[center [font "Calibri" When desperation hits, there is no telling what one might do. In 1920s America, two strangers find desperation leading them to the theft of The Cullinan Diamond. Belonging to one of the richest families in America, worth $2.360.000, this diamond could change their lives.]]
[center [font "Calibri" While they have both been tasked with stealing this diamond for very different reasons, neither one of them realises that one of their biggest obstacles will be a thief that wants the diamond just as much as them. How will they overcome the obstacles before them?]]
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Lillian could not deny that she was glad their conversation was over for now. She would not allow another thought to pass her mind that reminded her of the fact that they would soon part. Instead she wanted to focus of the fresh air and the breeze that danced along her skin. She had to remind herself how grateful she was to even have the opportunity to experience a morning like this. It was not long ago that her life was on the line and things could have easily turned out differently. She had Frederick to thank for the very fact that she was still alive, but she knew that not amount of gratitude would ever be enough to show him how much she appreciated all he had done for her. He had cleaned her wound, stitched her up, helped her bathe and the entire time he did so as a gentleman. The gentleman she knew he could be if she were to have a live with him.
Lillian cleared her throat as if to force the thoughts from her mind and concentrated on the scenery and the sound of Frederick’s voice. In fact, Lillian did enjoy drawing. However, it had been quite some time since she had found herself inspired enough to do so. It was just another thing that her brother had been jealous of and he found a way to take everything she loved away from here. Maybe now that she was free to live her own life, her own way, she might take up drawing again.
“I do actually, and you are quite right. This would look rather breath-taking upon a canvas. If I had the supplies I would set myself up right here.” She said smiling as she pointed toward the perfect opening for an artist to sit and draw the scene around them. As she imagined herself sitting upon the grass with nothing but a pencil and some paper, she did not even notice the absence of Frederick’s hand. It was only when his hands came to rest upon her shoulders that she realised. She was gently turned towards him and she smiled as she took in the sight of the flower that he was placing within her hair. She laughed gently until his hand came to rest near her cheek and then all evidence of the smile was gone, replaced by an emotion she could not quite pick out.
“I’m sure only you would pay for that.” She said as she stared into his eyes. Every part of her being wanted to kiss him, to have a perfect moment together in the sun while the world around them seemed to pause from the chaos but she kept her strength about her and decided against it. Even if it pained her to do so. Instead, she cleared her throat and looked down at the floor as her teeth ran against her bottom lip. The longer the two lingered out here, the more dangerous it was for her emotions because she knew that next time the desire came over her, she would not be able to stop herself.
Lillian took his hand and pulled her gaze back up to his eyes. “I’m tired Frederick.” It was a lie but she needed an excuse to get back to the car and on the road. Normalcy was doing things to her emotions and she didn't quite know what to do with that.
Lillian was wrong. He did want her to put her life on hold for him. He wanted to be selfish and tell her that she was never allowed to smile at someone else the way she smiled at him, or share a bed in a poor hotel room or even argue with over silly things. Maybe if her life wasn’t at stake he would have told her exactly that. It wouldn’t come as a surprise to Lillian that Frederick Lester was selfish enough to want to stop her future happiness just for his own gain. What surprised him was how badly he wanted to be her future.
Thoughts of proposals swam around his head and every scenario that ticked over his mind always ended with Lillian being the one he proposed to. How could she even think that he would want to propose to someone else, to anyone but her?
“I never wanted to marry before… before all this happened, and I can’t imagine I’m going to want to when I return home.” He said simply. The woman back home were nothing but sequins and glitter compared to the rare diamond holding his hand. He didn’t push it. It was clear that any talk of moving on and what would happen once they were apart was done for the morning, and being honest, Frederick was glad of it. His heart could only take so much, and his mind was already in overdrive, imagining Lillian’s future life without him.
They walked a little further and Frederick found himself stealing glances at Lillian more and more often as they progressed. Her face tilted to the sun, the wind stirring loose strands of hair. If he had been artistic he would have wanted to paint her, stood in the sunshine without any traces of pain and sadness, replaced by content at being outside in nature. If he attempted to paint such a thing it would likely resemble a potato with arms and legs, as most of his efforts did.
“Do you enjoy drawing?” He asked as the continued their walk. It was a poor excuse for conversation but Frederick wanted to learn as much about her as possible. “I was just thinking how lovely it would be to capture this in a painting.” He motioned to their surroundings and then looked back to her, his eyes taking in her face so carefully.
