|Series||Crossfire by Pixichi|
|Previous||Crossfire, Chapter 12|
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"Is this all you have then?" Courtney made a face whilst going through Connie's wardrobe, which consisted of very little. "Good thing I brought this." She patted the gown atop the worn bed. Connie and Courtney had maintained their friendship and Courtney had come to visit Connie in the Bloodstone tavern on more than one occasion. It was Connie's first friend since Hammer.
"I'm an adventurer, I don't exactly have an extended collection of clothes." Connie replied.
"So all you wear is that gaudy green dress? We have a lot of work to do."
"Hey! I like this dress. Besides, I don't really go anywhere fancy that much."
"But tonight, your going on a date with Reaver, fancy that." Courtney teased.
"It's not a date, it's just a dinner amongst friends." Connie defended. Courtney just laughed.
"Honey, listen to me. I've worked for Reaver long enough to know that the man doesn't have friends. Well, save Claude." Connie's eyes widened.
"Claude? As in Clammy Claude?" She asked, remembering the old pirate who had given her the strange sealed letter and who had later kidnapped Lance.
"Yeah, odd fellow, he's a bit of a pervert as well. He's been Reaver's crony and mate for as long as I can remember. Folks say that they used to sail together long ago."
"He was the one who stole Lance did you know that?" Connie mentioned. She had since told Courtney all about her kidnapping by Reaver, how he had forced her to be his maid with his threat to harm her wolfdog companion.
"Oh my! How did you manage to get him back? You couldn't have paid Reaver back that quickly, you didn't stay that long." Connie sighed.
"We made a deal. Out of nowhere, he said that I could just be his friend for a week and that not only would I be out of his debt, but he would also pay me back for destroying my house." Connie stated. Courtney looked worried.
"Why are you spending so much time with him? Just leave him be. He's a really bad person Connie. He's not worth it."
"I'll be the judge of that." Connie snapped. She hated it when people tried to tell her what to do, it reminded her of when she was a hero, and people would try and persuade her by using the "You're a hero, you have to do this," speech.
"Just be careful that's all. I've seen him do a lot of nasty things." Courtney added. Connie looked over at the gown on the bed. It was even more beautiful than she had first thought. The gown was made out of rare golden silk, made only by the rare golden silkworms in the mysterious eastern countries. The red velvet was carefully sewn into place with silver thread, and only one of the best tailors in the world could have placed each of the tiny diamonds so accordingly. As she looked closer, Connie noticed that there were also tiny rubies embroidered on the gown.
"Where on earth did you ever get such a beautiful gown?" Connie asked her friend.
"I kind of borrowed it from one of the closets. Reaver will never even know that its gone." Courtney smiled slyly.
"You stole it?!" Connie was in disbelief.
"Relax. You can give it back to me after tonight and then I'll just put it right back." Courtney explained. "Besides, even a dress like this isn't worth getting shot over. Go ahead. Try it on." Connie nodded and slipped off her white night gown and placed the golden gown up and over her head. It fit like a glove. It even complimented her every curve to perfection. The material inside was warm and soft, and felt very comfy. Connie was amazed at how cozy a gorgeous dress like this could be. Courtney tied the golden straps in the back as well as the large crimson bow, and then brushed her friends hair as Connie put on her makeup and a spritz of perfume. Then, Connie gazed at herself in the mirror, still in disbelief that it was her that stood in the exquisite gown.
"He's gonna have serious trouble keeping his hands off you tonight, I assure you." Courtney winked. Connie looked at her.
"I told you, we're just friends." Courtney sat down upon the bed, Lance by her side.
"Alright, whatever you say. I'll wolfie-sit fluffy here. Tell your "friend" that I said hello." Connie rolled her eyes and headed out the door. She felt strange wearing such a luxurious garment in Bloodstone, and the hoots and hollers she received from the many thugs and pirates she passed on her way to Reaver's mansion only made it worse. She was a bit annoyed at Courtney. While she knew that her friend had only been trying to help her, Connie was pretty sure that Reaver wouldn't care what she was wearing. He had never mentioned it before anyway. Connie was more than relived as she passed through the gates to his massive mansion. She knocked twice and was surprised when the master himself answered the door. Reaver's jaw nearly dropped at the sight of Connie in her gown. She had always been so gorgeous to him, but now clothed in such elegant materials, it was like falling in love with her all over again.
"Why hello Madame Connie Remswood! My, don't you look ravishing this fine evening?" Reaver bowed before her.
"Don't get any ideas Reaver. Remember, we're just friends." Connie huffed as she stepped inside the mansion.
"Oh yes, quite." Reaver held out his hand to her. He was dressed exactly the way he always was, the dashing crimson and gold pirate suit that Connie secretly loved so much.
"May I escort you to the dining room m'lady?" He asked. Connie took his hand and followed him in. The table was alight with candles and there was a huge salmon in the center, dressed in lemon slices and various spices and herbs. There were also several side dishes and a large pie on the long table. Reaver pulled out a chair and motioned for Connie to sit down. Then he sat next to her.
