My mind was reeling. Luca had pushed me away, stating that I couldn’t possibly feel what I had confessed towards him. A bulging suitcase in hand, he made a final request. To forget him. I couldn’t stop the tears as the crashing weight of his words hit me. He’d lost all faith in me and everyone around us. He had lost the will to keep fighting just because he was the mayor’s son as I dropped to the floor and pulled my knees to my chest, hiding my face in my skirt as I couldn’t hold back anymore. His footsteps swiftly disappeared, leaving me alone with my thoughts and the growing darkness of the world.
The glimmer of my glass ring caught my eye. It sparkled so prettily, it looked so captivating. But it was just as false as his feelings it appeared. I tore it off my finger and threw it across the room, screaming at the clattering costume jewelry as it bounced off the wall and hit the floor. The glass was cracked, I had used all of my anger to fling it and now I was left with an empty feeling inside my chest.
I managed to drag myself back to Cromwell manor at some point, avoiding Harry and Ryan as I was still processing that the night before had apparently now meant nothing to Luca. The night had been fitful at best, drifting in and out of light sleep and my pillow was soaked with my tears.
The morning sun broke the unfortunate news that it hadn’t all just been a dream. And then Harry storming my room was the most out of character thing yet, especially since he was just in a shirt and trousers. I had never seen him so emotionally undone or in such a state of ‘undress’ for the man.
“Saskia,” his voice was hitched, making my eyes wide. “You have to come with me right now.”
There was no room for any kind of argument as I immediately threw my dressing gown around my nightwear before swiftly following Harry back to his room. Any staff who saw us would have raised eyebrows and start gossiping, but that was the least of my worries right now.
Maria was hopping about inside her cage. The little canary chirping away happily at the attention as the realisation hit us both in the gut. Luca was leaving Laurelia for good. He had no intentions of staying if he left Maria with Harry.
Harry had spent most of the night looking for the jack of all trades, and on his return to the manor a maid had delivered the message that Luca had left Maria for Harry to look after. My stomach was sinking faster than a rock in water.
“He’s really left the city,” I murmured, trying to keep my knees steady to hold my weight before realising that Harry was helping me to sit down on the sofa in his room. Maria’s chirp reminded me of the night after visiting the casino, when Luca had sung in such a clear voice and it was making my tears threaten to fall again. I was biting my lip as Harry placed both his hands on my shoulders, bringing him to my attention. I must have looked a sight with so little sleep and puffy, red eyes brimming with tears.
“Are you going to give up on him?” Harry’s words brought a shock to me. I couldn’t ignore what he had told me, the way he had reacted to me the previous night. He hated the way that people targeted him because of who he was rather than anything he fought or worked for. He believed that no one liked him at all for who he was.
I couldn’t just not try one last time as I shook my head.
“There’s no way that Luca left this city because he wanted to,” Harry smiled. It caught me off guard, he had stout beliefs that his friend wouldn’t do this and it made me want to try just one more time. “We will get him back.” His promise was innocent and resolut. Luca hadn’t said those things because he believed them, he said them so I would move on instead of being hurt by everything going on.
I wiped my tears away, trying to find a smile as my breathing calmed down from the near hysterics I had managed to work myself up to. I wasn’t the only person hurt here, Harry had lost his best friend just as I had lost my boyfriend. Harry was explaining that there hadn’t been any trace at Luca’s apartment of his intended whereabouts, which left us with little to go on. We must have just missed each other if Harry had gone, and then with Luca dropping Maria off as well. It was so chaotic even in my head. We could have all crossed paths so many times over, but somehow we didn’t.
I managed to stop crying finally, and Harry passed me some tissues to wipe up the excess before giving me a soft smile.
“Let’s get going now.”
“Going? Going where? You just said we have no leads,” I asked, confusion painted all over my face.
“We’re going to use our secret weapon.”
