"You've been wearing black too long."
Joseph's voice was husky.
His fingers pressed down the button on the c.d. player as the music started again.
The delicately elegant music filled the air, with just the merest whisper of sensuality. An intangible trace of desire in the melody.
Clarisse closed her eyes for a moment. His warm breath brushed against her skin ever so slightly; though there was a harmless amount of space between their bodes, the simmering chemistry between them was drawing them closer like a magnet. A force of nature propelling their bodies to dare close the remaining spaces between them.
But before she could respond, Joseph had taken her hand, and lead her across the vast marble floor. She smiled knowingly at him.
He had always known when she needed him the most, without her having to breathe a word. He just knew. And today of all days, she needed him the most.
This notion somehow both pleased her, and yet frightened her. She spent her whole life being cautious, and comfort - emotionally - was rare.
Emotions was something she seldom could indulge in due to the weight of responsibilities she is faced with daily; it goes with the territory of being the head beneath the crown.
However, as the years of their friendship bloomed; the logical side of her enjoyed pondering on what aspect of her manner had given her away.
It was almost as if he developed an inner intuition, an instinct when it came to her. Years of his work has made him the very best in his field - yes, but then again, it was different when the two of them were together.
Perhaps it could have been a look, a sigh perhaps, a tone of voice. But then again, she was not dubbed as the 'Ice Queen' for being demonstrative with her inner temperament. Her walls were built too high, and have been since the moment she was crowned queen.
No one could really know what she is thinking. Except, maybe, for the man who is now dancing so exquisitely next to her.
Today she was in dire need of some semblance of a break. Her workload was escalating not only because of the pending Independence Day Ball, but also in rearing her granddaughter to the royal life in such a dizzying short span of time.
But all thoughts of the impending predicament flew from her thoughts the moment his hand was placed chastely on her waist; while the other held hers tenderly as they danced. They swayed gently together, like gentle waves across the sea.
Having her so near to him was inexplicable. Though his stoic manner never betrayed his inner emotions; he could not deny the irresistible allure of her scent, her mouth, or the way the curve of her waist fitted so perfectly against the palm of his hand. He yearned so desperately to pull her closer; to feel the heat from her body, to taste the skin upon her neck. But he dared none of these things as he spun her across the room. The only telltale sign of his illicit passion was the longing glance he gave her when she circled back into his arms.
He was her best friend. Her protector. Her utmost confidant. But he was far more than just those things, far more than just her Head of Security.
They have always shared a deep bond, a profound trust for one another. For she gave her trust scarcely, and only a few are given the honor.
Thankfully, he fell in that category along with a few chosen others.
But what separated him from the others, is that he has a connection with her, only but the two of them can understand. There has always been something about them that could not be denied. It grew in secrecy through the years, shun out from the bright light of day, away from the prying eyes of the world, but was never fully acknowledged that it existed. But was there all along. In the shadow of their friendship. Waiting.
They both would always feel the lashing of their burden; but despite all the circumstances they faced, they both knew deep down the real truth of what they both shared.
There were many times Clarisse told herself that she was content with loneliness, content with the burning longing she would always feel for this man. But even the Queen would know she was lying to herself. She has always exercised complete and utter control of her emotions, till he came into her life.
Yes she can pretend, she does it rather well. But the illusion cannot mask her truth. He was her weakness. Her sweetest downfall. For the one thing in her life she cannot control - was her heart.
The music was beginning to fade as their movements came to a finish.
She stood there in his arms, her blood flushed with the sensation of his touch.
"Thank you, Joseph." She said softly, a light smile touching her lips.
His deep blue eyes were fixed on hers, "It was my pleasure, your Majesty."
She felt his hand slowly slip from her waist. She felt a deep sense of disappointment. Their moments were always over, too quickly, too soon.
But before she could step away, music once again filled the room, except this time it was an Argentinean tango.
He saw the subtle smirk on Joseph's lips.
"Perhaps her majesty will honor me with one more dance?"
She shook her head in an amused protest, "Joseph, I have to go prepare. I've a meeting with the vice-mayor at three,"
Joseph was rather persistent, she felt the warmth on his hand slide back to her waist with a deliberate intent.
"That's still at three," He motioned at the grandfather clock next to the double doors, "And from what I can see, it is still two-thirty. They can wait." His smirk turned into an affectionate smile; twirling her briefly in his arms as the dance begun.
