Sarah Williams knew she was late as she ran towards Remington Hall. Exactly 11 minutes and 48 seconds late if she had to be more precise. Her flats weren't exactly appropriate for running, but then there was that big cliche about beggars and choosers.
For a few seconds she considered just skipping the class for the day, but she knew that today was the day partners were being chosen for the research project that was worth 20% of her grade in her graduate level Women in Literature course. She needed a kick-ass grade in order to get into the teaching fellowship she wished to pursue at Oxford.
Hopefully Holly would tell Professor Eubanks that they would work together on the project. She already started brainstorming ideas and couldn't wait to get feedback from her friend. Anything to avoid having to work with, well, she didn't want to think of him. If she didn't think of him then the universe would know that she wasn't down for taking any of his crap. He had been the splinter in her skin since day one - something that was sometimes harmless if left alone, but annoying nonetheless.
Well, he wasn't really harmless. He was annoying, smug, and filled with self-importance. He always had to have the last word, and there were days Sarah thought he deliberately focused only on making her feel like she wasn't worthy of being in their upper level class, even though his academic "malice" was directed towards just about everyone in the seminar type class. Everyone in the class loathed him, maybe loathe is a strong word, but he seemed to get off on the fact that no one cared for him.
Sure, they all exchanged numbers, but Jareth Kingston was never part of the group texts inviting everyone out for drinks and buffalo wings. Hell, Jareth Kingston would probably frown upon such "plebeian" things. He seemed like the type who wouldn't be caught dead at some dive bar that served tap beer.
He wasn't an idiot, and that frustrated Sarah more than anything. He had interesting points and knew his stuff, but if someone deserved a slice of humble pie, Jareth Kingston needed the entire pie. No, he probably needed two or three of them.
"Crap!" Sarah shouted more to herself than anyone as she nearly tripped on the steps that entered the building. After checking to make sure the she didn't drop anything, she quickly walked towards the lecture room her class met in three times a week.
"I'm only about 12 minutes late. That's not so bad." Sarah told herself.
Sarah opened the door, hoping to sneak in quietly, but the obnoxious squeaking of the door prevented that from happening. All fifteen members of the seminar, including the professor, stopped what they were doing and stared at her slightly disheveled appearance.
"Ah, Miss Williams, thank you for investing in your education today." Dr. Eubanks said.
He was by no means an old man, but he fit the stereotypical mold of any college professor who was securely on the tenure track. His sweaters were probably in fashion back in the 80s, but who was she to judge considering she till thought peasant tops were fashionable.
"I'm so sorry Dr. Eubanks. I promise it won't happen again." Sarah said, trying to catch her breath before taking her usual seat around the discussion table.
"That's fine. Unfortunately, your classmates already caucused and you've been assigned to work with Mr. Kingston."
It was then that Sarah noticed all of her classmates faces, including Holly's. They looked at her with a mix of sorry you will have to suffer through this along with better you than me.
Looking up at the last un-partnered person in her class, Sarah saw the smug smile of her classmate/rival/all around pompous asshole, Jareth Kingston. She didn't care if the entire world heard her when she spoke,
"I'm so sorry Sarah." Holly begged as the two walked out of the room.
"It's no big deal. I'm just going to have to work with the biggest asshole on the campus. It's what I get for being late."
"Well, if it's any consolation, I told Dr. Eubanks that I wanted to work with you, but well, you know how he is."
"The one day I'm tardy!" Sarah said.
"Why were you tardy Miss I'm Always At Least Five Minutes Early?" Holly asked as they headed towards the sandwich shop they sometimes visited for lunch.
"I must have forgotten to set my alarm last night. I was chatting with my brother, and I just lost track of the time. I missed Professor Albarn's class this morning too, but I can easily catch up with that. It's just, ugh, Jareth Kingston!"
Holly didn't say anything as they walked into S & P Sandwiches. As the two waited in line to place their orders, Sarah was distraught. What would their topic be? Given the track record between the two, he would probably shoot down every idea she presented. The dread was already beginning to settle in the pit of her stomach.
"Maybe I could drop the class." Sarah blurted out as Holly was ordering her meal.
"Are you serious?"
"Okay, that was stupid. Do you think I could get him to drop the class? Maybe if I annoy him too much he'll beg Dr. Eubanks to work alone."
"You really don't want to work with this guy, do you?" Holly asked.
"I don't see you offering to swap places!" Sarah said.
Sarah's stomach was in knots, and she knew that lunch wouldn't help it. Deciding to skip out on it, she followed Holly to their usual table before continuing,
"He's impossible! You've seen him in class! I bet you every one else in that seminar was thanking their lucky stars that they didn't have to work with him."
"Well, he did ask to work with you."
"Well, not so much as ask, but more or less, huff and puff about how inadequate everyone else in the seminar is. He said something to the tune of you being the best of the worst in our little bunch."
"Figures, he would go with the supposed lesser of sixteen evils. Seriously though, what am I going to do?"
"Have you talked to him yet about the presentation?"
"You have his number, right?"
