stuff us in boxes that's where you want us
cardboard is boring, we brought our matches - look how it burns
Matteo even with his inherent flare for the dramatic did not draw out his one and only demand to serve as payment. Harley peered at him with clear expectation within her vibrant gaze as she allowed him the stage, the woman attempted to keep her face entirely unreadable and yet failed as curiousity seeped its pesky way through regardless. Yet the moment those mischievous french lyrics flowed from him, she simply stared at him for a moment. Dinner.. That hardly seemed like a price at all! In fact, she had tasted his cooking before and if anything she had already tasted, she was going to make out like a bandit. He had caught her off guard. Again. Yet where was the catch? Certainly there was some risk in such an open ended challenge. "Hmm.. I have tasted your food before... these seem like.....terms that I can agree to, even if they do seem in one of our favour more." Just who it was, it was plain to see! Yet she was not foolish enough to say no. Perhaps that was his crafty ploy all along and yet here she was, the raven haired woman found that very gamble near irresistible. "You have yourself a deal." She agreed with a nod, a small smile had played upon her lips with the knowledge she was quite certain she got away with not only being whisked to the French lands so far from home and offered dinner!
It was easy to think with a clear mind with him at a distance, that innuendo and repartee was met once more with seamlessness. But there was something about him up close and personal.... When he touched her, his cursed scent damn near intoxicating. Nothing more than alluring the she-cat. Surely it was only his scent and not those touches that made her own body betray her. Even her mind had fled all reason the last time! How she thought this part of their dance would become much easier... not harder. Not when she knew he could play her like the perfect instrument, not that she would ever admit it. It was too simple, to get lost in his warmth and scent. She swore she could feel her own heartbeat, the palpable tension between them amplified, somehow. She nearly felt anticipatory. Fuck, did he feel it too? Or was he simply messing with her? He seemed so composed and yet this time... there was some unspoken tension tightening around them both. That game they so seamlessly played apparently had consequences. How unaware of them she was of them all the same. She was supposed to get better.... At this. Not worse! She attempted to remain that unflappable being she was too good at pretending to be but that damn look within the depths of her gaze was like goddamn bedroom eyes. That space between them seemed to bring forth that regained composure at the very least, she drew in that sweet fragrant French air. It was France, that was why he resolve so dissolved. Clearly. The pair made their way through those gorgeous fields that whispered to her, the wind toying with those blades of grass that caused them to shimmer, its vastness reminded her of an ocean. She could not deny that this place was magic.
They fell into easy conversation, it was remarkable how natural it was to get lost in each other's company. He was a hard man not to like. He was also a damn good verbal sparring partner. But beyond that, she found herself genuinely liking his presence even despite the very challenges he placed in her way. Those teasing words found her lips once more, there was nothing humble about the man that walked beside her, not that she truly minded. It was intriguing how he didn't bother to dispute those claims. He knew who he was and there was no shame in that. He brought up the man who raised him.. Sometimes she wondered if Matteo was serious or if he was simply teasing, to test her gullibility. Who the hell had seventy cities to their name? "Seventy? One wasn't enough??" She laughed in disbelief. A shrug soon followed as she eyed Matteo curiously. No, he wouldn't simply offer her a name if she had asked, she was certain. "He couldn't give you at least one? Maybe, he was concerned that if he did, the son's ego would surpass the fathers. That would make him a king, a man with ego and cities... has to be one.... Am I close?" How infuriating that he hardly elaborated, offering just a hint of information and yet leaving out a world of knowledge. Matteo was one big puzzle with a billion pieces she was attempting to put together. Now she had an idea how that picture looked, she felt it, trusted it... but damn there were too many pieces, tiny intricate shapes that would be nearly impossible to to place them all. Did he enjoy watching people desperately attempt to put those pieces together?
She toyed with that flower between her fingers near absentmindedly as they pair meandered down that trail, the sent of it dancing occasionally toward her. Matteo speaking of his estate and the sheer size of it.
The pair of women on horseback offered that brief distraction, Matteo's words about that pack disappearing into the breeze. That greeting, a name and title easily offered probably betraying more than Matteo ever meant to let on. At first it was impossible to imagine such a title was nothing short of a joke and yet... how they had said it with such casual grace seemed odd. That tease fell swiftly as she all but honed upon him. He was old. Experienced far more lifetimes than she could even dream of. She knew.... Risque's brother was some form of nobility back then, although she garnered little information from him. If Matteo lived in.. France... at the time.. Did that mean... No. No talk of vampires. That complicated world left behind... did not exist.
