She wasn’t much better the next morning, and she skipped her yoga routine, as well as breakfast with Rufus, instead munching away dry toast in the kitchen. She waited until he had left for work before she took a car out of the garage to drive to town. She hadn’t been really shopping in Storybrooke yet, and she took her time, wandering about (always taking care to avoid coming near Rufus’ shop) and buying everything she suspected of being useful in creating a romantic atmosphere. It was sad that her efforts probably would go unappreciated, and while she bought fairy lights and a palettes of Mason jars, candles and, out of a whim, white sheep skins, she remembered how tender and loving her parents had been with each other. Most of her memories were blurry, veiled by the time that had gone by since she had been a little girl, but even when she didn’t remember a lot of her parents together, she would never forget the soft, distant look in her father’s eyes whenever he spoke of her mother. And the story of their love was ingrained in Belle’s own flesh, in her bones, like a compass needle pointing her towards the north star, giving her the certainty of true love.
“Never settle for less, darling”, her father had told her. And at the same time, while he made sure of their survival, he created, stitch by stitch, a fate that forced his daughter into a marriage that had the very exclusion of love in its premise.
Belle scooped up a box of sand from the beach, too, and she looked out onto the grey sea with a sigh. “Oh dad, I wish I knew what to do now”, she whispered, but her words drowned in the wind and the waves, and when she left the beach and walked back to her car, she was just as lost as before.
Back at Shadow Manor, Mrs. Lucas helped her to drag the heavy iron wrought garden furniture into the orangery, where Belle planned to have her dinner. It would be cold, but it would be the next best thing to a picnic under the stars. She left the cooking to Mrs. Lucas, ordering nothing but pasta with tomato sauce and chocolate cake with cream for dessert, while she set to decorating the glass house, filling sand into mason jars and placing candles inside, and stuffing the fairy lights into other, empty mason jars, placing them on the floor along the glass walls and around the table, and stuffing the garden chairs with pillows and blankets and sheepskins. It was very simple, but once it would be dark, all the light, reflected by the glass panels, would create a magical atmosphere. When she was satisfied, it was already tea time, but she skipped that, too, and went to her room to take a shower and prepare herself. She tried not to think too hard about what kind of questions Rufus would ask, trying to ignore the power she granted him, trying to ignore how vulnerable she felt at the prospect of being interrogated by him. By someone who could be ruthless and cruel, and who had no reason to spare her anything.
She entered the dining room at eight on the dot, and of course he was already waiting, sitting at the head of the table with his hands steepled in front of him, and his eyes were dark when he looked at her and took in the coat and scarf she was wearing. Belle ignored the trembling in her stomach and squared her shoulders.
“I thought this is supposed to be a romantic dinner?” He gestured to the empty table, raising a brow, and Belle clenched her teeth. The anger from the day before was not gone yet.
“We’re not eating here. Put that on.” She placed his coat and scarf on the table in front of him, and for a moment he looked as if he was about to refuse. But he didn’t, instead pushing his chair back and getting to his feet. After he slipped into his coat and wrapped the scarf around his neck, he followed her out into the hall and through the east wing to the orangery. She refrained from taking his arm, and he made no move to touch her either. He didn’t immediately step through the door into the glass house after she pushed open the heavy double door that led outside, and Belle watched him as he inspected the table, surrounded by candles and shimmering lights, biting her lip and clawing her hands into her skirt.
“You caught light in mason jars”, he murmured at last, and his eyes were wide when he stepped out into the glass house and pivoted once to take in the whole room.
“Do you like it?” Belle hated that she sounded like a little girl, and Rufus narrowed his eyes when he focused on her.
Belle tried not to deflate at his answer, but her smile felt more like a grimace on her face. Without looking at him, she stalked to the table and sat down, without waiting for him to pull out her chair or do any of his usual mannerisms. Mrs. Lucas had already placed the pasta on the table, in a tureen of porcelain, and all Belle had to do was serve them. Of course Rufus frowned when she handed him his portion, and his lips twitched.
