H.A.S to be Seen

Harlequin, Anime and Stories to be Seen

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Short romance story...
Me + Nabilah + Costume Party = Total Coo
dragonfireruby wrote in blackbistre
Title - One Mistake
Author - Bistre
Rating - M
Pairings - Bel/Ivan/Greg
Category - Romance
Summary - For mychalian

One Mistake
CHAPTER ONE: Unfortunate Circumstances
She was not meant to be here – wasn’t suppose to be here. Why? Why had things turned out the way it did? If only her father had not stepped into the gaming hall that night. If only he had not been so drunk that his judgment was gone – she would never have found herself in this unjust situation. Cynically, she thought that if her life was not filled with if only’s she probably wouldn’t have had the strange upbringing as she had had – but who was to know what one’s life would be like if something didn’t happen? She sat in the carriage, a paralysing feeling of cold dread swamping her senses.
“Come on Bel – be a good girl and come out of the carriage already.” Her father’s voice drifted from outside the carriage, shaking her out of her desperate musings. Bel – Belinda Goldings – was the eldest daughter of her once wealthy merchant father. But, from his lavish squandering of their wealth on fripperies and gambling – leaving them close to becoming destitute at times – her father had now sold her off to be wedded to some man to pay his cursed debts! Closing her sooty lashes briefly, and gritting her teeth against the urge to scream – she stepped out of the carriage, elegant and haughty with suppressed indignation. She shot a pointed glance of anger and disgust at her father.
“Girl, don’t look at me like that – you’re old enough to be wedded, that is…if Lord Ivan agrees to do so after taking a look at you.” Her father reasoned.
“So I am to be treated like cattle? A commodity to be bought and sold to assuage your gambling debts? I have to be the one to pay for your sins?” Bel retorted sharply. Turning away from her father in dismissal, she stalked up the stairs – as much as her skirts allowed her that is.
“I knew it was a waste of time and money to send that girl off to school” He grumbled under his breath. Hurrying after her, he sucked in his considerable gut – aware that with his age, his looks were no longer that of an athletic, darkly handsome man.
After being ushered politely into the opulent drawing room of the intimidating manor, Bel settled gracefully into one of the chairs, back straight and manner regal, a cold look of indifference on her face. Her father settled nervously in another one of the armchairs, drawing close to the cheery fire in the immense fireplace – grateful for the warmth after the coldness of the snow cloaked world outside and the frigid silence that lay between him and his daughter. She was contemplating life’s cruel ironies and misfortunes when he arrived.
The warrior.
Clad in gleaming black and silver armour, he towered over her – all imposing presence and air of lethal danger kept leashed. With curling chocolate hair that fell tousled over his broad forehead, a well kept beard gracing his face, lips seductively full and arrogant, straight roman nose, and his face was lean and all harsh planes and angles – as would be his body she mused – muscled and strong. Thin, expressive eyebrows pulled darkly over shadowed coffee coloured eyes – which at the moment – were gazing at her so boldly that she feared that his penetrating gaze would discern her thoughts. But – he was the most handsome man she had ever seen, and suddenly she thought that it wouldn’t be too bad to be married to such a man as him. She started at that thought. What in the deuce was she thinking? Thinking about the man that she was being sold to, like a slave.
Apparently he had just arrived from the palace, clad in battle gear as he was. Bel rose politely from her chair and curtsied, a blush staining her cheeks at her indecent thoughts. She was surprised that she noticed how good-looking the man was – it wasn’t as though she seldom met handsome men. But there was something about him that pulled her irresistibly towards him.
“Well, Lord Ivan, I present to you my daughter. Think her suitable, my friend?” Her father’s obsequious voice broke through her rioting thoughts. Reminded that her father was trying to marry her off –fury renewed itself. Disgusted at herself, but even more so with Lord Ivan and her father, she regarded the knight with barely concealed loathing.
“Indeed.” Lord Ivan answered after a while, returning Bel’s look with an amused expression on his face, a dimple hinting at the corner of his mouth. Bel tried her best not to be charmed by the endearing dimple, and the way her body reacted – shivering at the cultivated husky voice that uttered that one word. Her gaze did not break from him, but her blush deepened anyway. Nor did his for that matter, and there were frank appraisal in those eyes…
“May I have a moment with your daughter Goldings? I wish to ask her something.” Lord Ivan finally said, breaking the tense silence that had developed. With a nod, her father hurried away. Alarmed, she stiffened and clasped her hands in front of her.
Ivan was stunned – and amused – but who wouldn’t be? Goldings owed him a lot of money with that reckless gambling habit of his, but instead of penning an IOU he had offered him his daughter. He wasn’t looking for a wife, but there were other reasons that made the idea of marriage feasible – things that this beautiful female would have no knowledge of. And beautiful she was. Raven black hair caught up fashionably with pale indigo ribands, inky brows that curved over ominously hostile black eyes, fair snow-white skin and adorably round face, lips – scarlet in colour – contrasting sharply with her colouring. Willowy and slender, she was not without generous curves, her ice-blue gown of simple lines and little embroidery draping it to perfection. And as she had curtsied in a swirl of silk petticoats he had caught a glimpse of a dainty foot clad in dark blue satin slippers – and the sight of such delicate femininity – no matter that she was taller then most women (though only coming to his shoulder) – made his breath catch without reason. She was so fragile, like a winter rose; rare, delicate and beautiful.
Abruptly he drew closer to her, noting with amusement the fear and surprise that glimmered in the dark depths of her eyes. Daringly, he took possession of a slender hand and brought it to his lips, kneeling before her on one knee in one fluid movement. Brushing a chaste kiss on her palm, he noted how she trembled at his touch. Yes, she would do well…it would be no inconvenience to marry her.
“My lady Belinda – will you marry me?” He asked – nay – commanded, his voice low and throaty. Bel could only stare back at him in shock – did the man just propose to her? Just like that? Speechless, she stared down at him in helpless bewilderment.

