A/N: Umm, yeah...it's been a while. My humble excuses include moving, going to grad school, losing a parent, and working on original fiction. I've actually had 2/3rds of this chapter done for over 2 years (and several renditions). This one was hard for me. As one reviewer commented last time, it seems like our lovely couple is moving apart - which in my writing plan was necessary in order for them to ultimately grow closer. I hope this transitional chapter puts them back on a workable path. Their road ahead will not be easy, so it is essential they have at least some sort of foundation (aside from mutual attraction) to build from. Anyhow, if you are still willing to read, I hope you will enjoy.

In review: Sarah finds herself whisked away to the Labryinth six years after her initial visit with Jareth claiming she originally accepted his offer with the stipulation that he give her more time in the human world. Not realizing that Sarah had chalked up her experience to a dream, thus forgetting her promise to him, Jareth goes ahead as they had mutually agreed and implants a part of his magical soul to Sarah upon her return to the Labyrinth, effectively binding them together. Now reunited, he says she is his betrothed and will become his full-fledged wife once the marriage is consummated. Unbeknownst to Sarah, Jareth bargained with the High King to allow Sarah, a mortal, to ascend to Fae status and become a monarch of the Underground provided she proves her worth to the race by supplying Jareth with an heir (this is the kind of story where Fae have a low fertility rate.) If Sarah does not become Fae, she cannot become queen, and Jareth will also be stripped of his Fae status since he shared part of his soul with her. And to make things even more complicated, they only have three months to prove her worth. So, we have Jareth desperately in love with Sarah, and Sarah attracted to, but wary of Jareth. Sarah does not know about the soul-binding, or the pregnancy clause, and is instead focused on trying to navigate her feelings amidst the natural duplicity of the Fae, thinking she is merely holding off their official 'marriage' by keeping her distance. Last chapter, we learned that Aralia, a court ambassador had arrived to assess their progress. By this chapter, the two have formed a bargain that Sarah will play the role of a besotted wife in public to fool the court, and in exchange, Jareth pledges not to push her too fast with the advancement of the consummation. However, Jareth's definition of taking things slowly is a bit more advanced than Sarah, who is already hanging by a thread in rebuffing his advances. Jareth's backup plan in case Sarah does not concede is to send Raelle - a delightful shape-shifting hobgoblin and also Sarah's best friend - to another nobleman to procure an elixir which will change Sarah to a Fae (not mentioned in this chapter, but useful background knowledge.) When we left off, Jareth was angry at Sarah for running scared, again, and Sarah was warring with herself to deny that her feelings for him might go beyond lust. For further detail, feel free to reread the first 13 chapters. I did ;)

Chapter 14

A Disproportionate Display of Maturity

Sarah's POV

I felt utterly ridiculous. Standing just outside the solarium entryway for nearly thirty minutes, clad in a dress that I imagined even a hooker would question, I was overcome with an overwhelming sense of self-doubt. I could hear a female voice tinkling - yes, tinkling - merrily about some Elven duchess and her woebegone beau. Clearly I was quoting. Did people really still use the word 'woebegone'?

Not people, Sarah; Fae...mythical creatures stuck in some perpetual Renaissance Festival reality.

And somehow I was selected to be their queen. I could practically imagine a smug, "I told you so" from Karen, who never missed an opportunity to tease me about my fairy tale obsessions, or lecture me about growing up.

If only she could see me now...

I peered around the corner of the doorframe for the hundredth time and really took in the sight before me. Jareth appeared to be sulking in a chair facing a battery of floor-to-ceiling windows which displayed a garden anointed by the soft golden hues of the morning sun. Beyond, the Labyrinth rose in the dewy mist like some lost magical city of old. The view was the very definition of breath-taking, and yet a distinct glower dominated his handsome face, undoubtedly growing even more aggravated by my tardiness. A feeling of discomfort rioted in me. For once, he was angry at me, and try as I might to rustle up a defense I really couldn't blame him. But I sure as hell didn't like it.

And then there were his two companions. The elegant Fae ladies sat to the side of Jareth with practiced smiles plastered on their too-perfect faces. The one speaking I'd seen through Raelle's magic, though that carbon copy could scarcely do the woman justice. The other was a younger version, and just as painfully beautiful. Both had shiny copper hair which fell in thick waves to their waists and delicate cornflower blue eyes set in porcelain complexions. I was beginning to realize there was no such thing as an ugly Fae. Seriously, with all of this beauty at his fingertips, why the hell was Jareth so hell-bent on claiming me?

