Unfortunately, none of these characters belong to me, they belong to Meg Cabot and Disney. This is set when Clarisse is relatively young, early thirties, as is Joe….
I stole De La Viga from "Zorro" because I love that movie and can't you just see Mr. Elizondo as Zorro…….
Oh, and the other names, they're taken from " Shadows of The Wind".
The conference room was unbearably warm in the city hall of Barcelona. Clarisse Renaldi, Queen of Genovia closed her eyes momentarily, trying to muster enough patience to listen to the droll of the British diplomat before her. Honestly, she wasn't quite sure why Rupert had insisted she join him on this trip. She sighed, tilting her head back slightly. It was then she noticed him, Joseph. Standing by the door, he always managed to catch her eye. God, he was devastating! The way he seemed too…..oh, never mind! Back to the task in hand.
"Clarisse, dear", Rupert said absently from her side, " Are you ok?"
She turned to answer, but didn't get the chance. Suddenly the place was shaking badly, fire licking its way up the walls as an explosion rang through the grand, marble room. Clarisse let out a fantastic squeal as she dove to the floor as the rumble reverberated through the delicate building. Suddenly, she didn't quite know how, she was being dragged forcefully from her hiding place by none other than the man she had been admiring minutes ago.
Joseph dragged her through a back door and flung her in the front of the black Bentley. She was so disorientated, she could hardly speak as he sat down beside her, brandishing a gun and breathing heavily.
"belt!", he ordered, thumping the accelerator with his foot and gunning the car out of the now chaos ridden street. Soon they were shooting out towards the suburbs of the city, leaving the city centre and King Rupert behind.
"What on earth was that?", she exclaimed, braking the silence with a very regal glare at her head of security as he concentrated on his driving. His face was strange looking, stressed and burdened.
"It was a bomb", he said after a moment, turning to her. Yes, that definitely shut her up. Her mouth dropped open slightly, then remembering that queens never gaped, she quickly shut it.
"Well, where on earth is my husband?", she suddenly questioned, worry coming over her.
Joseph turned to her and for the first time in years, his eyes met hers. Jealousy flashed through him, but forcing it down it subsided into a painful burning in the bottom of his stomach. How jealous he was of his king……her husband. He pushed the feeling away, quelled it so much that it was now part of him, burning in his stomach every minute of the day. Her eyes scanned over him, still glaring, still questioning. He swallowed and returned his eyes to the road.
"He's with Anton, Your Majesty", Joseph finally answered. She let out a sigh of relief and visibly shrunk into her seat. Her husband was a dear friend, if nothing else……
"Well, explain what happened!", she demanded after a while of silence.
"Well, Your Majes -", Joseph began but she cut him off, her tone proof of how agitated she was.
"How Many times…..?", she moaned, her face a slight smile.
"Ok, Clarisse", he laughed, his mood lightening considerably.
"Well, it was obvious the conference came under attack. For what reason, I don't know. Only that in this situation, if you are in Royal security, whichever of yourself or your Majesty is nearer, you protect them. I just happened to be nearer you". the lie passed his lips automatically. He always was near her, whether it was obvious or not.
She nodded slightly, trying to conceal her more than mild disappointment. She had hoped, Oh! How silly to hope for that…..really, what was she thinking!
"And my husband?", she questioned, stretching out her legs a little. Again, that twinge of jealousy rose in his stomach, he fought it back, trying to adopt a professional tone.
"As I have said, Clarisse", he answered flatly, " He's with Anton. I had all of this planned. If in any case this should happen, he was to go to an undisclosed location as were you, with me. I shall phone Anton when I get to where we're going". Joseph had arranged this plan of action, simply for his own wants. Yes, it was highly unprofessional but it wasn't the first time he'd arranged security so he'd always end up watching her.
At the start he had seen it as mere attraction, a crush or lust. But it had forced something so much stronger on him and now he regretted ever having taken this job. He wanted her so badly, he wanted to posses her. Yet, in the back of his mind he knew that was impossible, she was a wife, a mother…..she was his queen.
"so..?", she prodded, smiling gently at him.
