we all will have to listen to him banging her?!”

Nicolas looked him strictly in the eye.

“Are you saying that you can make your heart start pumping blood and have an erection?”

Drogo winced and scoffed:

“Don’t be such a fossil, bro! There are hundreds of ways to satisfy a woman even without a boner!”

Peter grew less gloomy as a thought occurred to him.

“We cannot keep her here forever, but if she transmits her joyous nature to her children, wouldn’t it be delightful if this manor rings with the laughs of her descendants?”

Nicolas’s eyes flashed.

“And it will be considerably easier to keep up the appearance of normalcy if at least a part of our manor’s inhabitants are mortals…”

Drogo rolled his eyes to the ceiling.

“This is all well, but I still refuse to hear anyone bang our nanny under this roof! I’ll rip his throat to shreds before it happens!”

Nicolas frowned. He wasn’t inclined to continue this conversation, so he waived the spatula and said resolutely:

“All right, gents. Carpe diem!”

And, as if on cue, Sienna and Lorie, both beaming, barged into the kitchen, bringing in squeals of merriment.

Drogo hugged his little sister and caught Nicolas giving him a knowing look.

 

Before long, Sienna managed to bring everyone into a cheerful mood, organize a cleaning expedition to the attic, and find a use for Lorie’s old mangled toys. She and Lorie buried them at different locations on the grounds along with scraps of cloth and other small objects found in the attic with the intention to “forget” them and then play archaeologists and conduct “digs” in the following weeks. To make it even more interesting, some “graves” were done by Sienna alone, and the others by Lorie. In this way, the “discovery” would become more realistic!

After that, she thanked everyone, grabbed her bag, and left to meet Sarah downtown.

 

They were both sitting at a sunny veranda eating ice-cream when their eyes met, and something in Sarah’s look made Sienna think of the Bartolis’ allusions. She further frowned as she remembered how her friend went out of her way to get to the faraway bar instead of the long-anticipated party just to dance with her in the same room with her sworn enemies.

Sarah noticed a crease forming between Sienna’s brows and stirred:

“What’s bothering you, sweetie?”

Sienna winced.

“Eh, nothing, just a stray thought…”

“A thought that makes you scowl is better be let out than left inside stewing! Out with it, girl!”

Sienna shook her head, having made a decision.

“I do not want any misunderstanding cloud our friendship, Sarah. I’m apologizing in advance if I interpreted the situation in the wrong way but I must tell you just in case that I’m a boring “straight into boys” type. I love you dearly, and you are my closest friend, but it’s just that. Sorry if I got it wrong.”

For a moment, Sarah remained motionless. Then all color drained from her face and she uttered a quiet: “Oh.”

She stayed silent for a long while mulling over her friend’s declaration.

Sienna was waiting patiently for her friend’s response, absent-mindedly poking thawed ice-cream with her spoon.

Finally, Sarah sighed deeply and, attempting to keep a cheerful face, launched into an explanation:

“Ah… I… probably got carried away a bit, you know, and it could seem to you that I was… ah… maybe a little too… clingy? We’ve become so close this past month that… yeah, I totally know that you’re into guys, I’m well aware of that, but… oh well, it was just a misunderstanding…!”

Sienna nodded with the look saying “case closed” and moved onto another subject.

 

***

On Sunday, at precisely 12 p.m., an army green pickup jeep stopped at the gate, and professor Jones stepped out of it. He was dressed casually in a white tank and checkered red-and-blue plaid shirt, blue jeans, and soft moccasins. Overall, this ruggedly handsome version of his looked much more charming than his sterile University persona. Having spotted the car at the gate, Sienna cheerfully smiled at her teacher, grabbed her bag, rose from the bench, and headed to the gate.

“Good afternoon, professor! I’m impressed with your punctuality!” she said, grinning.

Sebastian nodded to her and ushered the girl to the passenger seat.

His movements were assured and fluid, and Sienna took pains to avoid staring at him for too long, taking instead an interest in the equipment stored at the back of the truck.

“What are these pegs for?” she asked, peeking through the back window.

Having cast her a cursive look, Sebastian started the engine and replied:

“To mark out the perimeter and points of focus. There is also a lot of twine involved… But it will be a job for the class… Today, I intend only to lay out the perimeter…”

Sienna grinned happily, impatiently wriggling in her seat.