Frederick let go of Lillian's hand gently and suddenly bent to pluck a lilac flower from its stem. He straightened up and took her by the shoulders, turning her slowly to face him. Reaching up he intertwined the flower into her hair, his fingers lingering at the side of her face a second longer than needed, and then gave her a scrutinizing look before nodding to himself.
"Perfect." He said, brushing a stray lock of hair behind her ear. The petals of the flower shivered in the breeze but didn't fall out. "Now you really do look like you should be in a painting. I'm sure people would pay millions to hang it in their study."
Despite the fact that the walk was supposed to be giving her the opportunity to experience the outdoors once more, there was nothing that could grab her attention from Frederick in that moment. She had needed the fresh air and to stretch her legs, but her need was replaced by something else; someone else and Lillian was not prepared to admit aloud that she would have made any excuse to make him stay with her. That would have been selfish or her, and she would never ask him to leave his family, his sister, especially since he had been trying to protect her in the first place.
She gravitated towards him as he spoke, and she couldn’t help but allow the memories of their time together pass through her mind, remembering the initial passion they had felt when they first met before all this chaos penetrated their lives. That had not been fake, even if she had tried to convince herself of it when she had felt betrayed. The way their lips moved together, the way their hearts had beat in time. Her cheeks flushed a light shade of pink as she thought about the first moments they spent together. She would have given anything to return to that moment, both of them have a different reason for being at that party.
Lillian shook her head gently as she gazed into his eyes. “Even if there were lines of men, it would not matter to me.” She allowed a sigh to escape her lips as she squeezed his hand gently as if to reassure him. “Do not worry. I know you would not want me to put my life on hold for you, I just do not think that I would ever feel safe enough to spend my life with someone else.” She smiled towards him and took in their surroundings when a silence befell them. It really was a beautiful place to be and to think that they had just happened upon it made it a happy accident.
When he spoke of proposals she faltered slightly, her breath catching in her throat as her heart stopped beating, even if it was for a split second. “Frederick…one day you will propose to a woman in the way they deserve.” Of course, she did not want to think about Frederick returning home to find a woman that he might marry one day. If the moment had not felt so serious, she might have laughed at the prospect of her sadness over Frederick’s future happiness. It was only a matter of weeks ago that the woman could not stand to be in his presence and now she wanted to hold on to that for as long as she could.
Lillian tugged on his hand gently, encouraging him to start walking again so they might forget about the sadness that had taken them both. “It really is beautiful out here.” She said softly, looking up at the way the sunlight framed the trees and how the soft breeze forced some of the flowers to sway gently.
The walls that Frederick had built up around Lillian since he had started to develop more serious feelings for her came crumbling down as she spoke. Her voice was so strong and steady, despite how she avoided looking him in the eyes. His hand stayed gripping onto hers and his breath hitched in his throat as she finished speaking. The universe was defiantly playing a cruel trick on Frederick, placing a woman so perfect for him within reach only to snatch her back when he was finally ready to admit how he felt.
Frederick wanted to stop her from taking another step, he desired more than anything to kiss her until he had no breath left in his lungs and tell her that he was not going anywhere. Ever. He could not lie to her and Frederick was sure if he were to kiss her now he would not be able to stop, and so he just gave her hand a small squeeze and pulled her in closer to him.
“In our time together, I have seen you steal a priceless diamond, run from crazy murders, confront your brother and survive a stab wound with no medical attention. Through all this, you’ve kept me laughing. You can endure anything, Kitten. Even leaving me.” Frederick could feel his voice breaking at the end of his sentence and exhaled slowly, steadying his heart.
It was not a lie. Frederick really did believe that Lillian would be just fine without him. She would think it was hard now but give it a few weeks in her new life, surrounded by other men who she was willingly spending time with – not just forced to run away with – and she would forget all about him.
“You’re so beautiful and bright and you pretty much dazzled me speechless within seconds of meeting you. You’ll have a line of men just waiting to take my place the moment my back is turned.” Frederick kept his tone light, despite the heavyweight that they pressed on his heart. He had not suggested that they go for a walk just to depress himself. Frederick had wanted to do something ‘normal’ in their remaining time together. He wanted as many memories in these last few moments so that he had things to look back on when they were apart.
Frederick dropped her eyes from Lillian's face, his gaze now focused on the patterns and shadows the sun cast across woodland floor. The sun was trying to break through the leaves and every time a slice of sunlight got through it would warm his skin where it touched. If the conversation of leaving hadn’t arisen – his own fault - it might have been a perfect walk. Even though the weather had been cold leading up to that day, small wildflowers were blooming between trees. Frederick bit down on his lower lip and sighed, taking it all in.