"What are you doing lurking in the doorway, Sar?" Raelle's sudden voice literally made my heart jump.

"Jeeze, Ray, give me a heart attack, why don't ya!"

She grinned. "Sorry." She grabbed my arm and led me away from my vantage point. "So why aren't you in there schmoozing with the big wigs?"

I sighed but didn't answer, because frankly, I was still trying to figure that out myself.

Raelle stood back and let her eyes roam over my...ensemble. "And what the hell are you wearing? Is that a nightgown?"

Was it? I plucked at the froth of fabric clinging to my skin. Huh; maybe it was lingerie?

Her eyes – now a beautiful, but false human hazel – glinted with mirth. "Wait a minute..." Her fingers started ticking off her hidden thoughts as she paced back and forth. "Spent the night with the king, standing here alone, dressed like a slut – "

"Hey!" I protested feebly.

She simply glared and continued, "- about to meet Elven Barbie and her evil spawn and shakin' in your boots..."

Evil spawn? So the younger Fae was the daughter. I tucked that bit of info away and tried to keep up with the spastic hobgoblin.

She stopped and turned toward me. "Let me guess; you are still a virgin, and in the doghouse with His Majesty. Just how long have you been standing out here, anyways? They're already at the end of breakfast!"

My cheeks flamed. "Not that it is any of your business whatsoever, but Jareth and I have come to an understanding about our...relationship, and if he's upset with me it's his own damn problem! I'm not the one who keeps pushing the limits of our bargain!"

Raelle grinned. "Good. Maybe it's time to remind him of that spirit!" Without a moment's hesitation, she shoved me sputtering through the doorway.

"May I present her esteemed majesty, the Lady Sarah from Above." Raelle swept her arm before me in some ridiculous courtly gesture before hopping out of my reach and fleeing down the hallway. Smart goblin.

I surveyed the room with all the dignity you can possibly muster in under two seconds. I felt like one of those geeks in a teen movie that trips in the cafeteria and ends up covered in chocolate pudding while standing next to the popular kids' table. Only, in this reality, I was supposed to be the cool kid, not the painfully awkward outsider. So I met each of the three pairs of otherworldly eyes that were boring holes in my face and smiled brightly. Hell, chocolate pudding was delicious!

Yum, Jareth covered in chocolate pudding...Oh my god, where does my brain keep getting these thoughts?

Straightening my back and squaring my shoulders, I gave my best impression of a runway model as I approached Jareth. "Good morning, milord," I stated sweetly, leaning over to place a soft kiss on his cheek. A fine tremor ran between our skin, but I couldn't tell if it was my embarrassed nerves, or his lingering anger.

Nonetheless, he stood, took my hand, and pulled me into his embrace. "My darling Sarah; you have kept us waiting." His tone was light, but colder than I would've liked.

Yeah...Still angry.

"My apologies to you, and our guests," I turned to offer a smile to the awaiting ladies, "I suppose I was just so exhausted from...last night."

I dug deep into my acting arsenal to affect a demure picture of womanhood, and then let my free hand slide down Jareth's spine and rest just above his taut backside, giving it a quick squeeze and letting my eyes reflect some of the heat I'd felt for him this morning.

Without waiting for any reaction on his part, I approached the two visiting Fae and held out my hand. "I'm pleased to meet you, Lady Aralia. You and your daughter are most welcome here."

Aralia's mouth twisted into a half-sneer, half-laugh, and her hand demonstrated the very definition of 'leaving me hanging.' Apparently, hand-shaking was not a common custom here. "How quaint," she stated as 'Skipper Elf' lowered in a faint curtsy.

"Aralia..." Jareth's voice was a quiet threat behind me.

I fought the trickle of unease marching over my entire body as Aralia circled me slowly...appraisingly. I managed to sing the entire first verse of "Eye of the Tiger" in my thoughts before she finally spoke.

"Clearly you'll need some advice on appropriate dress," she drawled as her eyes scanned my outfit. "Not to mention her complete lack of courtly manners..."

My anger began to blossom as she continued her perusal, speaking about me like cattle at an auction block...or a slave. But I wasn't a slave. I was going to be a queen, wasn't I?

...it's the thrill of the fight...

Her attention then snapped to Jareth. "Really, Jareth, I expected more. Has Aetia not versed her on such simple matters yet? Tsk. It really is impossible to find good help. Such a pity."