What was she suppose to say? To do? Wasn’t this the man who her father had sold her to? To pay off his gambling debts? Then why was this very man proposing to her, as if they were a couple? And why did she have that god-awful desire to say yes? Blinking back in confusion at him, she battled to find a way to answer – or to think. He was still on bended knee in front of her, one of her hands held imprisoned in his own larger ones. The mocking, amused glint in his eye and his half smile was distracting her. His touch was distracting her. And she was going to be married – sold – to him whether she said yes or not. With that cold realisation, she thought that he may just be toying with her.
She withdrew her hand from his, slowly, regally. A cold and disdaining look in her gaze as she stared down her nose at him, mouth set in grim lines.
“Milord, you need not to pretend with me. Nor am I foolish enough to think that your proposal, is anything but honourable. You think you can toy with me? Whether I agree to marry you or not – I will be sold to you. But answer I will – I will never, ever, be willing to marry you. Do not play with me.” She sneered, anger making her bare her teeth. A look of surprise crossed his face, taken aback by her rejection. The girl has brains – not that he was actually toying with her, but yes, she was right – his intentions were not honourable when he had proposed. Truth to tell, he wanted to engender the pretense that he had seriously thought of taking a wife – not just seemingly buy one on a lark.
Still on his knees, he captured her hand once again and brought it to his lips.
“You hurt me, my lady, by saying such things. Can you truthfully say that marrying me would be so undesirable? So distasteful? Bel?” He murmured. A rush of heat coursed through her, as his soft lips and surprising silky-rough texture of his beard caressed the sensitive skin of her hand at each word that he uttered. No. There was nothing undesirable about him perhaps…But to marry him in such a way! No, her soul rebelled at such a kind of slavery. To buy her was to lower her worth in terms of gold – he would lose whatever respect he had for her.
Quickly drawing her hand away again, and edging back away from him, she stared at him fearfully. Recognizing just how seductive and beguiling Lord Ivan actually was.
“My answer is still no, and nothing you can do or say will ever alter that.” She whispered eyes wide and wary.
“Is that a challenge Bel? Should I dare hope that it is, in hopes that I find that you secretly want to marry me? I think I should woo you and find out…” He said softly, his voice deep and rich with hidden meanings – rising from his position to stalk her with lithe strides. His eyes were intense and mesmerizing, his presence overpowering. She had backed away, step by step as he advanced upon her – until she encountered the armchair behind her. Paling, she stood her ground uncertainly, not knowing how to react to such a situation.
It was only until he was so close to her, that her breath brushed his cheek that he realized what he was doing. Seducing her? And actually feeling as though he must have her, this one and no other? Puzzled, he wondered if his reaction was because she had challenged and rejected him – something no woman had ever done – as he had always had them throwing themselves at his feet. How strange to find that he was the one, almost throwing himself at her feet. He advanced no further, but studied her in amazement. She was trembling slightly, eyes trying to find some other place to rest on besides him – white knuckled fists gripping the sides of her skirts, and pale as the moon. He had scared her. She was an innocent? She had never been seduced or courted before? He had encountered women with more experience then her…but would they do what she is doing now?
Something inside him softened. It was rare for him to find someone as innocent as she. Frightened just by a male coming too close. Unconsciously, he reached out a hand and cupped a soft cheek, his thumb brushing the corner of her mouth.
“Don’t be so frightened of me. Do you think I would hurt you?” He whispered. A blush hinted her cheeks and uncertainty crossed her countenance.
“You are intriguing my dear, and I think I will not let you go – no matter that you have refused my suit.” He added. Grinning at her with a wicked smile, he trailed his fingertips down her cheek before pulling away. She stared back at him, stunned and speechless. Again. Somehow she had a feeling that he would be doing that to her often – it was seldom that she didn’t have an opinion of her own.
“Come, my lady.” He said, offering her his arm. “I believe you are to dine with me tonight with your father. And tomorrow, perhaps you will allow me to court you – at least.” A hint of a smile curved his lips, his dark hair falling to veil one eye as he turned to her. He looked like a rogue. A very attractive one. More then a little appalled at herself, she accepted his proffered arm, deigning to agree to his courtesy then to refuse – she would not be churlish to this man, as being impolite was against her nature. But she held herself stiffly, walking beside him as though he did not exist, focus fixed firmly ahead.
He hid a smile. God! But she was like a queen – a rich merchant’s daughter was not a life for her. She deserved better. And you suppose that you can give her this? Did you not want to wed anyone just to gain what you want? A small voice asked snidely. He felt a twinge of guilt where his conscience used to exist. He had thought all had gone when…no matter. He will wed this woman. Why this particular one and no other he did not care to fathom. But, he smiled with satisfaction to himself - no woman had ever resisted him for long before – and he did not intend for that to start now.