 

The afternoon flew by with the speed of light in a torrent of exciting conversations, witty insights, a substantial amount of groundwork, and occasional laughs.

When the sunlight was finally gone, and both enthusiasts were rolling up their tools by the light of the pickup headlamps, Sebastian hesitated for a spell, then asked Sienna:

“Do you drink beer?”

The girl looked at him mischievously and grinned:

“Why, I’m of legal age to do that…” and she looked at him waiting for him to continue.

“I was thinking of ending this evening with a beer in the nearest bar. Would you like to join me?”

“That would be nice, thank you, sir!”

Sebastian heaved the tools into the truck and climbed into the driver’s seat. Before the girl joined him inside, he glanced into the rearview mirror, a question in his eyes: “What am I doing…?” But the girl was already opening her door, and the professor smiled at her:

“What a satisfying day! Thanks to you, we’ve done everything in one set, no need to return there before our field study.”

Sienna sighed.

“Pity. I would love to return there! It’s so peaceful and beautiful there! I wonder how it looks at night…”

Sebastian’s eyes shimmered when he looked at the girl.

“Yes, miss Richards, I agree, it’s a very nice site…”

Then he turned on the engine and drove them in the gathering darkness to a local bar.

“So, how did you find out about the condition of my employers?” the girl asked him nonchalantly and added, “You seemed pretty concerned about the state of my neck on Friday…”

Sebastian sighed and cast a mischievous gaze at the girl.

“I thought you’d know the title of my course by now, miss Richards…”

She giggled.

“Yeah, it’s Myths and Legends. But it’s one thing to study myths from an ethnographic standpoint and completely another to believe in them.”

Sebastian nodded.

“Point taken, miss Richards. Let’s just say that I’ve been traveling far and wide, and my travels provided me with a unique perspective on the matter. What about you? How have you discovered their secret?”

Sienna shrugged her shoulders.

“Oh, you know, it began with small things… Then I started making risqué jokes, and when once Nicolas asked me: “What would you do if it were true?” I replied that so far as I am safe and they don’t snack on kitties then their diet worries me about as much as keto diet or vegetarians. Since then, they started to open up to me, and I’ve discovered a very interesting subculture. Needless to say, I have been milking them for history-related information ever since. In short, even if I weren’t accepted to the University, I would still have plenty of research to make!”

Her professor nodded, keeping his eyes on the road and sighed wistfully.

“It’s a pity they won’t talk to an outsider like me. I would also have a ton of questions to ask them!”

Sienna looked at him playfully and grinned:

“Maybe we could arrange a partnership… I could be the one posing your questions to them …”

Sebastian’s gaze darted at her.

“That would be… awesome!”

Then he frowned and added:

“But still, it cannot have any impact on your grades, miss Richards…”

Sienna easily shrugged her shoulders.

“Bah, I’m not worried in the least about them, sir!”

The professor let a crooked grin brighten his face.

“Then what would you want in exchange, Miss Richards?”

The girl playfully pouted her lips.

“Oh, I don’t know yet… Maybe a dance once in a while, or some such…”

Sebastian sighed, visibly uneasy.

“Ah, Miss Richards… Thing is… I’m treading on thin ice with you already… You are an exceptionally bright student, you are a clever and mature young adult and… an extremely attractive young woman to boot, but…”

“You are my teacher,” Sienna finished for him. Then she paused, thought it through, and answered in a calm and grave voice: “I am fully aware, professor Jones, of this fact. Sorry if I overstepped the boundaries. I do not seek to ruin your career. As you may have noticed I have never even flirted with you before last Friday. I know the limitations of our society. But I hope you’ll believe me when I say that… ugh, how to put it… I feel that you can give me so much! And I want it all! I want your knowledge, your experience, your warmth…” she blushed then gulped and added, “I am indeed your student, but in a much more encompassing way…”

Sebastian was gripping the wheel much tighter than was required for driving, there was some perspiration covering his forehead and upper lip as he was trying to think fast.

But the girl did not give him enough time to devise a reply and said peaceably:

“Well, I’ve always known that my wishes have no limits. Sorry for embarrassing you. Please, sir, disregard what I just said, I still need to have my grade in Myths and Legends and I am totally capable of focusing on my studies.”

Sebastian made an effort to glance at the courageous girl and clenched his teeth. He just could not resist her. After her speech, he was on the verge of driving the car to a stop at the side of the road and… Maker, where is that blasted bar already?!

