A Little Braver - Chapter 10
I have a present for you.
This lady here will be off on holiday for a week on Friday, so I thought about landing the new chapter tonight.
This one is a juicy one and I hope you will love it. A bit of fluff before the angst gremlin comes back for a visit.
This chapter comes with a smut warning. Yes, you read correctly. In the future I will be using FTB mostly because I find it difficult to write and keep it non cringy, but for this chapter I wanted to try and add some hotness.
Also, for those who haver read Island Dreams, I am heading to Lewis on my holiday, and i might post some photo of the locations mentioned in the fic.
Well, now i can let you enjoy the chapter
Aelin was at home sitting on the sofa, enjoying the food she had just ordered in, a bottle of beer and hockey. Her favourite team the Stags was playing an away game with the Skull’s Bay Pirates.
The Stags were in the lead in the championship and the Pirates were just in second place, which made that game quite an important one. She was glad she had the night off although they would usually all camp in the communal area of the firehouse and watch the game all together. At least being at home meant she could have a beer.
Ice hockey in Terrasen was a religion. She had been a fan of the Stags since she was a kid and her dad would take her to the games. Then Aedion became her hockey buddy and once she joined the station she started sharing the passion with the rest of the team and they would also go and watch the games all together if possible.
She took a sip of her beer and kneeled on the sofa, the game was getting intense and she could not stand still.
In that instant her phone went off and she let out a curse.
“Oh for crying out loud.”
“What?” She answered while her eyes were glued to the tv.
“Good evening to you as well.” Rowan sounded almost offended by her brisk tone.
“Whitethorn, I am watching the game.”
Aelin groaned as something happened on the screen and the Pirates almost scored.
“Ice hockey, Whitethorn. You have been in Terrasen enough to know it’s a religion here.”
He replied with a low chuckle. Then she heard him move and then all of a sudden a noise in the background and realised he had his tv on “wonder if they show it here. Wendlyn is not big on ice hockey.”
“You can tell. Their team sucks.” She drank a bit more “I can tell you that we are winning for now against the Pirates.”
“That’s the big match of the season I am gutted I am missing it.”
Aelin got agitated and swore a few times during some actions.
“You are a very scary woman.” She heard him switch off the tv “do you want me to call later?”
“No,” she said softly. She was actually quite happy. Since he had left three days before they had talked quite a lot over the phone at night and she had started to love their ritual. He was the one calling once he was free and she loved that new dynamic of theirs.
“How was your day training?”
“Oh, just wonderful. I spend my days dealing with cocky idiots who think they are gods because they have been admitted to flight school. Then they go ahead, mess up the exercise for everyone, almost get killed and have no respect for rank.”
She let him vent “sounds like you have a bad class.”
Rowan sighed loudly “I have been a flight instructor for six years. I had a few bad apples along the way, but this class is hopeless.”
“Can you do something about it?” She was still following the game but her attention had shifted to him. He sounded quite down.
“I reported them to the academy Commandant. I explained that starting flight school with the wrong foot was not recommended.” Another sigh “In the end it’s their school and they can do whatever they want. I don’t care. Being reckless in a jet is like jumping into a fire in t-shirt and shorts.”
“That would be very bad.”
“I know what the fuck I am doing. I have been doing this for the past 12 years. I have been in combat. Real bloody combat. Those idiots have only seen simulators. What do I need to do to be taken seriously?” He was really mad and Aelin wished she could do something for him.
“Ro, two weeks and a half and you are out. You are back with your team and students that you like.”
“How’s the game going?” He changed the topic, clearly being done talking about it.
“We increased our lead.”
She heard a popping sound “did you just crack open a beer?”
“Oh yes, I need it.”
Aelin smiled “I am having one too. Brullo has this friend who opened a brewery and I bought a few bottles and they are so good.”
“You have such connections and don’t even tell me?”
“I am sorry your highness.”
“You are excused this time. But don’t make it happen again.”
Aelin laughed “what are you going to do? Spank me?” And she froze. She should really need to learn to connect brain and mouth.
