Hooray, it’s Aria! I need to change the title of these; this is gonna be a bit more than a “vignette”. Oh well. There’s…a bit of a gross part in here, I’m just telling you now. It’s nothing bad, which is to say, no violence or anything especially disturbing is involved. It’s just gross. Enjoy! lol

Sedave was, as I’d known he would be, true to his word. He made arrangements with a friend in the Guild, an older man who went by the moniker Eagle Eye Joe. I’d known him in passing, enough to know that to call him a sharp shooter was like calling Akatosh a timepiece. I wondered often if he was just a hunter, a sportsman in general, or if he was some form of assassin. Of course, I never found out for sure. Joe preferred speculation, as do most wise people whose professions involve crime.

Joe had taken Sedave under his wing (so to speak), and so it wasn’t too much trouble for him to be convinced to keep eyes on the ground for Felix and to trail him back to whatever hole he called home. It took a long time, though. Weeks.

“He’s never coming back,” I moaned, resting my chin in my hands.

“He will, Speck, you’ll see,” Sedave answered, putting an arm around me and pulling me close. “Got some news for ya, though.”

“Oh?”

“Guild Master, Gwynne, she wantsta see ya.”

“Why?”

“She’s been wafflin’ a bit for a while, wonderin’ if you’re Guild material. I managed to put in a good word, let her know you’re up to the task.”

“I never thought of joining before,” I said.

“She always had you chalked up to, well, a goody-two-shoes. I mean, there’s stealin’ to survive, and then there’s stealin’.”

I didn’t really know how to feel. It didn’t interest me on a fundamental level. I enjoyed the camaraderie of the other ruffians, but without Jana around, I was getting quite used to being my own thief, beholden to myself alone. Subjecting myself to a lot of rules, and only getting to keep a fraction of what I stole wasn’t very appealing. On the other hand, fraction or no, it seemed to pay a lot more than what I was scrounging. Sedave had only been an initiate for a few months and already he was dressed much better than he ever had been, and he was eating regularly, enough to share with me, even (although I did feel pretty bad for it).

“I could do worse, I guess.”

“I fink you’d go far. Ain’t once you ever got pinched by the guard, and ain’t no one quieter’n you are.”

I smiled and blushed at the praise.

” ‘Sides, maybe she’d let us team up togevver sometime. Fink we could do some proper damage, you and me.”

That was the most persuasive argument I’d heard yet. I grinned and turned to kiss him hard on the lips.

“You’ll meet her, then?” he grinned.

“Yeah, I guess so.”

Sedave chuckled. “I love ya, Speck, ya know?”

“I love you back,” I smiled. “I’m not exactly wearing my best, though.”

“We’re not operating out of the High Road, love. You’ll be fine.”

I offered a smile and let him lead me into the well-to-do house which housed the Thieves Guild headquarters in the basement. It took some doing on his part, but I had been allowed to sleep with him there on occasion, due mainly to my reputation for openly disliking the guard and for understanding the importance of keeping one’s mouth shut.

It wasn’t the basement he led me to, however. This time, he took me up the stairs and to an ornate wooden door.

“Are you sure I can go in here dressed like this?” I asked nervously.

“C’mon Speck, when’ve I led ya wrong?” Sedave laughed. “What d’ya think I was wearin’ when I was invited, eh?”

“Fair enough,” I ceded.

He knocked lightly on the wood with his knuckles, and after a moment, a muffled, “Come in,” answered.

We entered into an elegant room with luxurious fittings and furniture. I felt my throat close. At a small writing desk sat a Breton woman with severely short blonde hair that had clearly been cut off with a blade. As she rose, I saw the familiar scar that disfigured her left cheek. That was Gwynne, and she terrified me.

“Good to see you, Sedave,” she said. “Aria.”

I nodded and swallowed, somehow finding enough voice to squeak: “Hello, Guild Master.”