"So", he answered, " I shall telephone Anton at his location when we get to ours".
"And ours is…?", she questioned, slipping off her jacket. Joseph's breath caught in his throat and Clarisse heard his gasp. Her dress was black, swayed when she moved and sat just above her knee. The neck line skimmed her collar bone, resting over her shoulders and then plunged daringly to just a few inches below her shoulder blades. The skin was creamy, freckled…………
"A village near bye", he answered, a slight smile gracing his features, " And your husband is actually at a town on the other side of the city. ". That had been a brave and very, very unusual move on his part. He wanted to kick himself for it, what on earth was he suggesting! Clarisse suddenly felt terribly warm and awkward and happy, oh ecstatic……too many thoughts and words were whirring through her head.
"oh", she smiled, her heart beat rapidly increasing, " right".
Night was falling quickly, even though it had only seemed day minutes ago. The dusk brought a beautiful fire of light dancing over the country as they neared the coast. Clarisse had never witnessed anything more peaceful, or heavenly. The sea breeze flew in with salty air from outside, making her feel very languid.
"Where are we?", she questioned as the car glided along a cliff top, facing onto the most clear of seas.
"This is where I grew up, Your Maj-"
"This is where I grew up, Clarisse", he corrected, smiling gently to himself as the place he held in his heart reared into view in front of them. They were nearing a small, twinkling village.
It was reminiscent of old movies. A beautiful harbour, small fishing boats resting gently on the soft wave of the sea. Clear water throwing itself languidly onto the golden sand, then slithering back off and into the vast expanse of ocean that encased the small paradise.
The centre of the village welcomed them warmly as the car curved down the cliff. It was vibrant and close looking. Narrow, cobbled streets. Alabyrinth it in its antique quality. It smelled like childhood to him, the air tasted of running on the beach, squealing with laughter. He drunk it all in, intoxicating himself with alcohol of home.
Clarisse marvelled at it wondrously. The place seemed to get livelier as they squeezed through the little streets in the obnoxiously large car. Joseph felt so at home, so glad to be back.
"This is jut wonderful", she said breathlessly, turning to him with a smile. His eyes met hers and he returned her smile. She suddenly felt so very shy, so very revered and self-conscious.
"Show me everything?", she questioned quietly, turning to look at him.
"Everything", he whispered, undoing the top button of his shirt, suddenly the car seemed very claustrophobic.
The air outside was muggy and sticky as they stepped out of thevehicle and onto the dusty street. Clarisse discarded her jacket along with Joseph's tie in the front seat, the air was warm enough to do so.
"Your Majesty", Joseph offered his arm and she accepted it with a glittering smile, closing the gap between them fully.
The village was so alive and she felt at home in it. The streets were packed with bustling restaurants, busy accommodating their all too familiar customers. A group of old men sat huddled on a bench in the plaza, while children basked in the cool water of the plaza fountain. The small town centred on a large building, hotel De La Viga. Beside it was a bar, streaming with light as erratic tango music floated from within. On the corner sat a bakers, already smelling sweet with bread and pastries. In between there, a tiny butchers was squeezed along with a fruit shop.
"Joseph!", one of the old men said gruffly across the noise of the night, " Joseph De La Viga!". Romero Costa was weathered looking. Clearly one of the elders of the town, he had the air of respect and knowledge. He had kind, smiling eyes hidden behind thick, milk-bottle specs and as they moved towards the old man, he gave Clarisse a warm smile.
"Senor Costa", Joseph smiled, offering his hand to each of the men in turn, " Senor Augilar, and Senor Fumero". the men shook his hand warmly but formally.
"why, here is a surprise", Costa piped, leaning forward on his cane and inspecting Clarisse closely. She did not budge under his intelligent scrutiny but simply tensed imperceptibly.
"Introduce us, young man", Augilar ordered, " Hurry up about it".
"This is…..", Joseph struggled, he had forgot he might just face this problem.
"I am Clarisse", Clarisse answered truthfully, " Simply Clarisse". the men all smiled toothless grins, as if on cue.