“So am I supposed to eat pasta and freeze to death? I’m not sure if that’s enough to fulfill your end of the bargain, dear.”
“Everyone knows that pasta with tomato sauce is the most romantic dinner there is.” Belle used her fork to stab at her rigatoni, and Rufus snorted.
“Where on earth did you get that idea?”
“My father taught me that. My parents fell in love over pasta.” She shoveled pasta into her mouth and refused to look at him, so his soft chortle came as a surprise.
“That sounds like a true tragedy.”
“And that was not a question.” Belle spoke with her mouth still full with pasta, but she didn’t care. He didn’t have the least idea about her life, or her parents, so he could take his judgmental crap and shove it up to where the sun didn’t shine.
“True. Would you please look at me?” His voice was gentle, but Belle still pressed her lips into a thin line when she turned her face to him. His eyes glinted in the golden light of the candles, and Belle’s nostrils flared when he placed his fingertips under her chin to tilt her face up a little more, and took his napkin to dab at the corner of her mouth. “You have a little tomato sauce there”, he murmured, with a smile, and her cheeks flushed with heat.
“Isn’t it enough to mock me? Do you have to humiliate me, too?” Belle blinked, trying to bite back the tears, and Rufus leant closer, unsmiling, and following the curve of her bottom lip with his thumb. It made her lips tingle, and she longed to lick the feeling away, but his thumb was still on her lip and kept her from doing it.
“I’m sorry, Belle. It wasn’t my intent to do either. Clearly, I’m not very adept at having romantic dinners, so I am in no way an expert in what is or isn’t a romantic meal.” He let go of her face, leaning back, and Belle sucked in air as if she had been suffocating. Maybe she had held her breath, but if so, she didn’t know.
“Maybe it would be a good start to eat”, she whispered, and that brought the smile back to his face.
“Yes, indeed.” He started picking at his pasta, and if he would continue at this rate, they would still be eating in the morning. Belle had already cleared half of her plate when he picked up his third fork.
“Wine?”, she asked, to keep herself from eating too fast, and poured them both a glass of red wine.
“So, your parents loved each other?” Rufus looked at her over the brim of his wineglass, after clinking it to hers, and Belle wondered if her interrogation was about to start now. She tried not to tremble, and tried not to break the delicate glass in her grip.
“Yes, they did. Very much. My dad missed mom till the day he died.”
“How long have they been together?”
“Ten years. I was eight when mom died.”
Rufus fixed his eyes on his wine, and swirled it around the glass. “How did she die?”
Belle hesitated. “Car accident.”
“I’m sorry. That must have been devastating.”
Belle tilted her head and waited for him to meet her eyes. “How old were you?”
Rufus straightened and set the glass down without having taken a single sip. “I believe I am asking the questions.”
“Of course.” Belle returned her concentration to her plate, stabbing at her rigatoni a little too hard, and Rufus reached over the table and placed his hand on hers, stilling her movements.
“I believe the pasta is already dead.” He moved his thumb in little circled above her pulse, and her skin began to tingle. “I was nine. It was… not long after the incident in the stables.”
“When the horses were taken away?”
He licked over his lip and let go of her hand, and his breath condensed in white mist between them when he exhaled. “Yes. When the horses were taken away.” He sounded hoarse, and this time it was Belle who reached over the table and took his hand.
He huffed, but he didn’t pull his hand out of her grip. “Did you think about what you want for Christmas?”
“Now that’s just mean. I would answer that truthfully if I knew something, but the truth is I have no idea.”
“Nothing? No fancy jewelry, clothes, a book?”
Belle wanted to pull back her hand, but he turned his palm up and clasped her wrist, too fast for her to escape his grip, and he turned on his seat and pulled her chair closer to him without letting go of her, until her knees were trapped between his thighs and he was close enough for her to feel his breath condense on her lashes. With gentle hands, he pulled her hand into his lap, pushing back her sleeve and painting circles on the inside of her wrist. Belle hardly dared to breathe.