He cleared his throat and said aloud:

“Thank you for your candor, miss… Richards. Your sincerity and courage are rare gifts. Don’t lose them, even if it brings you trouble. You are smart enough to use them wisely… Allow me not to respond to you at this time, but rest assured that I took to heart what you just said…” he paused and looked her in the eye to enhance the effect of his words, then continued on a lighter tone: “So, what’s the earliest date that your… ah, employers can reliably remember?”

 

The boombox in the Hoot’s Hooves proved to have a decent collection of music, and Sienna could not resist to switch on a few favorite songs.

An hour later, Sebastian found himself dancing and laughing with his gorgeous student, smelling her honey-color hair and looking her in the eyes. He felt drunk, but not with beer. When she trustingly leaned her back against his torso, swaying to the music, his arms squeezed her hips with such relish that he was afraid that his body would betray him. He pressed his cheek to her temple and murmured:

“Somebody stop me…”

But the girl was as entranced as he was, and they danced well into the night.

 

Sienna tried to creep into the manor as quietly as possible, but as soon as she reached her room, Drogo’s blonde head materialized in the doorway.

“Had some fun, little thing?” he purred in his usual sardonic voice, but his eyes, by contrast, were attentive and serious.

Sienna smiled at him tiredly and entered the bathroom.

“Oh, you know, archaeology is my thing, so, yes, I had enormous fun!”

The blond vampire appeared behind her and pensively started to trace her spaghetti tank straps with his fingertips.

“You smell of beer, smoke, and professor Jones’s cologne, little thing. Do they conduct digs in bars these days?”

The girl smiled as she started brushing her hair.

“Am I becoming senile or am I detecting jealousy, Drogo? You, of all people!”

The vampire switched on the water in the bathroom and took Sienna’s hairbrush.

“Don’t fret and stand still…” he murmured in a deep voice as he began brushing her hair. The way he unexpectedly hid all his thorns intrigued her, and the girl obeyed him, taking care to observe them both in the mirror.

“Why do you avoid mirrors?” she asked him cautiously while enjoying him fiddling with her hair.

“We don’t see ourselves in the mirrors as you do,” Drogo replied vaguely, carefully drawing the brush through her locks.

He was not inclined to elaborate, focusing instead on his movements.

After he finished brushing her hair, he slipped again his fingers under her spaghetti straps and slowly slid them off her shoulders.

“You have very beautiful shoulders,” he whispered in her ear, lightly tracing her neck and shoulders with his fingertips.

She did not respond, her body readily stirring to get what she couldn’t get for the whole past day.

She heard a soft quiet laughter behind her.

“Ah, little thing, but you are horny!”

She frowned and bit her lip, blushing. Then she said in a quiet but firm voice:

“Yes, I am, Drogo. And unless you want to help me with that please stop touching me or I will melt like butter here.”

He breathed into her nape, softly laughing.

“Oh, but I have every intention to help you with your… ah… difficulty, little thing, if you do not mind…”

The girl bit her lip and, furiously blushing, shook her head, still watching them in the mirror.

Drogo pressed her against his torso, nuzzling her nape. His hands squeezed under her top and found her nipples. The girl shivered, her skin covering in goosebumps and her nipples contracting. His caresses of her breasts soon triggered a languorous fire between her legs, and a moan escaped her. She leaned against him and threw her arms behind her to caress his head. The vampire started touching her neck with his lips and the tip of his tongue, and Sienna caught her breath – it was both madly arousing and terrifying. As if sensing her distress, Drogo resolutely took her top off, then his own tee, slowly removed her bra and covered her breasts with his palms, looking at their reflection in the mirror.

Still looking there, he started kissing the girl’s temple and nape, tousling her hair with his nose and lips.

“We look good together, like for a magazine cover, don’t you think?” he whispered in her ear, slightly smirking. “But you still have too many clothes on…”

His hands slowly released her breasts and crept toward the zipper of her jeans.

Spellbound, Sienna watched him unbutton her jeans, lower the zipper, and slide them along with her panties to the floor at her feet.

Her heart began pounding so fast that she was afraid to lose consciousness. She stood there stark naked with the vampire behind her, her butt brushing against his crotch and the coarse fabric of his pants. His left palm glided up to squeeze her breast, and the right one covered her pubic area.

