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Taking the Wheel, Driving to Fate

It has been a several days since the Court and several weeks since the frantic shotgun encounter in the Snakebite bathroom. He promised to make it up to her, but has not been around much lately. He called once in the intervening time, to see how she were doing and if her brother was okay. It was a quick message, but at least it proved he hadn't forgotten about her.
Tonight, however, the message insisted she be ready to go out the next night. Several hours after the sun disappeared over the horizon, he called and asked "You ready Princess?" When she steps outside, he's already waiting in his black Chevy in front of the Seventh House Cafe. Jeweled eyes take in the skirt, admiring her from head to toe with purely masculine admiration. The corner of his mouth crooked, he ushers her into the car and slides into the other side.
The Chevy sails on the highway like some sleek sailboat might across the Atlantic; it is meant for the road, joining with the asphalt below it as it speeds effortlessly towards the unknown destination. Erik, has refused to say anything about their destination. Thankfully, however, there is no blind-fold tonight. "You remembered," he says with a glance towards her skirt-sheathed legs. Shifting into the last gear, his hand is free to wander, and it does.

The message, like the previous one he had left before when the whole brother thing started, surprised Ivanya a bit, brought a smile to her lips after nights full of less than happy expressions. Not being forgotten, well. It's a good feeling. Most of the time. She was ready when the message told her to be, waiting outside the Seventh House, leaving instructions with the waitress that would close up the shop. Longer list than normal, but the pretty blonde just took it all in stride.
A smile, showing only a hint of her fangs, curls Ivanya's lips as she sees him looking over her, the paleness of strong legs. "Ready, Sir Knight," she said before brushing a quick kiss to his cheek. She smells of jasmine and roses, of ancient books and cigars this night, not quite her usual perfume. But it's been a difficult few nights for the young vampress. Court wasn't exactly pleasant for her, after all.
This night, she isn't as nervous as she was their first drive together, leaning back into the seats in an almost relaxed manner. After asking twice about where they're going, Ivanya gives up--and gets a little nervous. She was looking out the window as he spoke, watching the scenery fly past, but turns a little smile towards him. "How could I forget?", she asks teasingly, moving over slightly in her seat, so his hand doesn't have to wander so far.

She remembered, and Erik is a lucky man. Callused fingertips touch her thigh, sliding across the soft fabric of her skirt, lower to her knee. "I had plans," he says, distractedly keeping at least part of his attention on the road. "But I may have just forgotten them."
Perhaps he's aware, somehow, that it's been difficult for her these last nights. An absent lover at best, he does seem to be at least partially aware of what's going on in the city, and more specifically with her, then it may appear at first glance. The car smells of tobacco, a recently smoked cigarette. The acrid scent clings to the man as well, mingling with the aroma of cologne, and beneath that soap proving that he's recently showered. As always, there is the scent of metal and oil, lingering sawdust, as if these things are burned into his flesh for all time. The feminine sweetness of her own skin is pleasant to him, as is the softness of the flesh he reveals as his fingers tease up the hem of her skirt.

  "Oh, I can't be that distracting," Ivanya purrs softly, her eyes flashing as she looks over him. She doesn't move away from his touch, try to discourage that strong hand as it moves over her. No, she likes it, the roughness of his fingers and the power that is behind them. The thrill, possibility of danger that she's well aware of when she's with him.
  It's good to have someone notice, even an 'absent lover', when things are going on, when they have an effect. To be touched like she's something precious, to have an escape from her ever-busy mind. She looks out the window, tilting her head to see the sky above them. "One night, perhaps I'll ask you to teach me how to drive." It's said as a half-threat, the look in her eyes saying that others might have tried before and gave up--or just tossed her into the backseat. His scent in inhaled, and she edges a little closer, so that she can place another one of those half-kisses against his cheek, brief and soft.

