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Lillian did not expect to get anything back from Frederick. It was not her aim, nor did she want some big gesture or a revealing conversation about feelings. All she wanted was to make him understand why she had asked him to leave in the first place and now she had done that she felt a little bit lighter. Of course, that could have been caused by the fact that her injury had been making her feel slightly light-headed ever since he had stitched her up. Occasionally she would forget just how much blood she had lost and how close she had been to death.
The two of them continued to avoid each other’s gaze, worrying about what might happen if their eyes met when they were both feeling so vulnerable. They were having a serious conversation and she could only imagine how hard that must have been for Frederick considering he had worn his sarcasm like armour since the day they had met. Even now, the way he said her name made her want to forget about all the walls she had built around her and jump right over them so that they might have a moment together without fear of the future; without fear of his impending departure.
Soon he was adjusting himself so that he could look her in the eyes as he spoke, confirming his sincerity and doing so in a way that meant she didn’t have to move herself. Even now he was trying to protect her. Lillian’s breath caught in her throat as he pulled her hand towards his chest so that it lay flat above his heart. It felt as though it was beating in time with her own; rapid and without real pace. It only confirmed how hard this conversation was for both of them. They were laying their feelings on the line, knowing that in a few weeks none of it would matter because they would part ways like they had planned in the first place. She swallowed hard as he insinuated that he would choose to stay with her if he had the choice and she simple nodded to show that she understood what he was saying. If she tried to find words right now, she might break down in a way that would make her appear weak and she didn’t want him to see her like that. She didn’t want him to see just how much the thought of him leaving affected her.
Lillian inhaled the scent of him as he pulled her closer and after he pressed his lips to her forehead she allowed herself to relax into him, replacing the hand that had been resting upon his chest with her head. However, she was only permitted a small amount of time to enjoy the closeness of his body before he pulled back to give her some space. Whether that was more for him than it was for her, she didn’t know. Her eyes, that had drifted shut to stop any tears from escaping them, were open once more and she looked up at him as he spoke his final words. She smiled gently as she allowed her hand to rest on his cheek so that his gaze moved from the window, back to her.
“I know. I know that you [I have] to leave and I would never expect you to stay and leave your family. I just want you to know that if either of us had a choice in the matter, I would [I want] you to stay. And for what it’s worth, the lumpy motel beds do not bother me so much and I’m pretty sure you failed on the later already.” She laughed gently and allowed her eyes to drift shut once more now that fatigue was beginning to set in once more. “Just…for now…stay with me.” Lillian said in a whisper as she allowed her head to fall back onto his chest, permitting the beat of his heart to send her into a sleep.
Frederick didn’t look at her, instead, he kept his eyes straight ahead. Everything she said was true, and if he was being honest with himself at the beginning he had believed that his debt to her would be paid back with money and time, both of which he had now given plenty of. Frederick had given up things - not just parties and elite night clubs but his facade of who he was - to ensure that she was moving onto a safe life and yes, he was well within his right to return home, but to forget her? That was unquestionable now. Frederick knew he could never do that, even before she had been stabbed, even before they had kissed and shared a bed. Forgetting Lillian was not an option.
Frederick drew in a slow breath, preparing himself for what was about to be said.
“Lillian.” He started, his voice shaking slightly. “You gave me something no money could buy and if my family knew your sacrifice then they would give you a million times over what I have. But this,” He gave her hand a squeeze and shifted so he could look her in the eyes without losing the physical contact between them. “This thing between us isn’t about me repaying a debt. I don’t care about that anymore and if you’re worried about me leaving before you have that then you don’t know me as well as I had hoped.” He lifted her hand to his chest and held it against his rapidly beating heart. “I’m in this for you. To make sure you get a life you deserve and because that is what I want more than anything, more than I want you even and for the first time in my life I’m not being selfish because staying with you -.” Frederick swallowed back the emotion, his words sticking in his throat. “- Staying, despite how much I would love that, is only going to put you in danger over and over again.”
