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The one where Erik is a creepy attractive ninja

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"Can I take that as a yes?"

 

She's reeling and breathless, body still tingling from the sensation of his lips on hers, the heat of him through his ridiculous egg-yolk jumper. She opens her mouth to shout 'yes', and then she remembers who she's with and who she is and the dream dies in an instant.

 

Now or never. Now or never. He's a hell of a kisser, though. But she can't lie, can't pretend. That wouldn't be fair. What a dream it was...but no. Time to wake up.

 

She steels herself.

 

"There's something you should know, first. And I have to tell you now, right now, because as soon as I do, Erik's minions will find me and kick me out of the game and I'll never see you again."

 

"Well, I think that's a little extreme, don't-" She puts a finger to his lips.

 

"No way, the man's a ninja. A creepy ninja. A creepy, attractive ninja. Just listen." His eyebrows raise and his mouth twitches, but he obeys.

 

" I'm not rich or famous. I'm just a random girl who won a radio contest. I shouldn't even be here, I don't know any of these people and I'll never see any of you again except on TV. I don't want you to think I'm a gold-digger, or some groupie...but I really like you and I can't lie to you." She offers her name.

 

She braces for impact. Nothing happens, except a rather gobsmacked look on the Count's handsome face.

 

"Huh. How bout that. I guess he doesn't have spies tracking our every move outside the mansion!" She muses into the silence. The utter, crushing silence.

 

"Well? Say something? I'm really sorry I kissed you like that, I hope you don't feel like I deceived you or any-mmph!"

 

His lips against hers are urgent, insistent. She moans and surrenders--one last happy memory. He squeezes her tight to his chiseled chest. She wiggles just a little in admiration. Ooh. Count those abs.

 

"I don't care about your bank account or your job," the Count says, rolling his eyes. "Besides, I'm the very last person to chastise you about 'being someone you're not'. I'm not exactly just a player, either."

 

She thinks, then... thinks about how his skills are listed as quick change, navigation... thinks about how he almost said 'my' gardens... thinks about how Erik and the Count are never in the same room together.

 

She freezes, covering her face with her hands as she goes cherry-tomato red.

 

"Oh my god~~ I just called you a creepy ninja!"

 

"A creepy, attractive ninja!" He cheerfully points out.

 

She smacks him on the shoulder indignantly.

 

"I thought you said he--you--didn't date guests!"

 

He smiles, sheepish. "I didn't! Don't! I just..." He sighs expansively. "I just like you. You make my life fun again. You didn't treat me like... like Erik Valdemar, hotshot actor. I was just this guy you... liked? I mean, I hope you liked me."

 

He frowns.

 

"Like me!" He adds frantically. "I hope you like me! Present tense!"

 

She rolls her eyes.

 

"I'm sitting here soothing Erik Valdemar's ego. Actors, honestly. Look. People are people. You might have enough money to keep even ME in food for the rest of my life...you might be really good at your job, which happens to be convincing people you're someone you're not. But you're still just people. You weren't... acting, with me, were you?"

 

"No! Never." He twines their fingers together, kissing each one in turn. "Never," he says again, more seriously, his expression gentle as he gazes at her.

 

"Then, yeah. I like the guy I met. He could tone down the flirting with everyone that moves and breathes a little, though..."

 

"Ooh, jealous?" His eyes sparkle, like he loves the idea, with this stupid grin on his face, the one he gets when taunting Mr. Bandages.

 

She groans and narrows her eyes at him.

 

"So...you're not going to kick me out of the game?" He laughs like it's the funniest thing he's heard in weeks.

 

"Why would I do that? I want to date you when this is all over, if you're up for it."

 

"Really?" She smiles.

 

"Really."

 

She muses, then, on the absolute, utter lunacy involved in attempting to date Erik Valdemar. It will wreck her life, surely. She'll be reviled in all corners of the world. Not to mention, he's also kind of needy. And goofy. And has waaaay more money than sense.

 

She grins and reels him in by the neck of that stupid yellow jumper.

 

"Yeah. I think I'm up for it."

 

As the beach resounds with his triumphant, echoing whoop, she thinks to herself, she could fall for this idiot.

 

Easy as pie.