  Unfinished, half-made, rough and coarse; he's not a beautiful man, but there is something striking about him. Beneath the five o'clock shadow, there's a strength to his jaw, a certain cut to his build hidden under casual clothing that reminds one of war and physical violence. Wild, capricious, he combines raw strength with sleek, animalistic grace. The human shell is a mask, the power writhing in his flesh felt as his fingertips slide upwards over her bare thigh, pushing the skirt higher.
  Turning his cheek into the half kiss, he captures her lips with his, the stubble of his jawline momentary sandpaper harshness against her pampered skin. Somehow he manages to maneuver the car without crashing, keeping it steady on its present course down the darkened highway. "Come here Princess," he says, a furious grin flashing across his face like lightening. His hand leaves her thigh to pull her towards him. At first it may seem as though he's pulling her across the seat for something else, but when he tilts up the steering wheel it becomes apparent he's making room for her on his lap.

  It takes more than just the pretty boys to make Ivanya's world go around. And she always had liked the type that likely wouldn't be much good for her in the long run. The ones that'd get into bar fights over her, or that were more than their rough appearance showed. Wild. She likes wild. As his fingers move the skirt higher, her legs start to part, begin to invite.
  For the short moments that the kiss lasts, Ivanya forgets everything in her head that was swirling around, that they're driving down a highway to someplace she doesn't know. He tells her to 'come here' and she does, slipping across the seat easily. There's a flash of something in her eyes, then a little chuckle as she realizes what he's trying to do. Settling into his lap, she can't resist the urge to wriggle a little bit, careful of the wheel. "Well, now this is a first," she purrs, her hands resting lightly on the steering wheel. Leaning back, another kiss is stolen, softly.

  The car never slows down. There's a moment of tricky maneuvering as her legs slide down along his to find room beneath the console and he makes a slight noise in his throat as she wriggles onto his lap, skirt riding temptingly higher. Once her hands are on the wheel, his let go. There's no fear of hitting anything out here. As long as she keeps the wheel relatively stable, the freeway is straight for at least as far as the eye can see. For a vehicle of its size, there is very little shake through the frame, and the wheel is held easily in her hands. He keeps his foot on the accelerator, left near the clutch. "You're doing good Princess," he murmurs encouragement in her ear, lips grazing over her flesh. "See, how easy it is? You're driving."
  Surely there's more to it than this. There's the whole business of shifting gears in unison with the clutch, but aside from those technicalities, she is driving. Erik doesn't express any concern for the well-being of his car, and there are no threats about how careful she should be, only the occasional support or touch of his hand on the wheel when she turns the wheel too hard, the car drifting towards the other lane. He's careful not to touch her too much in any way that might be distracting enough to find them upside down in a ditch.

  Higher, and showing more pale skin that looks nearly white in the dark of the car, moon shining in from above. Ivanya's body is warm with a recent feeding, the start of desire that came after being touched by him, sitting in his lap. Here, she's so much more aware of how small she is compared to him, this brute of a man that's letting her drive his car. For a moment, there's a flash of nervousness in her as she's given control of the wheel, but with his words of encouragement, it starts to fade away. She's driving.
  While the gas pedal and clutch are out of her control, the wheel is hers, and she feels the freedom of it. A feeling she's so seldom had in her life. Silent, once can almost hear the concentration going on in her head as she grips the wheel, steers the car down the highway. There's a smile on her lips as she watches the road spread out before her, empty stretch of it with no one around. "So, where are we going?," she asks again. Perhaps the third time's the charm.

 The car never slows. Speed maintained and steady, Erik waits patiently for her to become accustomed to the feel of the car, aware of the potential freedom, the taste of power. It is a different kind of power, driving a car. Different from the supernatural mysteries of vampiric existence. This is something mundane, heavy, full of weight. The road stretching out in front of the windshield, illuminated by the glow of the headlights, forever into the darkness. It's seductive, the lure of the road. Mile after mile vanishing beneath the tires. How easy it would be to keep going like this beyond Chicago, into the next state, across the country to the other ocean. . .
  "Wherever you want to go, sweetheart," he says in that low gravelly voice of his, the lilt of an accent the only ornamentation, the suggestion of a less than commonplace history. "The lake, the countryside, Las Vegas. . " The last is said with a half-chuckle as if he's only teasing, but there's also the sense that should she say that's where she wanted to go, he'd be alright with it. With the simple gesture, there's the awareness he's offering her the road and all it entails; freedom from the city left behind and the hassle of these last few days. "You're driving."

