DISCLAIMER: The Hollows and its characters/inhabitants are the property of Kim Harrison. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
I watched as his dark fingers slid gently down her pale forearm, moving slowly until his fingers met hers and their digits merged, twining together in a hypnotic swirl of chocolate and cream, like Gold Medal Ribbon ice-cream. Her thumb brushed the back of his hand, swiping over the skin just once, and then she turned her head towards him and smiled. Her expression wasn't edged with fang, nor was there any hint of danger in it. There was only a warm, sort of amused affection in her eyes and I felt a pang inside upon seeing it.
She looked young at that moment. No, not young, peaceful. She looked peaceful at that moment. She looked beautiful and flush, full of life instead of shadowed by misery. It made me remember her standing in our foyer in her mother's sundress, a faint blush upon her cheek as I gaped at her, and I wished that I had seen her like that more often. I wished that I inspired her to look at me like that, instead of the smile with an edge of pain that I always seemed to bring to her lips.
I blinked, suddenly feeling tears in my eyes, and I watched blearily as Glenn playfully tugged at Ivy's hand, trying to draw her into him. Ivy lifted an imperious eyebrow at him then, and resisted his pull with a smile.
"Oh, I see how it's gonna be," Glenn rumbled, his voice holding a teasing sort of threat as he stared at Ivy thoughtfully.
They had slowed to stop, and automatically I slowed as well, watching, horrified and captivated as Glenn covered Ivy's slim wrist with his other hand and began to tug again, pretending or maybe not to use all of his strength to move her. They held each others eyes as Glenn tugged and Ivy continued to easily resist, however after a few moments Ivy grinned easily and gracefully allowed herself to fall into Glenn, who murmured, "Thank you for humoring me," to her, before lazily drawing his arm around her shoulder in a motion that was too light and sweet to be seen as a sign of possession.
"You're lucky to have me," Ivy responded, her voice sinking into a slight gray silk purr that I really heard when the sun was high in the sky and her eyes were a deep rich brown. "I'm wonderful," she continued batting her eyelashes coquettishly.
Glenn smirked at that and rolled his eyes at her, before tilting his head to the side to press a kiss against her temple.
My stomach rolled, and for a moment I felt like I was going to lose everything I had ever eaten all over the sidewalk.
"And humble," Glenn said.
They were walking again and I began to move as well, glad to be in motion again. Walking and his voice were distracting me from my urge to gag.
"I like that most about you," he continued.
Ivy chuckled at that, the sound sending a shiver straight through me, and when I looked over at her, a thread of desire tore through me so quickly that I almost gasped.
"Really?" There was nothing sweet or innocent about the smile she shot Glenn as she spoke. "I though you liked -"
A car horn beeped as we rounded the corner and I thanked whatever deities that might be listening for the noise since it swallowed the end of Ivy's sentence, which the knot in my stomach told me I really, really didn't want to hear.
My stomach hurt. It actually hurt. And I was certain that I was sweating a little. It was an usually warm day for March, but it was still spring jacket weather, and we hadn't been walking for that long. I shouldn't have been sweating. And why did my stomach hurt?
I was walking more quickly, and had outpaced Ivy and Glenn after we rounded the corner. I couldn't see them behind me, and my stomach started to unclench without the constant assault of their smiling, laughing, sex-joking faces endlessly mocking me.
"What?!?" I snapped, spinning around to face Ivy with an irritable expression on my face. I regretted it the moment the word was out of my mouth, and I felt even worse when I saw the surprised and hurt expression on Ivy's face, before her features smoothed over revealing nothing of what she was thinking or feeling.
"We're here," Ivy said as my own face contorted into an expression of regret.
The truth was, Ivy was there, I had blown straight by the gelato shop that we'd all thought it would be such a good idea to go to fifteen minutes ago, and was standing at the end of the street ready to cross the road.