She did not say no this time as mirth graced her features. After all the meeting could wait - a little.
She owed herself this little moment of happiness.
With exact precision, they began the dance. Each step was filled with a little more intent, the music was filled with exotic ardor as he held her in his arms.
They were dancing a little more closer than they usually dared, there were no eyes to see them in such a state of - physical demonstrations.
Their steps became faster as she made little quick movements with her hips, his hand unconsciously lowering to the small of her back. The music was reaching its climax as they moved on the spacious dancefloor; her knee had accidentally brushed the inner of his leg as they continued.
He could feel her breath against his cheek. It took every ounce of will power to not drive her against a wall and kiss her senseless.
Clarisse could remember the expanse of his masculine chest beneath his black attire with each breath he took; the way he held her closely, if not possessively.
She can never understand how or why, but she desperately wanted him to kiss her, to strip her of her sanity completely and to just drown in him.
The voice in her head said.
She knew that moment, in that room, that the imminent change between them was nearing to the boiling surface.
She pondered all of these things, as she sat behind her desk in the sitting room of the Genovian consulate. Her heart heavy and troubled.
It was past two a.m. There were still so many papers to be signed, so many to be read and approved of. And then there was that matter of the State Dinner, she had to go through the seating chart and invitations. Her head was throbbing. She was drinking her second glass of sidecar. Somehow the afternoon with Joseph was the signal of the inevitable they have been trying so desperately to control. She leans back in her leather chair, staring up at the ceiling with a resounding sigh. Clarisse was suddenly feeling extremely claustrophobic. Perhaps the alcohol she had consumed was making her neurotic, or anxious. Perhaps both.
She lightly toyed with the collar of her cream white cotton blouse (She decided to change her attire for the evening). The color black really does have a tendency to seep into one's soul if worn too long. Clarisse then sits back up and stands from her chair, walking back to the drink she left next to the decanter. Clarisse downed the remnants of the spicy liquor in one swallow.
Her stress levels were at their peak tonight. If she isn't going to take a moment to breathe, she was going to snap.
Clarissse made her way back to her mahogany desk; it was utterly consumed by several strewn piles of paper.
She then began the process of neatly stacking them to one side, the rest would have to be done tomorrow. As she finished the task, she caught sight of her silver cellphone which laid beneath the turquoise desk-lamp.
She took the phone and held it in her hand. She knew precisely which number to press. He was on speed dial after all. But something held her back.
Perhaps he' s already asleep Clarisse.
You're not being sensible. You're going to embarrass yourself with this sudden act of delinquency. Sober up and march yourself right to bed, and sleep off a potential hangover.
The voice in her head was going at it, at a hundred miles per hour.
Just tonight. Please, just tonight.
She told herself as she pressed the number on the keypad.
Joseph picked up on the third ring.
She felt morbidly guilty all of a sudden.
Inside his room...
He had been unable to sleep. He tossed and turned to no avail. The moonlight was illuminating from his window with a sleepy glow. His eyes glistening in the darkness as thoughts of her consumed his mind. He shifted restlessly beneath the sheets, today had been the proverbial turning point in their lives.
It was not long till the shrill ringing of his cellphone broke the silence. He shook himself from his existential thoughts as the phone glowed a bright green on his nightstand.
Joseph pushed the covers aside as he answered, pressing the speaker close to his ear.
There was a hesitant pause in the background. One glance at the caller I.D. spoke so much, and yet so little.
"Your Majesty, is there something wrong?" His graveled voice entered her ears.
She closed her eyes for a moment to compose herself.
What did she really want?
"I'm sorry if I awoke you Joseph-"
"Its no trouble, your Majesty. I was still awake anyway. Is there anything you need?" He immediately knew there was something wrong. He knew that if she was being reluctant, something was causing it.
"Joseph, I..." She was hesitating, her words elusive.
This was something that went far deeper.
"Clarisse? What is it? Speak to me," His voice had taken on a deep tone. There was an emotion in his timbre that he could not hide.
She stood in front of the open balcony that was facing the lovely rose garden.
She summoned the words to her lips after a few moments of silence, "Joseph, I need a favor..."
"Anything," He whispered.
