Index > Ongoing Stories > In Which Patience Ends Things With Bullen... Again

In Which Patience Ends Things With Bullen... Again

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penelope_stout Being alone in someone else’s home usually is an odd feeling, but Patience feels strangely comfortable in James’ parlor despite his absence. It has been a few days since Patience had last ventured to James' house. After Thomas caught her coming home, she felt it only prudent to make completely sure that her brother would not be aware of her coming or going. Though, he had been more than ignoring her over the past few days, something she was happy enough for. So when she finally did manage to sneak to Bullen's house, she did as he asked and let herself in his back door. After calling his name a few times, she realized the house what completely empty, which lead to her making herself completely comfortable in his parlor, with a glass of some sort of brandy and a book on Greek Mythology. She has let her hair down and her skirts are bunched around her thigh as she stretches out on the settee, quite relaxed.

Bullen had not meant to stay at the library as late as he did, but the students at Hatch's would return soon and he needed to be prepared for them. It is well past sunset when he arrives home, glad for not running into anyone's speeding horse on his way. That was not an encounter he wished to repeat. The last thing he expects when he unlocks his front door and enters, is to find Patience stretched out in his parlor reading. "Patience, I did not expect you. I /am/ glad to see you though. I had wondered if you ever intended to return." He comes and sits on the edge of the settee beside her, looking down at what she reads. "I did not know you had any interest in Greek mythology." He glances down at her bare thigh with a small smile, though he does not run his hand up it as he desires.

Her face lights up in a smile when she hears his door open and sees James come into the parlor. She sits up a little, keeping herself relaxed despite a strange urge to jump into his arms and kiss him in greeting. Instead, she says, "Well you were not here so I made myself at home." Patience gestures to the brandy and the book and laughs. "I think mythology is quite interesting when you get down to it. I could not consider myself a scholar in it by any means, but I am rather fond of some of the stories." She gives him a dark look and sits up so she can be closer to him. "What kept you away so late?"

"And I am glad to see you have. As you know, you are always most welcome here, whether I am home or not." He smiles and looks to see which myth it is she reads, nodding his approval. "It is good to know you like it well enough, even if you are not quite a scholar in it." He pulls her to him when she sits up, kissing her gently for a moment before answering her question. "I was at the library, reading up on the vagaries of the Peloponnesian War. I tell myself it was for my students, but I doubt they really need to know as much about it as I read. I rather forgot how interesting of a time it was and let myself get caught up. If I'd known you were coming I would have finished much sooner." This time he does run his hand up her thigh, relishing her smooth, pale skin before running his hand back down to her knee.

The words he speaks makes her shiver. She likes that he is pleased for her to be there. She likes that he has given her this permission. She allows herself to be pulled to him and kisses back, sighing into it. This feels too easy, too good. But she is not going to let herself question that. Why should She? When it will likely end soon enough. Why should She not revel in the enjoyment of his company? Instead, she laughs. "I would not wish to keep you from such engrossing reading. But I am rather glad you are here now." Patience lifts her hand to his cheek and pulls him in for another kiss. "Tell me, what interests you most about the Peloponnesian War?" She kisses at his neck gently as she asks him.

"I am glad too." He laughs a bit as he says this, allowing himself to be pulled into another kiss, lengthening this one. "What interests me most. Hmmm." He thinks for a moment, trying to decide if he has a part that interests him most. "I suppose the destruction of the Athenian fleet at Aegospotami. The parts leading up to it are quite interesting, though I suppose most would find it all dreadfully dull." He runs a hand through her hair as she kisses his neck, marveling at how the firelight catches it and sets it ablaze. "How long have you been awaiting my arrival?" He finds he has to stop himself from calling her 'my dear', knowing it would alarm her and possibly drive her away, never to return.

Patience listens as he speaks. She loves how truly passionate he is about the things he speaks of. She is not sure she ever met a man who has true passions. Then again, she has never spent enough time talking to a man to know of his passions. Her time has been spent doing other things. "I do not think anything you could tell me is dull," she murmurs against his neck. His hand is in her hair and it makes goosebumps appear on her arms. "Perhaps an hour, maybe." She lifts her head. "I was perfectly diverted by my reading, however."

"I am certain I could find something if I tried hard enough." Once again, he pulls her closer, lifting her chin so he may kiss her again. He does not wish to tell her that he saw her brother yesterday. Not yet, though he knows it must come up at some point, if only to warn her. "You are nice and warm. I like it." He murmurs this against her mouth, running a thumb over her cheek, his hand moving up her leg again. "I am glad you find yourself so at home here." His fingers graze the underside of her knee, running down the back of her calf to her ankle and back up. "What shall we do now that I am here? Read more mythology, perhaps?"