"No way am I putting myself out there for… that wannabe aristocrat. He can contact me first."
"Come on Sarah. Knowing you, you want to start delegating tasks and outlining an outline and he seems like the kind of person who just likes to go with the flow and hope for the best."
Holly's order was ready, and as she retrieved it from the counter, Sarah knew that this whole experience would either help to make her academic career or break it.
"At least text him and see what's up." Holly said before taking a bite of her sandwich.
"You're right. Why is it that I feel like I'm taking one for the team?" Sarah asked as she pulled out her phone.
"Because, well, you are. Dylan said that everyone in the class owes you a drink."
"Did you get that in writing?" Sarah asked as she scrolled through the contacts on her phone.
Holly laughed before saying, "You might have to remind them that you're taking the bullet for all of us."
It took Sarah a few seconds because she couldn't find Jareth's number. Then it hit her: she gave him the name "Pompous Ass" on her phone. Scrolling down, she found his number, all the while, trying to think of what she would write.
Hey asshole, what are we going to focus on?
That's a little harsh.
Jerkface, don't ruin this for me. What are we going to do?
That was a little too harsh. Keep it simple. Yes, when in doubt, keep it simple. Holly was lost in her lunch.
"I'm sorry. I'm trying to write this text." Sarah said.
"Girl, I'm wrapped up in a world of melted cheese and honey roasted ham. Don't mind me!" Holly said before taking another bite of her food.
She fired off a text that was professional and to the point.
Hey, it's Sarah Williams. Do you have time to meet tomorrow to discuss this assignment?
She sent the message and rested her phone on the table knowing that the more she thought about it, the more likely she would get into trouble. Seconds later she heard the ding that indicated she received a text.
I'm busy, but I suppose we can get together.
"Oh, and I'm not!" Sarah said out loud without even realizing it.
"Kingston?" Holly asked.
Sarah rolled her eyes, and that answered Holly's question. She heard another ding before she could respond.
Where shall we meet?
What was the most neutral place to meet? Sarah wondered before typing.
Library at 2?
Sure thing, precious.
And that was it. Sarah released a breath, not realizing how nerve racking that was. And what was up with this precious business? No, Sarah wouldn't stand for that.
"Settled it then?" Holly asked.
"Yeah. We're going to meet tomorrow afternoon since his grace deemed me worthy enough to fit in his schedule. Assault is illegal, right?" Sarah asked.
"In all 50 states." Holly said, now checking her phone.
"But if they knew him, then no jury would find me guilty. They'd probably thank me." Sarah said.
"Don't you think you're being a little too harsh?"
"That's easy for you to say. You're not the one stuck with him." Sarah said.
"At the risk of being the devil's advocate, hear him out. Who knows, the two of you might come up with a kick-ass project and this time next year, you'll be in England. Plus, he's hot. Have you not noticed how hot he is?"
"Are you serious?" Sarah asked.
"Come on, I won't judge you if you think it too. Too bad he's an arrogant jerkface."
"I'll pretend I never heard those last few sentences of yours. I've figured out how I'm going to approach all of this. I'm going to call the shots. I'm not going to put up with his snarky and snide remarks. I'm going to stay as far away from him as possible while staying on schedule. I'm also going to make sure that Oxford won't be able to deny me that fellowship."
"Do you have 'I'm also going to get an ulcer' in that list too?" Holly asked.
"Why aren't you a comedian?" Sarah asked, trying to keep a straight face.
"Unfortunately, my calling is academia. Come on, let's roll out. I've got a class to prep for."
After walking out the shop and wishing her friend goodbye, Sarah walked towards Remington Hall. As she was about to enter the building, she saw Jareth Kingston sitting on a bench under an oak tree, alone. There was an open book in his lap, one long leg was crossed over the other. She had to give him credit, he had a habit of being impeccably dressed. His hair was short and one could tell that while he didn't appear to spend a lot of time on personal grooming, he did want to present a certain image of himself to the world.
He was engrossed in whatever it was that was on his lap, and Sarah couldn't force her eyes from him, especially when he brought up a pale hand to his mouth. He unconsciously rubbed his fingers against his lips, lost in the moment. His fingers were long, almost elf like.
As if he knew she was watching him, Jareth looked up and met Sarah's stare with one of his own. Sarah was embarrassed that she was caught blatantly staring at him, but it was easy to walk away when he completely ignored her presence and continued on with his reading.
"Jerkface." Sarah said to herself as she walked into the building.
Chapter 2: 2
The next day
Sarah was supposed to meet Jareth Kingston in the library at two, but that didn’t stop her from getting an early start to “their” work. After grabbing a coffee, she sat at a table close to the entrance and started mapping out the ideas she had been working on for the past few weeks. She was surprised when Jareth showed up exactly at the time they agreed on.
“Sarah.” Jareth stated, letting her know that he was there.
Sarah’s head followed the accented voice and saw Jareth Kingston standing across from her.
“Jareth.” Sarah said, trying not to let her disdain show.
