Location: The Bishop Estate; Stables
Interactions: Saboona – Isolde
Genuine happiness was a rare thing. Joy without strings, and the welcome warmth of peace and clarity were found few and far between in the world, and for a long while, Roland had thought such things far beyond his reach. His chance lost, left to revel in the hollowing, harrowing court of Wrath’s trappings.
Never in his life had Roland been happier in being proved wrong. Ironic, then, that the spark that rekindled this flare of poetic passion began with a bullet. Even now, there was still a dimple in his posterior where their most dangerous game had seen him in the role of the Fox, and her as the Hound. While that alone had garnered his respect, it was her effort to at the least try and understand him that earned his adoration, dare he say more, if he was so bold. While Roland’s own demons were far from abolished, seeing the sunlight on the ringlets of Isolde’s hair and the rosy flush of her cheeks drowned them out. She was a sweet salve for that which ailed him most.
Astride his ever-faithful warhorse, Celo, Roland rode just to the left of his lady with the casual ease of someone born to the saddle. From his position, he caught every glance and smile, which he repaid with interest, appreciating the curve of Isolde’s back, as well as… well, everything else. Her riding habit was nothing if not complimentary to her figure. Roland himself was in his usual day-to-day attire — matched trousers and vest, New Columbian roper boots, and a wool frock coat. What stood out in stark contrast was the rich red scarf coiled around his neck, snapping softly in the breeze as they rode.
Trotting through the courtyard, passing through the shrinking shadows of the aging morning, Roland cast a glance up at the windows of the manor. Up there in his room was a long-overdue letter back home, telling his sister, as the acting head of the MacCann estate, that he’d met someone. There was a gnawing anxiety that had kept him from mailing it out, perhaps out of some sense of dread in making such an official proclamation, or that the letter would no doubt invite a cavalcade of invasive questions. God forbid a visit between the two families.
Roland felt the warmth of Isolde’s hand in his, then the silken heat of her cheek in the cup of his palm. Drawn away from hitching his horse after dismounting, he turned with her, gazing into those eyes like honied amber, he smiled and was resolved. Though her words bore the similar concerns he had — the fretting of the stricken — it was comforting to know that he was not alone. He would send the letter tomorrow, and that would be that.
“Come Hell or high water,” he said lowly, brushing the rosebud of her lips with his thumb. His stomach fluttered, giving Isolde a sober smile and nodded. His fingers trailed from the caress of her lips to the gentle slope of her jaw, brushing her ear and coming to rest at the nape of her neck. Pulling her in, he planted a kiss in the rich coils of her hair as his other hand found the small of her back.
“As long as you need, darlin’,” Roland said, his voice dark and rich, his chest rumbling gently against her. “I’ll take every second.”