Her breath hastened as she felt his fingers exploring her…

“Mmmm, how I like this juicy little oasis,” he exhaled “it practically implores me…”

Sienna found her arms moving as if of their own free will and clutching at Drogo’s hips.

He laughed softly.

“Impatient, aren’t we?”

But he did not dally any more, as he gently made her bend forward toward the mirror and squatted behind her, his face positioned ideally in front of her butt.

She could not retain a loud guttural groan escaping her as his tongue slithered inside, making her gasp and shudder with rapture.

But after a while, Drogo stopped and said:

“Now, your bath is ready, little thing. You should go on with your evening rituals…”

Infuriated, she straightened up and turned to him.

He was standing there, grinning and licking his lips, his hands dexterously unbuttoning his jeans.

Seeing this, Sienna quickly calmed, sat at the edge of the bathtub, observing his movements with playful curiosity, but Drogo chased her into the tub with wide shooing gestures, dropped his clothes to the floor, and joined her in the hot bubbly water. Their feverish eyes met, and she understood only now how much he had been wanting her, a mad desire burning in his eyes.

Here, he switched gears and, no more deliberate, confidently pulled Sienna toward him and covered her mouth with his avid lips smelling of her. Her built-up passions releasing, the girl moaned and pressed herself against his hard, muscled body warmed by the hot water.

She could not really tell whether she was making love to Drogo here or to the professor, whose arms had initially set her on fire. But she felt such passion consuming both of them that she did not even get into details of what was happening to her. Only after their moans and groans subsided did she register that what she was feeling inside her were in fact Drogo’s fingers.

Bewildered, she looked into his tired and happy face and saw him forming a soft smile.

“Oh, you thought it would be like with your professor sweetheart?” Drogo’s crooked grin had a tinge of bitterness. “We can feel everything you feel, my dear little thing. It’s a good thing to know if in the future you’ll want to fake your orgasm… But this one was delicious… You are so hot, little nanny…”

He kissed her on the lips, still laughing at her confusion.

Tentatively, Sienna slid her hand downward. The young man let her touch his limp member, sighed and explained:

“It is as sensitive as in life, but a blow-job has never been more pointless ever since I transformed…”

Sienna’s beautiful face creased in compassionate worry.

“But what does please you?”

Drogo laughed, caressing the girl’s cheek.

“Aw, this is so endearing!... Everything a normal guy enjoys would please me, I would just have to borrow your climax… and I would not advise you to witness mine.”

Sienna frowned again. She thought she understood where he was getting at but nevertheless decided to clarify:

“Meaning?”

Drogo leaned to her ear and purred:

“I cum when I feed…”

She shuddered, but a wickedly-sweet wave of pleasure incited her to pull his face to hers and start kissing him on the mouth.

After a pause, Drogo laughed merrily, looking into the girl’s eyes:

“Round two, I guess?”

She pushed him to the edge of the tub with a crooked grin and murmured:

“You just gave me a thought…”

This time, they took their sweet time to explore each other’s bodies to the delight of both parties.

The dawn started creeping through the windows into the bathroom when the couple finally climbed out of the water.

“Glad that we have a good water-heating system,” smiled Drogo while rubbing Sienna’s arms wrapped in a large towel.

She nodded.

“Another peculiarity of having sex with a vampire...”

Drogo looked at the girl askance.

“So… how was it to you, little thing?”

She smiled at him mischievously:

“If you mean to ask whether I plan on repeating such exercise in the future, I must admit that this was a very…” she kissed him on the lips “pleasant experience, and that I have nothing against repeating it.”

Drogo smiled.

“Then off you go to bed, little thing, for you must sleep. I authorize you to skip the morning class today, and, as I am the culprit here, I will keep Nicolas and Lorie out of your hair today. Sleep tight.”

Sienna sighed with relief as she climbed into her bed, yawned and mumbled, already half-asleep:

“I would’ve never guessed that you were so sensual…”

He smiled, sat next to her on her bed, and whispered:

“You’ve no idea what I’m capable of…”

She sighed and murmured:

“You know, when you first stood behind me, I almost expected you to dig into my neck…”

Drogo looked at her attentively, lovingly stroked her hair and whispered:

“I was almost on the verge of devouring you, my sweetness…”

He tenderly kissed her on the corner of her mouth and left with a grim face, his lips firmly pressed together.

 

Nicolas’s eyes seemed darker with sadness when he caught sight of Sienna descending the stairs.

