"Just a moment." Clarisse's voice was muffled through the bedroom door. Shades stood on the other side of the former Queen's chamber door waiting for her emergence. Hearing the occupants of the room quickly shuffling around he wondered exactly what he had interrupted. But then again, he really didn't want to know.

"Ow!" Joseph cried out in pain as he stubbed his toe on the bed.

"Shhh!" Clarisse admonished him as she tried to button up her jacket. "He'll hear you."

"Well, I'm sorry, but it hurt." He began adjusting himself as he zipped up his pants.

"How do I look? Presentable?" His wife looked more than presentable, she looked ravishing. Joseph couldn't help himself, he was totally and completely in love with his wife. Even now, as they approached their one year anniversary, he wanted her with the same ferocity that he had for the past decade. Time together had only increased his desire for his wife, every time they made love, he wanted more, needed more. Being sated was only a physical state for him, mentally, he would always want her – need her.

Unfortunately, royal life didn't always coincide with his desires for his wife. This afternoon being a case in point. Clarisse had informed him that she was planning on visiting the orphanage that afternoon and asked for him to accompany her. He had gladly accepted her invitation, and as a "reward" for his actions, she had given him a kiss. A kiss which he promptly turned into something more – something that she whole-heartedly accepted. Clothes had just started being removed when Shades had knocked on the door telling her majesty that the car would be ready in five minutes. And thus, the marathon of re-dressing had begun.

"Yes, you look..." he couldn't say wonderful, he couldn't even say ravishing. She looked absolutely beguiling to him. Her light pink skirt and suit jacket did nothing for the heated tone of her skin. There was a flush to her cheeks and a haze in her eyes that made him wonder how either of them would make it through the afternoon surrounded by prying eyes. "delicious." There was no other word for it – at least none that he would chance having his former second in command of overhearing.

"Oh well…" the flush on her cheeks became a dark crimson. "shall we?"

The trip to the orphanage had been wonderful. Mia, as queen, had definitely put a lot of effort into the adoption of orphans, and the children in the home who hadn't been adopted were thriving. All in all, it had been a productive afternoon – hearing the children's desires, hopes, and dreams and devising ways to fulfill the young one's desires. But at the moment, Joseph was in the mood to fill his own desire. His interrupted afternoon tryst with his wife had left him with a terrible ache for her. Finding the inner door to her office open, and Charlotte nowhere to be seen, he slipped into his wife's office and shut the door.

"Oh Charlotte, I need to…"

"It's not Charlotte." He answered his wife as he turned the lock to the double doors.

"Joseph?" Clarisse turned around from her bookshelf and was surprised to see her husband approaching her desk. "Is anything the matter?"

"No, nothing's the matter." He approached her stealthily.

"Then what…" Her question was cut off by his lips pressing against hers.

"I believe, my dear wife, that we were rudely interrupted earlier today." His arms encircled her, pulling her close to him.

"Well, yes, but…" Again, her words were stopped by his probing lips. She felt his hands slip underneath her jacket, his fingers warm against her skin.

"Clarisse" he groaned her name as he found the clasp to her bra. His lips began moving, up along her jaw. His beard prickling her skin, his tongue soothing the small abrasions.

"Charlotte?" Clarisse knew the young woman was working with her today on some last minute items for Mia.

Combating his wife's ingrained desire to work, his mouth darted for her weak spot . "Not at her desk." His lips nibbled at the freckled skin just below her ear.

Joseph wasn't fighting fair. Clarisse knew she needed to complete her work, and yet, her husband was doing the most delicious things to her neck. She had to fight, she had to stop him…she knew she couldn't stop herself. "The doors…"

And then she gave up the fight with his one word answer "locked." Her groan of capitulation was music to his ears. He pressed her against the bookshelf, needing for her to feel his arousal, for her to know how strong his desire was. His hands moved under her jacket to cup her breasts. They were so soft, so full, so…"Clarisse." The pebbled nipples pierced his palms. He kissed her savagely, robbing her of her breath. He felt her fingers fumbling to release him. He needed her, he needed to consume her.