“I should have done it here.” He said to himself. “Propose that is. Real or not, giving a girl a ring in a cheap restaurant is hardly appropriate.” It was crazy to think how blind he had been back then. The first real sign of his emotions and feelings towards Lillian. Everything about that ring had been specifically picked for her and yet he had still been so clueless as to give it to her in a tacky café and then get angry with her when she expressed her appreciation. He had acted like such a jerk to her, then to top it off, he’d run away and she had gotten stabbed.
Lillian may have been perfect for him, but he certainly was not perfect for her. It was why he knew, knew with every bone in his body and every breath he took, that she would find someone worthy of her attention once he left. The backs of his eyes stung and he had to blink a few times to shift the emotion from taking over. It would have been silly to get so upset at something inevitable, he told himself.
Even though a walk had been his suggestion in the first place, now that she had decided upon it she was sure that he might refuse her. He had convinced her to remain in bed for days while she healed and he wouldn’t even let her lift a shoe when they were back at the hotel so she found herself surprised that he seemed willing to let her go for a walk. Brisk exercise would do her good and help her bring some life back to her skin but she knew that if Frederick had anything to do with it, her walk would be far from brisk. It would more likely be a slow stroll and maybe even a few attempts to lift her over anything that she might have to climb over. The thought of such things brought a smile to her face. She couldn’t exactly pinpoint the moment that she had began to look forward to Frederick’s overprotective nature towards her. Just to have him near meant that she would put up with him holding on to her and lifting her over the smallest obstacle.
Lillian glanced in his direction for a brief moment, noticing that he was now looking for somewhere appropriate for them to stop. How she had grown to love that face. At one point she hadn’t been able to decide between hitting him or leaving him and now she couldn’t imagine doing either. All she wanted to do was forget about the situation they found themselves in and stay on the road forever. They both knew that was impossible. Frederick had been gone long enough and if he didn’t return soon, she could guarantee that his father would be likely to send men to look for him and that wouldn’t end well for either of them.
Soon enough, Frederick settled on a secluded spot in the vast openness they found themselves in. Lillian had become quite excited at the prospect of doing something normal in their time together. If they happened to bump into anyone out here, which seemed more unlikely that likely, they would just look like a couple taking a stroll to stretch their legs before continuing on the road. When the car came to a stop she sighed softly and took a look around, noticing that the backdrop was perfectly peaceful. Before she could realise that Frederick had already exited the car, and before she could place her hand on the car door to open it, she found her door opening and Frederick standing to assist her. She laughed quietly to herself and took his hand, softly shaking her head.
“I promise I will let you know if I get tired Doctor Lester.” She joked with him before they began to journey down the pathway that led into the trees. This felt like the most normal thing in the world, strolling through the countryside hand in hand with a man she had grown far too attached to. There was a silence for a short while as they walked and endured some obstacles and uneven ground but when they found a straight path, Frederick’s voice broke through the silence. She only laughed at his first words knowing that he could no longer provoke the same annoyance he once pulled out of her. It was unlike him to be so open about his feelings and she found herself taken aback by his honesty. Her mouth dried up slightly as she peered down at their entwined hands. They fit so perfectly she could have been convinced they were made for each other. She swallowed hard so that she might be able to form words herself.
“I thought that this was going to be easy. I thought that I would be relieved to watch you leave me. At least, that’s what I thought when I first met you. Then everything changed. I’m not sure I am strong enough to let you walk away from me.” She avoided his gaze as she spoke and before he could say anything else she interjected. “I know...I know that you have to. I’m just saying...saying that it will probably be one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.”
The car moved along the roads silently and it was one of those moments where Frederick wished he had the powers to pause time and take in everything. Commit it to memory so that in the coming days when they would soon be apart he would have something to replay over in his head. The sun flooded the car, casting an angelic glow across Lillian’s blonde hair. Frederick barely kept his eyes on the empty roads as she spoke. She could have said she wanted to go swimming in a frozen lake and he would have thought it was the most appealing idea ever.
“A walk it is then.” He said smiling, casting his eyes back out at the landscape before them. It would have to be somewhere quite, keeping her safe was still and would likely always be his first priority now.
After a few more minutes of driving, Frederick pulled onto a dirt track, the car protesting at the uneven ground beneath its wheels. They bounced along until they came to a big enough clearing that he could park the car without it being seen from the main road. The surrounding area was empty and before Lillian could move to get out of the car Frederick was at her door, holding his hand out to her.
“As soon as you feel tired we will come back to the car. You might not have a giant hole in you anymore but you’re still recovering.” He said softly, helping her out of the car.
