Index > Ongoing Stories > Patience Returns to Bullen's Against Her Better Judgement - Part 2

Patience Returns to Bullen's Against Her Better Judgement - Part 2

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penelope_stout ((This is a collaboration between the players of Patience Sharrington and James Bullen. Implied sex prior to the scene))

"You are... remarkable." Bullen’s breath still comes too fast to catch it, and he leans his forehead against Patience’s for a moment before kissing her again. When he pulls back, it is to look at her with worry in his eyes. He fears she will leave again, as she had before, though he is afraid to ask her not to lest he give her the idea when she hadn't thought of it yet.

Patience kisses him back, pleased with herself. His breath is still coming out ragged, heavy. There is worry on his face. She looks down. She should leave him now, but she does not want to. Not yet. She will, she knows she must. But not yet. She runs her hand down his chest and rests her head on his shoulder. "You should not say such things." She does not know how to take his compliments. After what she has told him, after everything else, he should not say such nice things to her. Yet he does. And she is perplexed by it.

"I only speak the truth, Patience." He is satisfied that, at least for now, she seems to be choosing to stay. He brings one hand up to play with her hair, the other trailing up and down her back. "Even if I might lie here and there to save people's pride, you are not one of those people. I think you would know if I lied to you, anyway." His voice feels almost too loud in the small room, so he ends with his voice only loud enough to be heard between the two of them and even then only because they are so close to each other.

She keeps her head on his shoulder, pulling her hands around his middle to hold him close to her. "True or not, you still should not." It makes it harder, hearing his words, if only because she knows she is going to leave again. And if she leaves again, she is certain she must make sure it is for good. She nuzzles into the crook of his neck, the feeling of his hand on her back, his hand in her hair, it is comforting. She is so unused to comforting touches, it makes her chest seize. This is all wrong. This is not how anything is supposed to be.

His brow furrows and he kisses the top of her head before looking down at her again. "And why is that? Because I see no reason you should not know what I think of you." Sighing, he taps down her spine, once on each vertebrae, as if counting silently the reasons he think she is remarkable. He had not just said it because he was half-drunk from her attentions. He meant it.

Her head pops up from his shoulder and she looks at him. She sees such honesty on his face. It scares her. Everything about him scares her. She can deal with flirtation, with teasing, with taking. She is not /sure/ what this is, and perhaps that is what scares her the most. "James..." she does not know what she might say to him. She bites her bottom lips because she knows she is about to ruin everything again, and she finds she is not ready to let herself do that.

Something is wrong, but he cannot put his finger on what exactly. It is in the way she says his name, loaded with words unsaid, and it makes him uneasy. He watches her warily, the heady remnants from what felt like only moments before fleeing with the uneasiness that plagues him now. "You have something to say..." It isn't quite an accusation, but it isn't a question either. He realizes he does not want to hear what he fears she is about to say.

She leans against him on the settee. She gently laces their hands together and drops her head to his shoulder. It is easier, she thinks, to talk to him when she is not looking upon his face. "I do not know how this can feel so right and then so wrong." She frowns at her own words and now she does look up. "I do not mean to say that I regret what has transpired." Only what is it she is trying to say?

"I am not sure I understand what you mean, Patience." He frowns, wanting to move so she has to look at him, but he is afraid she will stop talking altogether, or just leave, if he forces her to meet his eyes. "I am glad you do not regret anything, because nor do I, but I cannot see why you say it feels both right /and/ wrong." He knows, though he does not know her well exactly, that if she isn't willing to look at him then it likely means she wants to say something he will not like hearing. Is he simply being dense, not listening to the meaning behind what she says? He doesn't think so.

She contemplates for a long moment. Her life thus far has been a mixture of being used, and learning how to use. She has had affections and companionship with men who are her matches, men who know nothing will come of a girl like Patience Sharrington. She has been happy with that, if only because she must let herself be happy as such. "It is wrong because I am already thinking of ways I might break my promise to myself. And I will no doubt hurt you because of that." It is the easiest explanation she has.