He pulled back from her, watching as she maintained her balance by leaning against the shelves, her chest heaving. The shelves were filled with books upon books of stories about love, love lost, love found, requited, unrequited, and yet, words failed to describe his wife at the moment. She was so open to him, so available, so…seductive. He needed her, he wanted her, NOW.

He turned to the desk behind him, and seeing that it was scattered with papers, he quickly shoved them off the desk. Sending papers flying everywhere, books crashing to the floor, picture frames teetering on the edge of the desk. Clarisse eyed her scattered work somewhat whistfully, but then Joseph reached behind him, blindly grabbing for her and she came willingly. He pulled her to him, and eased her against the edge of the desk, helping her ever so slightly to lift herself up. He felt her legs wrap around his, pulling him closer to her. His fingers found the buttons to her jacket, and he made quick work of them. The bra that he had unclasped earlier hung limply from her shoulders, she pulled it off frantically. Joseph's mouth watered at the sight of the hard, round, red protrusions that had pierced his palms earlier. He needed to feel them again, to taste them. He ducked, taking one into his mouth, his hand finding the other one.

Clarisse held Joseph to her. She loved it when he tended to her like this. She loved feeling his tongue, his teeth, his beard – all pleasing her. His hand pinched her right nipple and she moaned "yes!"

"Your Majesty?" She heard Charlotte's voice and it took her a moment to realize what it was. The intercom…the damn phone – she hadn't put it on 'do not disturb.' Feeling her husband pause in his ministrations, her fingers fumbled for the button.

She tried to calm her voice, to make herself sound as natural as possible. "Yes?"

"Ma'am, Prime Minister Motaz is here to see you." The young woman informed her, unaware of what she was interrupting.

That got Joseph's attention. He knew his wife would meet with the man, his need for copulation would have to wait.

"Thank you Charlotte." Clarisse was trying to get off her desk and find her missing garments.

"I'll show him in."

"No!" Clarisse almost yelled. But queens, or even former queens, don't yell. They merely raise their voices. "Er…what I mean is, would you please have tea set up in the garden?"

"Yes ma'am."

"I'll be with him shortly." And the connection was cut. Clarisse had to chuckle at the absurdity of the day. First, their morning romp had been cut short by the maids trying to clean the room, then Shades this afternoon, and now Charlotte. It seemed as if she and her husband were destined not to make love that day.

Her husband grumbled. "It's not funny Clarisse!"

"I know, I know, I'm sorry. But it is sort of funny." She began buttoning her jacket.

"Damn it, why couldn't he have shown up an hour later?" He sat down in the chair, trying to calm himself. "He has horrible timing."

Clarisse just smiled at her husband's bad mood. Yes, the prime minister had 'bad timing' but it wasn't his fault. How was he to know that the former queen was getting 'serviced' by her husband? Clarisse moved to the mirror, and tried to adjust her hair. She spoke over her shoulder "Darling, you could pick a better time for us to make love. You really have been 'off' today in your choices."

His grumbled reply could have been funny, if he hadn't struck a nerve with her. "Or you could initiate on occasion. It's not my fault that I don't know your schedule now."

As soon as the words had left his mouth, he regretted them. But, he couldn't take them back, and it was an issue that he had. Granted, this wasn't the time to discuss it, but the words were out now, and there was no going back.

Clarisse turned from the mirror, her eyes cold. "I see, well. If you will excuse me?" And she left him. Not a 'goodbye' not an argument, nothing. Joseph couldn't believe it. Since when did Clarisse back away from an argument?

As the door shut, he knew that he would have to make amends, but for the life of him he didn't know how. "Damn it!"

It had been a quiet few days around the palace. The staff didn't know what had happened between their former queen and her husband, but something obviously had. Whenever Clarisse and Joseph argued, the palace felt it. It wasn't often that it happened, but when it did, the palace was the last place anybody wanted to be.

