How to Tame a Dragon Ch. 06bytotallyatease©
She only agreed to do it as a favour to her sister -- but he more than made up for the inconvenience...
Izzy swivelled around to look at him, the panic burning bright in her eyes.
"But Daniel we can't!" she all but wailed at him.
"I'm not suggesting that we get naked and cuddle up together Izzy!" he aimed for exasperated but only managed to achieve regretful.
"Then what are you suggesting?" she whispered.
"That we both need to stay warm, and that this is the warmest spot in the house, so we are going to have to share... for tonight at least." He looked at her with dark serious eyes. "I give you my word Izzy; that I will not try to take advantage of this situation."
Izzy stared into those eyes for long minutes before nodding. "Thank you Daniel," she said softly.
Izzy's next awkward moment came when Daniel handed her a pair of thick towelling pyjamas. "These should help keep you warm," he murmured with a slight twist to his lips. "And it'd be a good idea to keep your socks on."
Izzy walked over to a more shadowy part of the room. She undressed quickly, shivering as she did so; as soon as she had moved from the warmth of the fire, she felt the chill of the house. She pulled on the pyjamas and looked down in dismay. These could only belong to Daniel! She pulled on the jacket and folded up the sleeves as far as she could and then bent to fold up the excess length in the legs.
Daniel had changed into a matching pair of pyjamas, and had pulled the pillows and blankets onto the sofa; and then he lay down as for back into the cushions as he could get.
Izzy came back into the circle of light and he grinned; she looked like a little cute teddy bear. He pulled back the blanket, and held his hand out inviting. "Come and lie down Izzy," he ordered huskily.
She hesitated before curling up in front of him, and Daniel tugged the blanket over her and pulled her back into him, his arm lying heavy across her waist.
"Goodnight Izzy," he whispered softly into her hair.
Izzy lay for a long time, just listening to Daniel's even breathing. She lay staring at the flames flickering in the fire place, and gradually her eyes grew heavy and she drifted off to sleep.
Daniel woke to the feel of Izzy pressed up tight against him. His arm tensed around her for a second before relaxing again. She was still asleep, and as he moved slightly she whimpered softly; she stretched out suddenly and then turned to snuggle into him.
His reaction was swift and violent in its urgency!
He lay breathing, one, two, three and in, one two, three and out... he slowly restored himself to normality and was able to relax again...
Izzy stirred again and moved against him.
Daniel let out a soft groan as the blood rushed through him to thunder in his veins. "Ah Izzy!" he sighed into her hair.
Izzy stretched again and opened sleepy eyes. "Good morning Daniel," she murmured with a dreamy little smile. Her lashes drifted down to fan her cheeks and she seemed to be asleep again.
It was torture for Daniel lying there with Izzy, every time she moved it was like a bolt going straight through him. 'I give you my word Izzy; that I will not try to take advantage of this situation.' God how those words haunted him!
She had believed him, and trusted him when he had told her that; and now he had to keep on repeating it to himself, to stop him doing what he so desperately wanted to do.
The next time Izzy showed signs of stirring Daniel seized the opportunity to gently move her away a little, so that he could rise from the sofa; where he stood tall and proud in front of the fire.
Turning suddenly he surprised Izzy who was lying staring at him; her eyes bright with...
Half way through the morning, the power suddenly returned. One moment it was deathly quiet; and the next there was the faintest of clicks and the house was humming with life again. Gradually the chill left, and slowly it warmed up.
"Back to our own beds tonight!" Izzy said lightly, swallowing down the knot of disappointment in her gut.
Daniel looked across at her speculatively for a moment, before turning to finish stoking up the fire, which was what he'd been doing when Izzy had spoken.
She had tried to sound uncaring but he'd caught that slight wistfulness in her tone, and he remembered that look in her eyes this morning... just before he fled from her, and the temptation she represented. He gave a little grunt but didn't comment.
Izzy sat looking at him as he squatted down in front of the fire. He really was a good man, he'd promised not to take advantage and he hadn't.
Izzy was pretty naive when it came to men and relationships; her experience to date rated at a bit fat zero. It didn't however mean that she had been unaware of the effect she had had on Daniel, as they had lain together. Again she felt a little surge go through her that she could affect a man like Daniel in that way.
