Part 18: link

    Arthur carries her heavy suitcase, setting it carefully in the back of her tiny green Mini. As soon as they are inside, he reaches for her, his lips itching to feel hers against them once again.
    She sighs, leaning into him, clutching his shoulders as she opens her mouth for him, meeting his searching tongue with hers.
    They separate only for air, and Arthur leans his forehead against hers. “Never leave again. At least not without me,” he whispers.
    Gwen giggles, and pecks his lips. “I won’t.”
    He wraps her in his arms, practically pulling her into his lap. “I missed you a ridiculous amount.”
    “Me, too.”
    He holds her another minute, hands stroking her back.
    “Arthur, are we going to go home or just sit in the parking lot all day?”
    “Oh. Sorry.”
    She laughs and he releases her to her own seat, starting the car.
    “Did you have a good time?” he asks as he pulls her car onto the motorway.
    “Yes, very much. Elyan has settled in very well there. I mean, except for the fact that he’s living in the bloody hotel,” she chuckles.
    He reaches over for her hand, holding it in his lap, driving with one hand. “I can’t wait to see your pictures. And get my present.”
    “Present? Did I bring you back a present?” she asks innocently.
    “Guinevere, you already told me you bought me something, nice try.”
    “I got things for the lads, too, actually.”
    “You didn’t need to do that.”
    “I know. I wanted to.”
    “Well, they’ll love whatever you’ve gotten, I’m sure.” He lifts her fingers to his lips and kisses them before releasing her hand again so that he can exit the motorway and downshift.
    “What did you do while I was gone?” she asks.
    “Absolutely nothing. I sat and stared at the wall and moped.”
    She laughs. “That’s probably not far from the truth.”
    “I worked. I painted. Slept in your bed three or four times. And no, I didn’t do anything that would require laundering your sheets.”
    Gwen laughs again, clapping her hand over her mouth. Still not quite used to how casual he is about these things.
    “And if I had done, I would have made sure they were clean before this morning anyway, I’ll have you know,” he declares, somewhat proudly.
    She just chuckles and shakes her head. “What did you paint?”
    “The two paintings of you. Finished the one, I think.”
    “You think?”
    “I want you to take a look at it first.”
    “Later. My flat first. I want to take a shower. I feel all airplane-y.”
    “That sounds like fun.”
    “A shower by myself, you randy sod.”
    He pouts.
    “If you’re good, I’ll let you repaint my toes.”
    His pout turns into a smile as he parks her car. “Home.”
    She sighs, and it turns into a yawn as she unbuckles her seat belt and opens the door, slinging her camera bag onto her shoulder. Arthur retrieves her suitcase and strides ahead to unlock the door for her.
    He opens the door and she steps inside. “Ah, so nice to be back,” she sighs, looking around. Her eyes fall on a vase filled with a dozen dark red roses sitting on her coffee table, and she turns and looks at him, her eyes soft and smiling. “Arthur…”
    “Welcome home, Sweet,” he says, grinning as he sets her suitcase down. She wraps her arms around him, squeezing him tightly, resting her head against his chest. His arms come around her, one on her back, the other gently holding her head as he leans down and kisses her hair.
    Gwen pulls away from him and picks up her camera bag again and heads for the bedroom, pausing to bend and bury her nose in the bouquet, inhaling their sweet smell. Arthur lifts the suitcase again and follows. She digs into the camera bag and pulls out a flat parcel in a brown paper bag, feeling it and peeking inside, checking it over for damage.
    “Good,” she declares quietly, then sets it down. Arthur is sitting beside the suitcase on the bed, giving her a puzzled but expectant look.
    “Goodness, you’re like a child. Here,” she says, handing him the parcel.
    He grins and slides what is undoubtedly a record out of the bag, looking at it. “Naked Raygun,” he reads, flipping it over to inspect the back.
    “They’re a punk band from Chicago,” she says, and a small smile creeps over his face.
    “At the moment I’m mostly impressed that you got it back here intact,” he says, absorbed in the liner notes on the back cover, reading the song list, the names of the band members.
