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Persephone

 

Vibora Bay, December 2019, A a chilly Thursday evening

 

Camellia Blume lounged on her living room couch, pulling a quilt tighter around her shoulders despite already wearing a heavy sweater. Occasionally she jumped when she caught the flicker in the corner of her eye of the flames dancing in the fireplace. Since her transformation, fire was one of the few things that could still seriously hurt her, and she knew it on a primal level. She'd never been particularly afraid of fire until she'd bonded with the plant-symbiote. But the house she was renting was old; that's how she got such a good deal on the rent in the first place. It didn't have central heating, and, paradoxically, her transformation had also heightened her sensitivity to the cold, so during the winter months, the fireplace was essential.

 

She only half paid attention to the Hallmark movie playing in front of her while she thumbed at her smartphone. For once, Camellia seemed to have a real weekend ahead of her. No supervillains were brawling in the streets or taking the mayor hostage. She didn't have any familial obligations or conferences to attend or new treatment options to research or backlogs of notes from patient sessions to review. No appointments with the accountant or the lawyer she'd had to retain to make sure all the "i"s and "t"s were dotted and crossed for her practice. "Without them, how would I know PRECISELY how much money I'm still losing on it?" She laughed, then mumbled to herself some more. "Maybe I should go up to five session days a week...or would that just make me lose more money faster?" She pulled up her calendar and wrote herself a reminder to email her accountant. She didn't actually write the email; that would tip the scales of work/life balance she was trying so hard to maintain for once.

 

When the movie reached the high point of the lead couple's courtship, Camellia got caught up enough in the moment to open the ErosUnlimited app again. She hadn't known that he was on EU until The MatchMaker recommended his profile to her. In fact, she hadn't checked the app since she'd met him. During the following weeks, she'd gone back and checked his profile again, more times than she'd be comfortable admitting to anyone, least of all to him. But she hadn't messaged him yet. She was hoping he'd reach out first. Maybe he'd recognize Persephone despite her flimsy disguise, or maybe he'd just be drawn to Camellia on her own merits. She kept going back and forth in her own mind. He had me at "Bonjour", but he's movin' about as fast as a herd o' turtles. It's not like I've been subtle. Maybe I came on too strong and scared him off? Or maybe he's just worried about making me uncomfortable. After all, in a way, we are coworkers. Maybe he's just busy. Sure, but so am I. Or maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part and I'm not his type and he's trying to be polite by ignoring it when I throw myself at him. No, there's something there. It can't just be all in my head...can it? Her finger hovered over the "MESSAGE" button hesitantly, then withdrew, then hovered again. "UGH!" Her head snapped back and she rolled her eyes. She typed up a message and sent it quickly, not giving herself enough time to talk herself out of it again.

 

Marcus Dumont received the following message from Camellia's profile:

 

Rapunzel's waiting up here in the tower, ready to let her hair down, if only a knight in shining armor would ride by... 😉

 

The woman in the profile pictures looked familiar to Marcus. He'd definitely seen her before, though he couldn't remember where.

 

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CHEVAL

 

The punching bag shook with each blow. For once, Marcus was alone. No events on the schedule for the evening. No adoring fans wanting autographs. No muggers or monsters to punch. No Francis going over his plans for the next big push, for the next way of making money off Marcus' fame. Just him, the punching bag and his thoughts.

 

He circled it slowly, kept moving, delivering deliberate and powerful blows. His knuckles were stinging by now, but he kept going. Better than having to spend time thinking on his own. Too many thoughts. Like her. He punched the bag again, his knuckles stinging. It didn't work. His thoughts kept returning to her, to Persephone. She had made her attraction more than clear already. He could be dense, he knew that, but he wasn't that dense. So why didn't he act on it? Francis had made his thoughts on the matter more than clear. It'd be good for his image, a super power couple. What could be better? 

 

He punched again. The punching bag's chain rattled and creaked. 

 

Marcus felt like he should maybe discuss some things with Francis, but should he stop himself from seeing how things would work between himself and Persephone just because Francis' thoughts on the matter? No. That felt wrong too.

 

His phone made a sound and vibrated. Stopping the swinging punching bag, Marcus breathed out, catching his breath before picking it up from the nearby table. A message from the Eros Unlimited app? 