They began their walk, slowly weaving in and out of the tall trees that shielded them from the sunlight. It was the first time they had done anything like this, Frederick realised. Their time together had been constantly moving at a rushed pace with fear that they were going to get caught, but out in the countryside with no one around for miles they were able to slow down.
“It feels like a world ago that we met.” He started. “I was so torn between kissing you and killing for you the first few days that I thought I was going to go mad.” Frederick hoped his words didn’t provoke any feelings of anger or irritation in Lillian but instead of waiting for her response he continued talking as they walked.
“I’ve never met anyone like you and I’m not sure I ever will again. I’d take you shouting at me in restaurants any day if it meant I got to do this all over again with you.” It wasn’t anything he hadn’t said before but this time his words and intentions were much clearer.
He hadn’t let go of her hand and made a show of helping her to step over fallen branches and sharp rocks but he was under no illusion that Lillian knew now that he just wanted to hold her hand. He Needed that contact with her as much as he could before they were forced to part. Forever.
The thought of returning back to who he was before they met was frightening. Frederick wasn’t sure he could stomach the mind dulling conversations about society or the long nights surrounded by people he barely cared about. His family was another matter, even through his longing to be with Lillian he was still eager to see them again. His mother would have loved Lillian. She was exactly the kind of girl she wanted Freddie to settle down with. Not the drunk spoiled socialites he had enjoyed the company of before. And if Frederick Lester was going to ever settle down it would have to be with someone as extraordinary and bright and clever as the woman at his side. Though he was sure no one would compare, not even close. However, if he had to spend his life alone or with an average woman it would be worth it being able to sleep every night knowing Lillian was safe and happy.
Lillian knew that they had both come to enjoy their time together in that hotel room. She had grown to learn so much about his life and realised that the Frederick Lester she thought she knew was a stranger. She had come to know the [I real] man behind the name and she was confident that there were only a few, possibly only his family, who knew this side of him. At least she had managed to achieve that before their time together was over. They had not argued in the time they had spent together since her brother had almost killed her and they hadn’t dared to talk about their kiss or their feelings for fear of another argument or heartbreak so they both kept everything to themselves, both unsure of what it was the other was truly feeling. Lillian was sure when they were out of that hotel room, Frederick would no longer look at her in the way that he did now. Perhaps it would be easier for her to move on from him if she could detach herself from the feelings that had surfaced.
She laughed as he spoke, and she was quick to take hold of his hand. Typically, Frederick had already gathered everything he needed and refused to let her carry anything. Whether that was because he still feared she might be in pain or whether he was just continuing to be a gentleman, she didn’t know. Hand in hand, they left the hotel room and made their way to the desk so that they could pay for their room. They had been there for some time so some of the staff made a fuss about their exit and hoped that they would see them again, voicing words of happiness and well wishes for their long future together. It made her heart feel heavy to hear such words when she knew their future together would only last a couple more weeks at most.
Even when they were out of sight he remained with his hand on hers and she couldn’t help but enjoy the ease of it all. When they were settled in the car there was a silence and Lillian found herself to be slightly confused about why he had not yet started the car. Perhaps he was having difficulty letting go of their cosy hotel room where they had no worries or a single care in the world. Her lips parted to speak but before she could say anything, he was already talking, offering up a much different option to the plan they had originally set out and she had to do everything in her power not to simply agree to what he was saying. Lillian was sure she would pay any price if it meant that they didn’t have to part. Lillian smiled, a hint of sadness lacing her lips as he turned away to stare out of the window. It was then he seemed to straighten his thoughts and started to move the car. She didn’t need to say anything. They both knew it couldn’t happen and she forced a laugh with him at his joke about his lifestyle.
She cleared her throat and allowed herself a moment to take in the sights of their new country road. It was certainly better than staring at the hotel ceiling but still, she found more comfort there, laying in bed with Frederick, than any countryside landscape could offer her. It wasn’t until Frederick spoke again that she turned to look towards him and she laughed once more. This time it was genuine.
“I’m not going to collapse. You’ve kept me well-fed.” Lillian looked up at the sky, noticing how the sun seemed inviting and she looked back at Frederick. “I think I would enjoy a walk first. It feels like forever since I last went outside for more than a minute to walk from a car to a building.”
