but her eyes trapped the sea historical romance / mystery
“James, please,” Her hand catches his wrist as he turns to leave and for a moment he is caught in all of the emotions of the world - he can feel the love in his chest swell to a point of pain before it boils over into misery, the agony of seeing the tears on her tender face, and the regret already that lingers in his core. “James.” She says his name not as a title, but as if it’s the last thing holding her and he can’t stand it. “I can’t do this without you. Please.” Her voice cracks and he can’t turn away from her now.
Instead, he turns to her and captures her face in his hands. Every time they kiss there is no such thing as time. Every time they kiss his eyes close and he sees the sun framed behind her golden hair and the way she looked in that moment. He remembers her hitched breathing as she tore through her dresses and eased her corsets from her body, nearly collapsing down onto him. He sees her tender tears and her eyes -- god, he sees her eyes everywhere.
He can’t linger in this moment. “Annalise,” He breathes her name against her lips, a dagger that digs into his heart, “I can’t. You know I can’t.” Her hands touch him as if she could just grab the right piece of him and he would be anchored here to her forever, but she has touched his soul and he knows that there is no other shore to return to but her. “Please, you can, you can… I need you, James. I can’t do this,” She is begging and it’s too much. He can’t kiss her again, so his arms wrap around her and he holds her against his chest.
She trembles like a frightened animal and he kisses her hair.
“Close your eyes, Annalise,” He whispers as his arms unfold from around her, “Close your eyes. Remember what I taught you.” He’s let go of her but his mouth is by her ear and she can feel his breath on her neck, “Remember the stars. They’re our stars, right? I can’t get lost if I follow our stars. I’ll come home. I promise.” He cups her face again, because he wants to remember the way her cheeks feel against his hands. She feels soft, almost too tender to touch with his calloused and rough palms. “They’re our stars. They’ll bring me home.”
She paints them in her head, and it kills him as he releases her face. He doesn’t give her a chance to grab him again because now if he sees her cry, he won’t be able to leave. If he feels her pull him in again she will be the rip current that makes him forever lost at sea. She isn’t the sea -- she is the ground he kisses when he’s been tossed in the swells.
She stays at the top of the hill as he runs from her, runs from everything his life should have been and everything he wanted to be. He runs, because she’s safer this way. It’s only once he’s pushed his boat out past the breaking waves and started to paddle hard against them that he looks back. From this distance, he couldn’t see her face and the way the tears made her porcelain seem polished. He couldn’t see the seas trapped in her eyes and the way she looked at him as if he were the vast endless horizon. He saw her as she was - a girl whose heart was breaking, shoulders slumped as the breeze gently tossed her summer dress. He saw his lighthouse.
It was the last time he saw her alive.
The East India Trading Company was known throughout the known world as easily the top suppliers of spices, goods, and occasionally even slaves to the Colonies. A close second had swiftly become Whitley Trading Company, founded by John Whitley and his wife Angeline. It was a shame, a true shame, that John Whitley had never fathered a son, but instead a blessing was given in the form of an angel.
From his failing marriage, John had produced a daughter that was easily the treasure of his life - golden hair that fell to her waist in gentle curls, large blue eyes, and porcelain skin. She was as tender a flower as she had appeared, all due to good raising he would tell anyone that cared to listen, and the most expensive item he’d ever sold.
He stood at the Proposal Party as the head of the company, his wine glass in hand and his fine robes draped casually across his shoulders.
“Ladies! Gentlemen! I would like to propose a toast! Today we gather to honor the merger of Whitley Trading Company and Asby Goods. From Asby Goods, my Trading Company will receive 4 ships in fine condition and the crew to go with them. As a sign of our good faith and my belief that this is a very upstanding man, I have agreed,” He turned now, offering out an arm for his daughter to step forth. For this occasion, her father had dressed in her finest dress, her corsets cinched tight and her cheeks rosy, “To allow him the honor of taking my daughter’s hand in marriage. A toast! To a happy marriage, and eve happier trading!”
The applause sounded like thunder. Annalise was an actor and she knew that this was her part now to smile, so she offered a tight and small twist of her lips in the upward direction and did her best to appear… Happy.
