|Delicate and Rare
Author: Bad Faery PM
AU: Ingenue Belle French is delighted when she receives a positive review from notoriously difficult to please theatre critic Mr. Gold.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance - Belle & Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold - Chapters: 5 - Words: 17,544 - Reviews: 94 - Favs: 69 - Follows: 64 - Updated: 05-21-13 - Published: 07-05-12 - id: 8289012
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Belle French loved orchids. They were far and away her favorite flower, and she'd always been a bit sad that the high price tag meant she couldn't justify keeping a vase of the delicate blossoms on hand in her small apartment. Things had changed considerably for her in the past three months since she'd landed a steady job playing Honey in the Broadway production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Her costars were two of the biggest names in Hollywood, and they were playing to packed houses every night. It was more than an average girl from Storybrooke, Maine had the right to dream about.
Suddenly she had the money for a studio apartment she didn't have to share, even if it was a fifth floor walk-up the size of a closet. She was learning more every day and getting decent reviews, and this job was certain to lead to others when the run ended in two weeks. Belle still couldn't justify the expense of orchids, but she didn't have to. Vases of them covered every available surface in her dressing room and were slowly taking over her apartment as well courtesy of one Mr. Anthony Gold, New York's most difficult to please theatre critic.
It had been Mr. Gold's review everyone was most anxious to see the morning after opening night, and he'd been extremely generous. The lighting had displeased him, and he'd considered the set too abstract, but he'd found no fault with the acting, even going so far as to say that newcomer Belle French had held her own against her experienced costars. She'd certainly been predisposed to like him after that, but the last thing in the world she'd expected was for the man to show up at her dressing room door two days later with orchids.
At first she'd worried that he expected payment for his positive review, or worse, that he'd given her a good review simply to get her into bed. However months had gone by during which he'd seen the show at least three times a week and brought her orchids after each performance, and he'd yet to do more than shake her hand.
After the night's show Belle had just finished changing into her usual jeans and poet blouse and was twisting her wet hair into a knot at the top of her head when she heard the familiar polite rap on her dressing room door. "Come in, Mr. Gold!" She looked up with a smile as he limped in, a fresh bouquet of orchids in the hand that wasn't holding his cane.
"Excellent show as usual, Miss French," he complimented her, waiting until she waved for him to sit down before taking his usual chair. He held the flowers out to her and she exclaimed over them, wondering how after over forty bouquets of orchids, he was still finding ways to make each look unique. "You were playing up Honey's attraction to George a bit more tonight, weren't you?"
He never missed a nuance of her performance; it was that fact that had convinced Belle he'd actually meant the nice things he said about her in his review. Each night he brought her flowers, and they sat and discussed her character beats, his feedback as invaluable a learning tool as her costars' advice.
"It was Dustin's idea," she admitted, "He thought it would add to the pathos."
"I found it very effective," he assured her, and they spent the next twenty minutes deconstructing the night's performance, Belle focusing as much of her attention on the sound of his voice as his words. She'd always been attracted to tall, well-built men who invariably turned out to be vapid and superficial. Mr. Gold could talk intelligently about every topic she'd ever broached in a Scottish brogue that made her melt. Had they passed on the street, she wouldn't have looked twice at him, but that would have been her loss. It had only taken her a week to learn to appreciate his beautiful eyes and the way his smile transformed his face. She just wasn't sure how to get them from flowers and chatting to the next step in their relationship, whatever that might be.
For months he'd played off her questions about his life and failed to notice her attempts at flirting. Belle could almost think he wasn't interested in her beyond her acting abilities, but men didn't regularly buy orchids for women they weren't attracted to. It was beginning to look like she was going to have to take some kind of drastic action before the show closed and they no longer had a reason to see each other.
"A pleasure as always, Miss French," he told her as their visit drew to a close, holding his hand out to her.
Belle took it, holding on when he would have released her, a sense of recklessness seizing her. "Is that all you want from me, Mr. Gold?"
He stopped trying to pull away, his gaze intent on her face, "What do you mean?"
Keeping hold of his hand, she stepped closer, intruding on his personal space as she asked, "Is this all you want? To give me flowers and talk about my acting choices?"
"What else would you offer me?" He cleared his throat, his voice sounding hoarse.
Belle smiled and moved even closer, their hands trapped between their bodies as she lifted her face to his, their lips only inches apart. "If you don't ask, you'll never find out."
His fingers tightened around hers almost convulsively. "Miss French-"
"Belle," she corrected him, and something flared in his eyes.
"Belle. Would you- Could I-" There was something unspeakably adorable about watching the well-spoken Mr. Gold struggle for words. "May I kiss you, Belle?"