  Fingers adjust on the wheel, stretching out a little, but never letting go, truly. It's a powerful thing she's controlling, after all. Ivanya looks out to the road beyond, aware of the possibilites that learning this skill could give her. Escape. Whenever she wanted to, not being forced to ask someone else, to wait. It's freedom, and even this little bit of it tastes so sweet. Intoxicating, almost. But in the back of her mind is the silent knowledge that when you run from things, they always seem to catch up with you at the most inconvenient of times...
  "You mean that, don't you?," she asks softly, her voice a whisper barely heard over the sound of tires moving over the highway, the gentle sound of the engine. She swallows, the gestures of humanity still so familiar, so common in her. Ivanya's not even ten years dead, yet, after all. Who knows if she'll even make it that long... "I've never been to Vegas. Though I've always wanted to see the shores of California..." She seems to consider it, seriously, for a moment. A shake of her head is given, though, a small sigh. "I can't leave those I care for behind. Not now." She's not strong, but she's not a coward, either. A woman willing to stand, fight, be punished for standing beside a friend. A rare thing, perhaps, in their kind. "And besides, you said you had plans, before I made you forget." She looks back to him, briefly, forcing a smile, though her eyes show the truth of it all. Ivanya, she's more than a little tired, a little afraid of what fate has in store for her.

  Erik does not appear disappointed by the answer. Or if he is, there's no indication. "Sweetheart, I mean everything I say, even when I'm lying." He grins against her shoulder, pressing his lips into the sensitive flesh right beneath her ear. She still smells of sunshine and blue sky to him, so many decades, perhaps centuries, dead. Even her flesh, cold now these years, is warm to him. "You ever change your mind, you let me know. And if you ever want to see Vegas, I know a guy out there. Likes cats." And that seems to be the end of that. The offer has been made, but even with her refusal, the door remains open should she ever wish to step through it.
  "There's a place not to far from here," he says in response to her question. "An old farm house run by a nice couple. I thought we'd stop there for awhile. Feed the chickens." She can feel the widening curve of his lightning grin against her throat, wide enough that she might image the sleek white fangs revealed. "You'll want to take the next exit on your right." The car begins to slow in preparation, but he does not take control of the wheel again, allowing her to steer the Chevy.

  A soft shudder moves through her at that press of lips, Ivanya having to fight to keep her eyes from closing, from leaning into him and just melting. Kindness, it's not something she's overly used to. Not something she forgets when it's given. She chuckles softly, her smile flashing brightly in the windshield. "I'll be sure to, Erik. Thank you." Something in her feels the door that stays open to her, an escape route still there. She relaxes a bit more, knowing it's there, that it's not a now or never thing.
  "A farm house." It's half statement, half question, and said with a small chuckle. "You give me so many firsts, darling. What's a girl to think?" The seriousness in her melted away for now, a soft teasing taking its place. Another laugh, musical and amused, pleased. It stops, however, as she concentrates to spot the exit, carefully guide the car that way. "Shouldn't I be using the..." The word, on the tip of her tongue... "The arrow that makes that annoying bing bing noise?" It's too late to, of course, as she steers the car down the ramp.

  Chuckling beneath his breath, Erik says, "Why tell the world what you're planning? Surprise them." Then in case she wants to use it, he gestures to where the indicator is located, telling her to flip it up for the proper arrow. The exit is coming up now on the right. Easing up on the accelerator, the car has slowed significantly. A slightest pressure on the steering wheel is all it takes to direct the car in the direction she wants to go in. "Easy, too much and we'll end up in the ditch over there. And it's a long walk back to the city."
  While she maneuvers the vehicle around the corner, with him telling her to turn right at the end of the ramp and continue till she gets to the first mailbox on the left, he goes back to what she said a few moments ago. "Princess, anyone of us who tells you they're too old for there to be anymore firsts, is full of shit. There's always a first something. It's the little things that matter the most. Like feeding chickens."