    “I honestly don’t know if they’re any good or not. Kyle said that—”
    “Kyle?” he looks up, raising an eyebrow at her.
    “The bloke at the shop. He recommended them,” she says casually, opening the suitcase now.
    “And how did you find this shop?” he asks, looking at the front of the album again.
    “The concierge at the hotel was amazing. He knew everything. Monday night, while Elyan was working, I asked him if he knew of any record stores that would have a good selection of punk music, and he had a name for me immediately.” She lifts a pile of neatly-folded clothes out of the suitcase and starts putting them away.
    “Don’t you need to wash those?”
    “Elyan had me send them to the laundry yesterday. Actually was a really good idea. So now I only have a few things that can definitely wait until I don’t feel like a zombie.”
    “That’s right, it must be, what, nearly five a.m., according to your body?”
    “Yeah, that’s about right. But I really want to stay up as long as I can to try to get back on track. I’ll see how long I last, though.”
    “Guinevere, you should rest.”
    “I didn’t say I was going to go jogging or anything. I don’t plan on leaving this flat at all today, in fact.”
    “Mmm, like the sound of that,” he says, and Gwen throws something at his head. “Hey!” he declares, grabbing it. It is a red t-shirt with a large skull on the front. Underneath are a knife and fork, crossed where a pair of bones would be. Above the skull is the slogan EAT THE RICH.
    Arthur looks at it and laughs. “Is this for me?”
    “It’s fucking brilliant, I love it,” he says, still laughing.
    “I thought you might.”
    “Oh, and Elyan sent these for you,” she pulls out a small flat box, which he snatches immediately, his sweet tooth like a radar.
    “Petit fours, nice,” he gazes down at them as if they were jewels. “Did he make these?”
    “Of course he did. Try that one,” she points to one. He knew what they were immediately. Impressive.
    He lifts the small cube of cake out of the box, chocolate covered, a ribbon of orange frosting decorating the top. Taking a bite, he closes his eyes, and says, “Bloody hell, I’m moving to Chicago and marrying your brother.”
    “Good, huh?” she laughs, sorting the other souvenirs from her clothes.
    “Guinevere, ‘good’ doesn’t even come close. Chocolate with orange is a very underrated flavor combination, and he’s nailed it perfectly,” he says, taking another bite.
    Okay, he’s not just a punk with a sweet tooth, he’s a bloody gourmand, she realizes. “That’s one of my favorites as well. And that cake is so…”
    “Dense. Fudgy. It’s excellent. I could sit here and eat this entire box, actually, but that would be a crime. These are to be savored.”
    “Glad you like them. He’ll be thrilled. He made them special for you when I told him how much you like your sweeties.”
    He laughs, licking his fingers. “I’m surprised you got them through customs.”
    “Why do you think they were tucked smack in the middle of my suitcase, wrapped in a pair of my jeans?”
    “Smuggler,” he teases, closing the box and setting it on the bedside table, though not without a small longing gaze before leaning back against the headboard.
    She finishes emptying the suitcase and tosses it on the floor, kicking it to the side. “I’ll put that away later,” she says, hands on her hips, surveying the items on the bed.
    She scoops them all up and places them on her vanity, dismissing them with a wave of her hands. “Later.”
    “Come here,” Arthur holds his hands out to her, and she complies, climbing onto the bed, into his lap, where he wraps his arms around her.
    “Mmm, I missed this,” she says, snuggling into him, sighing contentedly. He reaches down and tilts her chin up, gazing down at her a moment before his lips meet hers, soft and warm. Her eyes drift closed and her hands run up his chest to his shoulders as she opens her mouth, allowing his tongue to glide against hers. She feels herself being moved, turned onto her back as he leans over her, their lips never losing contact with each other.
    “Oh, God, Guinevere, I missed you so much,” Arthur whispers, finally lifting his lips from her to kiss his way along her neck, his hand brushing against her breast.
    Gwen sighs and gently holds his head, smiling as he kisses her collarbone. He begins pulling at her shirt, and she drops her hand over his, stilling it.