“Depends, will you like it?” His reply surprised her so much that she froze with the bottle halfway to her mouth.
“You just have to hang around and see for yourself.”
He moaned “I will need to get back to you on this.”
“Will it help you decide if I tell you that I am wearing a hockey jersey and nothing underneath? I just had a shower…”
“What? Are you interested all of a sudden?”
“Obviously.” He groaned.
“I am teasing you, I have clothes on, but good to see where you stand.”
She heard him groan in frustration “you really are a menace and I don’t know why I bother with you.”
“You don’t have to stay on the phone if I irritate you so much. You are the one who called.” She bit back. Why they always end up fighting?
“I did not mean it like that.”
“Well then go and learn how to communicate with people because I am sick and tired of your attitude.” Her tone had grown angrier.
“Aelin, please. I was joking.” His voice was thick with sadness.
“No, I am so fucking tired of this.”
“Why can’t you believe that I was joking? Why do you always believe that I hate you?” He shouted back “I have been quite supportive with you recently. I have flown in to stay beside you after you lost a colleague. You have a problem with my attitude?” He vented “well, yours is not any better either.”
Aelin sighed “Rowan, why do we always end up like this?” She lay down on the sofa, the game completely forgotten “we had a nice conversation and then it always gets ugly between us.”
“I am sorry…” he paused and meant it “I have been looking forward to calling you. I had such a bad day that knowing I was going to phone you kept me going. I didn’t want any of this. I did not want to fight with you.”
“We are both bad at communicating.” She relaxed a bit. She did not want to fight with him either. And he was right, he had been supportive and amazing. Then she had an idea “Ro, I have four days of holidays coming up. I booked them ages ago, I had plans but they went to hell. Would it be crazy if I flew to Wendlyn? I will play tourist when you work and be out of your way, but what do you think?”
“I’d love that. Very much. It really sucks here.”
“It’s for this Friday. I known it’s short notice—” he interrupted her.
“No, it’s perfect. I don’t have a class this Friday, I can pick you up at the airport. Have Saturday and Sunday as tourists and I assume you are flying back on Monday.”
“Yes.” Her heart started racing. It was a crazy plan, but all of a sudden she was excited.”Let me check my roster, because if I finish at a decent time I can fly in Thursday night so we have three full days. Do you think you can manage that?”
“Ok, stay there Buzzard, I am putting you on speaker phone.”
She ran to the kitchen and had a look at the calendar on her fridge with her roster and cheered loudly.
“I come off shift at four. Now let me check for planes.”
She went to get her laptop and sat back on the sofa, “do you know any good airlines for Wendlyn?”
He laughed “Yes, my own plane.”
“Funny. Us common mortals don’t have that privilege.”
“I have no idea, Fireheart, I haven’t flown commercial in a lifetime.”
“Fine.” Aelin was silent for a few minutes typing away and looking for flight options. “Ok,” she said after a while “I can get one flight that gets me into Doranelle at 10.45pm your time, is it too late?”
“I guess I will postpone my nap.” He joked and she laughed back. He suddenly relaxed. The fight had been verging on vicious and he had not cared for that.
“On Monday I can fly back with a noon flight.”
“That one is perfect. I can drive you back to the airport and be back in time for my class.”
Aelin smiled wickedly “great, give me five minutes while I book it. Go and do grampa stuff in the meantime.”
“I am not a grampa.” Aelin heard him munching on something. Knowing him it was probably a carrot.
“Ok, now I need to find a place where to stay.”
“My flat?” He added shocked that she would think about staying anywhere else “Aelin, I have a flat. It has a second bedroom. And you don’t have to worry about giving me anything because it’s a flat owned by the airforce. It’s not a castle but it’s nice. You are not paying for a hotel.”
“Are you sure? Three days with me 24/7. That’s a lot of fighting.” She asked. She loved the idea, but wasn’t sure yet if they could survive that long in close quarters without killing each other.
“Perhaps we can leave the fighting aside and work on us?”
Aelin was silent for a moment “Us? As in…”
“As in more than two idiots fighting and pining for each other.”