"And what is your promise to yourself? Because, Patience, whatever it was, I am more worried it will hurt you than me." He runs his free hand down her hair playing with the silky strands to distract himself from the sick feeling in his stomach. She is going to leave again, to say it can never happen again. And whether or not she will turn back up, he cannot guess. How many times can they do this? How long could they go on like this if she did? Would he be satisfied with only this? Or would he rather have her, but not ever truly have her? He sighs, unable to answer his own question.

She allows herself to crawl into his lap. She kisses his jaw, his neck, tender and gentle. She does not want to answer him. "Would you not be hurt if you found out I had made advances to another man tomorrow while I allow /this/ to continue?" She asks. "Or if I did let this happen, and suddenly stopped with no further word," She presses a kiss to his mouth. "It would not be me who was hurt." She does not add that she might feel /something/ should it happen that way. She might feel some way if she were to end it tonight, as she should have let it end last night.

If she is trying to distract him, it is working admirably. Her lips are soft against his skin, and he closes his eyes and makes a small humming noise. When she speaks though, he listens, taking her by the waist so that he can set her back just enough to make her look him in the eye as he responds. "I would be... disappointed if you made advances to another man tomorrow. Angry perhaps. But I do not know that I would be /hurt/. I cannot say I know you enough yet to feel hurt, only... jealous I think. Though I know you are not mine to be jealous with. And therefore you are not mine to be hurt if, or even when, you choose to do that." He pauses, thinking of how he felt last night when she left him, and how he thought he might never see her again except in passing. It had not /hurt/, per se. It had only left him nearly furious. He has yet to examine /why/ he felt such a way. "If you were to stop this and never speak to me again, then I would be confused mostly, I think. And again, likely angry. But... hurt? Would it hurt you if I said I do not think I would be hurt? At least, not yet anyway."

As she listens to him, it is as if every single syllable is a driving argument as to why she should leave forthwith. Because it is not too late. The last thing she wants to do is hurt him, or ruin him. His goodness is too much for her to understand. It confused her and scares her all at once. If she stays, she could risk ruining it for him. "No. It is precisely the reason I have to stop this and never speak to you again. Because I will not allow /yet/ to happen. And therefore I will not be able to hurt you." She says it simply, and to her it is simple.

He tries not to grow angry. Truly he does. But he feels it boiling beneath the surface, like a warning. He does not know how things might be between them if they were to continue on as they have been since their first meeting. And that is exactly what she intends to prevent by severing whatever already exists between them. If anything. Right now it is little more than the physical, though undeniably they cause changes in each other, whether for worse or better. "And if I do not allow that?" What does he even mean by that? That he will stalk her or cage her or? Or what? He shakes his head angrily, unsure of what he means.

"I--I am unsure if you can really have a choice in this matter." Why is he trying to get her to stay? Why does she elicit such anger in him? And how does he make her feel so vulnerable. Suddenly she finds herself laughing, softly, but still a real laugh. It takes her by surprise and she has to bury her face in his chest because she is sure she seems completely mad. "It is wrong, but I am just thinking how it is nice to see you angry. It must /feel/ nice." To let go after being so trained and calculated, it must be relieving

When she begins laughing, he is not sure if it is at him or something else. He can feel her giggling into his chest and surprisingly it only makes him more angry. It isn't until she says /why/ she is laughing that he huffs and scowls at her. "You find my anger amusing?" Of course she would. For she is the only one who has seen both sides of him, both the unfailingly kind and the scathingly furious. She isn't wrong, it is freeing to allow himself to simply let go for once and feel how he feels without tamping it down as he has always been told he must do. "Whether or not you are right, I fail to see how it is funny."

It is wrong to laugh. It is not /funny/. But there is something in his anger that makes her giddy. It makes her feel powerful, and she does not feel powerful with him. She feels ripped open and laid bare before him. "No. You are right. It is not funny." She stops laughing and lifts her head. "I am only just glad for it, as it means I have at least given you something." Finally she wraps her arms around his neck and ceases her laughter.

