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The intrigue that drives, and plagues, the Territory of Dharo has built and destroyed empires throughout the Territory; and everyone is eager for political power. The reign of Rheava Evesham has been challenged by these power struggles and even more so by the undercutting of power in her Court. The game of politics had bred the need for Spies within the Territory and they have become the backbone of the Queen's reign.
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Author Topic: Pleasant Unplanned Business  (Read 246 times)

Description: Attn: James Alert: NSFW Content Ahead

Offline Gwenyn Webster

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Pleasant Unplanned Business
« on: May 26, 18, 12:15:13 AM »
James Driscoll was coming to Arinthorpe to introduce his nephew to her.  It wasn't something that happened terribly often - most people aimed higher than a Village Court.  But from what Arthur told her, young Arnold was a Warlord Prince of only twenty-one years.  Most likely Prince Driscoll was simply trying to make sure that he had his first foray as an adult on his own in something small - something that might be easier to hide if he failed.

There was also the chance, slim as it might be, that Driscoll simply wanted the boy to start in his home.  James Driscoll was from Arinthorpe, after all.  Not that she knew him well, personally.  She certainly didn't.  James Driscoll had left Arinthorpe before she could possibly have remembered him - but she knew his reputation as a banker.  Driscoll Banks did quite well in Dharo and in Little Terreille - and being able to do both meant he was financially astute in ways that would make most nervous.  But she did know him a little, in passing.  She'd met once while still a Ward in her mother's Court.  And she'd met him again shortly after taking Arinthorpe during one of the festivals in Coventry.  He'd always seemed so distant - unapproachable.  Oh, he'd said his hellos.  But she'd felt as if his gaze went right through her - as if he had thoughts that distracted him from anyone not useful to his plans. 

Add in that he was a Warlord Prince, and that meant she'd made sure to take precautions for the visit.  Not necessarily out of fear - she dealt with Warlord Princes often enough.  Still, he was also a Sapphire, and that meant that she needed enough food and drink to soothe whatever rough edges might present themselves today.

She'd have accepted the offer of a visit even if he hadn't been from her village - but the fact he WAS from this village made her far more happy to visit with him.  Perhaps now that she wasn't a child, he'd see her as worth talking to.  Then again, perhaps he wouldn't.  It didn't matter.  In the end, this visit was about meeting his nephew Arnold.  This visit was about seeing whether Arnold would be a good fit for her court or not.

If James Driscoll still maintained that distant air he had before, she wouldn't take it personally.  She'd noticed he tended to see most people that way. 

So she took one last look at herself in the mirror, smoothing her hands down the dark green of her dress and checking to make sure the simple silver chain at her throat was aligned properly.  It was a simple charm that Hugh had given her, something smooth for her finger to play with whenever her temper was rising.

He knew her too well.  She looked over her hair, debating whether to pin it up or not.  As usual, she chose not to.  Her mother always pinned her hair up - and doing similar styles always drove her skin to crawl as if her mother's soul-less cold heart were contagious should she start to be remotely similar.

So she opted to keep it down, pinning a few braids back with a few local flowers before starting for the parlor.  The lunch she'd ordered was being delivered as she walked in, and the tea was ready.  She checked under a few covers, eyeballing the fresh biscuits, lamb, and potatoes.  That would do.  By the smell of it, the cooks had outdone themselves.

Prince Driscoll and his nephew are here.  Shall I bring them in, Gwen?
Yes, Hugh.  I've got the tea ready, and the lunch is ready and waiting.  How do they look?

Offline James Driscoll

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Re: Pleasant Unplanned Business
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 18, 01:07:25 AM »
James and Arnold maintained an uneasy silence during the coach ride from Coventry to Arinthorpe Village. When James had informed his nephew that he’d arranged an interview for a court position, he’d expected gratitude. He’d expected that Arnold would want to sit down and discuss how to make the best impression upon the Queen of Arinthorpe, Gwenyn Webster, that would let him secure a position in one of her Circles. Blake was always the more motivated and self-directed of his twin nephews, but Arnold knew that James demanded excellence from everyone in his life, and doubly so from his nephews. Unlike Blake, Arnold had issues with authority from time to time.

James was proud of Arnold, even if the man pissed him off.

I want you to take this seriously, Arnold. Gwenyn Webster has a strong shot at being a Province Queen in a decade or two. Work hard and you could end up in her First Circle. From there, you’re writing your own ticket. Besides, Queens look among their court for worthy males to father their children.” James said.

Yes, Uncle James, because that’s just what I want: my entire worth reduced to whether a Queen likes my cock.” the younger Warlord Prince said. James refrained from reaching across the coach and throttling Arnold for his insolence. He simply stared at Arnold, who was staring out the window if the coach, chin in hand, watching the world pass by. James considered it a fitting description of Arnold’s life up to this point.

Arnold must have recognized that he’d overstepped because his attention shifted away from the window and to his uncle. He sat up straighter and looked down at his knees. “My apologies, Uncle James. It’s not that I’m not grateful for this. It’s just…

What is it, Arnold? You’ve been unhappy about this since I told you. Do you know something that I don’t?

No, Uncle. It’s just...my father died in service to a court, didn’t he? I guess I’m just worried that I’ll end up with a court like the one that my father died defending. I don’t want to die for an unworthy Queen.” Arnold said quietly.

Shit.

James hadn’t thought if it like that, though he should have. Arnold was right to worry. There was so many shit-poor Queens in Dharo that James had refused to serve after Connor’s death. He couldn’t blame Arnold for worrying that he was throwing his life away on court service. James took a deep breath, letting the comment hang for a moment.

I’m sorry, Arnie. I didn’t think about that. There’s honor in serving, but it’s not for every man. Meet Lady Webster. If you don’t feel like you’re a good fit, we’ll leave and never discuss it again.” he said, smiling at Arnold and receving a smile in return.

Hey, if there’s one bright side to this, at least you get a free lunch.” he said, patting Arnold on the shoulder. Arnold laughed at that.