That could not be further from the truth. Though Cody Asby had earned a fortune in the trading business, he had long since been a man that would have made him seem marketable as a husband. His appearance had gone downhill in the later years, his hair greasy and brushed back against his head and his mouth vaguely smelled as if he’d been recently licking a donkey’s backside.
What a lovely future husband.
Annalise looked at him and all she saw was the years of misery that lay before her. She imagined her wedding night, with him crawling on top of her and kissing her with his mouth full of rotten teeth and touching her with his tobacco-stained hands. Her stomach rolled and her already tight chest caught. “Excuse me,” She gasped her way politely through the crowd and out the open doors, scurrying through the people talking outside. Air. She needed air.
The moment she was out of sight of the party her hands become desperate on her dresses, tugging them open as she hurried still away from them. The grass was breaking now into sandy dunes, and just ahead the rocks that lined a small lagoon. It was private enough she wouldn’t be found, and quiet enough she could listen to the water break against the beach and wish that she was pulled out to sea with the sand.
She pulled her corset loose and gasped air as she jumped onto the rocks. Slid was likely more accurate, as her footing became loose and finally gave way. She had no time to grab the grass before she felt the world tilt and her go with it, heading surely for a surprise dip into the water. A quick yelp escaped her before she realized that she wasn’t wet, though she had landed on something… Surprising.
Her hands uncovered her face slow, wide eyes meeting the equally surprised ones of a man. There was a moment in which they both stared, incredulous at the other and for a moment she felt something flutter. He stared at her with an intensity she had never felt before and his eyes… they reminded her of tea freshly brewed, or even chocolate that she was sometimes allowed to eat, but he looked at her in a way that made her stomach roll anew. She was gasping still too hard to thank him, so he spoke instead.
“I’m more used to women gasping after I’ve taken their clothes off.” It slid from his mouth charmingly, and his grin was wicked as the devil, but she was too shocked to register it. Her gasping for air turned to gasping at his audacity and there was no time to think - only reaction.
She slapped him.
There was no time for her to register her shock, no time for anything as she dove out of his arms, hitching her dress up high enough that it wouldn’t get but so wet as she splashed her way back to shore. He stood in the waters up to his knees still, net abandoned at his side as he watched this gasping loon run away from him. His cheek stung. But even running from him she was easily the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
He watched her as she hit the sand finally and ran just past the rocks, only then turning back to look at him. Both of them were struck by the other. Only she had a party to return to.
He couldn’t let her just leave, but he didn’t have the elegance to get a woman like her to return. He offered the only thing he had - ”I’m James, by the way!”
She’d stopped again, hesitating though she knew that she shouldn’t. Her father was waiting. Even more importantly, her fiance was waiting.
They could wait… For just a second.
She hadn’t the slightest idea how long she had been sitting here, but her tea was cold. The cup still lay cradled in her hands gently as if it were a bird, bits of leaves still drifting slow across the surface. Typically, she would have put cream in her milk but there was something… Soothing about the color of black tea.
Her eyes closed a for a moment she wasn’t thinking about the tea. She was thinking of the last glimpse she’d had of him. Knee-deep in water with his black breeches rolled up to his thighs and nets forgotten in the water, he’d stood there watching her as she made a grand escape back to the life of restricted breathing and even more restricted words, her cheeks red with shame as she laced her corsets proper again.
He lingered in her mind’s eye even when her eyes opened. How soothing could tea be when it reminded her of him? How could she find solace in her place of peace when what was typically her favorite view became the image of him? She had loved this window since she was a child, as it had the perfect view of the docks and the wide expanse of the sea. On good days, she liked to watch the sails as the wind took them and imagined that they were clouds taking men away into another land. Today, she wondered if he was on one of the ships leaving port.
It was crazy, true insanity, for her to think of trying to find him. What, even, would she say if she did?
To love is to be insane.
She knew this in her soul even as she smoothed her skirts and left her home, her tea abandoned in the windowsill. Annalise had a different tea in her mind that she wanted to see.
She was almost sure that she would find that he had left days ago, or that he had been a piece of her imagination. She expected that he wouldn’t even remember her. She didn’t expect to see him seated at the end of the docks, breeches rolled up once again beyond his knees with his feet in the cool, lapping waves. He didn’t even turn to look at her as she approached, her heels announcing her presence to the man.
He spoke first.