Jareth placed his vintage messenger bag on the table and began removing stuff out of it before sitting across from her. The silence was tense, and Sarah decided to that the sooner they started the sooner they could finish.
“I have a few ideas I’d like to run by you.” Sarah said as she handed her well manicured list to him. He skimmed over them, but Sarah couldn’t tell what he was thinking. His face was blank, but he appeared to be seriously contemplating the ideas on the paper given his facial expressions.
“All of these ideas are crap.” Jareth said, handing the list back to her.
“Come on Sarah. These are cliched topics that Eubanks has probably seen before. Besides, I’d be wiling to bet that some of our distinguished classmates have already veered off towards these corners. It’s such a pity - I thought you’d be more adventurous.”
Sarah heavily sighed and she didn’t care if Jareth sensed her frustration.
“Okay look, is this how it’s going to be for the next few weeks? Us constantly going back and forth arguing with one another?”
Jareth leaned back in the chair and braced his arm on the back of the chair that held his bag. His smug smile aggravated Sarah even more.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Jareth responded.
“Every idea I put forward is to be shot down? You know, I’m not in this class because I just woke up one morning and decided to take it! I earned my spot just like you did.”
“On the unfair supposed crucification of Ted Hughes in regards to Sylvia Plath’s suicide.”
Sarah stared at Jareth, not caring that her mouth was now gaping open.
“I read your paper in the English department’s journal of exemplary student work last year. It was rather impressive.”
Sarah didn't know what to say in that moment. Did he just pay her a compliment?
“Are you done?” Jareth asked, moving a delicate hand to her lips before closing them with his fingers.
Wait? Did he just trace a finger over my lips? Sarah wondered.
“What?” Sarah asked, knowing her face was getting redder.
“Are you done?” Jareth asked again, cool as a cucumber.
“Seriously, I want to slap you right now.”
“I’m sure you do. Sarah, what are we expected to do with this project? And don’t pull out the syllabus. Paraphrase it for me.” Jareth asked in a somewhat condescending tone.
Sarah decided to play along with his game.
“We have free reign to pick a topic that relates to female empowerment in women’s literature whether it be economic, sexual, societal, etc. etc. etc. It’s very general, I’ll admit, but I was told to expect that from people who’ve had Dr. Eubanks before.”
“Your topic ideas, yet again, are things one would expect to see. I’m willing to bet that some of our classmates have already chosen to go with some of those on your list. Why not step outside of our, or rather, your, comfort zone.”
“Well, let me hear your ideas since mine are too pedestrian for you.”
Jareth slightly laughed before adding, “I can’t take credit for it. It’s something you brought up in lecture earlier this semester. I’m a bit disappointed I didn’t see it on your list.”
Sarah’s interest was piqued. He formulated an idea from one of hers?
“I’m listening.” Sarah said cautiously as she crossed her arms to her chest.
“How about if we focus on supernatural elements being used towards female empowerment. You made an interesting point a while back about the three witches in Macbeth and how their power lie in not having any real investment in the future of Scotland. They just wanted to watch the world around them descend into chaos. Why can’t we take that point and elaborate on it a bit more with other genres and characters?”
Damn, it was a good idea, then again, it was hers.
“I’ll take your pensive look as a positive. Shall we go in that direction?” Jareth asked.
“That sounds really good.” Sarah admitted, even though she hated acknowledging it.
“Well, you came up with it.” Jareth said softly before continuing, “Sarah, may I ask what’s your endgame?”
“What do you mean?”
“What do you want to do when all of this is over?”
“To be honest, I want at least two dirty martini’s when this project is over.” Sarah said before adding, “Wait. Are we talking about the course or the degree program?”
“One year from now, where do you see yourself?”
Sarah knew her answer, but she wanted to frame it so that it didn’t sound immature in a way that he would shoot her down.
“Why do you care?”
“I’m curious is all. We’re going to be working together in close proximity over the next few weeks. Is it wrong that I would like to get to know you a little better?”
First, Jareth Kingston complimented her work. Then he suggested they use her idea for their project. Now he wants to get to know her? Sarah didn’t know what to think.
“I wish to pursue a teaching fellowship next year at Oxford. Some people want to work at the best law firms, drive a fancy car, own the colonial style house with the white picket fence, but me, I just want to get to Oxford. What comes after that? I don’t know yet. Maybe that is my weird way of living adventurously.”
Jareth nodded and began to open up a notebook, but it threw Sarah off kilter.
“What, no ‘that’s a foolish endeavor Sarah’?” Sarah asked in a fake British accent.
“No. I hope you get it. So, how should we approach this big little project of ours?” Jareth asked.
Sarah didn’t really know what to say in that moment, but she couldn’t let it go.
“Why are you being so nice to me?” Sarah asked.
“Me being nice to you is offering to buy you lunch or dinner. Right now we’re just chatting. That is, unless, you’d like to get more friendly.” Jareth said with a straight face. “My social calendar is hardly bare, but I could squeeze you in if you’d like.” He continued, his words laced with flirtatious innuendo.