  Ivanya's lips quirk into a little grin. "I think you live by that philosophy in more than just driving," she muses as her eyes flick up to the rear view mirror, then back to the road ahead. The directional isn't used, her hands staying on the wheel as she guides the Chevy around the corner of the exit carefully. "Walking in these shoes all the way back would be hell," she points out with a little grin. But at least she looks good.
  She nods as the directions are given, even checking for oncoming cars as she merges onto the road. "I keep on hearing that one can only see so much, but I've never believed that. Not when I've seen so little." She keeps her eyes out for that mailbox, trusting him to slow down when they get closer. "I've never asked where you're from," is pointed out softly, as if she might not really expect an answer.

  Erik does not deny her assessment of his life's philosophy. Or at least one of them. By his very nature he is unpredictable and capricious, filled with vital energy that runs both hot and cold, untamed like the hurricane. "I've been so many places Princess, I don't remember where I'm from." It's a lie, and not one he tries to cover too carefully. Nor does he make apology for it. Instead however he does add, "My family was from Northern Europe. A small fishing village by the sea. I left when I was thirteen."
  "Here's the turn," he says, the car slowing more. "There, see the mailbox? Turn in right on the other side." Once the turn is made, the driveway is long and narrow, winding up along a fenced field. Steering on the gravel is a different sensation than the road. There's more vibration and pull, the subtle threat of losing control. But he keeps the car moving slow enough that it's not too much of a problem as long as she doesn't get crazy with the wheel.

  She doesn't push him for an answer beyond what is offered. Ivanya's not a woman that talks of her past overly much, after all. Not before she was brought over, at least. But those stories can be heard still in the city every now and then, if the right vampires are asked, ones of Ivanya and Tyburn, Stepka's messengers, Ivanya his trusted confidante. Of barfights Tyburn would start while she sat there, laughing. But time changes all things. Or at least that's what they say...
  "I see it," she says, turning the wheel almost a little too wide, but correcting the error before hitting anything or driving into some ditch. The change of surfaces is noticed, and Iva sits a bit more straightly, tightens her grip on the wheel. It's managed without incident, the drive up the driveway, though she's a bit more tense during it. How very embarrassing it would be, to wreck the Impala now.

  Perhaps he's asked around about her. Dug into her colored past; knows about Stepka, Tyburn, the beautiful little vampire who laughed while others suffered. Maybe he doesn't care, maybe it's a turn-on, an amusement. Who can say how the gears in his mind work? Regardless, he offers no verbal judgment. "Someday, if you're very very good," he says as he directs her into up the driveway where it opens up into a large gravel parking lot. "I'll tell you about Venice."
  There are several large buildings surrounding the parking lot. One familiar with farms would recognize barns and a large covered arena. "We're here!" When he opens the door, she would instantly be aware of the smells; humans, foul, and equine. The last more predominant than the others. A whickering in the darkness indicates there are horses here, many horses, bedded down in their stalls. In the distance, the silhouette of a farmhouse sits at the end of a spur in the driveway. There's a sense of humans there, sleeping undisturbed by the vampires' arrival.         Helping her out of the car, Erik slides out from beneath her. "So, I didn't really bring you out here for the chickens." Taking her hand he leads her into the darkness towards one of the barns. He slides back the large door just enough for them to slide inside, adding with a grin, "But we can do that later if you like."