"I'll be disappointed if you don't," she smiled, and the noise he made at that was almost a whimper, then his lips were brushing gently against hers.
He kissed her for only a moment before pulling back, his eyes fraught with apprehension like he expected her to slap him for taking such a liberty even though she'd already granted her permission. She released his hand, the disappointment on his face vanishing when she wrapped her arm around his waist, keeping him close when he would have stepped back.
He was a slender man, almost slight, and she was shocked to realize he was only a few inches taller than she was. Mr. Gold cast such an impressive shadow over the theatre district that he'd always seemed larger than life. Now in her arms with his heart pounding in his chest hard enough that Belle could feel its frantic rhythm, he was just an ordinary man- her man.
"May I kiss you now, Mr. Gold?" she asked, and she could see his throat move as he swallowed hard.
"Please," he hissed, sounding pained.
The hand that wasn't holding his cane slid around her, his fingers splayed against her back to hold her close as she brushed her lips against his, imitating what he'd done to her before pressing deeper and sucking tenderly on his bottom lip. He moaned against her mouth, and Belle shivered at the thought that she could excite him so much by doing so little. Running her hands up his back, she carded her fingers through his hair, finding it as soft as she'd imagined it would be.
He kissed her back with a fierce absorption, taking everything she offered but never asking for more until Belle decided it was time to take the next step. She flicked her tongue against his lips, and he parted them for her with a low groan that made her stomach curl pleasurably. She explored his mouth slowly, his tongue sliding against hers as he offered himself, inviting her deeper. Belle had never felt this in control of a kiss before; she'd always been the one to be plundered, and she quickly discovered that she loved offering pleasure like this.
Against her stomach, she could feel him hardening before he stepped back a little, not letting his lips break from hers. He was so sweetly shy, and Belle resisted the urge to haul him back against her as she finished learning every crevice of his mouth. He tasted like tea and scotch and something faintly spicy that Belle couldn't identify but knew she wanted more of.
"So do you bring orchids to every up-and-coming actress, Mr. Gold?" she teased as they finally drew apart, regretting it instantly when he looked stricken.
"Never. I never do this," he swore, sounding a little desperate, "I couldn't stay away. Do you have any idea how talented you are? You're so open and raw and honest; I was half in love with you by the end of opening night. I had to meet you. I couldn't think of anything but you. I still can't. I thought it would go away, but it just got worse. You're so brilliant. So beautiful and so kind to an old man-"
Tears pooled in Belle's eyes at his passionate words, but she shook her head when he neared the end of his piece. "No! I'm not 'being kind' to you. You're smart and interesting and handsome, and I love talking to you. Although I'm starting to feel like talking is a waste of time when we can be doing this." She seized his mouth again, backing him against her dressing table as carefully as she could, trying not to knock him off balance.
He dropped his cane, one arm tight around her waist while his other hand cradled the back of her neck. Belle pressed closer, feeling his hard length throbbing against her belly as he trembled in her arms. "Eager?" she murmured, reaching down to cup him, and he jerked into her hand with a tortured groan, his face anguished.
"Sorry. It's... been a while." His color was heightened, obviously embarrassed by his excitement, but Belle felt nothing but pleased and a bit flattered that she could work him up so much so quickly.
"How long's a while?" she asked curiously. Actors gossiped about everything, but she'd never heard any tales about Mr. Gold having a personal life.
If anything, his blush deepened. "Ten years? Longer? I've rather lost count." He was trying to sound nonchalant and not quite managing it.
Ten years? There was a story there. No normal, healthy man went ten years without sex unless there was a story. However now wasn't the time to press him, Belle realized. Mr. Gold couldn't even meet her eyes. "We don't have to if you don't want to," she assured him, feeling like they'd had their scripts switched. The ingenue was pressuring the powerful middle-aged critic for sex. If this moment cropped up in a script, she'd dismiss it as unbelievable.
"Oh, I want to," he said fervently, then his lips twisted, "Just be warned that it's unlikely to be... impressive."
"Baby..." she murmured, pressing a kiss to the corner of his mouth. Whatever the story was, it was bound to be unpleasant, and she just wanted to take him in her arms and make all the bad memories go away. Another idea struck her- darker and more wicked- and she licked the spot she'd just kissed, running her hand over him. "Let's take care of you first then, hmmm?"
Before he could say anything, she dropped to her knees, her hands going to work on his belt and the fly of his trousers. She glanced up at him, smiling at the awestruck look on his face before leaning forward to nuzzle him through the fine wool. Against her cheek, he felt like iron, and she didn't care if it was her or the long dry spell that was doing this to him; she was going to enjoy it either way.
