09.03.3013: Her Damask Cheek
Summary: Garus pays Jane a visit in her office at the HAG headquarters.
Date: 2 September 2013
Related: The Idle Selfish
Garus Jane 

Jane's Office - HAG Headquarters
Included in pose below.
3 September 3013

Garus is in town. Jane knows, thanks to a little slip of the receptionist at the massage parlor, and so she sends out a nonchalant invitation asking the Leonnidan to stop by HAG in his free time for some coffee in her office. Butterflies dance in the actress' belly, forcing her to rise out of her plush chair to rub nervous hands down her sides before she paces toward the door to pull it open a crack. "Philomena, did Willow - oh, there they are. Bring those in and set them on my desk. If Sir Garus arrives, send him straight in, but hold all calls and any other visitors. Did you reschedule my hair appointment for tomorrow? Good. Thanks, right there. That's all, yes, thanks."

Once the receptionist has departed and the door closes with a click, Jane turns about the gaze at the chic interior of her office. HAG has gone for a somewhat spartan look due to a tight budget, so Jane willingly brought furniture and artwork from home to establish a proper workspace ambiance. She leans her back against the door and exhales slowly, allowing her mind to wander for a minute.

As the minutes tick on, the sounds of the light music over the ambient speakers is suddenly interrupted by the reverberation of voices from the other side of her door. Philomena speaks up, greeting someone male, who replies to her with an easily identifiable, wolfish accent. The hour has come and Lord Garus Leonnida has arrived, sharing pleasantries as he's being directed towards Jane's office. As his voice nears, accompanied by the heavy footfalls of his black, leather boots, the murmur of …thank you, Miss as the handle of the door begins to turn. Pulling the door open, no way would he expect Jane to be on the other side so close, his eyes glance up as he enters. Clad in a plain, button-down black shirt with rolled sleeves that is left untucked over his swordbelt and dark, tan trousers, he's chosen comfort over formality for this impromptu meeting. "Jane?"

Whoops. Jane only has time to hop forward and spin about as the door opens, and she hastily reaches up to flick back a wavy lock of hair from her cheek before offering Garus a cheerful if somewhat breathless smile. "Sir Garus, of course, I am so pleased you could make it. Come in, come in, sit down." She backs away several more steps, gesturing off to the right where a section of black chairs and sofas are sitting around a vivid magenta coffee table. In fact, that seems to be the color scheme of choice in her office: white ceiling, white walls, white floor, black chairs, and neon hard surfaces.

Atop the coffee table sits a bottle of wine, uncorked, and a small wrapped package. "I hope you are enjoying your visit to Phylon, Sir Garus," she murmurs, striking up pleasant conversation as she leads the way into the sitting area. "Please do not mind the disarray in the lobby; we're in the middle of some light renovations and the workmen refuse to do the job after hours. The incessant sound of power tools…" Flicking her fingers, she brushes away the complaint and smiles again.

There's a sharpening to the lord knight's eyes as she spins around, suddenly surprised by his presence. Not seemingly knowing why, the fluster in her features brings a little smirk to the corner of his mouth as he closes the door behind him. The scar that lines his neck is made even more pronounced as he's shaven his strong jawline clean, leaving a goatee where once was a controlled chaos of stubble and an almost beard. With his hair slicked back and a slight scent of woodsy cologne filtering through the air that passes with the closing of the door, he's no doubt prepared himself as well.

"It's no problem, really, it'll take more than a little dust and construction to make me blink, Jane." Garus replies as he turns, heading to the sofa at her bidding. His fingers yank on the long tie of his swordbelt, letting the leather slack from his hips as he sets the weapon aside. A knight everywhere is a knight at all times. "I made that massage appointment for tomorrow morning, you know." He muses as he sits, his flattened hand wavering from side to side as he gets comfortable. "Is it strange that I still don't know what to expect?"

Jane's eyes narrow perceptibly as she lowers herself onto the couch opposite Garus, perching on the edge with her hands gripping the cushion on either side of her. Her attention darts around like a hummingbird, sparing only the barest second of notice to each changed detail of the knight's appearance: his goatee, his hair, his expression, his teeth, the faintly visible pulse in his neck, his attire. "I'm sure surprising you would be a practically insurmountable task for most," she replies smoothly, glancing away for a moment to collect her bearings.

"A massage is a massage, Sir Garus, truly. It isn't as if I told you it were to be a massage and you arrive only to find out it's a poker tournament. You go in, you take off your clothes, you get under a sheet. The masseuse comes in, introduces herself, and usually starts at the top and works her way to the bottom." My, but that does sound far dirtier than it should. Jane has the decency to blush briefly, for it is almost certain she is picturing him in that very situation right now.