“No bracelet with diamonds?”, he rasped, before sliding his free hand up her arm, over her shoulder, cupping the nape of her neck. His thumb came to a rest beneath her ear, and he circled her earlobe, making her shiver. “No earrings with pearls?”
“Then tell me, what would make you happy?”
Belle leant closer, or maybe he pulled her closer with his hand in her neck. She wasn’t sure about it, and she wondered if it even mattered. Her lips prickled, and she pressed them together to keep herself from melting against him. Tried to remember her anger and gather it like a shield around her heart. “How about the first thing you come upon that makes you think of me?”
He let go of her neck, his hand falling down into his lap, and leant back. But he still had her wrist clasped, a thumb above her pulse, and for the first time she wondered if it was maybe to feel her pulse flutter… to feel when she was lying. Not affectionate at all.
“As you wish. So, tell me, the first night you came to me… Why did you do it?”
Belle’s stomach plummeted, and his grip around her wrist tightened when she sucked in her breath. “I told you, I was afraid to lose my courage. I wanted to get it over with. I feared, if I would wait, my fear would grow, and I would not be able to go through with it at all. I wanted to make it final. Because as long as it wasn’t final, there was still a chance that… I would run.” She looked down, didn’t meet his eyes.
“And you were so scared of me that the urge to run was nearly impossible to overcome, right?”
She swallowed, and nodded.
“You are so very foolish. Brave, but foolish.” The words were only a whisper, but they twisted Belle’s stomach upside down. She would always be a fool to him, and opening her heart wouldn’t change that. If anything, he would think her even more foolish for it.
“But I am no longer scared.”
“Even after everything you know about me? After what I’ve done to Black?”
“I guess that’s his job hazard. I’m not condoning it, make no mistake. But I can see the reason why you did it.”
He loosened his grip on her wrist somewhat, gentled his touch, and Belle shivered when he returned to caress her skin, rubbing circles into her palm. But it was a pleasant shiver.
“Do you have any friends, Belle? You seem incredibly lonely.”
She tilted her head and tried to determine if he was really as concerned and apprehensive as he sounded. “I never lived anywhere long enough to make real friends. Not ones that I kept in contact with anyway.”
His fingers stilled, and he held her hand like something fragile, like the blossom of a waterlily, maybe, and he held her gaze, without the piercing, drilling edge it had had before. “So, do you miss having friends?”
“No. I was always content with my books, with myself and my father. I didn’t miss having friends… but now that dad is gone, I miss having someone to talk to. I didn’t realize how much he meant to me just as a friend.”
“What about the women of the knitting circle? No one there you could make friends with?”
Belle snorted. “They’re really reserved towards me. I wonder why.”
Rufus curled his hands around hers and rubbed over her ring, and, without breaking eye contact, lifted her hand to his lips and pressed a kiss to her knuckles, and to his ring on her finger. Belle leant towards him again, pulled closer by the intensity of his dark eyes, and her breath came shallow. Something curled inside her belly, below her navel, and flooded her with heat.
“Your pasta… is getting cold”, she whispered, and Rufus chuckled, pressing a kiss to the inside of her wrist.
“Yes, it is. But isn’t the purpose of a romantic dinner to be romantic?”
“Do you want me to answer that?”
“No, that was a rhetorical question. But answer me this: How does this feel?” He leant towards her, brushing his lips along her jaw, and placed a kiss beneath her earlobe. Belle took a shuddering breath, humming, and bit her lip when he threaded his fingers into her hair, pulling her head back the tiniest bit to press and open mouthed kiss to her throat, warm and wet.
“It feels… good”, she stammered, and Rufus chuckled against her throat.
“Be precise. Do you want me to continue?”
