Sandor feigned sleep when Sansa finally slid in bed beside him. For a moment he thought he felt her moving closer, but decided he just imagined it when he never felt her hand against him. Then again, it was probably for the best that she didn’t touch him. There were several times that night where he’d been close to taking her, and until he knew for certain that she was going to stick around, he didn’t want anything to happen between them.
It was made all the more difficult by the fact that it seemed like she wanted him, at least physically. The way her eyes had roamed over his body made him hungry for her in a way he hadn’t been for a woman in some time. Then again, he could just be seeing what he wanted to see. Sansa made it quite clear she didn’t like his face, and he couldn’t imagine she’d be interested in just his body.
Rather than dwell on it, he burrowed deeper into the bed to finally get some decent sleep for the first time in a week. Hard as he tried, however, Sandor only slept fitfully until the dawn began to come. At that point, he finally fell into a deep, dreamless sleep. He awoke feeling only partially rested, still in a haze as he became aware of his surroundings.
The first thing he noticed was the waterfall of red hair that was immediately in front of his face. It smelled like something floral, and he found it pleasant. The next thing he noticed was the form his arm was draped around, and how obscenely it was nestled into his pelvis. Somehow between sleeping and waking, he and Sansa had become tangled up. Their bodies were intertwined, with him cradling her in his arms. Much as he enjoyed it, Sandor wasn’t convinced she would find it as pleasant. Especially considering their sudden nearness was exciting him in more ways than one.
He tried to slide away from her, but she sighed and shifted so that her hand was wrapped around his, effectively holding him in place. Now there was no way he could move without waking her and revealing the position they were in. The last thing he wanted was for her to think that he’d manhandle her without her permission.
Sansa stirred again, but as Sandor couldn’t see her face he had no idea if she was waking or not. The only thing that told him she was awake was the sudden way she stiffened up in his arms. Her hand left his, and she began the slow process of extricating herself from the tangle of their limbs. He closed his eyes and pretended to be asleep until Sansa had fully left the bed and the bathroom door shut behind her.
At that, Sandor’s eyes snapped open and he rolled onto his back to stare at the ceiling. Sansa’s reaction told him everything he needed to know about how she felt being close to him. Whatever he’d thought he’d seen the night before must have been in his head after all. Best to keep his hands to himself from now on, nighttime accidents notwithstanding.
The bathroom door opened again, and Sandor sat up on his elbows, Sansa’s eyes locking on his as she rounded the corner. Her mouth popped open, her cheeks pink as she said, “Oh, you’re awake.”
“Good morning to you, too,” Sandor replied, thankful for the blanket that covered him at the waist, “Sleep well last night?”
“Quite well, thank you,” Sansa said, her cheeks flushing further. He noticed she hadn’t changed out of her pajamas, and wondered why until she rejoined him in the bed and said, “The camera crew will be here soon. They want to film us ‘waking up.’”
Sure enough, as soon as the words left her lips there was a knock at the door, followed by the production staff, directors, and camera operators all flooding in. Sandor didn’t like that they had 24 hour access to his room, but he supposed he knew what he’d signed up for. The team quickly went to work, directing them to just act natural while at the same time posing them so that they were snuggled together. The irony appeared to be lost on everyone except he and Sansa.
Unlike this morning, they were instructed to lay so they were facing each other. Her face was just inches from his, and Sandor did his best to keep it that way. He didn’t want her to be anymore uncomfortable than she already was.
Instead, he kept his focus on her eyes as they looked up at him from beneath her lashes. However, even that sent him crashing into a feeling of longing he’d buried some time ago. It seemed there was nothing she couldn’t do that would make him attracted to her.
“Sandor?” she questioned, bringing him back to reality.
“Hmm?” he replied in an attempt to act like he’d been listening.
“I asked how you slept,” Sansa said. Her fingers were tracing circles on his back, which only made it harder to focus on her words.
“Like an angel. Way better than when we were in that god-awful studio. I figured they’d have better than camping cots for us to sleep on,” Sandor told her. He decided two could play it that game, and ran his fingers along the back of her neck, satisfied when the action elicited a shiver from her.
“Yes, this is so much better than before,” Sansa said, adding, “Especially waking up next to you.” With that, the fingers which had been moving in slow circles around his back slid closer to his front, resting on his hip. They played with the waistband of his pajama pants, causing his cock to twitch in response. Just what in the fuck was she playing at?