"Oh. Yeah," I responded, feeling the inadequacy of my response acutely, even as the words fell from my lips. "So we are," I continued, talking but saying nothing.
Ivy held my gaze for a moment, her face closed off and unreadable. She breathed in deeply, and then exhaled just as slowly, her shoulders slumping slightly as she did, and then her hand slipped out of Glenn's. A second later her eyes cut away from mine, and she turned sharply on her heel and strode into the shop alone.
I sighed deeply as I watched her stalk away, silent, tense, and distant. She'd been laughing a minute ago, before I opened my big mouth. She'd been happy before I'd taken it away in a split second of thoughtlessness.
"So," Glenn began, hesitant as he looked over at me. "She's pissed at you, right?"
His gaze kept flickering between the window of the shop and me, and I knew that he wanted to go after Ivy, but only if he knew that she wasn't likely to try and take his head off for his concern.
"Yeah," I sulked. "She's pissed at me," I confirmed staring moodily in the direction we had come from; in the direction of home.
"Don't," Glenn said, his firm slightly disapproving tone surprising me. "We came out for gelato, let's have gelato. She'll cool down. She never stays mad at you for long, you know that. Running away isn't gonna do anything but piss her off even more."
I looked down at my feet as he finished speaking, shamed by his accurate assessment of me and what I had been thinking, and also by the knowledge that he was right. Leaving wouldn't have helped, only made things worse, just like he said. I knew that, and I had still be tempted to run.
"Come on Morgan. I thought you were fearless."
His tone was gloating, though I noted that there was an undercurrent of genuine surprise in his voice. I don't think he had realized how truly tantalizing the idea of running away was to me until he saw my guilty expression and observed my complete lack of moving towards the shop.
"Shows what you know," I replied smirking, taking a step towards him and the shop even though what I really wanted to do was bolt. I couldn't though, not after he had called me out. "I was born scared, and I've been running that way ever since," I continued winking at him as I brushed by him. "Coming?" I asked in a sing-song voice, looking over my shoulder, feigning an ease I didn't truly feel.
I was good at pretending. If I'd majored in that in college, I probably would have graduated.
"Yeah," Glenn said, shaking his head a little as if to clear it of the confusion only women could create in men.
I turned from him and pushed on the door, my eyes immediately focusing on Ivy's brooding figure as I slipped inside.
Later that night
I watched Ivy slink into the kitchen in her black silk robe. I hadn't even known she was home, but that wasn't strange. Ivy was naturally stealthy and only made noise for my benefit so that I would know where she was and not yell at her for sneaking around when she had only been trying to get a glass of orange juice.
She looked over at me and nodded, her hands drifting down to the ties of her robe to tug a tighter knot as she moved towards the counter. She had to have known I was back home, my scent always gave me away, but I think she was surprised to find me in the kitchen. Her hair was tussled, and there was a lethargic, sleepy quality to her movements that I usually didn't observe at night.
She lifted her arm to open the cabinet over the sink, and her robe parted a little, the adjustment she had tried to make a few seconds before not holding under the shifting of her new movement. She was still decent after the robe slipped, but the swell of her breast became visible, and I suddenly found that I had the willpower of a twelve year old boy as a stared at the smooth swell of flesh, completely captivated and unable to look away.
She pulled down two plates, and I licked my lips before opening them to speak. Even though I was in the kitchen, I wasn't hungry. I'd been tense and on edge since the afternoon. Fighting with Ivy always left me that way these days, and I hadn't been able to sleep. I thought about going for a walk, but it was dead of night and there was no reason for me to go out there wandering about for no reason. So, I decided to try and be productive, and I hauled a few of books out to do some research.
"I " I began to say, ready to inform her that I wasn't hungry and there was no reason to fix two plates.
However, before I could get anything more out of my mouth a faint sound reached my ears from the back of the church, where our bedrooms were, and I realized that Ivy hadn't been alone. The second plate wasn't for me. It was for Glenn; who was in Ivy's room, probably lounging on her bed, as naked as she was under that robe.