Her heart pounded in her chest “Yeah, that would be intelligent, wouldn’t it?”
“But that’s a conversation for when you are here.”
Aelin smiled. She could not believe it was actually happening.
Rowan yawned over the phone “This grampa here would like to go to bed now. It’s quite late here.”
“Okay,” she said softly.
“I am looking forward having you here.”
Aelin hugged the pillow all excited “me too. Good night, Buzzard.”
“Good night, menace.”
Aelin squealed and threw the pillow at the other end of the living room in utter joy.
Thursday had finally arrived. Aelin thought the day would never come and that time had slowed down on purpose just to annoy her.
“Aedion you are in charge while I am away, will you be fine?”
The man was driving her to the airport “I will be. Go and enjoy your break. We will cope.”
“Ok, you know you can always call Dorian. He can come out on a call.” She was nervous. She hadn’t been away from the firehouse on holiday since before Sam died and was worried about her team.
“Stop fussing. We will be fine. You need a holiday. You haven’t been away in a lifetime. You deserve this.”
She breathed out, relaxing at his words. She knew she could trust Aedion and Dorian had given her his blessing too.
“Just tell airforce boy to behave or I’ll scratch his toy plane.”
Aelin laughed. Rowan seemed to have a problem with the army but Aedion’s dislike seemed just as strong. To her it was just hilarious.
They arrived at the airport, she grabbed her duffel bag and backpack from the backseat and went to hug Aedion “thank you for driving me.”
“Let me know when you land on Monday and I will come and pick you up again.” And he hugged her back.
They parted and Aelin walked into the airport with a spring in her step and the biggest smile ever.
Rowan realised he had arrived at the airport a bit too early. He was so eager to see her that he had arrived with an hour to spare. He was a thirty year old man giddy like a child waiting for winter solstice presents. Considering their track record, three days together could go down in flame or be a success. A part of him was definitely anxious at the prospect, but when Aelin had suggested the idea he had no doubts. He wanted to do it.
Bored, he paced the arrivals section when a woman walked past him and her trolley ran onto his feet. He almost shouted at the woman but then decided to ignore it.
He viewed airports as pure madness. Utter chaos and he hated them. The good thing about his job was that if he had to travel for work he could use his jet. And when he used to travel with Lyria they had always driven. Now he remembered why he had avoided those places of pure chaos.
He moved to the big window where he could see the runaway and for a while studied the airplanes. One of his ex squadron mates after retiring from the airforce had become an airline pilot and on plenty of occasion had tried to convince him to join him, but Rowan always declined. There was little enjoyment in flying that way.
While staring at the aircrafts landing and taking off, his hand was tapping on the handrail with excessive energy.
He huffed a puff and and bored kept wandering around the airport. He had alway considered himself a decently patient man, but in that moment he felt as if he could not wait any longer. Had to really tell himself that she was coming and that it was not his imagination playing tricks on him.
Luckily by the time his wandering was over, the arrivals notice board had changed the status of her flight to on approach and he went in front of the arrival section, knowing full well it would still be ages before her entrance.
Forty minutes later he saw her and he was positive he now had the most stupid grin on his face. He recognised her golden mane tied up in a complicated braid. Gods, she was stunning and Rowan did his best not to drool too much.
She was dressed in simple jeans and a hoodie from the Terrasen Fire department and he chuckled. He waved at her and called as well.
Her smile when she spotted him could have lit up the night sky and he was positive his heart had just skipped a beat.
Quickly an eagerly he walked to her, making his way through the crowd that had gathered.
She ran to him, then dropped her bags on the floor and in an instant she was in his arms. He lifted her up and kissed her. Not caring about the consequences. She was there. That’s all he cared about.
She kissed him back and for a while they were the couple that meets again after a long time apart and could not keep away from each other.
“You are here.” He said kissing her again and then brushed her hair in a tender gesture.
She smiled at him and slowly slid down from his arms.
He bent down and grabbed her bags “let’s go. You must be tired.”
Aelin took his hand and he did not pull away “the flight was crap. As soon as we hit the ocean it was bumpy as hell.”