  "What if I'm very very bad?," she asks with a teasing gleam in her eyes, turning in his lap a little once the car is safely parked. "Will you spank me, and then tell me about Venice?" She kisses the corner of his mouth lightly, her skirt dangerously high on her legs, hardly covering any of her thighs, now.
  The barns, arena, don't seem to spark any recognition in Ivanya. They're not something she's ever experienced except in books and television programs. She went to a racetrack, once, to play her role as trophy wife, but that was all. Sliding out of his lap, she fixes the skirt as she stands, smoothing the fabric out with her hands. A brow is raised at his confession, a look of worry flashing in ice blue eyes. But that doesn't stop her from letting him take her hand, leading her to the barn. "I'm always up for firsts," she says softly, looking around as she steps into the barn, grip on his hand tightening slightly.

  There's no immediate response to the promise of a spanking, that skirt riding dangerously high on her thighs. At least that is, not until she's stepping into the barn in front of him. Then, as she moves through the door, there's a quick whack of his palm against her backside. "If you're not careful Princess, I'll tell you about Venice while I'm spanking you." Holding her hand with his other, he leads her down the row of stalls deeper into the darkness.
  The great shapes of the horses move in their stalls, the soft greetings of several of the beasts alerting the vampires that they are awake and ready for acknowledgment, preferably in the form of a carrot or an apple. Surprisingly warm, the barn smells thick with the scent of manure, pastures, and very faintly, the perfume of birth. Somewhere nearby a mare has given birth recently. And it's to this stall, she realizes as the scents get stronger, that Erik leads her.
  Without blocking her view inside the stall door, Erik stands to the side, introducing woman and animal, "Ivanya, meet Desert Vixen and her new baby Desert Storm." Beneath the mare, the silhouette of a small colt can be seen. All awkward legs, he is kept relatively safe and hidden behind the bulk of his mother. Leaning against the stall, Erik's grinning, white teeth flashing in the indigo shadows. "I bought a race horse last night." He might as well have said he's just bought the moon. But there is something in his gravelly voice that's boyish, almost giddy. Like he's just discovered hot chocolate, peppermint schnapps, and blowjobs. If she didn't know better, she might think he sounded like a proud parent.

  Barely, Ivanya keeps from stumbling as his hand connects with her rear, a soft sound of surprise passing her lips. She wriggles her backside at him a little, grin given as she adjusts her skirt once more. "Ooh, now that sounded like a promise, Sir Knight." She lets him lead, trusting him in the darkness, in such a very strange place.
  Her eyes wander over the shadows of horses, the scent of them nothing she's experienced this close before. It's the scent of birth, of new life, that has her eyes widening slightly, her expression openly curious. It only grows as they get closer, as she sees the baby horse behind his mother. There's a tenderness in Ivanya as she looks the two horses over, walls torn aside for a moment as she regards them with awe. "They're gorgeous," she says quietly, shaking her head. The tone in his voice is noted, and Ivanya looks over to Erik with her own grin, fangs flashed with it, unguarded. "Congratulations," she offers genuinely. If she had a cigar on her, she'd offer it to him.

  "In a few years, he should be ready to race." Reaching into a bag hung not too far from the stall, he pulls out a carrot, offering it to her. "Here, Momma likes these." It's a strange moment, a tender side to this thug that few likely see. That he would include her in this seems a little strange. Perhaps he has no one else to share it with? Leaning against the next stall over, its occupant mildly interested in the goings-on next door, Erik crosses his arms over his chest, bending a leg up behind him. He stands like that for several moments, watching her from the corner of his eye. There's a casual attitude about him here in the barn that suggests he's at least passing familiar with and comfortable around animals.
  "I have a confession to make, Princess," Erik in a softer tone, voice rough and low in the darkness. The vibrancy of his smile has faded to a half-smile, faintly crooked. "I didn't bring you out here to feed to chickens and meet the horses. And while fucking you on the hood of my car or the hay loft would be the highlight of my week, it's important I come clean with you before we head back into the city."