He didn’t let go of her hand, didn’t shy away from the fact that his heart was racing faster than a hummingbird. The Lester name was not something that could be hidden from the public and the longer he stayed with her once she was settled the more at risk she was of being found by their previous employers.
“Plus,” He went on “I know that even without me you’ll be more than capable of taking care of yourself. Wasn’t it you that outsmarted me when we first met? I almost forgot why I was at that party when I saw you in that dress.” Frederick tried to force a little more light-heartedness into his voice. “This whole adventure has been you, I’m just the driver. Without you, I’d probably be in jail or worse. I have no doubts that you’ll do amazing without me.” Drawing her in closer to him for just a moment, Frederick placed his lips against her forehead. It was more of a comforting reminder for him that she was safe and with him than it was an act of desire. Despite his words, he would worry for the unforeseeable future. When the time came for her to start her life without him, he would spend every waking moment worrying that something had gone wrong.
Moving back from her to give her space, Frederick shook his head and let out a slow breath.
“I’m not used to this.” He murmured under his breath. “Feeling these things, being torn between wanting to keep you safe and wanting to stay with you.” He trailed off and looked towards the window. “Everything is different now. My biggest worry used to be what party to attend and now it’s keeping you safe and alive and trying to give you a good life whilst making you stay in lumpy motel beds and going from one minute to the next just trying not to kiss you.”
She thought she might regret taking his hand but seeing how he did not retreat made her feel like it did not matter. If he didn’t want her to touch him, he would have made that clear and put some distance between the two but he didn’t. That she was glad of because for reasons she was not prepared to admit she wanted nothing more than to be close to him in this way. Besides he had pressed his lips against hers last night so it gave her some hope that perhaps he might have some feelings for her, even if they were not the same as hers.
As she waited for some kind of response from Freddie she found herself looking at their hands, now intertwined at her doing. Her hand looked so tiny in his, yet they seemed to fit perfectly together. His skin was surprisingly soft against hers. She had expected to find his hands a little more rough, mostly because men did not tend to look after their skin as well as women or because they worked in labour but it was clear from the feel of Frederick’s, his hands had never really seen a day of labour.
Her lips were curled up into a smile once more and she couldn’t help but look up from their hands to look at Frederick when he spoke. She laughed softly, knowing that Frederick would feel like he would never be able to repay her for getting stabbed by her brother to protect him but this scenario was better than any other outcome in her mind. Lillian might not have been so lucky; she might not have survived but the fact of the matter was that she [i did] survive and she would not change a thing if the outcome would have been different. Maybe when her wound had healed more he would no longer feel the obvious guilt about her getting hurt for him. Either way, her brother might have killed her instead of simply injuring her if Frederick had not come back for her. He would never understand how grateful she was for that, and if anything she felt as though she owed him for saving her.
As if he read her mind, he voiced his opinion aloud about the fact that he was glad he came back. She was about to confirm that she was also happy about the fact he had returned but he continued to speak, returning to the humorous and flirtatious Frederick that she had come to know and even care for over the last couple of weeks. Lillian lifted her head to look him in the eye, feigning shock upon her face as a response to his comment. “Frederick, if you wanted to sleep with me you only had to ask.” She said with a laugh, no longer able to hold the shock upon her face. Frederick had used that line with her several times so it was comical for her to find a way to turn it around on him. “Besides, we have shared a bed before now and I didn’t have to get stabbed for that to happen.”
After a minute, the humour melted away from her face and she found herself looking at him with a little more intensity than she had intended. “I am sorry. I had no right to get jealous about you kissing that woman. You were and are well within your rights to kiss whoever you please and I shouldn’t have told you to leave.” There was a moments silence before she continued but she felt the need to get this off her chest. “I just felt as though I had ruined your life enough and you should have the opportunity to return home and forget about me. You have given me so much, including your time and your money and I didn’t want to take advantage of you anymore and I didn’t...I didn’t want to get attached to you anymore than I already have...when I know that the end result means you have to leave anyway.” Lillian swallowed hard, not sure how Frederick would react to what she was saying but it didn’t matter. He was back and he wasn’t likely to leave her again, at least while she was in this condition. “I just wanted you to understand.”
