She was glad when she watched him walk towards her and she took comfort in the way he wrapped his arms around her and he kissed her head. A slight smile appeared upon her lips if only for a moment. She looked down at the clothes that she wore and nodded in an agreement. The last thing she wanted was to draw attention to them and although she hated the idea of Marcus being without his armour she knew the emblem would be known anywhere.
"I will change and prepare for our departure." When he told her where he would wait she nodded and closed her eyes for a moment as his lips touched hers. In normal circumstances she might have been happy to be escaping with the man she adored.
It didn't take her very long to change and soon enough she found herself in the simplest of gowns that she owned with a coat draped over her shoulders and she made her way to the stables where Marcus was preparing a horse. She smiled slightly and walked towards him.
"This is my favourite horse. She will serve us well on our journey." She raised her hand and stroked her head before she placed her head against hers. "You ready girl?"
They spent a long moment looking at one another before Alexandria spoke. Her question was a difficult one to answer, but he gave it a shot.
"If it keeps you safe... then yes," he admitted. He stepped into her room and crossed the floor to sit next to her on her bed. He wrapped an arm around her and pulled her close, resting his chin on the top of her head. After another long silence, he spoke again.
"You should change into the plainest dress you own. We don't want anyone wondering who you are because of... what you're wearing. I'll hae to leave my armor here, too. It won't do to be seen with Lucan's crest."
When he knew she understood, he got up, but not without placing a kiss on her forehead first. "I'll be outside," he said softly. "I've packed what we'll need, so don't worry about anything, alright?" He couldn't help himself. He kissed her lips, too.
When he left and found himself downstairs once more, there was a group waiting for him. Atticus lead it and held out his hand. Marcus shook it.
"We're free because of you," the larger man said. "But we're all going to stay here to protect what's left."
Marcus nodded slowly. "I'm sure we'll see each other again," he told him and headed off to the stables to ready a horse. Some had died in the fire and the fight, so he chose to ride together with Alexandria so that they might have a mount if they needed one here.
The moments that she sat there in silence were unknown to her. She could have been there for a few minutes or even a few hours. The life that she had become accustomed to was no longer the life she knew and nor would it ever be again.
Although deep down Alexandria knew that this was perhaps the right thing to do, she still wasn't sure how leaving was going to keep her safe because of who she was. People knew of her face because of the man who she called her father. Perhaps they would go further away from her home than she expected. This clearly wasn't about going into hiding for a short period of time. It now dawned on her that this was about starting a new life with Marcus.
It wasn't until there was a knock at her door that she felt pulled out of her own thoughts and when she told them to enter she was glad that it was Marcus on the other side of the door. His smile offered her comfort and she found herself wanting to be wrapped in his arms. His figure in the doorway overshadowed any doubt about whether they would truly be safe away from here. She knew that he was strong enough to protect her and she knew that he cared enough about her to ensure that she came to no home but even so, their conversations of running away together were about to become a reality and that scared her.
They had barely known each other for a matter of months and now she had found herself falling for him out of no where and now about to start a life with him; a life away from her father and what she had made of her own life so far.
"I'm guessing you think this is right thing to do?" She asked as she looked into his eyes from the distant space between them.
Marcus made himself busy shoving a pack with all the provisions he could fit inside. As he did, he wondered how Alexandria would react to their given situation. He knew hr well enough to know that she wouldn't like the idea of fleeing. But he also knew that she would see the sense in it. Even if they didn't want to, he knew they had to. If anything were to happen to Alexandria, he would never be able to forgive himself. And this way, she would be with him day and night and he would never be without her. That made the most sense in keeping her safe.
When he was done packing, he found Cato. He was looking significantly better and the color had returned to his face, but Marcus still had trouble looking at the stump that was there instead of his left hand.
"I have to take Alexandria away from here," he told him softly, sitting on the cot they had conjured up for him and some of the other injured. "It's the only chance we have to keep her safe."
Cato nodded. "Well, if anyone can do the job, it's you," he replied. Then, upon seeing Marcus's worried face, he added, "Don't worry about me. You know I'll be okay now. Pretty soon I'll have a sword in my hand again. I may still be able to use a shield if it's fashioned right."
Marcus offered him a soft smile. The words were nice but they did not stop the worry.
After bidding him goodbye one last time, Marcus left the room. They had promised that they would see each other again, though Marcus wasn't sure. Walking out that door was one of the hardest things he'd ever had to do.
The sight of Alexandria calmed him, though. He found her in her old room that had remained untouched by the collapsed roof. He rapped softly on the open door, taking in the sight of her. He could tell that she was processing what Lucan had told her.
He offered her a gentle smile.