They arrived at the manor and were escorted inside by Prince Hugh Turner, who greeted them politely enough. James estimated that he could snap the man’s neck inside of two minutes. He was getting old. In his youth, he would put it at thirty seconds.

They were led into the study and James approached the Ruler of Arinthorpe directly, taking her hands with surprising gentleness, then acknowledging her higher station with a bow. “Lady Webster, thank you for taking time from your schedule to meet with us. It’s deeply appreciated.” James said. At first glance, she reminded him of his Anna. Anna, whom he couldn’t see because Dirk was being an asshole. Anna, who’d designed the custom-made dark blue suit that James now wore. Her eyes were too right, too blue to be Anna. He doubted that Lady Webster held anything resembling Anna’s passion for life.

He stepped aside to allow Gwenyn and Arnold to see each other. “I would like to introduce you to my nephew, the Warlord Prince Arnold Driscoll.” James said, waiting for his nephew to speak up.

Except when James looked at him, Arnold wasn’t paying any attention. He was standing there, staring at Lady Webster with open-mouthed shock. James started to say something, but then Arnold was stepping forward, practically shouldering him aside, to take Gwenyn’s hand.

Hello, my lady. I’m...I’m so glad to finally meet you.” he whispered, stepping further into her personal space.

From this day forward, your will is my life.” Arnold said.

James stepped back to let the two have their moment, all the while factoring in what this meant for his plans.

Offline Gwenyn Webster

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Re: Pleasant Unplanned Business
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 18, 01:29:01 AM »
James Driscoll was not distant or cold.  Merely polite.  That was a grand jump, truth be told, and it made her think a little better of the meeting today.  Less "required business" and more "Potential friends".  Her lips curled up as she gently squeezed James Driscoll's hand, her blue eyes locking on his gaze with a confidence that she didn't have to falsify.

It was years after he'd last seen her - and she'd settled comfortably into her rule as Arinthorpe's Queen.  She'd also settled comfortably into studying the strategies other rulers had used to take the higher Thrones for themselves.  But he didn't have to know that.

"It is no hardship, Prince Driscoll.  I am always happy when a child of Arinthorpe returns home for a visit, and if I could convince them all to stop by for tea, I would."  She beamed, turning her attention as James drew himself to the side so that she could meet his nephew.

And felt that familiar racing of her heart as her eyes landed on a young male with widening pupils.  Arnold Driscoll.. With dark hair, and beautiful eyes, and ..  Her hands stretched out, James momentarily forgotten as Arnold came forward.  The younger man's hands clasped her own, and he pulled her in to him. 

Sweet breath, he was tall.  She smiled, turning her cheek against his chest.  She could hear his heart, thumping in time with her own.  She could feel the rise of his breath, and feel the way he was dragging her scent into his lungs.  Her eyes closed, body almost melting to fit itself against Arnold as she felt herself relax in the way that she only ever did around her Bonded.

Her Bonded would never betray her, or give her secrets to her mother.  Her Bonded would never hurt her if they could help it.  Finally she turned her attention upwards, her hand raising to gently press against his cheek.  "I am so happy to meet you, Arnold."  She cleared her throat, taking a single step back and squeezing his hands.

Then she turned her attention to James, beaming brightly.  "Apologies, Prince Driscoll.  I'm afraid I got caught up in the moment.  Please, both of you, sit.  I hope you enjoy the meal today.  I took a sneak peek when I arrived, and I think the cooks may have outdone themselves.  Considering the occasion.. I think we can dispense with the usual formalities."

She grinned, squeezing Arnold's hand lightly before pulling him towards a chair.  She also nudged her own closer, unwilling to let loose her close proximity to Arnold just yet.  "If your intent was to discover whether Arnold would be acceptable in my Court, Prince Driscoll..."  She beamed, glancing at James with a rare open smile.

Rare because she rarely allowed such open emotion to be seen by those she did not trust.  Rare because there were few outside of her Bonded that she trusted with the sight of such emotional weakness - rare because it showed that beneath the veneer of the prim and proper Queen that most knew, she was more than just Margaret Webster's daughter.

She was someone who felt, and felt deeply.  She could lose herself in the moments, and spill that pleasure into those who observed such open emotion.  "Would you like tea, either of you?"

Offline James Driscoll

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Re: Pleasant Unplanned Business
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 18, 02:00:05 AM »
On the one hand, James happy for his nephew. Finding his Queen would, hopefully, give Arnold the kick in the ass that he needed to start making some real decisions about the direction of his life. James had hoped that he would take that initiative for himself, but if Gwenyn was the catalyst necessary to get him into the right frame of mind to handle his affairs, so much the better. Arnold would succeed once he believed in himself enough to get going.

On the other hand, Gwenyn Webster had just robbed him of a potential tool. He could never make Arnold the heir to Driscoll Banks. He couldn’t even offer him in a position in the company. Once more, a Queen had taken one of his people and made them hers, leaving James without recourse. At least Aemilia wouldn’t vanish on him when he least expected it. He often had to make her go home from work, especially now that Edward was gone.

James focused his attention elsewhere while the Queen and her newest male all but dry-humped each other in front of him. He nearly suggested that he could leave them alone and come back later, but decided against it. Arnold would likely remain here but James wanted to ensure that he’d be welcome again the next time he called upon the Court of Arinthorpe. The tension in his arms and shoulders loosened when they finally let each other go long enough for Gwenyn to offer them some tea.

Yes, I’ll have some tea, Lady Webster. And please do not apologize. This is a happy occasion. I’ve been hoping that Arnold would meet his Queen sooner than later. Every man should meet his Queen in his lifetime. I think it’s a momentous and wonderful thing.” James said.

He would sit where directed and enjoy his first cup of tea while the two made small talk. He hoped the food was good. It looked like a free lunch was the only thing that James was getting out of his deal.

May I ask how things are going here in Arinthorpe? I heard about some issues in Westwood District, but nothing specific.” James said, taking a sip of his tea while he watched his nephew fawn over his Queen. For a man that didn’t even want to be here five minutes ago, he certainly seemed right at home.

James didn’t roll his eyes, but he wanted to.

