the words that kill me (that you love me)
It had been too easy, really.
A suggestive smile and little flattery went a long way, after all. The doorman hadn't even glanced at the invitations when Caroline had presented them all pretty smiles and, "You're looking quite handsome tonight, Matt."
The man had preened, no doubt congratulating himself for receiving such a compliment from one of the two beautiful women before him. Dancing in his own fantasies he hardly protested when Caroline took the invitations back from his hands and tucked them safely into one of her garment's many hidden pockets. "Come along, Elena," she said in a sing-song manner.
Everything was going perfectly.
Beside her, Elena sighed. "Caroline," she said, exasperation clear in her voice. "Why did you insist I come? You know I hate such social niceties and I just want—"
"—to sit in your book shop all by yourself, nose no doubt buried in the latest text you managed to acquire. Blah, blah, blah, I know," Caroline interrupted impatiently as she guided them to one of the empty tables across the ballroom's glorious dance floor.
She knew Elena was frowning, even if the pastel blue mask obscuring her features prevented her from checking. "Lighten up, Elena," she said, "we're at a masquerade. Surely even you can appreciate that. I went through quite a bit of trouble to procure our invitations, too. You are impossible to please."
"Oh?" Elena grumbled. "I find it hard to believe you went through all that trouble just to bring your socially awkward friend to a masquerade."
"What was that?" Caroline snapped, irritation rising into her chest. Why did Elena always have to make everything so difficult? She'd never questioned her before. Not once! She simply went along with her plans and cleaned up for her afterward. She was useful like that. Why else would she bother to be friends with someone so socially inept? Though, Caroline knew that was not being fair. She did love Elena, but perhaps not as fully or as sweetly as she should. Still, Elena was her friend and was it not the duty of friends to help one another when they had matters which needed to be attended to?
Elena shook her head, mumbled something Caroline couldn't hear, and plopped down onto one of the many empty seats. By now, more guests had arrived and the dance floor was bustling about, a mass of colorful masks, glorious evening gowns and men dressed to the nines.
A mad rush of adrenalin coursed through her veins as she thought of what she was to do on this beautiful, clear night. But first, she had to locate the man that was the sole reason she had graced this masquerade with her presence:
Prince Klaus; the handsome, impulsive, terrifying, and maddening prince.
Just the thought of his perfectly chiseled features and damn near perfect body made Caroline want to drown him in a lake. But first, she had to find him. The dagger pressed against her left breast was reminder enough of that.
An awkward cough brought Caroline from her mental fuming and she glanced to the gentleman just to her right. He was a bit short and stocky, clearly an older gentleman, with a mask made of porcelain and genuine rubies outlining its perimeter. "H-Hello," he managed, coughing awkwardly once more.
Caroline smiled, all innocent charm. "Hello."
"Might I, erm, ask for a uh, dance?"
"Absolutely," she replied, all sugarcoated warmth and false politeness. She didn't bother to wave goodbye to Elena as the eager gentleman was already dragging her onto the dance floor, other couples spinning joyously around them. That was what Caroline liked about masquerades—you could be whomever you so choose for a night, no social scandal to worry about.
Surprisingly enough, the old coot knew how to dance quite well and Caroline found herself enjoying their dance more than she initially thought she would. The song ended and the man made a move to continue but Caroline broke away, smiling apologetically. "Forgive me, but I must find my friend."
The man nodded and Caroline turned to head towards where Elena sat when she crashed into a very tall, very muscular individual. Said individual caught her by the shoulder and pushed her back gently. The moment Caroline's eyes locked with those deep sea green irises, she knew exactly who the man who stood before her was. A seductive smile found its way to her lips. "Evening," she said provocatively, eyes half-lidded through her mask.
Prince Klaus stared down at her, eyes reveling nothing. "Good evening," he returned, his voice as deep as it was sinful.
The words left her mouth before she could fully comprehend the repercussions. "Care to dance?"
The prince behind the simple, golden mask seemed to regard her for a moment before nodding and leading Caroline back out on the dance floor. And suddenly she found that their bodies were pressed too-close, hearts thrumming in tandem with one another. The feel of the man's well-muscled arms was familiar, yet strange. They twirled and spun, the world around them falling into obscurity. It was only Caroline, the prince and the melodic music playing in the background.
Then the prince was leaning down, breath hot against Caroline's ear. "Shall we get out of here, love?" he asked and Caroline absolutely didn't get aroused at the amusement in Klaus's tone.
He was smiling devilishly, she just knew it, but Caroline couldn't find it within herself to care much about that. "Where did you have in mind?"
Instead of answering, much to Caroline's annoyance, Klaus simply guided her by the waist off the dance floor, into one of the many corridors and then into the first door that was unlocked. Their masks came off in quick session and they didn't waste any time getting to the good bits—they were on each other like two teenagers locked in a broom closet. Lips mashed together in uncoordinated want as Klaus backed Caroline up against the wall, his hands roaming to some very dangerous places.