They sat facing each other at the kitchen table as they sipped the hot coffee she had brewed. "One more day I think and then everything should start getting back to normal," Daniel suddenly said.
"Tomorrow then?" Izzy asked quietly; she grinned suddenly at him. "I'd imagine that you'll be glad to get rid of me," she said only half joking.
Daniel looked at her sharply. "You'll be leaving?"
She shrugged. "I think it's time for me to go home, and start looking for another job," she said without much enthusiasm.
"Ah yes..." he murmured, "something about staff cutbacks?" he looked at her questioningly and she blushed guiltily.
"Okay... I admit it! I was a little bit less than truthful about that."
Daniel grinned at her discomfort. "Try -- out and out lied about it."
She looked away from him. "I'm sorry Daniel... for lying to you," she said softly.
He laughed, but didn't comment any further.
As the day wore on; the snow which had been coming down lazily on and off -- stopped, and showed no sign of wanting to start up again.
Izzy went to her bed that night feeling more than a little bit depressed.
There really was no reason for her to trespass on Daniel's hospitality any longer. She'd come to keep Jess company and Jess wasn't even here! Her convalescence seemed to have finally come to an end, and she felt almost normal again.
She curled up in her bed with a regretful sigh, and drifted off to sleep where she dreamt of course of Daniel...
When she got out of bed the next morning she went straight to her window.
The snow had completely gone, leaving everywhere looking very wet and clean.
She was just coming out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around her when Daniel knocked and entered.
"Good morning Daniel," Izzy said calmly. She marvelled that a couple of days ago this exact situation had caused her panic attacks, whereas now she didn't even flinch from him.
"I'm sorry for intruding Izzy," Daniel said quietly, turning his back to her discreetly, "but I wanted to have a word with you; without Mrs Coats eavesdropping."
"Oh? Has she made it in today then?"
"Yes, she and Rosie are downstairs in the kitchen..." he paused as if unsure of how to proceed. "The thing is... I think it might be a good idea -- not to mention our night on the sofa."
"If you think that that's the best thing; then I'm certainly not going to go around advertising the fact... However neither of us did anything we need to feel ashamed of; so I don't understand what your problem is?" she finished with a question.
Daniel gave a little sigh. "I'm thinking of making you a proposition; and I don't want people to get the wrong idea about it."
"Daniel! This is all so sudden! I don't know what to say... or think!" she said in a high pitched, squeaky voice; and her hand went to her heart in a dramatic fashion.
Daniel spun around to look at her, his face a picture of panic. "I didn't mean... I wasn't proposing marriage...I...!" he began in a strangled voice; before he saw the mischievous twinkle in her eye and the dimple in her cheek. "You bitch!" he half laughed in relief.
"Daniel!" she exclaimed in shock; but she gave a little chuckle, and Daniel backed away to the door.
"Maybe having this discussion here is not such a good idea..." he murmured. "I'll see you downstairs for breakfast in a bit."
He left her room closing the door quietly as he went.
Izzy shrugged still grinning to herself while she dressed. The morning suddenly seemed just full of possibilities and she hummed softly to herself as she moved around her bedroom.
They shared breakfast in an amicable fashion; and after a friendly good morning to Mrs Coats, refused to meet that lady's suspicious looks.
When Daniel left the table, Izzy deliberately remained to finish her coffee in a more leisurely manner.
"Alright Mrs Coats." She finally murmured "I can see that something is bothering you, so why don't you just say it?"
Mrs Coats dropped into the chair that Daniel had just vacated.
"I'm sorry miss, I don't like to intrude, but I have to ask... was everything alright? Mr Daniel didn't... he didn't...?" she trailed off.
"Mrs Coats!" Izzy exclaimed appalled that she could think of Daniel in that way. "You know Mr Daniel better than that!"
Mrs Coats looked away uncomfortably, "I don't mean no offence miss, but he is just a man and well..." she trailed off uncertain how to finish.
"He's not just a man! He's a very good man! And he would never take advantage in the way you seem to be implying!" Izzy said vehemently.
Daniel standing outside the dining room grinned to himself. 'Poor little Izzy! If only she knew how close she had to come to danger.' He shook his head wryly and went back the way he had come
Izzy left the dining room and wandered aimlessly around the downstairs. Daniel had wanted to talk to her, but he hadn't said where or when. She wasn't sure whether to seek him out, or wait for him to find her. In the end she opted for her favourite room in the house and went and hung out in the library.