“I didn’t think I’d see you again.” He commented, a light jest in his voice as he swirled a bit of water around his leg. “Come, join me. Annalise, was it?” He patted the spot next to him and kept his eyes out at the sea. Like all sailors, he never quite felt easy on land. The sea called him in ways that he could never accurately described but as she lowered herself down onto the docks next to him, he wasn’t so sure that he wanted to be away from here.
He watched her from the corner of his eye as she lifted her skirts and set her heels aside, her dainty feet dipping hesitantly into the water. For spring, it was delightfully cool compared to the already quite warm air.
“I came to apologize.” She stated after a moment, “It was very untoward of me to strike you.” He laughed, because it was possibly the silliest thing he’d heard someone apologize for. “I deserved it, twice over.” He admitted, offering her a wink. “I’d do it again any day.”
Her heart was racing in her chest and she found her cheeks growing hot from his flirtatious personality, but she couldn’t help to crack a smile at him. “Thank you then, I suppose.” She offered, following his gaze to look at where the sky met the sea. Her father had told her stories that the sky and sea were lovers that kissed on every horizon. It had made her smile as a child and she couldn’t resist the urge for her lips to curve slightly upward. She wished for the days of when her father used to believe in love and romance, had told her stories of princesses and dragons. She was old enough to know those were just stories, but she always hoped the love was true enough to be reality.
There is an oddly comfortable silence between them, and she has the urge to reach over to take his hand. Instead, she breaks the silence.
“What’s your story, sailor?”
The light smile on his face hesitates, but he doesn’t let it falter too much. It turns into a harder and more grim one and she can see that he is fighting with what to say for a moment. She wants to take the question back, but he speaks before she has the chance to find words.
“I was raised by the sea. It was always meant to be, you know? My mother passed birthing me on a trip to the new world and my father… The old bastard didn’t have the heart to raise anything more than the mast between his legs -- sorry,” He offered her an apologetic smile at his crude humor before continuing, “No one took me in, so… They all did. I didn’t have parents as much as ship mates. They taught me to tie a knot before I could tie my shoes. I took my first steps on a deck. The waves rocked me to sleep at night. I earned my keep when I was old enough to work.”
Even with how her life had become, she couldn't imagine a childhood so rough as to not have parents to lean on or a place to always call home. She had lived in luxury compared to his chaos.
“They did their best, but they were just sailors. I turned out alright, I think.”
There are no words for learning such intimate details about someone, nothing that is immediately apparent that could fix a past of hardships and labor. So instead, she watches what he doesn't say, with the comfortable way he sits next to her and the lack of stress in his face. It's only now she sees something new about him - a scar. It's small, located on his jaw and shaped like a small 'c'. Her lips curve into a small smile and she reaches out, her sudden touch making his lax shoulders go stiff as she traces the outline.
“Where'd you get this?” She asks, softly, as she traces it again. It's almost like a sliver of the moon, but all soft edges. There's a long silence, but he turns his head the other way to show a matching one on the other side. “Oh, it's awful risky business kissing mermaids.” He jokes, a mischievous smile dancing to his lips. It's infectious.
Her finger trails down his jaw slowly and she lets it trace down over his adam's apple and down to the dip in his neck, where another scar lays. It's larger than the other two, and makes the dip more prominent than most people's. She lets her finger trace around the rough edges, eyes looking up to meet his. Looking in his eyes is like drinking a cup of warm tea - they're calming and warm and make her feel full inside. “And this one?”
“Oh, pirates? Very risky.”
“Yeah... And so is this.”
It's his turn now for sudden touch, his hand reaching up to grasp her by the back of the neck, drawing her in to him tenderly as his lips find hers. He kisses her - softly, and briefly, but it's a moment that lingers and for just a brief moment there is nothing else. It's better than a mermaid's kiss. He lets her go, hand lingering on the back of her neck, eyes searching hers to try and discern her thoughts.
“You're not going to hit me again, are you?”
Off-guard and completely unprepared, the only thought she could scramble together in her suddenly spinning mind was that his lips tasted like the sea. Soft but salty, the kiss was short-lived and left her the same way he always seemed to leave her - confused and yet craving more. Her lips curved slow into a soft smile at his half-joked words.