Frederick tried not to read into her words. Content could mean many things and just because he was happier lying there in bed with Lillian snuggled up beside him than going to any party had made him, didn’t mean that she felt the same. Heat flooded his body as her head rested against him and without meaning to he turned his head to press his lips against her soft hair. Instead of responding to her comment about not wanting anything he just smiled and shook his head. He would offer her all the diamonds in the world if she asked it if him.
As she took his hand he felt his heart speed. It was such an innocent gesture and all he could think about was bringing it to his lips. However, kissing her hand would only make him want to kiss her cheeks and lips and neck.
“I don’t want you to ever put yourself in harms way again. It almost killed me the first time.” Freddie said turning her hand over in his. “Plus, offering to do what you want for a day is hardly repayment for getting stabbed.”
Frederick closed his eyes for a moment and inhaled deeply. If it was his choice they would spend the whole day in bed together but Lillian did have a hole in her stomach that needed cleaning and would probably want food at some point. Was it so wrong of him to actually be happy with their situation? Maybe not the stabbing, but the events leading up to that morning had forced him to realise his feelings, led them to kiss and share a bed.
“I’m glad I came back.” He said, the words coming out before he could stop them. Frederick hadn’t meant to bring up the fight or the fact he had ran as soon as things went badly. It was all that he could say that wasn’t going to leave him open and vulnerable. “If getting stabbed my your psycho brother was all it took to get you to sleep with me, I might have invited him along sooner.” Frederick looked down at Lillian and let the corner of his mouth turn up in a half smile, to let her know that he was joking, of course. There was no way that her brother was coming anywhere near Lillian, not all the time that Freddie was by her side.
Her eyes drifted back to Frederick the moment she felt him move next to her. Her hand remained on her stitched wound and her lips turned up into a smile as he greeted her with his usual charm, using the nickname he had chosen for her. At first it was annoying but now it had become a comfort to her and something she rather enjoyed, not that she would ever admit that to him. As expected his eyes travelled straight to her stomach and he was asking her questions about it. Lillian shook her head and removed her hand. “No, it’s not been bothering me. I was just looking at it.” She said with a quiet laugh and watched as he started to move the material that had been concealing his modesty. The moment she saw a little too much skin she averted her eyes awkwardly and tried to ignore that fact that he was more exposed that she was used to.
Lillian couldn’t help but feel very conscious about the fact that his hand was on her skin whilst he was barely wearing anything. She cleared her throat as he spoke and nodded. “Well that’s good.” She tried to make her tone sound a little more confident, but she was not sure if she had been able to pull it off. After she spoke their eyes met briefly and she returned his smile. It was nice seeing this side of him, but she doubted that it would last too long. This was likely the result of guilt and that would soon wear off.
She did not hold back the laugh that started to take over her throat when he told her the plan for the day. “All day?” She was pulled into him and she tried hard not to take in the scent of him as she found her head close to his neck. Her eyebrows raised slightly as he seemed to offer her anything that she wanted and only flinched slightly when his finger found the end of her nose. Lillian giggled and shook her head. “I hate to say it, but I am content with this for now.” She said, referring to the fact that they were lying in bed together and he was simply there for her. Without even taking a minute to think about it about she allowed her head to rest softly on his shoulder and risking Frederick mocking her, she lifted her hand to take his. “It’s not like you have to repay you know. I told you I would do it again if I had to.”
Frederick could not remember when he woke up. There was a warm feeling on his skin, which to begin with he believed to be the sunlight that he could see against his eyelids but as the warmth travelled down he knew it was Lillian. Trying to maintain his façade of sleeping he suppressed a shiver that threatened to make its way down his spine at her gentle touch. It had been the best sleep he had gotten since before the whole debacle with his sister had started and Frederick knew that it was due to the woman beside him. It was much easier to sleep knowing she was safely beside him and all his worries, even the anxieties that had subconsciously been gnawing away at his insides, had calmed. Between the exhaustion and Lillian's presence, he hadn’t woken once.
