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All The More For That

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"What did she look like?"

That question was the bane of his existence in the aftermath of his interactions with the elusive Ms. Devereaux. Inevitably he would be asked, whether it was by law enforcement, or rival investigators, or just the blank pages of his report staring up at him. "Did you get a look? Can you give us a description?"

It irked him that they wanted her height and weight, or that they thought the color of her hair would help them catch her. She has sin in her voice and victory in her eyes, he wanted to say, and if you let her speak you've already lost.

*

Everything was a game with Sophie, and nobody got hurt as long as they followed the rules. That was what he told himself, anyway, and it was an easy lie to believe. He remembers all the things she waved away over the years, with one flick of an elegant hand, usually just moments before she disappeared. It's just a name, darling. It's just a title. It's only money. It's just a little blood! He always liked that about her, that sense that she was gliding above the mud where the rest of them struggled and fell.

Then things happened that couldn't be waved away, and he put her out of his mind with the rest of the games he'd wasted so much time on.

*

He realizes now that it wasn't a game at all. Or, if it was, they had been playing with fire, and it frightens him to know she'd been depending on his good faith even more than he'd been depending on hers.

Now she's here, as maddening and improbable as ever, as beautiful with her makeup ruined and her hair spilled across his pillow as she was on her most extravagant cons. And he's out of excuses.

"Sophie, I - " He stammers to a halt. How on earth does that sentence end? I want you? I need you? I love you. He feels he's been ready to say it for years, but he's known for longer than that being loved by him is more curse than blessing. Loving her is enough. Telling her feels like he'd be marking her for destruction. "Sophie - "

She lays one finger across his lips. "We've had enough of words, I think. They only seem to cause trouble." She raises his hand from her hip to her mouth and presses kisses across his knuckles. "Surely we can put our lips to better use."

He laughs, because there are certain perks to being in love with a mindreader, and when she kisses him all he feels is hope.