Klaus's lips were warm and experienced and Caroline enjoyed the way he dragged his teeth over her lower lip far too much. He tasted like champagne and some foreign sweet she'd tasted only once before—chocolate. It was sweet and milky and so delightfully delicious. Caroline's fingers threaded through Klaus's long, curly brown tresses as she drank in his fine, chiseled features.
Right. There was supposed to be assassinating going on.
As slyly as she could, Caroline distracted Klaus long enough to pull her dagger from beneath her bodice and jabbed it upwards toward the prince's side. However, before the blade could pierce skin, a strong hand caught Caroline's and squeezed tightly.
"I do so like it when you try to kill me, Caroline," Klaus hummed, nipping at her neck while he gripped the hand that held the dagger to his side.
Caroline absolutely did not moan.
And, oh yes, Klaus was most definitely trailing tortuously arousing kisses down her neck. "You're make such a lovely assassin." A kiss on the lips. "A deadly beauty." And, alright, so the possessive tone in which Klaus said it was more than a bit tantalizing, not that Caroline would ever admit it out loud, of course.
"Quite a bad one," she murmured against Klaus's skin. "I can't seem to manage killing you."
Klaus laughed against her lips. "Perhaps that is because you do not try hard enough, sweetheart."
Caroline scoffed. "No, I believe it is because it would be a shame to off you before I let you ravish me spectacularly."
"Ravish? I do like the sound of that…" Klaus trailed off, pulling the dagger from Caroline's hand and chucking it clear across the room.
"Oh, and, if I didn't pretend to try and assassinate you some other, more serious beauty might come along. And we can't have that now, can we?"
Klaus chuckled. "Surely not."
"Is Elijah still convinced I'm the most dangerous threat to the crown?"
"He's noble to a fault, that one."
"And a fine bodyguard. Well," Klaus conceded, "only where you are not concerned, love."
Caroline snorted. "He's too easy to read. Likely he's already cornered Elena in my absence."
"Don't worry, she'll be fine. Elijah will probably be bending over backwards by the night begging for her forgive—"
In that moment, the door flung open and a tall, lithe man appeared in the doorway. He gasped. "Prince!"
Klaus was quick to react, pinning Caroline up against the wall, twisting her arm behind her back, immobilizing her. "It's alright Dean," he said quickly. "I have her subdued."
Dean's round eyes widened. "Assassin?" he exclaimed. "I'll—I'll go fetch Sir Elijah!" And, before Klaus could protest, he was running off like a wild man in search of Klaus's bodyguard and beloved brother.
"Sorry love, it was necessary," Klaus breathed as he released Caroline from his restrictive hold.
Caroline rolled her eyes. "Yeah, yeah," she sighed. "I guess this means I better high-tail it out of here."
Klaus was silent a moment. "Elijah will chase you," he said at long last and the way he did almost broke Caroline's heart right then and there.
"I don't want it to be Elijah who chases me," Caroline said, smiling that same sad smile in return. She paused before continuing, "run away with me?" And perhaps that question was preposterous, but she meant it. She meant it so much it hurt.
Klaus frowned, green eyes the most lost Caroline had ever seen them. "It is not possible," he said without an hint of emotion. "There are responsibilities I cannot run away from."
"Forget them," she pleaded and damn Klaus to hell because she never begged for anything. "Please."
"Caroline, you know it to be not possible."
"Then, what? Am I just someone you pity fuck when you have time?" Caroline bit out miserably and it shouldn't hurt this much to have her heart break. She'd known—gods, she'd known how this dalliance would end. The prince never gave up his crown for a sham assassin. He married the rich princess instead.
"Don't you dare say that," Klaus growled. "You know that isn't true."
"Do I? Do I really? Because if you will so kindly recall I just asked you to run away with me and you refused me the one thing that would truly make me happy!"
"Caroline, quit being a child. You know it is impossible and if I could find a way, I would! I would watch the world burn for us to be together."
"Then find a way, you idiot!" Caroline shouted and she was absolutely not crying.
"I'm leaving," Caroline croaked, her vision blurred by the tears she was not shedding.
Caroline sighed. "I have to leave before Elijah gets here," she whispered dejectedly.
Klaus stood there a moment, the picture of perfect obstinacy and then his eyes softened. "Okay," he said. "Okay. But I won't run away with you," he paused. "I will, however, take you as my consort."
Klaus rolled his eyes, strode forward and kissed Caroline soundly. "Just shut up and let me kiss you."
Caroline couldn't help it, she laughed, tears still fresh. "But—"
"Shh, questions are bad, love. Kissing is good." Another deep, passionate kiss. "Very good."
And Caroline conceded, yes, kissing was very good indeed.