"Yes, this is Clarisse", Joseph smiled, clutching her arm just a little tighter. To anyone, not knowing who she was, they would have appeared as just a normal coupe. Unknown to the other two by his side, Romero Costa knew what, and who this young girl on Joseph De La Viga's arm was, yet his wizened lips would remained closed.
"Welcome", Costa offered, leaning back on his stick and motioning his hand around the village, " To our village". Clarisse smiled at his welcome, her heart warming and relaxing. They had not recognised her, perhaps her being her with him alone would not cause a problem.
In the village only five minutes, the news of Josephs' arrival had quickly spread and soon the entirely small population descended on the square, welcoming him. Clarisse wanted to recede into the background as people questioned who she was. Yet again and again, Joseph said Clarisse and they simply left it there, glad to see Joseph had a lady friend. Clarisse didn't let it bother her, not in the slightest. In fact, she wasn't quite sure if being called HIS lady friend would bother her at all. It was, in all truth, something she wanted.
A large group flocked around them, talking animatedly and laughing at Joseph. From what Clarisse could gather, he was rather something of the village hero. She remained shy and quiet, showing a side of herself which wasn't quite usual.
"Joey!", an excited voice peeled from the back of the crowd. A woman entered the crowd along with a man. The woman had short black hair, a strong jaw with olive skin and Smokey eyes. The man was tall, well built with pronounced muscles and the same, olive, sun kissed skin. As the woman wrapped her arms tightly round josephs neck, Clarisse felt a terribly uncharacteristic stab of jealousy.
"Clarisse", Joseph motioned her to him from where she had quickly detached herself and stood back, " This is my sister, Marina". He gripped Marina's shoulders and held her in front of him.
"Hello", Clarisse smiled, the jealousy quickly subsiding and being over come by laughter, " It's very nice to meet you".
Marina turned to her brother and wrapped her arms around his neck again in a tight hug.
"Queen Clarisse?", she whispered hurriedly in her older brothers' are.
"Yes", he smiled, " Yes". Her face lit up, but now was not the time for questions.
"And this is my brother", Joseph added, gripping the man who had accompanied Marina by the arm, " Gustavo".
"Hello", Clarisse smiled again, noticing how like Joseph Gustavo was.
"hello", Gustavo smiled, kissing her hand. Oh yes, definitely Joseph's brother!
"Come on", Marin smiled, motioning to Clarisse to walk with her, " Time for a drink!"
Clarisse turned unsurely to Joseph but he simply nodded, falling into step with her and gripping her elbow, he whispered;
"If this I uncomfortable for you, Your Majes-". She shook her head quickly, closing her eyes for a second.
"No, this is one of the times in my life where I felt most comfortable at all", she answered, removing her elbow from his grip and instead, slipping her hand into his.
Joseph nearly jumped at the contact but how wonderful it felt. His thumb gently caressed the back of her hand and the electricity between them freely flowed.
Marina led them quickly to the bar that was jumping with the tango music, followed by the now smaller crowd, and from what Clarisse could tell, this was going to be a definite party night.
The bar was dark and smoky inside. Small wooden tables lined a well worn dance floor. A small tango band sat in the corner, concentrating on their wonderful music. Old men and women huddled in corners, tobacco smoke rising from pipes of gentlemen, swirling along with the music. A bar tender, no younger than twenty wore an old tux, looking severely comfortable in his surroundings.
At the back of the room, a large group was huddled around a cluster of the old rickety tables. All of them had those passionate eyes, from the youngest child, to the oldest adult. The same dark olive skin, the same serenely delicate smile.
"My family", Joseph motioned to the group as they crossed the dance floor, " and that's my nephew, behind the bar", he continued.
"Is this your sisters bar?", Clarisse questioned over the music.
"No", he laughed, shaking his head, " No, it's mine, Marina runs it for me"
"You're a dark horse", she laughed tilting her head back.
"Yes, many secrets", he answered seriously. Clarisse met his eyes with hers and so much more than words could ever convey was explained to her.
The group at once seemed to move as a body, descending on Joseph. A small old woman popped out from behind the group. She was well built, the type of woman who had mothered many children, who had chased chickens round barns, who had cooked to feed many a mouth.