“I won’t slap you.” She murmured soft as her hands moved up to touch the collar of his shirt. He thought for a moment she would be the one to lean in and kiss him again. Instead, her hands applied sudden pressure and he found himself yelping out in surprise, her laughter ringing in his ears as she kicked water into his face. He shook his hair from his face and spat water out, treading water as she tried to gather herself once again.
“No, please. Continue laughing.” He said dryly as she held her aching sides, attempting to stifle her laughter with her other hand.
“I-I can’t stop!” She cried softly, her eyes watering, “You look like a wet dog!”
He cracked a hint of a smile, holding it back though he wanted to chuckle. Instead, he grabbed her ankle, “A wet dog?” He yanked hard, grinning wickedly as she came down with a large splash. She rose from the depths with a look of mixed shock and quiet laughter, her hair a mess around her face. “Who looks like a dog now?” He grinned as he brushed her hair away from her face, her lips finally cracking open as she burst again into laughter.
“I… You’re a strange one, sailor.” She said finally as she caught her breath, looking down at her dress in the hip-deep water. The dress may as well be ruined and she would have to explain a lot about why she was sopping wet when she returned home, but that would be a time for excuses later. The moment was too good for her to even think about leaving and he… Well, he was a sailor stuck on shore
“What is your aim, sailor?” She asked finally, a biting question that had been nagging her from the moment they’d met. Sure, he’d been an innocent bystander of sorts to begin with but he’d been undeniably staring at her as she’d run from him. Anyone would have stared at someone that looked as utterly insane as she did, but there was… Something in those eyes that made her take pause every time she looked into them.
“Well obviously, I wanted to dip you in the sea and see if you’d look just as beautiful as the last time.” It was a smoothly-delivered flirt and it worked well enough to turn her cheeks pink, her lips pressing together.
“I’m being honest.”
“Are you, though?”
He took pause, then let out a soft sigh. “I don’t have an aim.” He admitted, closing the space between them. “I just feel drawn to you. You… You feel like a rip current but you aren’t pulling me out to sea. Anything but, actually.” He captured a bit of her hair and twirled it around his finger, “I’ve never seen anyone as lovely as you. I kind of wanted to know if you were just as beautiful on the inside.”
He’d taken her words again, but this time he knew she wouldn’t slap him. He felt compelled to try and steal another kiss, but instead he offered her his hand.
“I don’t think we can go back the way we came. Do you trust me?”
Annalise stared at his hand for a moment before looking back at the docks. They were just out of view and she knew he was right. Both of them were soaked to the bone and it would raise too many questions for them to return to shore like this.
There was a good kind of nervous pumping through her veins when she took his hand, letting him lead her through the shallows and around the ships. Just as he was an expert with nets and rope, it was obvious he knew the sea. His feet found secure holds in the sand even when waist-deep and she laughed as he tugged her through the gentle swells. The spot he took her was familiar - it was where they’d met.
The area was small and offered a tiny beach that was a mix of rocks and sand. He let go of her hand and pulled himself onto the rocks, offering it back out. She weighed more than the barrels when wet and he didn’t expect that, but it made him laugh just a bit as he hauled her up onto the flat rock he’d chosen.
He stripped out of his wet shirt and wrung it out, laying it out on the rock beside them. “Do you mind?” He asked casually as he stripped from his breeches and saw her eyes suddenly dart away, a curious note to his voice. He’d been raised around men who stripped in front of any and everyone, his head tilting as he saw just how much his nearly-naked body flustered her.
“I...I have never seen a man… Um. Nude.” She admitted, feeling compelled to keep her eyes politely averted though he showed no signs of shame as he wrung out his pants and set them aside.
“Well, it’s probably a good thing I’m not nude then.” He teased, taking a seat next to her. It was silent for a moment before he touched her chin, gently bringing her to look at him. “I’m not. See?” He gestured to his underlinens, giving her a smile.
Annalise was timid but she smiled back after a moment, staring down at her dripping dress. She moved slow to remove it, tugging it down over her body. “Hey, no, you don’t have to--”
“It’s okay.” She interrupted him before he could protest, gesturing to her own underlinens. Her dress was heavy anyways and if she wore it while it was still full of water she would never get dry. She mimiced the way he’d wrung out his clothing and set her dress out next to his outfit, sitting back down next to him.