Offline Gwenyn Webster

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Re: Pleasant Unplanned Business
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 18, 02:36:19 AM »
Other Queens might think that telling the Uncles of their new Bonded news of the local area would be ... Harmless.  She was not everyone.  Having Margaret Webster for a mother made her all too aware of how even Family could hurt you - how they could hurt you worse than anyone else, really.

Still.. Telling James the brochure version of things wouldn't hurt.

"Arinthorpe is doing quite well.  The flocks are breaking records, and the exports are doing marvelously.  Which should make my Steward ecstatic.  I think he has an account running through your bank, Prince Driscoll."  She would have called him James, but.. But without him telling her to do so, she wouldn't.

Even with her insistence that the lunch be informal, she knew better than to assume liberties with a Warlord Prince not her own.  It could go poorly.  She wasn't scared, necessarily - she hadn't met a Warlord Prince she couldn't soothe yet.  But there was no point in risking something without cause.

Her eyes wandered over James' face, then back to Arnold's.  The familial resemblance was uncanny.  She began dishing out the meal, her hands sure and steady as she passed each plate to the males of the table.  Arnold reached out, catching at her hand as if to stop her, and she gave him a small smile.

"Please.  Allow me this before you start fussing.  It pleases me to attend the small details."  She chuckled, setting everything in place before pulling a napkin over her lap.  "You should have seen what Arthur was like when he realized that I will pull on breeches to help with the livestock."

She risked a glance at James, then chuckled.  "What of Driscoll Financial, Prince?  How fares its interests?  I heard that Little Terreille has been proving fruitful."   She did keep an ear to the ground.  She did keep an eye on possible useful allies or tools. 

Driscoll Financial?  They were on the list.  But.. It was risky.  James Driscoll was older than her by more than five years - which meant if he was still attached to Arinthorpe or Westwood, he was likely more loyal to her mother than to his nephew's Queen.

Then again, James Driscoll's behaviors seemed to prove a more apolitical leaning.  Which was refreshing, really. 

"It must be difficult, at times, to avoid the perception of choosing one side over another when it comes to clients that argue with each other.  Does that happen often?"  She would exchange small talk for as long as it seemed either Arnold or James wished her to.

She enjoyed, obviously so, whenever Arnold touched her wrist, her hand.  But she still managed to focus on discussing the world around Arinthorpe.  She'd never bothered hiding that she didn't intend to remain a. Village Queen forever.  Her mother would even approve of that obvious ambition. 

But she didn't go into her mother.  Whenever that subject came up, she found ways to discuss the Province as a whole.  To avoid discussing Margaret Webster as much as possible.  And when lunch was over?  Hugh entered the room to smile and introduce himself to Arnold. 

"If you would like, Lady Webster, I can show young Prince Driscoll around."
"Of course, Hugh.  Take a look around, Arnold.  I have a few things to attend to, but if you choose to stay with us Hugh can make sure that you're set up comfortably while we see to getting your things." 

She smiled, reaching out to take Arnold's hands and squeeze them tightly.  Four Bonds.  Four males.  Three of them Warlord Princes.  If that wasn't a sign that she needed fierce protectors for her heart, she didn't know what was. 

And when Arnold agreed to explore her home with Hugh, she turned her attention  to James and inclined her head.  "Prince Driscoll.  Would you like to discuss any business while you're here?  I understand that with the increase in exports this year that we may need to create another investment account."

She folded her hands together, watching James with undistracted eyes now.  Without her Bonded to help her keep the walls in place, she could settle back into the professional mask.  She could erect those cool walls that let most who looked at her think she was as she seemed to be - a cold child born of a cold Queen.

Yet another Webster that would act in predictable manner.  That was on purpose.  She didn't want her mother to learn that she was that willing to stretch her legs.  Not yet.  Not until she had a solid plan in place for how she wanted to claim her own life back from her mother's cold grasp. 

She wanted to go after Hugh, and Arnold.  She wanted to wrap herself in the safe warmth that they could provide.  But that was instinct talking - and she prided herself on being able to tie instinct and logic together.  Instinct and Logic both said that paying attention  to James when he was in the room was.. Important.

Offline James Driscoll

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Re: Pleasant Unplanned Business
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 18, 03:36:35 AM »
Lady Gwen, if we’re going to enjoy this wonderful meal to its fullest, I must insist that you call me James. It’ll take all of the formality out of things.” he said, raising a brow as if to challenge her to do otherwise. She ruled here, but James wanted her to understand that power was about more than just a title.

James listened as Gwen spoke. While what she said was interesting enough for a pamphlet about her village, what she left out was even more interesting. She said nothing about the Arinthorpe Letter or any collusion between herself and Tegwen Llewellyn. She didn’t bring up the new Queen in Westwood, Emma Morgan, whom James was certain that she was aware of. She stuck to facts about Arinthorpe and avoided talking about her mother. James understood her desire to be known as more than Margaret Webster’s daughter.

She had a long way to go before that happened.

James smiled politely at certain points in the conversation, but it never quite reached his eyes. He said nothing when Arnold attempted to fuss over his Queen, knowing that his nephew still had a lot to learn when it came to serving a Queen. He’d learn, though James expected that many of the lessons would be harder to absorb for a young man that had issues with authority. That wasn’t James’s concern anymore. Arnold’s mother would have something to say, though.

Oh, Driscoll Financial is marching toward a strong and diverse future. We’re actually going to open another branch in Little Terreille soon. Did you know that one of their Province Queens hails from Dharo? Wonderful young woman, Lady Ackley is. Queens like her, Lady Morgan, and yourself give me hope for Kaeleer’s future.” James said.

My clients are free to argue with each other all they like, Lady Gwen, but money is neutral. Anyone can gain it and anyone can lose it. My job is simply to make sure that my clients are gaining more than they’re losing.” he said, finishing his tea. They made small talk during lunch and James deferred to Gwen and Arnold, letting them have the floor to get to know each other better. He knew that they’d have deeper and more meaningful discussions once he departed. James said nothing because he had no need to speak. Neither Queen nor her Warlord Prince would truly settle with him in their presence.