Daniel found her there later that morning. He stood quietly watching, as she curled up in one of the chairs in his library, reading one of his books. He didn't move or speak, but something must have alerted her to his presence, because she looked up suddenly, and their eyes met in one unguarded moment.
"Daniel," she said softly, dreamily.
It coursed through him leaving him breathless. "Izzy, I need to talk to you," he finally managed brusquely.
Izzy blinked once and snapped the book shut. "That sounds a bit ominous?" she said cautiously.
Daniel looked at her quickly as he sat down facing her. She really was turning into a cheeky young woman. He thought with a touch of fondness, of the timid little girl perched on the edge of his sofa; trying her best to be invisible...
She grinned at him displaying that dimple, and he buried that other Izzy as a thing who would never come again.
He sighed regretfully, but found that deep down -- if he was honest with himself; that he preferred this Izzy -- who challenged and teased him.
"When are you planning on going home?" he had no idea where to start with this and picked that as an opener.
Izzy blinked again. The colour came into her cheeks briefly and left taking all the other colour with it.
She was a pale figure full of stress with two sapphires for her eyes as the only colour left. 'Maybe Mrs Coats had said something to Daniel... accused him outright -- and now he was blaming Izzy for the attack on his character... after all she wasn't the first person to doubt him when it came to Izzy...?'
"I was thinking of waiting for Jess to get back..." she began huskily. "But if you want me to leave sooner I'm sure I could be packed in the next, twenty minutes?" she asked hesitantly.
Daniel shook his head violently in frustration; and she leapt to her feet her eyes bright. "Give me five minutes!" she begged, "and then I'll be gone."
Daniel stood too, and pulled her to him. "Damn it Izzy... that's not what I meant!" he growled, lowering his mouth to hers. At the last moment he pulled back and pushed her away from him. "Izzy!" he ground out. "Please! Just sit down," he tried to moderate his voice lowering it to a more reasonable voice... and it seemed work.
Izzy sighed, and dropped back into her chair.
"The thing is Izzy..." Daniel tried again. "You have no job to go back to... and we here in this community... well we need someone with your skills..." he looked across at her, to see he had her full attention. "There are several small businesses around here; that are too small to employ a full time administrator/book keeper. Mr Reynolds, the man who used to do it before he got sick and subsequently left, well he left a lot of people in the lurch... including me."
She leaned forward, her interest sparked. "And you think that I could step in... and take over?"
"Yes I do," he told her quietly. "Mr Reynolds was a book keeper, and only a book keeper, anything else was... beneath him! But you Izzy!" his voice warmed. "These last few days you've done book keeping, filing, and even some typing for me." He smiled at her with gratitude. "If you were to offer those services out to the local businesses, they'd snatch you up, I guarantee it."
"And you think that I could do enough to get a living out of it?"
Daniel grinned; she could be incredibly practical at times. "Mr Reynolds did very well for himself; and he did very little for it."
"Ok... where would I live?"
This was where it had gotten a bit hazy for Daniel. "Here?" he tried cautiously.
"What here in this house?" she asked her eyes wide.
"No, no of course not," he hastily rethought it. "But... I do have a little cottage; just inside the grounds..." he said slowly, slanting a quick look to see her response.
"Furniture?" she asked, thinking.
"Furnished," he smirked.
"I'd have to pay you rent," she told him firmly.
"Of course... but I think that you should, not start to pay that, until the end of the second month. Just to give you time to see if you can make it work," he finished hurriedly.
"But that's not fair to you!" she argued.
"The house is standing empty as it is. And this was my idea after all," he retaliated.
"The beginning of the second month," she countered. "I would know by then and hopefully would have started to generate an income -- of some sort."
Daniel grinned again. "Deal!!" he exclaimed holding his hand out to shake on it.
"Is this where we spit in our palms to seal the deal?" Izzy murmured wryly.
"If I'm going to exchange saliva with you Izzy; I can think of better ways of doing it," Daniel offered huskily.
She blushed and chuckled nervously, as she looked away from him.
That chuckle vibrated across his nerve ends like nothing he'd ever felt before. "Sometimes Izzy... you make me feel just like your dragon with the big silly grin!" he told her softly.
"So the only other problem that I've got... is Jess!" Izzy said still not looking at him.