“It occurred to me not too long ago that you’re one of our resident thieves. One who’s renowned, though Sedave says you’ve yet to turn sixteen, which is a shade young. But, being also that you’ve been using our quarters to not-so-secretly give your boyfriend there hand jobs-” I looked over and saw Sedave actually blushing, “-I thought perhaps it was time we consider you for membership.”

“Th-Thank you,” I said. “I’m sorry about the…the…”

Gwynne waved a hand. “You’re kids. This one might not think so, but he is.”

Sedave chuckled.

“So what do I need to do?” I asked.

“I suppose that means you’re interested? Well, I’m sure you know your reputation around the Waterfront. Allegedly you are one of the quickest, quietest thieves there are, but reputations tend to get embellished, don’t they? You’ve never broken into a house, have you?”

I shook my head.

“Never reclaimed a confiscated item from a guard?”

“I never had anything confiscated.”

Gwynne chuckled. “I told Sedave you were much too soft, but he disagrees. Would you be averse to either of those things?”

“Well, no,” I answered. “I mean, I never had cause to break into someone’s house before, so I never did.”

“This is what I mean. A thief is an opportunist! It’s nighttime, you see something pretty in a shop window, you break in, and you take it! You don’t need a cause.”

I felt my cheeks burn, and thankfully Sedave’s arm was around my shoulders.

“So, Miss Aria, what I would have you do to prove your mettle is to go on a spree.”

“A spree?”

“Gwynne, you can’t be serious,” Sedave interjected. “She ain’t done anyfing like that before.”

“I can be and I am. Aria, bring me…well, I won’t give you a value; what would you know of it…bring me five objects stolen from the Red Diamond within the week. Do this, and you’re in.”

“The Red Diamond?” I repeated again. “But they’ve got dogs!”

“Being a thief isn’t always about taking something and running,” Gwynne said. “This will test your cunning just as much as it will your silence. I know this seems like a lot, but I want to see you earn your reputation. Prove Sedave right.”

 “By the Eight ‘n Free,” Sedave breathed as we stepped out into the cool sea breeze.

“Does she hate me?” I asked quickly. My stomach was turning itself in knots. “She does and she just wants me in jail!”

“Look, Speck, Gwynne don’t put people in jail, right? Especially none of the poor. I mean, it’s not like I’ve known her for all that long, but I know her well enough to know that. I also know she doesn’t do fings just for fun. Maybe she really does see somefin’ in ya?”

“Well…what did you have to do?”

Sedave scuffed the sole of his boot against the ground and looked away sheepishly. “I ‘ad to nick a book from some rich fella.”

“A book?”

“Well it was important. A first edition somefin’-or-ovver. Gwynne called it a ‘folio’ or somefin’ like that. Not really a book, I guess. But yeah, it…it wasn’t stealing from a jewelry shop.”

I moaned and fell down to the ground, propping an elbow on my knee and holding my head. “What if I don’t want to?”

“Ain’t nobody makin’ ya,” Sedave said soothingly, sitting beside me and rubbing my back. “But ya know I fink you should try.”

“Why?”

He turned my head to face him and leaned his forehead down against mine. “Because I know you can do it, Aria, and I know you want more.”

I hadn’t really thought about it. It’s not like I came from wealth or particularly wanted for it, but I did often look wistfully into shop windows at dresses and, well, jewelry. I did also want to be able to provide for myself in the way Sedave wanted to…

“But why do it to these people?” I asked.

“You fink stealing a diamond necklace from ‘im’s gonna send ‘im down here to live wiv us? That’s why we take from the rich, Speck! That’s why when a client comes callin’ for us to nick somefin’ from the poor or to set some sort of misfortune on ’em, we tell ’em to go rot. Cases like this, we’re just forcin’ the rich few to share’s all.”

I gazed into those scarlet eyes and grinned as a giddy laugh escaped my lips. “So you think I could, huh?”

“Accourse I do, love! You’ll find a way. You’ll find a way, and soon enough it’ll be you and me, partners in crime.”

“You’ll still love me if I can’t do it?” I asked a bit uneasily.