He sighs after a few moments, having thought about what she said. Perhaps she /had/ given him something -- the freedom to be more than who he was expected to be, to be a fully realized human being rather than the one-dimensional person he was made into over the years. It did not mean he couldn't continue to be kind, or polite, or cheerful, but he does not have to be that way /all/ the time. At least not with Patience. "You have. I suppose I am grateful for it in a way. It will take time to become accustomed to it I think."

This is better, she thinks. Because it means they are are least at an understanding. If she leaves, he will know why. She hopes it is enough to avoid the same miserable thoughts she had nursed the whole day through. At least she is not running from him while he is angry and confused--or not as angry or as confused. She lets him kiss her, before she pulls away again and regards him. "This would not be so hard for me if you had not been so nice to me last night," she chastises, but she is only teasing him now.

He almost laughs, shaking his head and smiling a little. "Did we not speak of habits? Some are hard to break. Though, I do believe you deserve to receive kindness even if you do not." She may have been teasing but he is not as he says this. "Sometimes it /is/ easier to be angry, even furious with you though. Do you prefer that?" His eyes twinkle a bit as he says this, raising his eyebrows as he awaits her answer, though he can't help but kiss her again before giving her a chance to speak.

She is not quite sure she would break him to /that/ particular habit. Though as soon as she ponders that, she forces herself to remember that his habits are not her concern. She is still facing him, allowing him to tell her how she deserves kindness. But his words, his question do give her pause. She is grateful for the kiss as it allows for a moment of consideration. "It is easier, as you say. And you are quite attractive when you are angry with me." She smiles. "But I think you will make someone extremely happy one day in your kind attentions, and what I prefer has nothing to do with it."

He frowns, not wanting to think about the future. For now, right here, there is only her. Whether or not he will make anyone else happy was far from his thoughts until she said it. Even though he knows nothing can, or even should, come of this, he does not wish to focus on anyone but her, at least in this moment. His thoughts are filled only with her, and he will keep it that way as long as he can, at least until she leaves him. Only then will he be willing to consider anything else. He knows better than to tell her that though, for he knows she will flee like the wild creature she is if he does. "Right now, what you prefer /does/ matter, I don't see anyone else here at the moment." He looks around the room with a sly smile on his face as he says this, before looking back at her with an amused look.

Patience does not hide her eyeroll. However a smile tugs at the corner of her lips, and she finds that she likes that response. "What I prefer is hearing you babble in some language I do not speak while you are in the throes of pleasure," she says in a conspiratorial whisper. Perhaps she can leave them both with fond memories instead of raw confusion.

This time he does laugh. "I did not realize I was speaking in another language, though I doubt you would have understood it in English either. I was a bit... distracted." It is strange to speak of such things with anyone, but he doesn't feel nearly as self-conscious as he would have expected. This is yet another way she has freed him, he supposes.

She arches an eyebrow. "Oh, I did not say I could not understand it. Only that I do not speak it. I understood quite fluently what you were saying." That stream of incoherence, no she did not have to understand the language to know precisely what he had said.

One hand comes up to stroke her hair, the other trailing down her spine as she settles against him. If he could hold her here like this, sleep like this, forget the world outside his door like this, he would. Turning his head, he kisses her neck gently, breathing into her skin. He knows what the answer will be when he asks, but the question comes anyway. "Will you stay?"

It feels like she should not stay. And when he asks, she stays quiet for very long. She debates with herself if she should stay, or go. She wants to stay. She wants to fall asleep here, safe and warm and not alone in a house she still is not used to, waiting to hear Thomas get home drunk and angry and fetching from where he had been. But if she stays she is afraid of what might happen. She is afraid that such a fear will turn to cruelty, and she will ruin this. "We both know I should not."

She is quiet for so long, he thinks she might say yes. He thinks she wants to, her body against his must feel as right to her as it feels to him. Even so, he is not surprised when she speaks. Closing his eyes, he buries his face in her neck, not replying at first, not sure what he could even say to make her see that it is not wrong to want to stay. "There are many things we have done that maybe we should not have. But yet here we are. What is one more thing?" He says this against her skin, his lips brushing against her throat as he does.

