White Sleigh (Rules Within)
A brilliant white team of horses toss their heads as small puffs of steam issue from their noses. Their driver checks their harness and then climbs back upon the sleigh, inviting you aboard for an hour-long ride through the park and preserve. The tumbled hay is inviting and soft, and as the horses move off in perfectly matched stride, the bells on their breastplates jingle airily with a high pitched tinkling sound. Muffled hoofbeats and the shoosh of the sleigh's runners are the only sounds as the crowd of guests disappears behind you and you're carried in the warm hay through the preserve.
((ooc: On this thread, feel free to RP as you like; however, in this thread every character's post must end with a question to another character. With the exception of the first person to post in the thread, every character must answer any question (or questions, in case you're asked by more than one other player) put to him/her before they can continue posting.))
Deciding right off the bat ice-skating was out he easily found a better idea. Some how he was certain Belle would like a sleigh ride. It was an oddly romantic though but the bells on the harness and the sweet smell of the hay were too much to resist.
“Care to take a sleigh ride together with me?”
She'd been surprised that Ambrose wanted to come out; she had rather expected him, in his gruff way, to prefer staying indoors to walking around in the snow. Here he was though, actually in a good mood, perhaps even getting into the season a bit!
They climbed onto the sleigh together and Ysabel surreptitiously regarded the horses from where they sat on the fragrat hay. They appeared to be in spectacular condition; she smiled to herself and nodded slightly. She'd never have ridden on the sleigh if she didn't think the horses were well-enough taken care of.
As they waited comfortably for the sleigh to fill up with passengers she pulled her cloak around her tightly and nestled a little bit closer to Ambrose. It was cozy and warm, and while she felt the desire to chit-chat, nothing really weighed heavily on her mind as a topic for conversation. That said, she let her mind wander idly, her eyes finally resting upon the pretty fir tree at the lake's edge.
Turning just a bit to look up at Ambrose she said, "I remember Christmas when I was younger. We always had a tree like that. A big fluffy one. With candles on it." Her brow furrowed a little. "Come to think of it, it's a miracle we didn't manage to burn the manor down. What about your family, Amber? Did they do anything like that?"
"Have I told you how stunning you look tonight?" He had told her, when she opened the door to him back at the towers, and again in the cab ride to the park, but every time he looked at her he was taken aback, and couldn't contain himself.
Kissing her cold cheek, Nic jumped up onto the fresh hay, and held both hands down to Livia. There was a series of steps hanging off the back end of the sleigh, but he held onto her hands tightly anyway. It wouldn't do for her to take a tumble now, even if it would be into the soft snow. When she was high enough that he could reach, he put his hands on her waist, and pulled her a little closer.
"I'll forewarn you now, my dear, but in a setting such as this, any thoughts but those of romance are pretty difficult for me to attend to. Never fear though. Should I get overly amorous, you have permission to knock my block off."
And with a quick kiss to the tip of her nose, Nic turned, and nodded to the other two passengers, relieved to see they seemed to be a couple as well. Considering the guy probably had much the same thoughts on his mind as Nic had, he doubted they would be offering up much in the way of distracting conversation.
"Happy holidays. I'm Nic, and this is Livia. Nice night for a sleigh ride, yes?"
Even though he wanted to devote the ride to his lady's affections, Nic wasn't the type to completely ignore propriety, so he greeted the other pair warmly before smiling at Livia.
Finding a spot that looked comfortable, Nic sat first, and held his hands up to Livia.
"Will this do?"
And it was too. The entire event struck her with such a feeling of joy and peace. Well, if she was honest a heavy dose of romance as well at the thought of a sleigh ride. Her gallant date helped her in so sweetly with his warm hands on hers and then waist. It was like he was almost reluctant to let her go which warmed her heart as much as his kiss to her nose did.
"I think the atmosphere is perfect for such things. Perhaps it will be you defending your virtue this ride." She spoke quietly but with a sparkle in her eyes. The holidays had such a wonderful effect on people, herself included.