Belle curled her hands into the sleeves of his coat, let them wander to his scarf to pull him closer, or keep him in place, she didn’t know. “Yes, please. Continue. It makes me tingle all over, and prickle, and…” She trailed off when he kissed his way back to her ear and sucked on the tender spot at the side of her neck, beneath her earlobe.
“And what?”, he murmured, and his voice hummed over her skin and sent another shiver down her spine.
“And it warms me from within, and makes me breathless, and…”
“Continue, sweetheart. I want to know.” He scraped his teeth over her skin, down her neck, pushing her scarf out of the way, and Belle moaned when he opened his mouth and placed a gentle bite at the crook of her neck, sucking away the sting.
“Wet”, she whispered, and now he made a sound deep at the back of his throat, too, and pulled her from her chair onto his lap. Her skirt skidded up her thighs, and Belle searched for his lips, desperate for a kiss.
“What do you want me to do?”, he rasped, before he captured her lips, holding her still with his hand at the back of her head, and Belle opened up for him, to let him in, to kiss her with teeth and tongue, deep and wet and a little clumsy.
“Just… keep kissing me”, she whispered, against his skin, rubbing her face against the stubble on his jaw, and Rufus let his hands fall down, to her thighs, rubbing in circles and cupping her behind to pull her closer.
“You are entirely overdressed”, he stated, murmuring against her throat, before he planted another row of kisses along her jaw, and Belle could only groan in response.
“Do you want me to take something off?”
His grip on her ass tightened, almost painful for a moment, but before she could protest, he relaxed again. “Since dinner is not over yet, and I am still the one asking question… Do you want to take something off?”
Belle gulped air and pressed herself to his chest, even though there were decidedly too many layers of clothing between them, before she slid off his lap and bent down to shuck off her shoes and wriggle out of tights and panties. The cold floor made her shiver, and her legs were covered in goose bumps when she straddled him again, snuggling as close as possible to feel the warmth he provided. And he was definitely hard for her.
“I take that as a yes.” Rufus kissed her again, taking his time with nibbling and sucking on her lips before he ventured to explore her more thoroughly. Belle had never really liked kisses before, too wet and odd and slightly uncomfortable with all the mingling saliva, but she liked his kisses, liked the feeling of his lips, not too soft, but not too hard either, and more gentle probing than invasion.
“Do you want me to touch you, Belle?”, he asked, after tearing away from her lips, and Belle nodded, and whimpered when he wriggled a hand between them, trailing a path up her thigh, to the juncture of her legs. “Here?”, he asked, when he found her center, and dipped a fingertip between her folds, spreading her wetness, making her squirm and gasp.
“Yes. There is good.” She clung to his shoulders, and felt him smile against her neck, just before he scraped his teeth over her skin once more.
“Tell me, darling, why did you give me the jar of dirt?”
Belle had difficulties to make out his words, difficulties to gather enough of her brains to form an answer, because just then, he circled her clit with wet fingertips, making her core brim, and her belly tighten with a tension that made her breathless, and she twitched as he rubbed along the little nub again and again. “I… I wanted to show you… that I care for you. Offer you warmth… kindness… acceptance…”
“Why?” He pinched her, and Belle gasped, and gasped again when he slid his fingers inside her, gently, and curled them, finding a spot inside her that made her groan, and made the tension between her pelvic bones leap and increase, until she was sure she would break from within if she didn’t reach her climax, and soon. He rubbed the heel of his hand against her clit, creating friction that tingled through every nerve ending. “Why, Belle?”
“Because you need it.”
He stopped moving his fingers, and Belle nearly sobbed, rolling her hips in an attempt to stay on that high, to reach for the climax that seemed to hover just out of reach. He rubbed his other hand along her spine, upwards, between her shoulder blades, and up in her hair, pulling her head back again to bare her throat to him, to kiss and bite her, and she whimpered, unable to contain her need.
“Tell me, Belle, would you ever keep secrets from me?”