“I’d love you if you didn’t do it at all, Speck. You know that.”

I threw my arms around him and kissed his lips. I knew right then and there what my calling was – one of them, anyway. I’d show them what this little Speck could do!

Unfortunately, as it tends to do, my enthusiasm overpowered any sense of realism.

The next day, Sedave brought me to a room in the Headquarters full of safes and false doors and padlocks. Only one other person was in there, an older woman I knew who’d often share desserts with Jana and me. She was busy on a rather monstrous looking lock and paid us no mind when we walked in.

“Right, so before you do anyfing, you need to learn how to pick a lock or two. Here ya go. Got this for ya just this morning.”

Sedave handed me a flat leather case that folded in on itself and was shut with a brass clasp. I opened it, knowing what it was, but completely unprepared for what I saw. A wide array of metal tools met my eye. The first two were basically the same, just upside-down L’s in different sizes. But the others, long, thin sticks of metal all in bundles, were differently shaped at their ends.

“I’ll need all of these?” I asked.

“Well, you’ll likely need ’em at some point,” Sedave answered. “Probably not this week, though. See, these is all for different types of locks, but this one here (he pointed to the stick with the hook on the end) is the one you’re likely to use most.”

I followed him over to one of the false doors. The key to its lock hung by a chain so that it could always be reset. Sedave leaned down over me from behind and pointed again to the hooked pick.

“Now this one is for your pin locks,” he said. “Most common lock you’ll see, and, incidentally, the easiest.”

“Pin locks?”

“Obviously all keys has different heads. In a pin lock, see, you’ve got these, well, pins what stick up from the bottom of the lock, and they’s on springs, so they move up and down.”

“Oh!” I said, as my mind suddenly made the connection. “When the key goes in, the shape of the head pushes the pins down, and only the pins which match will open the lock.”

“There ya go! See, I told ya it wasn’t so hard.”

I smiled as he kissed my cheek.

“Right, so this pick here: that hook on the end is what you call your ‘feeler’. You feel around for the pins, right? When you find one, you press it down, and you move on to the next, and the next.”

“They’ll all need different positions, though, and won’t I need to hold them in place?”

“That’s why we’ve got these little buggers,” he answered, slipping one of the L-shaped tools from its holder. “This here is a wrench. You’ll always need one for pins. And what you do wivvit, is you put pressure on the plug, and that keeps your pins in place. Once you’ve done all that, it’s also what you use to try your handiwork and turn the plug, hopefully opening whatever it is you’re after.”

I nodded. “So how do I do it?”

“Like this,” he said. He took the wrench and the pick, and before I could blink, the lock was open.

“You ass,” I laughed, giving him a shove.

He grinned. “Well, I mean, Joe says I’m gifted. Fought I’d show off a bit…but to be fair I have done this lock enough to pick it in my sleep. Here, I’ll show you proper.”

I watched as he slowly demonstrated the process and explained what he was doing. It looked, well, not easy, but less intimidating than I’d thought. Once again, he’d opened the lock, and once again, he locked it back. When he’d presented the tools to me, though, I noticed my hands were shaking as I took them.

“Ah, love, don’t be nervous. I’ll help you.”

He got behind me and put his hands over mine and began guiding me through the process.

“You feel that, there, what you’re pressin’ down on?” he asked, referring to my left hand and the wrench.

I nodded.

“That’s your plug. That’s what the bottom of the key presses down on. Now we put the pick in, and what do we do?”

“We…we use the feeler to find the pins.”

“Right you are,” he said, guiding my right hand as lightly as he could. “Now feel around, yeah? Tell me when you fink you’ve found one.”

I swallowed, trying to keep my nerves at bay, moving the pick slowly back from the end of the lock, wiggling it a bit until I felt the tiniest hiccup in the movement.

“There!” I said triumphantly.

“Fink it’s the right one?”

For some reason I was expecting him to simply show me how this lock opened.  “I-I don’t know.”

“Alright, so you press down with your feeler. Gentle like.”

“How will I know when to stop?”