Now, as he lay in the same bed as the woman who was stealing his heart, he could feel her shifting and moving, a sign that she was awake. Although he wanted nothing more than to open his eyes and see her face, he stayed still and kept his breathing even. The sound of her voice whispered over his ears. He couldn’t quite understand why she was telling herself not to get attached, sleep still mystifying his brain. Fredericks stubbornness was clouding his mind and he couldn’t see that her words were aimed at their relationship.
Silence filled the air and Frederick decided that he had pretended to be asleep long enough and that the wonderful feeling of sleeping next to Lillian was over. Still, that didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy their time together a little longer.
Frederick rolled over slightly and slowly opened his eyes. If he had known that waking up next to something so beautiful could feel so good, then he would have made Lillian share his bed sooner.
“Good morning Kitten.” He said, his voice still soft with sleep. Frederick followed the trail of her gaze down to her stomach.
“Has it been bothering you?” He said, sitting up slightly. Freddie reached out and pulled the blankets down, forgetting about the possibility of embarrassment or lack of modesty. The wound was red and raised and he reached out to place his hand over it, testing the warmth to see if it was infected.
“It doesn’t seem to be giving off any heat, which is good.” He said, removing his hand. “We will wipe it down to keep it clean but the best we can do is keep you resting.”
Frederick looked back up to Lillian’s face and smiled. Lord, she looked just as beautiful first thing in the morning as she had when they first met. He would have told her if he had been braver, but Frederick was being careful to guard his own feelings against her, especially after kissing her the night before. Her reaction had been so neutral that he wasn’t sure what to make of it.
“You’ll be spending the day in bed with me.” He said, grinning at her. “I don’t want you lifting a finger.” Frederick stretched his arm over Lillians shoulders and pulled her gently into his side.
“As you risked your life for me and are now crippled because of it, anything you ask today is yours. This only counts for the next twenty-four hours though, don’t start thinking you’ll get anything you want for the rest of our time together” Frederick chuckled softly and tapped Lillians nose to make a point.
The last thing Lillian expected was to get a good night sleep. She had been stabbed and subsequently stitched up. Her body was sore and she was scared of making any movements that might rip open her stitched but it seemed that her body demanded that she should sleep so that it could start to work on repairing itself. She thought that she might wake up a few times in the night experiencing some pain but she did not wake up until the sun had started to beam through the window.
Her eyes slowly started to flutter open and she instantly turned her head when she felt a weight on the bed next to her. Perhaps that was why she had managed to sleep so soundly. Frederick has taken a place next to her on the bed and was still sleeping soundly. Lillian’s lips turned up into a smile as she drank in the sight of him and she gently started to adjust her positioning on the bed so that she would get a better look at him. A sharp pain shot through her stomach as she did but she ignored it because the moment she was still again she could just feel the aftershock of the pain.
Seeing Frederick so peaceful was enough of a distraction from that. She slowly reached out towards him with her right hand and allowed her finger to gently trace the contours of his jawline, all the while smiling to herself as she did. Lillian made sure that her touch was soft enough so that it would not stir him. A sigh escaped her lips and she moved her fingers down his neck slightly before withdrawing them, realising what she was doing. Her cheeks flushed a light shade of pink at the realisation and she forced her eyes to look away from him so she had a moment to compose herself from when he woke up.
Lillian chuckled to herself gently before looking up again. “This is stupid.” She whispered to herself. “Don’t get yourself attached Lillian.” She bit her lip and distracted herself by looking down at her stomach. It did not appear as though she had made it bleed throughout the night but it still looked inflamed and she was sure that Frederick would probably worry about that fact when he inspected her for himself when he woke up, knowing that would likely be the first thing he did.
Frederick had only been stood over the ivory basin for a few moments, his eyes glazed over and his mind reeling. It was not that it was a particularly interesting sink, it was just that staring at it was better than facing Lillian after what he had done. Still, it felt like he had been in the bathroom for an eternity and so drawing in a deep breath he worked up the courage to leave the bathroom. What was he to say? [I Sorry I kissed you, it’s just, I think I might have feelings for you and have zero self-control. ] No, that wouldn’t do. Perhaps it was best if he just pretended it was a joke, a jest to lighten the mood. It wouldn’t be out of character for him and Lillian would likely believe that more than if he told her that he had feelings.
