A.N - Hey, guys. :). I've been wondering ... do any of you guys have twitter? I got it a few weeks back and I reckon it'd be really cool to like follow you guys and stuff. You'd get an insight into my amazingly cool life. Or not. Seriously, my best tweet today was: "Damn spoilt cat. Of all the places to choose to sleep, he chooses my silk pillow." But yeah. I'll put the link up on my profile. Just follow me, tell me you're from ff and I'll follow you, sound good?
Haha. Now for the chapter. It's actually alright. I kinda hope you all hate Paul after this. :D
Jesse froze. His heart skipped a beat and he swallowed around the choking feeling that clenched his throat. In his arms, Susannah stood silently crying; he could feel his shirt dampen with her tears. His clutch on her grew imperceptibly tighter.
"What?" He managed to cough out. "You're … leaving? To go to him?"
Susannah looked up at him, blinking wide, watery, emerald eyes. "I don't want to Jesse." Her voice was laced with indignation. "Don't you ever think that. Given the choice between staying here, with you and your family, and going to live with Paul …" She broke off with a sharp intake of breath. "It would be you, every time Jesse."
His eyes bore into hers, catching and holding her gaze. In their depths she saw a myriad of emotions: hurt, anger, fear, love. It was the last one, in particular, that held her there.
In one smooth motion, Jesse stooped down and caught Susannah's lips in a kiss, touching his lips against hers sweetly for what seemed like hours. And even when they broke apart to breathe, it still wasn't long enough.
"Tell me what Paul said, Susannah." His voice was low as he sat down on a nearby chair, pulling Susannah to sit alongside him. His hand was clasped in hers. "Every word. I need to know."
Taking a deep breath, she recounted the evening's events, ignoring Jesse's tightening jaw and the look of anger that swept over his features whenever she mentioned Paul's name.
"And the ultimatum?"
"He said … He told me that," Susannah paused and gathered her words, her eyes staring down determinedly at their interlinking hands, and not Jesse's face. "He said that you and your family had been banished." The tightening of his body revealed that there was at least some truth in Paul's statement. "He told me that he could have you – all of you – killed with one word to his father."
Jesse's eyes fell shut. "Nombre de Díos." He muttered.
"Is it true, Jesse?" Susannah questioned. "Can he really do that?"
Now would be ideal, Jesse thought. He could tell her who he really was, and what Paul had done to him and his father. There was a scar still along his side from where Slater himself had caught Jesse with his knife. He shook the thought out of his head. Not now. He couldn't add to all her worries and stress with the horrors of his past.
"Sí, querida," Jesse whispered. "He can. Mí familia and I … we were banished from this kingdom, yes."
Her features set in an expression of steely determination. "Then I must go with him."
Jesse began to protest, his mouth fell open ready to form the words 'no' and 'never' and scream them at her until they sunk in, but he stopped himself. As much as it pained him, she was right.
No, what was he thinking? There were other ways.
"Susannah, no." His voice was firm. "You don't have to. Mama and my sisters and me, we can go. Leave the kingdom like we were told to, and –"
Susannah shook her head. "It's easier for me to go to him. You and your family love it here, I know. I won't take that away from you."
"Querida," Jesse protested. "You don't how dangerous he is. You have no idea what he could do to you."
Another shake of her head. "He doesn't mean me any harm. That I know."
Marta's words from earlier stood out in his mind. I think he may just be as fiercely protective over her as you, for, perhaps, the same reason. At the very least, Paul lusted after Susannah and he wouldn't hurt her. Not until he'd had his cruel fun, at least.
"Yes," Jesse replied, his voice emotionless and sarcastic. "That we all know."
"I'm sorry, Jesse. Really, I truly am."
"Hey," his fingers gently pushed her chin up to look at her face. "It's not your fault. None of this is your fault. You have no reason to apologise."
Tears welled in her eyes again. "Do you think that tonight you could just … be with me?" Catching his expression, she shook her head and smiled a watery smile. "No, not that. Just, hold me? While we sleep. Tomorrow night I'll be at Paul's and this is the last night I can spend with you."
The jealousy that consumed him was irrational and instantaneous. He knew how she felt for Paul; how she felt for himself. He knew he had nothing to worry about.