The day had dragged. Our secret weapon had turned out to be going to see Pastor Chris in his church. He wore a kind and warm front, then Harry had stepped in and said it was a job for him and the facade was immediately dropped. Then he finished with a joke about selling me in marriage to the highest bidder before saying he’d have an answer on Luca’s whereabouts by evening.
I was pacing impatiently in my room. I had been on edge all day, and I wasn’t sure what I was running on exactly. I had barely slept or ate, and I only drank enough to stop my mouth from going dry. My suitcase was ready to go, I had packed the essentials so I could leave the second we knew of Luca’s whereabouts.
Then Harry burst through the door.
“Saskia! We know where Luca is!”
A telegram was thrust into my hand with just two words on it. East Howardstown. My hometown more importantly. I frowned, Luca had never mentioned knowing anyone from there but before I could ask Harry any questions, he already had an answer for me. “You can ask him yourself,” he said gently. “But you must remember that Luca has been exiled, so being reunited with him won’t mean that he can return to this city, and if you follow him then the same can be said for yourself.”
It was a heavy thought. What if Luca meant every word he said about not believing me? And that he didn’t love me? I wouldn’t be able to return until Luca had been proven innocent regardless of his feelings.
“I will obviously stay here and work to overturn his sentence,” Harry nodded as I was hesitant in my resolution. My doubts were starting to plague me but I merely smiled and nodded at the blond male. If nothing else I would just have to try.
I should be able to catch the last train if I hurry.
A familiar voice stopped me in the hallway as I was rushing to leave.
Ryan was waiting for me in front of the door, a smile cracking across my face to see him as we gravitated naturally towards each other.
“Harry told me everything. You’re going to find Luca?”
There was a hitch in his voice, a tinge to his features as we faced each other. His eyes momentarily dipped to my suitcase before looking into me. He’d always been here, he’d sheltered me and made me an unofficial family member whilst I was working at the Blue Bell. It made my heart twinge to see him look so desperate.
“You realise that you’ll be labelled as an outcast by going after him?” He asked me again, there was something pulling at me. His fingers stroked at my cheek softly, my eyes still puffy from all the tears I had spilled. “I can’t forgive a man who makes you cry. No matter what the reason,” his voice was set in stone as I tilted my head in confusion at him. He had spent so much time working to prove Luca’s innocence, and now he was saying that he would never forgive him because he made me cry. His touch was making my skin burn in a way that I hadn’t felt better, even through the gloves he was wearing. His gaze was intense, and I could feel my heart threatening to break free of my ribs under it. “It’s not just that either…” There was a heavy pause before I was pulled into his arms, my suitcase clunking against the floor loudly. I was feeling hot at any point of bodily contact and his gaze was making me flustered in such close quarters. My breath was hitched in my throat as his green eyes were sucking me in completely. I was going to drown in them. “Do you think Luca is the only one who thinks you’re special?” His voice was a murmur, there was no need for him to be any louder for me to hear him. “Don’t go, Saskia. Please.” His tone was turning my legs to jelly. I could barely think as our lips were millimeters apart, and he was desperate. I knew that much. I could feel his pounding heart against my chest.
His lips were as smooth as his smile, one hand sliding up my back to cradle me against him as we couldn’t seem to stop. We staggered back into the wall, my suitcase forgotten and discarded as I was clinging onto his jacket for some kind of grounding. I couldn’t get enough as my arms ended up around his neck, while we were constantly pulling each other back in for another kiss.
“Please, don’t go,” his voice was heavy before I could kiss him again. I needed to let him know, as his tongue slipped back into my mouth, coaxing all of the emotion that I had kept repressed out. The noises I was making were sinful before Ryan could stop himself for long enough to see if anyone had heard me.
“I’m not going,” I whispered.
It was the first time I’d seen the head of the Cromwell house caught off guard. His eyes widened with shock, and then I swore my lips were going to be burnt off. How he had managed to keep a lid on these sorts of feelings was insane.
“I’m about to do everything against the etiquette book,” Ryan could barely keep his lips off me. “I need you. Can you stay with me tonight, please?” His voice was raspy, a new low of desperation before capturing my lips again.