“What?” Belle grabbed a fistful of his hair, pulling him back to meet his eyes. They were dark, glinting with something she could not quite grasp. His hand at the back of her head pulled her closer, so close that his lips grazed her jaw when he repeated his question.
“Would you keep secrets from me?”
“I… I don’t know?”
He curled his fingers inside her, sending another wave of heat through her, and her thighs started shaking, out of control. “Is that a question?”
“No… Yes… It depends on the secret, I suppose.”
“Ah.” Now he increased the pressure on her clit again, and on that spot inside her, and the tension broke, washing over her, and Belle tensed, felt her muscles spasm around his fingers as she came. He held her through the aftershocks, pressed kisses to her neck, her face, until she stopped shaking and slumped into a boneless heap on his lap. Only then did he pull his hand from her, his fingers glistening in the candlelight, and he sucked her wetness from them with a smile. It was a soft smile, almost happy, and Belle came close to forgetting that last question over the beauty of that smile. It transformed his face, his whole aura, made her almost forget the shark that lurked beneath the surface, the dark shadow that sometimes overtook him. But when he looked down at her face, his eyes no longer dark, but full of longing, of hunger, she remembered, and she pushed herself up and slid from his lap, back onto her chair, wrapping herself in a blanket against the cold.
“What secrets do you suspect me of hiding?”, she asked, and he narrowed his eyes.
“I didn’t have dessert yet, so I believe dinner is not over yet. Though you are delicious enough to count as dessert. However, it’s still me asking the questions.” He reached for his wineglass and observed her over the brim, and if she wouldn’t have seen the wine rippling the tiniest bit, if she wouldn’t have seen his hand shaking almost invisibly, she would have hated him for his coldness, his nonchalance, and probably flung the rest of her pasta at his face. But she did see it. She licked her lips, raw from kisses, and took a deep breath.
“You will only withdraw the eviction when we finish the dinner with dessert, I gather?”
“Well, that’s self-evident, isn’t it?” He grinned, his gold tooth catching the light, and Belle clenched her fists harder into her blanket.
“Obviously.” Now she reached for her wineglass and took a large swallow, grimacing at the taste of it. Her limbs still behaved like pudding, a heaviness lingering from the pleasure he had given her, and her anger brought her spirits only slowly back.
“Does this displease you?”
“No. What displeases me is that for a man who once was afraid of the weapon between his legs, you’re awfully good at using sex as a tool.”
“What?” Rufus jerked, but at least he managed not to knock over any glasses this time.
“You just used sex in the hopes to get me to give away… I don’t know what. What is it you really want to know?”
It was hard to see in the golden light of the candles and fairy lights, but Rufus blushed, and seemed unable to meet her eyes. “That’s ridiculous”, he said, and Belle snorted.
“I could feel that you liked it, I give you that. Question is, did it make you hard to be close to me, to touch me and feel me, or did it make you hard to use the power you just had over me?”
“I… what?” He fidgeted with his ring, rubbing the heel of his hand against his thigh, all the while avoiding her eyes.
“Did you do it on purpose? Or did you just take the opportunity when it offered itself?”
“I have no idea what you are talking about.” Rufus took another sip of wine and concentrated on his plate, stabbing at his pasta, as if the problem would go away if he ignored it long enough. There was a knot beneath Belle’s breastbone, something roiling and coiling, like snakes. Rage.
“Let me show you.” She got to her feet, taking one of the sheepskins covering her chair, and tossed it to the floor beside his chair.
“What are you doing?” Rufus looked as if he was about to run, a little like a frightened chicken.
“Giving you a lesson. Turn around.”
He hesitated, but when Belle dived for his knees, he hurried to turn on his seat, and Belle pushed her knee between his thighs to step between his legs, curling her naked toes into the sheepskin.
Belle grabbed his chin and forced him to look at her. There was a flicker of uneasiness in his eyes, or maybe it was anger. But when she bent down to press her lips on his, his pupils blew wide, and whatever had been there was washed away. Without breaking the kiss, Belle reached for the buckle of his belt, brushing over his hard-on as she did so, and started to undo his pants. He didn’t reach for her, though his hands were opening and closing on his thighs, kneading his pants.