The meal ended. “I agree with you assessment, Lady Gwen. Your kitchen has outdone itself. Please, give them my compliments.” James said, as servants moved in to collect the dishes. He might have taken his leave, then, if Prince Turner hadn’t arrived to offer Arnold a tour of his future place of service. Arnold looked happier than James had ever recalled seeing him and saw the Bond at work. He hoped that his nephew didn’t ever have cause to look back and regret this day. If he did, the fault would lay with the woman across the table. James imagined what it would feel like to choke the life out of Gwenyn Webster for getting his nephew killed in the line of duty.

He imagined it wouldn’t be as satisfying as watching Rheava Evesham die, but it would feel like a measure of justice for his family.

Arnold left and Gwen’s eyes focused on him. James remained quiet, knowing that the Queen was looking for any advantage, any clue as to his intentions where her court was concerned. She was ambitious; she’d be a piss-poor Queen if she didn’t want to rise above this station. But she had many contenders who were better prepared, or had larger grievances, or were simply more cutthroat than she.

Prince Driscoll.  Would you like to discuss any business while you're here?  I understand that with the increase in exports this year that we may need to create another investment account.

I can’t answer that one way or the other without looking at your file, Lady Gwen. But I’d be happy to put you in touch with the representative for the Northwood District. I’m sure she’d happy to lay out your prospects for you.” James said, watching her with those icy eyes of his.

He let that sentence hang between them.

"My nephew is bonded to you now, Lady. I have high expectations of everyone who interacts with my family. Those expectations will be met." James said, searching for any hint of offense taken. He didn't care if she was offended. He was simply stating facts.

"Arnold is a bright and dedicated young man, when he applies himself. He has issues taking direction but that's a common trait among the youth." James said.

"Is Arinthorpe the sum of your ambitions as a ruler?" James asked.


Offline Gwenyn Webster

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Re: Pleasant Unplanned Business
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 18, 08:06:53 AM »
James Driscoll was still a cold bastard.  Oh, he had the smile and the charm and the facial expressions down.  She wasn't actually sure what it was that made her certain he was looking for weakness when he looked at her - but she knew he was.  Maybe it was because she would do the same?  She just... Disguised her appraisals behind the warmth a Queen could give off.  Maybe she was just picking it up off of instinct - or maybe she was just being paranoid.

She still couldn't shake the feeling that he was annoyed at his Nephew's bonding.  If she were him, why would she be annoyed by it?  Did he have plans for his Nephew that a Bond would interfere with?  Most likely.  That might explain it.

She gently finished her tea, setting cup to table as she fixed those blue eyes on him again.  Really fixed them on his face, with one eyebrow lifting as he asked about her ambitions.  At least she could not fault him for his lack of directness in questioning.  She'd.. Not been asked that question before.

"I doubt it would surprise you, James, to learn that I want far more than Arinthorpe."  She gave him a small smile, folding her hands in her lap as she considered everything he had said - everything he had not said.  He'd spoken of how he he would have high expectations.. But he couldn't possibly be as exacting as Margaret Webster, now could he?

"I love my village. I love the people, and the land... But there is a great deal of... Difference... In ruling style that I and my mother have.  I have no desire to rule the Territory someday - but a Province?  Someday."

There was no 'perhaps' there.  She was going to manage it.  "Why?  Do you intend to offer to help guide me in those ambitions in order to ensure that your expectations for Arnold's life are met?"  There wasn't so much as a hint of sarcasm in that question.  Her own Mother often spoke of how she was doing things 'for the good of her children whether they liked it or not' - and if there had been love behind it she wouldn't fault the woman.

Did James Driscoll love his nephew?  Or was he more like Margaret Webster?  For Arnold's sake, she hoped it was the former.

Offline James Driscoll

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Re: Pleasant Unplanned Business
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 18, 02:16:32 PM »
James sidestepped Gwenyn’s question to seize on something else she’d said.     

You want more than Arinthorpe, but less than the Territory Seat. How does that work? Do you see yourself only as a future Province Queen?” James asked, leaning back in his chair. The sentiment sounded wrong to him, coming from a Queen who had time on her side. Was it a lack of confidence or an understanding of her limitations? He paused on that thought. They were the same thing. A Queen who lacked the ambition or confidence to seek more from life was worse, in some ways, than the greedy and grasping women who thought the blood in their veins entitled them to spend and discard lives without consequences.

You’ve been notoriously silent on the subject of your mother today, except to tell me that there’s a difference between the two of you. The differences between you two are apparent to anyone with a set of eyes. But your mother is a Province Queen. Despite the opinions of people who love and hate her, she went from ruling Arithorpe to ruling Wartonshire Province. Her story is written and it’ll show that she reached her goals.” James said.

He reached for the teapot and poured himself another cup. He took the time to drink half of it, letting the silence between them settle while he composed his thoughts. Gwenyn Webster was young yet and could still go very far in Dharo if she was guided correctly. James saw a two-fold issue in her court, one of which he could at address.

You want to exceed what your mother’s accomplished and I respect that, Gwen. But if you’re going to rule a Province, any Province, then you need to get to work. With all due respect, Lady Margaret isn’t getting any younger. We both know that she’s thinking about who her successor will be. You can hope that she’ll choose you because you’re family, but she’s got more incentive to keep you right here where she can see you. If you’re fortunate, you’ll get to be Queen of Northwood by the time Darienn Comstock has settled herself on Wartonshire’s throne.

And that’s only if Emma Morgan doesn’t cut you off at the knees and snatch it out from beneath you.
" James said, rising from his chair. He walked over to the chair that Arnold had vacated, pulled it out, and sat down beside the young woman. Her scent was stronger, here. James watched her while he spoke and sensed that she’d been thinking some of the same things he’d just spoken about. Queens were social and political creatures. If Gwen hadn’t considered any of this, then she wasn’t worthy of ruling this village or holding Arnold’s leash.

He was close enough to touch her, but he didn’t. Simply leaned in to look her in eyes.

I think you could be a great Queen, Gwen. Arnold deserves that. All of your males deserve it.” he said.

The question is: What are you willing to do to live up to their expectations?