 

Right, he had a profile there. He had honestly forgotten about it. That had been Francis' idea, too. "Let the world know you're just like them, looking for love." Marcus shook his head and brought up the message. He'd gotten some messages on the app so far. Not his type, too far away. Camellia. Wasn't that some kind of flower?

 

He brought up her profile and read through it before replying. There was something familiar about the woman in the pictures. He couldn't quite place her, but he was sure he had seen her before. Vibora Bay resident, enjoyed rescuing puppies and kittens more than fighting villains, though she would do it.

 

So what whould he do? He wasn't exactly a ladies man, and lately, everyone seemed that had hit on him had only been after his fame. And then, of course, there was Persephone. Marcus scratched the back of his head. He still wasn't sure what to do about Persephone, but it felt wrong to date someone else while figuring that out. He could at least let Camellia down politely. 

 

Still, there was something really familiar about those pictures.

 

Marcus sent a message: Bonjour, Rapunzel. What kind of rescue were you hoping for? 

 

He frowned after sending it. He was not good with words, he knew that, but still, just shooting her down immediately felt wrong.

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Persephone

 

Camellia still laid on her couch but now she turned over, leaning on her elbows and completely ignoring her television. Does he know it's me? There can't be that many metahuman women in Vibora Bay. It's a big town, but it's not Freedom City. But maybe he just hasn't thought it through. I can't tell. Well, I could tell, but...no. No need to spoil the fun just yet. Let's keep playing. Besides, it's not like it's the first time in my life I've had to make the first move. You're not the first guy to make me work for it. Sure has been a while, though. She smirked at her phone's screen as she typed a reply.

 

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Rapunzel's waiting up here in the tower, ready to let her hair down, if only a knight in shining armor would ride by... 😉

Bonjour, Rapunzel. What kind of rescue were you hoping for?

I'm in grave danger of having dinner alone tomorrow night! 😲 Save me, brave sir!

 

Edited by Grumblefloof
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CHEVAL

 

Marcus stared at his phone for a moment as Camellia's message came in. There was still something about the look that nagged me, some hint like he had seen her somewhere before. He saw so many people all the time, and well, he was starting to feel like she might be someone he had forgotten about. She seemed familiar with him, at least, and more than one would from just having seen one of his appearances. Time to break the little story that "Rapunzel" was weaving, at least.

 

I'm sorry, but I do I know you? There is something familiar about your pictures, but I can't quite place them.

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Persephone

 

"Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit, that answers that question. He really hasn't figured it out yet. I know I should be relieved, since that means the disguise is working. If he can't tell after working right next to me, then John and Susie Q. Public certainly have no idea. Hmmm...then again, let's face it, Marcus isn't exactly Sherlock Holmes." She grinned. "No, his talents lie elsewhere. I should be relieved, but I'm...disappointed? A little. But that's not fair to him, is it? Can't hold it against him if he's losing at a game he didn't even know he was playing. And he doesn't seem like the game-playing type anyway. No, what you see is what you get. That's part of what I liked about him in the first place, remember? Oh well. If I was a snake, I woulda bit him..." She smirked. "...And if things go well, I still might." She pulled a couple of old photos up from her cloud storage account and typed up a new message. "I think I can thread this needle and keep the game going for a little while longer. Can't outright lie to him, but can't spoil the surprise either. Let's put some more cards on the table and see if he thinks Camellia's as much of a catch as I'd like to think she is."

 

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Rapunzel's waiting up here in the tower, ready to let her hair down, if only a knight in shining armor would ride by...😉

Bonjour, Rapunzel. What kind of rescue were you hoping for?

I'm in grave danger of having dinner alone tomorrow night! Save me, brave sir! 😲

I'm sorry, but I do I know you? There is something familiar about your pictures, but I can't quite place them.

Well, you're not a patient, and I haven't had the most active social life lately, so, not to toot my own horn too loudly, but it could be something from my modeling days. Fun for a while, but not what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Sure took a bite out of that medical school tuition, though. 👩‍⚕️

 

The new message had a few attached images, all of which appeared to be pictures taken with a cell phone. One showed a billboard displaying an advertisement for a major brand of perfume. Another showed a pile of magazines on a table, the top one open to a two-page spread advertising a well-known brand of Italian luxury sports car. Both ads featured Camellia prominently. The last image was a picture of a feminine hand holding up a business card for a local private psychiatry practice, owned and operated by a "Dr. Camellia Blume".