...rising up to the challenge of our rivals...

Despite all my training in acting, I never was able to tame my pride. I felt it bubble within me even as I forced my voice into pleasant tones. "And pray tell what place a housekeeper would have in advising her queen on what she should wear?" I found myself responding, secretly disturbed at the ease in which the haughty, Jareth-like words escaped my lips.

Aralia laughed. "You are so precious! But, you are not a queen yet. And, from what I understand, you are not even a true wife yet, are you darling girl?"

My cheeks blazed in mortification at her implication.

"See," she turned to Jareth once more, positively gleeful. "It wasn't so difficult to expose the truth of the situation after all."

My eyes briefly met Jareth's. Though he had seemed so genuinely disgusted with me less than an hour before, his current expression only reflected annoyance. Was he annoyed at me, or her?

He approached us slowly and leveled his gaze at Aralia. "My lady merely exhibits the epitome of a blushing bride. Perhaps a woman of your...caliber...has forgotten the delicate bloom of exploring one's innocence."

With a dismissive turn of his shoulder, he passed the now sour-faced princess and stalked toward me. "Forgive me precious for not escorting you this morning. You seemed so peaceful when I left you, I could not bring myself to interrupt your beauty sleep." He reached my side and gently stroked his fingers across my cheek before settling his lips just below my ear in a chaste kiss. "Do not disappoint me, Sarah," he privately whispered before standing to his full height.

Over his shoulder, I saw a flicker of strong emotion cross Aralia's face. Jealousy. Green and true. So that was her problem? Miss Fancy Pants Fairy wanted in the pants of MY fairy pain-in-the-ass? Her slip of envy was merely a drop of water compared to the possessive tidal wave which surged in my chest. Angry or annoyed, passionate or pissed, it all boiled down to one thing: Jareth. Was. Mine. Mine to love, mine to loathe, just...mine. It clicked into place so suddenly I might've sworn it was a trick of magic, but I was done lying to myself. As if he could sense some imminent battle brewing between Aralia and me, I felt Jareth shift back, but I grabbed the front of his vest and held tight. My green eyes met his stormy ones and I willed him to understand that this was no longer a game to me.

"I dare say, milord, your lady would have more of you than a peck on the cheek," I spoke somewhat breathlessly. Swallowing thickly and gathering every shred of emotion I'd ever felt for Jareth – fear, lust, anger, and did I mention lust? – I grabbed the sides of his face and forced his mouth to find mine. With the smallest of moans, his tongue delved past my lips as his arms crushed me against his chest. His lips were no more magical than they'd been before, but this was finally the surrender we'd somehow both been waiting for. If feelings had colors than bright gold was bursting from my chest. My breath fled my body, but I couldn't be bothered to care as delicious flames replaced the oxygen in all of my cells. Regardless of how this kiss started, I never wanted it to end.

Seconds, minutes, perhaps hours later, a slow set of claps broke into my awareness.

"Bravo. Quite the display, though a kiss hardly proves anything. Even betrayal can be heralded by a kiss."*

I turned my face into the shelter of Jareth's shoulder and took a deep, steadying breath, though his scent did little to calm my racing pulse. My voice was somewhat muffled and likely a bit shaky when I finally responded, "I would guess you would know, Lady Aralia. But I assure you, as much as I enjoy His Majesty's lips upon my own, the feeling is a mere shadow of the pleasure he brings me when he applies them...other places."

As if to further my statement with a visual preview, I felt Jareth's now swollen lips tease along the column of my neck, sending another jolt through my system. My thoughts were suddenly very far from this stuffy little room and the snooty company it contained.

The smile never left her face, but I'd taken enough acting classes to see the truth of her feelings expressed in her eyes. We had not fully convinced her, but there was doubt brimming in her conscience. A silent stand-off soon ensued, but hell if Jareth or I would break first.

Finally, with the smallest of huffs, Aralia shifted her face into neutral lines and spoke; "Well, as lovely as this first meeting has been, I wish to visit with a few old acquaintances in Goblin City. Shall we reconvene for the evening meal? I trust you will inform the High King that we arrived safely?"

"You know as well as I do that every moment of your sojourn with us will be chronicled with the greatest care for the High Court, Aralia," Jareth replied, though his focus never left my face.

"Excellent. Come, Alyce; we take our leave."