Straightening up, Freddie slowly exited the bathroom. He hesitated when he got to the foot of the bed, images of Lillian in her nightdress as he kissed her filling his vision. Lillian had told him to come to bed, but surely, she couldn’t have meant for them to actually share. She had been the one to protest such a thing for their entire time together. Fredericks' eyes landed on her, eyes closed, breathing softly. Any anxiety he had felt about facing Lillian after their kiss was soon replaced by a warmer, alien feeling at the sight of her asleep. He would share the bed tonight, both needed sleep and he would be restless on the floor.
Frederick unbuttoned his shirt and shrugged it off, letting it drop to the floor. He then took his shoes off, followed by his trousers and slid into the other side of the bed, careful not to wake the sleeping beauty at his side. He had wanted to share a bed with her from the moment they met, and now he was there it felt like pure torture. Everything about her was begging for him to reach out and touch her. The smell of her hair caused him to catch his breath every time she moved her head, a small sliver of moonlight coming through the curtains highlighted the shape of her lips. It was almost impossible for him to turn away from her.
“Lillian.” His voice was no more than a whisper, a test to see if she was awake. She didn’t stir and that was enough for Frederick. Silently he moved over and placed a kiss against her forehead, brushing her hair back from her face. “Goodnight my little thief.” He said and shuffled down under the covers, his arm gently pressed up against Lillians. Freddie told himself that the physical contact was to help him relax, knowing that she was safe by his side. A pathetic lie but it was better than the truth, that he craved her touch, enough to now stop him from sleeping without it. Frederick closed his eyes and listened to the soft huffing of the girl beside him and soon he was asleep.
A small part of her could detect that her reaction was not exactly the reaction Frederick was hoping for but the last thing she wanted was to fall into him when she could not put a guard up to protect herself. In this moment she was vulnerable and Lillian thought that he might have only kissed her because of the fact that she was injured and found herself this way because she had been trying to protect him from getting a knife to the stomach. She didn’t want that to be the reason that the two shared an intimate moment but perhaps when she was feeling a little better she might be able to think things through with much more clarity.
Her cheeks blushed slightly as he spoke of their kiss and she averted her eyes for a short second as if to confirm that she was embarrassed about it. Not because she had kissed Frederick but simply because it meant something to her and she was still unsure what it meant to him. Did he kiss that woman in the bar in the same way that he kissed her? Was it a mistake like that had been? She wouldn’t know that until she worked up the courage to ask him and it was unlikely that it would happen on this evening.
Lillian looked down at herself as Frederick did the same and she let out a quiet laugh and nodded in agreement at the fact that he had done a good job. In honesty, he made it easy for her. He was mostly a gentleman about the whole thing and kept his word and for that she would be forever grateful. “I’m glad you said that you need to rest too. At least I don’t have to nag you about it. She watched as he absently inspected different parts of the room until he eventually announced that he was going to get cleaned up. By this point, Lillian had found herself in a comfortable position on the bed.
“Come to bed when you are done. You need to sleep.” She said softly, not even thinking about the fact that she had just invited him to share the bed. It was not as though they had no done so before and at this point, he had proven himself to be trustworthy. That was perhaps something that she always knew in the back of her mind but a part of her just didn’t want to fully believe it.
Even as he left the room she knew that no amount of comfort would grant her sleep just yet. She sighed softly to herself and stared up at the ceiling thinking that Frederick would probably emerge from the bathroom before she fell asleep but it seemed that her body was no demanding the rest and her eyes drifted shut and before she could even think about it she had fallen asleep, hoping that when she woke up she would find Frederick beside her.
