Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Sailor Moon.
(Happy, happy congratulations Vchanny! I pray everything went well and all is well!)
"You're home later than usual."
A slow smile spread across his lips as he noted the prim, disapproving tone behind the aptly given observation. Choosing not to look her way, he stepped into his loft, turning on the hallway lights as he went, not caring that rainwater was dripping all over the hardwood floors. Zach would get to it later, perhaps after he unwrapped her reasons for coming to him first. Even going so far as to use the keys to his place that he'd given in jest, figuring at one time that she would rather be naked in public before using them. He knew very well, by now, that Amélie Bernier was a woman to be chased, and certainly never one to do the chasing. Still, she was an odd bird, this one.
"I had to call for some reinforcements. As much as I want to do this with you, we need witnesses. I assumed you wouldn't have anyone available."
Silence met his thinly veiled allusion to her famed reclusiveness. With slow deliberate movements, he set about removing his soaked outer garments and placing them over the backs of several chairs to dry, grimacing at the late autumn chill that had settled over him. Fully conscious of the fact that she was probably watching his every movement, taking notice of everything about him. Zach turned toward Ami, an impish smile settling into place.
"We aren't married yet, but you're more than welcome to join me in the shower. There's more than enough room for two."
Predictably, she flushed a dull red, beginning under her collar and rising up to her cheeks. It was endearing, despite the fact that it didn't make her prettier. Ami stood, a little too quickly, showcasing her obvious discomfort with his blatant flirting.
"N-no," she answered, slightly breathless. Clearing her throat, the petite brunette responded in a calmer tone, "No, thank you. I need to speak with you after you've finished."
Zach simply nodded and left for the bathroom.
Stepping out of the steam filled bathroom into the hallway, it wasn't difficult to notice the stillness, the natural quiet of the apartment. It wouldn't have been the first time the woman had left him hanging.
"Ami. You there?"
The tinkling sound of dishes being handled in his kitchen was his answer before she could even respond.
Zach adjusted the towel about his hips and headed to his room. The mess he'd been expecting to see, the mess of clothing and work papers he'd left before leaving to build his cavalry, was gone. Their cavalry, he corrected. For a long time, he'd only had to think about himself, that was changing now. Since the tender age of 12, he'd worked on building a life for himself, by himself. Through the parenting failures of socialite parents who were always imbibing alcohol and the lifestyle that came with the money and titles, life hadn't been kind.
Sure, Zach thought as he quickly dressed, he hadn't exactly been the village idiot growing up. As a Lawrence he'd been bred to understand how to work any room, any situation, any woman over so that things ended up in his favour. He was good at it and if his playboy title among the media said anything, it was that he was indeed a creature of exceptional breeding. Zach could feel his lip curl into a semblance of a smirk, an automatic reaction that came whenever he thought of the damage he'd done to his father's...legacy. Perpetuated it, more like. Much to the old man's chagrin and, in turn Zach's own twisted pleasure.
Before leaving the room, Zach glanced over at the full length mirror in the corner of his bedroom. It was testament to what he felt about Ami that he would even appear before her, choosing comfort over style with an old t-shirt and a pair of sweats.
"You cleaned up," the blonde noted, as he headed towards his kitchen where Ami was busying herself with the tea set his grandmother had gifted to him several years ago. It was better that she didn't know how expensive it was. Besides being an odd bird, she became overly skittish when he flaunted his wealth or the lifestyle that wealth had brought him. Having her accidentally break something that was priceless and held sentimental value would probably send her running, without looking back. He'd worked too hard to have that happen. Zach also took in the absence of the puddles he'd created when he'd arrived. "Unnecessary for me but probably necessary for you. What's going on in that head of yours Madamoiselle Bernier? Thank you, by the way."
Ami set his teacup down across from herself, at the kitchen island. Her face, usually calm and composed, was lacking its usual composure. The dainty hand that she lifted to indicate that she would prefer that he took a seat on one of the bar stools, shook slightly. Immediately, Zach's guard went up, though he tried to affect a casual air by sniffing at the tea she'd set before him.
"What's this? Herbal tea?" he groaned, staring forlornly down at the golden cup of tea before raising his gaze to hers. With no little sense of success, he watched some warmth seep into her blue-eyed gaze, before she glanced away.
"It's better for you at this time of night."
Ami's lips quivered, as she attempted to hide her amusement. Zach's own lips turned upwards in response, that was, until she opened her mouth to speak.