Still, the thought of her in Paul's domain: his rules, his whims …
Jesse nodded and embraced her to him fiercely, his chin resting atop her head. He stared, unseeing, across at the wall opposite, ignoring the tears that welled in his eyes and the single tear that overflowed. "Yes, querida." He said quietly. "I can."
Paul's carriage was visible from a while away. Paul himself was only revealed as Susannah and Jesse rounded the corner, all her luggage in tow. He was leaning against the carriage with a sort of satisfied nonchalance. A smirk graced his mouth.
Susannah had argued with him incessantly about this morning, about letting her go and meet Paul alone. Jesse mentally scoffed, like that was going to happen. Waking up with Susannah (both of them fully clothed) in his arms had been like heaven to him and he was losing that slice of pure bliss due to Paul Slater's manipulative ways. She was going to be alone with him for who knew how long. Jesse, at least, would come with her to say goodbye.
And a few choice words to Paul Slater.
"Morning, Jesse." Paul greeted. "I had a feeling I'd be seeing you here."
Jesse gritted his teeth. "Paul." He nodded his acknowledgement and Paul grinned, utterly pleased with himself. "I need a word with you," Jesse continued, narrowing his eyes. "Alone."
Paul raised an eyebrow. "Of course, let me just settle Susannah in …" He reached out a hand to her, only to have Jesse's hand snake around her waist and crush her to him.
Susannah gazed up at him, wide-eyed and breathless. "Thank you for last night, querida." Jesse whispered, knowing perfectly well that Paul could hear him. He took pleasure from the jealousy clouding Paul's blue eyes. "And, I just wanted you to know that," he paused and took a breath. "I love you, and –"
An excited squeal cut him off; his words swallowed by Susannah's eager kisses. His arms tightened around her waist as he lost himself in her. She pulled away and smiled up at him. "I love you too. I'll miss you."
"I'll miss you too."
Jesse was about to kiss her again, his lips a centimetre or two away from hers, until he suddenly found his arms empty. Paul had taken advantage of his distraction and jerked Susannah out of his grasp. His eyes hardened.
"That was a heart-warming goodbye," Paul drawled sarcastically, barely covering his angry tones. "But I believe you wanted to talk to me?"
Jesse nodded as his eyes followed Susannah climbing into the carriage, her one bag having already been loaded in before her. She paused before the door was shut on her, smiling sadly and blowing a kiss his way. The second, however, that the door was shut, Jesse focused his full attention on Paul.
"If you," he spat, "touch her at all, in any way, I will kill you."
Paul looked almost amused. "And if she wants it, what then?"
"She doesn't. Didn't you just hear? She loves me." Jesse smiled, letting the words wash over him again. "Me."
"That can be fixed." Paul smirked again, maliciously. "Especially seeing as you won't be going near her again."
All the version of replies he could possibly have made abandoned Jesse in that instant.
"You can't keep her locked up, Paul." Jesse spat.
"I'm not going to. I'm just going to keep her from you." Paul smiled. "Unless, of course, you want Susannah to find out your precious secret." He paused and bowed mockingly. "Your highness. Or you want me to tell my father that you're here."
"How do I know you won't do that anyway?"
"Because of Susannah. As much as I don't understand it, it would hurt her to see you killed. Besides," Paul shrugged. "You're my leverage. If you were killed, I'd have no reason to keep her with me. And I want her with me for a very long time."
Jesse's hands closed into tight fists; the urge to punch, to hit, was overwhelming.
"So," Paul reiterated. "You'll stay away from her if you want your family to live. And if you want Susannah safe from harm – I'm not above hurting her to keep you in line. Eventually she'll think you want nothing to do with her anymore. I'll be there, of course, to help her through such a … difficult time."
Paul took a step backwards, heading towards the carriage when he stopped himself and turned back to face Jesse. "Oh, I almost forgot. Thanks for breaking her in last night. Virgins are a pain to begin with."
Then, cruelly, he slapped Jesse's cheek twice and disappeared into the carriage where Susannah was before Jesse's rage could fully manifest. In the next moment, the carriage jerked into action, carrying Susannah away from him.
Jesse's eyes narrowed after it. Paul Slater would pay for this.