"Beenie!", she smiled, walking over to Joseph and tugging his hand straight from Clarisse, pulled him into a grip surprisingly strong for a woman that old.
"Mama", he laughed, blushing a little. Beenie? Clarisse could hardly contain her laugh.
"Oh, Ma bambino!", Senora De La Viga fussed, patting her hands over him, " Have you lost weight?", she questioned, raising an eyebrow and putting her hands on her spongy hips.
"Mama! Leave me alone!", Joseph muttered. He could feel Clarisse shaking with laughter beside him and he felt considerably less cocky.
"Who is this?", Senora De La Viga shrieked, smiling at Clarisse, " Hmm, Beenie?"
"It's Clarisse", he mumbled.
"Clarisse!", he muttered a little louder. Hard of hearing in her old age as she was, Mr De La Viga certainly hadn't misheard that one. A secretive smile flashed quickly over her features and she knew it, she just knew it……….
Clarisse offered a hand and smiled as the older woman grasped it eagerly in a gentle shake.
"Clarisse, so glad to meet you", she bounced.
Sooner rather than later, Clarisse had been introduced to all of the family and made to feel part of it too. They were so kind to her, it was rather remarkable.
"Let's sit", Senora De La Viga smiled, taking Clarisse's hand. Her orders were clearly noted and all of her six children, 14 grandchildren and one great grandchild took their seats, knowing better to toy with their matriach when there was 'company'.
Clarisse sat with her wine glass in hand, the only alcohol she drank. And only one glass, it wasn't good for her and from previous experience, it went straight to her head. The conversation was so full of life, so fantastic that Clarisse could hardly imagine not being in these people's company anymore.
"I have to go to the phone for a moment", Joseph smiled after a while, letting go of her hand he had been holding since they had entered the place, " Will you be ok?". She nodded her answer, her smile still beaming.
Joseph stepped into the night air and into the phone box. He lifted the receiver and dialled the number.
"Anton?…..Yes, is it safe?……..No, hold out till morning….Ok, tell His Majesty his wife is perfectly safe……uhuh….goodnight".
Joseph clinked the receiver back on the hook and leaned against the Perspex screen. Here he was…with her, for the whole night. Yet, he knew he was so very wrong, wrong indeed. How could he do this to his king, how could he not want his queen?
She was in there and whether anything happened tonight or never, ever did, he intended to spend this time with her.
As he entered back into the homely atmosphere, the proper dancers had taken to the floor. He watched Clarisse watch them, transfixed in their intricate and passionate movements. An urge swept him. He hadn't danced a proper tango in years and he'd give anything to dance with her. He doubted very much if she knew anything other than a waltz which she done so properly and gracefully. Sighing, and pushing the hope to the back of the mind he made his way across and sat down beside her.
"I'd love to be able to dance like that", she mused absently.
"You can't?", he questioned, a little glumly. The hope was well and truly dispersed.
"The basics", she lied. Actually, sneeking off to grimy bars in the west of Pyrus when she was younger had taught her a lot more than the basics.
"I promised to show you everything", he whispered seductively in her ear. She closed her eyes for a moment, trying to resist it, it was damn near impossible.
"Yes", she replied huskily.
"Dance with me", he answered, offering her a hand as the band struck up another quick paced tango.
"Joseph, I can't…." she protested faintly as he gripped her hand and pulled her to her feet. She smiled lucidly at him, perhaps it was time to show him she new a lot more than the basics.
Her head swam leisurely as he pulled her into the centre of the dance floor, then tugged her roughly into his arms. Her leg lifted, locking round his thigh as he tilted her back, his breath roaming over her body. If he was shocked at her swift and very well placed dance movements, he certainly didn't show it. It was fast paced, passionate and Clarisse just let the years fall off her, transporting back to a time when dancing like this was nothing but fun. This was more than just fun… this was…..she lost all thought as his hand slipped gently down her torso, tilting her back as he held her.
He was concentrating avidly on the intricate dance steps, smoothing her quickly over with his hand. The room stilled a little as the floor cleared, leaving the two dancers very much alone in the most passionate tango nearly anyone in the bar had witnessed. The bar man stopped rubbing at the glass in his hand with his towel, the large group in the corner ceased to talk - all enthralled by the dancing.