Alyce? Seriously? Did every Fae lady's name begin with A? The errant thought flitted away as quickly as it arrived as my attention was almost violently drawn back to my fiancé and his long fingers wrapped around my wrist.

The sound of heels clicking against stone faded in the distance. And then there were two.

Jareth POV

I scarcely noticed the abrupt exit of our unfortunate guests. The sudden surge of possession emanating from Sarah to myself still pounded through our soul connection. I had nearly lost my balance when it hit, quickly followed by her damnable attack on my lips. And then, the soul bond had quite literally ignited. She unwittingly claimed me in the same fashion I had her, effectively fortifying the connection I had so recently committed to rending.

My body wanted nothing more than to transport us directly to my chambers and complete our union, but my anger and mistrust were not so easily assuaged. I knew quite well what a fine little actress Sarah could be when she so chose and caution was still my valued ally.

I put some distance between our bodies with the façade of taking her hands. "Good morning to you, too, precious. I dare say, if all our interactions began this way, there would be no happier husband in all the worlds."

She turned away and opened her mouth to speak - some witty retort no doubt - before shaking her head and lifting her eyes to mine once more. I steeled myself to receive her caustic reply, or perhaps even some attempt at diverting my taunt with her own version of flirting. But the abject fear, nay, vulnerability shining in her jade orbs completely confounded me.

"Please don't," she whispered. Cautiously, as one would reach out toward a wild animal, she lifted her palm to cup my cheek. Such a simple connection, but it caused another outpouring of sincerity to flow through our bond. "Please be real with me." Angry Sarah I understood. Even defiant yet passionate Sarah was no stranger. But this new, serious woman before me was an enigma, and therefore all the more dangerous.

I took her hand from my face and returned her levity. "What is this you are playing at now, Sarah? Our audience has left, you can commence with your disdain of my presence."

"What if I didn't...disdain...you anymore?"

"That is not a good enough answer, precious. I seem to recall a similar conversation occurring between the two of us just yesterday, followed by a mutual agreement which did not last even a single evening."

She was quiet for a long time. "You scared me last night."

Her admission truly gave me pause. This formidable creature had never admitted to fear of any sort. So an arched brow was the only response I offered, as if words of any sort would spook her away from finishing her confession.

Twisting her fingers before her she continued, "I didn't meant to piss you off, but what were you thinking getting naked on night one of our bargain? What happened to S-L-O-W?"

A soft shuffling of feet alerted me to the nature of our location. "This is not a conversation for the public rooms," I whispered urgently as Aetia suddenly stepped into the solarium.

"Oh! Excuse me, Your Majesties; I've come for the breakfast dishes," Aetia exhaled as she dropped her eyes in the perfect display of respectful servitude.

"It is quite alright, Aetia. I believe the Lady Sarah wishes to change her attire before attending to her afternoon studies."

"Studies?" I heard the lady in question echo beside me.

"Of course, Your Majesty," Aetia's gentle attention turned to my would-be queen. "Shall I assist you, milady?"

"I believe the Lady Sarah will have all the help she requires, thank-you," I interjected.

Sarah, for her part, looked only slightly mortified at my implication. Progress?

Without giving her a chance to respond, I took her elbow gently and transported us back to my chamber; no, our chamber.

"You were saying?" I urged with undisguised impatience.

"Oh come on, Jareth; what did you expect me to think when you stripped down to the buff the first night of our little compromise?"

I decided to push my advantage. "Perhaps you should enlighten me as to the proper progression of our relations, precious."

"I don't think I should have to spell it out...I mean, you've been around a lot longer than me. You must know going from kissing to, to naked time," she whispered, "is skipping all sorts of steps."

I stepped closer and took her hand between my own. "Forgive me, precious, but all I have done thus far is kiss you."

"Yeah, but having no clothes on is different!"

I willed my gloves to disappear as she continued to mumble about the apparent lack of propriety associated with my choice of sleepwear. Slowly, I circled the tip of my middle finger lightly across the flesh of her palm, watching as she began to react to my unrestrained magic. A noticeable tremor erupted throughout her body, hardening her womanly peaks into perfect little pebbles deliciously on view through her scandalous dress.

Her eyes met mine, green flames burning amidst the flush of her porcelain skin and scorching my own soul. By the gods, how could she not know the power she held over me? And how could I be so foolish as to suggest, even to myself, that I could ever deny our connection?