"Do you suppose you could take me out for a short drive? I know its very late..."
Clarisse clasped the cold railing, a distant look in her deep blue eyes.
Clarisse assumed the brief pause in the background as surprise.
"Any particular destination in mind?" Said Joseph after a few short seconds. He swung his legs over the bed and stood up, grabbing his pants along the way. There was something troubling her, and he knew he needed to be there for her. Regardless of time. She was his greatest friend too.
Clarisse stood there, her mind was numb. She couldn't come up with a specific location. "To be honest, no." She felt her boldness slipping away, "This is rather silly of me Joseph, do forgive me for-"
"No, Clarisse," He spoke before she could change her mind. Keeping herself isolated was something he did not want for her own sake. "There's something that's weighing greatly on your mind, won't you allow a friend, allow me, to ease your burden?"
She listened to his voice; suddenly remembering the grief that came with recent loss of her son, and the imminent uncertainty of what the future may hold for her and her country.
"I don't know what to do. My mind is exhausted, I can't think...I..." She held back a breath as her voice broke.
"Breathe. Breathe, Clarisse," He said soothingly. He needed to find a way to give her some peace of mind.
While other employees were not permitted to call the Queen by her given name, that privilege was given in private, personally and specifically to Joseph by Clarisse herself.
He could hear her take two steady breaths, "Do you still want me to take you for that drive?"
She thought about it thoroughly.
"Yes, yes I still do." She replied quietly, wiping a stray tear that had rolled down her cheek.
"Still trust me?"
"Good. We will leave in five minutes, where are you?" Said Joseph, as he quickly slipped on his black polo through his bare upper body.
"In the sitting room."
"Alright, I'll pick you up. Bring your coat, I know where we can go." And the line went dead.
She held the phone in her hand. She truly did not want to burden him with her emotional episodes, but she trusted him far too much not to. There was a warm frission of excitement surging throughout her body, that, and the prominent feeling of apprehension.
What was she getting herself into? At the moment, she didn't really care.
Thirty minutes later Clarisse found herself seated in the front seat of a black Mercedes, that was usually used to escort the royal limousine to official gatherings.
She watched him quietly as he was maneuvering the car efficiently past the meandering roads of San Francisco. He had a firm hand on the wheel, while the other rested idly on his lap.
The air was quite cool, a sense of clear abandon at night. There was no need for the car's air conditioner to be turned on. Instead, the beautiful woman sitting beside him lowered the car window to let in some air.
She leaned back in her seat, allowing the wind to caress her blonde hair; blowing gently as it ruffled her blouse lightly. For the first time in months, she exhaled a sigh of content; leaning her head back further into her seat as she closed her eyes for a moment.
Joseph glanced at her from the driver's seat; admiring the arch of her neck, the profile of her face, the shape of her lips. The outlines of her downy bosoms.
He could not believe anyone could be so beautiful. So intoxicatingly beautiful.
The radio was quietly humming in the background,
I drive fast, wind in my hair, I push you to the limits 'cause I just don't care. You ask me where I've been, I've been everywhere, but I don't wanna' be anywhere but here.
I've got a burning desire for you baby.
Got a burning desire for you baby.
You're hands were on my hips, your name was on my lips, over, over again like my only prayer.
I've got a burning desire for you baby.
I'm driving fast, flash, everyone knows it. I'm tryna' get to you baby, I'm feeling scared and you know it.
He fought hard to keep his eyes on the road.
A few minutes into their drive, he turned to a corner in the street.
Clarisse looked at him fondly, her tousled hair blown by the wind. She was starting to feel better. Much better than the tortured state of mind she was in earlier, "So, where are you planning to take me?"
He smiled at her, "You'll see." He reached for her hand in the darkness, intertwining their fingers in the secrecy of the night. The mere contact of their hands, comforted her greatly. It was usually his role to kiss the back of her hand, but tonight it was she who pressed her soft lips against the tanned skin of his hand.
How he craved for those lips to be pressed against his.
She then moved his hand higher to her face, gently caressing his hand with the softness of her cheek.
She looked at him for a long time and whispered, "Thank you."
The streets were empty and barren this time of the night. The only thing that showed little life, were the dismal streetlamps that paved the sidewalks.
Before she knew it, they had arrived ten more minutes later. He carefully parked the car on the side of the road to avoid any incoming cars - if there were any.