Frederick tensed his jaw as Lillian spoke, her hand moving from his face. The cold feeling that replaced the warmth of her hand caused every muscle in his body to scream at him to reach out and force her to put it back. Instead, he bit down on his tongue and counted slowly in his head until the desire in him calmed. He [I had ] broken his promise and maybe, later on, he would feel bad about it, but at that moment he only felt triumph and let a small smile break out across his face before carefully taking her hand that now pointed at his eyes. He placed a quick kiss on the palm of her hand and gently dropped it before returning his hands to the material of her nightdress. This time Frederick kept his eyes trained on Lillian’s as he tugged the dress down, careful not to cause her to move as he did so.
“It was worth breaking to kiss you.” He said softly smiling once more and the words were true. Her reaction, though not the warm throwing-herself-into-his-arms reaction he had wanted, was not a slap, nor was it the retribution he deserved for kissing her when she was wounded and fatigued. However, her smile was enough for a tiny sliver of hope to form in his chest. Hope that maybe, just maybe, Lillian could feel a small part of what he felt for her, and that was enough for him that night.
The dress was over her head and pulled down to her hips, giving her enough modesty that he could rise from his position and look at her without seeing the parts she had tried so hard to keep hidden from him. Frederick stood and looked down at her, nodding to himself.
“I think I’ve done a pretty good job, I haven’t had to dress many women with my eyes closed before. Now, get some rest, Kitten, you need it.” Frederick cleared his throat and sighed. “We both need it.” He added, knowing that she would only tell him to get some rest anyway.
Frederick checked the curtains were shut and the door was locked, keeping himself busy to stop himself from going back over to the bed until his head had cleared. It seemed that within moments his thoughts had started to fill his mind so quickly, thoughts of Lillian and kissing her, thoughts of what would happen for them now or what he would say to her in the morning when they both had clear heads. All he wanted to do was kiss her again, but he knew that if he started he would never stop.
“I’m going to wash up.” He said under his breath before walking into the bathroom, closing the door slightly behind him. It only took a few minutes to wash the feeling of her from his hands and the tension from his face but the thoughts of the woman in the bed in the room next door were not as easy to remove. Freddie didn’t trust himself to go back out there, not with the thoughts that were swimming through his mind. Instead, he stood there, over the basin, trying to convince himself that kissing her had not just ruined everything and that he was strong enough to go back out there without doing something stupid.
So much had changed over their weeks spent together. There had been an instant attraction to him and she was sure if she was at that party for any other reason she might have enjoyed his company if it were not for his reputation. From that moment on they had argued and she had kept her guard up high around him, even when she realised that she had feelings for him. Perhaps more so then. In honesty, the disgust she had always portrayed towards his suggestive manner was simply because she had been brought up to keep herself reserved around men. One was not supposed to give in to seduction and compliments so easily. Her parents, when they were alive, had expected her to marry and become a good wife like most women but her life was not exactly following the plan that her parents had made for her and a part of her was glad of that. Even if she had to spend the rest of her life on the run, these last few weeks with Frederick would be worth it and she would try to savour every moment they had left together because they both knew that he would leave the moment she was healed and delivered to her destination.
After a second of silence she saw that Frederick had opened his eyes to look at her, as though what he was about to say would not mean the same if he did not look her in the eye while he spoke. Her heart fluttered as though she had only just realised how close they were but she only felt it because their eyes were locked and he did not retreat from her when he realised himself. In that moment, she was not thinking about the fact that she wasn’t fully dressed, nor was she trying hard enough to keep up her barriers that she had built around him. It was like he could tear them all down with one sentence. She chewed on the inside of her lip nervously as he spoke and the butterflies in her stomach burst to life once more and she was sure that they would never settle again. Just knowing that he wanted to protect her, knowing that he might be affected by losing her made her feel something she had never felt before. Yet, that was nothing compared to what came next.