Clarisse sat on the couch in her office, absently looking out the window. She and Joseph had let this fester for too long. How could he know that his words had cut her like a knife? 'How could he not know?' the voice inside her head asked. He had accused her of not initiating much of their sex-life. And, to her dismay, he was right. She didn't initiate – wasn't that his job? Rupert had always approached her for sex – letting her know that morning that he'd be joining her that evening. It gave her plenty of time to be ready for him. And Joseph? Joseph didn't tell her, he just did. Anywhere and anytime she had to be ready for him. 'You don't have to do anything, you want to.' Her mind screamed. And it was true. With Joseph, it had never been sex – well, not after their honeymoon, she conceded. In the month prior to their honeymoon, it had been sex. Pure and simple. Joseph had tired his damndest to break through her stoic queenly façade, trying to get her 'in the mood' by music, flowers, champagne, to little avail. In the midst of what she now realized was foreplay, she would always close herself off. 

She wouldn't allow herself to feel excitement, to feel aroused, to feel anything. And Joseph, bless him, had tried, he really had. After his third attempt, she had been shocked that he had left the bed in search of a shower. It wasn't anything new – she would seek out a shower also, but it was her discovery of what he did in the shower that shocked her. He would find his release there, in the warm water, not in her. That was the last time they had argued, nearly a year ago. And he had been right then too.

He had told her that he couldn't feel right about finding his release within her if she didn't sense pleasure. She had tried to assure him that she did find it pleasurable, she was his wife, and it was her duty. They had argued well into the night that evening, and he had come to her later the next day with the idea for a honeymoon. He had told her that if, after he was done with her, she didn't re-evaluate what pleasure and making love meant, then he wouldn't press the issue ever again.

He'd taken her away from the palace, away from the demands, away from it all. And she'd found pleasure in her husband, a new understanding of making love, and the ability to thoroughly enjoy her husband's attentions. He had been right almost a year ago, and, he was right now. "Damn" she hated when he was right. Or more precisely, when she was wrong.

Joseph received a note from Charlotte, from his wife. He almost crumpled it up. For the past three days there had been nothing but silence between them. He had tried to make amends that evening after her tea with the Prime Minister, but when she wouldn't acknowledge him, he gave up. That was three days ago. 'Three days, one hour, and 23 minutes to be precise' he thought. This was no way to live, no way to be married. They needed to talk through their problems, not ignore them. They hadn't slept apart, but it felt like she was a million miles away. It felt very much like their first month of marriage to him. She would sleep on her side of the bed, he on his, the two rarely meeting. After their honeymoon, there hadn't been sides of the bed – it had only been them cuddled together, and it had been wonderful. Joseph looked at the note in his hand and flipped it open.

Please join me at the stables for a ride this afternoon at 4:00. Me

His mind began to wonder if this was her olive branch. Would she apologize, or expect him to? And did he want to? 'Yes' he thought. 'But, I'm not wrong!' followed immediately behind that thought. And he wasn't wrong. He could count on one hand the number of times over the past year his wife had initiated making love. It was practically always him. He who seduced her, he who had to go to her and entice her into playing hokey, he who did everything. He looked down at his watch and realized it was later than he thought. He made his decision.

Clarisse stood just inside one of the stalls in the stable. Could she do this? 'Yes' Did she want to do this? 'yes'. Would he be surprised? 'Definitely.' She heard someone approaching. "Joseph?"

"Clarisse? Where are you?" Joseph heard her voice but couldn't see her.

"I'm in the last stall, please join me." She took a deep breath. 'It's now or never' she thought. Her husband walked past her into the empty stall. He turned in confusion as he heard the door slam shut.


Clarisse looked at her husband through lowered lashes as she ever so slowly swatted the riding crop against her open palm. Her gaze smoldered as her eyes made their way up and down his body. She licked her lips as the crop made a final snap against her riding gloves. Seeing that she had her husband's full attention, she tossed the small whip to him.

"Clarisse, what are you doing?" He swallowed as grasped the crop in midair.

Her hands found their way to the buttons of her jacket as she answered him soflty. "Initiating."

Ok, so as I look back over this chapter, let's go over the apparent inspirations. "The Mirror Has Two Faces" and episode of "Coach". They're both about 1 line big in here, but just in case - I gotta say "no infringement meant."

Thanks to Rach - you rock...now, go get a massage. Bwahahahaha.

Sandra - I will beta again soon...as soon as my muse goes CJ cold.

And everyone else, thanks for reading, reviewing, and enjoying.