“Good afternoon, Sienna. Your lunch is in the kitchen,” he said neutrally and turned a page of the book he was pretending to read.

Sienna nodded to him, hesitated, then went straight to the eldest brother, lowered to him, and kissed him on the cheek.

“Good afternoon, Nicolas. Thank you for your concern.”

She straightened and put her hand on his shoulder. After a brief hesitation, she said:

“I think we need to talk.”

Nicolas raised his eyes on her and nodded.

“Yes, I believe we do.”

His effort to stay neutral broke the girl’s heart.

“Oh, Nicolas…”

And, instead of talking, they unexpectedly found themselves in each other’s arms and started kissing.

When having a pause to catch her breath, Sienna looked into his eyes, her pupils dilated, and murmured:

“I love all of you…”

 

***

She awoke in the wee hours of the next morning, disengaged from all the arms and legs of the three brothers, and went into the bathroom.

She remembered with a smile how the last night they all came to bid her goodnight and how she brazenly took off her clothes right under their bewildered and avid gazes, acting the most natural in the world, and went to bed, all of them following her like a pack of wolves.

Peter was the last one to join them but was the first one to press her to the bed with his weight. His kisses were feverish, betraying his underlying passion…

The memory of things that the four of them did, made Sienna’s stomach contract languorously, similar to the sweet terror on a roller-coaster ride.

She switched on hot water to fill the tub and dove in with a sigh of relief.

 

*****

A few days later, in the ever-bustling corridor of the main University building, Sienna was rummaging through her locker when she heard a derisive laugh and the unmistakable whiny voice of local troublemaker Samantha.

“Ah, isn’t this our local slut? I wonder how you have time for showing up here, given your busy schedule?”

Sienna did not even flinch. She calmly took out the needed book, closed the locker and regally strolled past Samantha, then paused, turned her head and, smiling sweetly, serenely told her:

“Ah, by the way you are fascinated with my life I bet yours is extremely dull! Get a life, Samantha!”

And she calmly moved on through the crowd. She had learned early on that the best defense was the irreproachable attitude. When you feel that you’ve done nothing wrong, no dirt will cling to you and people will tend to give you a substantial benefit of a doubt.

Sarah joined her at the beginning of the class and smiled at her.

“Heard about your altercation with Samantha this morning. What a twat!”

Sienna laughed. “Poor thing! She has no idea what she gets into!”

Sarah looked at her friend, slightly troubled.

“You don’t think of… engaging… your… employers, do you?”

Sienna shook her head.

“Oh, I’ll make my best to play it down, but I’ll have a hard time keeping them off her if she does something royally stupid and they learn about it.”

 

After her dance class, Sienna passed by the library to pick up a few books for her essay and settled in the park to jot some notes for the paper.

While she was there, she had to toss a stray ball back to kids, play with a small dog, send Drogo packing for distracting her, ate a yoghurt that Peter had brought her, send him away as well, and then, finally, she had to admit that there were too many distractions to gather her thoughts.

So, she put on her prized semi-professional headphones, switched on her favorite OST, grabbed a municipal bicycle, and zoomed through the town to clear her head. By the time she reached the outskirts, the structure of her essay was thought through down to the minute detail, the only thing remaining was to write it down.

She looked around. Unconsciously, she drove to the same bar where she had a night out with professor Jones, and when she saw the familiar ‘Hoot’s Hooves’ sign she decided to land there.

She parked her bike, went inside, ordered a big mug of tea, and chose a seat near a window.

It was apparently a slow time at the bar, so she had no trouble finishing her homework in the quiet of this dilapidated but cozy place.

It was getting dark, a few customers arrived, and Sienna decided it was time to go. She gathered her stuff, paid for the tea, went to the exit, and… bumped right into professor Jones in the parking lot.

“Woah!... Miss… Richards?!... Here of all places???”

He was perplexed, to say the least.

Sienna raised her head and blinked a few times.

“Professor!... I am as surprised as you are...!”

The man frowned.

“I was checking on the site for our tomorrow’s class…”

“And I was just looking for a quiet spot to make my homework…”

Jones wrinkled his forehead doubtfully.

“Isn’t it a bit too far for just a quiet spot?”

Sienna sighed. She was well aware of how it looked. A bit blushing, she smiled, pointed to her bike and answered:

“A bike and a good playlist can get me very far sometimes. But I was already leaving for Bartolis, or Nicolas would fret again about the dangers of this town.”

