1866-08-01: Distractions
Distractions
Summary: Esyld considers her recent missteps and comes to a decision.
Date: 1866-08-01
Related: Apple Brandy
Players:
Esyld  

Sitting at her 'desk', in truth nothing more than a sturdy and aged table set in one corner of her humble sitting room, the Captain stared unseeingly down at the reports and training schedules spread before her; one hand resting idle about a wine cup, the other, elbow propped, pressing fingertips lightly to her brow. She had read and re-read the last paragraph countless times, without a single word now recollected.

I've watched you. You have pride a-plenty, but normally not so much that it clouds your vision or tosses you into rage.

His words drifted back to her, unbidden. Frowning, she lowered her hand to pick up the sheaf of parchment, raising it closer in the dim lamplight and determinedly beginning again.

Is it purely because of what similarities we share? Or something else?

Frustration began to needle at her. This was futile. And, in no small measure, ridiculous. Dropping the paper, Esyld turned her half-hearted attention to her cup instead.. only to find it empty. Long empty, in fact. With a sigh, she pushed back her chair and moved to rise, padding barefoot across the well-worn floorboards to fetch the pitcher.

Nothing was going to be done, at least not to her own usually strict standards, until she cleared her mind of this.. vexation.

You make no sense to me, and I don't trust what I don't understand.

Her answer had been as honest then as it was now. She neither understood nor trusted him. But that no longer appeared to be enough to keep a rigid distance between them. Matter-of-fact, of late their clashes had become less disdainful altogether. Anger suited her better. Quiet distaste came more easily than.. than.. this.

He was winning. Because it was, as with most things in Esyld's way of thinking, a battle.

Victory is sometimes irrelevant so long as the desired result is attained.

She captured her lower lip between her teeth, worrying at it as she poured more rich strongwine into her waiting cup. What was the desired result? She had assumed only to gain some manner of control over her, which they both knew she would loathe. Or, more simply, just to get under her skin. But he claimed it was neither? How could she be expected to believe the word of a man who saw deception as a means to an end? Would the 'victory' be in having her trust him at all?

I wasn't aware I was so inherently distracting…

The voice in her mind was accompanied by the fleeting memory of a teasing smirk, and she closed her eyes tight against the image, drinking deep where she stood. Still attired in the old-fashioned gown she had worn to dine with her family, surrounded by the drab lack of finery within her modest home, she hardly cut much of a figure. No lady. No warrior. Just another foolish woman mulling over words uttered. How utterly demeaning.

No. She wouldn't think on this any longer. She didn't care enough to.

You're a remarkably bad liar, Esyld.

The memory persisted, try as she might to thwart it. One hand curled in her dark hair, one sliding to the small of her back, holding her bruisingly close. A possessive kiss, lips descending on her own with no trace of hesitation or chastity. And One help her, she had returned it.

..more than worth the wait.

Had he truly been waiting for it? For a single, brief moment of weakness? He might be a man of few virtues, but patience was, without doubt, one of them. But.. why? Why her? When there were so many eager and pretty little ingenues in the Duchy he could have his pick of, why would he choose a t'Maren bastard who implied, fervently and often, that his mere existence was bothersome to her?

Her brother had told her, only a matter of days ago, that he had always thought her to be fond of dangerous men. Was it a matter so simple as baiting one another, for the satisfaction of being contrary and wiful?

"I'm rather curious as to when you spoke to your half-brother about me." Corvin notes, frowning a bit, "He didn't quite outright accuse me of seeking to do you harm or ruin, but his implication seemed clear enough." Corvin tilts his head, "Or he simply is perceptive enough to tell that I was not telling him all? About our brief meeting of a few nights ago, for example."

"I don't know what would have been worse. If he liked you or.. if he didn't. I wouldn't quite know what to do, either way. But apparently, in trying to keep him at a distance, I only piqued his curiosity."

Esyld turned from the small side-table, abandoning the wine for now as the fragments of their conversation earlier in the evening strayed through her mind. Grasping a handful of full skirts in each hand, she crosses toward the fireplace, which still threw warmth and light across the room, though only by the glow of embers at this hour.

Foregoing the armchairs, she lowered to a seat on the rug; the ancient material of her gown spread out around her, wine-cup resting in her lap as she gazed thoughtfully into the hearth. The fiery hues of the coals reflected oddly across her azure eyes, sending unnatural sparks and dancing light across the glacial hues. Fire and ice.

Ohh, she shouldn't. She shouldn't she shouldn't. Common sense beats soundlessly somewhere in the back of her mind but then.. an inhalation of his scent, a glance upward through dark lashes to study his features up close.. shouldn't. Common sense is beaten into submission by the sheer thrill of provocation and, with a breath, the Captain leans inward; for the moment offering only the softest caress of her lips across his, the fingertips of one hand coming to rest, featherlight, at his jaw.

When she leans in and seizes the initiative this time, it would seem it's his turn to react. He does, after that first moment, pull her a bit closer, but the embrace is a relaxed one. Whether or not she realizes he's trying not to muss her attire prior to her dinner is entirely up in the air, but what's not is that he follows up her own kiss with one of his own, and it's not the softest caress, though neither is it roughly impassioned, though there's certainly an undercurrent of it there.

She hadn't accepted the invitation to his quarters. That much, at least, she could be proud of. But the rest? Dalliances with the man she had spent almost a decade convincing herself she despised? What was she doing?!

No. This wasn't only foolish beyond redemption - it was dangerous. It could not be allowed to continue. Her loyalties lay with the l'Saigner family and the Black Foxes. And it was.. it was beneath her to be distracted by this manner of affair. Would a true Knight, or a legitimate Lady of Blooodfield ever be so easily swayed by affec-.. not affection. No, it was far from that. She still wanted to kill him as much as kiss him, and had little doubt the feeling was mutual.

What would Jonathan think of her? She knew full well of Lorelei's disapproval.. and grudgingly had to admit the younger Fox was quite right. She needed distance. And to enforce that distance with fury.

Easier said than done.

..when we're both more clear-headed, perhaps we can discuss proper circumstances for when we pretend we dislike each other and when we acknowledge that we don't, even if it's only ever between the two of us.

The fingers of one hand plucked uneasily at the worn embroidery of her skirts.

I've no intent of shaming you..

I'm not ashamed.

No, she wasn't particularly talented at deception. And frankly, these days, the truth terrified her more. She needed to.. be away. Just for a while. Somewhere she could find the peace to reclaim, firmly, the persona she was known and feared for.. and set aside the thoughts of an easy smile and intense eyes that had her so inconceivably rattled.

The slow formulation of a plan, even if it was only so grand as 'running away', soothed Esyld enough to contemplate sleep. Come morning, she would take on a contract. And leave Highwater at her back for a time. She had every right to do so.

And every reason.

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