    “Arthur,” she says, scooting upwards.
    “Huh?” he remarks, confused.
    “Later, darling. I want you, too, but right now, I want a shower more.”
    “Oh. Right. Sorry. Got carried away.”
    “Don’t pout,” she says, seeing his disappointment.
    “I’m not pouting.”
    “You most definitely are,” she laughs at him, leaning over to kiss his forehead as she stands.
    “Oh,” she says, reaching up to unclasp the chain around her neck, “I should give this back to you…” She leaves the sentence hanging, not sure if he wants it back or not.
    “Um, yes, if it’s all right. It was my grandfather’s, actually.”
    “Oh, then definitely you need it back,” she says, holding the chain up and letting the ring drop into her hand. She takes his hand in hers, kissing his palm before sliding it over his thumb.
    “It actually came from my mum,” he mutters, “it was her father’s.”
    “If I had known that, I wouldn’t have taken it.”
    “I know. That’s why I didn’t tell you until now.”
    “I’m glad I had it, though,” Gwen says, leaning down to kiss him again. “Whenever I missed you too much I would hold onto it. And then El would roll his eyes at me.”
    Arthur smiles at her and reaches for her hand, giving it a squeeze. She smiles back at him and turns towards the door, to her shower.
    “Are you hungry?” he asks suddenly as he follows her out of the room.
    “Yes, but I’ve got nothing to eat.”
    “Yes, you do. I went to the market yesterday. I’ll cook some lunch for us while you shower.”
    Guinevere stops and turns, smiling at him. “Thank you, Arthur, that is incredibly sweet,” she says, reaching up and kissing him again.
    “I probably bought all the wrong things. And I should warn you I have a very limited repertoire of dishes.”
    “I can’t wait,” she says, blowing him a kiss before closing the bathroom door on him.
    He stands in the hallway, debating. No, leave her alone. She’ll kill you. Besides, you promised lunch.

    “I hope you like grilled cheese and scrambled eggs,” Arthur greets her as she walks into the kitchen, dressed in one of her nighties, purple, her hair loose. “You look amazing.”
    “I told you I wasn’t going anywhere,” she says, amused at his assessment of her. “And grilled cheese and scrambled eggs sound wonderful.” She sits at the table and he sets a plate in front of her.
    “Thank you,” she says, and he goes to the fridge for two bottles before sitting himself. He opens them both and hands her one. “Ah, scrambled eggs and beer,” she chuckles. “Lovely.”
    “You’re making fun of me now,” he says, pouting again.
    “I’m not!” she exclaims, laughing. “I promise.”
    “So tell me about your trip. The last postcard I got was from the amusement park.”
    “That was so much fun,” she says, taking a bite of her sandwich. “Elyan dragged me on nearly every ride, and I didn’t even get sick,” she says.
    “Good for you,” he smiles, raising his bottle in a toast.
    “Never been much of a thrill-seeker, but the roller coasters were really fun.”
    “Any place else interesting?”
    “Oh, God, Elyan took me to a discotheque Thursday night,” she says, rolling her eyes at the memory.
    Arthur sets his fork down quite deliberately. “No.”
    “Yes. I swear if I hear one more man singing unnaturally high…”
    He laughs. “So how horrible was it?”
    “You would have lost your bloody mind. For several reasons.”
    “First, the music was awful. And the clothes, ugh. And the men were all stupid. All of them. All. The women were just as bad, now that I think of it.”
    “Random Chicago wankers?” Arthur smiles, but she can see the concern in his eyes, the jealousy he is trying to keep in check.
    “Definitely. And the dumbest thing? Most of them didn’t believe that El and I were British. They thought we were faking the accents! Apparently quite a few Americans think that everyone from the UK is white!” she exclaims, throwing her hands up in frustration.
    Arthur blinks a few times. “Wow.”
    “Elyan has learned to laugh at it, but I was flabbergasted that they were that… dumb. Narrow-minded, I guess is the word I’m looking for. Naïve, maybe?”