“Oh, come off it! I’m staying in my lane, and you best stay in yours.” Sarah said, holding up a hand, hoping that her cheeks weren’t redder than they were seconds earlier. By the look on Jareth’s face, they were.
The two spent the next two hours discussing how they planned on approaching the project. The research and writing would be split in half. As for the presentation, Sarah freely admitted to not being the most creative person when it came to visual presentations, so Jareth was assigned that task. Jareth suggested that they “tag team” the task when it was time to present it to their peers and Dr. Eubanks, but that was something they would worry about later.
“I think we should meet on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.” Sarah stated.
“No, I think we should meet at least three times a week. How do you feel about weekends?” Jareth asked, typing away on his laptop.
“What about your workload this semester?” Sarah asked.
“I can handle it. Can you handle yours?” He asked, eyeing her from his computer screen.
Sarah didn't even answer him. At this point she knew he was trying to get a response out of her. When Jareth noticed that she wasn’t falling for it, he decided to go in a different route.
“Since we’re going to be spending so much time together, shouldn’t we exchange numbers?” Jareth asked.
“I already have your number, remember? Everyone in the seminar exchanged numbers at the beginning of the semester.”
Sarah grabbed her phone to check the time, noticing she missed a text. After taking the phone off of the silent feature, she read a text Toby “sent” her via her father. Laughing at the message and responding back, she placed her phone on the table and didn’t notice when Jareth grabbed it.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Sarah asked, trying to grab the phone from him.
“You don’t even have my number in your mobile.” Jareth said as he continued to scroll through her contacts.
“Don’t worry, I do.” Sarah said as she began typing out their outline.
“I don’t see my name in here.”
“Trust me, it’s in there.”
There were a few seconds of silence before Jareth spoke.
“Who is Pompous Ass?” He asked curiously.
Sarah remained silent, knowing he would have the gall to answer his own question.
“That’s my title in your mobile?” He asked.
“I told you it was in there.”
Sarah looked at Jareth who appeared to be a little hurt by the title she gave him on her phone. She thought about apologizing, but just as soon as she thought she saw a pained expression, his mark of indifference returned.
“I’m sorry.” Sarah said.
“Well, I’ve been called far worse.”
Jareth appeared to move on from it. Sarah used the online catalog to find sources in the university library that would aide in their project. Minutes later she went to track down three of the titles and brought them to their table. As she began flipping through them to weigh their usefulness, she assumed that Jareth was gathering research.
“May I ask why you’ve read me in such a way?”
Sarah stopped writing and looked at her partner.
“It really bothers you, doesn’t it? I never would have figured you as someone who really puts much stock in how others view him.”
“I don’t.” Jareth huffed.
“Obviously you do.” Sarah slowly stated.
“No I don’t. You can believe it though if you want. I know how others in our seminar view me, and don’t think I didn’t see that group text. I just somehow never managed to be added for your weekly jaunts of beer and substandard bar food.”
“So I’m supposed to feel sorry for you?”
“That’s not what I’m saying.”
“Then what are you saying? Look in the mirror Jareth. From day one you’ve been condescending, rude, and a flat out asshole to everyone in our class. You make people feel like their thoughts aren’t worthy or valid even though they’re graduate students, just like you. Don’t tell me it’s a British thing because that’s no excuse and I’ve been to England a few times; it’s an insult to all Brits. You act like you’re better than everyone else and you don’t understand why no one wants to hang out with you on the weekends?”
Sarah was calmer than she expected she would be considering what she had to tell him.
“So I’m supposed to dumb myself down for those around me? And by the way, I’m not lacking for any company on the weekends, darling.” Jareth stated, not noticing that his voice was getting louder.
“No! You need to understand that not everyone in our is some first year undergrad. No one wants to feel like their thoughts and feelings are stupid and not worth sharing. Plus, newsflash, not everyone is into Crito!”
“You’re familiar with Plato’s work.” Jareth said, slightly smiling.
“Because I took one too many philosophy classes as an undergrad when I thought I wanted to pursue law!”
“My point exactly. You really are a firecracker!”
“You’re proving my point right here, right now!” Sarah said, her voice growing louder.
“I can’t help but think that some of your friends are ‘pedestrian’ considering that many of them think that Kate Chopin is the epitome of the feminist literary revolution!”
“You are IMPOSSIBLE!” Sarah said, not realizing that her voice was matching his in volume.
“If not being someone who will hold anyone’s hand and sugarcoat the facts makes me a pompous ass, then give me my membership card!” Jareth responded, not realizing that his voice carried throughout the room.
Sarah stood up, ready to throw a book at her partner, but a student worker interrupted them.
“Excuse me, if you two can’t remain quiet, then you’ll have to leave.” The worker said.
“Sorry.” Sarah said, hanging her head in shame.
Just when she thought Jareth wouldn’t apologize for his part in the scene, he too followed up with one. Sarah took a few seconds to collect herself. She didn’t realize that she was gripping the book until she felt Jareth’s hands loosen the grip of her fingers from the leather tome.