 

Edited by Grumblefloof
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  • 2 weeks later...

CHEVAL

 

Camellia Blume? Marcus stroked his beard. He had heard about her before. A quick search revealed more information, more things to know. Seeing those pictures, she seemed like someone he recognized, but not just from posters or ads or anything like that. Blume. She was a psychiatrist. Hadn't Persephone been handing out cards for a psychiatrist back when they first met? Offered to help them with any issues, if need be? And, apparently, Miss Blume was a super hero, since she had a profile on EU?

 

Could it be?

 

No... that would be too obvious, wouldn't it?

 

But, those pictures, the familarity, she obviously knew him, and everything else, well, sometimes it was the most obvious choice that was the right one.

 

Switching back to the EU app, Marcus took a deep breath. Alright, time to see if he was right or not.

 

I do not suppose that Rapunzel has plenty of flowers in her hair?

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Persephone

 

"Well, look at that. He got there after all. Sooner than I thought he would, too."

 

Quote

Rapunzel's waiting up here in the tower, ready to let her hair down, if only a knight in shining armor would ride by...😉

Bonjour, Rapunzel. What kind of rescue were you hoping for?

I'm in grave danger of having dinner alone tomorrow night! Save me, brave sir! 😲

I'm sorry, but I do I know you? There is something familiar about your pictures, but I can't quite place them.

Well, you're not a patient, and I haven't had the most active social life lately, so, not to toot my own horn too loudly, but it could be something from my modeling days. Fun for a while, but not what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Sure took a bite out of that medical school tuition, though. 👩‍⚕️

I do not suppose that Rapunzel has plenty of flowers in her hair?

Sir Knight is as clever as he is brave! 👏 Plenty of flowers, yes. 🌹🌼🌷 Gotta brighten up this tower somehow.

 

I'm staring down the barrel of a free weekend for the first time in a month of Sundays, and I'm as lost as last year's Easter egg. If you're feeling fancy, they're putting on Mignon (in the original French!) at Symphony Hall, and after that I think Sweetland's would really hit the spot. It's last-minute, but I know enough people who know people that I think I could get us in without even dropping your name. 😉 Or if you're feeling like something more cozy, I have the CD, and a fireplace, and I make a halfway decent magret de canard and a mean chocolate souffle, and there's a bottle of 1947 Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste burning a hole in my cupboard that I wouldn't mind some help with.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

CHEVAL

 

He was right, then. Marcus let himself crack a smile. Clever, he was not, but even he could connect the dots, if he got enough of them. He had to admit, he hadn't been quite convinced if Persephone had just been flirting, or if there was more to it. His brother had often told him that he was oblivious to anyone showing any interest in him, and to be honest, James was probably right. Figured he would miss someone like Persephone showing interest.

 

It all depends on you. If you're trying to keep your lives apart, then maybe being seen with me in public won't be the best? 

 

He sighed, then went to look up what this Mignon thing was. It was a the Symphony Hall, so he kind of doubted it had much to do with meat.

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Persephone

 

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It all depends on you. If you're trying to keep your lives apart, then maybe being seen with me in public won't be the best?

 

Camellia squinted at her phone. "It sure DOES all seem to depend on me so far, since SOME people move about as fast as molasses goin' uphill in January." This was a matter she'd given some serious thought over the last few weeks. "Everyone knows that Marcus is Cheval. So if people see Cheval and Persephone together, not just working together but TOGETHER, then they can't ALSO see him with Camellia without either knowing that Camellia is Persephone or thinking that Marcus is a DOG carrying on the most public affair since Kennedy, which would make them lose respect for all 'three' of us. But if people see Marcus and Camellia together, especially TOGETHER-together, then, since they know Marcus is Cheval, they know Camellia is with Cheval. That paints a target on her back, and why bother having a secret identity in the first place if you're just going to travel in the same circles anyway and it doesn't protect anyone? So maybe Cheval is with Persephone but not with Camellia. That's a lot of lonely nights for Camellia. As far as anyone knows, including friends and family, it's Persephone in the white dress, Persephone with the adorable little babies (which Camellia has to hide having, somehow), and Camellia has no one to bring home for Christmas. And Camellia's parents don't know their own grandchildren or son-in-law. No, absolutely not. So that means coming out. And that means taking a big ol' wrecking ball to Doctor Blume's practice, maybe smothering it in its crib, not to mention making life for my family a heap more complicated. And I need to know that any man I do all that for is WORTH doing all that for. But I also don't want him to think I'm ashamed to be seen with him. ARGH. Well, it's sweet of him to mention it. Means he's considerate. Wait, unless it's an excuse to let me down easy? UGH."