“Yes,” it was the word that broke the aristocrat. I was picked up in his arms, I could feel his heart pounding in his chest and I already knew that sleep was the last thing on our agenda for the evening.
The mid-morning sun was peeking through a gap in the curtain as I lifted my head off the pillow, confused about the change of scenery. Then a flush burned through my cheeks as the memories of the previous night began to filter through my sleep addled brain. I ran my fingers through my hair whilst keeping the sheets against me and shielding my naked body from the world.
“Saskia?” Ryan stuck his head in at the sound of the bed creaking while I was rubbing the sleep from my eyes and going to get some form of clothing on.
“Oh, Ryan,” I blushed much to his enjoyment as he shut the door behind him, and kissed me on the forehead after crossing to the bed. “I didn’t cause too many problems with work, did I?” I frowned, realising this was the first time I had seen him still at the manor this late in the day.
“Nothing that can’t be sorted later,” he soothed, before tilting my jaw up to slowly kiss me. His hands starting to tangle in my hair as we couldn’t stop. Each kiss was heating me up, I was craving his touch already and just having the sheet between us was too much.
“Ryan,” I moaned as his lips began to trail down my neck. “Please,” was all I was able to whimper out as I started to undo his waistcoat.
“You’re impossible to resist,” his voice was low. “I’m going to show you how dear you are to me,” he was already helping me undress him, carelessly tossing his tie and shirt to the floor before I was pinned back to the bed.
His kiss was all consuming, the sheet flung aside as though it was offensive to us before his arms were under my back and arching my chest into him.
His fingers were nimble, sliding up my back and then down again as though to memorise how I felt. My moans were being swallowed eagerly, clearly any noise that I made was for him to hear alone this morning. I didn’t want to think of who heard us last night, but my mind was already beginning to lose the focus outside of how Ryan was making me feel.
Two fingers teased at my slit and pussy, before I felt the ghosting touch of his thumb over my clit. His mouth swallowed my gasp, demanding my attention as his tongue slid against mine, my head tilting back to allow him more access as the briefest slip in and outs of his fingers made me whine.
“Don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you wanting princess,” Ryan’s whisper was lilted with a chuckle as I felt his cock press slowly into my core. “I’m just going to take my time this morning, and show you how much I love you,” he promised, his breath hot on my ear before I wrapped my legs around his hips, eagerly sinking all of his length into me. “You feel so good,” he breathed, slowly working his hips.
He was in no hurry, he was more interested in changing the angle and the length of his thrusts to see what was more pleasurable for me. His fingers were always teasing, my nipples and clit were the obvious targets, but he liked to touch me all over. Pulling on my ear lobes, and then tracing over my lips. It had caught him off guard when I wrapped my tongue around the tip of his digit, and it made him glaze over. The hunger in his eyes set a new pace, his other hand digging into my hip enough that I knew would add to the sets from last night before his teeth were grazing the crook of my neck. There was going to be another red mark I would never be able to hide, mostly likely completely intentional as I threw my head back. My hand slipped between us, pushing and grinding down on my clit as my climax was suddenly looming.
My whole body was plunged into bliss. Pleasure was ringing throughout me as I vaguely heard my name sharply called. It was nothing like I could remember feeling before I slowly came back.
Ryan’s head was resting on my chest, getting his breath back as I realised that my legs were still locked around his hips and largely preventing him from moving.
He looked startled and threw the sheets over us in time before the door was opened by Harry. Who then proceeded to stare at us both before the faintest of blushes appeared over his cheeks, and muttered something before promptly leaving again.
My giggling was instant.
“You know when he’s going to open the door?” I asked as we finally disentangled ourselves.
“I recognise his footsteps when I’m doing something I’m not meant to be,” he replied, kissing me on the forehead before standing up to get dressed again. “Take your time and get sorted, I’ll take you out for lunch so the maids can have their gossiping time out of our hearing range.”