The jest flew easily from her lips, one that he appeared to take amusement within, as she knew he would. Far better than thoughts of vampires. King Fancy pants. "Ah that's a shame then. I think you could pull it off... although I think it might sound a little snobbish. That you are not." She then seemed to taste his last name upon her tongue though. "Devereaux.. Lord Devereaux... I have to admit it strange to hear your last name. I always thought you were just Matteo. You know like rock stars do. But I think this suits you. Dare I ask how a king deemed you lordly? Save his betrothed?" The mention of his son seemed to make her all the more curious. What would a son of Matteo... even look like.. Act like? "Ah.. your son will get used to it. If anything.... It might grow on him. Next thing you know... he will have just as many rooms as you..." She added idly, waved her hand as they once again got lost in conversation. How little she truly knew of him and yet, even still as she found out more, her trust only solidified. In a world full of people, so few actually felt... safe.
As they continued that walk she noticed the fields seemed to shift into something far more refined and well maintained. It lost its wildness, those flowers grew more sparse and the grass freshly trimmed short. It was the lake though that seemed to catch her true attention first. It looked fresh, sparkling beautiful. The freaking castle Matteo called home. Such a big all-consuming thing it was. Chambord, he had called it. Although she was a little surprised he hadn't chosen to name it after himself. Those spires seemed to kiss the heavens themselves, like something out of a fairytale. What it would be like to explore it! "Who needs a city in your name when you have a castle." She uttered softly, her gaze attempting to take it all in and yet the shock of it seemed to linger.
But what could one person do with so many rooms? Certainly, that abode must have been lonely. Even despite the chuckle at her sarcasm. She was admittedly a little surprised at the mention of this chateau... he called it being smaller than most castles. She couldn't imagine it. Grand as it may be... but even with all its visitors, its vastness has to be lonely. Hell her own apartment was lonely at times, even with a magical plant and a dog that defied nature itself to keep her company. She did not linger on that for long... why sully this moment with it? "At the very least... what your father makes up for in cities, you make up for in rooms." Her own laughter escaped her then, a carefree sound that almost resembled the wild fields they had just walked within. How she seemed almost mesmerized with the view.
It was the perfect time for Matteo to strike. He tossed that apple at her while she was taken with the very sight of it all. She had to admit it was breathtaking. Yet it was the movement that caught her eye that saw her flailing just to catch it. It nearly fell all the same and truly it was also by some stroke of luck that she actually ended up with it in her hand... much to her own surprise. It was luck alone that saw it cradled within her own hands. The woman was surprised by it all the same. Luck.
"I know I have to say I am a little surprised myself. But any victory worth having is not without challenge." She toyed with the apple in her hand. "Unless I steal the victory for myself." At this rate there wouldn't be an apple left to continue. But she took a bite all the same, a little less than half that apple still remaining. There was still time it would seem. That devilish look flashed within her purple eyes. He turned his attention to settle wholly upon her, a look of intrigue upon his features. The pair merely staring at each other, Harley quite pleased with the reaction she prompted with the insinuation of the size of that castle and other things.
Her lips curled slightly upward. Did she hit a nerve? She was beginning to wonder if it was possible. Yet.. there was an impishness, forever, within the depths of his silver eyes that indicated that it was hardly the case. That easy rise of his shoulders hardly prepared her for the response he offered her in return. She could hardly help that laughter that fell from her then... and then the recognition hit. Did he mean? The laughter faded away and a near curious look appeared. Hey. Several things? Pft. Just what he meant by that seemed clear... or did it?
"Several? Hey! Are you suggesting I don't know my way around.. A ..... Castle. Or Just your.... castle." She questioned, her brow rose inquisitively, that suggestiveness indicating they were clearly not speaking of Chambord anymore. They continued their advance, the fae leading them away from the crowd and perhaps lead them through a more covert entrance. The french fae easily led them through the many secret passages that he had committed to memory. She could not deny this place was gorgeous, those massive archways sculpted with distinct care like this could have been someone's magnum opus. She could only imagine how long the construction of this place took... the upkeep of it all. The inside practically swallowed you whole, she knew for a fact she would have gotten herself lost within it. She even tested its echo! There was not a person in sight where they travelled which attested to Matteo's abilities. She devoured the sights as the pair travelled within until they met the hub of his oasis. They must have climbed countless steps to get to that plain door that Harley eyed curiously. At the very least Matteo hardly cheated, walking every one of those steps alongside with her. There were so many doors, so many twists and turns and she was sure there was so much more to see that she hadn't. This was like a fucking fortress of solitude!