"You're charming, but this marriage will be a sham. I'm sure everyone believes it is already. I'm well aware of my reputation as an...aloof individual and I'm well aware of your indulgences with women. I'm not asking you to stop or change...I suppose, well, I suppose that I'm asking you to back out now if you're having second thoughts."
Her blue eyes caught and held his own gaze in the little pause she'd taken between words. "I intend to stay married. Tease me and call me old-fashioned, but it would break my mother's heart to see me walk the same road she had to. So, please," her voice cracked a little here. "Don't marry me just to divorce me."
The ball was in his court, so to speak. Standing before him, begging for him to grant her the one thing he had the power to grant her was a fiercely independent woman. Ami had no need for his money or title. She had her own...everything. As the granddaughter to a man whose business-savvy was renowned throughout the world and sole heir to the Bernier name, she was set for life.
That hadn't always been the case for his fiancée. She'd been raised as Ami Anderson, the forgotten child of a rushed love affair. Marcel Bernier, her father, had been known amongst the socialites Zach had grown up with, as a wandering soul. Amongst all of that wandering, he'd met and fallen in love with Linda Anderson, a penniless nobody and the exact opposite of the plans his family had held for him. Love, lust or desire (pick one, any one) had won his heart, until the day that he received a summons from his father and knew he couldn't avoid the inevitable confrontation.
It was while he'd been travelling back to meet his father and inform him that he was choosing Linda over the title, that he'd found out that he'd contracted pneumonia during his time with Linda. The illness, by then had escalated far too quickly for anything to be done and he'd passed away several weeks after arriving at home. Meanwhile, Linda, after hearing of his death had learned that she was carrying Marcel's child. Afraid of what would happen if she went up against his powerful family, she kept the news to herself, content to be forgotten and left alone to raise her daughter.
Ami had only come to know of her paternal heritage because of an aging father's desire to receive absolution for bringing about the heartbreak that his son had died with. Finding Linda Anderson was no problem for Charles Bernier, but to find that she had a daughter and that he had had a granddaughter that he'd never bothered to look for before, had been a revelation – to say the least.
Zach had only been privy to the intimate details of the whole affair because his soon to be mother-in-law had seen fit to inform him of such. Right before she warned him that her daughter's broken heart would most definitely result in his end. One look at her impressive career as one of the nation's leading neurosurgeons had him believing in her follow-through. Besides, he genuinely liked the woman's straight-forward attitude. Her determination to provide a good life for her daughter had fueled her impressive career and Zach rather admired that. Linda was a force to be reckoned with in her own right and in the little time he'd known her, she'd been genuinely kind. That alone differentiated her from other gold-digging mothers with equally gold-digging daughters.
"I intend to stay married to you. I may not seem like it, but you should know by now that I am a man of my word."
The look she gave him was indescribable, but his simple answer did seem to ease some of the lines of tension around her eyes.
"I do," she answered. "And you have been a man of your word. I'm just..."
"Nervous? Fearful for the future? Anxious to be my wife?" Zach teased, noting that her amusement grew with his increasingly silly behaviour. At last, that timid smile made its appearance and as always, Zach was charmed. He got off the bar stool and came around the island to stand before his petite wife-to-be, taking her hands in his own.
"Think of this as a partnership. A solid business partnership built on mutual respect and a budding friendship. Besides, you've already used your set of keys to my place – you're a fallen woman now. No one else will have you and I happen to prefer it that way."
The timid smile faded somewhat and anxious thoughts caused a cloud to descend but not before Zach employed his tried and true method for distracting women the whole world over. Leaning in, he pressed his lips to hers, holding steady when she froze and only relaxing when she released a soft sigh and leant into his kiss.
After a moment of bliss, he pulled back and memorized everything. The faint flutter of her closed eyelids as she basked in the moment. The taste of her. The smell of her. The rise and fall of her chest. The faint blush dusting her cheeks. The beating of his own heart.
If love (of the amorous kind) never entered their marriage – he couldn't deny that lust and desire already had a foothold – this would be the moment he would wish to remember through the years.
"Now, will it be my bed, or my bed?"
"I'll take the couch."
"Suit yourself, wife."
AN: Thank you for checking this update out, despite the wait! I really, really, really appreciate you. Jovian Sun! This is looooong overdue, but you were right on the money about the Fairytales smash-up for Ami and Lita! W00t!
This AmiZoi adventure should be about three parts, possibly four (more likely three). I'll give them a matchmaking story at some point! Umm, I wanted to give Adult Ami some credit for being able to deal with the opposite sex better than her teenage self could. You'll still see some of that trademark timidity because Ami is Ami. Stay tuned to find out how these soon-to-be lovebirds fare!
Talk to me!