"What's your sister got to do with this?" Daniel asked puzzled.
"My BIG sister you mean?" she lifted an eyebrow at him. "Nothing much, only the fact that she'll have to leave me behind, with no friends, or family to keep an eye on me, or no one for company..." Her lip quivered on the last bit, as she realised that she would indeed be all alone.
"Nonsense!" Daniel hurried to reassure her, as she wavered. "You'll have Mrs Coats, and Rosie... and every one of those little businesses, has family just wanting to welcome you into their homes..." he hesitated. "And then there would be me Izzy..." he told her softly.
"You Daniel?" she asked; her eyes very bright now.
"Well as my tenant... I'd have to make very sure that you are safe, and warm and comfortable... why you'll have a job getting away from me I think..." he'd tried to joke about it, but somehow it just sounded like some sort of pledge or vow.
"And you'll be able to convince Jess of that?" she asked with that little lift of her brow again.
Daniel frowned. "I'd think so..." he said slowly. "Why?"
"Cos I think that sister dear has just got back!" Izzy said lightly as she heard the car pull up outside.
Seconds later they could hear Jessie's; "Izzy? Izzy? Where are you?"
The library door was thrust open and Jessie came striding in. "Izzy! why didn't you answer me?" she complained.
"Sorry Jess; Daniel and I were just discussing something, and he would like to talk to you about it." She shot him a quick look as she stood up; and sailed from the room like the chicken that she was.
Fifteen minutes later Jessie found her in her room. "Izzy are you sure about this?" she went straight for the throat did Jess, no hedging, no prevaricating, nope not Jess, straight for jugular.
"Yes Jess... I am." Izzy looked her sister in the eye.
Jessie sighed as she recognised that look in her little sister's eye. "What on earth am I going to tell mum?" she whinged.
Izzy grinned at her big sister. "I'm sure you'll think of something," she murmured complacently.
Over lunch, Jessie continued to grill Daniel, on what he would take responsibility for as far as Izzy was concerned. Much to Izzy's surprise he took it all in his stride and only once did he show any sign of annoyance.
"Poor little Izzy," Jessie fretted, "what an earth will she do out here -- all by herself?"
Izzy felt the colour come to her cheeks, as Jessie reduced her to a child with one sentence. She looked across in mortification at Daniel, whose eyes glittered ominously.
"I think that you are being very demeaning to Izzy!" Daniel almost snapped. "She is after all an adult, quite able to make decisions for herself, and to take care of herself."
Jessie looked at him with her wide anxious eyes. "She is still awfully young, and well... inexperienced!" Jessie finished, trampling all over Izzy's dignity.
"She's a woman, and should be treated as such!" Daniel did snap this time.
Izzy threw her spoon onto the table and stood up; her eyes blazing at the two of them. "She's a woman who is absolutely cheesed off at being talked about as if she wasn't even there!" she fumed and turned and stormed out of the room.
Jessie shot him an accusing look -- before rushing after Izzy.
Daniel just sat staring after Izzy.
He grinned briefly.
Izzy in a temper was really something! Medusa had nothing on Izzy and her turn you to stone look!
Richard in turn, sat watching his brother, "you will be careful -- won't you Daniel?" he asked quietly.
Daniel scowled at him. "Don't you start as well Richard," he snarled.
"Izzy is not Claudia," he continued relentlessly. "She's not tough underneath like Claudia was... and she will hurt -- if you inflict pain on her."
"Shut up Richard. I know better than anyone that Izzy is nothing like Claudia. I never thought that she was..." as he said that last bit, he realised that it was true. Izzy had stirred things in Daniel right from the start. He'd never ever felt like that for Claudia. He suddenly beamed across at his younger brother making that man blink in confusion. "She really is nothing like Claudia!"
Izzy threw herself down on her bed and lay grumbling to herself.
Jessie knocked once and then came sailing in.
"Go away Jess!" Izzy told her grumpily, "I really don't want to talk to you right now."
"Now Izz, don't be like that," Jessie begged, as she sat down on the edge of the bed. "I mean look at it from my point of view..." she went on, "When I left the other day... you couldn't even look Daniel in the eye. And now he's offering to... well... keep you!" Jessie finished uncertainly.
Izzy looked at her with narrowed eyes. "What are you implying Jess?" she asked quietly.