Unfortunately, she had the unfair advantage of having the blankets to cover her actions. Anything Sandor chose to do would be in full view of the group of people currently watching them. As there was little else he could do to return the favor that would be appropriate with all the cameras present, he settled for sliding his finger up the shell of her ear before letting them get tangled in her hair.
“Yeah, that’s a pretty big improvement over my last sleeping arrangements,” Sandor said with a nod. He thought about it for a moment and continued, “Or really any of my sleeping arrangements. I’ve never woken up next to a beautiful woman before.”
Sansa’s cheeks flushed a pretty pink color at the compliment. “So you’ve woken up next to ugly women?” she asked in an attempt at humor.
It was probably for the best that she didn’t know the half. There were too many meaningless fucks in his past to count, and all of them were uglier than Sansa. Rather than admitting any of that, he said, “I just haven’t woken up next to any women.” Not really a lie, as most of them left either right after they finished or before he woke up.
“Oh,” Sansa said, her voice small, “Well, now you have. Maybe we should have mimosas with breakfast to celebrate another first.”
With that, she was up and out of the bed. Sandor sat up and watched her make her way to the balcony where the producers must have laid out some food for them. Naturally, champagne fizzed in glasses just waiting for orange juice to be added. Sometimes he wondered if they were being plied with alcohol in an attempt to make the experiment more of a success.
“Well?” Sansa asked from where she sat.
“Coming, dear,” Sandor replied as he rose out of bed. She gave him an indulgent smile while she completed their cocktails.
True to her suggestion, Sansa raised a glass and toasted to the first morning Sandor woke up next to a woman. It was a strange thing to do, but he still found it endearing, clinking his glass up against hers before downing the drink in one go. It wouldn’t be enough to get him buzzed, but it might take a bit of the edge off of what was going to be an uncomfortable morning.
When it came to the outdoors, Sandor preferred mountains and hiking to the sun and spray of the surf that the beach offered. He almost always got sun-burnt, and people had a tendency to stare when he wasn’t wearing much. There was much more solitude in the woods, and other hikers almost always kept to themselves. A part of him wished they’d been sent to more remote destination than the resort they were currently filming at.
Sansa, on the other hand, seemed perfectly content as she slipped into a bikini and made her way down to the beach when their breakfast was finished. The airy cover-up she wore did little to hide her figure, and Sandor scowled at everyone whose eyes lingered longer than they should have. In an effort to make things clear, he took her hand just to show everyone who she was with. After that, the looks lessened considerably.
“This looks like a good spot,” Sansa said from beside him. She smiled up at him, shielding her eyes with her free hand as she asked, “What do you think?”
“It’s as good as any I guess,” Sandor shrugged, finally releasing her hand so he could spread out the beach towels she’d brought.
Once they were settled, they each started to apply sunscreen, though Sansa painted a much prettier picture than he did. Especially when she asked if he needed help with his back. The way her hands felt kneading into his skin was pure bliss, and he got so lost in the touch that he almost didn’t notice her ask for his help in return. If he thought her touching him was great, it was nothing in comparison to being able to put his hands on her. It was only when he remembered that he was supposed to not be touching her that the enjoyment he felt was cut short.
“All finished,” he said gruffly, removing his hands from her shoulders as though they’d burned him.
Sansa glanced back at him, a strange look in her eye as she said, “Thank you. Do you want to swim with me?”
Sandor eyed the ocean warily before saying, “I’ll be just fine here. Not a big fan of sharks.”
“Are you serious?” Sansa asked, her lips twitching up as she stifled a giggle, “You’re afraid of sharks?”
“They’re probably about the only thing I can’t fight off, so yeah, I don’t like them. Give a guy a break,” Sandor replied, crossing his arms over his chest.
“You’re more likely to get struck by lighting, you know,” Sansa told him, still grinning at his expense.
“Oh yeah? Well, you’re more likely to get tossed into the ocean by your fiance if you keep teasing him,” Sandor shot back with a smirk.
“Somehow I doubt that. There might be sharks by the shore after all,” she said. Her gaze was locked onto his, her eyes challenging him to make good on his threat.
Sandor was more than happy to oblige, rising off the towel and hoisting her up before she had a chance to know what was happening. Sansa squealed in surprise, a noise he hoped he’d be able to have her make in another context someday. As it was, she struggled from where she was hitched over his shoulder, though she laughed the entire way down to the water.
