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Thread: The Edge of the Map [ 9/1, Evening, Austin and Marianne, CLOSED ]

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    House Durand Austin Durand's Avatar  
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    The Edge of the Map [ 9/1, Evening, Austin and Marianne, CLOSED ]

    The fresh air was appreciated, but it was different here. Austin had become so accustomed to the tang of sea air that the air within Welch Run was odd to him. Nonetheless, the breeze was soothing and enjoyable. Austin would only be in Welch Run a few days before having to return to White Shore, but to be away from home was a respite to him. Though he would hardly shirk his duty as Lord of White Shore, to seek respite and new locations was only a natural drive for him. The man frequently dreamed of far off lands and new adventures. Fortunately for the denizens of his home town, they would not have to worry about his head being in the clouds... too much.

    For now, the gardens and the pools were being enjoyed. However, Austin was not looking to the flowers or the gentle waters that surrounded him, but the stars twinkling into existence. The night sky was beginning to bloom, which was always a source of fascination for Austin. However, he did not ponder the existence of the stars, what they meant or where they came from. Rather, he recalled their use in navigation. Those stars would lead him beyond the horizon and to far off shores. To think of what he meant find there made him smile all the broader.

    There he was, a handsome young man with a thoughtful expression standing at the edge of a pool. A particular star had finally come into view, the Guiding Star. "There you are," he said aloud to no one in particular, unaware that anyone was near him.
    Last edited by Austin Durand; 05-07-2014 at 03:22 PM.

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    House Shellten Marianne Shellten's Avatar  
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    Her tendency was to make a fashionably late arrival, the better to leave a lasting impression, yet the shifting tides in Welch Run urged Marianne to arrive far earlier than invited for reasons of concern for Cailen's and Nataliah's safety. She spoke to no one save her lady in waiting and Sir Aoife of her decision to take a few days prior to the party's commencement to observe the De Angelis family and the surrounding area for anything that could stand a danger to her cousin and his wife. If Marianne noticed even the slightest aberration or risk posed, word would have been sent forthwith to the royal party to halt their advance. Cailen was barely recovered, still vulnerable despite his pose of strength and resolve, and Nataliah was with child. Neither needed any unnecessary stress.

    The evening was kissed with the lingering warmth of late summer, sending her out to enjoy the various pools of the area surrounding Welch Run. Trusting that she was sufficiently unknown to the host family, she took advantage of that to prowl their lands under guise of pleasant evening strolls. Aoife had been conveniently abandoned in Charlotte's company, leaving the oft-capricious young woman to her own devices. The figure of a man stood at one pool, staring up towards the darkening sky as the stars emerged. When he spoke, she paused and slanted a look in his direction before sweeping the area around them.

    "There who is, sir?"

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    House Durand Austin Durand's Avatar  
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    Austin was not expecting to hear the distinctly female voice, startled back into awareness. His head beveled to catch sight of her, both familiar and yet not. He had seen her somewhere before, he could not immediately place a name. It would come to him eventually. Nonetheless, she was easy on the eyes and impeccably dressed. Unable to help himself, he gave her a genuine smile of greeting. He approached, tipping his head up once again. "The Guiding Star," he only pointed up to it once he was closer to her, so that she could better follow his finger.

    Once she caught sight of it, he went on to explain, "It was one of the first stars I ever learned about. Look to the Guiding Star and you will always know your way home, but," he raised a finger, "I did not look at it as a source of comfort. I look at it as a source of adventure. If I have the Guiding Star to lead me home, there is no telling where I can tear off to without fear of getting lost. Quite good for an adventurer, no?" He grinned at her, and realized he was rambling.

    "Forgive me. My excitement gets ahead of me, and can sometimes be unaware of what is right before you. Good evening to you, my lovely lady." He bowed to her respectfully.
    Last edited by Austin Durand; 05-08-2014 at 05:11 PM.