 

She typed another reply.

 

Like any good shining knight, always thinking of others first. That did occur to me, yes. I'd like to think that one dinner wouldn't be enough to put me in the paparazzi crosshairs, but maybe I'm underestimating your adoring public's hunger for any scrap of you they can scrounge up. Maybe we should stay in. Oh, and if French opera isn't your cup of tea, there is always the Deontay Wilder fight. I don't know much about sports, but I hear he's pretty good.  And the last time the cable guy came around, I let him sweet-talk me into one heck of a package.

 

She chuckled. "Couldn't pitch that ball across the plate any softer without dropping it."

 

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CHEVAL

 

Well, maybe he should make a decision, then. It certainly seemed like she pushed in that direction. Marcus knew that he wasn't the fastest moving or thinking man. Depsite the attraction, this had all still thrown him more than a fair. It seemed that Persephone underestimated just how much exposure he tended to get when out on town. How much people followed, snapped pics, everything. He hadn't even known her real name until this evening, and she wanted to throw that all out on a night on the town? No, he wouldn't let her do that, not just yet.

 

Staying in sounds good. I'm sure we can find something to do, at least. Tell me when and where to be, and I will be there.

 

He would have to figure out something to bring. Couldn't show up to an invitation like that empty handed, though just flowers seemed a bit too on the nose.

Edited by RocketLord
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Persephone

 

"He's a lot less decisive in his personal life than he is on the battlefield, that's for sure."

 

She rolled over and typed again.

 

Well if I had my druthers, I'd see you sooner rather than later. ❤️ And no offense to all y'all boxing fans out there, but watching people cream each other's corn isn't really my idea of a good time. I already get too much of that "at work." I know that sounds hypocritical coming from a Gators fan, but the tackles are my least favorite part. So pop on by around seven tomorrow. I'll have supper ready by then. The text included an address in Atwater, one of the better neighborhoods in the worse half of the city. A quick glance at the navigation app on Cheval's phone showed it to be a nondescript house, surrounded on all sides by many of the same.

 

Camellia grinned, leapt to her feet, and danced her way over to her kitchen. She pulled her refrigerator door open and retrieved the bagged duck breast. Then she opened it, lifted it to her nose, gave it a sniff, and nodded. "Still good."

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

CHEVAL

 

Not everything is for everyone, but maybe I will win you over yet. I will see you there.

 

Placing his phone down, Marcus found himself just staring at it for a moment. It seemed pretty clear what Persephone wanted from him. It still felt weird to think about her as anyone but Persephone, but that was not her name, was it? Camellia, then. Would bringing flowers be too obvious? It had been way too long since anyone had shown any interest in him that wasn't just because of his fame.

 

Saturday, he stood by the door by the address in Atwater. Not the nicest place in Vibora, but better than most of the surrounding neighborhoods, at least. The driver had dropped him off a bit away. No need to let anyone know just where he was going, after all. He wore a red dress shirt with a black tie, a pair of black slacks, with a thick dark grey jacket over it. Marcus had thought much more about all this than he probably should, but still, now he was here, standing in front of her door, looking at it. He had a bouquet of flowers in his left hand, mainly peonies and stock, with a few other flowers in between. He knew little about flowers, but he had to bring something, didn't he?

 

Looking at the door, Marcus shook his head. He was Marcus Dumont, he was Cheval! Not some lovestruck teenager! Why was he hesitating? They were both grown people, adults! 

 

Finally gathering the courage needed, he knocked twice on the door.