Three days of nothing but chaos; treating the wounded, healing the sick and burying the dead. Those that had attacked them left behind nothing but sadness. She worked for three days, barely talking to anyone, not even Marcus. That wasn't for any other reason other than being wrapped up in saving the lives of those who might catch any sort of infection that might take them away from this world. Cato was the one she spent most of her time with because he was a dear friend of Marcus' and she knew it would rip him to pieces if anything happened to him.
On this morning she was gathering supplies to keep treating them in her make shift hospital. Although many were over the worst of it, she didn't want to risk anyone else losing their lives now. Her being out gathering supplies meant that Alexandria wasn't around for the conversation that her father was to have with Marcus. In honesty, she was surprised that either of them allowed her to be alone after this but they didn't know that she had left her home just yet. Her basket was half full of flowers and different plants that she knew she could make some kind of medicine from. For a moment she stopped and looked around at the field that she had come to love throughout her childhood. There was still much that she didn't understand and even now with this sudden peace she still couldn't figure out why her life had become so complicated over the last few weeks.
She she gathered her final supply she turned back and head back towards her home. Alexandria knew when she got back there would be someone there waiting with strong words about her wondering off and how she is in danger and shouldn't be going anywhere alone. She braced herself for whatever scolding she would receive and when she got back to her room she noticed that her door was open and her father was sitting upon her bed, waiting for her. A sigh escaped her lips and she walked into the room with an eerie sense of nerves coming over her.
"How long have you been in here?" She asked, seeing the worry on his face slowly disappear upon seeing her face.
"A while. You left the premises? Alone?" He asked and saw the look upon her face. If it was any other time and he would have shouted but it wouldn't be needed this time. "No matter. We need to talk." The tone in his voice worried her and she placed her basket down on the floor and sat next to him.
"You are worrying me. What is it? Is Cato alright?" She placed her hands on her lap and played with her fingers nervously. "Not Marcus? Please tell me there is nothing wrong."
Lucan shook his head, "It's nothing like that my dear Alexandria. I have spoken to Marcus this day. He is going to take you away from here." She could see the look in her eyes. "Don't speak until I have finished. It is not safe for you here and Marcus is the only one who I trust to keep you safe. If it is just you two on the road, you will attract very little attention. These men will come back and when they do, I don't want you to be caught up in this. Those assassins are still out there and as lon as they think you are here you will be safe out there. I have told Marcus to take you somewhere that not even I know. It's safer that way."
"I don't actually have a say in this do I? Did Marcus think this was the right thing for us to do as well? I don't like this." Even though she didn't like it, she did not find distain in the idea of going away with Marcus. They had once talked about it but she never actually thought it would come to this. After a few moments of silence between the two her father took her hand.
"You need to gather a few possessions and find something to conceal your identity. It will be dark in a few hours and you will leave once the skies darken." Lucan stood and walked towards the door and turned for a second before leaving. "I'm doing this because I love you. So does he."
With that he left her sitting there wondering what her life has become and if it ever would be a calm life again.
"It's alright," Marcus reassured her, smiling at the pressure of her him. He looked her in the eye, his smile never fading. "I like being alone with you just as much as I like showing you off," he said smoothly and with a chuckle. When she kissed him, he returned the favor, then let her drag him towards the office.
It wasn't much of one- an office, that is. But it's where he charged his laptop and the desk inside held all of the original prints to his photoshoots and he had drawers upon drawers of interview outlines and notes he couldn't seem to get rid of.
He let Alexandria take the chair and watched as she opened his computer and typed in his password. He had given that to her a while back to entertain herself if he had errands to run.
Wherever they chose, he just hoped they would be able to get Alexandria out of the public eye... even for just a minute.
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Three days had come and gone since the attack on the villa. Three days since Cato has lost his left hand. Three days that Marcus and Alexandria spent trying to heal the wounded. And for three days, they had no idea if another attack would happen.
Lucan kept trying to get in a word with Marcus, but Marcus was too busy looking after Cato to listen. The man had broken into a fever after they cauterized the wound. He fed him water and made him eat when he could, but other than that, all Marcus could do was watch his best friend drift in and out of sleep. Lucan finally caught him that third day, however.
"Marcus," he said, touching his arm. He dropped it when Marcus turned to face him. They hadn't spoken much since they returned. "It's time to think about the future. It's time to think about Alexandria. Dillard was an obstacle, yes. But the assassins are still out there. The ones that attacked her in the market. The ones that did this..." He gestured towards the rubble of his home.
"What are you saying?" Marcus asked bravely.
"It's time that you took Alexandria away from here." There was a long pause as Lucan took in Marcus's reaction. He chose to clarify when all he got in return was a furrowed brow. "I don't care about my own skin, but my daughter needs to be somewhere safe. She needs to go into hiding. To disguise herself. And I trust no one else to protect her." Marcus opened his mouth, but Lucan cut him off. "I have seen the way you look at her. I have seen your exchanged affection. I know that you would not let any harm come to her."