  The carrot is looked over as if it's some strange, foreign thing before Ivanya takes it, offering it to the mare. "He looks like he'll be a fast one," she murmurs softly. "Like he'll do you proud." She doesn't assume that she'll ever see the horse race. That when the time comes, she'd be invited to watch replays of it at night as he beams proudly as Desert Storm becomes a winner. No. He brought her here, to see this, and it's more that she could have asked. She looks over to the mystery of a man as the mare hesitantly nibbles the carrot, then does so more eagerly. Ivanya laughs, and it's something girlish. The Princess that always secretly wished for a pony but never dared ask.
  That all goes away, however, at his confession. She looks away from the mare and her foal to him, her blue eyes a bit wider. Ivanya manages not to panic, though, not to let a world of fears intrude. Or maybe she just accepts those fears. She swallows, letting the horse have the rest of the carrot before turning to face him fully, wiping her hands on her skirt. "Why then, Erik?," she asks a bit hesitantly. Not sure if she wants to know the answer.

  Erik watches her expression, the few moments of girlish joy. So human and fragile a thing, easily broken by his words. It brings him no joy to say such a thing to dispel that glorious smile. He says as much, reaching out to close the distance, catching her chin between his fingers, his thumb pushing under her jawline while he brushes a callused fingertip across the corner of her mouth. "You have a fantastic smile Princess." His own smile is crooked, unfinished and rough, like the rest of him. "Don't be afraid. I'm not going to hurt you." And while she may have no reason to trust him, there is truth in his words. "My original intent didn't involve talking, or at least not so much, but I got a call tonight, and you and I need to have a conversation Princess, because my ass is getting dragged into shit, and I like knowing where my ass going at all times." Stroking the side of her face with his fingertips, he asks, "I want you to tell me what's going on with Amun, and why he has the Master's panties in such a twist."

  For a moment, she goes completely still as his hand reaches out for her chin. Ivanya doesn't move away, however, and after the initial gentle touch is made she relaxes, just a touch. She may not have any reason to believe him, to trust that he won't hurt her--Erik's a man that looks like he could inflict more than a little physical harm, if he wanted to. But she believes it. He hasn't lied to her yet, not really. Not that she knows. She leans into that touch, as if a simple caress could make everything all better, make all the shit that's piled up go away. Ivanya nods at his words, taking in a slow breath. Talking. She can do talking.
  "I don't even know where to start. I'm assuming you heard some of the stories surrounding Amun, or at least some of what Rolf said at the Court. When Amun came to this city, Koray was a new Master, had just taken over as Master of the City--with the help of a few friends." Like her, for example. "Amun did not oath to Koray, but Antal instead, one of the former Masters of the City. An old, established power. There was reason behind it, but Koray did not want to hear it. Or if he listened, he didn't care..." She turns her head, kissing his palm, them looking back to the horses, sighing.

  The mare munches on the carrot contentedly and is soon looking for another, nosing against Ivanya's shoulder. The colt, curious to find out what mamma's got that he doesn't, comes forward from her side, his tiny little nose reaching up over the stall so all that is visible are his fuzzy ears and wide nostrils. He huffs a breath through his nose, lips trying to find something to bite on.
  Erik listens while she talks, fingertips lightly caressing her cheek. Turning his body so that his shoulder is against the stall door, he considers her words. "So he gave Amun a Get out of Jail card and told him to play nice in the Church. But things aren't that tidy, and now he's heading towards a pissing match." It's not a new story. The same has played out in cities all around the globe. Power is an organic thing, it grows everywhere, but rarely is it a stable thing. "And how do you fit into it this time Princess?"

  That girlish smile finds its way back to Ivanya's lips for a split second at the sight of the fuzzy ears, nostrils. So often, she tries hiding just how touched she can be by everything around her. How easy her heartstrings are to play a symphony on. But those walls keep on tumbling down on nights like this. She holds out a hand to Erik, as if expecting another carrot to come. They're yummier than fingers, after all, which the colt's mouth are currently moving towards.
  "Not exactly. Koray demanded that Antal publicly apologize for his mistake and that Amun do the same. Antal did, though I think he was rolling his eyes when he wrote the letter. And he oathed to Koray. Amun, however, decided to join the Church instead. Koray has wanted to destroy Amun since he stepped foot into this city, even before the oathing to Antal, I believe." She shrugs her shoulders. "I fit into this, because somewhere along the way I befriended Amun. I took the time to sit down with him, talk. First, it was on a mission from Koray to speak with Antal about some political thing or another. The second, it was a random run in. I have taken time to get to know the vampire, to listen to what he had to say. And he, in turn, listened to me in a time when Koray had seemingly forgotten those who he called friends before he became a Master. Koray knows I'm close with Amun. Very close."