Edited by RocketLord
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Persephone

 

Camellia was already up and about, putting the finishing touches on a few things, when she heard the knocking. She slid her apron up and off and onto its hook in the kitchen, turned out the light, and ran over to the door. She stopped short of opening it, closing her eyes for a couple seconds and taking some deep breaths. Then she opened the door, forcing herself to do it slowly. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: He cleans up real nice. She looked Marcus up and down, and when her eyes rose to meet his, she stopped suppressing the ear-to-ear smile that had been trying to take over her face all evening.

 

The interior of the house was lit by a fireplace and an assortment of candles. The illumination, while dim, was enough for Marcus to make out planters sitting or hanging in at least a dozen places, each one of them overflowing with an assortment of flowers. The woman standing before Marcus was somehow simultaneously a colleague he'd met dozens of times, and also a total stranger. A simple change of clothing and pigmentation shouldn't have made her look so different, but it did. The facial features, the voice, the way she stood and moved, it was all the same. Camellia's skin was a pale pink instead of a rich green, and the violet hues decorating Persephone's face had been replaced with lips and eyelids painted a bright, bold red and a subtle, understated gold, respectively. The eyes looking out from under those bronzed lids were ice-blue instead of violet, but they were no less striking. Camellia's hair was platinum blonde instead of royal purple, and it only fell as far as her buttocks instead of her ankles, but it was the same wavy style. There was even a flower in the same place on one side, though this one was red silk rose attached to a hair clip, rather than a sunflower growing out of her scalp. The flower matched her clothes, a clingy crimson long-sleeved sweater-dress with an off-the-shoulder neckline that went down to just above her knees, where it gave way to sheer black stockings and knee-high zip-up black leather boots with four-and-a-half inch block heels that left her a mere half-inch shorter than Marcus. She'd traded out the usual pearl earrings for a pair of large gold hoops.

 

"Hey there, Cowboy!" She hugged him, again restraining herself from doing it quite as quickly or as tightly as she would have preferred. "Glad you could make it. You're just in time." She gave him a quick peck on the cheek as she pulled away and slid to the side to make room for his entrance. "Come on in before you let all the bought air out. I hope you didn't have trouble finding the place. I know the houses around here all look alike." She glanced at the bouquet in his hand and her eyes lit up a little more. "Well my goodness, don't you look as fine as peach fuzz. Nice color choice, we match! Are those for me? Aw, thank you!" High marks for reading comprehension. "I'll grab a vase. Those will be the perfect centerpiece." She turned to the side, waving a hand to gesture behind where she'd been standing, toward the space where the living room they were standing in transitioned into a dining room with little between them to distinguish where one ended and the other began. "Make yourself at home! Coat rack's right behind you if anything needs hanging, restroom's on the left if you need to freshen up."

 

On her way back to the kitchen, Camellia grabbed a remote control and pressed a button. Soft music began to fill the house, strings and woodwind at first, then a woman singing in French. She returned to the table with a crystal vase in-hand. She took the flowers from Marcus, closed her eyes, and smiled wide again as she inhaled deeply. The flowers moved of their own volition, their stems bending and curling toward her face, the petals opening slightly wider. When she gingerly slid them down into the water, they returned to their original configuration. The slices of seared, fatty duck breast fanned out across the two plates looked more like medium-rare roast beef at first glance. Each one was surrounded by sliced mushrooms and some sort of leafy green vegetable, and it was all topped off with some kind of sauce which smelled of garlic and at least half a dozen other spices.

 

"Hope you got plenty of room in the ol' bread basket." She playfully pinched his massive bicep as she took a seat perpendicular to his own at the dinner table. "Can't imagine you get muscles like that without working up an appetite. It's not the most ethically sourced dish in the world, I know. I certainly never would have bought it on my own. But it was a gift, and it seemed like a waste to just throw it out." She popped the cork on a bottle of red wine and poured each of them a glass. "Also a gift, another thing I'd never go out and buy for myself, but hey, we're celebrating." Then she unscrewed the top from a glass dropper vial and pinched a whole capful of blue fluid into her own wine. "One of the mixed blessings of my transformation. I can shrug off most toxins, but unfortunately, that includes alcohol. Caffeine, too. I figured out which chemical fertilizers can mimic the effects, so I can spike my own drinks and hold on to a few more of the old rituals, stay that much more grounded in normalcy. Most people like us underestimate how important that is, and how much those little things can help. But that also means nobody else can drink from my glass. I wouldn't want this night to end in the emergency room." She clinked her glass against his.