Bel was torn. Between irritation and attraction, she could not begin to fathom Lord Ivan’s actions towards her. As they dined he proved to be a gracious and entertaining host, inquiring politely about business with her father and her day to day activities. But to her chagrin – she noticed that he did not speak of himself at all, and whenever she tried to make him talk, or her father that is – he would deftly turn the conversation away. Most annoying. They were seated at a beautiful mahogany table, with Lord Ivan seated at the head, her to his right and her father seated opposite her.
Bel was slightly disconcerted at how imposing Lord Ivan’s manor was – so lavishly styled and large, with rich furnishings and stunning opulence. The food that they ate were delicious and exquisitely made – but given the circumstances, Bel did not get to enjoy it much. He kept giving her looks, his coffee coloured eyes warm with pleasure, smiling at her as though the two of them shared some secret. A secret between lovers  – not that they were of course, but, to her shame – she coloured every time he looked her way, and her father noticed, smiling smugly to himself. For sure he would be thinking that the marriage was all set and his debts taken care of – devil take that man – she thought.
“What are you thinking my dear? You have been most distracted and not very talkative this whole evening.” A narrow masculine voice asked, intruding on her gloomy thoughts. Her brow sketched upwards slightly as she realized that it was Lord Ivan, who had so condescendingly called her ‘my dear’. God – she hated it when men used endearments; they just seem so – insincere.
“I was just reflecting on how pitiful it was that some men may indulge in vices, and end up forcing their relatives to pay for their sins, and of course – how some men may take advantage of that.” She answered curtly.
“Bel!” Her father exclaimed in reproach. Turning to Lord Ivan, he explained, “I am sorry milord, but Bel has been educated – unfortunately I was not aware that it would make her so strong willed, rude, and unlady-like.” She did not fail to notice the hidden insult and reprimand directed at her in his last comment.
Unlady-like was she? She rolled her eyes. Men! They always thought that a woman was only good for breeding, and land dowries – let alone the outrageous idea that they actually had a mind of their own. She snuck a look at Lord Ivan underneath her lashes – and how was he taking it? To her astonishment, once he regarded her for one long moment – he burst out laughing! His bold, wickedly sensual laughter rumbled out of him – making her feel as though they were sharing an intimate joke together in bed. She hurriedly pushed that random thought away. The man thought this amusing?
Openly glowering at the him, she waited for his laughter to stop.
“Ah, come Bel – I find your “unlady-like” behavior most refreshing – so allow me my amusement.” He finally said, rubbing one hand over his full lips to erase the smile that curved it. Brazen – he had never met one who was as impertinent as her - as he had never had one who didn’t flirt coquettishly, or try to seduce him in some way. But how naive she was! How idealistic! He had lost both of those virtues long ago, and though most women pretended them – they seldom were. Perhaps it was right of her to reject his proposal – he hardly did court her properly after all.
It perplexed him – he could have demanded that she marry him – but he did not want to. He could have taken another woman as his bride – but he wanted this one. What on earth had happened to his common sense? Yes, she was very pretty, and she amused him – to a point – with her sassy bluntness, and she was an innocent. Yet all these things he was sure he could find somewhere else in another woman – so then – why her? If he was honest with himself he would admit that he was attracted to her like he had never been to no other. But it was not love. No – not that – he had never felt that before, also, it was unlikely that love was this attraction that he felt with this woman, with Bel.
Perhaps, if he had her, his attraction for her would be slaked – and all would be normal, with him married and his cover made. Pragmatically, that was the best solution – ruefully, he wondered how much logic was actually in the decision in the end.
“Bel – would you care for a walk in my gardens? Or we can go to the library and have coffee – if you like?” He asked suddenly, eyes gleaming at the thought of having her alone.
“Well – why not do both? I can wait in the library for the two of you to come back – I dislike the cold.” Master Goldings interjected. Feeling trapped, Bel nodded in wordless consent, tight lipped and expression dark. Matchmaking always irritated her – and the prospect of being alone with this man again was not heartening. She was sure that if he got close to her again, she would be skittish and highly uncomfortable - what if he touched her cheek again?
“But wouldn’t you like to change out of all that armour? I imagine it must be heavy for you.” She commented sweetly, a sharp smile on her face. His lips twitched – the little minx was actually trying to insult him!