  The curve of Erik's almost-smile widens slightly. He offers no judgment of what she's just told him. Indeed, as he reaches for another carrot, instinctively finding the bag and fishing out a second, he says, "You're a good friend to have Ivanya. Anyone would be a fool to discard such a thing." The carrot finds her hand, and the colt, convinced he's about to get something presses closer to the door. Of course by this time the mare has grown more interested as well and being exceptionally larger than her colt, she'll push his little head out of the way with her own to get the treat. Motherly love only goes so far. "So, assuming Koray can't get rid of Amun, he's going to isolate him, by enforcing a rule of no contact." Seeing what's about to happen between the horses, he pulls out a second carrot, snapping it in half. "Here, you're going to need this," he comments, handing her the pieces. "They'll eat the whole bag and be ready for seconds." The neighboring horses aware that treats are being passed out begin shuffling in their stalls. Erik hands a carrot to the nearest who presses his nose against the bars, lips working like a hand to get at the orange vegetable. "Do you think Koray will hurt you to make his point?"

  Ivanya's eyes look into that of the mare as she feeds her the first carrot, another hand holding out the half for her colt. She's not nervous around the animals--a natural, perhaps. A little laugh comes as large lips move against her hand as the eager colt eats up. "That's how it seems. Not that Amun deals with many of the Court, aside from me. None that I really know of." Her eyes flicker over to Erik, a measure of trust shown in them, of hope. That he's not going to just pump her for information at Koray's request. That he's perhaps concerned. The last question makes her pause, purse her lips together a little. "Yes. I think he would. If I was found to be in contact with Amun after his rather obvious warning to me, he would. He's let me off before with only a slap to the face and being put under Rolf's tutelage to learn to control my Ardeur. I do not think he will be so gentle, this time. Not now that we are less friends than we were, then..." She gives him a look of deeper consideration. "What was the phone call about, Erik?"

  A final caress of her face with those strong fingertips before his hand draws away, less for desire of contact then the insistence of the horse at his back that has started nosing his hair for want of a carrot. "Here you old nag. Don't worry, I haven't forgotten you." He murmurs to the horse, gravelly voice even and soft, a reassuring tone used with animals, children, or those in a panic. Offering the other a carrot through the bars, the horse practically inhales it; the whole sucked into the long mouth cavity, crunches between massive flat teeth. At Ivanya's elbow the colt takes the offered piece, lowering its head and working on the treat behind the stall door.
  Jeweled eyes find her face in the indigo shadows. There's a light on at the far end of the row, but other-than-that, the barn is shrouded in darkness. The farm is silent, the humans tucked safely in their beds, slumbering away the night. "Koray wants to talk with you. In his office. I'm the courier."

  Watching the two horses eat, she's just about to offer up the second half of the carrot to the colt when the silence of the night is taken away from Erik's words. The carrot drops out of her hand, outside of the stall, and she turns to look to the man with wide blue eyes. Ivanya's fear shows in them, the little girl gone. She takes a step back, even. Fight or flight instincts returning after having been so long gone. But after that one step, she stays still. Arms hanging at her sides, her head lowers, hair hiding her expression. "I was afraid you were going to say something along those lines..." She doesn't have a chance against him, if she tries to resist being brought there. A lover, not a fighter. A kitten amoung tigers. Princesses aren't supposed to have to fight battles. They're for rescuing...aren't they?

