Lot has the beginnings of a plan
Hastings – 1844
‘I have to grant Frank, this is good,’ I said flicking through the pamphlet I’d brought off him that explained the spell that trapped Heimdall.
‘I hope you’re not thinking what I think you’re thinking,’ Josef muttered as we strode down the hill from Frank’s house.
‘Depends what you’re thinking.’
‘That’s not funny, Charlotte.’ He swung in front of me and I walked into his solid chest with an ‘oof’. ‘You can’t challenge Rache, she might not seem like a fighter but you don’t live that long without being able to.’
I looked up at him. ‘I am married to Brandon, you know.’ I pressed my hand to his chest. ‘I have a plan… formulating.’
‘That’s not reassuring.’
I sighed. ‘I’ve temporarily resolved the potential problem of your getting skewed by The Rider. We know Merry’s abilities are manifesting through her drawing. And we have confirmation that Rache summoned The Rider. It’s progress.’
He sucked in a breath between his teeth with a sharp whistle and shook his head.
‘I might not have to challenge Rache. If Heimdall tells Agape who summoned her then Agape might take Rache out.’
Josef slid me a look. ‘Except you won’t let someone else do your dirty work.’
‘True, it doesn’t look good.’
He sighed and tucked the hand that wasn’t holding his cane into his pocket. ‘How is it when you love someone the things you love about them can also be the most infuriating?’
I patted his chest. ‘Emotions are fickle.’
‘I love conniving, protect the people you love at any cost, you, but it infuriates me.’
‘I can see how someone giving a shit about you could be annoying.’
He frowned. ‘Is that teasing or an actual jab?’
‘Not sure.’ I pinched the bridge of my nose. ‘You unbalance me in a way Bran doesn’t.’
‘Half the time I don’t know if I want to rage at you or fuck you.’
‘We could do both.’
I chuckled and sighed. ‘Challenging Rache isn’t my first choice. I’d have to fight her one-on-one and I don’t currently have enough of the variables to calculate the outcome. I haven’t seen her fight or use any of her abilities. I could manipulate her vanity but without conformation of her strengths and weaknesses that’s dangerous. She’s vain but she’s also the sort who likes to act indirectly and hide herself in the shadows. She presents one face but I don’t think it’s her true self. People like her are the most dangerous of all.’
He sighed and rubbed his beard. ‘Of course, you thought it through.’ He sighed. ‘I’m sorry, I just…’
‘Want to protect the people you love?’ I caressed his face. ‘Sef, worrying about me and expressing that worry isn’t the same as wrapping me in newspaper or doubting me. Would you ever stop me doing what I have to?’
‘Moments of saving my arse not included.’ I smiled. ‘Included under not included moments where I’m about to do something silly in a rage.’
He ran his fingers through my hair. ‘I’d never stop you being you.’ His fingers caught in the knots and he extracted them.
I drew him down and kissed him softly. ‘There you go then. Good man, not controlling, possessive man.’
He pressed his forehead to mine. ‘Not many things scare me but the thought of something happening to my family does.’
‘I know.’ I stroked his chest. ‘Me too, but we’re a team.’
‘Yes.’ He nuzzled my face. ‘But everyone knows, you’re the brains of the outfit and I’m the stunningly beautiful one.’
‘I’m not joking everyone wants a bit of this.’ He put my hands on my arse. ‘But it’s all yours, and maybe Bran’s.’ He grinned.
‘Hmmm…’ I squeezed his backside. ‘Let’s save that conversation for when I’ve got passed the guilt of unintentional peekaboo.’
He traced my jaw. ‘Any other accidental visions of my past?’
‘Maybe it was sex magic, that was some magical sex.’
I chuckled. ‘I don’t think sex magic is a thing, per se.’
‘They never had sex with you.’
‘Ooo, nicely played.’
He kissed my forehead softly.
‘I don’t suppose we’ll know till we try it.’ I smoothed his shirt. ‘I think, maybe, you invited me in somehow. Lowered your defences, perhaps.’ I shrugged. ‘But if you don’t realise you’re doing it I’m still going to feel guilty about it because that’s not technically the same as yes.’ I sighed. ‘Sometimes I miss the days I didn’t feel guilty.’
‘I don’t think that’s accurate.’
I smiled and kissed him. ‘I’m adding that to the list of reasons I love you.’
‘Watch that pedestal, it’s dangerous up there.’
He kissed my nose. ‘I meant perfect in your imperfection.’
‘Stop it.’ I played with a button on his waistcoat. ‘I’m trying to plot and you’re distracting me.’
He straightened and glanced about. ‘Fancy a quick one and we can try it out?’
I looked over at the cows. ‘I don’t care about people watching but cows? That’s just not right.’
‘You’re beautifully strange.’ He kissed me deeply.
I tapped his nose. ‘I’m not the only one, but there is a wood nearby.’
He swept me up like a groom about to carry his bride across the threshold. ‘There’s always time for a quick one.’
‘So romantic,’ I said, drier than kindling.
He strode across the field as if I had no weight. ‘It’s taken centuries to develop this charm.’
‘Were you working in negative figures before?’
He laughed from his toes.
Read Part Two of Today’s Double Bill Here