Of course everything they have done they should not have done. From the stolen kisses in the library. Making love, her coming back here for what--for this? To steal another moment. Or to be cruel? She cannot remember. But she knows one thing. When she leaves, that will be that. It will be the end of things. She does not know if she should prolong that out of selfishness, or if she should stop it now. Quick and painless. "You are making this all very hard you know," she tells him, trying for reproachful and not quite succeeding

He laughs, a low sound against her skin. Just once, he presses a kiss into her throat, perhaps a goodbye or perhaps pleading for her to stay. He is not sure, if he is honest with himself. "Good. It is better than begging, is it not?" He leans away, turning her face so that he may kiss her again, soft, longing, not quite desperate. "You /can/ stay. I will not hold it against you and no one need know. If this is the last time this can happen, at least do not leave yet."

She laughs but kisses him back. His words are pretty. They are tempting. She does not want him to beg her to stay, quite the opposite. But him finding reason for her not to leave, it just is making it harder for her to want to. "No one need know, but /we/ will know, James." She sighs, it is almost a scoff, at her own willingness to just say hang it and stay. If it is the last time, then she should let it be finished. After their last shared moment, it should be enough for her to tell him goodbye. But he wants her to stay. "Fine." The word slides out before she thinks of it anymore, and she feels that strange pang of guilt in her chest. She did not know she could feel such a thing until she had met him.

His name sounds right on her lips, though he knows he will never be given the chance to become used to it. When she finally agrees to stay he thinks he should feel triumphant but the closest he can get is relief. He smiles and kisses her again. “I am glad.” He wants to pretend, even just for now, that this is how things will always be with them; desire, need, followed by whatever this is. An afterglow perhaps. He is not ready for it to end. He sits in silence for so long, just reveling in having her stay, that he nearly falls asleep. “I do not know what to do with you now that you are staying.”

She lays her head on him, and it is easy and comfortable and quiet. Her eyes slide closed. This terrifies her, because she is so comfortable. She knows in the back of her mind that she should not stay. That this will make it worse somehow. But she does not care, not yet. She opens her eyes at his words and smiles, lifting her head. "And you were so keen on my staying," she teases leaning in to kiss him on the cheek. "We do not have to do anything. Or we can do everything." Or she could leave and take the choice away. She does not say that though. She rolls to the seat next to him, chilly now that she is not pressed against his warmth. "I do not think either of us would thank ourselves if we fall asleep in your parlor."

He is not sure which he wants. Part of him simply wants to fall asleep with her in his arms. The other part wants to be with her again. That want will always be there, he thinks. “Come upstairs with me?” He kisses her once before standing and holding his hand out to her. “We can simply let things happen how they happen. No plans, no promises, simply following our bodies and whatever they want.”

Patience looks up at him for his suggestion, and she smiles. That would do. It would do nicely. She reaches her hand up and takes his before standing, leaning up on her toes to kiss him briefly. "Come on then." She takes his hand and leads him up, happy to just let whatever transpires between them go. Patience lets thoughts of her imminent departure leave her mind. At least for now.

He hadn't expected her to stay. Not really. Even though he asked her to, he had expected her to get angry again and tell him to stop being stupid and that they could never see each other again. So when she went upstairs with him, going to his bed for the second time in two days, he gave a happy sigh. They remain there, lying together in one another's arms for a long while, not quite falling asleep. "How long will you stay?" he asks after they've lain there a long while in silence. He isn't sure if he means in his bed or in Tyrehampton, though both questions are on his mind.

She lays against him, running her fingers up and down his chest. She normally does not do /this/. When she spends time in a man's bed, she is either too fast gone, or they both roll over and sleep with not much aftermath. She thinks he might be asleep before he speaks, breaking their long silence. She does not have an answer. "I do not know, really." She should leave now. But the thought of leaving him now seems wrong. It seems awful.

