In the middle of the night while the noise of the bonfire party is still rumbling through the woods, you wake up because you desperately need to pee. You wander out of the tent clad only in your flannel PJs and wellies. Unfortunately alcohol consumption usually triggers promiscuous behaviour in youth, and all bushes around the campsite seem to be occupied by two, sometimes three people, and after learning four new sexual positions you’re desperate. The swamp and the woods frighten you, but the nature calls, sorry for the pun. You venture into your quest.
After twenty minutes of walking and finally in a state of a complete bliss from your bladder finally empty, you realize that you’re lost.
Not completely, you more or less know where to go to, since the noise of the bonfire is still echoing between the trees, but you suddenly realize that you’re separated from the hostile environment of the wild nature by the flimsy cotton material of your polka dot pajamas.
You carefully tread between the trees, constantly feeling that something grotty is stretching its furry paws to get you. Then you catch a face full of spider web and shriek. Your own voice frightens you even more, and you dart sideways. Your foot gets stuck in an especially gooey muck, and you frantically jerk it out. You know you’re being unreasonable, but you’re shaking and sprint towards the fire you can see between the trees ahead.
Two things happen at the same time. You see a tent, erected under a large oak tree, and something grabs your leg. It’s wet and scratchy, and you squeal. All decorum forgotten, you shake off your boots, grab the zipper on the tent, and jerking it open you jump inside. You pull the zipper up and freeze with your hands fisted and pressed to your chest.
At this stage you don’t care if inside of this tent you find the Dean of your Faculty. You won’t by the way, his tent’s green.
Hellhounds in tutus or a foursome inside this tent, nothing will make you leave it.
“Are you lost?” The sleepy voice of John Thorington startles you, and you jump up with a yelp.
The tent wobbles, and you stare into the darkness. Your eyes are used to the darkness already, so you can guess the outline of his mane and wide shoulders. His cologne assaults your senses. Who actually puts any on when going to spend a night on a swamp? Doesn’t it attract all kinds of stinging, blood sucking monsters? Or does it repel them? Your knowledge of camping is simply pathetic.
You will never confess it but you recognized his voice even before you could see who was inside. You attended all his guest lectures and watched his TED talk hundreds of times.
Dr. John Crispin Thorington. Phil and Killian’s uncle, Deadre Durinson’s brother. He’s brilliant. A renown neurosurgeon, he practices all around the world, travels a lot, and his short visits with the family rarely coincide with the occasions you are invited to. You suspect that he’s avoiding crowds. You have seen him – so to speak, in flesh – twice. Once, he arrived when you were already leaving the Durinson mansion, so you shared a breakfast. He was jetlagged, and you are still not sure if his haughty silence is his customary treatment of the likes of you, or you somehow repel him on a personal level.
The second time you saw him was in a more official environment, during the Honourary Dinner at uni.
You followed BBC Sherlock’s approach and deleted the memories of his glorious large body clad in a dinner jacket. You have a tuxedo kink. If a sexual fantasy also included his blazing blue eyes and the exotic luscious ponytail, an orgasm following it would probably incinerate you.
“Something touched my leg,” you breathe out as if it’s supposed to explain him everything. He is half lying on his back, propped on his elbows in futile attempts to see you better. “I am Wren, Wren Leary.”
“I know who you are.”
That’s a surprise.
“What I do not understand is what you are doing in my tent.” He sounds impatient. “Shouldn’t you be in Philip’s?”
“I’m actually sharing one with Killian.”
“You are dating him now?” Is it disdain in his voice?
“No, I’m not.”
“So whose tent were you looking for?” Now he’s clearly irritated. Even considering the manky turn this conversation’s taking, his voice is a mixture of treacle, tawny port wine, and a multiple clitoral.
“I wasn’t looking for anyone’s tent. Either would do, to be honest, at this stage.” You certainly feel that didn’t come out quite the way you planned it to. “I mean, I’m not dating either of your nephews, sir, don’t worry.”
“Why would I worry?”
Because the likes of John Thorington do not approve of the likes of you shackling their sons and nephews, you mentally explain.
“What I meant is that I got scared outside, and any familiar face would be welcome right now.”
“I am familiar.” Bloody hell, is he flirting? Of course not. You’re obviously misinterpreting.
You both are silent for a bit, and then he sits up. You’ve never realized how massive his torso is. He has the same body structure as Phil, wide shoulders and broad chest, but he is two heads taller. He takes up all room in the tent, and you suddenly feel trapped. Bloody nonsense! You’ve intruded on him, and also, you can just leave. On the other hand, whatever is out there might still be scarier than John Thorington. And lurking. it is clearly something that is capable of lurking.
You look at him sideways. His extraordinary hair is loose, like a curtain of glorious wavy sexiness. Shut your gob, treacherous libido!
“What did you say about your leg?” His velvet voice sounds dischuffed. You should assure him it was nothing, politely excuse yourself, and leave.
“I was walking back to my tent and felt something grab it.”
He sighs and starts rummaging in his sleeping bag. After a few seconds he finally finds his mobile and lights up the screen. You blink from sudden light and seeing his face – decorated with a peevish scowl and frowned eyebrows – so close in front of you.
“Let me see.” He definitely sounds irritated. You’re hesitating. With another exasperated sigh he shoves the phone into your hands and suddenly grabs you under your arms. He pulls you closer, you are practically on his lap, your legs across his, and his deft fingers encircle your ankle. You squeak.
“Does it hurt?”
“No.” You feel like a massive idiot. He gives you a sideways glance. Then he picks up your ankle and examines first the foot and then the calf. The PJ leg is torn and dirty.
“You probably tumbled over a root, I don’t see any injuries.” Your calf is in his palm, and he’s rubbing it slightly. “Does it hurt anywhere?”
“No, it’s fine.”
You suddenly realize that he isn’t stopping, his scorching palm is brushing your skin through the hole in the pant.
The silence stretches, and it’s quite a tense one. His thumb slips inside the gap in the fabric, and he draws a slow circle on your skin. That’s definitely impossible to misinterpret. You breathe in slowly and make your decision.