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    House Shellten Marianne Shellten's Avatar  
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    He was startled, a point scored on her behalf for retaining some small skill at stealth. Marianne smiled apologetically; she had not intended to spook him, though the manner in which he gazed at her left her bemused. Following his gaze heavenwards, she noted the particularly bright star shining overhead, her smile softening. So it had a name, did it? She would have to recall that, deeming the star a lovely sight indeed.

    How often had she wished on that star? Countless, if Marianne was honest with herself. Glancing back to the man with his explanation, Marianne had to laugh. Here was someone different, someone with whom she might truly be herself on initial contact. "Ah, but the true question is, who declared you an adventurer, and how is adventurer defined?" A dazzling smile was added for good measure in that moment.

    Amused further, she sank into a cordial little curtsey of her own. "Good evening, my lord. I do beg your pardon for intruding upon you in a moment of stargazing. I had not anticipated anyone to be out here at this hour."

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    House Durand Austin Durand's Avatar  
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    The woman's smile was beautiful and captivating, clearly full of life. It was a smile that could be instantly appreciated and understood. In fact, it almost distracted him from answering her question. "Oh, I declared myself as an adventurer, of course." His grin matched her own, "Since I prefer to make my own path. Doesn't that fit the very definition? Forging ahead into areas unknown for the goal of facing that very quality? It's a great reward, I think. Dangerous, and reckless, perhaps, but nonetheless invigorating."

    He shook his head, "No apology is necessary, my lady. Stargazing is something best shared for two sets of eyes are better than one." Once again, he found himself gazing up at the stars. "What do you see when you look up there, my lady?" He had already made it plain what he saw in the stars: a road map to adventure. But he invited her to join him in speculation.

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    House Shellten Marianne Shellten's Avatar  
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    Marianne could almost hear her dear mother's voice in the back of her mind, warning her off this one, rendering him all the more attractive to her. The dangerous, the reckless, the adventurous held unmistakable appeal to Marianne Shellten, so long as those three could be accomplished in discreet manners. She had an obligation to her name to eschew scandal, proving successful thus far. It took considerable care and effort to continue, however.

    Her lips twitched against a renewed laugh both at his comment and his grin. There was a rakish quality to the man, one whom she began to recognize as a Durand. Utterly unlike the upright, noble and frankly annoying Sir Guy, thankfully. This could only be one of the late Lord Eric Durand's heirs, if her memory served her well. "Ah, so you are one who embraces life to the fullest, my lord, without over concern for the obstacles, barriers and restrictions? Dangerous and reckless indeed, but the rewards are well worth the risks."

    Her eyes reflected the sparkle of the stars above at his comment regarding stargazing before they lifted once more to examine the heavens. "There is a great deal to see when I look up there, my lord, but mostly what I see is inspiration. If the stars can shine, then... so can I."

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    House Durand Austin Durand's Avatar  
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    "Oh, yes, the rewards can be sweet. Certainly, you'll be disappointed from time to time, but in my experience, the rewards have more than made up for it." Austin had his share of disappointments and painful lessons, but they were not enough to quell the adventurous spirit that lurked within him. "And as such, I am adventurous in many ways of life. I like to go to the edge of the map and not just in a boat, either," another rakish grin was flashed, allowing his eyes to soak in her own features. She was attractive and just as flirtatious. She was just the evening distraction he needed.

    Austin tore his eyes to join her in gazing at the stars, rather liking the answer she gave him. "I think you're already shining, my lady. I see it in your eyes and I see it in your smile. How brightly would you like to shine? Would you enjoy being a beacon for others to follow?" His dark eyebrows rose at the question, offering an arm to her. It was his intent to escort her through the gardens.

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    House Shellten Marianne Shellten's Avatar  
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    "The disappointments render the rewards all the sweeter, don't you think?" Marianne slanted the young man a glance, finding it an intriguing conversation between strangers. There was a familiar cast to his face, though she could not precisely assign a name or a family to him. All in good time, she felt sure he would reveal himself. "To the edge of the map, is it? Not the furthest reaches of the world itself?" Marianne felt comfortable teasing him. In the growing darkness, strangers could prove fascinating companions and the discussion put her at ease.