"I have a gift for you." The words are blurted out unceremoniously as Jane scrambles to calm herself; to cover her sudden discomfort, she leans forward to pick up the small package. It is heavier than what might be expected, and turns out not to be a box but an object wrapped in violet tissue paper and secured with silver ribbon. "It's something I've had for a while, but I thought maybe you would appreciate it."

"I've been surprised once or twice, Jane. Sometimes a little too surprised for my liking, but usually when that happens I'm in armor." Garus replies, sitting forward on the sofa with his feet planted firmly against the floor. He leans forward, balancing his elbow off of his knee as her blush is infectious, forcing him to do the same. "I've never met too many people without my clothes, masseuse or not. I don't suppose they let you bring in a knife to hide under the towels?" He might be joking. Might be. This is exactly why the man needs a massage.

Reaching out, there's a brief moment of finger-to-finger contact as Garus takes the gift from her, turning it over in his hands to look at it. Testing its weight in his hands, he looks up to her and flashes her a small smile that wouldn't look out of place on a lion itself. "But it seems I find myself surprised again. Really, this is very sweet of you." He reaches for the hanging thread of ribbon, threatening to pull it. "Should I open this now or is there a better time and place? Is this a now gift or a when I'm home gift?"

The mention of a knife under the sheet causes Jane to laugh loudly, but she is hardly surprised by the question. "No, I think it's customary to be unarmed in the therapy rooms, but I've never actually asked for that policy in writing. Surely a guard stationed just outside would be appropriate? Perhaps he could even get a moment of enjoyment by frisking the girl." Dark blue eyes flash with mischief and then something altogether different as her fingers brush Garus' briefly. She relinquishes the gift and leans back on the couch, draping her arms over the back and gazing at the knight with an amused and hopeful expression.

This expression morphs into something that looks like slight mortification, and her blush returns tenfold at his question. "I don't even know what would be an example of a when you're home gift, my lord. No, you may open it right now." Should he do so, he would find that the item is actually a book - a bona fide book bound in leather with thick pages adorned in a careful, meticulous hand-written script. The tooled cover is embossed on the front and along the spine and painted in with gold; the title is 'The Complete Works of Wilkinson'. Well, as complete as they can be in this day and age.

Watching her settle back into place, like a creature on a perch watching him as he tugs at the ribbon, Garus can't help but admire. Working blindly at the wrapping, his eyebrows loft upwards once, a short uptick. "You know, a home gift; an open when the time is right gift, whatever that may be. My father once gave me a gift to open when I was deep in the field, it turned out to be a compass." He narrows an eye to her, slyly, as he realizes where she may have thought a home gift meant. He has to look to the book in his hands to avoid the outright humor of the awkwardness.

At first, he smiles broadly and his eyes flash at the title of the book and the gold-embossed writing. No doubt liking what he sees, he turns it over in his hands to look at the spine. "This is…absolutely brilliant." He looks up to her, graciously, so that she can see the pleasure laced into his features. With another quick look down, he gently pries open the pages to take a look at the style of the script inside. "And you know exactly which room I'll be reading it in, Jane, thank you. I love it."

Jane is one of those people who finds the pleasure in giving rather than receiving. Gifts, that is. Her expression softens into a radiant smile of unadulterated joy at watching Garus' unpracticed reaction to receiving the gift. "The Valens take great pride in preserving archaic artistic practices, and bookmaking has happened to evolve into one that I patronize the most. I had hoped — well, I am glad, truly glad, that you like it." Really, that smile doesn't look to be fading anytime soon; the woman is truly pleased to have taken a correct measure of the man before her.

"And of course, the wine goes with it. Oh, speaking of which!" Suddenly, Jane slides off of the couch in one graceful, fluid movement and glides away toward her desk which is tucked into the opposite corner of the spacious office. Two oversized ceramic mugs of coffee are still steaming away merrily, but are likely to be just the right temperature at this point. "I invited you for coffee and nearly forgot to give it to you. Do you take yours with anything?" The cups clink as she bends at the waist and sets them carefully on the table to avoid spilling.

"There's something about a book over a datapad, the smell of the paper, the turning of the page that can't be replicated, and I'm glad it isn't. Six, Jane, this book even smells like a good book should." Garus replies as she slips away, his eyes lowering to her hips as she saunters over to her desk. He lifts his eyes just in time to avoid being caught when she turns around, but the second glance when she bends over to set the drinks down is out of time, out of place. He'll be caught for sure.