 

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CHEVAL

 

Persephone, no Camellia, was a whirlwind as always. Words and introductions coming so fast, a hug that was both tight and loose at once, happiness at his flowers and Marcus was just lost actually looking at her as, well, her. Not as Persephone, not as the hero that he had now fought and worked with, but as "just" Camellia. Not that there was anything "just" about her in any way. Some of the exotic flavor of her green skin and purple hair was gone, but she was no less beautiful from the change. He returned the embrace, hugging her back perhaps a little bit too tight, before handing her the flowers with a smile.

 

"Bonjou, Camellia. Anchante." There was a wink in his eye at the greeting. Of course they had met before, but well, not quite like this.

 

Letting her take the flowers, he put his jacket up on the rack and followed her into her home. To be honest, much of it was like what he had expected, especially the flowers everywhere. Part of him wondered how deep her relationships to flowers were, but ultimately, it mattered little. "It is a lovely home." he added in between her explanations, as she led him to the living room. He couldn't suppress a slight grin when the flowers leaned closer to her. "Please tell me that you call that the Disney Princess trick," he said as he sat down, a slight laugh in his voice, before she started explaining the food and how it wasn't ethically sourced, it was all gifts and so on. And why she added a little something to her own drink.

 

"Everything I see looks great." His eyes were not on the food as she spoke, raising his glass to clink against Camellia's, before sitting down, folding his hands on the table in front of himself. "I know exactly what you mean about normalcy. Just look at me." He didn't exactly sound sad or anything like that, more resigned. "I can be bullet proof, and sure, I can help people, but turning into iron is not exactly as easy as everyone thinks." He chuckled lightly. "You wouldn't imagine how many floors I stepped through or things I smashed when I first got these powers." It was in the past, sure, but it was still part of him.

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Persephone

 

The trend of Camellia saying at least ten words for every one of Marcus's showed no signs of ending anytime soon.

 

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"It is a lovely home."

 

"Why, thank you! It's not much, just two bedrooms. Well, if I'm being honest, one bedroom and one walk-in closet. But it's cozy. I thought about getting something a little bigger and running my practice out of it too. Would've been cheaper than renting the apartment. I know it seems strange to pay extra to have a commute. But my work/life balance was already hangin' by a thread BEFORE I added 'superhero' to the mix, and working from home would just hammer the final nail in that coffin. Besides, I don't know if you've ever had to have part of a residence re-zoned for commercial use in this city, but it turns out it's the kind of royal pain in the rear-end that could make a preacher cuss. I have a lawyer, but I'm trying to keep the billable hours to a minimum."

 

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"Please tell me that you call that the Disney Princess trick."

 

She laughed. "Well, I do NOW. If I have to be a character from a movie, 'Disney princess' is certainly an upgrade from 'high school mean girl'."

 

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"Everything I see looks great."

 

She grinned and lightly slapped his hand with the back of her own. "Well aren't you smoother than a gravy sandwich. I swear, when you get going, you can charm the scales right off a snake."

 

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"You wouldn't imagine how many floors I stepped through or things I smashed when I first got these powers."

 

"Oh, I can imagine. That sort of thing takes some getting used to for most of us. Plants respond to my thoughts, but they're not always conscious thoughts. It's saved my bacon more than once already when some tree branch swung 'round to take a bullet or three. But when you send roots busting up out of the ground, and if you're not real specific about how you direct their movements, they tend to take the shortest route, and not sweat it if there's a floor or a wall in the way."

 

When their plates were mostly clear, Camellia leaned forward, resting her chin on one hand while her other reached out to gently take Marcus's. "Don't get me wrong, Darlin', I'm happier than a clam at high tide that you're here. But...why did it take so long to GET you here? I haven't exactly been playing 'hard-to-get', and you haven't exactly been discouraging me. So why has this whole thing been moving slower than Sunday afternoon?"