He took this time to notice her -- truly notice her -- and the way that she was. Her body was full of curves that every man would have loved, her shoulders surprisingly sprinkled with freckles. Her skin reminded him of a doll’s from how soft it was and he wanted so desperately to touch her. Unlike him, she wasn’t covered in scars and calluses and bruises. She was wholesome and modest in ways that he wasn’t.
“So,” His eyes darted back to her face when she started speaking and he was thankful to see that she’d been staring out at the waves, “Kissing mermaids?” She asked, glancing at him with a half-smile. “I think you’re telling me tall tales, James.”
“Oh, not tall at all. Very little tales.” His hand moved to his scar on his jaw and he traced it with a finger, “I got my head caught when I was a lad. Nearly pulled my jaw off.” His hand moved to the base of his throat, “And this is a fishing accident. Stray hook nearly gave me a new hole to breathe with.”
She shook her head. “I liked the mermaid version much better.”
“Well, can’t have you thinking I kiss just everyone, now can I?”
“Hm. My father did warn me about you sailors.”
“Did he now? And what did he say?”
“Sailors are a rough bunch, you know. No place to call home besides a port. Drink like fish when they’re here and do nothing but rob pockets and swoon away young women to bed them for just a night. Everyone knows that sailors only love the sea.”
He shook his head and laughed, “That sounds half accurate.” He admitted, “But he left out we only go swimming with bow-legged women,” She shoved his shoulder and he grinned.
“Why don’t you tell me more about sailors, then?” She asked, reaching out hesitantly and letting her fingers trace slow down his arm. Goosebumps rose on his skin and he fought a shiver, his eyes moving from her soft and pale hand up to her face.
“Well…” He placed his hand over hers so it wouldn’t distract him, “We do drink. But we have a home. Our ship is our home. When we dock, there are some men that are… More lusty than others. We don’t typically steal. Or get too much more rowdy than the common man.” He paused then and his eyes moved from her face, looking out at the ocean.
She could see the way he looked at it, with a softness that was unlike anything else. His lips curled at the corners and his face was gentle and eased, removing the stress that wrinkled his forehead and made his mouth curve downward.
“Ah, but the sea…” He was quiet for a moment more, “The sea calls us more than any home. We… I stay awake some nights just to watch the stars. When you are out on the ocean there’s nothing but black and those stars... “ He sighed softly and his eyes were distant for a moment.
He came back when he felt her hand pull away.
“So sailors do only love the sea.”
His smile fell into a soft frown and he captured her hand again. “Most.”
He moved closer to her, drawing her in against his chest so that he could feel her tender body against his. She was stiff at first but melted against the warmth of his skin softly, head resting in the crook of his neck. He could feel her relax against him and she let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding.
He leaned her back again and captured her cheek in his rough hand, tracing down her jaw, “Your eyes remind me of the ocean. Mid-day when there’s no waves. Just calm and blue and pristine...” He tilted her head to the side and leaned down to kiss her shoulder, “And look here.” He slid his finger across her freckled shoulders and smiled when she shivered.
“Annalise, I dare say you have constellations in your skin.” He let his hand slide all the way down her arm to take her other hand, drawing both of them in against his chest. “I think… I think if a sailor were ever to love something other than the sea… He’d probably love someone like you….”
James is the kind of man that women write lofty and flowing poems about, with his dark and thick hair and his smooth words. He was so accidentally amazing that she could scarcely believe him to be true… It didn’t make sense for him to be real when everything else was tumbling down around her. So in the face of his beautifully spoken words and his soft touch, she found words that made sense.
“James,” She whispered his name and she wished that she was instead kissing him, letting his lips touch hers instead of regret dripping from her mouth, “You...You can’t love me.” He tilted his head and pulled back.
His mouth opened and he started to say something, but she stopped him and regretfully offered out her left hand, which was adorned with an extravagant ring. Gold, with a rather large emerald on it. “I… I’m engaged.”
“You seem… Enthused.” He did draw back, but he didn’t let go of her completely, letting his fingers trace the curve of her shoulder gently. “Tell me about him.” He was being polite enough to ask, but she was once again falling short as she realized… She knew hardly anything of him.
“Mister Asby is a wealthy man of trade. He’s been wed before and his ex-wife was a lovely woman that could cook, clean, and keep house as well as any other woman. My father has told me he will make a fine husband and I a fine wife.”