"Jareth," she began, but I would not let her continue in her denial. Not anymore.

"Do not try to blame this merely on lust, Sarah. You asked me to be real with you, so I shall. I desire you, this you know. But it is more than for the pursuit of physical pleasure. Our bodies react the way they do not just because of lust, precious thing, and I believe that deep down you know this to be true."

Her black-fringed lids closed slowly over those devastating green orbs as a shuddering breath escaped her.

In her moment of pause, I led her to one of the fireside chairs and rested myself across from her. When her eyes opened again, I began; "Now, let us speak of what occurred in the solarium."

A blush not born from desire spread across her face. "I don't know what you're talking about. I played my part, as you requested."

"Sarah," I drawled. "For one who was once so preoccupied on the stipulation of fairness, I must say I am disappointed that you continue to attempt to hold yourself exempt from its rules. If you demand honesty from me, should I not expect the same from you?"

"Honesty?" Her hands gripped the edges of her chair, knuckles white in the manifestation of her rising temper. "Right, and exactly when have you been entirely honest with me?"

The whole thing rang of "When have you been generous" a little too much for my liking.

"Admit it, Jareth; even at your best attempt to calm my suspicion you are holding back for your own selfish purposes. Even if I do admit I feel something more than lust for you, how can I ever trust you? We make this ridiculous bargain that neither of us is prepared to keep, which in hindsight was always entirely pointless because I expected you to cross the line, like you always do, and it keeps ending up in this stalemate!"

By this point, her impassioned monologue had driven her from her chair to pace from the sitting arrangement to the bed and back again.

"Tell me, precious, what do you propose we do about this…stalemate?" I answered calmly, quite enjoying her turmoil.

She snorted. "What can be done about it? I will never fully trust you, and you will never be willing to give up all your secrets."

"Never is a long time." I rose to cross to her, taking her hand between my gloveless palms once more. "If I may, it appears we do have some facts before us that perhaps can serve as a foundation to build from."

She watched me warily, but did not interrupt. Small blessings were a precious gift indeed. With this modicum of encouragement, I continued.

"One, you do not trust me." I bent my head and brought her hand to my lips, bestowing the faintest of kisses on her knuckle. "Two, I have never lied to you. Omitted, perhaps, but not lied." My lips continued to the pulse point in her wrist. "Three, the underground is your home now." Her quick inhalation was my warning that she was about to argue, but I did not allow her to speak. "Fact, precious, no matter how much you may wish otherwise, it is fact. Refer to point two; I have never lied to you." I kissed the inside of her elbow before continuing. "Four, no matter your trust in me or how you try to justify it, we do have undeniable feelings for one another." My kiss moved to the hollow of her neck, and when she inhaled sharply this time, I felt confident it was not in objection.

I pulled ever so slightly away and took her face in my hands. I could feel my magic humming against her soft skin. Our eyes connected and I gathered every shred of courage I possessed. "Five," I whispered. "I love you, Sarah."

My pathetic heart pounded at my confession. Her breath stuttered. I wanted desperately to pull her into my arms and claim her lips with my own. But I did not. To follow such a proclamation with a carnal act would surely only cement her assertions that my love was merely lust in disguise. I wanted to confess more – tell her of our connection, of her full role in my life – but I had revealed as much as my protective Fae nature would allow for the time being.

Without breaking our visual contact, Sarah's hand raised to the collar of her gown, pushing the diaphanous material down to expose a creamy shoulder. My hand stopped her. "No, Sarah."

When she spoke, her voice held the breathy quality of one bespelled. "What? Why? I want you, you said it yourself that you know I do."

The warring parts of my conscience shouted through my head. I strengthened my will to ignore the two thirds of me that wanted to take what she was finally offering. The Fae and the king damned the man and his noble demands for taking this, as Sarah so charmingly put it, S-L-O-W. "Yes, but why do you want me, precious?"

Her face twisted in a scowl as she forcefully righted her dress. "Oh, so now you want to talk? I'm finally giving you what you want and you suddenly go all righteous on me? It's like you take pleasure out of driving me crazy!"

She was correct at that, but I had only moments before pledged my love to her without any true acknowledgement. I could not, would not take it back, but I was learning to be cautious as far as this siren was concerned. My careful facade lowered once more. "Perhaps you are not the only one lacking in trust, precious. Your display this morning, while certainly enjoyable on my part, was a bit contradictory to your previous intentions, no?"