The two didn’t say anything to one another for a few minutes; they continued working as if nothing happened and they didn’t make complete fools of themselves in the main area of the library. Sarah thought she would get some satisfaction from telling him what everyone really thought of him, but seeing his pensive and somber face took all of the joy out of it.
“I’ll admit that I have high expectations, not just for myself, but for others around me. I know perfectly well how others view me, and sometimes it’s easier to wear the mask others expect you to wear.”
“Why do you feel the need to do such a thing? You’re not an idiot. You’re probably one of the smartest people in that seminar…”
“Oh, I know I am.” Jareth interrupted.
“And there you go! You know how smart you are and it comes off as smugness. I don’t think anyone is asking you to dumb things down for them, but you don't have to one up people all the time. It’s okay to not have the last word. I just think that you don’t need to be so prickly. If you didn’t invest so much energy in trying to prove how much you know, then maybe your name would be included in those group texts.” Sarah said.
Jareth was silent, and it appeared as if he was processing all that she told him. She didn’t expect things to change overnight. Hell, she didn’t expect him to consider her words at all, but all that she said needed to be said. Jareth stretched out his arms and let out a loud exhale.
“Ready to call it a day?” Sarah asked.
“I’m hungry. My lunch wasn’t truly a lunch.”
“You don’t have to stay if you want to leave.” Sarah said, continuing to dig or information.
Jareth began to pack up his belongings, and Sarah expected him to just get up and go. They would see each other tomorrow in class, so there was no need to fake a friendly goodbye.
“Why don’t you join me?”
“Excuse me.” Sarah said, not sure if it was Jareth asking the question.
“My treat. Join me for an early dinner, or snack.”
There was an articulate emphasis on his pronunciation of “snack” that she found a bit intriguing. He was staring at her, waiting for her response.
“It’s fine if you don’t want to. I just thought it would be a nice gesture since you just handed me my arse on a platter.”
This was his olive branch. This was Jareth Kingston being “friendly.”
“No… I just. I’d like to join you. Um, just let me pack up.”
“Here, I’ll check out those books while you pack up.” Jareth said as he grabbed the books and walked towards the checkout desk.
Sarah didn't really know what how to approach her current situation. Her phone dinged, indicating another text message. Without thinking, she looked at the text she received from her father. It was a simple text about how much Toby missed her.
“Ready?” Jareth asked.
She jumped, not expecting him to be so close behind her.
“Sure. Let’s go.” Sarah said, even though she had no idea where they were heading.
Walking out of the library, she expected Jareth to mouth off some directions and let her head to the eatery on her own.
“There’s a great Thai place three blocks down. Is that fine with you?”
“Um, yeah, sure.” Sarah said, peddling behind Jareth a few steps before she moved to his right. He was carrying the three books and didn’t seem to be the one who wanted to start a conversation. Sarah tried to focus everything else around her besides the man who invited her to an early dinner/snack.
“This Thai place, is it really good?” Sarah asked, even though she cringed at the thought of her question.
“It’s the best place here. I’ve had better, much better, but their lemongrass soup is orgasmic.” Jareth said nonchalantly as he continued to walk ahead.
How could one come back from that? Sarah didn’t really know. The walk to the restaurant was awkward and Sarah tried to think of some sorry excuse to haul it back to her apartment, but she knew he would call her bluff. He extended an invitation in the form of thai food, and he seemed to take her words to heart. She could be civil to him, her grade almost depended on it.
Lost in her thoughts, she didn’t realize that the two were at the restaurant until Jareth gently grabbed her arm to stop her from passing it up.
“We’re here.” Jareth said, opening the door for her.
“Thanks.” Sarah quietly said.
As the two waited to be seated, Sarah could smell his cologne. It was crisp and fresh; it reminded her of a family vacation she once went on in Colorado. It was the year she realized that skiing wasn’t her forte, but she loved the smell of the air. It was a smell that could only come from snow covered mountains. Sarah didn’t realize that she moved her nose closer to him to get a better sniff, and he didn’t seem to notice.
When the waitress ushered them to their table, she handed them each a menu and left the two alone. The restaurant was quiet, but the dinner rush hadn’t started yet. Looking at the menu, still not sure what to think of her current situation, Sarah was about to ask for a recommendation when Jareth stated,
“The cashew chicken is pretty good over here.” Jareth said.
After reading the description, it did look pretty good. The waitress came by and took their drink orders. Jareth already knew what he wanted, and Sarah wasn’t one to prolong their meal any longer than necessary. She decided on the lemongrass soup, just as he did. Jareth also ordered the steamed ginger dumplings and fresh spring rolls as an appetizer. Minutes later the waitress delivered their drinks.
“So, Sarah Williams, tell me about yourself.” Jareth said, leaning back in his chair.
“What do you want to know?”
“Whatever you’re willing to tell me. I want to see if my own personal assessment has matched up with yours.”
“What’s your assessment so far?” Sarah asked.
“I’ll save that one for later.” Jareth said with a sly look on his face.
“I’m from New York. I earned my Bachelors in English from NYU, and I’m hoping to complete a doctorate at Oxford.”