Playing absently with her hair, he watches her carefully as she answers. He cannot and will not stop her if she decides it's time to leave, but she seems unsure, and he looks at her, perplexed. Will he never figure her out? Right now he does not care to try. In fact, if he were to be honest with himself, he would admit that in a way it is something that draws him to her that much more. "Well... you can stay as long as you like. I would like it very much if you did." He bumps their foreheads together and smiles at her, kissing her once before pulling back to see how she reacts to his offer. They are so close now, so warm curled around each other tangled in the sheets, that it feels as if he would break if she left now, but he does not make that known.

"I suppose it is very late," she says. Her voice is barely above a whisper. She is not sure why she would say such a thing, except that she wants to stay, and she is not in the habit of denying herself. Besides, she is tired, exhausted. She is not sure she could even rise from the bed, let alone walk to her home in the dark and snow. She knows, with a pang of something in her chest, that she has to leave before the sun rises, but it does not have to be now. "And you are very warm." She is making excuses because she cannot possibly say aloud that she wishes to stay, at least to spend a little more time with him before goodbye.

"It is," he agrees, his voice just as low as hers. He presses a kiss against her lips before listening to her say how warm he is. He smiles and nods. "And it /is/ snowing outside, so it would be a very cold walk home." He knows there is something she is not saying, perhaps that she really should go, but he is glad she has chosen to stay and wants to do nothing to change her mind. When she leaves, it will likely be for the last time and he wants to postpone that as long as he can. His thoughts are muddled with the need to sleep, her warmth, nothing like the heat of before, is enough to nearly make him drift off, but he is afraid that if he closes his eyes she will be gone as if she was a dream all along. Instead, he kisses her again, his hand caressing her side, his other arm pulling her closer if that's even possible.

She curls into him, letting her eyes slide closed as she peppers his mouth, his chin with slow, soft kisses. "Only for the night," she vows. That is all she might afford him, after so many mentions of having to leave, for good, it almost sounds as if she does not mean it. However, she has to mean it. This is not fair to him. She cannot continue on when there is someone out there he could make so happy, someone who is not her, someone who is matched to his unbelievable worth. She nuzzles into him, sleep just on the horizon. "You have been very good to me," she murmurs against his skin. "Even though I have not."

If she wanted to stay forever he would let her, though he knows that is practically forbidden to think. Part of it is just the way she is curled against him, their legs tangled together, and part of it is something in the tone of her voice, making him believe that she does not truly want to leave at all. Tonight is tonight though, he reminds himself. That will have to be enough. "I have been very angry with you as well. I have taken what I wanted from you, very selfishly. And you, you have only been what I needed, been what you thought you must be to protect both of us. Last night is forgotten already, believe me. Tonight has made me think it was only a dream. Though perhaps this is only a dream too. If it is, I would rather not be woken up."

"You have taken nothing that I did not offer, even when you were angry," she assures him softly. Though, perhaps that is not true. He did take her understanding of men and destroy it. She has never met one who is like him. He must know how he confuses her. Laying next to him now though, it scares her. It scares her because she has no urge to run. Instead, she has only her common sense to remind her that this is just for now, and when she leaves, they will not be able to get back to this place--whatever this place is. "Then let us sleep and not wake up," she tells him, lifting her hand and running it over his face blindly, as if to keep his eyes closed. She laughs as she misses, and gently finds his mouth with her fingers.

His chest rumbles with barely heard laughter as her fingers land at his lips. He takes her fingers in his hand, pressing them harder against his lips as he kisses them, before moving her hand and kissing her, not desperately as he had earlier, but as if drinking what last he can of her before they fall asleep. "Sleep, yes..." He allows his eyes to close, giving a gentle sigh against her mouth before pulling away enough that they can fall asleep. His last thought before he drifts off is how natural this feels, laying here with his arms around her, feeling her heart beat against his.