Beyond that door was the fae's home. She was met with a delicate warm breeze from the open doors that lead out into the balcony, the thin lace curtains content to dance like graceful phantoms. There was so much to see. So very much that she couldn't take it all in upon first glance. It was clean, polished to near perfection that one could see their own reflection. The open concept made it easy to sweep her gaze across its entirety save for a few rooms. It looked right out of a magazine. It hardly felt constricting and it felt every bit of a well lived-in home. She could not deny its warmth. This place, Matteo's hope felt very much him she decided. While the architecture and trimmings seemed as old as the chateau itself, it was restored with hints of modern flair that worked seamlessly betraying the thought that went behind it all. It had everything one needed to feel more than comfortable. The only thing that seemed almost out of place was the beanbag chair placed by the massive television. But she supposed it too had a charm and certainly seemed like the ideal place to flop into. How tiny her own home was in comparison to this! She was worried it would feel cold... an endless vastness of lonely. But it hardly felt that way despite its size. It was a considerable feat. She eyed those personal pieces, curious of the photos that most likely were people of importance to the fae.
He easily moved inside to gesture toward the sofa, Harley's gaze breaking to peer at the large comfortable appearing piece of furniture. Matteo's words, as they seemed so prone to simply fall off into a wormhole, never to return as they were both silenced by a sudden commotion.
A skittering of claws that searched for traction upon the marble floor seemed to indicate that something was coming. It did not take long before that dog all but announced itself with quite the memorable entrance. Matteo doing very little to slow the energetic creature known as Herbert, the delightful creature who made the room come to life. She could barely catch a proper glimpse of him as he was basically a torpedo. The woman felt inclined to tell Matteo that he had a wild animal on the loose within his home.
Matteo's introduction of the little streak of furry lightning that all but zoomed around them both. This was not at all what she expected. He raced like his life depended on it his tiny paws hardly failing him, but he had to move his limbs much quicker in a desperate floundering that carried his roundish body that looked more akin to a loaf of bread around the coffee table.
A very small brain huh? Matteo informed her. How she was certain that Matteo would not own anything dumb. Harley wasn't quite so quick to believe him in this. Which was funny considering she believed in so much.
"Matteo what happened to the rest of your dog's legs?" He had the characteristics of a dog but he seemed to lack legs that gave the dog any chance at height. His tail in a plume of fur was almost entirely missing. What an unusual creature. He suddenly stopped at Harley's feet.... He flopped in a near dramatic fashion before her. He was utterly motionless on his back before her, the woman absolutely frozen, unsure what to make of the terrorizing creature. Was he dying? The panting creature exhausted from his fervent race around them as if the poor thing couldn't even bring himself to move, as though the thought of his master and a guest within his home was simply too much. Matteo hardly seemed worried about the state of his dog, Harley had shot a curious look in his direction. She could not fight off that grin that began to tug at her own lips. It grew into pressure in her chest as she tried to swallow down that bubbling laugh that threatened to escape her.
Laughter lined her voice even though she fought the urge with a valiant effort. "I thought you said nothing you possessed was small. I am beginning to question your claim." That teasing sarcasm fell easily from her lips, although she supposed what he lacked in height he absolutely made up for in impressive gusto alone. There. She couldn't hold it back anymore as the woman began to give in to that laugh, mist even dared to appear in her own eyes. "Hello Herbert." Just as casually in the same breath... noticing the man had found himself a comfortable spot upon that couch, Matteo every inch a lord in his own castle always seemed to make any surface he lounged on the most comfortable thing in existence.
"Oh what's that?" She questioned, gesturing just behind him, Harley waited for the confusion and for the man to possibly look behind before all but launching the apple right at him. She was quite confident that he would be vulnerable and unsuspecting. They were running out of real estate on that very apple and yet hardly either one of them seemed to mind. The smile hardly faltered then before she lowered to a crouch to where the panting Corgi had ended up by her feet, shaking her head slightly. That sarcastic demeanour shifted to something softer, oh but never dormant. She then reached to give the dog a good old fashion belly rub. Every dog.... Not that she was entirely convinced it was 100% a dog... had a spot and she was determined to find it. She waited until she received that complementary leg shake that said she had found it. A moment longer she rose easily to her feet.
"You know what they say... that a man's dog often resembles an owner. I wonder.. What does this say about you?" There was that sweet sarcasm again, tilting her gaze upward to peer at the Frenchman. Although she had an answer to that. She suspected he would not have anticipated. " Would you find this to be true?" She quirked a brow at him.
Harley thoughtfully began to meander around that couch, peering casually around, noticing the nuances beyond the mere grandness of it, she a picture of Herbert and that made her smile. "Hmm.. Nothing incriminating yet. Although a man as smart as you would probably do a much better job at hiding that. You wouldn't tell me where you hide the skeletons, would you?" She highly doubted he would simply tell her. After all, he was exceptional at the art of speaking and yet guarding his truest secrets. It was a talent. One she hardly possessed. But her... talent lay in the fact that she could detect it, noticing those gaps. But she suspected even if she had known him for a thousand years she would still be figuring out that mysterious and yet elusive fae.