    The question posed gave her cause to consider. Would she want to be a beacon? "It is a question I have not truly given due thought to, but I suppose it bears thinking on." In a way, Marianne supposed that she could be, if not was already. "What of yourself? Do you see yourself a leader of men and a beacon of hope to those like you?"

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    House Durand Austin Durand's Avatar  
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    The lady's face was equally familiar with him. He was certain that he had seen her in Hebron... or was it White Coast? She was someone from an important family, obviously. Yet, at the moment, Austin was far more interested in her eyes, lips and the words that came from behind them. The scent of her perfume was also alluring. "With hope that I do not fall off that edge, too!" He chuckled quietly, knowing the notion was a silly one. "What of you? Adventures are best shared, after all." The thought of stealing this strange woman off into the night for a world of adventure was appealing, even if impractical.

    Gently, he encouraged her to take his arm so that he might escort her deeper into the gardens, toward that supposed unknown. "Yes, I do. I can give the rallying cry of taking on the world and beckon like-minded men and women to join me." He suddenly chuckled, "I'd just better remember to bring the food and water, or that excitement will wear off very quickly."

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    House Shellten Marianne Shellten's Avatar  
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    Thus was the curse and blessing of Cailen's court - there was enough time spent to recognize many faces, yet not sufficient time to know them or the names attached to those face. Such was the case here; Marianne had a skill for faces and names, provided she had spent more than a few minutes in cursory contact with the person. Clearly, she had met this man prior to this evening, but exchanged no more than a few idle pleasantries or a greeting so that he failed to secure a place in her memory. If she were any judge of his expressions, he suffered the same debilitation where she was concerned. Annoying on one level; intriguingly mysterious on another.

    "I should hope you do not fall. What a cruel way to end a life full of adventure!" She shook her head, laughing softly. The comments bantered back and forth held a silly overtone, but in a light and amusing way, rather than mocking. Marianne enjoyed light-hearted banter when she could obtain it; tonight, the gentleman and his sense of humor perfectly suited her mood. "Oh, nothing so brave or bold as treading the thin parchment of the map's edge, I fear. Only travel from place to place in search of those adventures."

    Accepting the arm he extended in courteous escort, she smiled sweetly by means of thanks, matching her pace to his in a comfortable stroll through the lush gardens that comprised the heart of Welch Run. Under her hand, Marianne felt confident strength and self-assurance; a man comfortable in his own skin indeed. Aoife, and Charlotte by extension, was sure to deliver a blistering lecture on the risks taken with a relative stranger, yet Marianne had her own method of determining the worth of a companion. This gentleman did not have harm to her on his mind; to that, she could and would swear without hesitation. Time spent throughout Tuneric had taught her the skill of reading people to gauge their intentions.

    "I have to agree," she smiled in response to his comment. "Basic necessities would be crucial in not only ralling those likeminded souls to you but maintaining their loyalty. It's a shame we can't live off glory, honor and ambition, no? We have to rely on more mundane means to keep the battle cry ringing out. Tsk." The blue eyes lighted with mirth, rivaling the stars overhead in that moment.

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    House Durand Austin Durand's Avatar  
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    Was Austin curious as to who this woman was? Certainly. Was he curious enough to break the natural flow of flirtatious and fun conversation? Not really. He was certain they would eventually learn of each other's identities, but for now, Austin was more than content to be a roguish man with a lovely female companion, taking a stroll through the gardens. He had no idea how the evening would end, but that was part of the appeal. Regardless of how it ended, he had no doubt that he would walk away quite satisfied.

    Austin joined her in the light laugh. The description of her travels made him lean closer, as though he were about impart a secret, "Oh, really? Would you care to do so one day? I do promise that I would be a most capable guide. I could show you scenes that make you gasp in wonder, send shivers down your spine in awe and perhaps make your eyes go wide at certain thrills." The flirtatious air was being maintained between them, though he did enjoy dangling carrots before lovely ladies such as the one beside him. This woman especially, though, seemed to have the same yearning for life as he did.

