“Bah!” Sansa had been fiddling with her hair for the prior half hour before she left her apartment, and checking it in the rearview mirror of the taxi lumbering through midtown, it still seemed an unruly mess. Her fingers continued to pick at and arrange the auburn strands as she wondered how she ever let Loras talk her into this. A blind date for god’s sake! What was this, the eighties? She didn’t even have the guy’s name; just instructions to look for a man with a white rose and a silver bird pinned to his lapel. It felt like something she’d see in a bad Lifetime movie.
It wasn’t that Sansa was necessarily opposed to dating someone she’d never met, but at least with a name she could have googled the guy or run a preliminary background check to make sure he wasn’t some creeper trying to get his hands on her trust fund. Unfortunately, a very real concern with a name as prominent as Stark.
Both her parents came from old money. Her mother’s family, the Tullys, were railroad magnets going back almost two hundred years, and the Starks had governed New York in one way or another for at least as long. Her own parents marriage was arranged to consolidate wealth and power, and somehow in that mix they found a measure of love. They were the lucky ones.
Sansa’s future marriage was supposed to happen the same way. Harrold Hardyng, heir to Arryn Oil, was her intended. It was a betrothal presumed from birth, but Harry had other ideas. He joined the army in an act of rebellion against his family the day he turned eighteen. A year later he was dead from friendly fire, and Sansa found herself free and unencumbered for the first time ever. She tried to mourn for him, but she’d never really known the boy she was promised to marry, and soon enough all her friends (who’d been somewhat aghast at the arrangement in this day and age) began to take her out, introduce her to boys and girls and dancing and alcohol, and a few light recreational drugs. She was young, beautiful, rich, and single. What was the harm? That was her view until the NY Post published photos of her at Margaery’s 25th Birthday Bash.
"Stark Heiress Blitzed at the Mockingbird: Details of her wild night inside!”
The photo accompanying the headline was anything but flattering. The fuchsia sequined flapper dress she was wearing as part of the twenties theme was riding up her leg as she sat astride the back of a sofa on which she was laughing, revealing the tops of her black sheer stockings and the barely there scrap of fabric that hid her womanhood from the paparazzo’s view(much to their chagrin, she was sure). She’d only done a dab of ecstasy, but the effect kept her laughing to the point of tears, and as a result the mascara and heavy eyeliner she wore had smudged and run down her face. She looked a hot fucking mess.
The dressing down she’d gotten from Mummy and Daddy upon seeing the negative press made her feel like an eight year old who been caught in the cookie jar. They gave her an ultimatum: shape up, settle down, or forfeit her trust fund. The fucking nerve! Not even Robb was denied his money after he knocked up his high school girlfriend, nor Arya when she ran away for a whole goddamn year! It wasn’t fair! She was just out having fun with her friends and it was being completely blown out of proportion! All the hullabaloo because it was a threat to Daddy’s re-election chances. What utter horseshit.
The yellow cab (an affectation she’d embraced to avoid the more insistent [read: stalkerish] photographers) slowed to a stop in front of Le Bernardin. Sansa smoothed out the lines of the little black Gucci dress she wore, and plumped up her cleavage so that her breasts peaked alluringly through the gauzy material that covered her chest. The outfit was perhaps on the conservative side for her tastes, but it still had a seamlessly erotic appeal in the way it fit her frame, giving tantalizing glimpses here and there at what lie beneath. She passed a fifty to the driver from her vintage pearl studded clutch, and stepped out beneath the glass topped awning that led to the restaurant. Her date didn’t appear to be waiting outside, so she made her way through the revolving door, careful not to let her shiny Louboutins get scuffed.
It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the dim dinner lighting. The way the backdrop on the walls shimmered like cascading waters. It screamed of elegance and privilege, and while it was not an unusual occurrence for her to find herself in such environs, it was a far cry from the types of establishments she and her friends frequented.
Loose red tendrils swayed as Sansa turned her head to see the maitre’d. “Yes?”
“Your gentleman friend requested that I inform you he is awaiting you in the bar. Shall I escort you?”
So the mystery man knows who I am. Interesting. “Please,” she said with a congenial smile.
With a nod, the odd little man sauntered deeper into the restaurant, and Sansa followed on his heels. He stopped short at the entrance to the bar, and gestured with a wave of his hand for her to enter. Tentatively, she stepped forward, eyes scanning for the signs of her date until they landed on a dark haired man at a corner table. The rose blended into the white of the table cloth, but the silver of his pin glinted sharply against the dark lines of his suit. It wasn’t until she was directly before him, as she witnessed the unabashed way his lascivious gaze absorbed her every curve, that she realized she knew him. He stood to greet her, his smug confident smirk begging to be smacked off his face, yet her curiosity won out.
“Miss Stark.” He pulled out her chair, and she sat down with a graceful nonchalance, setting her clutch to the side.