The two of them were completely unaware of the world around them. Joseph swivelled her quickly as her hips moved to the rhythm against his and pushed her down, as if he was going to have his way with her, right there on the dance floor. She twisted out and then back into his arms, reaching up and stroking his face. Everything was hot, hearts thumping as the energy between them was released. Clarisse could feel ever inch of him against her as he spun her round, then a jolt of pleasure as he gripped her thigh and locked it round him. He gripped her wrist as she lifted to his face. The music drifted into its last few bars as there eyes locked, deep into each others soul.
She couldn't tear her eyes away, neither could he. They were keenly aware of the silence that had descended on the room, then the uproar of gratifying applause but it didn't stop them. Her breathing came quick against his face as her chest beat against him. Her face inched forward, their bottom lips touching. He couldn't stop himself. It washed over him and his lips devoured hers, tangoing now with their mouths. Clarisse burned under the contact, her mind telling her this was wrong, so very wrong, her heart screaming yes!
Suddenly she pulled from his grip and with one last painful look turned quickly on her heels, running out of the bar. The applause quickly halted as the whole place watched her heave open the door and disappear into the night. He stood quite still for a moment as he watched her go, shock playing with every fibre of his body. What had just….? God, he had just kissed her and let her go, what was he doing. Managing to make his feet move again, he followed the trail of perfume she'd left behind.
The night air pierced him this time, seeming a hell of a lot colder than it had before. He scanned the nearly deserted square. It wasn't hard to miss someone he knew very well. She was sitting on a bench, her head buried in her hands, her body shaking slightly. For a moment, he didn't know what to do. She was crying, why was she crying? Crossing the square, he stopped a few feet from the bench.
Clarisse had heard his footsteps, but she could bare to look at him. She had given into her hearts deepest desires, she had kissed him, yet she felt emptiness and terrible, terrible guilt. For the love of god, she was a mother, a wife, a queen! And she had acted like that.
"Clarisse", he whispered when she clearly refused to look up.
"Yes?", she said suddenly, her stony manner reapperaing quicker than a breath.
"I -", he was taken back, not thinking this was the kind of reception he'd receive.
"Joseph", she laughed flippantly, " I just feel unwell, after all it was…it was only a dance".
He looked up sharply, his eyes boring into hers.
"Only a dance?", he questioned cuttingly. Her heart froze, of course it wasn't just a dance but what else could she say.
"Well yes", she smiled, shrugging her shoulders and standing up.
"What else has only been something!", he growled suddenly, she inclined back, " Are those looks you throw me just looks, are the times you hold my hand simply because you are cold, are all your advances for fun?"
"Joseph, I'm… just go!", she suddenly shouted into the midnight air.
"Tell me all of it Clarisse, tell me every time you touched me in there was for fun, tell me every time you've looked at me was a joke and you'll have your wish, Your Majesty", he spat, " Tell me it was a lie, go on tell me, tell me!". He was mere inches from her face and yet she wasn't afraid, she could never be afraid of him. She didn't answer and after seconds, he turned his back on her.
"Joseph, please….", she begged suddenly, running behind him and placing a tight grip on his shoulders. She didn't know how she got the strength but from somewhere she did and swivelling him to face her, she looked into his burning eyes. In a moment, her lips where on his, burning his skin. He pulled her nearer, kissing her with just as much passion back. He demanded freedom of her mouth, crashing all walls between them, letting the scorching current burn through both of them.
She gently pushed him away, rubbing her cheek against his so she didn't convey the wrong message.
"Everything, it all meant something", she whispered in his ear, " God, it meant everything Joseph…..It meant - it meant I love you".
He smiled against her, pulling her so she was impossibly closer.
"I love you , Clarisse", he whispered, closing his eyes, " I love you, I love you".
Again her lips descended on his, this time more caring, more heartfelt than their first rushed kiss. Yes, he was definitely a good kisser….and a fantastic dancer.
Found this one in the vaults of my castle, did you enjoy it?