I made little effort to hide my emerging smirk, exceedingly delighted to have brought the conversation back to the original point.

She sighed, whether in concession, or in preparation for another fight, I was unsure. "I thought you wanted me to act like we are the happy little couple."

"Ah, and there, as the delightful wordsmith would say, is the rub. You acted. Our agreement was predicated on the assurance that I would not touch you until you desired me to do so."

"And I just told you that I did!" She growled. "You are so…frustrating!"

My smirk grew. My, but it was fun to rile her. The Fae part of me was almost satisfied with the turn of events. Almost. Now to convince the king that the man's way of handling Sarah would ultimately lead to the best possible outcome. "But are you acting now? Or were you acting then? I told you, precious; I will do naught to ruin our chance at true happiness, not even to see to my own gratification."

She crossed her arms under her breasts, presenting her décolletage in an entirely unintentional, yet dangerously tempting offer. "So, where do we go from here? I am not considered your wife until…" her words trailed off, but she made her point with an agitated waving of her hand.

"Correct."

"And until I am your wife, that bi-…woman, Aralia, will try to break us up."

I nodded, inordinately pleased at her streak of jealousy.

"And you don't want to…go all the way until I'm sure about my feelings?"

"Aptly put, precious, though I might replace the 'don't want' to 'will not.' I want you very much, never doubt that."

She ignored my lingering statement, though the taint of color on her cheeks gave her away. "And how do you suggest I become sure of those feelings?"

By now, even the man in me was tired of her hedging. I turned toward the hearth, seeking a dose of self-medication. After a healthy shot of burning amber liquid, I returned to face my darling girl of contradictions and placed my palms firmly on her shoulders. "I will say this one more time, and I urge you to heed the truth of my statement. You continue to measure me against a mortal man, which, as I've mentioned, is an unfair basis of comparison. I am not mortal, I am Fae. I am doing all I can to see to your comfort – physically and emotionally. You accuse me of being purposely duplicitous, yet I have been more open and honest with you than any other in my exhaustive long life. I have shared with you what I deem to be necessary, and will continue to do so. Yet, I concede it is possible that you require more. You ask my advice on how to affirm your own feelings?" I tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear and let my fingers trail across the smooth expanse of her neck and collar bone. "I am quite confident that you will figure something out, precious. I am, after all, at your disposal."

"But – "she began, cut off when I prevented her words by placing my finger across her lips.

"No. The time for words has passed, precious. I believe I have made my intentions quite clear. If you choose to reciprocate my feelings, you know where to find me. Until then, I expect the conditions of our original arrangement to stand. And as I am feeling...generous...I will forgive you last night's transgression." I turned and moved toward the chamber door.

"Well, since it was you who was toeing the line last night, not me, I'd say that I'm the one feeling generous by giving you another chance to prove your chivalrous side."

I felt the smirk settle on my lips again at her adorable display of bravado. "I give you my word that I will not touch you again unless you initiate contact...in private that is. Meanwhile, you will still spend your evenings slumbering beside me, and I still have the liberty of courting you openly in public. I dare say your display this morning convinced me you will have no trouble playing the besotted bride."

"I wasn't playing," she murmured to herself, once again forgetting I was not hindered by mortal senses and could clearly hear her across the room.

Neither was I, precious. Neither was I.

Acting on an impish impulse, I stalked back toward her and wrapped my arms around her slim frame. She gasped, turning her lovely face to mine. "One last thing, if I am to take the blame for breaking a rule of physical contact, I want there to be no confusion in the matter." Clasping her roughly against me, my lips descended to claim hers in a hungry kiss. My tongue slipped into her mouth, moving ardently against her own until I felt her body submit, each muscle relaxing to conform itself to my chest. A feminine moan resonated from her throat, sending my pulse racing to my already aroused tumescence.

When contact was finally broken, I gazed openly on her close-lidded expression of pure want. Placing my lips tenderly against her forehead, I whispered, "Oh, and Sarah? I always sleep in my 'birthday suit', so as your kind so eloquently puts it, get over it." Before she could open her eyes, I summoned a crystal containing a clothing spell, tossed it at her stunned person, and vanished.

*Reference to Judas betraying Jesus with a kiss.

And there you have it. Next up...the hunted becomes the huntress, and Sarah devises a clever way to build her trust. I think (don't quote me lol) that their tendency to talk in circles is finally at an end. Things are changing for our protagonists :)