(catch up on past chaps)
Striding toward the looming Magisterium zeppelin, Marisa was powerless to mask her excitement. She could only imagine how thrilling it would be to step into the crisp white snow upon their arrival. Carlo had spoiled her extravagantly the past week, in what she assumed was an attempt to lure her away from Edward. Brilliant furs were delivered to her door, and new dresses had been tailored. And yet she felt no remorse for accepting these gifts, knowing the ploy was futile. He had even sent her in his best carriage that he usually reserved for evening affairs. Enjoying the luxury, she had instructed the driver to take his time; let her have one last look at the city before she entered the land of ice. Consequently, the men had all arrived before her, with one noticeable exception, but she hardly found that a surprise. Approaching the group, she waved the servant with her luggage towards another at the door to the ferry.
“Good afternoon gentlemen,” she purred, “I trust we’re almost ready to depart.”
Lords Phipps was the quickest to respond, much to the displeasure of their other traveling companions. “Of course, my dear. We’re just waiting on Edward Coulter.”
“Not anymore, you’re not”, called a voice several yards behind their cluster.
Marisa glanced over her shoulder, her daemon scampering up her arm for a better look. The man’s eyes were squarely on hers, there was no mistaking it.
“Terribly sorry to hold you up, I was trapped in a rather important meeting that ran late.”
“Not to worry Edward, I only just arrived as well”, she replied with a coy smile.
“Ah, but I’m sure most gentleman are content to wait for your arrival. There is considerably less complacency to wait for a politician.”
“I suppose that is true.”
“Now then, shall we board the ferry?” Without waiting for a response, he extended a hand to Marisa, “please, allow me.”
She placed her delicate hand in his. “Very well then.”
Clinging to the railing, Marisa had been looking out over the land since the moment they had reached the peak of their ascent. Often during her time with Lord Boreal she witnessed the flight of many zeppelins from behind the bedroom window, but never had she been given the privilege of riding in one. Watching the earth’s patchwork slip away behind them exhilarated her: she was finally seeing the rest of the world outside of the stuffy London she knew. She could feel someone approaching, but there was no need to turn around. She knew it was him. He was delightfully relentless in garnering her attention. An outstretched hand held a glass of deep red wine which she accepted without a word.
“Have you ever ridden in a ferry before, Marisa?” Taking a spot on the rail next to her, he aimlessly watched the scenery, though she knew it held no interest for him.
“Of course”, she smiled, the lie flowing effortlessly from pristine ruby lips.
“Magnificent creation, aren’t they?”
“Yes, quite. I never grow tired of them.”
He stepped back. “Would you care to take a seat with me?”
“I suppose.” Brushing past him, she sat herself down on the plush loveseat.
Pleased with her choice, he quickly joined her, sitting much closer than necessary she noted.
“Tell me Marisa, what are you aiming to accomplish on this little excursion?”
“Whatever I see fit of course.”
“I’m afraid I don’t understand.”
Carlo was right, she mused; this man wasn’t as sharp as he liked to think. “I don’t have any fixed objectives. I work for no one but myself. My only goal,” she paused, leaning in, “is to see and experience as much as humanly possible.”
“O-oh, I, s-see”, he stammered, unable to tear his eyes from the luscious red lips so close to his own.
Enjoying this game, she placed a hand on his thigh. “But that’s not really what you want to talk to me about, is it Edward?”
“What is it then?” she asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
“You’re… you’re not married.”
She could barely contain her laughter as he visibly tried to collect his thoughts. “No.”
“But you’re spoken for?”
Abruptly sitting up, her face became serious. “No one speaks for me, Edward, and I belong to no one but myself. If you’re asking whether or not I am romantically involved at the moment, the answer would be no.”
“Yes, yes, that’s what I was asking”, he took her hand, looking up at her with that charming, politician’s smile, “I’m terribly sorry for any implications otherwise.”
She was careful to maintain a steely gaze for a moment longer before conceding. “Think nothing of it.”
He kissed her hand apologetically and she smirked, amused by his blatantly chivalrous acts thus far. The poor dear was working awfully hard. Perhaps she should ‘throw him a bone’, so to speak.
Quick as lightning, her soft lips were pressed against his. He reached up to touch her face, but with a flash of blonde hair she was gone, disappearing into the hallway to the next room where the other explores sat chatting amicably.