It was silly how the hotel room had become a safe haven for him. It was not the most lavish of hotel rooms he had stayed in but their time there had been peaceful. The two hadn’t argued about anything more than whether or not Lillian was ready to leave. Frederick has tried to keep her safe inside the hotel room as long as he could. Now they were packed and ready to leave and Fredericks stomach sank. Everything would change once they stepped outside onto the street and faced the morning sun. They would no longer be just two people sharing a bed, they would be fugitives running for their lives again.
“I was born ready darling.” He said, shouldering the bag. Frederick held his hand out to take Lillian’s, telling himself it was to continue the facade of honeymooners when in reality he just needed to hold onto her to ground himself. They left the hotel, Frederick slipping money to the lady at the front desk and winning her over with one of his charming smiles. His hand stayed gripping onto Lillian’s the whole way to the car until he absolutely had to let go of it to open the door for her. He seated himself in the drivers seat, the bag on the back seat. Silence passed as the seconds ticked over and for some reason Frederick was finding it difficult to start the car.
“We could go home.” He said suddenly, turning to look at Lillian. “My family could vouch for you, we could... we could-“ he stopped and turned back to stare out of the front window, his thumb tracing the lines of the steering wheel. He didn’t need her to answer to know how stupid his outburst had been. Taking her home would open up a whole new can of worms and it would only alert their attackers of the fact she was still alive. Shaking his head he turned the car on and pulled out of the parking space.
“Nevermind. It was stupid to suggest, plus you would hate my lifestyle. I get the feeling lavish parties aren’t your thing unless you plan on stealing the hosts jewels.” He let out a forced laugh and smiled at her. His movements of the car were possibly more aggressive towards other drivers than needed. Frederick was angry at himself not them.
He had thought things over hundreds of times and every option ended in either Lillian dying or him leaving. There wasn’t a third option that ended in them staying together and despite what she had said to him before Frederick wasn’t sure she felt the same way he did, and even if she felt a small sliver of feelings for him, that would all change when she got back to society and was reminded that there were better people, much better, than him.
“Shall we walk first and then get food or are you about to collapse on me?” He asked after they had pulled out of the down and hit the country road. His voice was much more cheerful than he felt and he could only hope that Lillian had seen his outburst as a lapse in judgement and not the strong emotional turmoil that he was struggling with.
Tired eyes flickered open and a throbbing headache and bruised jaw caused a gasp to escape the man’s lips. He had been slumped on the floor for God knows how long and he lethargically started to gather his weight so that he could get to his feet. There was no urgency in his movements since the events that had passed had not yet returned to his fragile mind. His hand moved to his jaw and to his head and then he looked around the room trying to understand where he was or why he had been laying on the floor in a heap rather than on the bed. That was when he saw it. The pools of red gathered near his feet and staining the sheets of the hotel room.
[I Shit.] This was very bad. He would be seen coming out of this room and there was just so much blood. It was then that flashes came back to him. His sister’s face as he forced the blade through her skin and the shock of seeing her travelling companion come towards him with a heavy object. He knocked him out alright and he had no way of telling just how long he had been out for. It had been daylight outside when he first arrived at the hotel and now that he was looking out of the window he could see that they had been graced with nightfall and he could see that the car he had been tailing all this way was no longer parked outside.
Frederick had managed to get away and that caused an anger to build within him, but he was confident that there was no way his sister could still be alive. They were on the run and they wouldn’t risk going to a hospital and the amount of blood in the room suggested that she had been so close to death. If she hadn’t died from blood loss, the infection that would surely take root within her would take her life. She was as good as dead. Sam smirked to himself for a moment before deciding to make a run for it now. No one would notice him in the dead of night. His figure skulked out into the darkness and observed the area for any late-night strollers. When he was satisfied that the coast was clear he moved towards his car with haste and as soon as he was sat safely inside it, he led out a breath he had not realised he had been holding.
He had failed and now it was time to figure out what to do next. He could drive around for a while and hope that he spotted their car somewhere. If Lillian was bleeding out, they could not have gone too far. That was exactly what he did for hours until he started to hit the wheel in frustration. There was not a single scrap of evidence to suggest the two were still in town. If Frederick had any sense, then he would have gone back home and left Lillian somewhere. His money and his family name would protect him. He would just owe another debt but if Lillian had somehow managed to survive her wound he knew that he would be with her. His face twisted with disgust at how easily men could fall for Lillian’s charms and he started to mutter to himself like a mad man. Lillian had always been the perfect child and could do no wrong in the eyes of her father and that had always gotten under his skin.