 

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CHEVAL

 

On 2/6/2020 at 11:41 PM, Grumblefloof said:

"Well aren't you smoother than a gravy sandwich. I swear, when you get going, you can charm the scales right off a snake."

 

"Even a broken clock gotta be right once in a while, yeah?" She talked, a lot. Honestly, Marcus didn't mind. He had never been the most talkative person in any room, always content to be the strong, silent type. He rarely knew what to say, so it was better to just keep it to himself, right? But maybe he should make a change there?

 

On 2/6/2020 at 11:41 PM, Grumblefloof said:

"Oh, I can imagine. That sort of thing takes some getting used to for most of us. Plants respond to my thoughts, but they're not always conscious thoughts. It's saved my bacon more than once already when some tree branch swung 'round to take a bullet or three. But when you send roots busting up out of the ground, and if you're not real specific about how you direct their movements, they tend to take the shortest route, and not sweat it if there's a floor or a wall in the way."

 

Marcus let out a short laugh at the mental image of roots and branches busting out all around Camellia. "Don't get me wrong, but that is kind of hilarious. I can just picture you standing there, trying to get the plants to do what you want, and they just keep busting out of the ground in whatever random places they feel like. Then again, I'm not one to talk about things looking hilarious."

 

On 2/6/2020 at 11:41 PM, Grumblefloof said:

"Don't get me wrong, Darlin', I'm happier than a clam at high tide that you're here. But...why did it take so long to GET you here? I haven't exactly been playing 'hard-to-get', and you haven't exactly been discouraging me. So why has this whole thing been moving slower than Sunday afternoon?"

 

Marcus nearly got the last piece of meat stuck in his throat at that. Coughing, he reached for the wine to bring it down, and perhaps get some liquid courage. She was right, wasn't she? Camellia had not exactly been shy about her advances, even if he had rarely been sure just what they were, so why had he not acted? 

 

"Honestly? I have never been good on picking up on signs like that. Guess I've been a little numb, lately. There's been a lot of women that's gone out of their way to make me know they wanted me once I started getting success, with the boxing or as a hero. All just gold diggers, only interested for my fame and money. Took a bit to realize all that, and well, I've been cautious. You're obviously not like that, but its a tough habit to break. And I guess I'm just not one for taking things fast, but I guess you know that already." He paused. Should he? Or shouldn't he? He looked down at their hands, where she was holding his. To hell with caution, just this once. "But let me try to do things fast, just for once: I do like you, and I would like to see where this could go, what could happen between us. Not just as friends, but something more." 

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Persephone

 

Camellia chuckled and averted her gaze for a moment. "I guess I can't blame you for pumping the brakes a little. Nobody ever accused me of taking things slow, that's for sure. And I know I can be a bit much when I turn my full attention on something." She closed her eyes and smiled, almost mischievously. Then she slid her chair closer to Marcus and looked up at him again. Her smile faded, and her eyes drilled into his. Her hand gripped his a little more tightly, and her other hand reached up to half-cup, half-stroke his cheek. "I know what it's like to be surrounded by people who all only want one thing from you. Even if you want the same thing, after a while it can still tear you up inside, leave you so outta kilter you start second-guessing everything you thought you knew about yourself." Her hand withdrew from Marcus's face to rest on the table between them. "But you need to pick up what I'm puttin' down here: If I wanted to be rich and famous, I wouldn't need Cheval to make it happen. I'm already trying hard enough to get out from under my family's money to want to start going after yours. If I'd wanted to be a kept woman, then I'd be fishing for gentlemen at the yacht club, or in one of the hotel bars on High Street. I'd ask my brother to set me up with one of his fellow executives at V.P. And Persephone has already politely declined SEVERAL endorsement offers. These days, she doesn't have much trouble getting onto the front page, at least not in this town. If I wanted the same for Camellia, I could do it with a single phone call, with one selfie posted to the right social media account. I'm not INTERESTED in Cheval." She broke off all physical contact with Marcus, pushed her chair away from the table, and rose to her feet. Then she turned back to him, and the smile crept back onto her face as she held her hand out to him. "I want the knight, not his armor or his horse or his castle."