They both laughed, and professor Jones nodded.

“All right, I can drop you there, your bike will fit nicely into the truck.”

Sienna laughed and shook her head.

“Oh, no, thank you, sir! It’s awkward enough as it is, and I don’t want you to skip your night cup because of me!”

The man cast a glance inside the bar, then looked at his student, and smiled.

“Nonsense! I insist! I don’t want to be the one explaining to your employers why I left you on your own in the gathering darkness!”

Sienna grinned then sighed and cast a tentative gaze at him.

“Are you sure, sir?”

Jones nodded.

“Yes, of course. Hop in, I’ll put your bike in the back…”

He pointed his car key to the army green pickup jeep and unlocked it, then took the municipal bike and headed toward his car.

Squirming inside, Sienna followed him, the magnetic sheer raw power of his body was disconcerting her again. Sure, her vampires were powerful creatures as well, but they lacked so much the golden shine of life! And professor Jones was brimming with life, and it was spellbinding.

This time, they were making little conversation, as if trying to keep their distance, but, in the silence, they were acutely aware of each other’s presence, and it only made things worse.

Sienna cleared her throat.

“Professor…”

“Yes?”

“Please pull over, I need some fresh air…”

Worried, Jones checked on her and obediently pulled to the side.

“What’s wrong, Miss Richards?” he asked, leaning toward her to see better her face.

Sienna darted outside and cupped her hands over her nose and mouth and breathed through them, closing her eyes.

Jones quickly went around the car and took the girl by the shoulders.

“Miss Richards, are you okay?”

The girl nodded, afraid to open her eyes, and muttered:

“I’m fine, professor. I’m sorry I scared you. Just give me a moment…”

But he still tried to discern something on her face and automatically brushed a lock from her forehead. One thing led to another, he began soothingly stroking her head and hugged the girl.

His presence and touch seemed to calm her, she relaxed in his arms, hid her nose on his chest, and hugged him in return.

A few minutes later, when her heartbeat subsided, she dared to ask:

“What do you usually do to keep your word?”

Professor Jones frowned and shifted uneasily.

“What do you mean?”

She moaned as if she had a sore tooth and dallied to explain.

The man sighed and told her in a low voice:

“Usually, I try not to complicate things by overthinking. Keep things simple, and everything will be all right. If what you promised is important to you then just shift your attention to the importance and the positive aspect of what you are doing; view the downside as a payment for all the good you do… That’s all I can say without a context.”

Sienna sighed deeply. Now, she was just standing and taking advantage of the man’s warmth and proximity. He sighed too, stroked her head again and asked her:

“Would you like to tell me about your family, Sienna? Would you mind me calling you Sienna?”

She shook her head.

“No. I don’t mind. I come from a family of diplomats; they are now on an assignment in a foreign country. We just use Skype a lot…”

“Siblings, grandparents?”

She shrugged her shoulders.

“No siblings, at least alive ones that I know of. My grandma lives on another continent, as well as other more distant relatives… why are you asking… sir?”

The man rubbed her stiff shoulders and smiled kindly.

“I just wanted to distract you from your worries… And it’s Sebastian. You may call me Sebastian. Let me share with you my family story as well. My father was a surgeon, he passed away a few years back. My mom is a painter, lives in Maryland. I have a little brother, Joseph, but you’d never guess he was my younger brother, he is a football player! You should see that grizzly taking up the whole doorframe! I often warn him that one day he will be unable to fit through the door!”

He laughed softly and contagiously, making Sienna laugh along.

The man continued animatedly:

“When we were young, and he still looked like a normal kid brother, I used to put him onto the back of our old mastiff, he would grab his collar and ride around the yard squealing in delight. Once, the dog just grew tired of his squeals and tried to shrug him off. And you know what? The kid just held onto the collar and dangled between Flash’s front paws all the way home! That’s when we learned of how tenacious he could be…”

Sienna laughed.

“So, your dog’s name was Flash?”

“Yep, like the superhero.”

“Cute.”

Sebastian cast a keen glance at her, smiled, and asked:

“Feeling better?”

The girl nodded.

“Yes. Thank you.”

“Ready to go home?”

“Yes. Thank you.”

“Good,” he guided her to her seat.