“If it would please you my lady, I will change at once before we take our walk – but no, this armour does no bother me at all. However – thank you for your concern, my dear.” With a concealed grin, he noted how her eyes flashed in irritation when he called her ‘my dear’. He bowed with a flourish and hurried off to change, his valet helping him to struggle out of his cumbersome armour and into black trousers, a white shirt and black, silver trimmed tunic, and a heavy, fur lined blue-black cloak.
Bel waited for him to appear – with more than a little agitation in her countenance. Taking a walk in his gardens while it was snowing outside? The man was insane to say the least. Then, he appeared – without his armour, and dressed mostly in black. He cut a fine figure, made more elegant and masculine, and irresistibly handsome in his lords' clothes. She fiddled with the fastenings of her own white cloak, trying to keep her eyes off him. What in the deuce are you thinking girl? Wasn’t he the man that your father is forcing you to marry against your will? Given, he wasn’t some pot-bellied, balding old lech that she had envisioned him to be – but just because he was unbelievably handsome shouldn’t change a thing!
Taking his proffered arm stiffly, they made their way to his gardens. She was right though, it was still snowing – the pure white flakes of coldness drifting down from the heavens to cloak the ground and the land with an ethereal quality. They tangled in her long hair, and his – motes of white sprinkling over them, turning their cheeks red from the cold. Shivering, she wrapped her cloak more firmly about her – insane man. Unexpectedly, he enfolded her with his own cloak, pulling her close to his side and began to lead her away from the path that lead to his gardens – and to her surprise she saw that he had a hothouse.
“Surely you did not think that I would let you freeze on our little walk did you?” He said, noting the surprise that crossed her face. She nodded her head, not trusting herself to answer when she was so close to the man. It was warm to be held next to him…and comforting. Considering that she rather be warm and close to the man she despised, then catch her death from cold – she allowed him to hold her. He smiled to himself - ah, but it was pleasant to be able to put an arm around a woman comfortably – she fit against him so well – letting him have no need to accommodate her like he would have to with a smaller woman. A blast of warm air greeted them as they stepped into the hothouse, and various scents of hothouse flowers assailed their senses.
With delight, Bel wandered over to some exotic looking flowers – delicate creamy petals with vivid scarlet centers. They were peculiarly shaped, and smelled delightful. Touching one slender finger to a delicate bloom, she turned to regard Lord Ivan.
“Orchids?” Bel asked, forgetting momentarily the enmity that she had for the man. She loved orchids – they were her favourite, but she seldom got to see one as they were hard to grow.
“Mmm…you like them?” He asked, drawing closer to her. She nodded. He grinned suddenly at a thought – if only she knew what the orchid meant. Catching the smile on his face, she frowned.
“And what are you smiling about now? Can I never do anything and not be smiled at?” She demanded crossly.
“No, no my dear, I wasn’t being amused at you – rather I was thinking about what the orchid signified.” A wicked smile was on his face, making him look like some pirate prince.
“And orchids would mean?” She pressed.
“They are a symbol for ‘many children’ – it’s considered a good thing to have them on your wedding – or so the Orientals think in the far eastern countries of this world. Is that why you like them?” He said, teasing in his voice and a sinful smile upon his face.
She flushed hotly.
“No – I’ve only ever like them because i thought them a beautiful flower.” She retorted.
“Yes…almost as beautiful as you.” He murmured, one hand reaching up to brush a tendril of hair away from her face. Startled, she jerked away – she had not noticed him so close to her! But he followed, not letting her distance them.
“What are you afraid of Bel? That you might actually like me?” He whispered. She did not answer, but it made her stop. Yes, she was scared that she might actually like him – but she was a coward to run like this. Seeing her stop, he was brought up short – mildly surprised that she would allow him to come close. Headstrong she was – he could tell that she disliked being controlled.
“I wonder…if you would let me kiss you, Bel?” He murmured in a low voice, a rasp of seduction threading through it. Before she could protest, his gentle lips brushed her cheek – and almost touched her own if she had not suddenly turned her face away – feeling as though she was branded from his touch.
“W-we should go back inside for coffee.” She mumbled, refusing to look at him in the eye – shocked at what would’ve have happened if she had not refused him. Feeling a heavy sense of disappointment, he agreed – turning sharply and walking away from her. Confused and mixed up with turbulent emotions, she followed after him – her father would be waiting for them to have coffee together – but she could not shake the image of disappointment writ clearly on his face, nor how it reflected her own disappointment that some little part of her felt…

