The thick carpet muffled the sound of her heels down the long hallway. The halls seemed to take strange turns, barely visible doors breaking up the dark paneling every so often. Lily wondered about those doors, and what lay behind them. Perhaps later she would snoop around. The hall ended into an octagonal shaped room with a tile floor, a high vaulted ceiling with exposed beams. Her heels clicked loudly in this room suddenly. It seemed intrusive in the imposing silence to walk. Recessed lighting provided a warm glow to the room. The formal dining room table was round, hardwood, possibly mahogany, probably ebony, and it dominated the rooms center with it's sheer size. It would seat twenty four easily, another eight tightly. It's pedestal was an intricately carved dragon, in a pose of rest, but for one eye, set with a topaz that must have been sixty carats easily, open to peer about for danger. It was a beautiful piece. It was most unusual that a table so large would be a pedestal table. A very rare find, indeed. A centerpiece of lush lilies and ferns surrounding a tabletop fountain provided a feast for all of the senses. The room was heady with the scent of lilies. Lily found this flattering. The fragrance was truly wondrous. It reminded her of the time she had gone to the conservatory at Easter time and they had a room with a fifty foot cross made up of thousands of lilies, and she was struck dumb by the magnificent aroma. She felt sure that heaven smelled like that. Several tall tapers burned around the arrangement casting a gentle glowing light around the table. Lily was alone in the room but for Vicki, who was now standing quietly to one side, hands clasped in a formal way. Soon, the soft sighing of the carpet in the hall alerted her to someone's approach. Her heart thudded heavily. She was relieved to see Rock step into the dining room. He looked very handsome in his suit, the stark white shirt showing off his newly acquired tan. His eyes looked even bluer than usual, with a glint of golden candlelight reflected softly in them . A soft, misty look overcame Lily's countenance as she reacquainted her eyes with him. It had barely been six hours, but already she felt relief to see him again. She had missed him! The thought startled her. Was she really in over her head now? How could she feel this way? How could she not? He had saved her at the reunion, at the mall, in Brazil he saved Daniel and his entire group. Daniel. Would he be at dinner? She wondered exactly who was coming. Her mind raced with thoughts, but her eyes continued to stare at Rock. He waved a hand in front of her eyes to break her obvious thrall.

"Well, hello dear . Nice to see you appropriately gowned, as your beauty demands . Actually, you are quite beautiful tonight. " His expression did much to bear out his words. His eyes glowed with attraction, unconsciously he had straightened his shoulders and turned to face her squarely. Without being aware of doing so, she began walking toward him. He took a few steps forward to meet her. They stopped just inches apart. Lily's head was demurely bowed, and she raised a satin gloved hand up to touch his lapel, then looked up at his face, his eyes, radiating her feeling for him. She could feel his heart suddenly as it leaped in his chest. She looked up with a surprised look on her face, as his was suddenly so serious, it was not difficult to discern his intent. Her hand rose to his cheek as their heads came together for a tender kiss.

"Well, I take it you missed me, then? " He was smiling softly as she had dipped her gaze down to where she was fiddling with his jacket button, smiling to herself, and feeling the blush on her face. She wrinkled her nose in a girlish way and softly confessed