She laughs into this kiss, unsure if that is true, but not wishing to challenge him. Patience wraps her arms around him and pulls him even closer. "It is terribly cold out," she agrees, kissing him again, deeper this time with the intention warming him up. She contemplates his question as they kiss. Her plan upon coming here had been for purely physical pursuits, or at least she had convinced herself of that. Now, she thinks she might be content with simply reading mythology. That thought makes her kiss him deeper, capturing his lip between her teeth. "Is that what you want?" She pulls back and tilts her head as she regards him.

"It is indeed cold," he agrees, glad for her warmth and her affections. He relishes her kiss, laughing a little as she bites his lip. "I suppose it depends on your definition of reading. There are two, from what I hear." He gently moves her, taking her by the waist and lifting her into his lap so he can more fully sit on the settee and have her closer to him. If he could, he would spend hours, days like this. Sure, their physical intimacy is something he dearly enjoys, but even just being in her presence is enough for him. "I am perfectly happy to engage in either so long as I may do it with you." He trails a finger down her spine, and lowers his lips to her throat for a moment, murmuring against her skin, "Do you have a preference?"

It is so much easier for her to allow them to be physical. She is good at that. She is used to that. Already she and James have acted in a way she is unused to. They talk, frankly, they kiss, they make love, they read--Patience thinks it is too much, but she does not want to stop it. Not yet. She gives James a dark look and pulls him down on top of her. "We've both spent a lot of time /reading/," she says, because it is the easier option. From the way she hooks her leg around his middle, she hopes he knows which version of reading she means. "And I cannot stay long tonight, so we should not waste time with mythology." She kisses him, hard and eager. This comes naturally, this comes easy. She wants easy right now.

He rests over her, looking down at her with a small smile on his face before kissing her as eagerly as she did him. It always surprises him how easy things are between them, despite their fighting before. Even that came with a certain simplicity that could not have been expected. "I would not wish to disappoint you then, with only focusing on mythology when our time is so short." He brings his hand down to her thigh to hitch her dress up further, but then hesitates. The reason she must leave early has to be related to her brother. He does not want to tell her of his encounter with the man, but it would be dishonest not to. For a moment he simply kisses her, though it is distracted as his thoughts are elsewhere. "Patience... there is something I must tell you..."

She would not be disappointed if they were to simply read mythology together. She would not be disappointed if they were to sit there reading their own respective books in complete silence. The thought of that scares her greatly. She is not someone who allows herself such affection, and here she is very close to feeling something she does not wish to feel. If his kisses are distracted, she does not notice, as her own thoughts have taken over. When he pulls away to speak, her mouth chases after his. The thought of speaking worries her. She wants to do what she knows, to feel what she knows. She is already in dangerous territory. But there is something in his tone that worries her, so she lifts her eyes to look at him. "What is it? Is something wrong?"

He does not /want/ to stop kissing her, and her mouth near his is almost enough to put his thoughts aside and tell her what he must later. Instead, he caresses her face once and then sits up, giving a small sigh. "It is your brother." He looks away into the fire for a moment before looking back to her with a frown. "I ran into him yesterday evening on my way home. I was nearly run over by his horse as he tore through the village." How he met the man is neither here nor there, what wasn't said is more important. "Patience, I am almost certain he suspects I have been... seeing you."

Her heart sinks at the mention of her brother. A thousand terrible thoughts run through her mind. Her face goes white as she listens to him. Normally, her brother's knowledge would be neither here nor there. Why would it matter if he found out? But things between her and Thomas have been tense since their departure from London. And the thought of him hurting James because of her. "James," she gasps, her head dropping. "If he suspects...I am not sure what he might do." The fear that he could hurt James outweighs the fear that he will cast her out, and that thought alone is sobering. "What did he say?" She asks finally, pulling herself away from him slightly so she could better look at him.

Seeing how pale she becomes causes Bullen to take Patience's hand, holding it tightly. "He did nothing, said nothing. Everything was in his look, his tone." He shakes his head and looks away again, unsure how to explain. He is not /afraid/ of the man -- why should he be? Sharrington has no status to speak of in Tyrehampton, and if he had planned to do anything to hurt Bullen he would likely have done it already. "I am more worried for you than for myself, Patience. His threat was implied, his suspicions were implied. Neither of us actually spoke anything into being about it, though I am unsure why he would not. Granted, he seemed angry, but perhaps he does not care so much as we feared?"