“You’ll know.”

I took a deep breath and pressed down. I didn’t know how he expected me to be gentle; there was far more resistance than I thought there would be. Still, I pressed as gingerly as I could, feeling the spring press back until I felt it begin to shudder, the result of absorbing more weight than its center could handle, and I pulled the feeler away.

“There ya go, Speck! Told ya you’d know.”

“What do you mean?”

“You pull it away too soon, you’ll hear the spring reset. But you got this one right on the money.”

“Oh,” I smiled, suddenly very pleased with myself.

The rest of the afternoon wasn’t quite so encouraging, however. I stayed at that lock for hours, breaking picks over and over, only to successfully open it three times. But my teacher was patient, and every time I fell to the floor, trying to keep tears of frustration from escaping, he was there to pick me back up and get me going again.

Three times in four hours wasn’t a good enough ratio, though. The guard patrolled the high street relentlessly at night, and if I couldn’t get that lock open in a matter of seconds, I’d be thrown in jail faster than Sedave picked that lock himself. I had to find Gwynne.

Luckily she was in the basement with a few of the other Guild members.

“Guild Master?” I asked timidly.

“Little Miss Aria,” she smiled (I always got the impression she liked being taller than an Imperial, even if it wasn’t by much), “what can I do for you?”

“Well, Sedave’s been teaching me lockpicking, you know, for my test, but it hasn’t been going very well. I know it’s one thing when I’m in the practice room with a member, so I wanted to ask if you would let me practice in there tonight? I don’t want Sedave to lose sleep on account of me.”

“Proactiveness! I like it.”

I felt my cheeks warm, and I looked down a bit as I smiled uncomfortably.

“Bashfulness, however, is for women who keep pregnant and barefoot.”

My head snapped up, though my hands remained clasped tightly in front of my hips.

Gwynne smirked. “There’s hope for you yet, Aria. Just remember there’s nothing keeping you from being as confident in yourself as the most masculine man you can think of. Just don’t let it turn to arrogance.”

“Yes, ma’am,” I answered quickly.

“As for the practice room, you may use it tonight for as long as you need, and I’ll be sure the others know you’re allowed.”

“Thank you, ma’am,” I said, smiling  and bowing slightly, much to the Guild Master’s amusement.

“Just go practice, Miss Aria. I want you at your best.”

And practice I did. Sedave stayed with me in spite of my telling him to get some sleep, and when he began to nod off on his feet, he simply sat down and leaned against the wall to sleep. For a short while, I snuggled against him and let him hold me, but I was right back to practicing as soon as I knew he was properly asleep.

I worked hard and against my own exhaustion, but I was making progress. My average success rate was rising and my time lowering, and I even moved on to another door whose lock looked like the same kind and began working on it, too. By dawn I wasn’t doing too well and began kicking myself for it, but after some sleep and a talk with Sedave, I chalked it up to my mind being simply tired and overworked. When I returned, fresh, I found that, indeed, I hadn’t suddenly forgotten the process.

There were two more days wherein I could practice and meet Gwynne’s deadline, and so, deciding that a few good turns didn’t make me the Grey Fox, I set about the rest of my plans, always coming back to those locks, and always with as many picks as I could afford. my coffers aided by an unusually aggressive pickpocketing campaign. Sedave offered to buy me what he could, but I told him this was my test, and I would make it work.

Even so, he was there with me through every step of planning, coming with me to casually stake out the place, discussing with me plans to handle the dogs. Sedave told me that most of the time, shopkeepers and the like kept guard dogs under the reasonable assumption that any surprise night visitors wouldn’t know about them and be blindsided. They didn’t take into consideration that even people apart from the guild down by the docks knew their methods. Even so, knowledge didn’t always guarantee success.

Finally, though, I thought I had it.

I found some black clothes, and Sedave found a hood to hide my white-blonde hair. Under cover of night, he went with me as far as the commercial district, we lowered our face guards to kiss once, and he left. My first stop was the alchemist’s. The one thing one learns as a thief – a “real” one, or one who simply does what they must – are all the ins and outs of the streets and the schedules of the merchants and residents.

