Sequel (Part 2) to when it comes to kissing, practice makes perfect!

(It's not necessary though to read Part 1! :D EVERYONE'S WELCOME! XD)

Hello everyone! How are you all? :) Hanging in there, I hope!

Welcome to Part Two of When it comes to kissing, practice makes perfect! Enjoy your stay, haha! :P And apologies for the dumb title of this story (When it comes to kissing, practice makes perfect 2), I suck at titles..

I got amazing support for the first part of this story, thank you all so very much again, and I could only wish I get even a third of that for this part. So, if you have time and it's not trouble, I'd love if you could leave me a review, or send me a message, or something, just to tell me what you thought. :) They're very, very much appreciated, and I love hearing what you have to say, what ideas you all have, etc!

Anyways, so I'll leave you go. Apologies for the long wait between the two parts. I hope you enjoy reading this! Please, please leave a review, if you can, and have a good weekend! :) xxx

Stay safe!

Saxon Jeremiah Sinclair was his name, and he undoubtedly deserved the torment he most likely received for it. Head teeming with hair as fair as creamy milk, his smile was one to turn your stomach. It revealed two identical rows of gleaming, square teeth, to untrained eyes appearing polite and approachable, but to anyone unfortunate enough to have experienced or become accustomed to the much bleaker brush strokes of his personality, glittering with tainted ideas. The same, mirrored thoughts which captured his slate grey eyes, overwhelmed them, and heightened how much they dramatically stood out against his pallor skin and constant wear of an inky black suit and button down white shirt.

The pristine windows of the dining area engulfed the entire right side of the room. Reached from the tip top of the contemporary wallpapered walls and swooped down to brush the white oak flooring. Every day they were meticulously cleaned and polished, and because of this, combined with the eerie darkness which had spread outside, now sparkled with the various reflections of the nest within. Rich crimson shaded tablecloth, ghosting over the dark wooded table, where softly flickering candles were situated. The ruler straight posture of the pianist, eyes gently closed as he drew twinkling notes from the black grand piano in the far corner. Once the sun set, the windows transformed into something more like a startlingly clear mirror.

Unfortunately, once I managed to unfix my bleary eyes from the projection of Saxon, chortling heartily with his guests and delicately sipping at his fat wine glass of amber liquid, they found their way to the concise image of myself. With a gaunt face, I was wrapped in a light fabric, chalkboard black dress, fitted all too snugly to the ends of my ribs, where it then thickened and fell into frothy ruffles, ending four centimetres above my knees. A silvery white apron, rimmed with decorative frills, lay fluffed over my stomach and thighs, and was tied soberly around my waist into a small bow. The sleeves were puffy and then banded closely around my upper arm- in the beginning, I was often distracted by them when I caught glances from the corners of my eyes. Shoes, completely gleaming and not at all scuffed (Heaven forbid, ironically, if they were ever dirty or dusty), were flat to the ground and unsurprisingly, black. Sturdy and practical, the box had smugly stated. And finally to finish the nineteenth-century-turned-modern maid look with a flourish (and exposed legs), my hair was scraped to one side in a tightly knitted braid.

The sight sickened me, almost as much as the look of pure and utter disgrace did as I watched it creep silently and slowly across my pale face. The golden plated tray, stacked with a pretty bowl of strawberries and two brimming wine glasses, shook in my hands. Hastily, I gripped onto its side with my free hand and steadied it. Saxon was still conversing happily with his dinner friends, I noted with a cold wash of relief, there was no way I'd skitter away unscathed if the tray had tipped and deposited the items from atop onto the unstained floor. Taking in a deep, calming breath which tickled the back of my throat, I twisted away from the picture of myself and faced the table.

Towards the end, and at the opposite side, stood Aida, soundless and attentive to the beck and call of all of the guests, whatever it may be. Aida was all prominent cheek bones, spidery metacarpals, sharply knotted hair buns, and snappy, insulting comments. She was the only other maid under Saxon's roof, though there were many other cooks, butlers, bed turners, clothes washers, gardeners, and as far as I had gathered, willingly worked here. Saxon regarded her with a sort of long earned respect, even trusted her with the responsibility of hauling me back into line whenever I threatened a toe out of place. Of course, though, he carefully followed up on that, as he always did.

Now, Aida's beady eyes widened, a friendly warmth unfamiliar to me coming to them as a man seated to the left of Saxon turned to study her. "Get me one of them," he said, indicating with a nod of his head to the glass in Saxon's hand, "would you?"