Offline Gwenyn Webster

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Re: Pleasant Unplanned Business
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 18, 06:17:24 PM »
The differences between you two are apparent to anyone with a set of eyes.... The cold grasp of indifference she tended to keep around businesspeople cracked as he said that.  Not that her face twitched, or that she smiled.  But it was harder to remember that James Driscoll was likely out only for himself in this moment.

He was the uncle of her Bonded, and .. And he knew she wasn't her mother.  She let loose a soft breath, watching as he poured himself another cup of tea.  Normally she did that - but in this moment she was caught between a mad desire to kiss him and to jump up and down that finally someone seemed to notice what she had always thought was supremely obvious.

That's only if Emma Morgan doesn't cut you off at the knees.

She stretched her legs beneath the table, leaning back in her chair as she forced herself to release the tension between her shoulders.  She let her eyes wander from James' face down to his hands around the tea cup.  He had nice hands.  "I plan to arrange a visit with Queen Morgan soon.  My brother is being sent to her Court, and it seems to me a good time to make friends."

She forced her eyes up, studying James' face again.  What are you willing to do to live up to their expectations?

"More than you might think."  She whispered it, narrowing her eyes on his face.  Someone had used Arinthorpe as a way to oust Tegwen.  She wasn't sure who did it - but whoever did it was a genius.  It was enough to ensure that Arinthorpe could reach out to make peace.  That gave Gwen reason, cause, for her to reach out to others without her Mother interfering.  Much.

And the more she could do without Margaret looking down her shoulders, the better off she would be.  "I will never be my mother, James.  Her manner of ruling is.. Very different from my own.  There are some Prices I simply won't pay... But up until those lines?"  She leaned closer, until her eyes were level with his own and her breath could mingle with his.  "Up until those lines.. Anything."

And if he wanted to know what those lines were.. He'd have to be interested in getting to know her.  She gave him a little smile, reaching up to brush some hair back behind her ears.  His scent was.. Heady.  Something about him sparked at her usual care.  His caste probably helped with that.  She had a growing collection of Warlord Princes it seemed - but his was unique.  There was something dark to the undertones of his scent.. Like secrets and stone.  Yes, exactly like that.  As if he were some glorious cave that she could explore - if she was willing to risk the bats and monsters that might bite for her daring.

He was a bit older than Hugh - but even so, she found herself fascinating by the shape of his jaw.  Her fingers itched to run along it - that matured version of the very jaw she'd been caressing earlier.  She finally tore her eyes away from his, forcing her attention to the tea so that she didn't do something silly.  Like reach out to touch a Warlord Prince that wasn't hers, and hadn't invited it.  "I will do everything for those I consider mine, James.  If you're worried about whether Arnold will have a Queen worthy of him... You needn't worry.  That is something I strive to be every moment I breathe."

Offline James Driscoll

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Re: Pleasant Unplanned Business
« Reply #9 on: Jun 01, 18, 12:41:57 AM »
Don’t be so quick to discount Lady Margaret’s ability to rule. She’s been a Province Queen for many years. She’s faced down a number of would-be challengers who thought they had what it took to bring her down. Yet she remains in power and her challengers have fallen by the wayside, never to rise again.” James said. He considered Gwen. Did she have an ounce of her mother’s killer instinct? James was betting that she did, but that she wasn’t handicapping herself in order to prove that she wasn’t like her mother.

Lady Morgan’s a rabble-rouser. She’s irritated a number of people in your mother’s court and many in your own.” James said.

That business between Tegwen Llewellyn and the Province Court didn’t help matters. Lady Morgan knows that your mother had no love for the Cymreans. Your mother knows that Lady Morgan has no love for Dharoans. Wartonshire’s going to turn into a battleground sooner instead of later.” James said.

So while you’re going on about how much you’re not like your mother, you’d be better served taking a few pages from her book. Your mother has no lines that she won’t cross to keep her power. Emma Morgan has no lines that she won’t cross to get it.” he said, reaching to grasp her wrist. His hand closed around it firmly, not enough to hurt but enough that she couldn’t simply pull away if she felt cornered. He leaned in now, invading her space the way she’d just done to him. But James didn’t ease up or allow her to retreat. He wanted her to feel cornered, threatened even.

Those people who are willing to cross lines are going to come out on top in all of this, Gwennyn. I’m afraid that you’re going to let some silly code get in your way. That’s going to negatively impact my nephew and I can’t have that. Arinthorpe has the potential to decide the next Province Queen, as well as the next District Queens in Wartonshire.” he said.

His grasp on her petite little wrist tightened just then and James pulled her close.

Now, tell me again how you plan to secure Arnold’s future and your own. I suggest you think about your response.” he said.                 


Offline Gwenyn Webster

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Re: Pleasant Unplanned Business
« Reply #10 on: Jun 01, 18, 12:55:03 AM »
Very few would be willing to just grab her wrist and lean into her space without being one of her Bonded.  Of those few, they were all family.  And even then.. it just wasn't done without a damned good reason.

Her eyes widened, just a little, as surprise filtered through her thoughts.  But she was not afraid - not exactly.  Intrigued, maybe.  "I will not harm my Bonded.  I will not harm my children."  Which she didn't have currently.. but that was not the point.  The wrist he held flexed beneath his fingers as he tightened his grip, her fingers clenching.  He had pulled her closer.. so close she could feel their breath tangling together.

"Other than that... I am willing to do much."  She whispered it, her eyes locking on his own.  She'd willingly lay her mother in the ground, if she thought she had a decent chance at succeeding.  The problem wasn't her mother - it was her mother's Court.  Successfully ending Margaret's rule through violence was impossible currently.

"Overthrowing my mother's Rule before she's ready to set it aside will require Dharoan and Cymrean allies, as well as financial backing that Arinthorpe alone cannot provide."  She'd been working on that, of course.. but she wasn't going to tell James Driscoll just because he looked at her the way he did.

His tightened grip on her wrist had a flush touching her cheeks, her eyes dropping from his down to his lips.  She couldn't help it.  There was something.. strangely enticing about this Warlord Prince doing as he pleased in this moment.