    “I get what you’re saying, Sweet.”
    “I didn’t dance with anyone except my brother, just so you know,” she says, “and he’s bloody awful.”
    “But you had plenty of offers,” he says, sure that she was probably pushing the men away with a stick.
    “A few,” she shrugs.
    “Only a few? I don’t know if I should be relieved or insulted,” Arthur says, incredulous that people wouldn’t think his Guinevere anything but mind-blowingly gorgeous. They should have been lining up, vying for her attention. Wait, what the hell am I thinking here?
    She laughs. “I guess I don’t quite fit the American standard of beauty. I don’t look enough like one of those Barbie dolls, I guess. Though there was one guy that was very persistent. Elyan finally had to step in and tell him to get lost.”
    “I told you he was protective as well.”
    “Good man, him. Done?” he asks, indicating her plate, where she has been poking at the remains of her eggs for a while now.
    “Yes, thank you.”
    He clears the plates and actually washes up, telling her to go sit on the couch and relax.
    “Oh, bugger, I forgot to call my dad!” she suddenly exclaims, reaching for the phone.
    “Yeah, better do that before he sends out a search party,” Arthur calls from the kitchen.
    “Tom Degrance, please,” Arthur hears Guinevere’s voice as she rings her father at the Yard.
    “Hi, Daddy… yes, I’m home safe.”
    “About an hour ago, sorry, I got all involved unpacking and showering that I forgot to call.”
    “Yes, he was on time. He was waiting at the gate.”
    “Yes, he carried my suitcase.”
    She is quiet a minute, listening.
    “Maybe tomorrow. I’m not going anywhere today. I’m already in my pajamas, in fact.”
    She makes an exasperated noise. “Of course. If you must know, he made me lunch and is currently doing the washing up as I relax on the sofa in front of the telly. Stop being such a bear.”
    “That’s better. El sends his love. Did you know he’s living at that bloody hotel?”
    “Oh. Well, I think it’s bizarre. Yes, I’ve got your coffee. You’ll get it tomorrow. Or Sunday.”
    “Okay. Okay. Get back to work. Surely there is someone you should be arresting right now.”
    “All right. Love you, too.”
    Arthur strolls into the living room and sits on the sofa beside Gwen. “He wants to see you?”
    “Yeah, but he can wait. I am deadly serious about not leaving this flat today.”
    “I see that,” he smirks at her.
    “He just wants his stupid coffee.”
    “Yeah. Loves the stuff, and claims he can’t get any good coffee here.”
    “I know,” she says, leaning against a pillow at one end of the couch, swinging her feet into his lap.
    “Ah, hello,” Arthur says, lifting the appendages in his hands to kiss them. “You took the polish off already, I see.”
    “Before I showered,” she says casually. Because I knew you’d be wanting to insert them into your mouth at the earliest opportunity and you probably don’t want them to taste like nail polish remover, she thinks.
    He sets her feet down and wanders away for a moment, returning with her basket of polishes and a bottle of moisturizer.
    “You really made yourself at home while I was gone, didn’t you?” she observes, angling her head at him. “Because you certainly seem to know where everything is.”
    “I nosed around a little, yes,” he says, ducking his head, blushing slightly.
    Gwen just chuckles and settles back, staring at the mindless chat show currently on the television.
    Arthur sits and pulls her feet back into his lap, lifting one to his lips, kissing her arch, her toes, her instep, rubbing with his thumbs. She feels the familiar warm wetness of his tongue and relaxes, eventually allowing her heavy eyelids to close, content.

    Guinevere wakes to find her feet feeling fantastic, massaged and moisturized, nails painted a dark purple with pink polka dots. Arthur is sitting quietly at the other end of the sofa, doodling on a pad of paper he’s found, paying no attention at all to the telly.
    “What are you drawing?” she asks, stretching, her voice sleepy.
    “Of course. Shit, how long was I sleeping?” She stretches her neck side to side, finding it stiff. Ugh. My mouth feels like an armpit.
    “Couple hours, I guess,” he says, looking up at the clock. “Yeah, about that.”