Saluting her with the book, he brushes his hands over the top of the cover, feeling the sensation of leather beneath his fingertips before he leans out to set the book down in a far off corner of the coffee table where it will be safe. "Sugar, with just a little cream, please. Not too light. The bitter keeps me honest." He straightens, rubbing his hands together softly to prepare them for the hot mug. "So do you spend a great deal of time in this office? Like my overlook at the Roar, is this where you go for peace and quiet, or is that somewhere else?"

"Mm, I agree. There's nothing quite like a good book, even if I did grow up with a datapad tucked beneath my pillow every night," Jane murmurs in reply, glancing up to Garus as she straightens and offering him a smile. The smile flickers for a moment, and her cheeks flush to a degree that is bordering on ridiculous. Oh, yes, he has been caught, but she is too polite to say anything. Instead, she raises her cool fingers to her cheeks to bring down the blush. With his specifications for his coffee, she turns away to return to her desk, thankful for the brief respite from his unnerving gaze.

In a matter of seconds she returns to take her seat, leaning forward on the couch to pour the sugar and cream into his coffee as requested. The sound of the spoon scraping along the ceramic is comforting, quieting, and by the time she lifts his mug to hold it out to him, she has regained some degree of composure. There is that knowing glint within her eyes, however, that Jane cannot hide. "In here? No. Well, I work here. It is not exactly a peaceful place. No, that is somewhere else entirely. I — I would have invited you there, but I didn't want you to be…overwhelmed." Pause. "Paparazzi, I mean. Tabloids. I don't want, well, I just figured you wouldn't have appreciated the — publicity."

Reaching out for the mug with both hands, Garus cradles it carefully and brings it to the center of his chest where the wafting aroma of the coffee can reach his nose. His brows lower and his nose wrinkles ever-so-slightly as she explains to him, and he's overcome by a look of absolute curiosity. "Overwhelmed?" His lips part and form into a playful snarl that matches the tone of the short, quiet laugh that he gives. "Perhaps you're right. At least I have the benefit of being able to throw a spear at Hostiles, but crowds, paparazzi, they're more your enemy than mine, I'd need your guidance to get through them. Imagine that, Jane, protecting a knight in unfamiliar territory." He winks as he bows his head to sit at the very edge of the mocha-colored coffee, testing the temperature with just enough of a sip to gather the flavor. A low, pleased hrmm sounds from the center of his chest. Apparently it's very good.

"But I'm curious now, you can't dangle that carrot in front of me and leave me to hang, Jane. Paparazzi and tabloids? What sort of place is this?" He asks, pausing for an actual, honest sip of the coffee. "Perhaps another night?"

Jane's slender, white fingers encircle her mug, and she sighs quietly as the warmth from the ceramic seeps into her chilled hands. The temperature in the office is just a degree or two too cool for her — or perhaps it's the gown she is wearing. Let it not be said that the price for high fashion is only money. She leans back to allow the plush cushion of the couch embrace her while holding her mug up to her lips for a delicate sip. She winces faintly, finding the liquid still too hot for her liking.

Reddened lips curve upward into an amused, nearly sultry smile as Jane gazes across the table at Garus from beneath a fringe of dark lashes. "Indeed, there will come a time when it is my turn to play the big, strong protector. I hope you're man enough to take it in stride." Challenge issued. Her smile widens by degrees as he probes less-than-subtly after the identity of her retreat, and her responding laugh is low and deep. "Iiiii think I know where you are going with that, Sir Garus, and I will stop there by saying certainly not. I have an apartment in a gated complex, and it offers such amenities as a gym, pool, and sauna. The sauna is where I find the greatest degree of peace and relaxation. Nobody is talking to me, nobody is pestering me, no gadgets, no noise, nothing. The tabloids would eat. that. up."

"Oh, so I was going there with it, was I?" Garus fires back, officially throwing his hat into the open flirtation ring. His light, blue eyes watch her from over the rim of his mug as the lightened line of scar the lines the side of his neck twitches to match the kick to his pulse. The man doesn't blush often, though he has his tells. "For some reason I was picturing a dance club or some place open, where those vultures with cameras line up outside on vehicles waiting to chase people like us away with a flurry of flashes that would send my guards seething. Your apartment, though, I didn't expect that to be the place, no."

