WARNING: Sexual references.
Lot keeps an eye on Veronica and tries to play referee.
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London – 1843
I was sitting in the library reading and listening to Veronica give the children their lessons a few rooms away. The children were very quiet, except for answering questions, which meant they were plotting against her. I wasn’t going to tell her, I had important research to do.
The front door opened and a few moments later Bran came into the library. He’d been to his club to see if he could sniff anything out about our dead aristos. He hardly ever went anymore.
‘I’d forgot how boring they were,’ he said. ‘I stopped by to see Atticus, he’s going to see if he can find out anything about similar corpses.’
‘More waiting then,’ I murmured and shifted forward on the couch. ‘Being a detective is slower than I thought.’
Bran sat behind me with his legs on either side of me and his arms around my waist. I settled back against his chest. He’d been drinking too much whiskey and smoking too much sweet tobacco, but that was what men went to clubs for. That, avoiding their wives, and betting on anything, including death.
‘What’re you reading?’ he asked, nuzzling my hair.
‘Ye Olde Impotence Cures,’ I said. ‘Subtitled Ye Olde Ways to Kill Your Husband. Is there anything you haven’t got a book on?’
‘I’m not…’ He blushed. ‘It works sometimes… For a bit…’
I chuckled. ‘It?’
‘I didn’t mean that how it sounded.’
I kissed his jaw. ‘Find out anything interesting?’
‘Only that I look like I should be digging a railway.’
‘We could add that to the list of games and call it: Naughty Navvy.’ I grinned. ‘Oh, Bran, dig deeper.’
He laughed against my neck.
‘Oh, Bran, what a big shovel you have.’
He raised his head to smile at me, curled his hand around the back of my head and kissed me deeply.
‘Feeling like a naughty navvy?’ I asked and touched my nose to his, caressing my hand along his jaw.
Bran drew my two of my fingers into his mouth, sucked them and gave me look that made my womb giddy. He hadn’t done that before.
‘I think I’m done,’ I said.
He took my fingers from his mouth and kissed them. ‘Shouldn’t you be reading about magic?’
‘You’re a wicked man trying to bend me to your will with your sexual wiles, sir.’ I kissed him softly.
‘You’re the first woman to tell me I have sexual wiles,’ he said.
‘You have this aroused look that could cause spontaneous orgasm at fifty paces.’
He turned bright red.
‘I was only reading this silliness because I know you’re unhappy and I don’t want you to be unhappy.’ I traced his lips with my thumb. ‘I could spend the rest of my life just kissing you and be perfectly happy.’
He gave me a look.
I shoved his shoulder lightly. ‘I’m serious and trying to be romantic.’
He caressed my face. ‘What did I do to deserve you?’
‘I don’t know. It must’ve been terrible.’ I nipped his lip. ‘Is this where I spoil the moment and point out that Josef meant well?’
He sighed and looked towards the ceiling.
I shut my book of supposedly modern medicine, shifted to kneel facing him and put the book on the table behind his head. ‘I’m not saying you shouldn’t be angry at him, if anything you should get angry more often, I’m just saying he meant well.’
I wrapped my arms around his neck. ‘He claimed Veronica to keep her mother away from you, he tried to protect you from me because he thought I might be like Elizabeth, and he just wants what’s best for his children.’
Bran settled his hands on my hips.
‘He’s an emotionally illiterate ass in many ways but he does love you.’ I nuzzled his nose. ‘I suppose I’d know a thing or two about that.’
‘You’re not an emotionally illiterate ass,’ he muttered.
I gave him a look. I was well aware that I had many faults and my limited emotional lexicon was one, it was improving but I was still many pages short.
‘You’re not an ass,’ he said.
I laughed. ‘Are you teasing me now, Brandon?’
‘Maybe,’ he whispered. ‘Josef told you this?’
I kissed his nose. ‘Seems no-one else is foolish enough to tell a two millennia old vampire he’s an arsehole. You should try it.’
‘Are you saying I’m foolish?’
‘Maybe I’m saying you’re not foolish enough. One of us does need to be sensible though.’ I kissed him, it was like kissing the inside of a whiskey bottle.
Small running feet thudded down the hallway. ‘Mummy!’ Mary shouted.
I sat back down and Bran handed me a book from the table, which didn’t feature impotence cures.
Mary burst through the door. ‘Mummy!’ She started to cry, climbed over Bran’s leg, under my book and onto my lap. ‘Miss Ronni gave us a spelling test and I got them all wrong.’ She sobbed and rubbed her face on my shirt. ‘I’m stuuuuuupid.’
‘You’re very clever,’ Bran said. ‘You know the names of all the plants in the garden and –‘
‘Can’t spell those either.’ She squeezed me so tight it was lucky I didn’t need to breathe. ‘Miss Ronni says I spell my name wrong too. It’s my name. Mummy said I can spell it how I want.’
‘Course you can,’ Bran said and hugged us both. It was a bit unfair that he was getting all the hug value without the mucus, parents were human shaped handkerchiefs as far as children were concerned.
‘I hate spelling,’ she wailed. ‘I want to go live in the sea. Fishes don’t need spelling.’
‘You never know, they could be writing little fish letters all the time,’ I said.
‘That’s silly, Mummy, fish can’t hold pens.’
‘They get the octopus to do it. They can do eight pages at once.’
‘Don’t want to be a noctipus,’ she sobbed.
‘I wouldn’t worry,’ I whispered. ‘I couldn’t read or write when I was your age.’
She raised her head and whined, ‘But you’re clever, Mummy.’
‘There you go then.’ I said. ‘You’re clever too.’
She hiccoughed and sneezed. I wiped her nose with a handkerchief before she could wipe it on me.
‘I can wipe my own nose, Mummy.’
‘I noticed. It’s all over me.’
She giggled as if she’d been particularly sly in her nose wiping.
Veronica peeked around the doorway. Bran shook his head and she retreated.
‘I’ll go be good and do my spellings if I can stay for cuddles for a bit.’
‘Of course you can,’ Bran said.
I got an elbow to the ribs as she made herself comfortable. She promptly fell asleep in the untroubled slumber of children who only had spellings to worry about. I kissed the top of her head and gave her a gentle squeeze. All children should sleep so. I remembered they didn’t.
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