Rowan chuckled “those civilian pilots struggling to handle a bit of wind.”
With her free hand she pinched his side “Meanie.” She told him “and it was bad and scary.”
He kissed her head “be glad that you have never experienced what a really terrifying flight his.” His voice was sad for a moment and Aelin squeezed his hand back.
“My car is over there.” They reached his vehicle and he dumped her stuff in the trunk.
It was fifteen minutes later when they reached his flat.
“I am a bit outside town but I love it. Much easier to go to work as I don’t have to drive through the centre. Saves me so much time.”
They entered the building and Rowan headed for the lift but Aelin stopped “pet peeve of mine. I don’t take lifts. I have saved enough people trapped in them, that now I don’t use them at all.”
“It’s eight floors, Aelin.” He complained.
“It’s good for your butt. Let’s go grampa.” Aelin grabbed the duffel bag and backpack from him and threw them on her shoulder and made her way to the stairs.
He realised that she was used doing stairs. But he was lazy and always used the lift.
“I am taking my chances.”
Aelin grabbed his hand and pulled him away “Don’t be an idiot. Come on.”
He protested but in the end caved.
Aelin relentlessly climbed on for eight floors and Rowan followed a few steps behind cursing that he had chosen to fall for a super fit firefighter.
“I can tell you some horror storie that will put you off forever from using them.” She told him while climbing the steps two at a time.
When they finally reached his floor, Aelin wasn’t even tired, Rowan instead was ready to strangle her.
“Come on grampa, I am sure your butt and your heart are thanking you right now.”
“Move.” She moved aside and let him open the door of his flat.
Once in, he flicked the lights on and Aelin looked around. The living room was spacious, from one door she could see a kitchen but what stunned her were the floor to ceiling windows at the end of the living room and the view. She dumped the bag and walked there and went to the windows.
“This is amazing.” He stopped at her side “Doranelle is called the City of Rivers. It’s not as beautiful as Orynth but it has its charming spots.” He explained with flat voice.
“Well, from up here it’s pretty cool.” Below her lay a sea of lights, then looking more carefully, she noticed the dark areas and assumed those were the rivers. She was looking forward to see that sight during the day.
Rowan pulled her arm “come on, you must be knackered, I’ll show you to your bedroom.”
She followed him into the room and smiled when she saw the bed. It looked so cozy.
She looked at him smiling “Orynth is a few hours behind so I am actually quite fine.” Gently she pinched his arm “you are trying to get rid of me.”
“I was just being considerate. You flew here after your shift.”
In one step she was close to him “I am quite hungry, though.”
Rowan laughed and patted her head “I knew it so I made something that just could go back in the microwave. Give me five minutes.”
“I’ll go and get changed in the meantime.”
It was much later when she was finally full and she and Rowan were now sitting on the sofa watching some tv. She had curled up her legs under her and his hand was absentmindedly tracing up and down the length of her exposed leg. It was much warmer than Orynth so she was wearing shorts and a baggy t-shirt.
She turned to look at him and saw Rowan concentrated on the documentary they had been watching. His face was relaxed, the tension had left his body and the sight of him like that took her breath away. His features always had an hard edge, but in that moment, relaxed, she could not look away.
“Do I have something on my face?” A half smile appeared on his face.
“No.” She shimmied down to his side and leaned her head on his shoulder and he adjusted his position so she could be comfortable.
“You know I am not a pillow, right?”
In challenge, Aelin snuggled closer and her arms went around his waist. Rowan brought one arm around her shoulder and squeezed it almost in a silent gesture to tell her it was okay. He pulled her so close she was almost on his lap and in instant later his lips were on hers in a demanding kiss.
Aelin sighed in delight and melted in the kiss. Rowan’s hands sneaked under the t-shirt touching skin. The kiss turned avid, all teeth and tongue and eventually she found herself straddling him.
Her hips ground against his in a suggestive motion and a wicked smile spread across her lips when she felt him hard against her. Fingers found their target in his hair, and with a gentle tug she angled his neck and her lips began tracing its lines eliciting a loud moan from Rowan.