“You are still hard… or hard again?”, she asked, after breaking the kiss, and Rufus swallowed heavily. Belle scraped her nails over the stubble on his cheek before she trailed down his throat to fish for his tie, somewhere beneath his scarf. His only answer was a hitching of his breath when she wriggled her other hand inside his pants and closed it around his cock, twitching and hot in her grip. “Doesn’t matter anyway”, she murmured, giving him a few hard rubs, just as she knew he liked it.
“Belle…” There was an urgent edge to his voice now, needy, and she smiled.
“What? It’s only fair to give you what you have given me, isn’t it?”
“Alright, I’m sorry. Can we have dessert now?” He sounded almost desperate, but also cranky, as if he despised her for wrenching those words from his lips, and Belle narrowed her eyes. Each time he apologised, there was a little twitch above the corner of his mouth, nearly invisible, a reaction he couldn’t control. She wondered if he even knew that it was there.
“Oh, I’m planning on having dessert, yes.” She smiled, kicking his legs a little farther apart, and went down to her knees. He almost jumped off the chair.
“Wait, no, what are you doing?” There was almost certainly panic in his voice now, and Belle looked up, crinkling her nose, and for the first time there was a twinge of worry that her plan of giving him his own medicine could go wrong.
“What does it look like?”
“Don’t… you don’t need to do that…” He tried to slide back on his chair, but since she still had her hand wrapped around him, he didn’t get very far. Belle stroked along his length, and a whimper broke over his lips.
“I know that I don’t need to do that. Are you telling me you don’t want me to do that?” In talking, she freed his erection, unwrapped him like a present, and it was not only anger coiling inside her when he sprang up before her eyes. In fact, it was mostly not anger.
“I… no…” She met his eyes, and he stared down at her, transfixed, and he seemed almost unable to breathe.
“So, what do you want? Tell me.” She leant a little forward, bringing her lips close to the tip of his cock, breathing over him, and he whimpered again, his hands rubbing his thighs in a nervous rhythm.
She wetted her lips with her tongue before she placed a kiss on his tip, and Rufus groaned, his hands stilling, clenching, clawing at his pants as if he needed to keep himself together, keep himself from coming apart. When she opened her mouth to close it around his tip, he thrust back his head, and his thighs started to shake. Belle let go of him again and waited, her hand still wrapped around the base of his cock, until he looked at her again.
“What do you want to know of me? What is it you suspect me of hiding?”
“I… nothing…” He sounded raw, hoarse, desperate, and Belle licked along the underside of his shaft before she closed her lips around the tip again, swirling her tongue around him before she took him in a little deeper. She hollowed her cheeks, relishing the needy sound he made at the back of his throat before she let go of him again.
“What is it you want to know?”
“Belle, please…” He unclenched his hands, flexed them, as if he was fighting the urge to reach for her. He gasped when she licked over him again, her tongue soft, licking up the milky droplet of seed that seeped from his tip. He almost sobbed.
“You only have to ask me, darling. Ask me open and honestly, and I will answer with the truth.”
He reached for her, a hand raking through her hair, and he looked almost tortured. She brought her lips to his cock again, kissing him, sucking him in for a moment and letting go again, and his hand in her hair tensed.
“If… if there was something in your past that I should know, would you tell me?”, he asked, finally, barely more than a whisper, and Belle sat back on her heels.
“I think I already told you everything you need to know.”
“So there is something you’re not telling me?” Now his voice was steadier again, as if he felt safer, now that her lips weren’t as close to his cock anymore.
“Is this what this is about? There are tons of things I haven’t told you about me. Do you want to know what my first words were? When I learned to ride a bike? My first kiss?” She gave him a few strokes to keep him hard, and his eyes widened when he realized that she was not finished yet.