"Certainly," she answered smoothly. She smiled briefly at the man, who returned it charmingly, and then her eyes snapped to mine. I gulped, murmuring urgent prayers that it was inaudible, as she marched around the table and came to a halt before my shivering tray. "I need this," she told me matter-of-factly, and plucked the largest glass up into her thin fingers. This time when she turned to the man to hand him his expensive drink, the happy light flared too bright in her eyes.

Fake. It was blatantly obvious. Yet, I wished, why couldn't I do that? If I had been able to, maybe then I wouldn't have suffered so much brutality at Saxon's hands- he never seemed to want to shout at Aida. Casting a surreptitious glance at my wrists, I was reminded that the blue-black bruises, scattered scratches and yellowish dents which had flowered during nightmares I had where Saxon would follow me forever were now fading into my skin, soon to be invisible. There was a more vicious gash following the slant of my protruding collarbone, that had now faded into a slight, jutted pink line. I'd received it after a nasty fall when I was too exhausted to see my own hand in front of my face. My battered spirit, who formerly gave the best fight of its life, but was now tired and punctured. Saxon had never hit or kicked me, but shouted and snarled enough to scare me into silence. The physical affects of verbal abuse and exhaustion would completely disappear over time, but sadly, it was not possible for me to follow, so instead I would continue my attempts at mimicking Aida, programmed and almost robotic, until I could escape.

The first bucketful of dreary weeks, I fought. I struggled with the chains he wanted to clip me into as much as I could humanly manage but, eventually, he'd worn me down to the core. There was only so much hellish shouting, , spitting, and starving that one girl could take, and I had broken under Saxon's navy heeled boot. The hard way, I'd learned that the only road to survival was to be a good girl. The only hope I had now was Scott, the perseverance to survive in the pit of my belly, and Patch.

A coil in my stomach tightened and curled together uncomfortably at the thought of him. True, the dreams and memories were the only spoonfuls of hope which I was getting, nourishing and soothing my scarred heart, but I only sought them out at night time, when I could dodge reality for a stolen moment and remember his promise to find me. By the time day was drawing to a close and night approached, I would almost believe that I had subconsciously conjured up the memory. It was then that I'd crawl into the rocky bed, squeeze my eyes shut and relive the last time I'd seen him.

It wasn't a dream. He had sworn to find me, and it was the last thread I had to hold onto.

Abruptly, Saxon broke off his trail of speech mid-sentence, pushed away from the table, chair legs grating loudly against the floor, and looked straight at me. He was just a bit taller than average height, muscled and strong. Someone might even find him handsome, if only the sticky twirls of evil clinging to his aura were nonexistent.

"Maid," said he, addressing me. With a flick of his wrist, he gesticulated to the door, a coy smile sneaking onto the edges of his lips. My skin blazed with heat, an instant film of absolute nervous sweat coating the hairs of my arms and the back of my neck. "Outside," he said in a quiet, demanding voice. I felt my chest tighten, the air of which my lungs were expelling twisting into a knot in the back of my throat. I'd been sure to work well today, I hadn't tripped, fallen, smiled or laughed. My knees wobbled, but I forced an obedient nod of my head. What could he want me alone for?

After graciously excusing himself from his friends, he crooked a callused finger at me and fearfully, I followed behind with leaden footsteps. My palms were slick with moisture now, I realised, as I discreetly wiped them against the material of my apron.

"Young Nora," he said. Fair haired Saxon loomed over me, although he was not much taller, I cowered in front of him like a wounded puppy. "You've been great today," he said, and reached out to brush the backs of his fingers to the flushed skin of my cheek, almost affectionately. A psychological frosty breeze tickled my skin- it took everything in me not to flinch away. Sickeningly, I tasted a strong coppery liquid on the tip of my tongue from where I'd gnawed into it. But regardless, I gathered my feeble strength and struggled to raise my eyes tentatively to his. His gaze met mine with a calculating sheen, rolled over my face before his entire expression fell into something that could only be considered as the pinnacle of disappointment. "But," he continued, sorrowfully, "you were not yesterday. So for that reason…" The morose, almost guilty, expression dwindled as fast as it had come, startling me further, and a magnificently happy smile spread across his face. "No dinner tonight."

As if it was able to hear his words, my stomach groaned audibly in protest. "But, Sir," I blurted, in a soft voice, the inklings of blood from my mouth becoming clear against the whiteness of my lips. I hadn't meant to speak, but it was almost like the aching growl of famishment was ruling my brain, deciding which words came out of my mouth and when. "I haven't eaten since the day before yesterday-" I sucked in a hasty breath, instantly regretting ever even thinking the words. My chest twisted into more knots- tangles upon tangles that made me want to retch. Reflexively, my hands curled together in front of my stomach and I wrung them anxiously.