Smiling at the other couple politely she simply let Nic do the talking for them, though her eyes were welcoming and warm. Their seat was no more than piles of hay to cushion the wooden bed of the conveyance. But his larger hands held hers easily as she carefully sat next to him, not quite pressed completely against his side but their shoulders and knees touched. Livia spent a moment or two fussing with her skirt to protect her delicate hose and skin from the straw.
"I don't think I have ever done anything quite so fun, or romantic. Have you, Nic?"Â?
He shrugged. That had been a common enough occurrence, and got worse the older each of them had gotten.
Not much interested in his own past or family he pulled Bell closer. It would have been simple enough to pull her into his lap but she tended to have more of a sense of propriety than he did.
He nodded non-commitally as another couple joined them.
“Pleasure. Ambrose, Ysabel.”
With a gal or not Ambrose sized this guy up. He was not about to share Belle in any way shape or form unless she wanted to be social.
“Yeah it’s a good night for it.”
He hoped they’d be involved in themselves enough not to bother with he and Belle too much and he returned his attention to his lover.
“What the hell is a Yule log? Ya’ll had one didn’t you?”
That last bit was said as another couple boarded their sleigh; elaboration would definitely have to wait for later. Resting her head on Ambrose's shoulder, she then nodded happily to the next two into the sleigh with them. "A pleasure."
It was amusing, watching Ambrose bristle up no matter what the perceived slight or anticipated battle. She made a mental note to put that energy to good use later.
"We could always burn a yule log back at the condo... would you like to?"
He had been on a sleigh ride, once or twice in his past, but he was sincere in how he felt about Livia, and couldn't recall having gone riding with anyone he enjoyed being with more.
Seeing the other couple was content to be left alone, Nic turned towards Livia, and pulled her so close that had he pulled her closer she would have been in his lap. That wouldn't have been a bad thing, in fact he liked the way she fit in his arms, but he didn't think now was the time to tempt fate, or his hormones.
"I'd like to get back to this thing about defending my virtue now...the idea intrigues me." Nuzzling her neck, under the pretense of keeping his voice soft, yet close enough for her to hear, he placed several kisses along her neck, and stopped after a quick, tender nip to her ear.
"Should I put up a great deal of resistance, or should I just let go and put myself under your considerate care?"
Now leaning away from her enough to see her face, Nic smiled. The face before him was beautiful, and without guile, and Nic wondered if Livia was even capable of deception. That thought was quickly discarded, and he was happy believing the things she told him. And it was more his nature to accept things people told him, at face value, so why would he feel the need to change now, with her?
"Do you like taking charge, Livia?"
The way he answered her question made her blink back a slight moistening in her eyes. He thought her delightful and it touched her greatly that he would think so. Of course her chivalrous rascal pulled her flush against his side so he could envelope her in his arms. That was lovely and his warm breath against her neck sent shivers down her spine. The kisses caused a sigh of something Livia was unwilling to name escape her chilled lips.
"Perhaps your virtue has already gone on holiday?"Â? She said when he pulled back and she gathered up her scattered wits. At least she could still make a witty remark with only a scant handful of them with her.
His earlier comment struck a deeper thought now that she could form one so she added on to her earlier answer. "I would not consider myself meek or indecisive, but I do not go out of my way to take charge of situations in my life. The problem I have with that question is the 'taking' part. I would much rather things be given freely or though cooperation. Though if you are speaking of something other then general life things, I think perhaps the first answer serves best."Â?
Looking into his beautiful face she could only smile not shyly, but not with a bold statement either. Her hands though had different ideas and they reached up to trace the strong lines of his jaw. Livia could feel a hint of a blush to her chilly cheeks as her fingers warmed slightly against his skin. Leaning forward she kissed him lightly, not wanting to cause a scene in the sleigh because there were others present. All too soon she pulled back and tried to settle herself and her unruly hands against him politely.
Shaking her head she chuckled slightly at herself more than anyone else. Her brows furrowed slightly as she spoke quietly to Nic. "How do you make me forget all modesty?"Â?