When their mother died, Lillian was still young, barely even a teenager and their father had become very protective of Lillian and somewhere deep inside of Sam, that set something off; some kind of jealousy that turned into much more than that. He couldn’t stand the way his father spoke to her, telling her how beautiful and kind she was. She was the reason their father paid him no attention and the only way to correct that was [I make] his father pay attention. He didn’t have the courage to do it himself then, so he had turned to a gang to help him do just that, promising that they could have his sister when she was old enough to be of service to them. With his father gone, he inherited the house, the money and become the only person responsible for Lillian until the time came to hand her over. From that day on, he made sure that she never heard how beautiful she was again. He would fill her days with remarks about how she would never be good enough for anyone else. He would punish her for speaking out, leaving scars upon her perfect skin so that she reflected the ugliness he saw when he looked at her.
It was some time before Sam worked up the courage to go back to the gang he had promised so much to. He was trying to think of an excuse to explain how he had lost them when he had been following them the entire way, but he decided to lie, the same way Frederick did but he would do it better. He would tell them that he killed them both and they would never have to worry about them again. It was not for Lillian’s sake, if she were still alive at all, but it was for his own sake.
“You killed them? You were supposed to bring them back here, so we could punish them for lying to us. We could have used them until it was up to us to dispose of them. What gives you the right to override our orders?”
“They attacked me. What was I supposed to do? Let them kill me? Let them get away? No, I killed them and got rid of their bodies. If you don’t believe me, you can go to this hotel.” He threw an address card down on the floor. “Blood everywhere. Room 102.” Sam looked so pleased with himself as they looked down at the card, but he could see something in the corner of his eye as the man stood before him nodded towards an associate. The sound of the gun echoed as the bullet raced straight to his head, giving him no time to react at all. His body slumped to the floor. Lifeless.
“Get rid of the body and find wherever they are. Start at that hotel. I want them back here!”
Lillian turned to face Frederick as though she had managed to gain some sort of composure. However, the words that travelled towards her now made her wish that she had remained with her back towards him. It was hard for her to ignore the sincerity in his voice and the way that he looked at her. Her heart quickened as he took a step towards her and she couldn’t help but wonder if this would be the most dangerous situation she might find herself in. Now it was her turn for her eyes to travel over his body now that his shirt was begin to soak up the moisture in the room. She had seen him without a shirt so many times but that didn’t mean that it didn’t affect her in the same way every time.
Lillian bit the inside of her lip so that Frederick wouldn’t notice that she was attempting to control herself just as much as he was trying to control himself. His words hit her hard and she had no idea how to react to them. “Frederick...I...” She couldn’t speak. They had managed to avoid talking about their feelings or putting themselves in a situation like this for some time and she knew that if one of them didn’t do something about to put an end to this then she might not be making it out of the bathroom.
When Frederick was the one to show that he had more will power to leave the situation she cleared her throat and nodded, but neither of them moved. At least not straight away. Finally, Frederick smiled towards her and made his way out of the bathroom. The moment the door closed she let out a huge sigh of relief and walked towards the door and pressed her hands against it.
“Stupid.” Her voice came out in a whisper and she turned her back on the door and started to get herself dressed. Maybe with more clothes on it would be a lot easier to face him and they could put the awkwardness of their interaction behind them. As soon as she had clothes on she started to arrange her hair before making her way towards the door so that she could go back out into the room. She gave herself a minute before pulling on the door and walking out into the main room of the hotel room.
“Ready to go?” Lillian asked as her eyes found Frederick, doing everything she could to forget about the tension that was between them only moments before. If she was completely honest with herself, she wasn’t sure that she would be able to continue with this charade of pretending that there were no feelings between them.
Frederick blinked a few times as she turned from him and ran a hand through his hair. How could she think she looked like a drowned rat? Lillian was by far the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and it was only heightened by how pure she looked in nothing but a towel.
“I was going to say, you look beautiful.” He said when he finally trusted his voice. Frederick took a step towards her, aware of how his shirt was now clinging to his skin in the humid bathroom and how his breath felt cold against the warm air.
“You always look beautiful. Not just when you’re dressed up or covered in jewels” he said referring to the night they met. “But when you’re bleeding in my car or stood here in nothing but a towel. You’re possibly by far the most beautiful thing on the planet.” Frederick stopped himself moving closer.
He could smell the soap she had used and he could see the small beads of water on her shoulders that had dripped onto her skin from her hair. She looked so much better than she had in weeks, the lingering paleness of death, or almost death in her case, appeared to be washed away.
Frederick knew he should leave the bathroom. They had to leave and every second he stayed in the bathroom was one closer to him doing something that he would possibly regret.