"But I'm man enough to take anything in stride," Garus continues, his eyes dancing through the haze of her lashes as he turns the mug slightly beneath his fingers. Once again, he sips, but this time he continues to watch her as he drinks, maintaining precious seconds of eye contact. "So Jane Wyre, going dark and no longer being seen among the public at night, perhaps entertaining a guest at gym, pool, sauna, or apartment would draw the attention, wondering just who this guest would be?" Something shifts in the man, something almost…predatory as if trying to nudge a reaction out of her. It's the only way to increase the stakes. "And how would you have felt about that publicity?"

"Yes, you were most definitely going there. Don't play coy with me, Sir Garus; you will find yourself outmatched." Jane flutters her lashes on purpose before testing her coffee again; her repsonse is delayed as she savors the warm, bitter brew. She takes hers absolutely plain. "I can do the dance club thing any night of the week, and I have - plenty of times. It's just not…it's not my thing? No, it's my thing in that I enjoy it. It's pretty freeing, pretty frenzied, pretty drug-fueled. I can let go and get completely wild and have a good time, and I don't mind that from time to time. It's not exactly where I go to unwind and recharge, though."

Jane pauses, wrinkling her nose at Garus' description of the paparazzi. "Sure, that's how they operate in the public, but do you really think they'd use that exact same strategy while stalking me around my home? No, not at all. They get sneaky as thieves when they're following celebrities in places far less public. And yes, it would draw their attention. And I — well, I'm…" She trails off, momentarily at a loss for words as she considers whether to answer honestly or fib a little. She opts for misdirection. "I would feel awful for burdening you with that."

"I was most definitely not going there," Garus challenges with a laugh into the mug, sending ripples running over the surface of the coffee. "Jane I am a knight, a trained tourney competitor, I will play coy with you and the frustration of it might surprise you. I'm better at this than I let on." With half of the coffee gone, he wraps his fingers around the sides of the mug to warm them, and then leans out to set it down on the coffee table.

As he sits back, he nestles into the corner of his sofa where the seat can bite into him and envelop his body. The sleeve of his shirt rolls back just a little as he slides his elbow over the arm of the couch, revealing a hint of a tattoo, a small cloud of black ink over his skin. His fingertips rub softly over his goatee, considering her answer as his eyes dart over her face, gathering her body language. "How sure are you that they would notice?" By gods, he's considering it.

"Were too." Jane sticks out her lower lip for a moment before offering Garus a sly grin. She allows him to recite his qualifications at besting her at her own game, and after he is finished she decides to let it go. Perhaps her goal is to lull him into complacency. With her knees pressed together, she sort of sways from side to side, silent as she merely grins at Garus. Her gaze follows his every moment, and one eybrow twitches as she almost sees — a tattoo? Hmm, later.

"How sure am I?" The question is a surprising one, and Jane narrows her eyes for a moment before looking away to seriously consider the answer. "Weeeeell…not one hundred percent sure that we couldn't sneak our way around. I mean, it is gated, but of course sometimes they find their way in. And you know, it's been a while since the last 'vid premiere so a lot of the Jane Wyre Fervor has died down. In theory, it's possible if you considered a bit of a disguise, you could come and go without trouble."

With the talk of conspiracy floating to the surface, Garus absent-mindedly brushes a hand over the middle of his chest. Fingertip dipping in between two buttons to rub softly at the muscles beneath, his teeth bite down softly in the inside of his lip as he considers. Conspiracy or no conspiracy. At the very least he's entertaining the idea with a set of lowered eyebrows to mark his deep-in-thought state. "I think," He starts, his face returning to normal as he watches the way her chin juts to the side, looking away from him. "I think that if you would like to invite me to your home, just like I invited you to mine, that a woman such as yourself should have no issues entertaining a guest even if he is a noble. If you were to invite me, Jane? I would accept."

Movement on the periphery draws Jane's attention back to Garus, and she studies him in silence while he considers her words. A faint smile tugs at the corners of her lips, as always seems to happen when she spends too long looking directly at him. When he begins to speak, she arches an eyebrow upward slowly, but the lofty expression dissipates in a mere second to be replaced by something softer but altogether unreadable. Jane lowers her gaze to the floor, and her eyelashes brush her cheeks in a brief but rapid flutter of barely restrained emotion. "Well in that case," she responds slowly, attempting an extremely casual tone while staring down into her coffee, "perhaps you would like to come over for dinner some time. See what life is like outside of a castle."

Jane spares a glance upward to Garus' face before it skitters sideways to take in a blank spot on the wall to her right.