The thought of taking off with Alexandria had crossed his mind, but Cato was here... As if reading his mind, Lucan put a hand on his shoulder. "Your friend will be safe with us. He's past the worst of it. You know that. Titus has eyes everywhere. We will be in contact. But first you must take my daughter and go far away from here. Somewhere even I won't know."
Marcus knew he was right.... He had known all along it would come to something like this. On one hand, he and Alexandria could finally run away together like they had amused themselves with not so long ago. On the other hand, he hadn't wanted it to be because of danger. And Cato...
Marcus nodded, though. "When should we leave?"
Lucan didn't think for long. "Tonight. Just after dark. I will go tell her. You start preparing and saying your goodbyes."
Alexandria hadn't really considered who the man was until now but it wasn't until she got a better look at him that she realised she has seen him around before. Not just outside of her home or Marcus' but on set when she had been filming as well.
That definitely made her feel even more uneasy but she didn't want to show Marcus that she was scared or worried because she didn't want to make him feel nervous.
"I wouldn't put it past my father but I'm not entirely sure. He has been on set too. He has been following me around a lot and I only just figured out that it has been him."
She was relieved the second she walked through the door and the feeling of being home made her feel safe. She walked to Marcus who closed the blinds and put her arms around him breathing a huge sigh of relief.
"I'm sorry that our day out had been shortened. However, now we are here - we should look at this holiday we are going to take next week and just try and forget about whoever this man is or why he might have been following us."
Alexandria placed a kiss upon his lips and took his hand and began walking towards the office where they would find his computer.
Marcus held her hand as they left and he nodded. Cato even seemed to be on edge now and Marcus wondered who on earth this man was and why he was so determined to watch them.
When they were a good distance away, Marcus glanced over at Alexandria to see how she was doing.
"You don't suppose..." he started, debating if he should say it. He decided that the thought might have already crossed her mind as well so he voiced it. "You don't suppose your father hired him for some reason? Or someone else interested in you?"
That thought alone terrified him. He would be there for her if that was the case, but it had already been proven that her father didn't give up easily.
A block or two later, they turned down a street and made their way to Marcus's house. He unlocked the door, let Alexandria in, and then locked it behind them. He moved to each of the windows, closing the blinds in turn, peering between them before doing so. He couldn't see the man, but that didn't mean that he wasn't there...
It didn't take much convincing from her and she asked the waitress for the bill and waited for Marcus to get Cato. She quickly paid the bill and left a hefty tip on the plate before getting herself ready to leave and as she did she noticed that the man that had been staring at them this entire time was getting ready to leave also.
She looked at Marcus with a worried look. This guy wasn't just the papers because he didn't have a camera with him so the feeling that he gave her felt a little more uneasy.
"Can we go back to your place? I think he is just going to follow us wherever we go."
Alexandria turned and headed towards the door, not wanting to give the man any more attention than he deserved and she took hold of Marcus' hand and squeezed it to give herself a little more comfort. "He is making me so uneasy. I can normally deal with that sort of thing but he has an eerie feeling and I really don't like it."
Her pace quickened a little wondering how long this man had been following them and why he was doing it in the first place.
The thought of spending a week with Alexandria was finally sinking in. A week away from their families, a week away from responsibility... it sounded too good to be true. And hell, he needed it.
She mentioned not caring where, and his mind wandered to the possibilities. She wanted quiet and sun and he was fairly sure he could give that to her. He imagined them in a nice suite on the edge of the beach. He'd never been a huge fan of the ocean, but if Alexandria was there, he was sure he could come to love anything.
After the subject changed, they spoke as they usually did about anything and everything. Marcus held her hand and offered Cato small bits of food here and there so he wouldn't get jealous.
When Alexandria spoke up about their unwanted guest sitting behind him, he chanced a look over his shoulder as if simply taking in his surroundings. Sure enough, there he was, the same man from before.
Marcus turned back to her.
"I think it's time to leave," he said softly, a nervous feeling growing in his gut.
At first she felt nervous about what Marcus might say in case he didn’t want to be pulled away from work or even want to go away with her just yet. Their relationship was moving very quickly and she wasn’t sure where Marcus stood on their relationship because they hadn’t really talked about it.
It was clear that their relationship was extremely physical and emotional because they could barely pull their eyes from each other when they were together but she wasn’t completely sure what he was feeling but the second her agreed she felt a little better about asking.
“Next week, I don’t mind where we go but we should definitely get some plights booked today. Maybe when we get back to your place we can go online and have a look where we should go. I need quiet and sun.”