Her giggles only subsided when he finally plunged her into the cool depths of the ocean. At first he expected her to resurface immediately, and when she didn’t he became worried. Sandor leaned over the place where she’d entered the water, only to be surprised moments later when her arms shot out and wrapped around his neck. Being bent over threw him off balance, and he tipped forward easily, his whole body becoming submerged in the salty brine.
When he came up for air, Sansa was already on the surface, laughing brightly at how he looked with his hair flopped everywhere. The sound made him smile in spite of himself, and he shot through the water to grab her around the waist and dunk her again. Sansa was too quick for him, however, darting away from him with ease.
“Careful Sandor!” she called, a cheeky grin on her face, “There might be sharks over here!”
“The only shark out here is me,” he replied with a wolfish smile, “And the only person who needs to be worried is you.”
With that, he pulled himself through the water using brute force to propel himself faster than she could swim away. She shrieked with surprise as he finally snatched her up, his arm wrapping securely around her waist while she giggled. Her body was slick against his while she wriggled against him in an attempt to escape.
Just as he was about to dunk her back down into the water again, Sansa’s entire body stiffened, her laughter subsiding as quickly as it came. For a moment, he thought he might have hurt her, and Sandor released her to make sure she wasn’t injured. However, she just floated in the water in front of him, her eyes fixed on the beach.
“Everything okay, Sansa?” Sandor asked as he placed a tentative hand on her shoulder.
Sansa jumped at the contact and she whirled to face him, saying, “Oh, everything’s fine. I just feel a little ill all of a sudden. I must have swallowed too much seawater.”
She began to wade out of the water and back to their towels, with Sandor following behind her. He found her change in mood strange and wondered what he might have done to cause it. The only thing he could figure was that she might have worried he’d get turned on by their bodies touching. He had been pawing at her like an animal after all. It was only natural she’d get nervous that he’d misinterpret what she wanted.
Still, Sandor wanted to help her if he could, so as soon as she was settled on the towel he asked, “Do you need anything? I could go around the shops to see if there’s something to settle your stomach.”
“I think I just need to lie down for a while,” Sansa told him. She paused for a moment, then added, “It would be nice if you stayed with me.”
Sandor nodded and lied down on the towel next to her, surprised when he felt her tentative hand over his own. He turned it over and laced their fingers in an effort to offer her what little comfort he could. And if that was all he could do, so be it.
Sansa gripped Sandor’s hand as hard as she could without alerting him that there was something more wrong with her than an upset stomach. Her skin still prickled with a chill as she tried to push the voice she thought she’d heard out of her head. It was silly. There was no way Joffrey would be staying at the resort.
And yet she was almost sure she’d heard him from the beach. As many times as she’d heard him in the pods, it would be hard to mistake his voice for anyone else’s. However, Sansa found it hard to believe that they would book two of the couples at same resort. That would just be ridiculous, especially with how heated things had become between the two of them when he’d ended it.
Instead she tried to focus on how nice the sun felt on her skin, and how steadying Sandor’s presence was beside her. The solid weight of his hand reminded her that no matter what happened, he’d be there to protect her. Somehow in spite of only knowing him for a short time, he still made her feel safer than she’d ever felt with a man.
Especially this morning. Sansa felt her face flush as she remembered the way his form had surrounded her when she’d woken up. She couldn’t say if it was on purpose or if they’d wound up cuddling by accident. What she could say was that she’d enjoyed it. It seemed as though Sandor had been enjoying it as well, based on the feel of him pressed into her backside.
However, she hadn’t wanted to embarrass him, so she’d done her best to extricate herself from their compromising position before he woke up. Sandor still seemed skittish around her, and Sansa didn’t want to do anything to further push him away.
Or at least, she’d thought he was skittish until he’d been playing with her in the ocean. The way he’d so easily picked her up and tossed her around was simultaneously arousing and frightening. Her only comfort was that the man she knew wouldn’t hurt her, dunkings in the ocean notwithstanding. She wondered if he’d be willing to toss her around in their suite later on.
Eventually the crew grew bored of filming them lounging on the beach and instructed them to go back to their room and get ready for dinner. Much like at the airport, Sandor held her hand until they got back to their hotel room. He even went so far as to make sure she was feeling better before he let her go take a shower which she found endearing.
“I’ll be out here if you need me. Just holler,” Sandor told her as he shut the door.