Her brother is unpredictable at best. She can never quite tell what he might do. He has offered her so much since the death of their father, but acts as if his charity might at any moment run out. She wonders if it is all an act. She knows perfectly well she could ruin him, just as much as she could ruin herself. But where would she be without him? She shakes her head, confused as to why her brother would not do anything outright, and perhaps concerned by that fact. "He caught me arriving home the other day. He was mad, but that is normal for him." She lets out a puff of air. "He will not hurt me, so do not worry about that." Why is she not simply ending it now? It is the easiest thing to do. If she ends this, there will be not what if. She will prove to Thomas that there is no one, and both she and James will be safe from whatever repercussions. "I do not know what to do."

"He caught you?" Bullen's brows go up in surprise, though they quickly furrow into a frown. "What happened? Are you quite alright? He did not hurt you did he? Did he say anything?" He fights the urge to pull her close, afraid that their confessions will cause her to leave him for good. He could not bear such a thing, even knowing it might be the safest thing for them both. He has no idea what her brother could do, especially knowing so little of the man. All he does know is that her brother must have been aware of her father's actions and did nothing to stop it. "I cannot tell you what to do Patience. He is your brother, you know him best." He pauses, placing a hand on her shoulder and running it gently down her arm. "I should not like for this to end though. But I will not stop you if you think it must."

"Of course I am alright. Thomas will not hurt me. He knows better. He blew a lot of hot air and that was all." She gives James a dark look. Though, in truth, Thomas' bark was far worse than his bite when it came down to it. And knowing what she knew about him, he would not risk it. Still, she wonders why he did not come back to her and demand her to stop her indiscretions, which is a lecture he seemed all too fond of. That worries her. What if he was planning something terrible? Could her threats be enough to stop him? "Normally I might not care if Thomas knows or not. He certainly knows of my past, as I know of his. But..." she trails off, not certain what the but might be.

"I am glad to hear that at least." He sighs and gathers her into his arms, pressing a kiss against her forehead. "I would not like to have to cause violence on someone, but I would if it were necessary to defend you from any physical way he may take out his frustrations upon you." He was not a skilled fighter by any means, but he had engaged in boxing lessons at Oxford as an extracurricular activity so he could likely hold his own should it be necessary. He hopes it is not. "It would not normally be something I would suggest, but if you must use his past against him to keep him from stopping this, then I fear it may be the only way. That is if you think he would try to stop this somehow. He does know where I live, I'm afraid."

She does not quite lean into his touch this time. Her mind is too filled with what might happen if Thomas were to take action against this. She could use his past against him, but he held everything of hers. Would it cost her everything as well? Even so, blackmail was one thing, actually acting on such a thing--she is not sure she could live with herself if she caused something to happen to her brother. This thought makes her frown. She is going soft. When he finishes speaking she looks at him in disbelief and dislodges herself from his grip, getting to her feet. "You told him where you live?" she cries out. "Why would you do that?" She cannot believe what she is hearing. Suspicions are one thing, but if Thomas comes here, who knows what sort of rage he may have. "No. We should just end this. It cannot go on for much longer anyway, we may as well just stop it right here so no one gets hurt."

When she pulls away from him and stands, he frowns, giving a deep sigh. "I did not think, Patience. He did not seem suspicious at the time, only angry that he had been thrown from his horse. I was trying to think of a way to lessen his anger so I offered him my address in case he wished for me to launder or replace his damaged clothing." He stands and grabs her hand. "I thought nothing of it at the time. It was not until later in our conversation that I realized my error and by that time it was too late." When she says they should end things, his heart sinks. Perhaps she is right but that does not mean he must be happy with it. "If Thomas comes here, I shall deal with him. I will not bear someone acting violently in my own house, and I assure you I can defend myself." He pauses, looking up at her, trying to keep the pleading from his eyes. "I do not wish to end this, but if you think... God, Patience, you know I do not wish this to end. Do you really think your brother would come here?"

His pleading makes her chest tighten. Of course she does not wish this to end. Before, she was all too happy to see things stop. Now, she is attached, in a way she did not think she would be. Or rather, a way she wished she would not be. She should have stopped from the beginning. This is a mistake. "I cannot say if he will come here, or not, or what he may do if he does come. But why should that matter?" she asks him, her voice low, almost an angry whisper. "Whether we stop this now, or he stops us next week, or whatever may happen, this is going to end, James. So why should we not just end it now before anything might happen." She is speaking all too fast, before she can even rethink her words.