While this was not the first time their lips had connected, it certainly [i felt] like the first time. While there had been a desire back then, this time allowed a completely different kind of emotion to swim over her and she wanted the kiss to last forever. So it was not surprising to Lillian that she found it disappointing that it lasted only a few seconds. She watched as his eyes changed, almost as though he was terrified about how she might react to him kissing her. If he had kissed her a week ago she might and chastised him for it but things were different now. Yet, Lillian was so unsure about his motivations for kissing her but she would not ask him about that now. Instead she allowed a smile to dance upon her lips and she moved her hand from its resting place on his cheek and pointed towards his eyes. “You broke your promise Lester.” It was all she could do to stop herself from kissing him again. She might have done if she thought that it meant anything to him but she was still so unsure.
Frederick had expected some sharp response to his egotistical boast that he was handsome despite the lack of sleep. When Lillian spoke, her voice gentle holding little of the clever wit she normally retaliated with, Frederick felt his resolve breaking. The walls that he had built with her were falling down quicker than he cared to admit. It was far from true. Lillian had been so disgusted at the thought of sharing a bed that she had slept on the floor and resistant to the idea of being his fake-wife that they had argued more than once. If she did think him handsome then it was outweighed by her repulsion towards his personality. Still, though the words felt as though they held little truth, Freddie drank up the compliment.
It was difficult with his eyes closed to know where she was and it was only when he felt her hand move to rest upon his cheek that he realised how near they were. She would feel the rising heat on his face but at that moment Frederick did not care. How could he be embarrassed when his entire being was now feeling something so much stronger? Freddie felt his heart skip and his breath catch in his throat as she spoke. There was nothing teasing in her tone and her admission that she would willingly put herself in harm's way for him made the skin on his arms tingle and fire rise up his back.
Frederick didn’t care that he broke his promise. Her words had struck his heart and he would happily pay the price later on. All that mattered was the need to see her, to look into her eyes and see if the honesty in her words was reflected there. Keeping his hands on the dress, to stop himself from reaching for her, he opened his eyes, almost pulling away when he saw how close they were. If it were not for her hand on his cheek he would have moved but his desire to keep her there was stronger.
“Don’t say that.” He whispered, not wanting to speak too loudly in fear that the moment would shatter. “I’m not sure my heart could take it if you got hurt again. I would keep you in this room with me forever if I thought it would keep you safe.” Frederick kept his gaze locked with hers, almost forgetting that she was practically undressed in front of him.
Everything in his mind screamed at him to move, to pull away and leave the room. Running was the easiest option. The sane part of him was telling him that Lillian didn’t feel as he did, that she was merely thankful for his help, he shouldn’t have come back and he certainly shouldn’t be planning on doing what he was. It didn’t matter. His body moved of its own accord before he had time to register what was happening. Frederick only had to move an inch forward before he was close enough. His lips pressed to hers for only a few seconds, barely a kiss, before he pulled back, fear filling his eyes. Still, he didn’t move. Frederick sat there, heart racing so quickly he felt as though he couldn’t catch his breath. He opened his mouth to say something, to apologise or lie about why he had kissed her but nothing came out. He just remained sitting there waiting for the retribution that Lillian would surely unleash for him taking advantage of her.
The feeling of wanting him to touch her was overwhelming but she knew that if she acted upon this now, things would never be the same and she could not guarantee that he would not change towards her if she gave on to her desires. Her feelings were a lot more than just a physical attraction to him and she knew just how many women Frederick had spent his nights with and the last thing she wanted was to become just another one of those women but she was convinced that there would never be anything else with him so she would push the feelings aside.
If she had the courage she might have told him how she felt there and then but now was not the time, especially since she was being stripped down by him. Instead she kept her feelings to herself and they continued working together to remove the material, accepting the fact that his hands were likely to find themselves in places she was not used to having a man’s hand. Each time that happened her breath caught in her throat but she worked her way through it, just as he did and still his promise was being upheld. That was until he actually needed to open his eyes to remove the final bit of material but he kept his gaze strictly to her legs and they did not wander.
As he reached for the dress, Lillian nodded towards him and smiled at the way he closed his eyes once more and she moved slightly so that she could slip her arms through the dress. As she did so, her hands grazed his arm gently. It might have been easy to ignore their closeness if it hadn’t been for the fact that Frederick had resumed his normal teasing nature and rather than responding with her usual sass she opted for a different route. “Actually, I’m not sure that anything can ever take away from how handsome you are.” She said softly as she pulled her head through the nightdress for it to come out next to his. Close enough that she could feel his breath warm against her face.