As I considered what I thought to be the so far height of my stupidity in recent days, the sadistic smile on Saxon's face twitched around the edges, his whole expression hardening into a sort of impermeable cement. "Did you just back talk to me?" he asked very quietly, his voice rigid with control, though a muscle in his cheek jumped. I recognised the signs of his down spiral right away- if I didn't tread carefully, he'd snap. Fretfully, my eyes flickered to the fists at his sides, curling in on themselves into thick bunches of anger. I shook my head, a strand of hair falling free from the clutches of the elastic band in my braid and laying over my nose. "No," I stuttered, meeting his eyes again. "I wasn't-"

"And now you lie to me?" Though the volume of his voice only grazed upon what would be used in normal conversation, it sent burning skitters dancing down my spine. "To my face?"

Again, I tried to repair my mistakes, no matter how much the voice in the back of my head whispered you're in for it now. "No, Sax-," I cleared my throat, "Sir. No, Sir. I was just-.. I swear-"

"You're swearing in my company?"

Tears burned away the edges and corners of my vision. The jitters lacing my system, both freezing and scorching me simultaneously, increased tenfold. "No," I said, my voice a hoarse, badly restrained sob. I dried my hands futilely for the second time on the pleated material of my dress, my breathing hitching and becoming unsteady. I began again, "I'm sorry, Sir, I-"

Interjecting, he frightened me into utter silence with a shout that spilled from his lips. "Aida!" he barked, tapping his shoe timely against the polished floor. What felt like milliseconds later, Aida materialised before us, her eyes wide and searching as she expertly juggled a man's long jacket and her tray of goods between her arms. "Yes, Sir?" she questioned him, canting her head to the right.

"I thought I asked you to show Nora how to behave?"

I felt Aida's eyes move to analyse me, but was unable to meet them. "I did teach her how to behave," she said plainly and simply, casting a long, heftily layered glance my direction. "I taught her well."

"Most obviously not," came the scoffed response. Saxon readjusted himself by folding his arms tightly, and I ignored a slimy streak of fear as it grazed my heart. "In the last minute or less, the girl has succeeded in disrespecting me, lying to my eyes and then swearing! I reward you well for your work, Aida, but this is sloppy."

"I'm very sorry, Sir." Her eyes were fixated on my face once more, brimming with plans of discipline. "It will not happen again," she promised sternly, lifting her chin determinately into the air.

Hovering there with repressed shudders of nerves, it felt like an age had passed as Saxon glanced between the two of us, thoughts clear on his face, before speaking. "Very well," he exhaled heavily, and began fluttering his hand dismissively in front of himself. "As you are so sure, you can take her back now. I was going to discuss some matters with her, but because I have guests… go." I was glad for the permission as not two seconds later, while Aida hurried me roughly away, a cold, frightening light came to his eyes.

My room, which I shared with Scott, was located in the weary bowels of the building. Inside, was a rusty metal double bed, a damaged vanity desk, a wardrobe, a barred window, and a space for a door that was barricaded with black painted bars from the ceiling to the floor. A coarse film of dust and dirt covered the ground and everything inside, and most nights we were woken by the sounds of the bustling kitchen next door or interrogation room down the corridor. Stepping into this hallway and any of the rooms along it was like falling back into the nineteenth century, the area, apart from the modern kitchen, was entirely lit with candles.

Noiselessly, I sank onto the bench in front of the vanity desk and started unravelling the twists in my hair. Twice a week we were allowed a bath, but mine wasn't until the following day, and so when the braid fell away, my hair lay brittle and fragile against the back of my neck. Clanks of banging metal pots, chafing silvery cutlery, and tinkling glasses ricocheted thunderously between the four cement walls from next door, along with a handful of yelps and shouts from the overexcited cook and his servers. Blinking lethargically back at me was my reflection, distorted by a slivery strip of a crack in the mirror nailed to the wall, where Saxon had once thrown Scott in the midst of a brawl. It had taken two hours to carefully pick out the sharp shards from the sensitive skin of his bleeding shoulder. My normally lively curls were limp and devoid of any life, they had even lost their auburn tints. The unusual grey of my eyes had darkened into something of a pale building brick colour, hard and severe, scarily huge against the gaunt hollowness of my cheeks. To escape the image of myself for the second time that night, I gingerly pressed my fingertips to the sides of my heads, felt for my temples and prayed the headache that I could feel gathering there would dissipate.

