Episode 4 - How Things Change...
The sewing room:
Frustration was eating away at the last bits of sanity Kyra possessed. She'd be damned if she was going to let this task get the better of her though.
It had been hours since she began on her trip through the wonderful world of dressmaking. It was getting late, she knew. Her eyes felt swollen and puffy from staring down at the tiny needle and the thousands of tiny stitches she'd made, but she was determined to finish it. The sun had long since gone down and now the moon was beginning its slow descent as well.
She was proud of the effort she'd made, but she felt increasingly frustrated that things were not progressing fast enough. It had taken two hours just to properly cut a pattern from the light brown material. When she'd first seen the color a knot had tightened in her stomach. She didn't hate it, but she certainly didn't love it.
Upon entering the tailor's quarters she'd been hoping to find a nice dark red or perhaps something pleasing in navy blue, but most of the fabrics were just too expensive. One of the prettiest fabrics she saw was a soft pale cotton that belonged solely to the Marquess. But, she would never ask Caleb for some of it. That would defeat the purpose of providing a dress for herself, so she'd resigned herself to thumbing through the fabrics she could afford.
The older man who ran the shop saw she was on limited funds. He nicely offered to throw in a length of white lace if she wanted to purchase the brown fabric that he had on sale. She hadn't been able to turn down the generous offer. The color was a little lifeless on its own, but the man's suggestion to cover the bodice in lace sounded like an appealing idea. Kyra took it and thanked the man graciously for his help.
For the past few minutes she'd been struggling to finish stitching the cuff of one long sleeve. She'd initially begun stitching it in the wrong area and had to pull the whole thing apart before starting over. Just as she cut away the trailing thread, she heard the clock in the entrance hall chiming away. Before the ninth bell she hadn't paid it any mind, but it kept on with its incessant rhyme telling her it was getting very late. The dress wasn't even close to being finished yet.
With a frustrated and weary sigh, she tied off the last thread on sleeve. Her back was aching so badly that she had to sit back in the chair for a moment. As her stiff frame melted into the welcoming sofa, she found it hard to resist lowering her head. Just for one brief moment, she was going to let herself rest… Wearily, her eyes lowered and then closed.
Just then, the candle on the desk began flickering as it began to fade away. She knew it would soon gutter, but she felt too relaxed to stand and light another. Within minutes it had extinguished and the room was encased in the night's blanket of darkness.
She would only rest for a minute, she told herself. Then she'd return to the dress. In just a moment...
The bonds of sleep soon slipped around Kyra and she began to breathe deeply in even rhythm. So caught was Kyra in the arms of sleep that she didn't even stir when the door to the room opened and a man stepped in.
Feeling his way around the room, Caleb managed to reach the desk where he remembered a candle was kept. When his hand reached the stand, he felt the stem of the candle gutted in a pool of its own wax. It was still warm, so he knew Kyra had left only recently.
He needed to be sure everything was returned to its proper place. It wasn't that he thought she'd—Oh hell, why fight it! He didn't trust her. He couldn't deny that.
Making his way to the wall behind the desk, he found another half-burnt candle.
Pulling it from the holder, he lit it. The room was soon a shade brighter.
After securing the candle in its holder, he turned to inspect the room. It took a moment before he realized that nothing had been put back.
The unfinished dress lay in pieces across a center table and other materials graced the floor. The sewing basket was placed haphazardly on the edge of the desk and tools were strewn everywhere. With a sigh of disgust, he crossed the room and began tossing the tools into the basket.
Angry now, he hissed, "All right, lady. This is the last time you—" His voice broke off suddenly when he heard a movement from behind.
He reached for the stem of the candlestick and held it defensively as he twisted around. His heart stopped when his eyes adjusted to the light and focused on the slight form hidden by shadows.
Huddled against his mother's armchair in sleep, Kyra made a charming picture. Her long rich hair was cascading down one side of her dress. In sleep, her features were softened to give her the look of a child, but the curves defined under the material defied that youthful image. The light of the candle glistened through her hair and touched the features of her face in a most charming way. In silent awe of her graceful beauty, Caleb was slow to think.
Mindless of his actions, he slowly knelt down beside her chair and reached out a cautious hand to brush her hair away from the pale skin of her cheek. The sensation of satin met his knuckles as they grazed her sleep-warmed face. It affected him more than he dared to admit, but he did not draw back. An odd need to touch the softness of her skin was a pleasure he could not deny.
Her eyes opened halfway and she looked up at him with a lazy smile. Her glance turned to confusion when an unexpected shiver raced through her. Sleep had heightened her senses. She was extremely aware of his touch as it descended the line of her jaw.
Caleb felt her shiver and wondered whether it was from the cold or him. Either way, he knew he should stop.
Her eyes fell closed for a moment and he saw how tired she was. He wondered if he should help her to her room. If she slept here, she would awaken tomorrow with more than a few cramps. Not allowing himself a second thought, he stood on suddenly shaky legs and bent to gently slide his arms beneath her. She understood his intention and reached up to secure one arm behind his neck while the other gripped the front of his shirt.
The feel of her in his arms almost felt too good, he decided as he held her. The slight weight of her head cradled in his arms, the softness of her hair grazing his chin… The overall softness of her body pressed against his chest... It all felt too good for his benefit.
It was a good thing the night had grown so late. Scandalous rumors would fly should anyone see him now...