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A Beautiful Blue

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Her clothes ripple away into blue skin, she keeps her eyes on his face as it does. She sees the shock and doesn’t bother waiting for the disgust. She smiles.

 

“What’s wrong baby?” She asks as innocently as she can. “Don’t you think I’m pretty now?”

 

She’s ready for him to lunge for his sidearm or the door. He doesn’t.

 

“Beautiful.” He breathes in reverent Vietnamese.

 

And then it is her turn to look stunned.

 

“What?” She stammers.

 

“Beautiful.” He answers, louder, surer and steps briskly around the bed closing the gap between them.

 

Her hands fist in the fur collar of her coat and she takes a small graceful step back. A dancer trying to regain her balance. She has a moment to think that it’s a trick, that he thinks he can over power her and he’s closing the distance too-

 

He cups her face in his hands and kisses her and oh- oh-

 

By the time it has occurred to her that she really, really shouldn’t be doing this her mouth has opened under the soft, insistent touch of his lips. His hands are stroking round her hip easing her closer and at her shoulder pushing her coat back.

 

She lets it fall to the floor.

 

He moves slowly, turning them around and his genius is that he does not break their kiss. Perhaps if he did she’d remember herself and her purpose, Trask and her friends’ photos in autopsy files. She’d remember that she really needs to knock this man unconscious so she can take his place.

 

But he’s kissing her and he thinks she’s beautiful-

 

His hands move slowly to the middle of her back and her thigh. He eases her gently on to the bed and his mouth doesn’t leave hers for more than a handful of seconds.

 

His movements are slow, measured, as if she is a dream he might wake up from. He moves as though he means to make this last all night.

 

Perhaps he does.

 

He is gentle, tender and responsive, adjusting to every hitch of her breath, every sigh. He is everything Hollywood has taught her she should want. Everything it says she needs blonde hair and pink skin to have.

 

She should push him away.

 

She doesn’t want to.

 

-

 

When she wakes the sun is shining through the huge windows and General Nhuan is lying next to her fully dressed. He is picking at a room service breakfast tray. Raven stirs. The tray holds enough for two-

 

“Who are you trying to kill?” He asks casually and she balks.

 

He smiles and it is not unkind.

 

“A clever woman, interested in politics and with your…talents, the night before the conference.” He inclines his head towards her, a small respectful gesture. “Who are you trying to kill?”

 

She licks her lips, her mouth is suddenly dry.

 

“Trask.”

 

He frowns thoughtfully before passing her one of the two glasses of orange juice that came with their breakfast. He waits for her to drink before asking-

 

“Why?”

 

“He murdered my friends.”

 

General Nhuan considers this and nods as though it is acceptable. He slides the tray closer towards her. Raven picks half heartedly at the fruit.

 

“You wouldn’t marry me.” He says abruptly. “You would not be content. Like Lady Trieu-”

 

She doesn’t know what to say and so she…doesn’t. So many…unexpected, almost incomprehensible things seem to have happened so quickly that they’re like swallows of gin adding up and making it harder to think. She looks down at their breakfast until he tilts her head up and kisses her.

 

Her eyes shut, her body leans forward of its own accord. It ends.

 

He pulls back and stares at her, almost sadly.

 

“Avenge your friends.”

 

And then he leaves.