Alexandria smiled and whilst they ate they sat and talked about her filming and his book writing and they generally caught up on all aspects of each other’s life that they had missed being apart from each other.
In between taking bites of food and sips of drinks she held Marcus’ hand and patted Cato every time he came back for a little bit of attention and they time they spent together seems to fold into hours and before they knew it the bistro was beginning to slowly empty from the lunch time rush yet there remained one person who sat in the bistro the entire time they were there and they didn’t seem like they were going to move anytime soon.
“Marcus, I may sound a little crazy but I am sure that gentleman behind you has been watching us this entire time.”
After they ordered their drinks, Marcus couldn't keep his eyes off Alexandria. She acted as if she might have something to say, so he waited it out until she finally spoke her mind.
When she mentioned she had something to ask him, he grew nervous. Had he done something wrong? Fortunately she continued and he wasn't left in the dark too much longer. A smile spread across his face, exposing his teeth.
"Yeah, of course," he answered, almost too eagerly. "I mean, it should be fine, whenever it might be. I can take my work with me if I absolutely have to, but I'm sure they'll give me some time off..."
The waitress came back with their drinks and they ordered quickly so that they could get back to the conversation at hand. Their hands were still intertwined and Marcus smiled again.
"You just say the word and I'm ready. A week with you, no work, no stress? That sounds like the best vacation I've ever had, honestly," he said with a chuckle.
She was happy that she was spending the day with him and even though a part of her felt guilty for taking him away from his book, part of her just couldn't keep away from him. Alexandria was more excited that usual and that was based on a question she wanted to asked Marcus. Part of her was nervous in case she didn't quite get the answer she was looking for but she knew deep down that he wouldn't necessarily disappoint her. She would wait until they were ready to dine first though.
The smile never once left her lips, even when they arrive at the bistro and let Cato off his lead. They chose a table and for a moment sat looking into each other's eyes. To an outsider they must have looked crazy but she didn't really care what other people thought about them.
Alexandria reached for his hand and held it in her own as the waiter came to give them a menu and took their drinks order. As soon as he left she smiled towards Marcus.
"Marcus. I wanted to ask you something. Next week our director is away on business. Cutting another film deal with a production company and that means that the set is closing down and I won't have to work that week." She looked away for a split second and bit her lip. "Would you come away with me? I don't mind where but I just want to spend some quality time with you away from here; away from work and I am not sure when the next opportunity would be for us to do this."
Her hand was still wrapped around his and she looked into his eyes waiting for an answer.
Marcus looked over at her as they walked, smiling and listening. When she apologized for taking him away from writing, he shook his head.
"Don't be," he said, squeezing her hand back. "I'd rather spend time with you. Besides, I write best after I've seen you," he said with another smile. "I'm glad things are going well on set, though," he added as they got to a four way stop.
He agreed that the little bistro was the perfect place to go with the weather being so nice and Cato seemed to love it the last time they were there. When it was safe for them to cross, they headed across the street to where the little outcropping of hedges were located that led into the cafe. Once inside, Marcus let Cato off his leash, seeing how other dogs seemed to be roaming around in the grass beside the outdoor tables like it was a dog park. He was just as excited as last time and took off at a run.
Marcus chuckled at him before gesturing towards a nearby table and they sat down in unison.
If either of them had managed to tear their eyes away from each other, they might have noticed the man watching them disappear into the bistro through the hedges. The same man that had taken their picture outside of Alexandria's house about a month past.
"I am most definitely hungry so food is a must but lets find somewhere outside so we can take Cato and enjoy the weather." She said with a smile and handed Marcus the leash to place around Cato's neck. Alexandria made her way to the door, excited to get out and enjoy a day in the sun with the man that she had fallen so in love with.
She waited for him to lock up his door and within seconds he took her hand in his own and the sensation of his skin upon her sent the usual butterflies into a flurry. Alexandria tightened her grip upon his hand as if to let him know that she never wanted him to let go and she allowed the smile upon her face to widen. She looked towards him when she heard his voice and listened intently to the question.
"You know, it's super tiring but at the same time it's not as hard as I expected it to be. I'm getting through some of the scenes quickly which means that I got to finish early today. Part of me thinks that the better I do in my scenes, the less time I have to spend on set and that means more time spent with you. Although, I do understand that I can't be impacting on your time writing so I am sorry if I took that time away from you today. I just couldn't stay away from you for much longer."
She lent into him as they continued to walk down the street, not taking much notice of anyone who was looking at them. In a few months time it was likely that moments like these would be caught on camera every time they went out as long as the film she was recording was successful.
"Lets go to that place where we had our first semi-date. Remember that little hidden cafe that I dragged you to when I bumped into you after our interview. I haven't been there in such a long time and I love that place!"
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