The alchemist was no different than any other resident; she was comfortably in bed when I came calling. What you don’t learn as someone simply looking for crumbs as I always had, was how lightly or how deeply a person sleeps, but that was simply part of the game. I lurked in the shadows of the alleyway, watching, patiently waiting to see a patrolman. It seems counterintuitive in that one would think to take the first chance available, but the truth of the matter is that if the street’s been empty for a while, someone’s due poking their nose around.

And there he was, strolling along, looking this way and that, ears undoubtedly tuned to this particular silence over any other. I shrank back only a little, barely breathing as I watched him pass and shifting to watch until he’d disappeared. By the time he’d turned a corner far down near the residential district, my wrench and pick were out, and I slipped around to the porch, maddeningly lit by a lamp. I didn’t blow it out, though. Sedave taught me that the most suspicious things one can do is put out a light that’s normally lit, and he’s right.  One just has to be quick, and this time, my first time with an actual lock stuck in an actual door I needed to open, I prayed to any entity that would hear me to steady my hands.

It took longer than I had hoped, but I was in quickly enough, shutting the door behind me as quietly as I could. I’d never been in here. The general practice of shopkeepers who could tell a street urchin – often children in general – was to chase them away. So, when I found myself surrounded by shelves of bottles and drawers of ingredients, I was a bit overwhelmed. Stepping as lightly as I could though, I made my way behind the counter where most of the bottles were.

Some of the bottles were simply on display. Others had tags earmarking them for specific customers. I squinted my eyes in the dim light offered by the streetlamp outside, looking for the right one. My heart was racing, and when I heard the owner upstairs shift in her bed, I had to keep my frightened squeak to myself. Eventually I found one of the things I was after. Two of them, in fact: invisibility potions. Each one cost eighty septims – the most valuable things I’d ever been in possession of up until that point. I grabbed them both and shoved them into my satchel, cringing as the glass clinked.

The other thing I had to search a bit harder for. All the ingredients were in various drawers scattered about the sales floor. Small burlap sacks were hung on pegs for patrons to fill for easy weighing and purchase. Finally I found what had to be it. A lone jar sat apart from the other containers with a label that read:

STINKHORN CAP
HANDLE WITH CARE. RECOMPENSE FOR DAMAGE AND DECONTAMINATION WILL BE PURSUED WITH PREJUDICE.

It made sense, the dramatics. I was well familiar with the fungus thanks to my travels with Daddy. It’s mostly benign when it’s left well enough alone, but it can be used to brew some nasty poisons and, perhaps even worse, emits an awful stench when the outer membrane is damaged by even simply rubbing. It smells like, if you’ll pardon the crudeness, like a skunk fucked a pile of rotting meat. There’s no other way to describe it. It made me retch just thinking about it, let alone what I was going to have to do with it.

My work here mercifully done, I looked out the window to ensure nobody was around, and stole from the shop much more quickly than I’d entered. I made for the shadows again and leaned hard against the house-cum-shop, catching my breath and trying to still my hands. There was something enjoyable about it, though. Something interesting. But I couldn’t rest on my laurels just yet. The real challenge still lay before me.

The Red Diamond was on the other side of the street, and so I bounded across into the opposite alley, and began my quiet trek to the jewelry shop that sat just a few doors down. Discussions regarding the commonality of dogs often overlooked the obvious: that the problem is they sleep lightly and smell things long gone.

Before I did anything, I once more checked for the patrolman, and once more he passed by, none the wiser for my presence. I waited again for him to disappear, hoping what I was about to do next wouldn’t cause too much attention. Reluctantly I fished out the stinkhorn cap. I hadn’t even brushed it, and the bile was filling my mouth, such to the point I yanked my mask down and turned to vomit. If you’ve ever tried to throw up quietly, you know how I felt just then.