James nodded for a moment, then shook his head. “Arranged, then. And you know nothing of him.” He shook his head again and slid his hand down her arm, taking her hand. “I didn’t tell you that I could love your.. Betrothed. I said I could love you.” He stroked the back of her hand with his thumb, “I’d at least like the chance to try.”
He could see her hesitating still, but she smiled at him softly. “I… I’d like that, James.” She said, letting her fingers lace with his slowly. His other arm wrapped around her shoulders and pulled her close against him. Again, she leaned into him softly and he let out a soft sigh as her arms wrapped slow and tender. They grew hard, as if she feared he would run if she didn’t hold him with all of her might.
Soft and hardly there, he placed a series of gentle kisses on the top of her head in her hair.
Her shoulders shook and he realized that her face had turned wet against him.
“Annalise,” He tilted her head back and watched a tear slip free of her eyes, which she wiped away with shame. “Annalise, what’s there to cry for?”
She sniffed back her tears and shook her head, “It’s… It’s nothing.” He wiped what she missed and nestled her back against him.
“I’m okay with talking about nothing.” He said as she trembled against him again, crying in silence as she was too embarrassed to let him see her shame.
It took a few moments, but she did pull away, wiping at her wet cheeks until she had gathered herself enough to speak. “You’re right. I hardly know Mister Asby. I...I can’t stand him. But I can’t refuse.” He rubbed her back softly while she spoke, his casual smile turning to concern, “He’s a good businessman… But a terrible person. I… I fled from my own engagement party… And that is how I met you. I wasn’t joyous… I panicked. I realized I couldn’t do it and I just… I ran away. I don’t know what else to do.”
He nodded sympathetically, sighing as he turned his attention towards the sea. The day was already waning towards night and he knew that if they stayed much beyond nightfall that questions would be asked. “Then run away. Every chance you get. I can’t promise you a lifetime… But I can promise you tomorrow. And the day after. I promise to you next week, and the one to follow.”
His ship wasn’t set to leave for another few weeks and that would give him time to think things through properly, to learn more about her and to… To just be with her. He’d already become so comfortable with her so fast but there were still things he didn’t know, like her favorite flower and the way she enjoyed her morning tea… If she enjoyed tea at all… He wanted to remember every detail and whisper it to himself at night, to remember the way her skin feels against his hand.
“I’d like that.” Her sniffling had quieted and she had wiped away the rest of her tears, leaving her cheeks pink and her eyes still slightly red.
“So… We meet every chance we get. In private.” He tugged her close and kissed her shoulder, “You show me the stars,” He placed more kisses from her shoulder to her neck, following the constellations in her freckles, “And I’ll show you the sea.” He grinned at his own cleverness, enjoying her light laugh as his beard tickled her neck.
“I don’t think I could ever say no to that offer.”
Twenty-one days is the length of time it takes to break or make a habit. It had been twenty-one days and she was a habit that he hoped he never had to break. Their time together was brief but every moment he got with her was pressed into the recesses of his mind.
He knew that she liked roses - wild, not tended to. Her favorite color was purple, mostly because of the shade of thunder clouds when they were full of lightning. He knew she liked tea in the afternoons after she’d snacked and that she licked her spoon religiously after putting cream in her tea.
In turn, she had learned that his full name was James Patrick Thomas and that he was ticklish on his sides. He enjoyed the feeling of her hands through his hair. He looked best in white but she loved his brown shirts on him just as much. He enjoyed beer and the one time he’d been around her after drinking he’d fallen asleep in her arms.
Twenty-one days and the spot on the rocks had become ‘their spot’.
At midday the sun hit it just right to make it perfect to doze off. He lay with his body flat and his left arm bent at just the elbow so that it curled around her head and allowed him to play in her hair. Annalise had come to comfortable against his side, one arm around his middle and her head resting on his shoulder.
Their spot was perfect, not just because it was private away from everything else and the troubles of the world. It was where they both went to escape and where her eyes felt comfortable enough to close. He lifted his arm and slowly traced his finger down the center of her face, letting his fingertip linger on her lips before stopping on her chin.
“What do you think of the Florida country?” He asked suddenly, watching her stir from her half-asleep state.
“Florida?” Her eyes blinked up at him and he smiled, touching the tip of her nose again gently.