She 'could' call for her Guards and have him killed for it.  She 'could'... do many things. But she wasn't going to.  Him grabbing her wrist, him ensuring that his nephew was being Bonded to someone not useless or disappointing.. it was forgivable.

And even if it hadn't been... she wasn't actually hurt by James Driscoll in this moment.  Far from it.  It was taking a great deal of willpower to keep from raising her other hand and setting it to his flesh.  So much so that she was holding herself very still - mostly so that she wouldn't touch him or give away the fact that she might have to sit on that free hand to keep it from exploring.

Offline James Driscoll

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Re: Pleasant Unplanned Business
« Reply #11 on: Jun 03, 18, 10:35:08 PM »
I’d never dream of making you hurt your Bonded. Arnold numbers among them. Also, you don’t have children. You made me curious, Gwen, so I did a little bit of checking up on you.” James said. His grasp on her wrist tightened. She repeated her willingness to do much, but James just shook his head. The words meant nothing to him, less than nothing, because that’s what she was saying: nothing.

You’re hedging. The matter is simple. Either you’re willing to do whatever is necessary to secure your power or you aren’t. Either way, you’ll get exactly what you deserve based on how hard you work.” James said, releasing Gwen’s wrist. He leaned back in his chair to regard her and the reddened patch on her wrist where his hand previously resided.

Here’s what’s going to happen next. You’re going to tell Prince Turner to show Arnold around. Maybe take him into town and buy him a drink or two. Really get to know him. Once you’ve done that, you and I will find a quiet place to discuss what you’ll do to start improving your chances of succeeding your mother.” James said.

Let me be clear: this is a one-time offer. If you do, for some reason, decline...then that’s it. You stand or fall on your own. And, in case I need to remind you, your mother ruled Wartonshire long before you did. If you fail, she’s going to crush you like a bug and put someone more malleable in this seat.” James said.

That being said, you’ve got two minutes to ensure that we’ll be undisturbed while we talk things over.” James said.

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Re: Pleasant Unplanned Business
« Reply #12 on: Jun 03, 18, 10:52:36 PM »
Her pulse was starting to race.. and it still wasn't fear.  Did Driscoll know what he was doing to her?  Was it on purpose, or did he just not care? She wasn't sure which she preferred.

Regardless of the distraction of her senses, her mind was more than capable of remaining sharp. There were a few.. blessings.. to her mother's particular brand of parenting.  Being able to focus on the important things was one of them. 

He wasn't wrong.  She was hedging.  But she was hedging because she didn't know him.  Arnold was Bonded to her... James Driscoll was not.  Too ingrained were the habits of trusting no one but her Bonded for her to just.. spill her secrets to just any handsome Warlord Prince that stumbled across her path.

Alright.. in Driscoll's case it was far from a stumble.  He likely never stumbled.  Knowing him, if he did, it would still look like he had done it on purpose just to ensure that people knew he was still mortal.

You and I will find a quiet place to discuss what you'll do to start improving your chances of succeeding your mother.

She caught her breath, her eyes lifting to lock on his once more.  James Driscoll... was offering to help her against her mother.  He was willing to lay bets ont he Daughter, and not the Ruling Mother.  It was likely only because Arnold had Bonded her.. but she'd take it anyways.

Driscoll Financial did well because Driscoll was.. ruthless.  Or at least, that's what Hugh had told her.  He hedged too. 

"Very well."  She said it quietly, her eyes turning towards the wall as she sought that familiar presence, that strand of her Bonds that rung with a bell for her heart.  Hugh.  She loved him, and likely always would, in a way that was unique to him.  They weren't exactly monogamous.. but always, always, they sought each other. 

It made it easier, in a way, to connect with him than it did the others.  Mostly because he was at the other end of the house.. and that was far enough away from her that she had difficulties.  Fortunately, they'd found ways to deal with it.  He caught on to her mental 'flailing' as it were.. and he started the thread, spear to distaff.  She, of course, then relayed her message.

Hugh, love.  Would you take Arnold into town, show him around?  I don't want him choosing to remain only due to the Bond.. make sure he knows what he's getting into if he chooses to stay? We aren't exactly Coventry out here.
Of course, Gwen.  You will keep in touch with Arthur and Gareth while I'm away?
As I always do.  But I doubt that Arnold's Uncle is much of a threat to my safety.[/i][/color]

She bit her lip, lookign down at the red mark on her wrist.  Well.. she couldn't say he wouldn't leave his marks.  But that was hardly unwelcome at the moment.  Those blue eyes turned back to James, her head cocking to the side as she rose to her feet. 

"Come with me, James.  My personal study would likely be better for discussing business."  Her study was connected to her bedroom.  And no one that wasn't Hugh 'walked in' to that place without an invitation.  She called in a shawl, draping it over her arms so that none would spot her reddened wrist as she walked.

That.. was drama she didn't need to deal with right now.  Hugh was not the only Warlord Prince in her Court.  Arthur would likely try to do something silly if he spotted such a mark right now as well.

So she led him down the halls until they'd passed the more public spaces of the house, nudging open her study door and drifting in ahead of him.  This study was far less formal than the one he'd just left.  This study had books with placeholders laid out on the desk, and a few personal items spread here and there.

This was a sanctum for her to retreat to, a place that was hers.  The only scents in this room were hers, and her Bonded, and one Hearth Witch.  Other than that one servant, no other stepped foot in her room or her office.  Mostly because she wanted one place that was.. hers.

And now she'd brought him here.  She moved to the windows, carefully drawing the curtains as she took steadying breaths to remind herself to not reach out and grab him as he had her.  To NOT lose track of her objective.  AT least not yet.

She instead set her fingers to a small design on her desk as she came back to it, pumping a bit of her Summer Sky to activate the Aural Shields on her personal space.  Gareth, her Steward, had been the one to find a Black Widow from Little Terreille that would be willing to set such Webs. 

She loved using them.

"I am most curious to hear your ideas, James.  As you must know.. my mother is quite the crafty fox."