Mr. Baelish took his seat, but neither of them said anything for a time, merely studied each other over the tabletop. He was an exceedingly handsome man; a fact that had not been lost on her when she’d met him at the innumerable political functions she’d attended with her father through the years. He’d aged well; like a fine wine as Margaery would have said. The navy of his suit brought out the green in those devilish eyes of his, and the grey at his temples was only just beginning to thread into the rest of his dark hair. He would need a haircut soon, she noted. It was just starting to curl at the edges of his ear. His stare was insouciant as he leaned against the table, the cloth rippling where his arms were braced while he made his own private observations.
A waitress appeared finally, and cut through the tension requesting their drink orders.
“Gin and tonic. Two slices of lime.” Sansa indicated with her fingers.
Looking expectantly to the man at the table, “And for you, sir?”
“An Old Fashioned.” His gaze never acknowledged the interloper, all its focus trained on Sansa.
The server ambled off to grab their drinks, and Sansa tried to withhold the snark from her voice, tilting her head as she asked, “So is this a real date or are you just hoping to get intel against my father, Mr. Baelish?”
One corner of his mouth lifted as he pondered her question a moment. “I don’t see why the two need to be mutually exclusive.” His wicked tongue flicked out to lick his lips which sent a familiar throb between her legs. “And so long as I’m buying, maybe you should call me Petyr.”
Sansa stifled a laugh. “What I should do is leave. Everyone knows you’re announcing your candidacy against my father next week.”
“Do they now?” Petyr sank back into the leather of the booth, his arm casually flung over the top as the fingers of his other hand grazed over the point of his beard. “And are you still Daddy’s little cheerleader?”
Sansa fought the urge to roll her eyes at his ribbing. “Daddy and I don’t see eye to eye lately, but that doesn’t mean I want to hurt him.”
“Nor do I,” he affirmed offhandedly. “But you have to admit, he is a bit old world in his ideas. A bit conservative for the era.” Sansa opened her red tinted lips, then closed them again. He wasn’t wrong. How many times had she gotten into arguments with Daddy over dinner about feminism and the wage gap, and all manner of things that he still didn’t see as a problem. Petyr took her silence as permission to continue. “Don’t you think it’s time for some new blood?”
Their drinks were placed before them, and Sansa toyed with the rim on hers, a slender finger gliding around the edge as she studied the clink of the ice. “Hypothetically, say I agree. What does that have to do with me?”
“I have a business proposition for you.”
She watched him over the top of her glass. “I’m listening.”
“You know that Loras works for my campaign, yes?” Yes, yes, she nodded. It was the worst kept secret in their tight knit little clique. “Well he told me the most interesting piece of gossip regarding yourself and your parents. Namely, that if you aren’t married and settled before you turn twenty-five — ” he looked at the date on his watch for emphasis, “So less than six months from now — they’ll dissolve your trust.” He notched the cherry from his drink in between his lips, his stare daring her to look away as he sucked on the pert, red fruit. He released it with an audible pop, and the place between Sansa’s legs clenched involuntarily. Her imagination running wild with the thought of what those sumptuous lips could do on her own, not dissimilar anatomy. Heat diffused her cheeks at the lurid suggestion.
A steadying breath filled her lungs. “And what? You want to help me keep my trust?”
He purred. “I want us to help each other, Sansa.”
There was still a missing piece to this equation. “And what do you want?”
His predatory gleam tickled down her frame, feeding the smoldering fire down low until it was an inferno. “I need the Stark name. I need a wife.”
The air was knocked from her lungs as she realized just what he was asking. Proposing. “You want to marry me? Is this a joke? Did Loras set you up to do this?” The dots in her head were all misaligned and non-connected, and who just asks someone to marry them out of the blue?!
It seems that Petyr anticipated this reaction, reaching inside his jacket to produce a black jewelry box. He shoved the votive on the table aside, setting the box between them with a soft thud. It was Harry Winston. Sansa would have recognized the logo from a mile off. Oh god. Her eyes gaped, lips parted as she held her breath.
“I’m completely serious, Sansa, my dear.” Dripping with confidence, he flipped the lid open, and she saw the most gloriously flawless, cushion cut sapphire (three carats at least!) absolutely beset by diamonds around the edges. It was the engagement ring of her dreams, and how on earth did he have such exquisite taste?
When no response was forthwith, he picked up her left hand from where it rested against ivory cloth. Any and all words were stuck in her throat as he dislodge the ring from its seat, and slid it onto the fourth digit. He kissed her knuckles, and a familiar damp drenched her the silk of her knickers. “Say yes, Sansa.”
Blue eyes finally tore free from the massive rock on her hand to meet his gaze. Those eyes burned into her like nothing she’d experienced before. Her lips forming the word absent all reason. “Yes.”
A wide, toothy smile overtook his face. “Clever girl.” He leaned in closer, his voice a whispering rasp. “Now kiss me, and smile big for the cameras.”
Sansa heard the hiss of the bulbs, saw their flashes from behind her closed lids as her lips melded gently with his. She could feel the smile Petyr wore even as he slipped his tongue in to meet her own. Oh, this was reckless, but it felt so deliciously thrilling. Mummy and Daddy are going to positively freak when they see this headline.