"We're here, your Majesty." He said, putting the car on park.
She glanced out her window, a delighted smile on her lips. "The Golden Gate Bridge."
He stepped out of the car and opened the door for her. The wind was far colder here than in the main city, Clarisse clutched her chocolate-colored cashmere coat tighter around her body.
She looked around at her new surroundings. Clarisse could see the architectural structure of the bridge; strong and proud, positively larger than life. Its form adorning the night sky with its arms of steel. She stood in silent awe at its beauty.
She started to walk slowly, heading a little further ahead into the middle part of the bridge.
"Be careful," Joseph called out, as he closed the car door. He then went over to open the door to the back seat, grabbing his signature leather jacket before donning it. He cast a quick protective look over at his Queen, before locking the car.
Clarisse was relishing the crisp night air surrounding her, and reveled in the little freedom she was given.
She took a break from walking and indulged herself in the view. Even though it was very late, there were still lights over the city. Like scattered stars against the rolling hills; somehow in the darkness, it was hard to tell where the horizon ended and where the earth began.
She found herself leaning against the thick metal railing. She looked down at the dark abyss below. Ominous and foreboding.
She sensed Joseph's presence behind her.
"Quite a long fall, isn't it?" She said absently.
"Yes, very..." Joseph said warily. He eyed her carefully.
She noticed his actions, "That's not what I'm thinking about, if that's your assumption." Clarisse said defensively.
"I beg your pardon, your majesty...I didn't mean it that way..." Joseph approached her slowly, he sensed the deeply rooted tension within her.
She felt him stand by her side.
"No..." She sighed in remorse, "I should be the one to apologize for dragging you out here, at this ungodly hour." She replied softly. Her tone shifting considerably, he was clearly only trying to help.
She reached out her hand and gently touched his cheek, "I'm sorry Joseph."
"Don't apologize, please. If you had chosen someone else to call tonight, It would have, as Princess Mia would say it, 'Driven' me up the wall.'"
Clarisse laughed, that melodious timbre that flowed like sugar to his ears, the first time in weeks since they arrived.
"What's bothering you Clarisse, really?" He moved closer to her. His eyes were digging into hers.
She slowly withdrew her hand. The sweetness in her smile was fading. The thoughts that were tormenting her earlier has resurfaced.
She took out a cigarette from her pocket and placed it between her lips, lighting it with a stroke of a match. She took a drab and blew the smoke from her mouth.
He was the only one she permitted to see her like this.
She felt Joseph's intense gaze. "I know you don't agree with me smoking. Just for tonight, let me be."
His hooded eyes stared back at her, "You still haven't answered my question."
"Only what you deem is necessary for you to say." He replied.
Joseph watched as the embers glowed from her cigarette. She took a second drab before speaking, the smoke floating lazily in the cold air between them.
"I don't even know where to begin Joseph. I can't spend a moment of solitude without having to worry about Amelia's future, and the future state of my country..."
He could see it, see the unshed tears swimming in the sapphire pools of her eyes. Joseph gently placed a hand on her shoulder, urging her to continue.
"Everything feels as though it were all falling down upon me. Like some great coliseum resting its stone limbs upon my back. The members of parliament are of very little help. But I still refuse to be usurped by a group of egotistical old men, who impose that I know less than they do!" She exclaimed, her tone tired yet agitated. She blinked the tears away.
He stood there and listened to her intently.
"Clarisse, you must remember that with great patience, must come great strength. You are a ruler, and as I've said to the Princess in the past, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
They were standing very closely now, no longer any space between them.
A pensive look brushed past her lovely features; still, there was doubt somewhere in those beautiful blue eyes of hers.
She avoided his stare, instead kept her gaze to the heavens. Searching for some form of release.
The realization dawned on Joseph quickly, she was retreating within herself again. A place he feared he might not reach her. He covered her hand with his, "I believe in you. As I've always have, do not lose faith, here, now." He whispered.
She glanced back at him, her eyes poignant. But before she could reply, he took the cigarette Clarisse had been smoking, and mirrored her actions as he placed it in his lips and took a long drab. He blew the smoke to the wind; watching the fog dissipate into the air. He tossed it away shortly after.
