Siana was surprised at her voice, which was calmer than she had expected. It was for the better. She wanted to seem shameless, insolent, and indifferent so that it would be easier to leave him and travel to another country.
Alan looked at Siana and didn’t speak for a while. Then he rubbed his chin, as though he was thinking. “So, are you saying that you hate men who finish too fast?”
Siana crossed her arms. “Exactly,” she said sternly, “And I don’t like to marry a man who I have rejected for a hundred times and is not right for me. Married couples have to live together for a lifetime, you know. They live under the same roof, share intimate moments together. There is nothing dreadful than living with a man who might not be compatible.”
“I understand,” he said.
Siana was relieved. “Then we are done,” she declared. She hoped he would just leave so she could attend to whatever she needed to do to escape the country.
“How do you know though?” he asked.
“What?” she asked, confused.
“How do you know if I am a rabbit or not?” he asked again, “How do you know if we aren’t compatible?”
‘This idiot,’ she thought, ‘not again! That isn’t the point, Alan.’ He walked towards her, slowly. She took a step back and her back thumped against the wall. He leaned over her with his palm on the wall.
“How do you know?” he asked, “We have never been intimate with each other before. Maybe you will be surprised. Do you mean you want to spend a night with me before getting married?”
Siana couldn’t respond. She felt uncomfortable backed into a wall. She was too shocked by his words. This wasn’t going as she had expected. She wanted to respond that he was getting it all wrong, but she couldn’t speak.
“Sia,” he called, looking down and leaning lower. With his face so close, Sia felt a jolt. “I don’t believe you want to reject me solely because you think I am a rabbit in bed without even knowing if I am,” he said as he touched her hair. “Will you give the man who proposes to you a chance to prove himself?”
“Alan, it’s not like that,” she said. ‘This is all wrong,’ she thought. Alan smiled softly at her. He was an old friend that she had known for the most part of her life, but the proximity made her chest drum furiously. She felt like she was caught in a trap, ready to be devoured by a predator.
He leaned down to her further. “Is that right, Sia?” he asked. She gulped. Her heart was beating too hard and her mouth became dry.
“Just give me a chance, Sia,” he said softly.
Sia felt frozen in place. She wanted to tell him she said what she said so that he would leave her alone. She wanted to tell him she didn’t want to. She felt unable to speak. Will he let me go away if I just do it once? Sia thought helplessly. Maybe if I tell him I can’t marry him after spending a night with him, he might finally listen.
She felt like there was no other way. He was so persistent. Perhaps she can just give him what he wants and then run away to seek asylum somewhere before Viscount North found her.
“Okay,” she said, “Just once.”
“What?” he asked.
“Just once,” she said, “After that, if I tell you I don’t want to marry you, you have to let me go.” In the midst of her nervousness, she found that her heart stirred from Alan’s gaze; it seemed as if the young, immature Siana was still present underneath. Perhaps, she still wasn’t as immune to Alan’s charms as she thought. Just like then.
“Of course,” he nodded, smiling.
He extended a hand towards her. Did he want to do it here? She thought nervously and looked around. Her living room didn’t even have a couch. She hoped not, but she understood it might be a possibility.
She didn’t know much about how people indulged themselves in sex. She only knew that it was an act which was done after washing up and grooming oneself. Her anxiety lingered as she saw Alan’s hand reaching towards her. Alan grabbed her hand and pulled her towards him.
“Then let’s go,” he said.
“Where?” asked Siana, confused.
“To my place, of course,” he said.
“You have a house here?” she asked curiously.
“Yes,” he said, “I bought it on short notice, from a colleague.” Siana always forgot that he wasn’t Alan anymore, her innocent childhood friend. He was ‘Lord’ Legarde.
“Besides, I can’t keep my men waiting outside,” he said, indicating the people outside the window.
“Oh yeah,” she said, “Okay.”
“Your response reeks of disappointment, Siana,” he said. “Or do you want to do it here? I don’t mind. But is it okay for you?” He chuckled.
“No, it’s not okay for me,” she glared at him. Honestly, his audacity, she thought. He laughed heartily at that.
“Is there anything you need to bring with you?” he asked, “Should I help you pack?”
“What?” asked Siana.
“We are going to be spending the whole day and night at my place,” said Alan.
“Oh,” said Siana, “Wait here. I will be back.” She headed towards her room.
“Take your time. I can wait,” he said.
Siana bolted up to her room and closed the door. She felt woozy and unable to register just what she had agreed to. She pulled the bag that she had stuffed under her bed and packed it with her clothes. She headed down to the living room with it.
She had expected him to be in the living room, but he had come up and was leaning against the stair rail. Seeing her approach, he straightened up. “Is that all?” he asked, indicating her bag.
“Yes,” she said. Alan reached out for the bag without saying anything else. He reached for her hand as well. She took it, reluctantly.
* * *
Alan’s house wasn’t very far. The mansion was enormous and looked very extravagant. So much so that Anetta residence paled in comparison. She stared at it in awe.
“It is nice, isn’t it?” he asked, looking at her, “Let’s go inside. It’s cold. You might catch a chill.”
Alan wrapped her hands around her right shoulder, so her other shoulder leaned on his chest. She was very unfamiliar with his warmth, so she walked uncomfortably with her shoulders crouched, trying to pretend like she didn’t mind.
“Master,” a voice greeted them, “We have been waiting.”
Siana was so focused on walking normally that she flinched at the voice. The three butlers, the servants and the maids lined up to greet them. She was stunned at the number of servants Alan had, twice as much as her father. She keeps forgetting that he is an Earl.
Alan was a natural at being the lord of the household. “Are you done with what I ordered?” he inquired.
“Yes, sir,” came the answer, “Everything according to your instructions. Please let me know if there is anything not meeting your expectations.”
“Would you kindly serve dinner for all?” he said, indicating the men who had followed him.
“Understood, sir,” said one of the butlers, “Will you all be dining together?”
“No,” Alan said, “Lady Siana and I will be dining in the smaller room upstairs.”
“Yes, sir,” said the butler.
“And, do not let anyone come upstairs for today,” said Alan.
“Understood, sir,” said the butler, and he bowed. Sian felt awkward and out of place. Hearing the word ‘upstairs’ heated her cheeks in embarrassment. She fanned her face before Alan noticed anything.
“Are you hot?” he asked. There goes her luck. Her rotten luck.
Siana jumped at his sudden question. “I am alright,” she said.
“Then why are you fanning your face?” he asked.
“It’s a little hot, yes,” she said awkwardly.
“Shall I ask the maid to get you an iced beverage?” he asked.
“Ice?” she asked, stunned, “Real ice?” Ice was rare in this part of the city because it required a special kind of magical tool to create it. It might indeed be said that a magical tool was more expensive than a wizard.
“There might be some left,” he said.
He looked at the butler who gave a nod and bowed. “There are indeed some left,” the butler said. He indicated to the maid to prepare some iced beverage. Siana was astonished. There was such a world of difference between her childhood friend and the Alan that stood before her now. Hell, there was a vast chasm between her and Alan as well.
“I am fine,” she said, “Let’s go to your room.” The sooner they were done with this, the better for both of them.
“Alright,” he said, “This way.” He turned to lead the way upstairs.
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