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Sibling Bonding With The Sharringtons

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llaryloo When Patience had opens her eyes that morning, the sun is already bright against the sky. She nearly shoots out of bed, and away from the warm comfort of James’ embrace, in a panic and pulls on her clothes as quickly as she can. She and James only have time for a hurried goodbye before she is hurrying out the back door and attempting to look as if she has just been out for a brisk, morning walk.

She knows she has been careless. An agreement is an agreement, and she is happy to allow it to continue, but she cannot allow herself to grow careless. They have only seen each other three times, which is more times than is typical for Patience. But James does not seem willing to stop it, and more than that, Patience does not seem willing to end it. So getting caught would be the worst thing for it. Something inside of her grows frigid at the very thought of putting James in a place of speculation. He has a lot to lose. She, on the other has nothing to lose, except her reputation and the already precarious favor of a /benevolent/ brother.

Though she does not meet with anyone she knows on the wall through Oakston, her feeling of worry grows as she draws nearer to her house. She can only hope that Thomas drank too much and could not bring himself from bed. But with a lack of evening diversions, that seems more and more unlikely.

She is not so lucky, of course. When she enters her home, she curses how long it is taking for Thomas to secure proper servants for their new home, mostly because now it leaves her alone with no one to vouch for her. Not that they would, of course, no one could say they are fond of working for the Sharringtons.

“Good morning, brother,” she says cheekily, hoping to seem as if she had merely left early. She is almost stupid enough to believe that she has him fooled. “Are those new bruises on your knuckles? Tell me, face or wall this time?” She pulls her outerwear off and hangs it up, noting a bit of a dent in the wall next to the stairs.

Thomas rises from his seat in the parlor and walks towards her. He is seething, and does nothing to hide it. This is precisely why they left London. Now she is here, uncaring--no gleeful--about ruining her reputation, and in return, his reputation as well. “Who is he?” he demands. His hands twitch into fists, the broken skin of his left knuckles pulls painfully.

“What do you mean?” she asks mildly. Though there is fire in Thomas’ eyes, and his face is nearly as red as his hair. She is not worried he will hurt her, but the last thing she wants is for him to know that there is, in fact, someone.“Is this a philosophical question, Thomas? You know philosophy does not suit you.” She hopes she can distract him from his anger. Perhaps if she does, he will stop questioning her.

It takes everything in him not to lash out. He would not hit her, but the wall next to her head is inviting. His knuckles still burn from where he had hit it last night when he had realized she was out. He wonders if he could break his hand entirely from punching it. He definitely could. “Let me rephrase then. Is it one man or several?” He knows she will not answer. Maybe one time, a long time ago, she might have told him. Now, she knows better than to confess to him. She knows that he hates what she does, how careless she is about it. He also knows all too well that there is someone.

She laughs, bitterly with no humor to speak of. “There are twenty-seven to be exact. Does that please you?” She rolls her eyes in an unbecoming fashion and turns to leave, ending the conversation. If he knows there is someone, she knows he will do his best to find out. The thought of James facing off with her brother is too much for her to bear. She knows she should never have brought him into this.

However, he grabs her upper arm, thwarting her plan. He is not done with her yet. “You might think this is funny, but I am through trying to protect you. Especially if you are daft enough to think you can carry on like this with no consequences.”

She twists herself around so she can look at his eyes. They are not the same bright blue as her own, they are like her mother’s, which seems almost wrong. “You have no right to talk to me of the consequences,” she hisses into his face. “I thought I made it clear to you that you should not concern yourself with who I take to bed, and I will give you that same courtesy. Do not forget yourself.” Her eyes flash, and she knows it is a cheap shot. She never threatens him due to his preferences, it seems hypocritical of her. But it seems the only thing she might be able to do, right now at least. If she can thwart any investigation into what she is doing with her nights, then she can avoid James ever being part of the conversation. Damn, she should have let it lay where it did days ago. Now she has no choice but to protect him, which makes her seem even more obvious.

He rips his hand from her arm and laughs. “Try to blackmail me all you like, we both know you'd have nothing without me,” he says, but her words have given him pause. He knows all too well that she does not care what he does with his time as long as it does not have anything to do with her. Bringing this up means that she is most definitely protecting someone at the very least. “If I cannot marry you off, then you are of no use to me.” He spits the last part out at her, as if a reminder that he is doing her a favor. When their father left him everything, he could have cast her and their vegetable of a mother out. He could have shed himself of the dead skin that was the other two members of the Sharrington family. But he could not. Perhaps it was that which he promised his mother years ago--a promise he could not truly fulfill. Or perhaps, it was the knowledge that he could have mucked up a lot more without Pay’s confident demeanor to help him through. Thinking of both scenarios made him want to punch the wall even moreso.

“I have as much interest in marrying as you do, Thomas,” Patience retorts, starting up the stairs. She hopes her change of subject has confounded him enough to lose the scent. She knows what he has done to the men she has seen in the past. They were men likely deserving of her brother’s wrath. At times, she even wondered if Thomas might have had her best interests at heart. But that was a thought more laughable than any other. And, she could not let that happen to Bullen. He is kind and undeserving of Thomas’ horridness, of her horridness. Her heart sinks as she wonders if it would not be easier to just end things once more. The thought of not sharing what they had shared--who even is she? She is sure she may not recognize herself in the mirror. “Now, if you do not mind, I am quite exhausted from my morning walk.”

He snorts, a noise full of malice and understanding that her fatigue has nothing to do with the morning exertions. He watches her disappear up to her room with a grimace. Despite what she may think, he can see right through her. She may be a good liar, but he has known her for her entire life. He can see that there is someone--more likely, several someone’s--and Thomas has no intention of letting that go. Word travels fast in a small town such as this. Uprooting himself for his sister’s benefit has been hard enough on him, he will be damned if he has to do it again because she cannot help but lift her skirts for any man who smiles her way. He will find who she is taking to bed and put an end to it.
Posted 2 weeks ago

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