She lay on her belly, surrounded and enveloped by the smothering comfort of pillows and satin sheets. Clutching a pillow, she rested her head atop it; gaze directed at her large bedroom windows. The curtains had not be drawn, as she had asked her maids to leave it be. It was pretty outside. The night’s inky blackness a contrast against the pure white of falling snow, the moon adding a peaceful luminance to the scene. Sighing, she buried her face into her pillow and rolled onto her back, the back of one hand resting upon her forehead.
Lord Ivan had treated her so politely when they came back. They had taken their coffee and talked most uncomfortably – she should be happy that he was retreating after her rejection of him – yet…she could not help but wonder, and feel a little… hurt by it all. Traitorous body. As surely it was all it was. Attraction. Granted, she had had little experience with it – but who could mistaken the heat that furled underneath her skin? How her breath became short, and the way an indefinable sense of pleasure filled her senses when she looked at him? It was all just lust. He was a very attractive man, so of course, it would be normal that women would lust after him.
She just wished that she wasn’t one of them.
Sighing, she hugged her pillow tighter against her chest, face drawn pensively. He wasn’t what she had expected at all – and at times, he was so…unnerving – rolling her eyes she turned onto her side and berated herself for being foolish. It was in this state of mind that she fell asleep – the lamps still glowing softly beside her bed, and windows unshielded from the beauty outside.
Gasping, she started up from her bed. Chest heaving and blood pounding in her cheeks, she trembled and wrapped her arms around herself. Seldom did she have dreams, well, not any that she remembered…but this one…this one she would remember. With difficulty, she realized that the lamps had guttered out long ago, and that outside – the world had grown darker, and was silently still. Midnight…the witching hour…
Closing her eyes briefly, she shifted to lean against the headboard of her bed, pulling the covers up around her in comfort. With one arm banded around a drawn up knee, and the other hand covering half her face, she tried to make sense of her dream. Why it had happened and what it meant. And what had she dreamed about?
Her blush came back in vengeance at that one word. How in the world could her mind conjure up such events? Such scenes? And about a man who would become her husband? A hysterical laugh threatened to escape. Yes – she was attracted to the man, and he had been very charming. But that dreamed disturbed her – it had seemed so real, so natural that the things that Ivan had done with her in that dream. A part of her was mortified, yet another part…yearned for such warmth.
She stilled suddenly. Ivan? When did he suddenly become just Ivan to her? Her fantastical dreaming must have affected her more deeply then she had thought. Perhaps that though the dream was not in any way indecent – it had seemed so real to her – the feel of being held, or being kissed by someone who loved her. But that was where the problem lay. Lord Ivan didn’t love her. It was not real, the dream. But somehow she felt…sad over this, a little bit empty at the harsh realization. Lord Ivan surely wasn’t a kind, and tender person that her dream made him out to be. In real life, he did not love her – did not want her.
Maybe…she was just wishing for things that she would never have, just wishing that – perhaps, being sold into a loveless and cold marriage would turn out not to be. Just dreams and wishes…ephemeral things that a child has. But it was sad that they never came true. Sighing, she slid down into her bed and curled up on her side. It was stupid to get all caught up over a dream, to project the want of being loved onto a face of someone that she did not know, and did not, in truth, care much about. It was better to just forget, and think of it only as a dream. Just a dream…