She bit her lip softly and allowed her hand to reach out for his face and her hand rested upon his cheek for a moment. “I would do it again you know. I would never have allowed him to hurt you.” Her words were serious but her tone was soft and they obviously had an underlying meaning to them, whether he would detect that or not, she was unsure.
Almost all the turmoil that he was feeling disappeared the moment she covered her mouth, failing to conceal her innocent laughs. Frederick watched as the smile dropped from her face and a blush took over her cheeks. He wanted to reach out, to touch the pink that coloured the soft ivory skin but doing so would lead to something he wasn’t emotionally ready for and Lillian certainly wouldn’t be smiling anymore if he carried out any of the thousand wicked thoughts that were circling his mind.
Fredericks' heart stopped beating for a long second whilst she spoke his name as if she was about to say something only to feel the sink of disappointment as she sighed and proceeded to tell him to work quickly so that he could sleep. Frederick proceeded to close his eyes again, squeezing them tightly, and dropped his hand. Once again, he reached out for the fabric of the dress, gripping hold as best he could without touching her.
It wasn’t easy to do, the material kept getting stuck underneath her but Freddie bit down on his tongue, counting slowly in his head to distract himself from the parts of her body he kept touching and slowly inched the material down. Only days ago, he would have relished at the task of undressing her, it was only now that he was aware of his feelings, of the need he felt for her, that made it so difficult to stick to the task at hand without letting his mind – or hands – wander.
Finally, the material pulled out from under her and Freddie slipped it down her legs, only opening his eyes finally as it got wrapped around her knees. Sliding his hand underneath her knee, Frederick lifted her leg, untangling the material that caught there and finally pulled it down and off her feet. Keeping his eyes on her ankles, Frederick dropped the bottom part of the dress off the end of the bed and reached over to grab the clean nightdress.
“Last bit, kitten.” He said softly, shaking the night dress out so that he could help her get her arms into the slip. Sighing he drew in a long breath, closing his eyes again before he turned towards her. He held the dress out for her to slip her arms in and scooted closer, so she wouldn’t have to reach out far enough to hurt her wound. “Arms in first then I’ll put it over your head. Soon we’ll be done with all this.” Frederick said. “You need to stop worrying about me and get some rest yourself. You’re the one that had a hole in you only hours ago. Plus, despite how tired I am I’m still handsome right?”
Lillian flashed her eyes in his direction as the dress fell to the floor beside them, noticing that he had kept his promise the entire time. It caused her lips to turn up into a smile, particularly as his fingers traced her hips as it tried to find the material of her dress. She should have taken his hands and guided him there, it would have been easier for the both of them but that thought didn’t cross her mind until it was too late. He did a good job of trying to move the material but at some point his hand found her hips as he helped her move so he could release the material from underneath her.
Her breath hitched in her throat and she was sure she would need to drink an entire bottle of water just to stop her throat from drying out again. Had his hands moved lower her breathing grew faster until he eventually pulled back, far too embarrassed to continue. She cleared her throat and shook her head although he couldn’t see her doing it. “There is not other way if I need to get out of this dress. We both knew it was going to be difficult.” She said with a half laugh. “Please don’t worry about it.” She said as she reached out to move his hand but decided against it.
There was no way for her to explain how she felt in this moment. While they had kissed before and close to becoming intimate phone the moment they met, this was different. She sighed deeply and tried to control her breathing until Frederick peeked through his fingers. While she was in fact in pain, she allowed it all to melt away when she saw the way he looked, like a child playing hide and seek. She brought her hand up to her lips as she held back a laugh and shook her head, listening to every word he said. She blushed slightly and her smile melted away, replaced with something more serious.
“Frederick, I...” She sighed and thought for a moment, deciding against what she was going to say and looked down at the dress. “Come on the quicker we get this sorted the quicker you can get some sleep. You look really tired and you need rest.”
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