"Get your heads off of me!"

Suddenly, Scott's snarls of displeasure filled the room, and I jumped in fright. Spinning around on the bench, I was in time to catch sight of one of Saxon's men, or you could say an extension of his dominant arm, push and then trip Scott so that he skittered and tumbled down the set of fierce angled steps before our barred door. He hit the bars with such a force that a shower of grainy dust particles were knocked from the ceiling and fell to the ground. Groaning through clenched teeth, he hauled himself to his feet and faced the stairs. "Coward!" he shouted, followed by a tidal wave of curses at the sound of the man's hearty laughter. "Five against one was unfair, but you just wait until we're alone!"

"Scott," I hissed. "Shut up or you'll get in more trouble!"

He didn't spare me a single glance, instead continued spitting and grinding out cuss words, some of which he surely invented himself, until Toby, one of the rare people in the house I trusted, materialised and unlocked our room. "In you go, Scottie," he encouraged, wrapping a hand around Scott's upper arm and yanking him inside the room. "Keep your mouth shut, boy, it'll only get you deeper into that hole." One night when completely and totally blind drunk, Toby had admitted to us that he was a prisoner too, but because now he had nowhere to go or no family, if he was ever freed, he was stuck in Saxon's. "See you later, kids," he mumbled, before relocking us with a guilty expression and dragging his feet away.

"What's up, Grey?"

Snappily, my eyes moved to Scott, hunched in a ball on the floor. Pale faced, his trembling hand was clutched firmly over his left forearm, and thick scarlet liquid broke through his fingers. Even so, he had enough strength to flash me a pained grin. "Oh, boy," I gasped, stumbling off the stool onto my hands and knees and scrabbling to his side. "What happened now?"

"I didn't do what they told me to," Scott replied, wincing and hissing like a dog as I gently pried his hand from its chokehold on his arm. The lines of his palms were slippery with blood as he pressed them into the floor, flexing his fingers over and over in discomfort. "Sorry," I mumbled, clamping my own right hand over the gaping, angry wound along his skin and reaching my other under the bed to withdraw the first aid box. This particular injury was thankfully not so terrifying, the worst was when a bullet tore through his shoulder and continued to break through the other side. The majority of evenings, Scott returned broken and damaged in some way or another, and we spent the next hour or so bandaging him up and making him whole. And despite my persistent questioning, he blatantly brushed aside my concern and refused to tell me what happened. His answer was always I didn't do what they told me to. It worried me greatly, not knowing what was happening to him every day, as we were separated, but over time, I grew to realise that inquiring was getting me nowhere.

Just shy of an hour later, I peeled back the off-white duvet of our creaking bed and climbed between the sheets. "Do we get dinner tonight?" Scott wondered from his position sprawled across the foot of the piece of old furniture, good arm crossed beneath his head and bandaged arm in a makeshift sling on his chest. "I'm starved."

"Not tonight," I whispered back, curling my legs into my chest and rolling onto my side.


"Yeah." Unconsciously, I stroked the concisely cut ring on my finger, twisted it over and over and inhaled a deep, calming breath of the pure security I felt whenever I wore it. Never was I allowed wear it during work, I had enough bruises and scrapes as proof of my attempts, so sadly, I resorted to pulling it on at bedtime and prayed it would bring me good dreams.

Not quietly in the slightest, Scott struggled into a seated position and crawled up the bed to clamber in himself. Warmth from his body instantly radiated through and was absorbed by the sheets, his stomach grumbled irritably as I let free a tiger yawn. "How long now?" I asked, sinking deeper into the covers and pulling them securely up to my chin. Scott moved, resulting in a high pitched whine of protest from the bed, and heaved a sigh. "Eleven weeks," he answered, in such a small voice that I strained to hear it. "Eleven weeks."

Exactly as we were now accustomed to, we drifted into fitful, restless bouts of slumber as the room was set alight with screams of agony from the interrogation room, the heady scent of burnt candle wax mixed with spicy, suffocating herbs from the kitchen, and the deep tenor of cook's instructions.

Ta da!

So, so, what do you think? Is Patch going to arrive in his shining armour and save her (and probably leave Scott 'cause it's funny)? What do you think? Do you like Saxon? :P

What did you think? Leave me a review or something, if it's no trouble!

Thank you so much for reading! Bye! :) xx