    “I wish you hadn’t let me sleep so long,” she says.
    “I was going to wake you pretty soon. You needed the rest,” he smiles at her, flashing the drawing at her.
    “I don’t look that good while I’m sleeping, Arthur,” she protests, sitting more upright.
    “Yes, you do. I promise. Besides, how would you know?”
    “Point taken.” She stands and heads for the bathroom.
    When she returns, bladder emptied and teeth brushed, Arthur remembers. “We met Freya. Merlin and I.”
    “Really? How did that happen?” Gwen says, sitting back down.
    “Apparently she usually brings in your mail if you’re out of town?”
    “Oh, yeah. Not that I leave much, but she does have my spare key,” she says. “Whoops.”
    “So we bumped into each other outside. She’s very nice.” He pulls her against him, wrapping his arms around her.
    “Yeah, she’s great.”
    “Merlin is in deep smit.”
    “Oh, really?” Gwen grins.
    “It was so silly. They had the most inane conversation and you would have thought that they were solving the world’s problems.”
    “Hmm. We’ll have to give them an opportunity to continue their discussion, won’t we?”
    “Absolutely,” he grins. “Do you like your toes?”
    “Yes, they’re very cute, thank you. So, um…”
    “I wasn’t molesting your feet while you were sleeping, no,” he says, guessing.
    “Guinevere, it’s one thing to be a bit kinky, it’s quite another to be a creepy perv. There is a very distinct line.”
    Gwen laughs now. “So, sucking on my toes while I sleep crosses that line, then.”
    “Yes. Besides, half the fun is your participation, Sweet.” He leans over and tilts her face up to his, kissing her again, gently but ardently. Hopefully.
    Gwen turns in his arms, shifting so she is in his lap, wrapping her arms around his neck, kissing back hungrily. Arthur’s hopes become reality when she tears her lips away and whispers in his ear, “Take me to the bedroom, Arthur.”
    Arthur doesn’t need to be told a second time. Growling deliciously, he stands and lifts her all in one fluid motion, cradling her in his arms as if she were the most precious cargo.
    Okay, that was impressive as hell, Gwen thinks as she is carried down the hall into her room, peppering wet kisses on his neck and jaw.
    He drops to the bed, still holding her, his hand sliding up her thigh as he returns his lips to hers, nibbling and sucking at her lips greedily, leaving them both gasping for air.
    Gwen grabs his shirt and, pulling away, yanks it over his head and throws it over her shoulder. Arthur laughs and moves over her, laying her back against the pillows, raking his eyes over her body in such a way that she can feel his gaze on her skin.
    She stretches languidly, the hem of her nightie hitching up slightly as she does so, exposing more of her thighs and giving him the tiniest peek of her light blue knickers.
    Arthur’s eyes darken with desire and he drops over and beside her, reaching down to pull her nightie up further, his hand skimming over her panties, caressing her thighs as he feathers soft kisses on her cheek, her ear, her neck. She parts her legs for him unconsciously, and he slides his hand up her inner thigh, his large hand barely touching her soft skin. Gwen shivers as goosebumps rise on her leg, then she gasps as he places his hand firmly against her warm and now damp panties, pressing against her so that she arches back into his palm.
    “I dreamt of you every night while you were gone,” he says softly into her ear, his lips brushing the sensitive skin. “Your skin,” he moves his hand again caressing the flat plane of her stomach, “your hair,” he nuzzles his nose into her lilac-scented curls, splayed on the pillow, “your lips,” he moves to kiss her lips, biting the lower one gently, “and… other things as well,” he adds with a small smile, bringing his hand up to cup one of her breasts, teasing the nipple there, making it firmer, even more sensitive and stiff. “It was torture every night,” he continues, still kissing and caressing.
    I am losing my bloody mind, Gwen thinks, his seductive assault making her skin feel as though it is on fire and there is molten lava in her belly.