His strong hands were a steady presence on her sides, pulling her closer with his thumbs brushing timidly the underside of her breasts.
Rowan’s tongue slowly traced the shape of her lips and she opened for him and when he intensified the kiss she began pondering what that tongue of his could do somewhere else. That image was her undoing. Aelin came up for breath and looked at him, his eyes smoky with lust.
She looked at him with the same desire and she was positive he had noticed the need in her stare as well.
Then Aelin stood and removed her t-shirt revealing her bare torso. She moved a step back and without ever removing her gaze from him she wiggled her finger in an invitation, then turned and swayed her hips on her way to his bedroom.
Rowan ran a hand down his face and eventually stood and followed her.
Shit. He was in such deep, unending shit.
It was the middle of the night and both Rowan and Aelin were still awake. They lay naked under the blankets while she was nested in his embrace, her head tucked under his chin, while he traced lazy lines on her back with his fingers.
She looked up at him and noticed his downcast stare. He looked sad and could not understand why. They just had some mind-blowing sex. Three times.
“Hey, what is it?” She asked him, caressing his face.
He shook his head gently “nothing. Just thinking.”
“You are regretting this,” she said in accusation sitting up beside him.
Rowan threw an arm on his face and sighed “No.”
“Liar, that is not the face of someone who is happy after getting laid three times.” She folded her arms at her chest.
He remained silent and Aelin bent over to grab her clothes “don’t worry. I get it. I’ll leave you to it. I’ll find a flight home tomorrow.”
His arm shot out and stopped her, then he sat on the bed and pulled her back “please, no.”
“Then talk to me, damn it.” She threw her clothes back on the floor “I can’t read your mind.” She shouted back frustration rising again.
Rowan’s hands fisted for a brief moment “I am crazy about you,” he whispered, as if terrified by the admission “and there is a part of me that tells me that is wrong. Reminds me that I lost my wife a year and half ago and I should not replace her so quickly, not after I swore forever love at the altar.” he sat at her side but never looked at her, too scared of her reaction “I loved every single of minute we had together tonight but my stupid conscience keeps telling me that is wrong.” He lowered his head “and I know that my guilt will ruin everything, eventually.”
Aelin fully turned to him and cupped his face “Ro, look at me.” He lifted his eyes and stared in the blue depths of her own eyes “for some crazy unexplained reason I fell for you as well. I think I must be crazy,” she chuckled “I know your pain. Sam was not my husband but almost. After I lost him I promised myself I would not commit anymore. The pain of losing him was so bad that I decided I’d rather remain alone than suffer again.” She told him, caressing his cheek with her thumb “then you annoying bastard came along and destroyed all my resolutions. I wanted to hate you, for so many reasons, but the more I tried to do that, the more I failed.” His lips twitched in a faint smile “the way I see it, moving on is not a betrayal on your wife. You will alway love her, as I will always have a space for Sam. We are in our early thirties, what do you want to do? Stay celibate and miserable for the rest of your life? Pass on opportunities just because you want to be faithful to her?” She explained “also, and I do not mean this to be disrespectful, but didn’t she have divorce papers ready and a plan to cut you off from your kid’s life?”
Rowan collapsed back on the bed and sighed heavily. She was right. He had loved Lyria but she had planned to leave him. “what do you want to do?”
She looked at him with a puzzled expression.
Aelin leaned against him and snuggled back to his chest “one step at a time, remember?” She looked at him and his wonderful green eyes shone in joy “and if my memory does not fail me, you told me you were all in if I were.”
Rowan nodded gently and kissed her head “I still am.”
“Well, we have covered sex, even if we broke the rules, and we know that in that field we have plenty of chemistry, we just need to learn to talk without shouting and communicate better. We both have lots of baggage. What I suggest is that we spend these three days playing couple and once you come back we’ll just go from there.”
His arms folded around her and pulled her as close as possible, her golden hair in his face and the scent of lavender enveloping his senses “I think I like this plan.”
“Good, now let’s sleep though. It’s the middle of the night.”
