Late sunlight tinges Helen’s skin as she strolls from the unfamiliar bedroom into the living area, the wooden walls and floor of their little rented cottage tinted red. Her thin summer dress moves gently against her skin as she walks. Just a light, whimsical thing, thrown on after her recent shower. Quite a contrast to her usual layers. But she’s going without those tonight.
And oh, what a relief to feel clean again after a day of hard work out in the rocky desert! She feels light, playful, like the sound of the wooden pearls of the curtain she passes through, the only thing separating the two rooms. It seems this house really is all about the wood.
It’s also all about open space, small as it is, and about the view over the desert. Rightly so. Helen bites her lip, tenderly amused when she finds Nikola reclining in one of the rattan chairs on one side of the room, facing the window front, wine glass in hand and watching the sunset.
He’s wearing a light beige suit, minus the jacket, having changed as well after all the work she put him through today. It suits him rather well. He’d been complaining all day, of course, and she’d let him shower ahead of her just to get him out of her hair. It had been worth it, it seems, for he looks content, if thoughtful. He also doesn’t react to her appearance, at least not verbally. He does look at her, watch her. Closely.
She enjoys having his attention, and tonight she’s not trying to hide it. If she ever could.
But she doesn’t go to him. She’s brought them here, now he has to come to her.
With all the time in the world, Helen strolls around the room, explores what the little cottage has to offer its guests. Books, mainly, and some music. An airy, summer atmosphere. And little else.
Well, they’re not here on vacation.
But the sun is setting, and it’s never a good idea to face rock worms in the dark, so she’s giving them the night off. Leaving room for different kinds of... entertainment.
She meanders across the wooden floor, enjoys the warm feeling under her bare feet. Heat from the day is still echoing in the air, and the warm wood around them smells like carefree summer evenings, lazing in the sun, listening to the sounds of nature until the mosquitoes come out to hunt. Nature’s way of not letting you get too complacent.
She runs her fingers along the smooth wood of the wall, and comes to a halt at the stereo. She can feel Nikola watching her as she lazily peruses the collection, the sound of wine being poured echoing behind her. She picks a CD at random, but it’s the weight of his gaze that has her choose the song she does.
Slowly, tentatively, the first notes begin to drift through the air, a relaxed calypso beat starting up to carry the lyrics. It easily seduces her hips into a subtle swing, matching her lazy, playful mood as the male voice bemoans having to ‘say goodbye for the summer’.
She’s surprised by how soft and comfortable the song turns out to be, if a bit melancholy. It brings a sad little smile to her lips, and she throws a short look over her shoulder at Nikola when the singer predicts a cold, lonely summer. They could so easily write their own song about saying goodbye, could they not? And she’s more than a little to blame for that.
The thought smarts, makes her grateful to be distracted by the next line. ‘Sealed with a kiss’ also seems quite fitting for them.
Nikola meets her eyes with a steady gaze. Is he thinking the same thing?
She’d sent him away. Again. And he had left.
She turns back, looks out over the dry, rough desert outside, bathed in the late evening light.
He has to realise why she asked him along. Why she’s here. With him. But he’s waiting, watching. Thinking.
She closes her eyes, enjoys the last rays of sunlight, her hips finding a gentle rhythm in the song, adding a little swing left, right... Whimsical.
She tilts her head back, sways to the low words drifting through the room. Lets go of everything else. Feeling Nikola watch her is comforting, familiar. For all his flirting, all his pushing, there’s also this side. The calm patience. The man that has already lived more than a century and a half. The man that waits for her.
The one she has always taken for granted.
Another look over her shoulder shows him still unmoving, still watching, unusually quiet. Keeping his distance. She smiles to herself, to them, a little sad.
The song changes as she ponders them, their years. Their exuberance, lost somewhere on the way. Their ease, fallen prey to one of the many goodbyes, mere shadows left behind of what they had before. Another thing taken for granted.
They stay like that for a song or two, her swaying gently, lost in thought, him watching from across the room.
How long has it been since they had an evening all to themselves? No work left to do, no interruptions waiting to happen. Just the two of them.
That’s what had drawn her out here, if she is to be honest. Topside. Alone. Nothing for miles.
The song changes again, and her gaze sinks down under the gentle, knowing voice singing words far too direct for all the recent events still fraying her nerves. So much destruction. So many hurt feelings.
It does, doesn’t it?
She looks back at Nikola once more, her smile gone. She moves for him now.
His gaze is unreadable. It has been unreadable ever since he’s joined her at the New Sanctuary.
She swallows when he doesn’t react, drops her gaze, then turns to face the sunset again. This is for him. But she wants him to take it.
She sees him in the window before she feels his hands on her waist, moving the chiffon across her skin as her hips sway in his hold, brush lightly against him.
“Love hurts, hm?” he mutters lowly against her ear, making her sigh in relief, her eyes falling shut. She sways slowly, enjoys having him near, finally, the warmth of his hands on her. Not quite allowing him to hold her. Refusing to lean back.
“Sometimes,” she says gently when she finally looks back at him, a sad smile on her lips once again. It turns into tender amusement when one of his hands leaves her waist to travel upward, brushing across the thin cloth until it reaches her one bare shoulder. Claws have come out, just visible in her peripheral view as they follow her teasing motion. She shivers. He knows her, reads her so well.