When they took their seats inside and closed their respective doors, there was a moment of silence; they just sat quietly, arranging their thoughts. Then Sebastian said in a low voice, his hands on the wheel, eyes looking straight ahead:

“If it is too hard to keep your word, you can always talk to the person you gave it to.”

Sienna looked at him. He lowered his gaze and was now looking at the wheel.

She smiled feebly and asked:

“Like negotiating another deal?”

The man scoffed.

“Yeah, something like that.” Then he finally looked at her, his eyes lucid and almost luminous, smiled and asked: “Shall we go now?”

The girl nodded and turned her head to look straight ahead.

He hesitated for a fraction of a second, aware that his hands were burning, and turned on the ignition.

 

At the gate, Jones got the bike from the bed of the truck and put it next to the girl.

She smiled at him and said:

“Thank you for the ride. And for telling me about your family.”

Jones nodded and asked:

“So, could you ask your employers what they know about the site we are gonna be digging? If some interesting detail pans out, I’ll be owing you a dance…”

As she looked at him strangely, he licked his lips and added:

“We’ll try to renegotiate the deal if it makes you so unhappy. I would hate to be the one to spoil your mood. Goodnight.”

Suddenly feeling bold, Sienna said to him, laughing:

“Something tells me that you are terrified of what you just said.”

Jones let out a tense smile, his eyes glinting feverishly.

“I try not to think about the implications.”

The girl smiled at him.

“Thank you, Dr. Jones. Have a good night.”

 

Luckily, there was no one in sight when she returned to her room.

Shaken with the events of the evening, Sienna was eagerly undressing, when she heard a quiet knock on the window.

She peeked outside and sighed – again this blasted night bird!

The owl was knocking on the glass with its beak and ogling the girl with its round eyes.

“Are there some sort of tasty insects on the window?” wondered Sienna, as she took a large towel and energetically waved it toward the bird. “Shoo! Get lost! Don’t form a habit knocking at my window at night! I need a rest!”

Finally, the flying pest was gone, and the girl went on with her evening chores.

 

***

It was another beautiful if a bit cloudy morning.

Sebastian turned his head but saw no one on the other pillow. She probably crept out at night or earlier in the morning.

Then he noticed a post-it note on the bedside lamp and took it.

“You are an awesome stud. Call xxx-xxx-xxx-xxx to repeat the ride 😉”

The man sighed, tossed the note, made his morning exercise routine, and went to take a shower. His head was blissfully devoid of thoughts, and he was simply enjoying the water trickling down his head and body. A cup of fresh coffee would do him a world of good, but since he learned about the new plans of his Alma Mater to fund a new expedition, he cut down on caffeine and beer and increased the intensity of his usual training even though there was still no official announcement made.

The bureaucratic stage was usually the longest, but still, Sebastian believed in being prepared. This study dig was coming very timely.

The man switched off the water and took a towel. Remembering the local dig site made him think of his students, or, more precisely, of one student. He sighed deeply as he wrapped the towel around his hips and went to the kitchen to prepare his breakfast. His thoughts drifted to the necessity to go shopping for the missing grocery and to other mundane tasks, and his member began calming down…

 

A towel on her head and a hairbrush in her hand, mimicking a microphone, Sienna was playing the pop-star in her bathroom, swaying to the sounds of her current favorite hit. Lorie was jumping at her side, making funny faces and trying to sing along, completely out of sync.

Both girls were laughing and grimacing until a knock on the door startled them. Peter’s voice reminded them to hurry up with their morning chores and prepare for school.

The girls wrinkled their noses but obeyed.

Lorie asked:

“Will you be taking me from school?”

Sienna shook her head and squatted before Lorie to level her eyes.

“Nicolas will take you home, dear. It’s Thursday, my practice day at the shooting range. But don’t worry, I will be back home just in time to conduct the digs with you, as promised.”

Lorie pouted, not really annoyed.

“Why do you go to that stupid shooting practice anyway?”

Sienna softly smiled.

“I used to go to the shooting range with my dad, he was an excellent sniper in his youth, so when I go to the range it is like I’m spending time with him. Thing is, Lorie, I miss him.”

The child pouted some more but quickly switched to another subject.

“So, you can really shoot anyone’s head off?”

Sienna laughed.

“I guess I can.”

Lorie then gravely nodded.

“You are a decent nanny.”

Sienna kissed the little girl and smiled:

“Thank you, Lorie.”