“But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?” He stepped out of the shadows, his dark eyes glistening sweet as his smile. “It is the east, and Dawn is… erm… the sun. Huh, that bloody well works. Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, who is already sick and pale with grief, that thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.”
“That’s really cheesy.” In truth, I was glowing from his words.
“She speaks, yet she says nothing.”
“You can stop now.”
He approached, thrusting his hand upon his brow with dramatic effect. “I am too bold; ’tis not to me she speaks.”
“You’re right about that if you keep this up.” Gawd he was hot. Even so, I leaned forward on the banister, resting my face on my hands as if to show I wasn’t impressed. But he always impressed me.
“See how she leans her cheek upon her hand!”
“What? Is there something on my face?”
“Not yet.” He grinned and moved in close to the ledge, his head maneuvering evenly to mine. “O, that I were a glove upon that hand, that I might touch that cheek!”
“You better make with the touching or I’ll introduce my hand to your cheek.”
Finally he leaned in and kissed me so tenderly, so gentlemanly I nearly forgot who it was I was snogging.
“That’s more like it,” I purred. “So what gives with the Shakespeare? Don’t get me wrong, I love listening to you talk, almost as much as you do, especially when you bring on the filthy, but Romeo and Juliet ?”
“It’s the only one I remember at any length and even then, sketchy at best.”
“I thought you were away on business or something. Siberia, wasn’t it? Why are you here?”
“Needed warming up. It’s bloody cold there.” He climbed over the railing and took me into his arms. Ethan has wonderfully long arms, strong but welcoming and they wrapped me up like a security blanket, a very naughty security blanket.
I pulled back enough to see his face. “Be serious, did something happen?”
“It went fine. I missed you, is all.” Another kiss but this time to my forehead. Those lips were totally wasted there. Much better fit paired with mine.
“Enough to show up here with Giles and Buffy ready to pummel your face into goo on sight?”
“I’ll take my chances.”
“Indeed I am. Aren’t you going to invite me in?”
“No way. Buffy and Giles are in there.”
“I didn’t mean inside the building, love.” He had that look, the one where my panties go instantly moist and the atmosphere is suddenly reminiscent of Miami.
“You’re clinically insane, aren’t you?”
“I crossed continents to see you.”
“And you’ve seen me.” I shoved him away, much more tease than true.
“That’s cruel, even for you.”
“Cruel to be kind… to save your life. If we get caught…”
“Buffy would skin you.”
“I’m fairly certain Ripper would do the honors. Buffy would tan my hide and fashion herself some boots… and possibly a belt.”
“Don’t even joke about that.” I punctuated my point with a slap on his arm. He smiled but only for an instant then went serious on me. That was my cue to worry.
“To tell them.”
“For your sake I hope you actually mean to tell them the time because anything else is death.”
“They should know about us.”
“They really shouldn’t.”
“They’ll find out eventually. We’re only putting off the inevitable.”
“And I intend to have my way with you, every which way, until then. If you’re lucky, you’ll die from a sex overdose before they can get at you. Suicide isn’t the answer. Since when did you grow a conscience in regards to us and their total lack of knowing about us and how I’d like to keep it that way until Hell has an ice age?”
“It’s only proper we tell them, out of respect.”
I busted out laughing, only managing to collect myself after a prolonged fit. “Who are you and what have you done with my dirty old pervert?”
“Ouch.” What a pout! The man’s mouth should be declared an act of torture.
“Tell me the truth.”
“We need to tell them else they’ll think I kidnapped you when I whisk you away to Jamaica.”
“Jamaica? What’s in … HOLY CRAP! THAT’S A RING!” My mouth seemed savvy much sooner than my mind. The words spilled out like so much… well, something that spills a lot and messy like my mind at the time. The rock on that thing was the size of a small pony and I wondered what jewelry store he’d stolen it from before I allowed myself to touch it.
“Dawn, I’ve been thinking.”
“Oh God no.”
“I haven’t asked anything yet.”
“I know. That was for your thinking.”
“I’ve been many things to many people, and more than a few demons, I might add. But there is one thing that has always well and truly terrified me.”
“You’re not helping.”
“Not even remotely. Dawn, please.” He took my hands in his and somehow I knew this was real and not some tease or joke or threat. So why was I terrified? “I’ve spent my life running from my past and present. Now I see the final stretch and I have to stop before it’s gone. Only now have I realized in being with you that I don’t want it to be over. I need this. I need you.”
“Scaring me, now.”
He pressed my hands to his chest and I could feel his heart racing, hopefully for the nervousness of the moment and not a massive coronary. He didn’t have the healthiest diet. “If I asked…”
“Don’t.” Blah! Blah! Blah! I’m not listening to you.
“Dawn, if I asked, would you at least consider it?”
Ethan wore an expression totally alien to him, sincerity. I’d heard tales and seen movies of just such an emotion but my Ethan wasn’t capable of it. Of that I was certain. But with that one word everything I’d ever been told by Buffy and Giles, everything they warned me of, vanished in the radiance of his sincere gaze.
I don’t remember what I did at that moment. I know I didn’t respond to him. That would come later. I vaguely remember stepping back inside the library, hands trembling, heart pounding, throat dry, tongue tied, ears itching… haven’t a clue why but they itched like no tomorrow which I was certain would be Ethan’s future. Somehow I managed to find the words and called out, “Buffy, Giles?” I saw them peek out from behind the new stacks, eyes tired and hoping for donuts and coffee. “Guess who’s coming to dinner?”