A/N: I'm SO sorry! I'm excruciatingly slow with this story! I know!!

The Rose's Ruse

Chapter 11

Blair frowned, her cherry lips pouted as it hadn't done since she was a child. Was she... bad? Charles (yes, Charles) was the one who had all but left his mark on her, and yet he was now acting as though she had contracted some dreadful disease.

Honestly, the way he was acting, one would think that she was the commoner of the pair. Regardless of her family's current financial situation, the Waldorfs still had history. The only history that Charles had was his days of whoring and philandering.

What was the matter with the man?

The carriage rolled to a stop in front of an inn that sat peacefully atop a hill overlooking London's warm lights. She stared out the window at the city she was always forbidden by her father to enter as a child and felt her heart pump with excitement at the very thought that her dainty foot would step upon that soil marked with sin. Her father had warned her of city men - of their lechery and lies and if Charles was any mark of a man, her father was right.

"Why are we stopping, Thomas? We haven't much longer of the road. We could reach the manor before supper if we hurry." Chuck was impatient. She could tell as much by the way his eyes shifted and his knees bumped against the seat.

"Sir, the roads are not safe after nightfall. It was per your request that we only travel by the day for fear of the lady's safety." He finally spared Blair a glance - a glance that made her breath stop yet paralyzed her from looking anywhere else except into his eyes. With a sigh, he tore himself away, departing from the carriage and entering the homely inn without a backward glance. The footman hurriedly came to take her hand to assist her from her seat.

She was certain the scoundrel found her attractive, but now...

She took her supper in her room, not keen on the idea of being judged while she ate or, worse, ignored altogether. The candle in front of the vanity mirror lit up the room and she grasped at the strings of her corset, undoing her dress until she was left in her loose cotton gown. Dorota had long gone to rest in the adjacent room and Blair was left to her own devices to inspect the lines left by the boning of her corset. She lifted the hem to just below her breast and traced a finger down the red mark there. The price of beauty was apparent on her fair skin.

"Fuck, you're gorgeous."

She quickly lowered the material and turned from her reflection to find her charge standing there, the whole of his weight leaning unsteadily on the door frame. He held a glass of scotch - the kind her father used to drink only on special occasions - and she shivered at the memory of the last time he was consumed with spirits.

"Charles."

He sneered, the candle's shadows performed a menacing dance upon his face. "Don't call me that. My father calls me that." He stumbled into the room and Blair backed away, the material of her dress brushed against the back of her calves as she hit the edge of her bed. "I won't hurt you."

"I think you should leave now, Charles." Her voice was shaky and there was a part of her - the part of her that couldn't control her shaking knees and heated skin - that wanted so desperately for him to stay.

"I said don't call me that!" He threw himself at her and the two fell neatly onto the blankets - one on top of the other. She could feel the warmth from his body through the thin material of his nightgown and the way he pinned her wrists to the soft bedding and held her eyes rendered her speechless. She shivered in the way his broad chest leaned heavily on the soft flesh of her breasts and his weight on her hip. "Are you cold?" His face loomed close over hers, . "I could warm you up."

He grazed his teeth against her earlobe and she gasped, a shuddering, excited gasp that was accompanied by the turn of her head for access. The alcohol was sour on his breath and hot on his skin. She flushed a deep red that spread from her cheek down her pale swan neck. She should have yelled stop or pushed at the very least, but he simply rendered her useless. Her legs hung limp off the side of the bed and her breath came in such short bursts that she was afraid that her entire body would just explode.

He extended her hands above her head, one hand trapping the two dainty wrists while the other slid down the side of her body. She had never felt so self-conscious as she did then, with his intense gaze gauging her every reaction and her traitorous body melting, pliable beneath his teach. "I can certainly warm you up," he whispered against her lips before he claimed them with his own, his tongue staking territory even as she tried to take a breath.

The hand on her knee curled around itself and brought the material, the hem that had skimmed the floor at her ankle, together in his grip. He slid, a rough hand brushing over her soft, pale skin where her thighs faced each other, and marveled at the velvet skin there, even softer than her face. The heel of his palm came to rest in the dusting of curls and he applied pressure just as nipped at her lip.

He wanted in. God, he wanted in and from the groans at the back of her throat, Blair was in no position to object. He could bury himself in her again and again, her breasts weighing down in his hands and her strawberry mouth all over him. He was her master, after all.

And woman. It had been so long since he had his last woman that he painfully ached to press himself inside.

She pushed against him, desire digging its claws into her for the first time and though she was not quite sure what it was that she lusted after, she was certain she could receive it from him. "Charles, please."

Her breathless voice, the way her ivory gown was loose around her shoulder and her lily white legs spread wantonly beneath him; he nearly embarrassed himself in the bedding.

But no, she had said Charles... and he remembered.

He couldn't want her. Not now.

He tore himself away as though she burned him. And she did. Oh how she did. Even as she laid on her bed, confused and immobile, she burned him.

He was certain it was hellfire.

* * *

The next day had been an awkward affair. Blair had spent the entire night agonizing over the heat he had poured over her. The ache between her legs only grew as she thought of him, his tongue rough against her neck and his hands hard and punishing on her hips. Would it not be blasphemy, she would have prayed for him to return to her room to finish what he had began. To save her from this... illness he had inflicted upon her.

So when they boarded the carriage, she sat by Dorota and took extra care to minimize any sort of physical contact with him. Likewise, he did the same.

They stopped before a majestic mansion the likes of which Blair had never seen. It would have easily spanned across her property and then some. There was a man awaiting their arrival, his age similar to her own father and at the thought of him, long-repressed tears misted her eyes. The man took her hand with a kiss as she descended and she recognized him to be Bartholomew Bass, the man who had taken away half of her father's possessions. "I am truly sorry for your loss, Miss Waldorf. Your father was a good man, but I am afraid we are all at the mercy of His Majesty's temper these days. I promise you, as long as you are in London, you are in my care. No harm should come to you."

She nodded. She could not trust herself with the hateful words that threatened to spill trouble before her.

"Father, I am unaccustomed to such a warm welcome."

The older man's face fell sternly and even Blair could feel the tension between the father and son. "Charles, I hope you've done well with the post to which I assigned you. If I hear of even one complaint from Ms. Waldorf, I will not be taking it lightly, do you understand?"

"Yes, father."

Lord Bass gave a curt nod before turning and offering his arm to Blair. "Now you must be exhausted from the journey. Allow me to lead you to your room." Blair spared Chuck a backwards glance as she walked away. She had never seen the lively pirate so put out before and the attention his father lavished on her was laced with guilt.

Perhaps coming to London was a poor decision, after all.