“Florida.” He smoothed down her eyebrows with the tip of his finger as he let the idea he’d been working on in his mind, “I’ve heard stories of the slaves making it to the Florida country just on foot… If they can make it with nothing but the clothes on their back and a direction… I think we can.” He saw the spot between her eyebrows wrinkle as she brought them together and he put his finger on her lips to stop her from protesting.
“Just think about it. Me and you on a beach. In the sun, like today. But it will be every day. Nothing to hide from. We could walk down the streets hand in hand… I can kiss you anytime… “ He leaned in and placed a soft one on her lips, trying to sway her over in the way that he knew would work on her.
She sighs softly against his lips, “James,” His name is poetry to her by now and she could whisper it all day. “Do you really think we could make it to the Florida country?” There was hope in her voice and it swelled in his chest. He cupped her cheek and kissed her lips, not brief this time but hard and like he meant it.
Annalise kissed him tender, always, as if her kisses were secrets that had to be whispered on his lips. He craved more of her. He pushed himself onto his side and cupped her as he kissed her again and again, pressing into her hands as she brought him in to her.
When he stopped they were both breathless, her eyes searching his as he smiled down at her. “Do I think we could make it?” He laughed, tracing her shoulders softly. “I have our stars to guide me. I could make it anywhere.” He whispered, his lips brushing hers.
There were tears in her eyes as he kissed her this time, and when she cried he knew it wasn’t from a point of sadness. Her hands slid under his shirt and pulled it free from his breeches, sliding beneath it to move up his sides. He tensed but she tugged the shirt off of him, bringing him back down to her lips.
Her kissing had changed suddenly and drastically from soft to needy and he followed suit, letting his hands push her skirts up. James pulled away from her lips and kissed instead her cheeks, following her jaw and down her neck to her shoulders, his rough hands moving slow up her inner thighs. She tilted her head to the side and let out a soft noise as her hands tugged his breeches, her body arching up against him.
“[James,” His name is soft from her lips and he kisses it away from her mouth, letting her press her secrets into him as she pulls his underlinens away from his body. They’d held back before in moments of passion, had toed a line but had never crossed it.
She’d seen him naked, had felt the way his body was against her own but she hadn’t been ready for him, had been stuck in her own reservations. Reservations be damned, she needed him now in ways she couldn’t say. Instead, she used her body to say it, her hips pressing up against him and her hands stroking him slowly.
He moved against her tenderly, kissing her neck as he spread her legs slowly. He could feel himself positioned against her and it would have been easy to press himself into her folds, but he hesitated, pausing in his kissing to stare down at her. She was lovely, every bit as tender as the flowers that she loved so dearly.
“Are you sure that this is what you want? … That I am what you want?” He asked, watching her eyes move over his face slowly. Her fingers trace his face, moving over his thick eyebrows and down his jaw slowly, tracing the scar on his jaw and the one at the base of his neck.
“You’re everything that I want. Today. Tomorrow. Next week. The wee--” He stopped her with a kiss, his lips pressing against hers and silencing her words and the soft moan as he presses himself inside of her.
His stomach tenses as he feels her body grow tight around him, a soft noise coming from in her throat. She was a virgin, and he knew, so he moved slow. He peppers her face with kisses as he works his hips on her gently, enjoying the feel of her warmth around him as he groans gently, feeling her hips slowly rise up to meet his.
Her temporary pain turns into soft sighs as the pain of lost innocence subsides and is left instead with desire. Annalise presses up against him, her arms wrapping around him as she closes her eyes and relishes the feel of him. The slow and tender lovemaking takes on a faster pace and he grabs her hips, groaning against her neck as he thrusts his cock into her again and again. Her hands grasp the bare skin of his back and she gasps as she feels her orgasm coming closer, her lips pressing into his skin as she moans and bucks up against him.
Her walls grasp his cock tight and he lets out a soft grunt as he presses himself into her one more time, elbows resting on the warm rock as he feels his seed spill into her. Her lips are soft like butterfly wings against his skin now as they both lay breathless, his body rolling off of her and eyes closing as he holds her against his side.
James rests an arm over his eyes and he sighs, breathing heavy as he strokes her hair again just as before.
She rolls back onto his chest as he pulls his breeches back up, leaving his shirt untucked. Her hands slides beneath it to rub his stomach slowly, tickling it so gently with her fingertips.