“Of course, I knew you’d go with the technical. Plus, all of this is information you shared on day one of the seminar when Eubanks wanted us to get all chummy with one another. Why is it that people only focus on their career path rather than who or what they truly are?”
“So you’re asking if I prefer The Beatles over The Rolling Stones?” Sarah asked.
“I’m not going to use it against you if you think The Beatles are better. I’m just curious about you.”
Sarah didn’t realize how heavy her sigh as she looked anywhere but towards the man who offered to pay for her meal.
“I don’t really have an exciting life outside of my academic career. I’ve poured all of my focus into it, figuring that when I get established somewhere then I can let loose. Maybe I’m trying to just never catch up.”
“What are you really avoiding? It seems to me that you’re using your education as an excuse not to enjoy the simple pleasure in life.”
“I love to read and listen to music. I like baking. Those are simple pleasures.”
“I bet you also like to write lists and that organizer of yours is probably color coded.”
Sarah was silent, knowing that he got her goose.
“Show me any student pursing a higher degree who doesn’t have a meticulous daily planner.”
“You’re looking at one.” Jareth said, once again, leaning back into his chair.
It was as if his body was created just to make such an action look good.
“Do I even want to know what you indulge in on the side?”
“I’m certainly not baking on the weekends.” Jareth replied, his attention diverted to the appetizers that the waitress placed on their table.
Jareth took a plate and nodded his head towards Sarah that she should dig in.
“So why are you here?” Sarah asked.
“I have dual citizenship for the UK and the States, but I was raised primarily in London. This was my mum’s alma mater, and I liked the thought of taking on a slower pace. London is lovely; it’s never boring, but after she died I just need to get away from there. I ran away.”
“Do you even want to be here?” Sarah asked, slowly biting into a dumpling.
“Yes, I do, but I’m not entirely too sure what I want to do when this is all over. I figure that I’ll cross that bridge when the time comes for it. I used to be like you: wanting to maintain as much control over things a possible, but when my mum got sick and I saw cancer slowly take everything away from her… well, it was a wake up call.”
Sarah wasn’t expecting Jareth to be so open with her. He was letting her in, taking down his carefully crafted persona. She wanted to talk about her own mother as a show of solidarity, but the bing of Sarah’s cell phone made her slightly jump.
“Sorry, do you mind if I get this?” Sarah said as she noticed the text came from her father.
“It’s fine.” Jareth said, digging into his food.
Sarah took a few seconds to type a response and put her phone away.
“Got to check in with the boyfriend?” Jareth asked snidely.
“No, it’s my little brother. Well, it’s my dad and my little brother.” Sarah said, not really understanding what Jareth meant by the question.
“Miss the fam?”
“My workload makes it easier to not think about it. What about you? You boast about your busy social calendar, so is there a significant other?”
“There is someone I’m interested in, but I’m currently trying to navigate things. I’ve heard that that taking it slow is the way to go with the ladies.”
That was all that she was going to get, she really didn’t want to hear about this sexual escapades or attempted ones.
“So, tell me, have I lived up to your so-called assessment?” Sarah asked.
“You’re just as I imagined.”
“Great.” Sarah said, rolling her eyes. “Sorry to have failed you.” Sarah added sarcastically.
“Oh no, you misunderstand me. It’s not to be rude, but I do think you probably need a few things in your life. I’m sure we all do.”
“Tell me about it. I did mention two dirty martinis earlier.”
“Oh, I wasn’t talking about alcohol.”
“Well, what? Burn my organizer?” Sarah asked as she took a sip of her water.
“I was thinking you probably need a good shagging.”
Sarah nearly spit her drink out. This is the part where she would throw the drink in his face and walk away, and he knew it. Rather than give him the satisfaction, she took a few seconds before saying,
“Yeah, well, who doesn’t?”
By the look on his face, this appeared to be the correct answer. As if the food gods knew there was an awkward moment in their conversation, the rest of their meal was delivered by the waitress.
The two continued to talk throughout their meal. Sarah told Jareth about her family back home, but she skirted around her birth mother. Jareth wasn’t shy about the fact that his father wished for him to pursue anything but the liberal arts, and Sarah gathered the impression that he was doing all of this just to stick the middle finger to him. She felt like she was getting a better understanding of him, but he was still a bit evasive about certain things. Sarah chose not to pursue such things.
After paying for their food, Jareth and Sarah walked back to the university where their vehicles were parked.
“So, thanks for the meal. You didn’t have to do that.”
“You’re welcome. I’m not saying we should become best buds, but I think given enough time you’ll grow to like me. I wager we’ll even become good friends.”
Sarah scoffed, “Really?”
“Oh yes! Come on… I dare you to like me.” Jareth said with confidence.
“Yeah, well, what if I don’t find you that interesting?” Sarah said as she began to walk towards the parking garage where she normally parked her car.
“Don’t worry, you will. See you tomorrow Sarah.” Jareth said as he began to walk in the opposite direction.