"You never did find my occasional smoking pleasing, do you?" She finally said after a while. Though there was humor in her voice, the sadness was evident there as well.
"Never." He replied, smiling at her. He squeezed her hand gently in an effort to console her.
Without planning or forethought, he leaned closer to her till their faces were barely inches apart.
He stood there with her against the light of the streetlamp, their eyes transfixed with eachother.
He knew this was not the right moment, but somehow he was powerless to stop it.
He had been thinking of kissing her for the last ten hours.
He stopped halfway, however, giving her ample enough time to react as he cradled her cheek in his palm; feeling the warmth of his skin against hers.
She stared back at him intensely. There was no hesitation in her blue eyes, but rather a deep look of anticipation.
She found that her hands were pressed against his chest; feeling the echo of his heart beat against his skin.
Clarisse felt his lips brush against the skin on her forehead.
His hand had moved to the back of her neck, his fingers caressing her skin.
Joseph's lips then lowered to kiss the tip of her nose.
He could see her eyes were closing; her cheeks flushed, and her mouth parted, ever so subtly.
She could no longer remember what happened next. But somehow they were in each other's arms; Clarisse found herself grasping the lapels of his jacket as his lips grazed against hers, his hands pulling her closer by the waist.
The taste of her entered his mouth, dulling his senses like wine.
Clarisse could feel the fire in his passionate kisses as she leaned further into him, deepening the need to their hungered mouths.
The inexplicable fire within them was burning into the surface.
Before they knew what was happening, Clarisse found herself pinned against the black Mercedes. Joseph's firm body was leaving her no escape as her frantic hands clung to him, her nails digging into his clothing.
The electricity between them was erupting. It was as if they had kissed a thousand times before, as if this was where they were meant to be. Where they were always meant to be - in each other's arms.
Their kisses intensified as his hands kept her in place as he stilled her by the hips.
Their buried feelings were rising from the ashes with a heated vengeance.
Any second longer, she would have completely burst. Her knees weakened with desire for him as she slipped her hands inside his jacket, relishing the warmth of his body.
For a moment, it was pure unbridled ecstasy. Their emotions were on display, and they didn't care. Joseph knew all the risks, and he took it. He would rather die, than go through the rest of his life not knowing what it feels to hold her so closely as he did now, to kiss her the way he had always wanted to kiss her.
He could no longer think straight. The softness of her body was pressing closer to his, his hand gently stroking her thigh despite the black long pencil skirt she wore.
He gave her hands access to roam his body. But with each touch, it became more harder and harder to pull away. He feared greatly of the consequences they both might face due to the rashness of his behavior tonight.
Joseph was the one who broke the kiss, trying to find some semblance of self control.
"I'm sorry, Clarisse. I didn't mean to let it go that far." He whispered.
Clarisse stared at him, her lips flushed with his kisses. The sweet misery of longing, confusion, and impassioned love lapping within the confines of her chest like a restless ocean.
The whole time...The whole time...
It was him. It was always him.
But she did not realize it sooner.
"Don't, don't say your sorry..." She said, looking up at him. Clarisse found her eyes suddenly welling up with bright and unshed tears at the knowledge of what her true feelings were for him.
He was silent for a moment. His left hand had come to rest on her waist while the other rested on her cheek. His eyes were closed, he listened to the sound of her breathing.
She leaned her forehead against his, she was not used to his silence. Especially not after what just happened.
"Joseph?" She called his name.
Her voice brought him back down to earth.
She felt Joseph step back, his body immediately protesting at the absence of the warmth from her body. His eyes looked everywhere but hers.
Clarisse did not understand what was happening. He wanted to kiss her didn't he? And she...wanted him to...allowed him to.
Or has she misinterpreted his actions?
But when he finally did look at her; it was as if all the loneliness of the world were there in his eyes, mixed with something else - something deeper.
He pulled her back into his arms in a fierce embrace.
"I'm in love with you Clarisse. I've always been in love with you." He said quietly into her ear.
He could feel her arms wrapping themselves onto his neck, pulling him closer.
"I think I've always known."
A/N: Hey guys! Hope you enjoyed this one-shot. I just had to write about these two, they are just so ridiculously perfect together, it drives me nuts! XD Please r&r my loves! The song that inspired this one-shot is Burning Desire By Lana Del Rey.
I do NOT own anything.