“And sometimes that’s the best kind,” she whispers, her shoulder playfully dipping out from under his touch. Their usual game. Age old game. Until it stops being a game.
He growls, and she allows a little moan. His hand drops back down to her hip, pulling her toward him, and she moves against him, even when his hold on her vanishes.
“Quite right,” she hears him say behind her, darkly amused, and stretches with a shiver when she feels the tip of his claw at her neck, ever so sharp, slowly dragging down. She hisses, her swaying growing somewhat stationary so as not to disturb whatever he is doing. Because she wants it all, whatever he is willing to give. To take.
She wants him to take.
She feels him gather her hair and helps by reaching to hold it up in a messy bun. He doesn’t comment, but the one vertical line is followed by another, and another, his claw moving without hesitation, unapologetic. It smarts, burns. Makes her hiss, and smile, and stretch her neck to bear his touch. A shorter line follows, crosses the others, or so it seems, then a horizontal one above the others, one below, then two short-
She freezes, taking a moment to properly recapitulate, redraw the lines in her mind.
“Tell me you didn’t just carve your initials into my neck,” she finally demands, unsure whether to feel angry, amused, or aroused.
“That would be lying.”
He is smirking, she can hear his smirk, but there’s also a harder tone underlying his words, one that has her swallow.
“You better hope they do not scar.”
She aims for threatening, not that that has ever really fazed him. Her tone misses the mark, though, and echoes through the endless space of ‘not quite ready to admit’, and she takes a deep breath and closes her eyes to wait out the accompanying feelings. His hand covers hers, pulls her fingers out of her hair to let it tumble free again.
“I’m tired of not having you,” he says, slipping his free hand under her hair and around her neck to run his thumb over his mark, causing it to burn brighter. “I won’t be sent away again.”
His thumb presses harder, wanders higher up the back of her neck as her head sinks to her chest under its insistence.
“I won’t,” she whispers, standing still, arms hanging passively at her side.
His hand holds her in place as his lips brush across her shoulder, a feather light touch that completely belies the strength of his hold on her.
“This is why we are here,” he observes, and she can only nod, a tiny motion under his hand.
His hands find the small of her back, press until she arches for him, then travel upwards to open the string holding the dress closed between her shoulder blades. The cloth gives way easily when he tugs the dress over her shoulder and down her arm, never having had much hold on her anyway. She watches in the window as the airy cloth floats down the length of her body, leaving her bare to the growing darkness outside.
The song changes then, another slow calypso rhythm picking up, and she watches herself begin to move for him again in the window, holding his gaze in the glass, open, honest, no more smiles to hide behind. The darkness outside allows for more details in the reflection, and she drinks in the matching dark intensity in his eyes.
He watches her in the glass, touches her in the flesh. Not guiding, not controlling. Taking liberties. Just because he can.
And she wants more, but she moves for him, waits for him. And he makes her wait. Makes her yearn.
“Nikola,” she finally whispers, and his grip on her waist tightens, his thumbs digging into the small of her back. Betraying his own yearning.
“Touch yourself,” he orders, his voice low and hungry as he presses his face into her hair.
It isn’t what she wants, but it is what she can give, so she does. She touches herself, runs her hands across her skin, watches herself explore her body in the darkness outside. For him. And his dark eyes watch, closely, his cheek pressed against hers. His hands on her waist.
She bites her lip, floating somewhere between feeling playful, and seductive, and vulnerable. Aroused. For him. Longing.
“More,” he demands, knowing, and she grips the window frame to steady herself as her other hand trails down obediently, dipping between her legs, teasing herself until her hips start moving in a very different rhythm than before.
“Nikola,” she says once more, a little word on a sigh, and she has no idea whether it’s a plea or a wish or affection, but he takes all of it, and so much more.
“I want your pleasure,” he tells her, his voice changing, claws growing around her waist, making her moan at the thrill of danger. Finally! Her hips buck against his claws, against the pleasure they ignite. “I want you to come, for me.” She shivers, moans, her fingers beginning to move in earnest. Sharp teeth brush against her neck as he speaks, and black eyes look at her in the window. It’s so difficult to keep her eyes open for him now, with the weight of pleasure pressing down, and so very unthinkable to look away, to break his spell on her. His claim, finally. “And I will mark you when you do, and your pleasure will be mine forever.”
She moans at that, long, low, defenceless and delighted.
“Yes,” she whispers when that sound has faded away, and bites her lip as he reaches around to cover her hand with his, forcing her to open her legs for his claws. He doesn’t touch her, but pushes her hand, demands more, and she obeys, pushes herself further for him, lets the pleasure cloud her mind and control her voice.
“Yes, Nikola, please,” she finally hears herself say, a moan, a plea. She’s close, heart beating wildly, and the thought of what awaits, of what is to come, only pushes her further, faster toward his promise.
And he knows her, reads her. Takes her.
“You will be mine,” he whispers against her ear just as she’s about to plead with him, and his words push her right into the first wave of her orgasm, into a loud, uninhibited moan, and then his teeth sink into her neck, just as predicted, and the sharp pain brings mind-numbing pleasure that has her cry out and arch her back, and then her knees buckle as she sees her body submit to his claim in the window. His teeth never leave her neck as they sink to the floor, as he keeps taking, keeps feeding, and her body keeps convulsing under him, against him.