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
The next day Sarah walked into the classroom and already noticed her peers sitting next to their project partners. Jareth wasn’t there yet, so she took the seat at the table she normally sat in. Observing her peers, they all appeared to get along with one another. There was a good rapport between them, and Sarah wished she could say the same thing about her own partnership. Sure, he was “friendly” yesterday, but she felt like she was a specimen being viewed under his microscope. Every move and nuance of hers was observed and collected. What he planned on using such information for was beyond her. It was a feeling she wasn’t used to, and she didn’t welcome it either.
Some of her classmates were talking about their projects, while others were just having a friendly chat. For a few seconds she envied the flow some of the partnerships had, but then again, everyone was friendly towards each other with the exception of Jareth Kingston.
Speaking of the devil, Jareth walked into the room and noticed that his usual seat was occupied by their classmate, Dylan. Sarah was waiting for him to complain about it under his breath, but he just took the empty seat next to her. Sarah expected him to be a bit put off by the situation, but he wasn’t and that threw Sarah off kilter a bit.
“What are you doing?” Sarah asked.
“I’m sitting down. People tend to do that in classrooms, Sarah.” Jareth said, smiling in jest.
“But this isn’t your usual spot.”
“Last I checked, we never had assigned seating. Plus, David over there…”
“Dylan.” Sarah corrected him, knowing that he knew “David” wasn’t the correct name.
“Dylan over there is working with his partner. Doesn’t it make sense for us to sit next to one another since we’re working together?” Jareth said, pulling books out of his messenger bag.
The class was in the middle of their reading and discussion of Angela Carter’s short story collection, The Bloody Chamber. The class was assigned to read “The Company of Wolves” and as usual, Sarah had annotated the book like the studious person she was.
Jareth took out his used copy of the book and fiddled around with it. It appeared as if he didn’t even read the assigned text, but knowing what she already knew about Kingston, he probably would have a better understanding of it than half of the people in their seminar.
Dr. Eubanks walked into the room and passed around the roll sheet before starting his brief lecture. As the discussion veered off into the usual common points of symbolism, imagery, similes, and metaphors, Dylan brought up the switching of the gender roles, and Dr. Eubanks did a wonderful job facilitating the discussion. When it was time to focus on the portion of the story that mirrored the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale, Sarah felt her nerves begin to get the better of her.
Sarah wanted to share her thoughts, but sitting next to Jareth made her more nervous than she cared to admit. What if he thought her observations stupid? Was he waiting for the precise moment to shoot her down just as he always did? She felt the palms of her hands get a bit clammy, and she didn’t notice her neighbor looking at her through the corner of his eye.
“Sarah, would you like to say anything?” Jareth asked.
Sarah quickly took in a breath, embarrassed that she was put on the spot.
“Yes Sarah. I’m surprised we haven’t heard anything from you by now.” Dr. Eubanks said.
Her mouth was dry; she never had a panic attack, but she wondered if she was experiencing one in that moment. Looking at Jareth, she expected to see his usual, gotcha face, but there was nothing there. He gently nodded at her, giving her the floor.
“Well, I think this story is really about sexual liberation.” She could feel her cheeks getting red not because of the subject matter. She could feel everyone’s eyes on her, especially Jareth’s.
“The wolf represents desire and lust, all of the things that the female characters in the story, well, many females in general, were and are sheltered from. The protagonist is an innocent, the stereotypical virgin, and once she gets a taste… well, the wolf man is a great liberator.” Sarah spoke from her heart, and it was as if she was trapped in a spell.
Her eyes were a bit glazed over as she looked out the window, continuing her assessment.
“Think about it, once the two make that bet, she’s already resigned to surrendering to him. She loses on purpose just to kiss him. Even when she realizes that he murdered her grandmother, she’s still so eager to be consumed by him. Even though she knows his true nature, she embraces him - dark parts and all. She’s not foolish in thinking that her innocence is strong enough to redeem him. She gives in because she wants to feel the rapture.”
The only opinion that mattered was the person’s who was sitting next to her. She didn’t know why she cared so much, but she did. Sarah waited for Jareth to call her point stupid and some lonely housewife’s fantasy, and she braced herself for it when she noticed that he raised his hand.
Sarah could have swore she heard the classmate next to her whisper, “Here we go again.”
“I completely agree with what Sarah said.” Jareth said.
Everyone in the seminar shamelessly stared at him. Dylan’s pen fell on the floor, but he didn’t bother to pick it up. Even Dr. Eubanks looked on with disbelief.”
“What?” Sarah asked, staring at Jareth.
“When Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, the vampire wasn’t really what the story was about. The vampire was merely a metaphor. It was a critique of Victorian morals and that time period. Women were expected to fit a certain mold and here comes this foreigner, with an accent I might add, who’s strange and unusual. He, in a way, liberates the women in that society to go after and surrender to their own carnal desires. Since he’s the pied piper for this, he must be stopped. Sure, he’s a killer, but he’s a threat, not because he’s a vampire. He’s a threat because he could disrupt a rigid system that was so delicately waiting to be tipped over. A man is expected to possess and act out on his sexual desires, but a woman…”
“… is punished for doing so.” Sarah finished.