Aelin kissed him and not long after fell asleep in his arms.
Rowan woke up the following morning and smiled at the warm body at his side. Aelin was sprawled on him, using his chest like a pillow. The blanket had fallen down to her waist and he realised they had fallen asleep naked. With his fingers he traced gentle lines on her shoulders, then leaned over and deposited a few kisses fully inhaling her scent. She moaned and slowly came to awareness and when she realised where she was she gave him a wonderful smile and he kissed her, fully, avidly.
“Someone looks happy,” she joked brushing his short hair.
“Nope, just trying to get back my side of the bed.”
She gently patted his shoulder but Rowan rolled on top of her and gave her a deep kiss “good morning, you.”
She stretched luxuriously in his arms then she kissed him back pulling her body close to his.
“Mmmm,” she moaned “morning wood or are you just happy to have me with you?”
He kissed her, then his head dipped in the hollow of her neck and his tongue traced the length of it “both.”
“We should definitely tend to it.” She teased and a moment later she straddled him “I do like being in charge, just so you know.” She leaned forward and kissed him, then disappeared under the blankets and Rowan cursed as soon as her mouth was on him.
Rowan stood and still naked went to make breakfast. They had remained in bed much longer that he had planned but it had been totally worth it. Their chemistry in the sheets was definitely perfect. Aelin followed him and she leaned, naked as well, against the counter. He bent forward and kissed her “we definitely need coffee.” She turned and Rowan looked at her, her long blond hair unbound and reaching her lower back. Along ragged breath escaped from him, then he went back to preparing breakfast. Staring at her naked form could lead to more dillydallying and he wanted to take her out to explore.
She walked back to him with two mugs of coffee while he finished to prepare French toast.
“Take the strawberries out the fridge, please.”
“I usually put maple syrup on.”
Rowan rolled his eyes “well, I am making them so we follow my rules.”
She pinched his butt “brute.”
Five minutes later they were sitting on the sofa, enjoying their breakfast. She brushed his hair with her hand. “Thank you for this. It was so lovely.” She placed her empty mug on the coffee table together with her plate and she turned to him fully and went for a kiss. Now that they had crossed that line she could not keep her hands off him. He pushed her down on the sofa, laying on her back and he kneeled between her legs. She propped herself on her elbows opening more for him and bit her lower lip at his lustful glance “you are so cute like this…” his voice rough with need.
Without ever averting her gaze she brought a finger to her mouth and slowly sucked it in a suggestive gesture, then her hand trailed down along her abdomen.
“Touch yourself.” At the same time his hand went around himself and started moving up and down while watching Aelin. Her fingers circled around her sensitive spot and he saw her threw her head backward and close her eyes. Her mouth slightly open. He leaned forward and kissed her, his tongue brushing her lips before clashing with hers. Her fingers buried inside her and Rowan lost it. He pushed her all the way down “I can’t fucking resist you.”
She looked up at him and smiled wickedly “then bury your dick inside me, captain.”
Rowan lifted her and walked back to the bedroom in a quick motion.
His mouth landed on her breasts and Aelin’s hands kept him there, while he sucked and teased with his teeth. A moment later he moved away and went for the drawer grabbing a tie and Aelin lifted her arms above her head as soon as she realised his intentions.
“This is very interesting, captain…”
Rowan very gently tied her hands to the boards of the head of the bed and then sat on his haunches to stare at her naked form in adoration.
“You are stunning,” he said while slowly caressing her belly. Keeping her hips in place he bent forward and his face disappeared between her legs which then quickly propped on his shoulders.
A savage moan left Aelin’s lips as his tongue found its target on her bundle of nerves and when he teased her with a finger she was all ready to combust.
“Fuck Ro— ” he cut her words with a second finger inside her. Those long digits that curled inside her, causing her legs to jerk while she felt the pressure build inside her. The orgasm creeping up quickly.
“I need you….” She told him breathlessly.
Rowan smiled, undid her ties and turned her around and then tied her again. He grabbed her butt and propped it up and his mouth was on her in an instant “you are so wet and ready for me.”