Morning came much faster than Bel had expected – after waking from that dream, she had lain in a half doze, her mind wandering in the way that sleep deprived and slightly irrational state that insomniacs would find themselves in at three in the morning. Reviving a little over the hot cup of tea that she had just made, she drooped in her chair, blinking slightly in the dim sunlight. She always had to wake up early; there were only maids to do the work.

Sighing a little, she gingerly got up from the chair suddenly irritable about the fact that she had lost sleep over a dream that involved Lord Ivan. Sneering to herself at that thought she went to start breakfast. Her younger brother and her father never helped, her father didn’t because he was a man and had pointed out that cooking was a woman’s job, and her brother couldn’t because he was young and utterly useless. Gritting her teeth, she thought that she wouldn’t have had to do this job if her father hadn’t squandered all his money, forcing them to fire their cook, governess and their butler.

Unfortunate but there it was, she had to cook, maintain the house and educate her brother. All in all, her days were busy, and whatever time she did get to have alone she spent it reading or writing stories. She was a bluestocking and damn happy about it. Though…being a rich merchant’s daughter and an educated person did leave her in some awkward positions. She had a ‘wealthy’ family, an education – just like the higher class of society, and yet their bloodline kept them from entering the high society that her father coveted. Frankly she thought quietly to herself that higher class people weren’t that much different from commoners – they only talked differently and didn’t smell as much.

It was when Bel was up to her elbows in dough that she was making for their bread when a maid rushed in, almost skidding on the tiles of the kitchen in her rush to report to her mistress. Rose, a cheerful and bright girl who possessed the wildest mop of brown curls was so excited that her words tumbled out of mouth in a barely intelligible rush.

“Lady Bel! There’s this gentlemen outside the door wanting to see you, oh goodness! He’s really handsome! Is he your suitor?” Rose spluttered. Bel frowned at the words ‘suitor’. Crushing the thought that it might mean that Lord Ivan was at the door, she calmly kept kneading the dough.

“You can tell the gentlemen that I am in no state to receive visitors at this god forsaken time. Tell him to call later –or even better –” Here she gave the dough an unjust thump, “Not to visit at all.”

“Ah Bel…I see you haven’t changed much at all.” A deep accented voice, heavily laced with amusement made Bel jerk her head up in surprise. Rose beside her gave an undignified squeak of alarm. Her body, acting faster than her mind, had already launched itself at the man that stood so casually in the doorway. Stopping herself short from throwing herself at him for a hug, aware that she was covered in flour and wearing a stained apron, Bel contented herself by staring.