    The comment made him laugh, "I'm afraid, my dear lady, that if we could live on those qualities, I may be accused of being a glutton!" The smile on his lips broke into a grin, making his face all the more handsome. "Then again, I suppose there are worse things to gorge upon."

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    House Shellten Marianne Shellten's Avatar  
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    Half the delight in the evening was from the anonymity they enjoyed. He made no effort to gain her name and she granted him the same courtesy in return. Marianne did not want anyone to bow or scrape this evening; typically she enjoyed the accident of birth that granted her the title of Princess, yet occasionally found it confining in the wrong sort of company. So far, she could merely relax and enjoy the mild, harmless flirtation with a self-proclaimed rogue and adventurer, knowing nothing would come of it but words. They would part on good terms and be none the worse for the encounter than a stroll through a starlit garden.

    Her lashes lowered over her eyes, her smile turning almost secret as he enticed her with blandishments truly tempting. The urge to accept his temptations and cast caution to the winds was far too strong, yet the yoke of responsibility kept Marianne in place. She could not, would not, bring down such scandal on the royal family, no matter how exquisite a prospect he presented and dangled like a proverbial carrot. "I am sure you could, but what would the price be for such guidance, I wonder? However much I might care to do so, guides do not work from mere altruism. What if I could not afford your services as guide? That would be a dreadful matter indeed, don't you agree?" She strove to maintain a measure of practicality despite his flamboyant efforts to tempt her, however much she regretted the mien.

    "A glutton? Perhaps, but there are worse vices to possess. Wrath, pride, greed..." She shrugged elegantly, amused when his words matched her own. "Then again, I have been accused of vanity myself. Perhaps we are excellent examples of poor examples?"

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    House Durand Austin Durand's Avatar  
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    "But, ah, the price I ask is not so high. I merely ask for the witty and lovely companionship of a lady whose curiosity and yen for adventure matches my own," granted, like any male, Austin was attracted to Marianne as a man should be to a woman. Marianne was a fine specimen of femininity in so many delightful ways, after all! "I like to think that seeing the look of wonder and enjoyment on your face would be all the price I could dare ask for." The smile came naturally to his face as a hand went over his heart. He knew he was dangling a golden carrot before her, and just for tonight, it was fun to think that she would accept.

    The witty repartee was amusing Austin, silently glad that he had encountered this as of yet mysterious woman. "Vanity, you say?" Since she made such a comment, his eyes could not help but trail over her. Truly, he was looking at her dress... it was just an added bonus that feminine curves happened to fill that dress. "I must say, my lady, you do wear it very well. A fine example of poor example, indeed." The grin was playful before he looked on head, to make sure they did not get too lost.

    "Ah ha," something white had caught his attention, leading her along the path deeper and deeper into the garden. "Look at what we have here." They happened upon a row of blooming moon flowers. In the dying day, they seemed to glow as if pronouncing that the night was more beautiful than any sight enjoyed during the day. Austin reached out, plucking two of the small blooms. One was placed in her hand and the other, very gently into her hair.

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    House Shellten Marianne Shellten's Avatar  
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    Not so high? Marianne regarded him with thinly veiled amusement. If that was his notion of not so high, she was intrigued indeed to discover what constituted a high price. "Oh, I see. A gentleman of impeccably high standards, are you? Wit and beauty are expected in your companion in addition to curiosity and a thirst for defying convention equal to your own. Perhaps I ought to wish you luck in locating such a lady? It is unlikely this paragon exists." She laughed softly, shaking her head, his next flamboyant comment washing over her like a sun-kissed wave. "But I should warn you, it takes a great deal to evoke such a look on my face. I'm not easily impressed, you understand." He couldn't know how exquisitely tempting and cruel his tease proved to be simultaneously. Marianne wanted such a life yet was likely denied it by virtue of her birth.

    Still, it was enjoyable to dream for one night's time, to exchange teasing quips and dream of things that were not likely to be for them. Though Marianne was not sure of the man's identity, she felt confident he had his share of confining responsibilities and restrictions that tied him to Tuneric rather than sailing off into the proverbial sunset.

