WARNING: More sex references.
We open 1841 with Charlotte and Bran taking a *cough* romantic weekend.
(NOTE: It’s been mentioned that you can’t see the sea in London, this is a mistake on Lot’s part.)
Brighton – 1841
I could see the sea from the window of our hotel room. In the distance it seemed blue, the Irish Sea had been grey-green when I crossed. There were plenty of places to see the sea in London but it wasn’t the same somehow, though I couldn’t put my finger on why.
I wondered what the children were doing, not that I needed to logically, Mrs Stapleton and Josef would keep them fed and entertained. I still wondered, maybe they’d like a trip to the seaside to… do whatever people did at the seaside, I supposed.
I inhaled the salt air deeply, which seemed odd after sooty London, then sighed and turned to lean against the ledge of the open window to look at Bran.
He was sprawled naked on the bed except for the sheet covering his modesty, I was sensitive to the fact he’d be mortified if he woke up completely naked but that didn’t mean I wanted to spoil the view too much. When he lay on his back his soft stomach caved in and his ribs stuck out, he’d grown his hair out and it was tousled around his face, even the hair under his arms made my womb do a little jig.
He stirred, smiled sleepily at me then realised how little cover he had. ‘Jesus,’ he muttered and grabbed at the sheet to pull it over his legs.
I jumped onto the bed, laughing, and my… everything decided to remind me how sore I was. ‘I was enjoying the view.’ I kissed him.
He broke away and gave me a look. ‘Is that my shirt?’
‘I didn’t think you’d appreciate all the passing gentleman getting a good look as I stood at the window.’ I clutched the hem to pull it off over my head.
He put his hands over mine. ‘I like it.’
I feigned a gasp. ‘Mr O’Connor, are you asking me to do it for your sexual satisfaction?’
He blushed. ‘I… I…’
I kissed him again. ‘I’m teasing.’ I straddled his lap and slid my hands over his squidgy stomach he was so sensitive about. I liked it, it was comfortable to rest my head against. ‘I’m not making fun, I’m having fun.’ Another soft kiss. ‘With you, chuckaboo.’
He flipped me onto my back and kissed my neck. ‘I love you so much.’
‘Mmmm, but if you want to go again it’ll have to be a hand or a suck, my pelvis is quite exhausted.’
He stopped kissing my neck and mumbled, ‘Sorry. I could kiss it better.’
‘Tempting…’ As Bran had never let himself go so much, I hadn’t truly appreciated the difficulties of keeping up with vampire stamina before.
He touched his nose to mine. ‘Are you happy?’
‘Yes.’ I wrapped my arms around him. ‘But it’s a bit strange not getting jumped on by children. Do you think they’re alright?’
‘I’m sure Mr Stapleton’s looking after them brilliantly,’ he said, though he seemed to be telling himself more than me.
‘Wait, we’re not supposed to be talking about children.’
‘Good point.’ And he went in to kiss me again.
I tilted my mouth away. ‘If you’re going to ask if I’m happy, you have to answer the question too. Only fair.’
He smiled and caressed my face. ‘The love of my life suggested a few days away, just the two of us, to celebrate our anniversary. There isn’t a word for how happy I am.’
I grinned. ‘Noodle.’
He went back to kissing my neck and I played my fingers through his hair.
‘Bran… How did you know you were in love with me? Not just lust, I mean,’ I asked.
He raised his head, cheeks flushed. ‘I… Well… I…’
‘You don’t have to be embarrassed, Bran, I noticed.’
His blush deepened.
I tugged the memory of our first meeting off the recently viewed shelf and played it. If I slowed it down I could see the moment where surprised turned to lust, and then to pain when I kicked him in the balls. It was too fast to see at normal speed but it was there, that fuck-me-now-damn-I-shouldn’t-have-thought-that look he got when he wanted sex and thought he shouldn’t. Which was every time he wanted sex.
‘Your eyes cloud over when you do that,’ Bran said.
‘Does it bother you?’
I flicked my fingers to put the memory back on the shelf. ‘Maybe I should consider something to hide that, from other people.’
He smiled faintly. ‘I loved you from the first moment I spoke to you. You were so smart and sure of yourself, so unafraid. I thought, “this is the woman I want to be with for the rest of my life”. The first time you slipped your hand into mine, I thought I was dreaming.’
I decided not to point out that it was the rest of my life, thinking about that was better than the twinge in my stomach and the thought of him feeling all that while I was carefully calculating how to manipulate it. I didn’t feel it often but I was beginning to recognise guilt, regret and maybe a little shame. It had been practical but that didn’t mean it had been right.
‘But what does love feel like?’ I asked. ‘How do you know it’s love?’
He rolled onto his back and frowned at the ceiling. ‘I think if it was so easy to define there’d be less written about it.’
‘Books don’t help on this one,’ I muttered.
‘What does it matter?’ Bran asked, shifting onto his side. ‘You know I love you, why define it?’
‘I don’t think it’s right that you don’t expect me to love you back.’
He frowned again, digging the lines deep in his forehead. ‘You’re happy and you want to stay for now, that’s enough.’ I noticed he didn’t mention anything about me liking him, he’d only ever mentioned it once and that felt a long time ago. ‘Asking you to love me is a bit much.’
‘No, it isn’t,’ I said.
‘You should expect love in return.’
‘Why would you think that?’
‘Because I love you,’ I said.
He stopped breathing. Literally stopped.
‘It took me awhile, but I think I do,’ I said, with less certainty than I would’ve liked.
He inhaled. ‘Can you say that again, please?’
It was tempting to tease him but I sensed it wasn’t the moment. ‘I love you.’
‘I love you,’ I said. ‘Stop saying please.’ I pulled him into a deep toe-curling kiss.
He threw off the sheet. I rolled him onto his back and we fell of the bed and landed on the floor with a thump. We were too busy to notice, but it was amazing no-one had complained about the noise.
Part of Jesse’s Studio’s Fiction Frenzy there will be a new episode of Victorian Mistress everyday from 4th June until 17th June 2017.