So long…and he had not changed much at all. Surely, he was taller, stronger and even more handsome then she had remembered. His slightly wavy brown hair was cut short, the wide forehead and dark brows lending him a more brooding quality that he had not had when he was a boy, those same piercing grey-green eyes dancing with humour, the aristocratic bold nose, with that hint of a beard dusting his cheeks and his generous mouth had become more sensuous with age.

Gregory Butler.

“Greg…” Bel finally managed, the beginnings of a smile tilting the corners of her lips.

“Ah, I take it that that comment earlier wasn’t direct at me then?” His voice filled with laughter. She managed to smile, as flushing a little. Damn Lord Ivan – vaguely, she was aware of how silly it was to blame Ivan when it was really her fault to let her thoughts be so consumed by him. She stood a little awkwardly, unsure of what to do. For one she was dressed worse then a scullery maid, and covered in flour and looking – well – shabby. How embarrassing.

“Well? No hug? No, ‘I’m glad to see you again?’” Greg joked, and though he was smiling, his attentive gaze had noted her appearance and the puzzlement about it was obvious in the line that formed between his dark brows. Bel laughed a bit, finally answering,

“You wouldn’t want to have flour all over you would you? I’m hardly fit to see you, much less hug you.”

“Now, now, when have we ever cared about what we looked like? Remember when we first met? I was covered in mud and you were all pretty an elegant.” Stepping forward he clasped her hands, disregarding the white powder that immediately dusted him. Bel couldn’t help but grin a little, when she had first met Greg, he had fallen off his horse and been covered in mud. His horse had run away too, so when she came walking by, she mistook him for some crazy beggar – since he was asking if she had seen his horse.

Anyone with half a mind would see that someone covered in mud could not possibly own a horse, and she had said so. The were heatedly arguing until Greg’s manservant came looking for his master. After that, they had remained friends until his father had taken him abroad to study and learn the reins of being a viscount. Fondly, she squeezed his hands, glad to see a friendly face.

“I am glad you’re back. How have you been?” Bel said pleasantly.

“Better, since I am able to see you after so long.” Greg answered, half joking. Confused she regarded him under lowered lashes. Was the man flirting? Before she could ask, he had drawn her into a hug, startling her with the intimacy.

Sure, they had hugged before…but that was years ago and he was just a boy. Now… it felt different. It felt…rather nice in fact, Bel thought - with the sudden clarity that one gets when time slows when a new sensation is experienced. Tentatively, she raised her arms to awkwardly hug her friend back.

“Am I intruding?” Ivan suddenly interrupted in the doorway. Startled the two pulled away. Bel immediately went bright red, embarrassed at what could be scene as an awkward situation. Her and her shabby appearance caught hugging a rather handsome man, and being interrupted by another attractive man.

Before anyone can react, Bel cleared her throat and said calmly,

“Lord Ivan, I believe you haven’t met Viscount Gregory Butler. Allow me to introduce you to him; he’s a long time, close friend of mine.” Indicating gracefully, she quickly clarified their relationship.

“How do you do Lord Ivan?” Greg said pleasantly, offering a hand in greeting. Lord Ivan took it, returning the pleasantry. But however polite they seemed towards each other, there was no mistaking the edge of tension that coloured the air, nor the fact that each man gripped the other’s hand a little too firmly. Bel was uneasy with the grim line that Gregory’s mouth had become and the protective look in his eye – nor the jealous flare that lit in Ivan’s eye and the aggressive jut of his jaw.

She had a feeling that something very bad would be happening soon.

NOTE: I will be adding to the story chapter by chapter on this same post - so be sure to check it for new chapters ^_^


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Hahaha, I note that you reposted this without the harlequin label! Speaking of which, it makes me want to write things like now.

*laughs* yeah well, if anyone reads the story it becomes self explanatory

makes me wanna write too.... lol!!








awesome? *arches one eyebrow* okies...

*laughs* having the two cross over would be...mega complicated for me to write!! *laughs*

and and, ur icon!! from hikaru no go!!1 waaah!! sai is sooo cute!!

*laughs* michael shall be appearing this week...hopefully...

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