"Because I do not /want/ to end it!" He practically shouts the words at her, though his hands come up as if to apologize as soon as the words leave his mouth. "Patience, I am sorry. I should not have... please. I am only upset that your brother could ruin a perfectly good thing. What we have, whatever it is, it is not something I wish to simply let go if something can be done about it." He turns from her, beginning to pace in the small room. "There must be some way to stop him from changing everything. I was perfectly happy with how things are between us, knowing that though they may not last forever, they could at least go on for now. Damn him for his prying ways. Damn him for... for making you so easily end things between us."

She stares at him as the words leave his mouth. Her heart is thudding in her chest as she realizes how much she agrees with him. How she does not want this to end. But it is going to . Now that Thomas knows, it likely will end even sooner than perhaps either of them intended. Then, another part of her just wants to flee. She wants to leave at the very notion that he does not want it to end, and even more so that she might not want it to end either. "Do not blame Thomas," she says after a moment. She watches as James paces and trains her face into a pout. "This is my choice. It should be your choice as well. " She lets her tone be clipped, hoping it will convince him.

Bullen frowns, shaking his head and pausing in his steps, glaring down at Patience. "I /do/ blame Thomas. If it were not for him, well, so many things would be different, but most of all you would not be leaving now. We could have had... I do not know how long but it would not be ending like this and it would not be tonight." He is not convinced she actually wants this to end. Something about her expression says she does not. "I do not think this would be your choice did you not think it necessary out of fear of your brother. Do not let him intimidate you so, even if it is for my sake."

She lets out a hard breath, her eyes rolling. Of course he would say that, of course he would think that. "I am not intimidated by him." She shakes her head and wraps her arms around herself. The last thing she truly wants is to end this, perhaps she never wants it to end at all. That makes her wish to end it even more, and at the same time, even less."James, this is going to end. It should have ended with the first time, or before that." She gently reaches out a hand and grasps his forearm. "Even if I wish to keep this going for my own selfish reasons, we both know it will not endure."

"If you wish to keep this going, then do so!" He realizes that once again he is shouting, and lowers his voice, not wanting to alert the neighbors. "Patience, while it may not endure, we do not have to allow your brother the triumph of ending this before its time. Do not give him the delight of knowing that he succeeded in his threats." He fights the urge to take her in his arms and angrily kiss her, needing to have this out with her first, at the very least. "It is not fair to either of us, Patience. Whether or not it should have ended before, this is not how it should end now."

She takes a step back even if he has not advanced upon her. Whether or not she wishes to have a thousand more nights with him, it does not matter. What matters is that the time has come for it to end. "James I am not ending it because of Thomas." she tells him, completely honestly. She is ending this because of more reasons she is willing to admit to. "Fair or not this is where we should stop it." It has never been like this, not once. If ever she parted ways with someone it always ended in amicable nothingness. She did not know how to deal with any sort of resistance. And she definitely did not know how to deal with any sort of resistance coming from herself.

He raises his hands in surrender and walks away, turning his back to her and to look into the fire instead. "Fine. I will not stop you if that is what you truly wish. I cannot say what may happen if you change your mind later though. Do not expect me to wait here as if you will." Clasping his hands behind his back, he keeps his head down, merely listening to hear if she leaves. This is not how he expected this night to go. Perhaps he never should have told her he saw her brother. It is far too late now to take it back.

She gives a harsh bark of laughter and shakes her head, as she backs towards the door. No. She did not want him to wait for her for anything. Not even in the slightest. They are not promised to one another, nor could there be any thought of that. In fact, she is able to convince herself that she hopes he could find someone to marry tomorrow so she can put him entirely out of mind. "Goodbye Mr. Bullen," she says, heading for the door with the express intention of leaving, for good this time.

He merely inclines his head but does not say goodbye. He is too angry, too hurt, though he promised he would not be. Perhaps he should have known better than think he would succeed at that. Then again, he should have known better than to become involved with her to begin with. She did warn him after all. But he genuinely thought she wanted to be here. She had let herself into his home and made herself comfortable. Reminding himself that she had tried to end things days ago, he sighs, glancing over his shoulder as the door closes behind her.

When the cold air hits her, she hardly feels it. She feels, instead, foolish, childish, and naive, all things she has not felt in some years. As the cold sets in from her trek from Bullen's to her own home, she tries desperately to convince herself this is it. But despite all of that, she is not sure it is. She is not sure she really wants it to be.

Posted 2 weeks ago
penelope_stout ((This takes place between New Years and Twelfth Night))
Posted 2 weeks ago

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