    Her eyes glistened wickedly, feeling the gaze travel over her with masculine appreciation for a beautiful woman. Marianne was confident in her looks and saw no reason to pretend to false modesty. She was an attractive woman who dressed to accentuate the finer aspects of her features. She inclined her head with gracious acceptance of his compliment. "You flatter me. Pray continue, my lord. I enjoy it."

    Gladly accompanying him into the depths of the garden, surrounded by flowers that were planted with the intention of blooming at night alongside the showy blossoms of daytime, she paused at the sight of the moonflowers, her smile softening. "They always strike me as such magical flowers." Her eyes lowered to feel the stem slide into her hair. "So delicate as if to be made of moonbeams themselves, and yet they fade by morning."

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    House Durand Austin Durand's Avatar  
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    Oh, Austin had a very good idea of how tempting he was being. He could see it her eyes and hear it words she was not saying. This was a woman likely bound by duty and family. Unfortunately, he was much the same predicament. Austin could no more tear off into the sunset than White Coast could fall spontaneously into the sea. Yet, it was a fun dream... it was a fun dream that he was sorely tempted to bring to life with the woman beside him. The woman whose name he did not know, but felt a connection. They understood each other. They both yearned for the same thing in life. "And I should warn you that you've not seen me at my best." The same rakish grin dashed across his face.

    Feeling bold, Austin slowly released her arm but slid his own around the small of her back. He kept mostly to her side, though slightly behind so that he could continue speaking into her ear. "Close your eyes and dream yourself upon the deck of the ship. The wind is blowing. The gulls are calling, though you've not heard them for weeks. Land is close, but I do not let you open your eyes yet. He make certain the ship is closer, and closer. The sounds of animals you've never heard before reach your ears. But you hear something. A hiss. Then it gets louder into a roar. I tell you to open your eyes, and you see before you an island covered by trees. A high peak is before you and from it comes the highest waterfall you've ever seen. You can feel its refresh mist drift upon your face." Suddenly, Austin smiled, "That is but a taste of what I mean."

    Her answering statement caused his lips to twitch against a laugh, rather enjoying the confidence this woman exuded. Another flower was plucked and placed carefully into her hair to answer the demands for symmetry. It was not a perfect symmetry, but enough to gave the waves of dark hair upon her a glow quality. "Perhaps I should call you my lady of the stars. For like those that twinkle above, I could gaze upon you nightly and never tiring for I always find something new to admire. And though the moon flowers fade by morning, there will always be more to enjoy the next night."

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    House Shellten Marianne Shellten's Avatar  
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    This was precisely the sort of man Marianne typically enjoyed. Trouble on two legs with an abundance of charm, good looks and charisma. Men like this one were oh so much fun to play with, knowing there would be nothing serious that ever came of it. Reality was for the daytime, when the sun was high and faces could be seen, but with the night came time for trouble, mischief and dreams. Tearing off on an adventure, however tempting, simply was not in the cards for her or for her elusive companion, she accepted.

    A subtle glance over her shoulder confirmed that he'd snaked his arm to cross the small of her back in an unmistakably brazen move, but she made no effort to nudge him aside. Instead, she complied with his demand, closing her eyes and lifted her face to the evening breeze as his words painted a rather enticing portrait of a distant and exotic locale. A soft smile slowly bloomed across her features for knowing he understood; they were kindred spirits in a manner of speaking. "Only a taste? What you would set before me is a feast, in my opinion."

    His blandishments made her laugh again. She had invited him to continue, thus did not protest the flattery given so skilfully. "So which am I? Like the stars, or like the moonflowers? Or are you hoping for one over the other?"

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    House Durand Austin Durand's Avatar  
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    While Austin was of the same opinion, he also realized that he would not mind spending more than just a single passing night. However, she was clearly at least a noblewoman and would likely be seen from time to time during the events at Welch Run. Austin would merely have to bide his time. For now, he was content to enjoy the night, boldly holding a pretty woman and passing lovely words all about.