“I’ll... I’ll let you get dressed.” He said, his feet still stuck on the floor, unwilling to move. His eyes travelled down her shoulders to her back and then flicked over her legs, noting the silver lines of scars that marked the pale skin. He had noticed them before in brief flashes but always kept them to himself. Lillian has been a secretive person from the start and Frederick was not about to push any boundaries that would break the delicate trust they had built between the two of them in the passing months.
Movement caught his gaze and Frederick looked back up to meet Lillian’s gaze, his face showing some of the guilt he felt in looking at her in such a way. Frederick forced a small smile onto his lips and turned, leaving the bathroom and Lillian in a few long strides. He closed the door behind him and pressed his back to the cold timber. His breath came out in long frustrated sighs and he closed his eyes, trying to remove all thoughts of the woman the other side of the door in a towel from his memory. It would not be healthy to sit in a car with her for hours with thoughts of her like that. It would only take one look at her again and he would become completely useless.
Lillian didn’t take the time to think about what kind of predicament simply asking for her clothes would put the two of them in. Ever since she had been stabbed by her brother, he had pretty much seen more of her than either of them could have anticipated and she no longer felt the need to conceal every inch of her body from him. However, she did check herself over just to ensure that the scars on her leg were covered with the towel she had wrapped around herself. As he knocked on the door she took one last look at herself and continued to brush her hair.
“It’s alright, you can come in.” She said softly and looked towards the door as it began to open. Suddenly she regret her decision to let him in. She should have just gone to the door and poked her arm out so that she could take the clothes from him. Now that she saw the look on his face she wished that her decision had been different but she could change it now. Lillian felt very self-conscious all of the sudden and she hoped that her embarrassment was concealed by the fact that the bathroom was warm and she had just showered.
Lillian has never felt so vulnerable and comfortable at the same time. She didn’t exactly have a good experience with men in her past but Frederick had been nothing but a gentleman, even if he made flirtatious jokes every now and then. He had shown her a lot more respect than any other man had in her entire life and for that, she would forever be grateful for him restoring her faith in his kind.
“Thanks.” She said as she held out her hand to take the clothes from him and moved to hang them up. To do so she had to turn away from him which gave her a second to compose herself and pull herself away his lingering gaze. “I look like a drowned rat. I know.”
It was good to hear her laugh and Frederick only wished that he could hear that sound more often. It was a sound that belonged to her and only her and even if he heard it every second for the next year, he would still not get enough of it. It was not the first time he wished they had met under different circumstances, the thought had crossed his mind a dozen times. There were not many opportunities for laughing outside of the safe four walls of the hotel room, but Frederick silently promised himself he would make more of an effort to hear that laugh whilst on the road.
Fredericks' eyes stayed trained on Lillian as she pulled the sheets back and sat up. His gaze flicked from her, – now healing – wound to her face, looking for any sign of lingering pain. He barely heard her words for fear that she was still hurt from the attack but his brain quickly registered that she was talking to him and once again laughing. Frederick couldn’t stop his own smile from tugging at his mouth.
“I’d keep you locked up here forever if I thought it would keep you safe.” He said, making a move to help her from the bed, only a moment too late as she was already on her feet and moving past him. His nerve endings blazed like electric as she took his hand for just a second and he was still stood there, feeling the lingering tickle of electricity even after she had made her way into the bathroom.
The sound of running water bought him out of his daze and Frederick started to move around the room to keep himself occupied, setting the bed straight and cleaning up the discarded items around the room. There was no point lingering in the hotel any longer than needed, if they prolonged their stay then he might actually keep her locked in the room. He only had so much self-control. The sound of the Lillian shouting through the door caused heat to flood his cheeks. His eyes dropped to the bundle of clothes that were strewn over the arm of the chair.
Frederick moved to pick them up and then slowly moved towards the bathroom door. He knocked softly on the wood to make her aware of his presence and then pushed the door open enough that he could see Lillian. Frederick swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry. She looked like something out of a movie. Wrapped up in a fluffy towel with her hair shining as she drew the brush through it, her skin as soft as the fabric it was concealed by.
“I um – I just grabbed everything.” He said, his voice coming out much softer and unsteady than he intended. His fingers gripped the material of the clothes tighter, knuckles turning white, to stop himself from reaching out to touch her, to pull that small scrap of material from her.
“You look…” He paused, his gaze going from her face to her arms and hands, legs then back to her sparkling eyes. Frederick tensed his jaw and exhaled slowly. Whatever he was going to say was lost in a muddle of inappropriate thoughts.