  Watching the instant reaction, the blossom of fear across her flesh, he remains motionless, allowing the moment to run its course. He knows better then to further frighten her, waiting instead till it has passed. "Shhhh," Erik murmurs, reaching for her, touching her shoulder with one of his big hands. It's the same tone that he uses with the horses, calm and smooth, like velvet across the senses. The rough smart-ass vocabulary slides away, leaving the careful words of a man used to dealing with fear. "I'm not going to hurt you Princess. I told you that." Taking a step forward, he closes the distance between them. Hands mimicking one another, those large dexterous hands slide down her arms, skimming over the fabric of her shirt to her elbows. "I'm not going to hurt you. There are others who don't want to see you get hurt. I'm here to make sure it doesn't happen."

  There's a part of her, a rather large one, that wants to move away before those hands touch her. Ivanya doesn't, however. But she doesn't relax, doesn't melt into the big man's touch like she normally would. "You have no idea how many people have told me that, Erik, and proven themselves to be liars..." She steps into him, though, closes her eyes as his hands move over her arms. When they open, they look deep into his eyes, as if she could read the truth of things in the bottom of their depths, if only she could swim that far down. "Others?," she asks softly, barely a whisper. "If you don't deliver me to Koray's office, you'll be going against an order. And I won't ask you to do that, Erik...Not when you could be punished, too. Who would look after Vixen and her Storm?"

  Dark blue, brilliant cut sapphire shot, his eyes are like the starless sky. Fathomless, they reflect not a man, but a creature that has swum in a sea of men for generations. Pulled by tides of war and lust. He is old, perhaps older than one might expect given his reckless, carefree attitude. Beneath his flesh stirs that power, writing through his veins like lightning. Her nearness quickens it, the scent of her prickles his flesh. "Sweetheart, hurting you is the last thing I want to do right now." He chuckles faintly, the sound resonating in his throat, not quite escaping his lips. There's no need to tell her that if he wanted to hurt her, he could have. She already knows that. His arm moves around her waist, resting on her hips, supporting her as the other strokes through her hair, down her spine. "All I wanted to do tonight was get you out here and bent over the hood of my car under the stars." You can sense his grin, lopsided and wicked in the darkness. "Fuck. All that wiggling on my lap. . . ." The sentence fades off, ending with that whiskey laughter of his.
  "I'm still going to deliver you to Koray's office, I said I would." His hand finds a soothing rhythm on her back, fingers stroking long absent lines down to her hips, then back up her spine. "You have to work things out with him, Princess. You're young and filled with possibility. Amun's an old tricky fucker, and Koray's got his panties in a twist. Somewhere in the middle, you need to figure out how to dance between the two and get what you want without ending boxed in a basement. I'm just a fly-by-night kind of guy. I can't stop him from hurting you, but I can warn you to choose your battles carefully."

  His power raises, and Ivanya's crackles in response, dancing along her skin and jumping to him like static electricity. Not quite lightening, the powerful storm that Erik has lurking in him, but something cut from similar fabric. Something that will have time to grow, if she's lucky enough. Ivanya looks away from his eyes, watching his lips now as he speaks. A shiver comes as he strokes down her spine, a reaction she can't help even in situations like this. She's a Belle, and lust is never something she's good at ignoring. "I wouldn't object to that. It's a hot car," she purrs softly, looking up to him again in the darkness. "And I did wear a skirt..."
  Her smile slips again at his words, but it's hidden as her head goes forward to rest on his chest. Taking comfort, touch, while she still can. "I've been dancing between them both, and it was all working so well. Then someone decided to make it a tango instead of a waltz..." She lets out a sigh, and her arms wrap around his waist. "I never knew what a friend could be until after I was brought over. I can count the number of friends I've had in my life, true friends, on two hands and probably still have a finger or two left. I can't just turn my back on Amun... Even if I speak nothing but truth to Koray, there's no way of knowing if I'll end up in a box or not." She shakes her head, straightens and then backs away. "Let's get this over with."


Windy City Girls

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