 

She led him a short distance into the main hallway of the house, then turned around and suddenly slammed her own back against the wall, simultaneously grabbing his shirt to pull him toward her. Her arms reached over his shoulders to wrap around the back of his neck as her lips rose to meet his. She kissed him softly but passionately for a few moments, then whispered into his ear. "And right now, Darlin', I'm interested in seeing what the knight looks like without his armor on."

 

Edited by Grumblefloof
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  • 2 weeks later...

CHEVAL

 

He couldn't help it. Marcus let out a short laugh at the last line. The knight, not the armor or horse or castle? Ah, he would explain why that was funny some day. Instead, he simply rose. He was at ease. No reason to close himself off, no reason to hesitate. He happily accepted her hand, taking it tightly in his own, but waited for just a moment before letting her lead him on.

 

"Never said you were any of those things, chérie. Still, I appreciae it."

 

She moved fast. He moved slow. He would make it work, then. See where the night and days to come would lead them.

 

Then, the kiss. Those soft lips. Again, he chuckled as she called him a knight. He couldn't help it. "Then this knight will do his best to serve his queen." He leaned in close for another deep kiss.

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Persephone

 

Some time later, Camellia's entire bedroom was covered in blossom petals, as though a bomb had gone off and used them as shrapnel. Which wasn't too far off from what had actually happened. While still cuddled up to Marcus, Camellia chuckled and lifted a fistful of them up off of the mattress, only to shrug at the futility and drop them again. "Good grief. I promise that doesn't happen every time" she mumbled, red-faced, into his chest.

 

After a period of relaxed silence it was impossible for either of them to gauge, Camellia rolled halfway over and leaned her head on her arm, looking Marcus right in the eye while one hand stayed on his chest. "Listen, Sweetheart, there's something we need to talk about now that certain doors have been opened. I'm sure you noticed how I steered us in the direction of...'everything but'...and, well, there's a reason for that. I'm a firm believer in informed consent. And you can't give that without being informed. I...for the first time in my life, I don't know what my own fertility situation is. Like I said before, my whole physiology's outta kilter. I was on the pill before, well..." She grabbed another handful of petals, "...This. And after, I just kept taking it. But I have no idea if it's still doing anything. I could have a super-womb now for all I know, or I might not be able to have children at all while she's with me." She tapped her own chest. "I just don't know. But you should know...how do I say this...Before you till that patch of soil, understand that if you plant a seed there, it will bear fruit, and if that's unacceptable, then you should keep your plow away from that field." She laid her head back down on Marcus's shoulder. "Don't get me wrong, if we do...that...we should use protection. It's not like I'm trying to get pregnant right now. I do want to be a mother, but I'd prefer to be a wife first, and a girlfriend before that. But if I do get that way, I'm staying that way. It's not that I have any moral objection to...the alternative. I've been down that road before. But that was a long time ago. I wasn't ready then. If it happens again, I'll see it as a gift from God, and I'll act accordingly. If that's a pair of dice you'd prefer not to roll, I understand, and I won't take it personally." Her finger traced up and down his sternum as she grinned. "I think we just proved there's plenty of other fun and games at this carnival."

 

She leaned down and whispered in his ear. "But if you are feeling lucky, the dice are in the nightstand on your right, top drawer."

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

CHEVAL

On 2/24/2020 at 5:28 PM, Grumblefloof said:

"Good grief. I promise that doesn't happen every time" she mumbled, red-faced, into his chest.

 

"I guess we'll see about that, chérie." Marcus was obviously feeling good about this. He was smiling as they lay close, only pausing briefly when she leaned away and, well, started explaining her unique situation. Was this what it would be like to be together with her, then? Roses, but some thorns? At any rate, a lot to learn, a lot to take care of.

 

He took it all in. Children, yes, some day perhaps, but not today, not yet. They weren't there yet, this was still too new, but he appreciated that she shared her thoughts on it, at least. 

 

Marcus held her close, shaking his head and laughed at her last line. "Well, I know at least one of us are feeling lucky tonight." He took a breath, shaking his head to stop himself, while he sat up and took her hands in his. "Perhaps one day, we can discuss children, but right now, I think it is just a bit too soon. Let us learn to be just us a bit first, yeah? But let's see just how lucky you are, chérie." Letting go of Camellia, he leaned towards the nightstand.

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