They spent some time in one place for the first time since they had found each other. Frederick had insisted that they were safe here and that she needed to time to heal before they started back out on the road. Their cover story of husband and wife seemed to be holding up and actually helped the staff at their chosen hotel to wrap their heads around why they never saw his wife. Lillian had made a joke one morning about how honeymooners would likely stay in their rooms all day in the same way they had and that had prompted him to go with that story. Now, every time he went out for food the staff would ask how married life was treating him and if the wife was ever planning to get dressed to come to dinner outside of the room. They had all grown intrigued with the woman who had monopolised the time of a man like Frederick. Especially since they had been there for some time now and even though Lillian was convinced that she had healed up nicely some time ago, she was convinced that she was well enough for them to move at least a week ago. Not that she minded having this extra time with him.
Lillian has learned so much about his family over the last week and it was nice to talk about [i normal] things and forget about their predicament if only for a little while. She smiled up at Frederick as he made his way over toward the bed to check on the wound that had become a scar. It didn’t matter to her that it was going to be permanent. It was just another scar to add to her current collection but she had been able to conceal the rest of the scars from Frederick. Lillian laughed slightly and nodded and watched as he moved to pack their bags. Neither of them wanted to address the fact that they would be happy simply staying in this hotel room forever, mostly because they knew that they couldn’t. While no danger had caught up with them yet, it was likely that it could sooner or later if they continued to stay in one place. She looked down at her scar and pulled the sheets back over her as she sat up and crossed her legs on the bed.
“Real food sound so good and I [i really] can’t wait to get out of this hotel room. You have kept me locked up in this room out of fear I might break.” Lillian laughed, knowing that he would take the him as it was intended and she started to move from the bed with lethargic movements as though she didn’t want to move from the comfort of her bed. “I suppose I will get dressed then.” She said as she finally climbed off the bed and moved towards the bathroom, squeezing Frederick’s hand on the way passed. For the next twenty minutes she got herself washed up and swore under her breath when she realised she had forgotten to take clothes in there with her.
“Frederick, can you pass some clothes through the door. I left them on chair.” She shouted, wrapping a towel around her body to conceal herself and she started to run a brush through her hair.
As much as he wanted to say the words that would ease her worries he couldn’t. Not yet, not when he was so sure that he would eventually have to leave her, despite his wishes to be near her. Instead, Frederick let the butterflies flood his stomach as she spoke her last words, barely audible over the sounds of his heart beating in his ears.
“I’ll stay as long as you need me to.” He whispered and raised his hand to stroke her hair as her breathing evened out and became shallow. She had fallen asleep so easily and although he had barely woke up, Frederick closed his eyes and allowed himself to enjoy the closeness of Lillian and soon enough he had fallen asleep with her tucked safely in his arms.
* * *
The days had passed like something out of a dream. The two spent most of the time in the hotel room and Frederick made sure that Lillian barely moved from bed when she didn’t need to and that everything she asked for was given – not that she ever asked for much. Frederick didn’t kiss her again and there had been no more talk of feelings or the future. Instead, he spoke to her of his family, of his sister and how she had dragged him into every trouble imaginable as a child. They spoke of music and books and with every passing day, Frederick found himself falling more and more for the blonde. It seemed the only subject they did not talk of was her family.
Frederick walked over to the bed and sat down, pulling the fabric away from Lillian’s wound. In the weeks that had gone, it had healed nicely, she would always have a scar but that didn’t seem to bother her like other women. The inflammation had subsided after days of keeping it clean and now it was nothing more than a pink line of skin across her abdomen.
“I may regret saying this kitten, but you’re pretty much healed.” He dropped the fabric and smiled at her. “We can be on the move as soon as you say you’re ready.”
It would ease some of the anxiety once they were on the move again, they had stayed in one place much longer than anticipated and although he had thoroughly enjoyed their time together, especially how relax they had both become around each other and leaving the hotel felt like it would break a spell, getting her someplace safe, someplace north and away from the danger was the priority. Frederick had enjoyed the past week and had been selfish with their time together, but now it was time to move on.
Frederick didn’t wait for a reply and was soon on his feet, packing their clothes into their bag. Whilst at the hotel he had managed to procure the basic ID documents that Lillian would need to start a new life. He had hidden them in the bottom of the bag, not ready to tell her that her new life was closer than she knew.
“I was thinking we could get coffee and some real food, not hotel food, then drive somewhere quiet, for a walk and fresh air before we start our long drive.” Frederick was aware that Lillian had been inside far too long and that her pretty skin had become paler, and it was not just due to her blood loss. It wouldn’t be much good saving her life from a stab wound if she just got sick again.
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