Their lips barely touched when Katherine pulled back again. Though she wanted to kiss, she wanted to win even more, and that meant that she had to play it slow, to tempt him. Her love-advisor Annie had told her once that tempting was done by not relieving the frustration.
Brushing her lips against his, she looked deeply into his eyes, and saw Nathaniel's confusion. He must be thinking why I don't use the opportunity, she mused, and a grin tugged on the corners of her mouth.
The glimmer of her magic was faint on her hands and face when she lifted them again. Another soft kiss and her fingers fluttered over his arms to his shoulders, resting lightly on his collar. The ticking of the watch spurred her on and let her tremble with anxiety simultaneously. Just a little more teasing, then she would give him more. She couldn't mess this up.
Her nails ran over the bare skin of his neck and up into his hair, earning her a low groan, before he bent down to get more of her.
This time, his lips were hot and hungry, sucking and challenging her to a real kiss. For a second, she got swept away and moaned into his mouth. This was so good, letting thousands of butterflies flutter in her stomach. Her method was working! His tongue slid against hers and into the wetness beyond, trying to plunder. But she held against it with her own, engaging him into an exciting battle. Yet, when she tiptoed to meet him even stronger, she noticed with a start that his hands were still behind his back.
Panting, she pulled away and met his gaze. Though he looked disheveled and heated, there was a devilishly handsome smirk on his face.
"Little vixen", he whispered, his eyes under hooded lids smoldering, but with an amusement inside that was a little wicked. "I saw through your game. But please, I won't stop you from continuing. It is very entertaining."
In his hair, Katherine's hands fisted. Then she laughed it off lightly and pulled his head down to hers. Her supple lips pressed sideways against his cheek, she whispered a secret into his ear. "You want to sound mighty to make me give up early, my love. But I can feel you tremble under my breath. Even when you speak, all you look at are my lips as if they were a delicious steak you want to bite and salvor in so badly. But since you only find them 'entertaining' as you said, I won't give them to you again. If you want them, you have to take them yourself."
The dissatisfied grumble that confirmed her assumption made her heart flutter with elation. Not giving him time to disengage, she caught his ear loop with her teeth and sucked on it.
He hissed, his body turning stiff for a second. "That's not part of the bet. Your lips should be-"
"On yours? But you don't seem to need them. You even want to wait for eternity before we have sex. Waiting for a kiss a bit should be easy, right?", Katherine teased, leaving a trail of pecks down his neck. The ticking sound got more unnerving every time it rang in the air, though she knew there must still be time.
"You are one feisty woman." Behind his back, Nathaniel's fists were balled, but he gave his best to seem unaffected. Though all of Katherine's words were true, he still believed he was doing the right thing. Or had believed so, until her touches started messing with his head. Slowly, right and wrong seemed to get less important before his overpowering desire.
"Look at me, darling", Katherine murmured, and he couldn't do anything but look into the violet wells of stars that were her eyes. The blood was pumping in his veins in a fast, tantalizing rhythm, urging him forward. Under her tempting caresses, his hands untangled unknowingly, driven by the sheer allure of this woman and the tender feelings that shone brightly in her eyes.
"I love you", she whispered, and as if the lock on a cage was smashed, his hands flew to her slender back and into her hair, pressing her against him. With a desperate groan, he met her lips in a kiss.
Just then, a sharp knocking sound interrupted them. Katherine stilled, but Nathaniel was so out of his mind that he only tilted her head to the side and kissed her again, longing to feel her deeper. Under his hunger, Katherine was about to give in when the door swung wide open.
"Nathan!" On the threshold stood the youngest Prince with alarm in his sea blue eyes. He didn't even notice what he was interrupting, despite Nathaniel's eyes glaring daggers at him when he broke the kiss. "The little weasel escaped! We need to leave now, before bro and sis send soldiers over!"
Without even properly glancing at the couple, Aston ran away, obviously to alert his father and everyone else. He left the door wide open, robbing the couple of any prior privacy. Frozen in action, Katherine and Nathaniel stared after him. Finally, Katherine blinked in confusion. "Who is this weasel?"
Sighing heavily, Nathaniel let go of her and stepped back. "You remember the king saying that he knew about your invitation to your cousin's wedding? Aston recently caught the little messenger who send you these news. Looks like he escaped now and might divulge our hideout."
Slowly, Katherine's eyes went wide. "The little messenger? You mean Frey? He was here?"
"If that's his name, then yes. He is about thirteen years old with black hair and amber eyes, and nearly managed to sneak into your chambers through the window. Though he's a sly fellow, the guards were good to him, as he's still a kid. Maybe too good, seeing that he escaped. Anyway, we should hurry. When the soldiers reach here, it would be best to be as far away as possible."
While talking, Nathaniel already picked up his pocket watch, but Katherine's hand on his stilled him. With a serious gaze, she turned his palm to look at the watch. The minute was not completely over, the second hand seemingly stuck in repeating the motion from fifty-eight to fifty-nine over and over again.
Nathaniel sighed. "Even time bows before your hard head."
"That means I win, does it not?", Katherine asked with a cheeky grin.
Grasping her hand in his, Nathaniel placed it on his chest, over his heart. As if she could feel the rapid thumping inside, she looked up in surprise. "You got me real good, my wife. I concede."
Her wide happy smile was enough to bring him over his loss of pride. "Even though we don't know if the time was up already?"
Nathaniel tilted his head in a mocking manner. "Since when do you care about fairness? Your confession was clearly below the belt."
"But not in terms of rules! Well, maybe it was still a bit unfair... but I regret nothing!" Her fierceness as she crossed her arms in front of her chest made him chuckle. Gently, he tugged a lock of hair behind her ear.
When she heard no rebuke, her stance relaxed, and she asked: "So, does that mean we will test the magic before we break up tents?"
Nathaniel thought for a while, and slowly nodded. "It would be good to clean this place thoroughly once everyone is out anyway. Then you can see what it truly is you are fighting against. And we will see if your magic can protect you - even without your active command. That is what you want, right?"
She nodded, then sighed. "It would've been ideal to have time afterwards. But I guess that will have to wait until we find a new save haven after all."
There was a bout of silence between them, then she straightened her spine. "Now then, I better pack up my new dresses. It would be a shame to leave them behind."
With a fast peck on his cheek, Katherine hurried out of the room. As short as this contact might have been, it was enough to flush both their faces and keep them longing for more, even in the danger that was coming at them.