I closed my mouth and turned back to the book in front of me, staring at it unseeing. My heart was pounding beneath my chest, and I felt tears prickling my eyes though I had no reason to cry. I closed my eyes and tried to calm my breathing, knowing that Ivy would soon pick up on my increased heart rate, but no matter how many deep and calming breaths I tried to take, I could not calm my anxiousness.
My eyes drifted back over to Ivy, and I had to fight with all that I had not to jerk back as I found her staring directly at me.
"What?" she asked, not blinking as she continued to stare at me.
"What?" I squeaked, trying very hard not to let my eyes wander down to the 'v' of her still parted robe.
"You started to say something," she prompted, crossing her arms. "What was it?"
"Nothing," I said looking away from her, unable to stop my eyes from roaming over her figure on the way back to my book.
"Nothing?" she asked sounding distinctly unconvinced.
"Nothing," I confirmed.
Ivy didn't say anything in response to that, and I knew that she had turned around to continue fixing whatever it was that she was fixing to eat.
I waited for a few seconds, until I was sure her back was turned, and then I looked over at her again, watching her smooth, graceful movements as she dipped a knife into a jar of peanut butter and then began to slather a healthy layer onto a piece of bread. Her movements were methodical, rhythmic and I found myself hypnotized by her, captured, and enthralled as her arm moved back and forth, and one of her bare feet restlessly rubbed up and down a smooth, pale leg.
She had nice legs. Long, tapered, firm, but not overly muscled. Ivy was trim, but her vampire heritage made her strong, and I knew from the sparring sessions we used to have that her legs were strong. I'd felt them, clamped against me, holding me down in the past, and it had been like being trapped in a vice. She had simply smiled at me as I struggled beneath her, easily riding out my efforts to escape her far too intoxicating hold.
"What's the matter with you?" Ivy bit out.
Her words were clipped and precise as she fought to keep her irritation with me in check.
"Nothing," I said, realizing that my thoughts had been having a bit of an effect on my body. "Sorry," I added.
I hadn't heard that particular tone from her since we had decided not to pursue a blood balance, and I had stopped fantasizing about her biting me at least when she was present.
"Sorry," I added again when Ivy continued to stare at me.
Her stance loosened after my second apology, and a bit morosely she lifted her hand up and stuck her thumb in her mouth, sucking off a smudge of peanut butter that I could just barely make out. Her tongue peaked out as she swiped it around her thumb, and I felt something inside of me clench and throb as my pulse spiked.
Ivy lifted heavily lidded eyes towards me, her gaze piercing me as her thumb popped out of her mouth. My eyes locked on the glistening tip of her finger, and unconsciously I licked my lips.
"It was your decision," she said drawing my eyes back to hers. "It still is."
With that she turned her back to me, and reached for the plates resting in front of her. She picked them up, and then in a swish of silk she was gone, the faint scent of vampire incense lingering the room being the only sign she had even been there.
I sighed, and dropped my head onto my open book. I thought of Ivy and Glenn in her room, his mouth on her fingers licking away any peanut butter that she had missed, or perhaps that she had put on her finger on the way back to her room. I thought about her slow, easy smile and the soft, feline purr of the contentment that she was likely to make, and I burned with jealousy just as I had been seething with it all day.
I wanted Ivy to smile at me without pain lurking at the corners of her smile. I wanted to wrap my arm around her waist, and feel her body, flush and warm against my side. I wanted her to dip her spoon into my gelato without a second thought in the middle of a conversation because she knew I wouldn't mind. I wanted to see her cover her nude, sweat slicked body in dark silk, and I wanted to take it off again later.
I wanted Ivy.
I sighed, and shifted my legs beneath the large table at the back of our kitchen.
I really wanted Ivy.
But Ivy was with Glenn, and I would have to learn to live with that.
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