As she rested her head on his shoulder, he felt even more protective of her. Fortunately, there didn’t seem to be a reason to pick a fight and he could just enjoy having her near.
That was an odd suggestion, it could be less than innocent or it could be a history lesson. One would be fun the other –might- be fun.
“Is that a trick question?”
"Not ALL modesty surely...at least not here...I'd like to address that subject another time though, say back home, possibly even later tonight?" It had been the first time he had overtly made a pass that was more than mere flirtation, but said very softly, so he wouldn't run the risk of embarrassing her in front of the other sleigh riders. And while it may not have been totally appropriate, Nic just couldn't hesitate any longer. He hoped he hadn't made a huge mistake.
"Aye, perhaps my virtue left me years ago, deciding it was fighting a losing battle."
He chuckled at her observation, but regarded it like she regarded 'taking charge'. "Perhaps I'm not the most virtuous man on the planet, but I really do have 'some' morals. I just don't parade them about for the world to see, but rather reserve them for those I think are really important to me. As you said...'I do not go out of my way' to foster illusions, but in your case I'm trying my damndest to be good. Because I care about you, and how you think about me."
Leaning back in the hay, Nic tilted his head so he could look at the starry sky with ease. As he did so, he took note of the sweet scent that filled his nostrils, and emanated from his date. Soft, cuddly, sweet smelling, bright, intelligent, and round in all the right places... Not that he was looking, but Nic could find no fault with the woman in his arms, at all.
"You know Miss Livia, I am truly smitten with you. How is it you have come into my life only so recently, but have become so important? I think we should explore that more fully...don't you? And if you look close, right there, you'll see a shooting star...Did you make a wish?"
"I dont know how that happened honestly, perhaps fate. Being in the right place, at the right time. We should be happy for whatever brought us together and perhaps explore the idea of 'together' in my opinion." "Oh yes." Looking up at the sky as he had she closed her eyes and wished. It was a simple wish really, to hope for happiness in whatever the future may bring. She thougt just being positive that it would be happy times helped make it so. Turning her head slightly she looked at Nic through her lashes. "Did you make a wish too?"
Since the game of wishing supposedly fell apart if you told your wish she did not ask what he had wished for, only if he had. No matter what he could ask for, she hoped he got it. The gallant gentleman deserved his fondest wish, in her eyes. Thinking on his comments about morals she gently placed her hand on his chest.
"I think you are wonderful Nic. Dont ever doubt that. But be sure to show me the 'bad Nic' sometimes, just so I dont get surprised later on."
Livia was hoping for a 'later on' to possibly appear so she wanted to know the real man as he was in any situation. Not just behaving for a lady because one could not conduct an honest relationship by hiding who they were. Laying back and looking at the stars together could not be more honest, in her eyes. The festival around them seemed to fade into the background until it was simply them and the stars. Her voice was quiet, almost reverent in the cool night air.
"Is it too soon for me to be asking what you want out of life and our blossoming relationship?"
And since wasn't really a superstitious person, he didn't see any harm in admitting what had crossed his mind, when he'd seen the star.
"Uh oh...there it is...the 'R' word."
Nic chuckled very softly.
The dark, the snow, the quiet 'shushing' of the sleigh runners as they slid along the icy ground, all had given Nic the impression that he and Livia were in their own little world. But when she asked about his desires in life, and more relevant their relationship, Nic suddenly felt exposed, and as if everyone on the sleigh was waiting with bated breath for his response.
It was silly for him to feel that way, since he wasn't really afraid of the question or his answer. If anything he was more shocked because the question 'didn't' scare him. And when she told him that she wanted to see his 'other' side, he squeezed her to his side.
"I won't argue my good points. As long as you see some, I'm happy. And I'll even show you the...naughty Nic, gladly...but the 'bad' Nic is something that just happens of its own accord. Which, luckily is becoming less frequent all the time. I'm not proud of that man, Livia...so Id rather not seek him out. But I can assure you, even the 'bad' Nic isn't heinous. He's more like a buffoon, who fortunately only seems to hurt himself."