He went up on his knees and aligned himself with her entrance. His first thrust was gentle and enough to allow her to get used to him, he pulled back just a little and slammed into her to the hilt.
“More…” Cried Aelin grabbing the pillow and fisting her hands in it.
“More…” she begged him again.
His speed increased and Aelin felt her core tighten.
Rowan reached with his finger and teased her clit at the same time. Aelin moaned in the pillow as his ministration grew in intensity, until she could not hold it any longer and pleasure exploded in her making her crash over the edge. And while she was about to collapse into oblivion, she realised that Rowan hadn’t joined her in his release.
The grip on her hips grew stronger and she knew she was going to carry some marks. She met his thrusts and when his pace became frenzied she knew he was close as well.
“Aelin, I am— ” he groaned loudly as he spilled into her and then collapsed exhausted on her back. He deposited gentle kisses on her back then collapsing exhausted at her side.
Rowan untied her then he took her hand and brought it to his chest “you are a wicked woman.”
Aelin chuckled “I had no idea I had it in me. I never… I mean Sam and I we never… this way, tied hands and all..…” Rowan brought her hand to his lips “Lyria and I did it, at the very beginning. Then it stopped and we calmed down until it became mechanical just because we were married. Once she found out she was pregnant she did not allow me to touch her at all.” He rolled over, facing her and his hand caressed her face “I thought it was because she was not well but…” he sighed “I haven’t told this to anyone but I suspected she was cheating on me.” He confessed and felt lighter. He had kept that to himself for a very long time “and to make things worse, I have a very, very strong feeling that the child was not mine. I think she lied to me on how far along she was.” He closed his eyes for a moment in a pained expression “I know she had stopped being happy about our life for a while. Whatever I did was not enough. She wanted me to retire and give up my job.”
Aelin extended her hand and brushed his cheek with the top of her hand “but she knew from the beginning what you were and what you job entailed?”
“Yes, I was clear from the start. Explained that my job took me away from months on end and all the dangers involved in it as well.” He closed his eyes enjoying the touch of her hand on his face “I think she hoped I would drop my career after we got married.”
“I loved her. I did all I could to show her that I was doing my best to keep the promise I made her at the altar.” He covered her hand with his “I failed her.”
“No,”Aelin whispered, this was conversation was giving her an insight into him and she realised she had no idea of how much pain and regret he was keeping bottled in him.
“I can’t fail you as well.” And she heard his voice break and snuggled closer to him “Ro, look at me.” She pulled his chin down to her “I am all in. I want to be all in. I am terrified, but I run into fires as a job, I know how to control my fears.”
He kissed her in a heartbreaking sweet kiss “I don’t deserve you.” His voice soft.
Aelin cackled “No one does, I am amazing that way. But you come pretty close to being worthy.” She joked and he kissed her back.
Rowan pulled away from her and then pushed her off the bed “come on, time to explore.”
Her blonde head emerged from the side of the bed “shower is mine.” And she bolted for the bathroom, he ran as well but once he got there she slammed the door in his face.
“Don’t spend half an hour in it.” He shouted. Then the door cracked open a little and her hand darted out “there is space for two…”
Rowan laughed and followed her inside.
The shower took much longer than expected and when they finally left the flat it was much later that he had planned. The whole morning had been totally worth it though, they had talked and he had a feeling it had helped move their complicated relationship in the right direction. He had even confessed her things he had never mentioned to anyone. He felt like he could trust her. She knew loss and darkness like he did.
They had lunch at one of the street vendors he had grown to love and now they were walking hand in hand along one of the the rivers and off toward the palace. Aelin walked silent at his side, taking in the city. “That’s the old royal palace.” He pointed at the stunning building they could see in the distance. “There was a monarchy once… and then the people rebelled and it got ugly and it went down and a government similar to what we have in Orynth was created.”
“The palace looks stunning.”
“I think they do tours to go inside. It’s where the government resides now but some areas are open to the public.”
“It’s fine I’d rather walk around and see the city. We can just see the palace from the outside.”