Now that she was alone, Sansa found she didn’t want to wash the smell of the beach off just yet. The scent would forever be a reminder of hers and Sandor’s time in the ocean. She could still feel his hands on her, and the strong muscles of his chest against her back as he hoisted her up against him. It was enough to make her flush with desire, and for a moment she considered inviting him into the shower with her.
Instead, she shook the lustful thoughts from her mind and hopped into the large stall (big enough for two, she noted distantly). The cool water helped calm her down some, just enough to focus on what she was going to wear to dinner. She’d asked the production team repeatedly if it was supposed to be upscale or casual, and all they would tell her was that she should dress her best.
When she could finally settle on her look, she relinquished the bathroom to Sandor. Unlike her, it took him very little time to get ready at all, and then they were off down to dinner.
“You look nice,” he remarked casually as they strolled to the elevator.
“Thank you,” Sansa replied, flashing him a smile. She eyed his outfit, and said as uncritically as she could, “Do you think you’re dressed up enough?”
Sandor’s only brow quirked up at her as he replied, “Hey, I am who I am. Plus I fucking hate button-ups.” He’d opted to wear a t-shirt and khaki shorts, which wasn’t what Sansa would call anyone’s best.
“You wore a suit when we met,” Sansa reminded him as the elevator doors shut and they made their way down.
“Believe me, that was the exception to the rule. Kinda like you,” Sandor replied, echoing a sentiment he’d made to her on the night she’d proposed.
Sansa hummed thoughtfully before she said, “I hope you’ll at least wear a suit when we get married.” The statement was meant to be an innocent one, but it seemed to knock Sandor for a loop. When she turned to look at him, his eyes were wide, almost as though he’d forgotten the end goal of this experiment.
“I guess I could make another exception,” he mumbled, unable to meet her eyes.
Before she could ask him about his reaction, the elevator dinged and the doors opened. People were standing to the side to let them out, so she had no choice but to exit instead of questioning why it seemed like he didn’t want to marry her. Perhaps it was just as well. They didn’t need to fight before dinner.
They were silent as they made their way down to the beach. The wind whipped around them, and Sansa could see a storm on the horizon. She hoped they wouldn’t get caught in the rain, and thought of how she’d told Sandor they’d be more likely to be struck by lightning. It felt as though the universe was trying to get back at her for mocking Sandor’s phobia.
The closer they got to their destination, the more distinctly Sansa thought she could hear voices. She only found out her ears weren’t playing tricks on her when she rounded the corner and saw Jeyne wrapped around someone who could only assume was Bronn.
The moment her eyes locked onto Sansa, she squealed and propelled herself out of her seat. “Sansa! I can’t believe you’re here!”
Jeyne’s arms flew around her, nearly knocking her into Sandor. Sansa laughed, relieved to see a friendly face as she replied, “Jeyne! What are you doing here?”
“We’re honeymooning! I had no idea they’d send us to the same place! But this is so exciting. You, me, Bronny, and Sandor should all double date,” Jeyne gushed as she looped her arm into Sansa’s to drag her over to her new fiance. “Bronny, this is my bestie, Sansa. Sansa, this is my future husband.”
“Nice to meet you, love,” Bronn said, extending his hand for a handshake which she returned. He glanced over at Sandor and said, “Good to see you again, mate. Resort been treating you well?”
“As well as any place this fucking hot could,” Sandor said as he took a seat by his friend, “What about you? Or have you even left your room?”
Sansa gasped and said, “Sandor!”
“What? It’s a fair question,” Sandor argued.
Sansa was about to tell him that it was extremely impolite to talk about things like that in front of her friend when another squeal of delight interrupted their conversation. She turned just in time to see white-blonde hair shooting towards them in the form of none other than Dany. Somehow the minute woman managed to envelope both she and Jeyne in a group hug, her laughter contagious.
“Wow! It really is you!” Dany breathed when she finally got over her excitement, “I felt bad because I didn’t get your contact info, but it looks like we’ll be spending a lot more time together.”
“No kidding,” Sansa said, wondering how they’d all managed to end up at the same place.
As introductions were made all around, Sansa felt the cold pit of dread settle in her stomach. It appeared all the couples were here except one. This morning she’d been so sure that they wouldn’t send everyone to same place, but the arrival of someone she prayed she’d never meet again now seemed inevitable.
Just as she was about to excuse herself, the voice she feared said, “Well, well. Look what we have here. Margaery, come quick. It seems we have company.”