Never one to shy away from talking about himself...hell, he'd practically made a career out of it...Nic was not one who enjoyed discussing his weaknesses though. Yet, with Livia he didn't fear rejection, as she seemed to be one of the most understanding women he'd ever met. At least he hoped he had come to know at least that much about her.
"Would you mind if I thought on that subject a while, and got back to you?"
Livia gently stroked his chest in a soothing fashion, or so she hoped. Everyone had bumbling moments in which they hurt themselves or others inadvertently or through ignorance. She hoped that Nic would continue to see less and less of that side of himself since it appeared to upset him.
"No one is perfect nor do I expect you to live up to any fantasy. I simply want to enjoy being with YOU, whoever and however that may be."
Snuggling against his chest she breathed in the wonderful scent of hay, leather, wool and Nic. She was very content to simply enjoy being near him even if they were being quite amorous in public. They were talking so quietly she doubted either of them could or would want to listen in. Rather than continue down the 'R' word path she simply marveled at the evening.
"I can barely believe that three months ago I was in Ireland. Viewing these same stars over green hills dotted with sheep. I am very glad that I came home when I did. Have you seen Ireland with its lush hills so green that you wonder how people can even be able to look at them in daylight?"Â?
"This promises to be fun. Have you ever been on a hayride before?"
Ana really didn't wish it to happen, but she was prepared for a reaction - especially a bad one - with the EpiPen in her purse. While she fervently hoped it would not be needed... It wouldn't be a bad idea to have Joey schooled in its use. "Have I told you about my allergies? Have you ever used or even seen an EpiPen before?"
"Yes, you told me. I've never used one of those pens, but I looked them up on the internet after we talked about them. I think I could manage it if I needed to. Let's just pray that I don't"
Before too much longer the sleigh moved off into the snow, and they were quickly removed from the noise and lights of the festival to be transported into one of the most beautiful winter scenes Joey had seen in a long time. he dug in his pocket for the little silver digital camera he carried around for those opportunities when he saw something he wanted to paint.
"It's beautiful out here. Do you mind if I take some pictures?"
Impressed by Joey's proactiveness in researching the use of her EpiPen, she replied to him, "Prayer hasn't been something I've engaged in much recently, but I can fervently hope, can I not? Of course this is a rhetorical question, so you don't need to answer it."
The sleigh turned a corner and lifted a bit on a drift of snow and one of the young children in the sleigh with them was suddenly in Ana's lap. "Oh, hello young man. Be careful, the sleigh bounces sometimes when it's bumpy."
As he got up he elbowed Ana sharply in the breast, causing her to gasp. After a moment, she caught her breath and said to Joey, "I think I might have squeaked. Did that sound like it hurt as much as it did?"
Joey slipped his camera back into his pocket and pulled her closer. The kid had done the whole thing by accident and even now his mother was apologizing profusely while the father was cautioning him to be more careful. He moved his free hand over her awkwardly, not knowing if he should lay his hand over her's or let her put pressure on the sore spot on her own, so his hand sort of waved around in the air.
"Is there anything I can do to help?"
The poor young boy, oblivious to the 'damage' he'd done, scampered to the other side of the sleighbed and dangled precariously over the edge. Frowning at the buttocks and feet in the air, she leaned against Joey's side. She imagined some people might think, 'Oh, I could never have a child that would act like that!' or perhaps 'Oh, I hope I teach my child better than that!' but all she thought was 'I hope he doesn't get hurt.' Kids were far from the forefront in Ana's mind...
"So are you going to take your pictures? Are they for reference shots," and she added as a playful jibe, "or spot romantic memories?"
"Yes to all three." At that he pulled his camera back out and using the little screen in back snapped several shots of the woods around them above the peoples heads and out to his side. he was able to get several good shots that would translate well into a painting or two. He turned the camera on his companion and snapped a quick picture of her. he gave her a wolfish little grin and tucked the camera back into his pocket. Turning his body slightly, he was able to rest her head on his chest and wrap his free arm around her.
"Is this ok? Are you warm enough?"