Enchanted Twelve: Aurelia Ch. 01byMagicaPractica©
Author's Note: There is no sex in this chapter, but I hope the titillation provided in chapters 1 and 2 will carry you through to the climax in chapter 3.
Aurelia smiled up at Prince Colin as they passed in the dance, touching lightly, bobbing the blue feathers of her mask in his direction. He smiled back and inclined his shaggy brown head toward her, the upper part of his face hidden behind a golden mask. Prince Colin was a burly knight with longish brown hair and a beard. He reminded Aurelia sometimes of a stuffed bear she had hugged to pieces as a child.
She had not been best pleased when she had ended up with him though. She had thought to be paired with the smoothly good-looking genteel man her sister was dancing with. It was a trifle awkward at first. The other man had been flirting outrageously with her then been called away by another and, when Aurelia had turned around, she saw him getting into a boat with her twin sister, Ariel. Which left Aurelia on the shore with only a few princes left.
When Prince Colin had approached her, she simply sighed and went with him. Now, she knew that it had been just as well. She had since heard the other prince was a true rogue. She likely would not have been able to resist him, but Ariel was safe. She was strong of mind, steady and, most of all, chaste.
Aurelia could not quite claim the same. Her maidenhead was still intact, but she had been more curious and far less reserved than her twin sister. There had been that skinny-dipping incident with the sheriff's son. Aurelia felt warmth touch her cheeks that had nothing to do with the exertion of the dance.
She had been a rough and wild child who grew into a wild young woman. The boys she had run with had also grown up and they had been as curious as she. She had touched and teased with some boys, but only ones her age where she could stay in control. She had stayed away from the older men whose eyes appraised her figure as she walked through her father's hall.
The music ended and Aurelia moved to the edge of the dance floor where Colin found her looking around the spacious keep hall where the masked dance was being held. Huge fireplaces at either end of the room blazed with whole logs and sconces along the walls held oil reserves and wicks that lit the hall.
"Looking for someone?" Colin asked.
"My twin sister," she explained, scanning the throng around them. Ariel was wearing a rose-colored dress and mask.
"Your twin? I did not realize you had a twin?" Colin looked around the room, as if to spy some amazing phenomenon.
"My sister, Ariel. You met her last night." Aurelia looked at him in confusion.
"I knew that she was your sister but I did not realize she was a twin. You do look quite a bit alike I suppose, but she is clearly not you. I suppose that is the way with some twins."
Aurelia looked at him quizzically. Was he being serious? She looked exactly like Ariel. Everyone said so! Even her own parents could barely tell them apart. Though she loved her dearly, Aurelia had spent her whole life trying to be different from her sister. She wanted to be her own person. Everything she had done in her life practically yelled, "look at me!!!"
Aurelia watched his face. He was being serious. Of course, he usually was. He was the very definition of valor and honor but he did not say things in jest very often.
That was the moment Aurelia really saw him for the first time. He really was quite handsome, someone she could hold on to, solid and real, an anchor to her rocking and rolling on uncharted waters. The kindness in his face overwhelmed her. He looked at her and she beamed. Bemused, he smiled back.
She took his arm and steered him toward a doorway. "Let us stroll in the garden, Prince Colin."
"But... your sister?" he asked, though he did not resist her pull. He could resist Aurelia practically nothing. From the first night, he had known he loved her flighty and impulsive soul.
"I am quite sure she is capable of seeing to her own needs." Aurelia led him from the room.
In the garden, Aurelia led Colin into the maze and several turns to the left and right before she faced him, smiling. She stepped forward and put her arms around his neck. His eyes softened and he leaned down to kiss her gently, lingering on her sweet lips. He started to pull back but Aurelia clung to him, kissing him back more ferociously now. They had kissed before but she wanted more and, who better than a man who saw her as the unique person she had always believed she was? She slid her tongue past his lips and into his mouth, offering him her sweet, hot mouth for plundering.
Prince Colin was overwhelmed by the assault on his senses, but gradually his mind returned to him. He took hold of Aurelia's arms and gently set her back away from him. "Aurelia, what are you playing at?" he asked reproachfully. "It is unkind to tease a man so."
Aurelia's pretty mouth turned down in an equally pretty pout. "I was not teasing, my Lord. Truly, you may have anything of me you wish, anything at all. I would give you rights no other has ever had where my body is concerned."
She looked up at him from beneath her eyelashes as she pressed herself once more into his arms. Colin held her but shook his head at her.
"Aurelia, you are truly a treasure, one that I intend to win for all times. I will not do more than kiss you until I know you will be my wife."
Aurelia felt vexation threaten to overwhelm her. "I am offering you something other men would beg for, and you say no?"
"I say... not yet. Aurelia, you are so impetuous and though I love that about you, in this instance I feel the need to protect you from it. What if you became with child? We will not make love until you agree to be my wife."
Aurelia pushed away from him. "I have no intention of becoming some man's brood mare, my Lord. If that is what you wish, you will have to look elsewhere."
Prince Colin watched her go sadly as Aurelia turned and stalked off through the maze. He would have to convince her that his love was true and he wanted more than a "brood mare." He looked around and suddenly realized he didn't know where Aurelia had led him. How was he supposed to get out of this maze?
Colin managed to find his way out of the maze in time to make it back to the boats. Aurelia was there, waiting to be rowed across, but received his greeting with an icy silence and hopped into the little boat unassisted. She would not thaw easily, he realized as he rowed. Nor would Colin give up easily. He had been through many a weary campaign and he would plan his strategy to woo her as carefully as any stratagem he had ever devised.