Offline James Driscoll

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Re: Pleasant Unplanned Business
« Reply #13 on: Jun 04, 18, 12:37:22 AM »
James watched Gwen like the wolf who’d sighted the rabbit’s den and was not just waiting to collect his meal. For a moment, he thought she’d turn him down. Tell him to leave and not return unless it was court business. Or she’d call in one of her other males and have him escorted from the property. She was within her rights, but James had a feeling about Gwennyn Webster. She wouldn’t send him away. She wouldn’t turn down his aid.

*Uncle James? Prince Turner’s giving me a lot of good information about Lady Webster and Arinthorpe. I....I know we were going to visit Grandfather, but Hugh wants to take me into town for a drink or two. I can tell him we’re busy--*

*Arnold, don’t you dare. A bond-brother is a great friend for you to have. You need to get acclimated if you’re going to stay. Take all the time you need. Catch up with me at Grandfather’s place for dinner tonight.*

He rose from his seat when Gwen did, noting the sway of her hips as she suggested that they take their discussion to her study. He followed, noting the shawl she called in to cover the mark on her arm. Smart enough to avoid alarming her staff or her males. He memorized the layout of the place as they walked, not wanting to lose his way upon his departure. That would be embarrassing.

The study was tasteful and well-stocked. He noted the position of the bar as well as a few books on the shelves. He pretended not to notice her location as she moved to close all of the blinds, then walked over to her desk. James cast out his senses and felt the aural shield slide into place, though he could still hear the cooks working in the kitchens if he concentrated hard enough.

I am most curious to hear your ideas, James.  As you must know.. my mother is quite the crafty fox.

Gwen’s words brought him back to the moment. In response, James walked over to her desk, unbuttoning his blazer along the way. He walked up behind Gwen and grasped her ass in both hands, listening for the small hitch of her breath that said she welcomed his touch. She’d fought the urge to touch him before. Now he wondered if she’d finally give in and do something.

She is crafty. But her court has been a major help to her. You’ve got to damage her reputation while making yours shine. You’re right about needing allies, though. The Cymreans would be a good start. Margaret pays lip service to the equality between Dharoans and Cyrmreans, yet she approves the yearly redrawing of the districts to take more and more land from the Cmyreans and grant it to Northwood.” James said, his hands sliding downward to the hem of her dress.

He lifted it slowly, until he could grasp her ass without the fabric of the dress in the way. His nails dug into her skin. His hard cock pressed against the base of her spine.

If the Cymreans learned that Lady Margaret planned to raise their tithes and take more land from them...I bet she’d do half of your work for you.” James whispered in her ear.

He vanished Gwen’s underwear and let his right hand slide around the curve of her hip reach between her thighs.


Offline Gwenyn Webster

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Re: Pleasant Unplanned Business
« Reply #14 on: Jun 04, 18, 12:57:21 AM »
There was something intense about his gaze.  She'd seen it before, of course.  Hugh had turned a similar look on her a few times - usually when his Ruts were coming.  And she'd seen Arthur turn it on his lover..

But as it always did, it made her heart pick up its pace.  Excitement, arousal.. and a fine edge of healthy fear.  She could feel that gaze on her as she walked in the halls - and already she was thinking of how to put this should anyone bring it up.

James Driscoll was a Warlord Prince.  She could spin it any number of believable ways.  And every single one of those would likely earn her Mother's approval, or at least her indifference.  She could use this - and would.

Once the distraction of James Driscoll was out of her immediate sight.  And senses.

She worked at getting them the privacy he'd requested; no, that he had demanded - and then found herself catching sight of him coming around the desk with his blaze falling away.  Her body went still, and then.. yes.

His hands were on her backside, and she could swear she felt them burning through her dress.  Her breath caught, fingers curling just a bit as she braced herself against the solidity of her oak desk.. because her legs were feeling treacherous at the moment.

His words were better than any poetry.  How many times had she soothed herself with imagining Margaret's downfall?  How many times had she put herself to sleep thinking up ways to bring some vengeance to her coldhearted mother? 

She could feel his hands skimming down her dress, reaching.. reaching.. and then she felt the slow rise of cool air against heated skin. 

If the Cymreans learned that Lady Margaret planned to raise their tithes and take more land from them.. I bet she'd do half of your work for you. 

It was the most delightful whisper she'd heard in months.  His hand slid between her legs, and she obediently opened them for him as she leaned her head back, closing her eyes.  Some part of her knew this wasn't wise.  She didn't.. really.. know him.  In this position, he could take her life.

And.. she didn't think he would.  Oh, he could injure her.  Maybe he even wanted to - but she fairly certain that it wasn't because he wanted to punish her for her thoughts on her mother.  Her hand came up of its own will, reaching behind her to try to lock behind his neck.

Her skin was electric, alive, aware of every movement he made.  He was.. torturously slow with her.  "I could make sure.. that someone in Westwood hears about it."  It had been the Arinthorpe letter that brought low Tegwen... it was only fair that Gwenyn used that inspiration to start chipping away at her mother.

"My brother.. is being sent as an envoy to Lady Morgan's Court.  I could write.. everyone knows I care for my brother.  It would not be remiss for me to meet the Queen he will be working with."

She whispered those words, her voice getting breathy as his fingers stroked along a wet heat that felt as if it needed very little to turn into a deluge.  No lover could claim she wasn't responsive.  She was.. always.. responsive.  "Take off your shirt, James."

Offline James Driscoll

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Re: Pleasant Unplanned Business
« Reply #15 on: Jun 04, 18, 02:07:41 AM »
James fingers massaged her pearl in slow, soft circles. But he wasn’t sure if she moaned because of his attention to her body or because he was offering to help her bring down her mother. He didn’t care, really, but it highlighted just how much Gwen hated Margaret if the offer of destroying her mother held any erotic promise for her. It wasn’t the strangest fetish he’d ever heard of (and he knew a few members of Dharo’s upper echelons that were downright fiends), but it made him grin all the same.