There would have been peppermint oil in the alchemist’s! I suddenly realized. I could have doused my mask with that and mitigated the smell somewhat.

But, as a friend once told me: “If shoulds and coulds were woulds, we’d all be mahogany tables.”

Which I suppose wouldn’t be that pleasant.

So, taking a deep breath, I broke the cap in two and rubbed it onto my clothes. My reasoning was that, if I did manage to escape, all anyone could smell – dogs included – was utter foulness and not much else. Thus, I couldn’t be tracked. It meant I’d have to run naked back to the docks, of course, but these are the prices one must pay to lift jewels.

I swallowed hard against another fit of retching and slipped around to a side door, figuring the dogs would be on the sales floor. It wasn’t until later that Sedave informed me I was “dead lucky” I avoided entry bells. I didn’t even know of such things. In any case, this lock was easier to pick, for whatever reason, and, even more gingerly than before, I opened it and slipped inside, not bothering to close it all the way lest the latch wake someone.

If the smell didn’t.

The door had opened onto a small kitchen, and just beyond that was the sales floor. Carefully I peered around the door frame and was surprised that there were no dogs. Obviously that didn’t mean they didn’t exist, just that I might have an easier time.

I lurked around, noting without too much surprise that everything was inside locked cases, but, oh! They held such beauty! For the first time since all this began, I felt incentive beyond my boyfriend’s presence. I stopped and looked at a ruby and diamond necklace and imagined myself in it, wearing a fine satin-and-velvet dress and gloves up to my elbows. The lock on it was small; I couldn’t fit the wrench into it, but it looked flimsy. Biting my lip against the risk of noise, I stuck my pick inside, and used my fist as a hammer. Luckily, there wasn’t much noise at all, and the lock was broken with no effort at all.

I grabbed the necklace and shoved it into my satchel, wondering what other four things I could find. A diamond ring sat in the main case, and I broke its lock just the same as the other. I couldn’t help slipping it onto my finger, though, even if it would only fit on my thumb. Another necklace, a silver jeweled mirror and then a lovely cloisonne brooch shaped like a dragonfly. I wondered if this was the jeweler’s or if he resold certain things.

I spent too much time in awe. Suddenly I heard a “Grrrruf,” from upstairs, then an outright bark.

“What is it, Brutus…Oh, by the Eight, what is that smell?”

Fuck,” I hissed.

As I heard the creak of a wooden bed frame and the click of excited claws, I looked all over for an out. The stairs led down into the kitchen, so that was out. The front door was still locked. That left the chimney.

The thing about being the one of a pair to scout is that one gets quite good at climbing. I’d never climbed the inside of a chimney, though, and it didn’t seem like a particularly good idea, but what else was there? I sprinted over and looked up. Being a mild night, the flue was open, so that was good, and there was no glow from the upstairs hearth. Good enough.

Just as I heard feet hit the landing, I leapt up into the brick structure and found myself crunched up oddly with my hands on one wall and my feet on the other.

The dog was barking relentlessly now.

“You find him, now, Brutus,” the jeweler said. “You find him, and we’ll get the guard after him. Teach him to try and steal from me…”

I managed somehow to move, and I’m sure it was a sight. First I’d scoot my feet up, and then I’d claw my hands up to be level. It was so painfully slow, and I was trying not to cry on top of my ongoing efforts not to vomit again.

“Up the chimney?” the jeweler asked.

I looked down to see the massive head of a mastiff looking up and barking.

“He won’t get far that way, no sir! Who fits up a chimney?”

I continued scooting upwards as quickly as I could, looking down to see Brutus’ head replaced by a candle and the jeweler’s head. I was luckily far enough by now that the light couldn’t reach me, but, Divines save me, I just couldn’t hold it anymore. I’ll take just about any out I can get, but I’ll retire properly if I should ever be offered one like this again.

That poor man was unexpectedly drenched in the sick of his own burglar. I had to fight the urge to drop down and apologize profusely, but common sense goaded me onward, and as Brutus occupied himself giving his owner a “bath”, I finally was able to make my way to the top of the chimney and thus to the roof.