    Arthur is unrelenting, hands exploring her body, lips making her skin tingle. “Yet all those dreams cannot compare to actually having you here,” he kisses her lips, “actually being with you,” again, “actually touching you, kissing you,” another kiss, this one longer, deeper, “smelling you, tasting you,” he finishes with another hungry kiss, passionate and fiery, but still somehow gentle and loving.
    How does he do this to me?
    “You’d think my imagination would be able to surpass reality,” he continues, apparently not finished, “but it doesn’t hold a candle.” He lifts her shoulders and pulls her nightie off, tossing it aside with his discarded t-shirt.
    “You are so beautiful, Guinevere,” he whispers, gazing down at her. She reaches for him, pulling him down over her, running her hands along his chest, down to the waist of his jeans, opening them.
    Arthur groans and helps her remove his jeans, nearly falling off the bed in the process. Gwen laughs and grabs him, pulling him back to her.
    “Well, that sort of killed the mood,” he remarks with a chuckle.
    “Oh?” Gwen asks, arching an eyebrow at him as she leans forward and kisses his neck, sucking at his skin slightly, biting it just as she runs a fingertip along the length of his shaft. He inhales sharply, “Oh, you…” he groans, his hands sliding down her torso to remove the last tiny stitch of clothing still between them. Her panties haven’t even hit the floor before his lips are on hers again, then her neck, her throat, her breasts, his fingers finding her warm sensitive points below.
    Arthur slides his fingers against her, slipping along her folds, teasing the sensitive bundle of nerves at the front, sliding back to enter her. Gwen cries out softly, grasping his head, his shoulders, reaching down with one hand for him. His tongue flicks her nipple, suckling and biting gently.
    “Arthur,” she gasps, writhing slowly under his ministrations, “Oh, God…” Her hand squeezes his member reflexively, tightly, and he groans.
    “Guinevere,” he grunts her name into her breasts, kissing between them.
    “Now, Arthur, please,” she gasps, begging him, gently pulling him towards her, parting her legs further, sliding her thighs against his hips, enticing him into her.
    “God, yes,” he agrees throatily, thrusting his hips forward to slide into her, easing himself in as far as he can go and stilling, staying rooted within her as she wraps her arms around his shoulders, her legs around his hips.
    “Guinevere…” he starts, his voice trailing off before he can finish his thought. I love you. I love you so much.
    “Arthur,” she whispers into his ear, kissing it sweetly, her lips making him tingle. I love you with my entire being, Arthur.
    Gwen eases her grip on Arthur and he starts to move, gathering her to him as he does so, kissing her gently, reverently. Her hands rove his back, his rear; his hands rove her breasts, her face, tangling in her hair.
    His movements gradually pick up speed, but he is gentle, like the first time, swift but tender, building a crescendo within both of them as they move together as one being, connected physically and emotionally as they stare into one another’s eyes, each lost to the other.
    Arthur glides his hands up Gwen’s arms, grasping her hands, threading his fingers through hers, together on either side of her head. Swifter still, he drives, dropping to kiss her lips, her chin, her eyelids, wherever his lips happen to land as the electricity between them builds and builds until they can almost see it in the air around them.
    Guinevere cries out hoarsely, tightening her legs around him, gripping his hands in hers, just as Arthur shouts out and gives a final urgent thrust, deep within her, pressing his face into her neck.
    He gradually relaxes over her, rolling them to the side, carefully disengaging himself from her before enfolding her in his arms again, stroking her back.
    “I missed you so much, Arthur,” she says. “And not just… this,” she says, motioning to their naked bodies entwined on their bed. “I missed you.
    “Guinevere, I missed you to the point that Merlin had to bring me an entire bag of candy to keep me civil,” he says, kissing the top of her head.
    She laughs, and then he adds, “And he did that Thursday morning.”
    “This past Thursday?” she asks, somehow knowing the answer is no.
    “No, the first day you were gone,” he admits. “That bloke is a little scary sometimes.”
    “He’s just known you a very long time,” she says, still chuckling at him, leaning over to kiss his chest.
    “Welcome home, Sweet,” he says again, softly this time. He squeezes her in his arms, never wanting to let go.

Part 20: link