Now more than ever, Garus Leonnida appears every bit the lion standard that waves from their flags and is emblazoned on the armor he's been pictured with at the front lines. While she fidgets, he remains stoic and resolute from years of lordly being possibly beaten into him at the hands of his family. He graciously avoids staring, his own eyes lowering to her cheeks as his head dips into an affirmative nod, though it's something she cannot see. She's looked away.

"I'd like that." Garus says, his wolfish accent curling just a little over the word that, the soft smile forming at the corner of his mouth coming through in his voice. "I haven't scheduled anything for a few days, Hostile permitting, and I've got this massage in the morning." He leans forward, his shirt falling back down over the hint of his tattoo as he rests his elbows on his knees. "Could I bring the book? We could read A Woman Lost, perhaps."

Does he mean tonight? Jane glances up to meet Garus' gaze, and for once hers does not dance away like a nervous doe caught in lamplight. "I would like that too, very much," she answers rather boldly, leaning forward to mimic his posture as she places her coffee cup carefully upon the table with the faintest of clinks. Her fingers drift away, running over the cover of the book sitting nearby, the tips tracing the faint indentations of the title pressed into the leather. "I would have asked you to bring it had you not been so kind to volunteer," she replies with a light laugh, and her eyebrows arch upward at his choice of play.

"I understand your schedule is a busy one, my lord. Whatever time would suit you the best to pay your visit, I would be happy to receive you. 'There is no woman's sides.'" The quote is left unfinished, but Jane smiles in amusement as the rest of the passage plays out in her head. "When?"

When. When is the question, isn't it? As if to answer her with his eyes, he looks down to the unopened bottle of wine sitting not far from the book. Thoughtful, his blue eyes lift back to hers and he rises to his feet with an offered hand to her. "My appointment is at ten on the dial tomorrow morning, and it was suggested to me by your preferred masseuse that I get a good night's sleep. It's not too late though, if you'd prefer tonight." His head cants to the side as he looks down to her. "If you'd like a day, though, to prepare, put the place together if it needs to be, I don't want to rush you. If not tonight, Jane, tomorrow?"

There is a certain degree of thought that must be put into the next answer. One must consider how it would look — oh, piss on it. "Tonight is fine," Jane replies with a warm smile, crossing her legs at the knee beneath the silky layers of her skirt and resting her elbows atop them. "It isn't a bother, nor is it a rush. I think you might be pleasantly surprised to find that I am very tidy, so the place is already 'put together,' as you put it." The wry amusement behind her expression is cranked up another degree, and beneath her skirts her dangling foot begins to sway slowly from side to side. "How does six sound?"

"Six it is, then." Garus replies, stealing his hand back as she opts to not rise with a certain grace to the movement. His hand slides to the half-fallen rolled sleeve of the black shirt that he wears. His fingers turn against the fabric as it is rolled back into place where it tucks in against his muscular forearm. He shifts his weight to the other hip and leans back for his swordbelt, wrapping it around his hips as he returns her warm smile. "And again, Jane, the book is brilliant. I forgot to check if you'd written anything inside, some sort of forward, perhaps some sort of thought to convey when I'm reminded of today." He reaches out for the book and opens it to the inside cover, finding nothing tucked inside. With a glance back to her, he waves the book gently. "Perhaps before dinner is over, if just a letter, would you please?"

Right now, there is nothing more that Jane would like to do than reach up to take Garus' hand, but she is stuck on the couch. Really, it would be the worst idea in the world, and she would lose her cool, lose that carefully maintained facade of casual interest. Her lips part as if she is ready to say something, but instead her tongue flicks out to wet them - a nervous gesture. After a second of awkward silence, she rises up hastily from the sofa, clasping her hands together and watching with widened eyes as he opens up the book to check the front cover.

For a moment, Jane hovers between the desire to laugh and to burst into tears; finally she settles on a cheshire grin and a demure, downward turn of her gaze. "Perhaps, Sir Garus. Perhaps before the night is over I will inscribe a message for you since you ask so nicely."

Sliding the book into the crook of his arm, Garus' looks down to the rather evil, demure smile on Jane's face. His own lips part in a wide, Leonnidan grin as he lifts his jaw to break his gaze from her. That soft laugh, the one that escapes from his lips in a soft, breathy rasp might dare to sound a little nervous. Looking away, he bites his lip then composes himself and finds her eyes. The smile slowly simmers, and then without another word he slips away from her, heading across the floor to her door. With one look back, he slips through and closes the door behind him. He may be no actor, but the art of leaving the stage isn't lost on him.

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