    "Oh, I have merely described the feast to you, my dear lady of stars. What if I were to actually take you there, hm? Imagine just feeling the cool water spraying upon your face." He suddenly grinned again, "Or as I sweep you off your feet and jump into the pool beneath the falls?" Now that would be a fun moment, indeed. Granted, wet dresses were rather dangerous to swim around in, but he was fairly certain she would work out a solution for that particular problem.

    It was a good question as he eased away if only to face her again. "That is a hard question to put before me. The softness of a flower's petal," he reached up, trailing a finger or two along her pale cheek and down toward her chin. Austin had no doubt that her lips would not be unlike the moon flowers nestled prettily in her hair. "Or admire the gentle, burning beauty of the stars?"

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    House Shellten Marianne Shellten's Avatar  
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    Marianne seldom planned personal aspects of her life beyond that single passing night. While she maintained and planned an active calendar of events, travel and tasks, she was often deemed fickle, perhaps a little flighty, when it came to interpersonal relationships outside of her family. She did not look to establish lasting interactions beyond few people, Charlotte Hunter very much included, but welcomed them if accident provided opportunity. Unaware of his thoughts in her direction, she remained blithely ignorant of any plots he began to weave in his mind.

    "The description was beyond adequate, my good lord of the sea, yet would I find the reality pale in comparison to the well-crafted portrait painted by your words?" She smiled at him, though the prospect of being swept off her feet to face the ruination of a gown was hardly amusing to Marianne. She preferred not to risk fine silk. "At least ensure I am wearing something I do not mind losing first, hmm? Going for a swim is all well and good, but I prefer not to lose one of my gowns in the process, thank you."

    Feeling him shift back, she was not surprised to feel the bold graze of a finger along her cheek. Her chin lifted slightly, eyes full of challenge in that moment. He might wonder about the texture of her lips, but there were limits to her own audacity; she decided if and when he would be permitted to test the truth of it. "Ah, but stars can also prove rather distant... and unreachable."

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    House Durand Austin Durand's Avatar  
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    "Why, my lady of stars, I assure that you that I am never one to overindulge in a description. If I were to do so, that would only elicit feelings of disappointment. That would get us nowhere and ultimately ruin the enjoyment of the trip." The comment about the clothing, though, only served to amuse him. There were several potential pieces of clothing the could think of draping on her lovely form only to be lost later. Fortunately, he was wise enough not to bring those comments to bear. "Oh, but of course. From you excellent taste in style, I would never presume to ruin one of your fine garments. Besides, I think I'd rather enjoy looking at you in them."

    He could see the challenge in her eyes, quickly figuring that this was not necessarily a woman from whom you simply stole kisses. Yet, at the same time, he could tell she enjoyed ones that were well given, nonetheless. "They are only unreachable to those who do not have the ambition and skill," he countered further, "And those that demand more than, say, the sweet reward of a kiss are not worthy of receiving them to begin with." Austin looked into her eyes, then, finding them twinkling in the growing starlight.

  20. #20
    House Shellten Marianne Shellten's Avatar  
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    "So you are not given to exaggeration in your flights of fancy? I'm inexplicably relieved to hear it," Marianne quipped slyly with her lips twisting briefly in a matching smile. "I do not enjoy disappointment, especially when my hopes have been stoked to high expectations, my lord of the sea. So to hear you will not court my disappointment is of great comfort to me, I assure you." Blue eyes reflected the spangle of the stars above, deepening with mirth at his renewed compliment. A bow of her head thanked him in an effort at gracious modesty, despite perfect awareness that her clothing was ideally suited to her complexion and figure, deliberately chosen with the intention of drawing admiring gazes.

    However close she danced to the edge of risk and chance, Marianne was no easy conquest. She did not eschew the company of men or deny them the opportunity to deserve her attentions, yet neither did she sow kisses broadcast either. "Ambition is nothing without the skill, I think we both agree, but worthiness and demand seldom go hand in hand. Rewards are best given freely, else they're hardly rewards. Even stolen delights have a drop of bitterness in them to mar the pleasure... and somehow, I do not think you a man to risk the single drop to mar the whole."

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