"This food looks delicious." Connie marvelled. Reaver snapped his fingers twice and his staff entered the room, and began to set the table and dish out the food. Connie felt like a princess, being waited on and wearing such an elegant gown. It was definitely something that she wasn't used to. Reaver smiled at her as she carefully took a bite of the fish.
"You look so exquisite Connie. It reminds me of the first day I met you, when you were wearing that red and gold dress, much like the green one you always wear."
"Yes that was an odd coincidence. I had no idea that your whole house would also be red and gold."
"Not to mention my outfit." Reaver chuckled. "Whatever happened to that little dress anyway?" Connie's smile melted.
"It got destroyed in that fire."
"Connie. I'm sorry about that. I really had no idea that you lived there, besides, it was an accident. I wasn't even the one lighting them in the first place." He explained.
"I know. You were lying on a balverine skin rug getting doted on by your adoring fans." She replied dryly.
"No need to get jealous my dear." Reaver teased. The two laughed. Reaver took a sip of wine and then smiled at Connie again.
"You really do look beautiful Connie." She felt herself blush.
"Thank you Reaver. That's sweet of you." After dinner, the servants went to work clearing the long table and Connie and Reaver retired to the study to visit some more. The fire was crackling and popping behind them. The two heros were taking sips of wine and conversing. The subject being the book that they had been reading together.
"What? You've already reached chapter ten?!" Reaver exclaimed. Connie nodded proudly.
"Yep. Told your I'd get you back." She grinned mischievously. Reaver sighed a tad annoyed.
"And here I was reading slower so that you would have a chance to catch up." He took another sip of the blood-colored wine. "So, since your on chapter ten now, what do you think of the book Connie?"
"It's a good book so far, but theres one thing that I don't understand. Why did he call Isabelle his Silver Rose?" Connie inquired.
"Master Devon found love with a woman who stood out amongst all the others in his privileged lifestyle. Yet she was not of noble blood, nor wealthy. It must have been something else. I never could be quite sure why she was his Silver Rose." Reaver mused. "The line in the epilogue, pardon the giveaway, states and I quote: Amongst a field of verdant roses, whose petals were rare and sweet, only one was both pleasing and valuable to him. In amongst the red velvet petals and spiny thorns of heartache, Isabelle was there, a perfect silver amongst crimson bronze. A perfect love amidst thorny betrayals."
"She was the only one who made him forget himself." Connie piped up. Reaver stared at her.
"What do you mean?"
"Isabelle was poor and simple, but when the master was with her, he left all of the rules and expectations of society behind. He was no more rich and powerful than she was subordinate and giving. They were so intertwined with passion, that all they saw was each other. Nothing else could ever matter, and no one else could ever make him feel that way." Connie explained. Reaver pondered her words.
"Do you really believe such love could ever exist?" He asked her, a hint of mockery in his tone. Connie locked eyes with him.
"Yes." Reaver leaned in closer.
"Why is that?" He asked, intrigued. Connie closed her eyes. This is it. It's time to tell him how you feel. The hardest quest that you've ever been on, this is the moment of truth. She thought as she braced herself, and then bravely spoke.
"Because I-" Reavers words cut her off, much to her surprise.
"Face it Connie, your a child. You've never been in love, yet you try to comprehend love as if it has meaning. Let me just let you in on a little secret. Love does not exist. It is merely an illusion conjured up by the cruel emotions of the heart. Once you fall into its trap, eventually, the only feeling that you'll have is pain. In some cases, agony." Connie bristled at the comment, annoyed.
"You keep telling me that I'm a child. That I don't understand love. Alright then, if that's the case, then why don't I ask someone who knows. Tell me about love, about you and Cammilia." Reaver's heart froze. He turned his back to her and then replied grimly.
"As I said. Agony. Love brings realms of indescribable pain and torture." Connie was silent, she knew that she had reopened a deep wound in the rogue's heart.
"Reaver, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you." Connie offered, putting her hand on his back. There was a long silence in the room, the only sound was the embers as they devoured the log before them. Finally, he faced her again and spoke.
"I didn't mean to come across so brash. Forgive me."
"Reaver. I didn't mean to bring up-"
"Please, don't mention her name." Reaver replied harshly, as if his recent apology had ment nothing. Connie sat back on the sofa.
"Alright." She was feeling a bit uneasy and restless. The conversation had turned dark and unfriendly. Connie glanced up to the grandfather clock in the corner. It was getting late.
"Reaver, I should be going. But I had a great time with you tonight." She spoke as she got to her feet.
"I'm glad that you came too Connie." Connie smiled at him one last time before she turned and exited the front door. Reaver watched her go, and then reached forward and grabbed her wine glass. A small oily mark made by Connie's pink lipstick remained on the mouth of the goblet. Reaver placed his lips around the marks, closed his eyes, and drank down the rest of the wine. When he was through, he looked intriguingly at the empty glass and frowned.
"I wonder, is this the closest to kissing you that I shall ever get?" He turned and once again, looked deeply into the blazing fire, lost in thought.