“Of course, not, no…”
Belle smiled and leaned forward again, and he made a sound close to a hiccup, his hands in her hair tightening again. “So, what do you want me to do now, Rufus? And be precise.” She breathed over his cock again, the tip still wet, and it twitched, as if he couldn’t wait for her lips to touch him again. He was breathing hard, panting, and whimpered when she licked her lips.
“Please, Belle, get up. I don’t want you to do this. I don’t want to hurt you.” There was something close to fear in his voice, as if the possibility of her lips around his cock scared him out of his wits.
“Hurt me? Darling, believe me, if you hurt me, you will notice. Why are you so afraid?”
“I… Does it really matter? Just be glad that you don’t have to do this.” He wanted to pull her up to her feet, but Belle resisted.
“But what if I want to do this? If I want to hear the needy little sound you make when I do this…” She bent forward again and sucked him into her mouth, and he gasped. Belle moved her head a few times, taking as much of him in as she managed, before she let go again. “What if I like to do it because I like to taste you, and like to see you twitch and shake for me?”
“Rufus, I trust you. Now let me have my dessert.” He moaned, a high sound that made her tingle all over when she closed her lips around him once more, and he didn’t protest again. Belle closed her eyes, concentrated on the feeling of him on her tongue, took care not to scrape her teeth over him, and groaned when he shuddered, and panted, when his hands raked through her hair and his fingertips ghosted over the nape of her neck, slipping under the collar of her coat and up again. She had told herself that this was to punish him, to give him a taste of his own medicine, but it was a lie. She wanted to do this, because it meant something to her to give him this. He meant something to her. She pressed her tongue to his shaft, sucked on his tip, and need throbbed between her legs, fired her desire up again. He was at her mercy, helpless, begging her not to stop, whimpering, and Belle pressed her thighs together to create a little friction, clenching her insides to somehow increase the tingle, the heat, the feeling of the universe swirling inside her.
“Oh god, Belle…” His grip in her hair tightened, clamped her in place when his cock started to pulse and released his seed, flooding her mouth warm and salty, but he loosened his grip the same moment, and Belle continued to slurp down every last drop, until his cock stopped pulsing and he slowly softened in her mouth. She sat back, smiling, and licked the last salty droplets from her lips where she had spilled them. Rufus watched her, wide-eyed and shaking, with a mixture of fascination and horror. “I am so sorry”, he whispered, and Belle creased her forehead.
“I… you… You didn’t have to swallow that…” He blushed, and Belle giggled. She extended her hand, so he could help her up, and groaned when her knees creaked.
“Darling, you taste delicious”, she said, placing a kiss on the tip of his nose, and he blushed even more. “So, now that that’s settled… Any more questions?”
Rufus stared for a moment down at his lap before he started to tuck himself away in hasty movements, as if it was the most indecent thing to sit there half exposed to her gaze, and Belle bit her lip. It was indecent, but oh, how she liked it to see him like that. So completely robbed of his indifference and coldness and dignity, open and vulnerable and so very human. She slumped down on her chair again, and Rufus squirmed on his seat, as if his suit was suddenly much smaller and much too tight.
“I can’t think of anything, but that might be because you sucked out my brains…” He stared at her lips in wonder, and his eyes widened when she licked them again, slowly, and rolling her hips because of the tightness between her legs.
“Then I’d say dinner is over and we can proceed to the bedroom, where you may reciprocate the favour.”
He dabbed his lips with his napkin after swallowing the rest of his wine, and nodded, still looking as if he just witnessed a miracle. When Belle took his hand to pull him to his feet, and lead the way to his bedroom, her knees were no longer just shaking from kneeling on the hard tiles, in the cold, but also from the relief of not having to answer any more questions. If he had posed his last question just a tiny bit differently, had asked her what she was not telling him, instead of if there was something at all, she would probably have to pack now. Because who would ever choose her if they were in their right mind?