See, you’re getting it. Your brother can help you while he does your mother’s bidding. But don’t even bring it up when you meet her. Let Lady Morgan try to feel you out about your mother’s intentions, but let her be the one to confirm everything.” James said, pushing a pair of fingers inside of her. His words were a growl. His free hand reached up to grab Gwen’s breast, fondling it even as she reached back to touch him. The wetness between her thighs aroused him and he found himself hoping that Arnold was smart enough to put a baby in her belly before too many years passed. Women loved their children to the point of distraction. A man could break a Queen simply by moving her children somewhere they weren’t supposed to be.

As Dharo was learning even now.

She demanded that he take off his shirt and James removed his hand from her breast. He slid his fingers out of her cunt and stepped back, away from Gwen, and waited for her to turn around.

I have a better idea. Vanish your dress and you can remove my shirt for me.” he said.

Offline Gwenyn Webster

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Re: Pleasant Unplanned Business
« Reply #16 on: Jun 04, 18, 08:12:22 AM »
She wasn't using her brother.  Not.. not in the way that he seemed to think.  She'd send word through her brother, yes.. because he was already going to be there.  But she would never have sent him into the lion's den without telling him why.

She'd have let him make that choice.  That was the difference between herself and Margaret.  She'd never a child and then... move it around like a chess piece to be used and sacrificed as necessary.  A child should be safe from a parent's machinations.  To some degree at least.

But she was still her mother's daughter. She would still, to a point, use her family.  And it made her ache.

So she instead focused her mind on the sensations that Arnold's Uncle gave her.  The way his fingers teased at her sensitive pearl, and the way his fingers sank into her body.  It had her coiling tighter.  She needed to feel more than his hands right now.  As delightful as his grasping hands through her clothes were, as wonderful as his hand on her pussy was.. it wasn't enough. She needed more than that.

And then he pulled away from her.  It had a growl of frustration leaving her lips, her body spinning about until the back of her hips could rest on the desk, blue eyes bright and locked on his mouth. 

Vanish your dress and you can remove my shirt for me.

Her breath caught, hearing that tone.  She ran her fingers up into her hair, pulling it back out of her face as she took a moment to regather herself.  And then obeyed.  Her shawl, her dress.. they vanished away, leaving her in only her white corset before him.  She took a step forward, reaching out to set her fingers to his buttons.

Each one was undone, baring his chest to her gaze.  James Driscoll.. was a beautiful man.  Her lips moved forward as she skimmed her hands up his sides, tasting at his skin while she worked to peel the shirt from his body.  Her hands were delicate, gentle.  Her mouth was more insistent, licking and nipping her way across his toned expanse as she went.

"And what.." She breathed it against his skin, sending that shirt flying towards a chair as she removed it.  "do I have to do to get you to remove your pants?"

Offline James Driscoll

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Re: Pleasant Unplanned Business
« Reply #17 on: Jun 12, 18, 11:51:44 PM »
Obedience was the best kind of victory. His eyes focused on all of her wonderful curves, the places his eyes had wandered, yet did not see. She was reaching to undo his buttons and James didn’t stop her. He groaned softly at the feel of her lips on his skin, while his cock strained against his trousers. Her hands felt timid, afraid to commit to exploring his body. She removed his shirt, tossing it away while he stood before her.

And what...do I have to do to get you to remove your pants?

He stepped backwards. Then he gestured to the door to the other room just a few feet away. 

That’s your bedroom?

When Gwen answered in the affirmative, James nodded. He could have had her on the floor or up against the wall, but not today. Today, this time, he wanted a bit more out of things than just a little fun. Gwen needed to be taught how to act whenever he was around. She needed to understand who was in charge when he came to see her. If she wanted his help, she needed to be willing to let go and learn.

She needed to learn how to serve.

Walk slowly to the bedroom. Remove the corset when you get in there and toss it on the floor to your left. Then get on your knees. Once you’ve done that, you can remove my pants.” James said, rolling his neck. The silence of the study made the sound seem louder, loud enough that one might think it caused him pain. It didn’t, but James Driscoll wouldn’t have cared if it did. He was used to pain by now.

He watched Gwen walk into the bedroom, and then followed her, shutting the door behind them.

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Re: Pleasant Unplanned Business
« Reply #18 on: Jun 13, 18, 08:28:47 AM »
He groaned, and she felt the thrill of it down to her toes.  James Driscoll was all Warlord Prince... Dark Jewelled and terrifying.  But that terror was exotic - that terror licked along her awareness and turned fear into anticipation.  She did enjoy Warlord Princes; a good thing really as she seemed to collect a few.

Walk slowly to the bedroom.  Remove the corset when you get in there and toss it on the floor to your left.  Then get on your knees.  Once you've done that.. you can remove my pants.

She felt her breath hitch again, her eyes slowly lifting to lock on his before she gave him a little smile and turned around.  Walking without her dress felt.. decadent.  It wasn't the first time she'd done it.  She and Hugh tended to walk around her room stark naked most of the time.  But this was different. 

She didn't know Driscoll in the way she knew Hugh.  She didn't love James Driscoll.  And that.. that was part of the appeal.  She didn't love James Driscoll - not yet.  She didn't know him.  She didn't know every brush of his skin and what would make him come undone.

She'd always enjoyed learning.

So she strolled into her room as if she had all the time in the world, her hands carefully moving to the latches of her corset.  She plucked them loose as she went, giving herself time to adjust so that by the time she got INTO her room she could remove it without concern.  The contraption was flung to the left as if it weren't one of her favorite things, body spinning about so that she could gracefully kneel down, resting her ass on her heels while she turned expectant eyes towards the male who had followed her.

He closed the door, and she smiled.  Her hands stretched out, working at his belt and his trousers.  She was looking forward to this.  It was like opening a Winsol present, and she'd always enjoyed that.  Her hands slowly began working his pants down, eyes rolling up to watch his face even as she began to unveil him for her perusal. 

She gave him a smile, heated and desiring, before letting her eyes scroll down to the spear she had felt against her backside.  Her hands continued their work of removing his pants anyways.  And then... then she began running her nails lightly up the front of his legs, her eyes feasting on the spear she was planning on making use of this day.

"You are beautiful, James."

 

 

anything