I wanted to stop and catch my breath very badly, and the effort of heaving had sapped my strength significantly, but I couldn’t stop. As I had done many times, I moved from rooftop to rooftop until I found a properly dark route. As soon as I found an alley far away from the Red Diamond, I tore off my clothes and ran as fast as I could back to the docks where Sedave was waiting for me.

“Wotcher, Speck!” he said. “Not a guard near-cripes what’s that smell?”

I thrust my satchel into his arms and jumped straight from the dock into the sea. Pretty much anything is too deep for me to get anything done, but I had to do what I could. I dove and swam to get my hair wet and wished I’d thought to bring soap.

“Soap!” I called.

“What?”

“Soap, Sedave, do you have any soap? Please say yes.”

“Oh! Yeah, yeah, er…”

“Just take my satchel with you! Hurry, I’m freezing in here!”

I watched him take his long, loping steps towards the Guild Headquarters, wrapping my arms around myself as I kicked to stay afloat. It hit me then what I had just done, and I started to laugh hysterically. It was all one hare-brained scheme, and somehow I made it work. I didn’t even need the invisibility potions (or, to be more honest about it, I’d forgotten about them). This could work. This could get me out of here.

I thought of Jana again suddenly, her wish to “get out of here”, and I hoped she was okay, if not happy. I thought of the differences in our definitions, hers a more literal one, mine simply a desire to stop scraping by.

“Heads up, Speck,” Sedave called, tossing a cake of soap in my direction. I managed somehow to catch it and began furiously scrubbing. “That satchel of yours reeked somefink fierce, so I frew it offshore. Kept your haul in a pillowcase. Very nice, by the way.”

“Think Gwynne’ll let me keep a bit?”

“Prolly not. But bein’ as it’s your first time and all, she tends to be a bit more generous.”

“If she does, I think I’d keep the dragonfly.”

“Why’s that?”

“I dunno,” I answered, swimming to the ramp which led up to the docks proper. “Something about it. I know I couldn’t wear it, not around here, but I noticed it’s got lovely dark accents the color of your skin.”

“C’mere, love,” he said, holding out a towel and wrapping me tightly in its warmth.

“I hope I don’t smell too bad.”

“Nah, I fink you got it all.”

I giggled a bit and kissed his neck.

“I told ya you’d get away wiv it, didn’t I?”

“You did.”

“Did I tell ya I love ya?”

“Well, yes, but you can tell me again,” I grinned.

He laughed quietly. “I love ya, Aria.”

“I love you, Sedave.”

He leaned down to kiss me properly, and, despite our particular location, I cupped his crotch, unsurprised to feel he was already rock-hard. He moaned as I took him out and began stroking, right there on the docks.

“Your cock feels so nice,” I said.

“So does your hand,” he sighed. “You know I fink about us all the time.”

“Oh yeah?”

“You know sometimes when you’re not around I have to sneak away to pull myself off, you get me so hard.”

“Is it as good as the real thing?” I grinned.

“Nuffink’s as good as the real fing,” he said. “I need you, Aria. I wanna feel that little pussy of yours squeeze me.”

“Then take me.”

He picked me up like I was nothing but air and positioned himself just so, lowering me gently onto him. He’d gotten so good at reading me, at feeling me. He knew right then to fuck me slowly, only gradually speeding when he felt my knees squeeze him a bit more tightly. He had me cumming in no time, and I fought against the urge to vocalize my pleasure. Gods, the way he filled me was sublime, the curvature of his member so perfect that it rubbed that one special place inside me over and over.

It wasn’t long before I came again, and this time I felt his rhythm change, felt him press my face against his neck. His usual strained grunt followed, and then I felt him fill me, pressing into me as hard as he could. Throbbing against my contractions, prolonging my own orgasm beautifully.

We pressed our cheeks together as we came down, my legs only lowered when he began to soften a bit. When we moved, our eyes met, and we only laughed a bit before pressing our lips together once more.