She freed him from his trousers, stifling a gasp. His erection was flushed a deep red, shading to purple around the head. The poor man looked like he'd been hard for hours, and she wondered if he'd been aroused watching her on stage. Against her fingers he felt almost painfully hot, and when she pressed a tender kiss to the tip, he groaned like she was torturing him.
"You don't have to... we should... home. A bed. Something nice," He was speaking in fragments, but Belle understood him perfectly, and her heart warmed. She was offering to go down on him, and he was concerned for her comfort. She could so easily fall in love with this man. She wondered if she hadn't already done so.
"We will, baby," she promised him, kissing away the drop of moisture that was beading at the tip. "This is just an appetizer. Let's just take the edge off for you, yeah?"
He nodded, a small frightened movement, and she took him in her mouth, wrapping her hand around the base of him. His deep groan filled the room, and Belle heard a scrabbling sound as he clawed at her dressing table with his short nails. Belle had practice at this act although she was far from an expert, but she'd never enjoyed it more. Mr. Gold was hot and hard against her tongue, the noises he was making telling her without words just how much pleasure she was giving him. She fluttered her tongue against him, using just the tip to trace the vein on the underside, relishing his smothered grunts and the way his hips twitched just a little like he wanted to thrust but he was trying to hold himself back.
There had been quite enough holding back in this relationship so far she decided. With her free hand she reached up to take his wrist, prying his fingers off the dressing table and guiding them to her hair. He clutched at her bun, working his fingers into it, and soon her hair was falling about her face in damp curls. Sliding her hand lower, she took him a little deeper, forcing herself not to tense up as the head of his cock nudged the back of her throat.
"Belle!" His fingers clenched in her hair, and she wasn't sure if he wanted to pull her off of him or force her to take him deeper. A second later he released her, stroking her curls apologetically away from her face, and Belle wasn't going to let him restrain himself any more. She released him, sucking in a deep breath through her nose at the same moment that she swallowed, unspeakably proud of herself when he slid into her throat without her gagging. Above her, Mr. Gold shouted, an inarticulate sound of pure need, and she grabbed his ass, digging her fingers into the taut muscles as she encouraged him to thrust.
"Belle! You mustn't- I can't- Oh, Belle!" he sounded wrecked, completely desperate, and she was determined to take him over the edge. Carefully she let her teeth just scrape against him, and his hips jerked, her nose almost brushing the curls at the base of him as he roared her name, his release spilling down her throat.
Closing her lips, she swallowed around him, and he nearly convulsed, his body going rigid with tension before his legs gave out, and she was forced to take her mouth off of him as he slid down to sit on the floor. He was gaping at her, his mouth slack and glistening, and Belle couldn't resist brushing a soft kiss against his lips as she tucked him back into his trousers. The next thing she knew, strong hands were grasping her shoulders and pulling her into his lap as he kissed her frantically. "My God, Belle," he gasped as he released her, still panting for breath, and she smiled tenderly.
"Was that better than talking about character choices?" she teased gently, brushing her fingers against the side of his face, and he nodded, leaning into her touch.
"Much," he said, so emphatically that it made her giggle. "Home now, please? Or dinner. I should take you out for dinner..."
He was starting to think again, and Belle couldn't allow that. When Mr. Gold started thinking he started over thinking, and that was why it had taken them three months to get here. "How about your place and takeout?" she suggested, leaning in for another kiss.
"Oh yes," he breathed, "Yes, please. Whatever you want."
"Whatever I want?" Belle beamed, hopping to her feet and holding out her hands to help him up. "That's easy. I want you."
"For the life of me, I don't know why," he confessed, struggling to his feet and leaning on the table as Belle retrieved his abandoned cane. "I'm old enough to be your father, love."
"Well, thankfully you're not," Belle shrugged off his concern. "That would be too kinky even for the theatre world. Besides, you're not old; you're... vintage. Experienced."
His smile didn't quite meet his eyes, but he held his hand out to her, and she took it gladly. "I shall endeavor to not disappoint you."
There was definitely a story that she needed to hear, but it could wait. "You won't," she vowed, then tugged on his hand, "Come on. Takeout. Bed."
"Have you ever considered directing?" he asked, allowing himself to be led toward the theater's exit, "I think you would excel at it."
She released his hand as they stepped outside and took his arm instead, hugging it to her. "Your motivation is that you have a young woman who's absolutely crazy about you, and you're trying to get her home as quickly as possible."
He chuckled, a low, warm sound that went straight to her core. "Now that I can work with."
He kissed the top of her head, and Belle giggled. "In that case, I think you have a very positive review in your future."