"Yeah, I guess I did." She sounded almost amazed at her own feelings, as though she had been unaware of them. Now she couldn't not think of her feelings for him. Her heart beat fast, and ached terribly with the wanting of him. To grab his hand and run from there, far away. The knowledge that she was going to have to give him up again, and soon, nibbled away at the back of her mind. It added fuel to the anxiety she already felt about the inevitable. His thoughts weren't too far off from hers. He too was finding it difficult to think about the future, without her. He didn't want to think about that now. It would be hard enough then without ruining the now worrying about it. Suddenly Lily threw her arms around Rock and held him close to her. He reciprocated in a way that left little doubt in her mind that he felt the same as she. She hated to feel the bite of the blade this way. To know that he cared, but that there was nothing they could do about it. She could have him in little bits. Here and there. But she could only picture herself waiting around for him to call or show up from where ever he was, worrying if he was still alive, when he would come again. She wasn't very good at being the mistress. She wanted the whole thing or nothing. She took a deep breath and sighed as she broke their embrace. Lily turned to see Vicki watching them with that sideways smirk, and Lily smiled a little at her in an embarrassed way. Vicki cleared her throat and asked if they would like a drink. Accepting her offer, they allowed themselves to be led them to the perimeter of the room where there were places to sit and converse. On one wall there was a large fireplace and in front of it were several large, leather wing back chairs. A table with a large cigar ashtray and room for snifters of brandy. Opposite that wall was one with large French doors that lead to the courtyard, and it was hung with lace sheers, and in front of these there was an exquisite courting couch. An S shaped sofa with seating on either side, for lovers to sit next to each other but without touching. It had been very popular in Victorian times. It was covered with a creamy Moire' fabric, trimmed with fringe that allowed a peek at the delicately carved feet. This is where Lily chose to sit, and gratefully accepted her drink from Vicki. She hoped the wine would settle her nerves. Or give her some, whichever, she wasn't fussy. Rock came and sat on the other side, leaning back to be close to Lily. She could smell his aftershave, shaving cream, and the smell that was Rock. She felt giddy as a schoolgirl. To distract herself, she looked around the grand octagonal room, noticing that each section of wall had a different theme or setting and was lavishly decorated with antiques and collectible items. They almost made Lily's fingers itch. It had been a very long time since she had practiced simple petty theft. Not since she was first living on her own in a cruel city. She gave as good as she got. When was Hayu coming? She was beginning to wonder. The sound of the gong came again, and Hayu all but appeared through a secret door in the wall. He was tall, six feet four, powerfully built. Big as a tree. Hands big enough to crush your head, yet she had seen him handle the most delicate of things without difficulty. He was neither gawky or ungainly in his size. It fit him well. His hair was as white as snow. It had been that way since he was seventeen. It was extraordinarily soft and fluffy as well, women loved to run their fingers through his hair. It was a glorious corona. He was wearing it long these days, and kept it pulled back into a ponytail. When he didn't have a full beard, he had skin like a baby's bottom. At this time, he did have a goatee, long and braided. He was dressed in a white dinner suit, looking for all the world like a southern gentleman. Lily rose from her place and strode toward him, looking at him seductively.

"Well, hello Big Daddy." Mimicking Maggie the cat, from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

A wide grin spread across Hayu's Norse features, softening the stern look he usually held. He held his hand out and she delicately slid her hand into his. Gallantly he gently kissed her fingers and bowed to her. He looked at her over his small round glasses, and from under quite long and unruly white eyebrows. His bright blue eyes shone with desire and delight at seeing Lily again. She simpered prettily for him and asked if he liked her gown, turning in a mincing circle before him. The lust that rose up into his gaze gave her the answers she needed. Yes, he did like her gown, as well as her. Very much. He would be putty in her hands before long. Enter the game. Their host invited them to sit at the table, assuring them dinner was soon to be served. Lily inquired as to Daniel and his group and was told that they were all being kept in quarantine for 48 hours, given medical care for their various and sundry illness and injuries. All were suffering from malnutrition, dehydration and several were suffering with intestinal parasites. Lily relaxed somewhat knowing she wouldn't have to face Daniel with Rock around, or do what she did to Hayu with him around. Rock wasn't entirely happy watching Lily with Hayu. She flirted shamelessly, laughed at all his jokes, yelled at him, at one point reaching over to smack him hard, which he laughed about and asked for more. Rock was wondering what exactly was going on with those two, but decided he didn't want to know. He eventually entered into a discussion with Hayu regarding politics and the ethics involved in the latest scandal in Washington. Lily grew drowsy with the wonderful heavy dinner of filet mignon sitting heavily in her belly, the wine having gone to her head, and the tiresome conversation the men were having combining to sap the last of her borrowed strength. Jet lag, she thought to herself. I just need a good night's sleep. Lily rose from her seat, drawing the attention of the men, who started to their feet but she waved them down. She yawned and begged them to excuse her, but she simply couldn't hold her eyes open any longer. Hayu stood and came and gave her a bear hug good night. She seemed a little girl in his embrace. The peaceful expression on her face lent to the childlike appearance. Rock felt touched by this scene and loved her a little more. He offered to walk her to her room, but she declined. They locked eyes, and he nodded at her. She smiled sweetly at him and drifted down the long winding hallway to her rooms. Both men stood staring after her for several minutes before the butler asking if the gentlemen would like a brandy and a cigar woke them from their separate musings about Lily.


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