“As you wish,” his arm went around her shoulder and the feeling was incredible.
They walked to the palace and Rowan guided her behind it. When they arrived she was speechless. “It really is the city of rivers.”
Eight of them joined just behind the palace to form a gigantic basin with isles in the middle full of trees. In some parts the rivers went down a wall forming a waterfall.
“This is… gorgeous…” then she looked over and the spray of the waterfall had formed a beautiful rainbow “look,” she said to him pointing ahead.
He pulled her closer and kissed her temple “It’s quite an amazing corner this one.”
Aelin disentangled from him and walked around the area for a while and Rowan took photos of her. She was wearing an amazing green dress with a flowy skirt and he could not keep his eyes off her.
“Come here you.” He did as he was told and joined her. “Hold me from behind.”
His arms went around her waist and they both gave their back to the basin. Aelin moved her phone so they both could be in the picture together with the magnificent background.
When she was about to click he kissed her temple.
Aelin looked at the photo “I am gorgeous.”
Rowan scoffed “I think you are the one who should move in with ego, although I think that in your case he needs a house on his own.”
She ignored him while she changed the picture as her phone background.
“I am pretending you never said anything.” And walked away from him.
Rowan laughed and a moment later he grabbed her arm and pulled her in for a kiss “Indeed you are stunning, captain.”
Aelin offered him her hand “shall we continue our tour?”
He took the hand she offered and they continued their exploration. They made their way to the area that was known as the historical one. The houses were built in stone of different colours and it looked very charming “here there are a lot of lovely small shops and some very cozy restaurants. It’s probably the most beautiful part of Doranelle.”
They continued walking until they reached a very colourful area “this is so pretty,” said Aelin pulling him toward the built up area.
Aelin dropped his hand and started walking toward all the small shops. She noticed a bakery and she walked in and Rowan followed in silence. Once inside he noticed she was busy chatting with the owner about their delicacies. Five minutes later she joined him with a bag in her hands.
“Did you buy the entire shop?”
She inclined her head and gave him a smile “almost.”
They reached the main square and discovered there was a market on and the place was full of stalls and food vendors. The air smelled of spices and food and Aelin stopped at every food stall enjoying some samples of the local food and buying some as well. Rowan followed her in silence and enjoyed seeing her relaxed.
“Are you going to spend you entire salary on food?” He joked, placing a hand on her lower back.
She turned and looked at him “I am on holiday Whitethorn, shush.”
They reached the end of the road and Aelin stopped in front of a clothes shop. In the window they had the most stunning black dress she had ever seen. She took Rowan’s hand and dragged him in.
“Hi, I saw the black dress in the window, is it possible for me to try it on? It’s stunning.”
“Of course,” said the shop owner “I make all the dresses myself.” She passed it to Aelin and pointed to the changing room.
Rowan sat on a chair and waited for her while his mind tried to picture her in the dress. When she finally emerged again he realised he had no idea how to picture her in such a dress. He swallowed hard as she walked to him.
“What do you think?” She turned to give him a full picture. The back of the dress dropped in a curve halfway down her back. It hugged her curves spectacularly and it had a cut up to above her knee. He was close to a heart attack.
“You… it’s…” he actually had no words “you are perfect.”
She smiled at him and for a brief second Rowan wished they were back in his room because he wanted to show her in another way what he really thought about it.
“Good, I am taking it. I will find an occasion to wear it.”
Once they were outside Aelin looked at him “did you really like the dress?”
Rowan wound his arms around her waist and pulled her closer, his mouth close to her ear “I had so much fun imagining all the possible ways for me to peel that dress off you.”
“That’s the type of dress I would wear completely naked underneath by the way…”
He pulled her to his chest and bowed down for a kiss “I really hate that we are in public right now.”
She kissed him back. She was loving this side of him. One she had not expected him to have. He always appeared so composed and impossible to fluster. But under the captain’s mask she was discovering him to be quite a very interesting man.
“You can ravish me tonight.” She added smiling against his lips and then walked away, leaving him alone and dumbstruck.
Yes, they could make it work.
She really wanted to.
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