Tomorrow she will leave this all as a memory. She will go back to her flirtations, doing what she can to infuriate Thomas, and hoping that her brother will forgive her for her indiscretions despite that. Tomorrow she will do her best not to think about him anymore. And tomorrow she will have to say goodbye. But right now, as her mind falls into the warm embrace of sleep, she can only think about how easy it is to fall asleep in his arms.

Her eyes flutter open before the sun has fully risen. The blue of morning is just coming through the window. She is surprised, because she knows exactly where she is. She contemplates going to sleep for another moment, but the knowledge that Thomas might wake up to her not home urges her eyes to open wider, and her mind to shake the last tendrils of sleep away. She gently pulls herself from James's arms, doing her utmost not to wake him. She is not sure what she might say if he does wake. She is not sure she can face him. Slowly, she gets to her feet, and glances back one last time at him before starting downstairs to collect her clothes.

The sudden lack of warmth makes him shift about, reaching across the bed for Patience still half-asleep. When his arm finds only empty bed, he opens his eyes and sits up, frowning. She is not here. But he can hear her footsteps heading down the stairs and quickly gets out of bed, nearly landing in a lump on the floor. He hurries down the stairs after her, because even if he knows she must leave to return home before anyone knows she's missing, he feels hurt that she would do it without saying goodbye for the last time. Finding her in the parlor gathering her clothing, he leans against the doorway sleepily, watching her without her knowing. Her beauty still takes his breath away, but the little thread of anger and hurt at her leaving pushes that thought away. Instead, he waits there for her to notice he's awake.

She is shivering by the time she makes it downstairs. Her bare skin mixed with the sudden lack of warmth causes her to hold her arms against her chest as she gently pulls her dress on. She is not as rushed as she was the night before. Instead she takes her time to pull her clothes on, letting the cloth cover her body from the cold. It takes a good moment before Patience looks up and realizes that she is not alone anymore. Her eyes go wide, and her heart sinks. She did not want to face him, she did not want to say goodbye. It is easier to just leave, now she has no choice. "I--uh--I am going." She looks away, unable to keep her eyes on him.

Rather than leave the doorway, he stands there continuing to watch her, though he wants to go to her and make her look at him. "I see that." He tries not to sound upset that she is leaving. It isn't even so much that she's leaving as it is that she would leave without saying a word to him to end things properly. "You didn't wake me. I would have liked to say goodbye, considering how things have been between us, whether this was supposed to be the end of things or not."

"I did not know what to say," she says quietly. She still cannot look at him. Instead, she looks around to ensure she has not missed anything. Once she puts on her pelisse there will be nothing holding her back from going. "It was better if I just go, and leave it as a dream." She finally raises her eyes to look at him. It should not be hard. She has left countless lovers without feeling a lick of remorse. Why should he be different?

When she looks up at him with those blue eyes, he tries to stop himself from going to her, knowing she does not want him to, does not want him at all. But without realizing it he has already crossed the room. At a loss, he pulls her to him one last time, kissing her hard. "Then let me leave it like that, so neither of us forget such a dream." He lets go of her, taking a few steps back and out of her way of leaving the room. Perhaps he should not have done that, but he /needed/ to, to remind himself that this was it, no more after this. She is ending things on her terms, and he has to accept that, though he is loathe to do so.

She barely has time to kiss him back when he is stepping away from her. She exhales deeply and nods, before turning and pulling her pelisse on. There is nothing she can say. If she says anything, she may change her mind, which would be terrible for them both. She glances at the window, seeing the light coming in brighter now. Her hair is still cascading around her shoulder, out of fashion, away from propriety, but she does not have time to search for her pins and put it up in case she is to meet someone. Instead, she leaves, hoping that she might not cross paths with anyone on her walk home.

He watches her go, crossing to the window to see only her back as she walks away, her red hair floating over her shoulders like flames. And all he wants is to go out into the street and stop her. But he knows better so he continues watching until she rounds the corner, out of sight. With a heavy sigh, he starts gathering his own clothes, trying his best to forget she was ever there and failing miserably.

Posted 3 weeks ago

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