She didn’t realize that she completed his sentence until she noticed Jareth looking at her. Dr. Eubanks picked up on their points and led the discussion in another direction, but she couldn’t pay attention to anything else even though she was keeping her focus on her professor.
Seconds later she felt two taps on her arm. Turning to Jareth, he pointed his pen to something he scribbled on a sheet of paper.
I wouldn’t expect anything less from you.
Sarah turned towards the rest of her classmates. Again, she felt two taps on her arm.
It’s a compliment. The three words were followed with what appeared to be a smiley face.
Looking at the clock on the wall, Sarah counted the minutes down until the class dismissed. After what felt like forever, Eubanks dismissed them. Sarah turned the silencer off of her phone now that the class was over, and in the corner of her eye she saw Jareth checking his. He was quick to pack up his bags.
“So, shall we meet at 2 tomorrow at the library?” Sarah asked, feeling like she could relax for the first time since the class began.
“Yeah. Sure.” He appeared to be eager to leave.
“What’s the matter? Got a hot date to primp for?” Sarah asked, trying to joke with him.
“Yeah.” Jareth said before adding, “See you tomorrow.”
He was like fire and ice. One minute she thought they took ten strides forward, but the next, they took five backwards. Realizing that it wasn’t worth overanalyzing, Sarah hoped Holly would want to just grab a sandwich from a food truck that was parked on campus.
As soon as she walked out of the room, all was forgotten.
The next morning while Sarah was preparing her breakfast, she received a text from Jareth.
Mind if we meet at Starbucks instead?
Nothing strange. Sarah texted back.
Sure. Same time?
While waiting for his response, Sarah spread peach preserves over her two slices of toast and grabbed her cup of coffee before sitting down to eat. As soon as she adjusted her chair, she heard the phone buzz.
See you then.
Hours later Sarah walked into the local Starbucks and saw Jareth sitting in the corner table, farthest away from the entrance.
“Hey.” Sarah said while placing her bag on the floor next to the table.
“Hello.” Jareth responded.
“I’m going to grab something to drink. Do you want anything?” Sarah offered.
“Oh, no thanks. I’m good.” Jareth said.
He appeared to be in a bit of a sour mood.
A few minutes later, Sarah walked back to the table, coffee in tow, and began to set up her “work station” as she so aptly called it. She felt odd being there; Jareth seemed like he wanted to be anywhere but there, and the two didn’t have to be around each other in order to get their work done.
The two worked on their own in silence for close to fifty minutes before the tense silence pushed Sarah over the breaking point.
“What’s going on?” Sarah asked.
“What do you mean?”
“I feel like a kid who has angered someone and I don’t even know what I did wrong. I’m not saying I have anything to do with your sour mood, and I’m not expecting a fun blown explanation, but it would be nice not feel like I’m about to be sent to the executioner.”
Jareth didn’t know that his silence gave off that impression.
“It’s my problem, Sarah. You don’t need to be burdened with it.” Jareth said.
“Is it something with school?”
“No, it’s my father.”
“He was the one that texted you yesterday?” Sarah quickly asked before realizing she probably was overstepping her bounds. “Sorry, that’s none of my business.”
Jareth gave her a look that wasn’t quiet a smirk, but it wasn’t scolding either. He ran his fingers through his hair, and Sarah admired the dirty blond locks that almost fell to his chin.
“He uses every opportunity available to tell me how much he disapproves of my decisions in life. Before I came here, well, before my mum died, I was going to join the family business and eventually take over my father’s company. There was this great big kingdom that my great-grandfather first built from the ground up. I was pursuing it, but I knew it wasn’t going to fulfill me. Sure, I’d have more money than I’d know what to do with, but I would be dead inside.”
Sarah looked on, understanding that she was getting to see the side to Jareth Kingston that no one else did, or probably ever would.
“Then when mum got sick, and I remember her telling me on her deathbed, ‘Jareth… you must be your own man, not the one the world wants you to be.’ Even she knew that I wasn’t happy. My father thought all of this was some stupid phase, eventually I would make my way back home and work under him.”
“What do you want?” Sarah asked.
You. Jareth voiced in his head, but not out loud. “There are a lot of things. I don’t know, but I do know that I don’t want to be him.”
“Then don’t.” Sarah responded.
It was all she could say in that moment. Jareth took in a huge breath and and heavily exhaled it.
“You’re right.” Jareth said before directing his attention back to his notes.
Sarah felt an internal victory with his acknowledgement of her advice, but now wasn’t the time to joke around about it. They carried on with their project as if nothing happened. It seemed that was what their partnership came down to sometimes: acting as if nothing ever happened.
Saturday evening couldn’t come quickly enough, and Sarah couldn’t remember the last time she was actually excited about going out for drinks. Holly was heading over, and Sarah was rummaging through her closet to find something to wear to Harvey’s. Removing her henley, she decided to wear a different pair of pants. Opting for her favorite pair of jeans, she grabbed it off of the hanger.
Suddenly, there was a knock on her door.
“That must be Holly.” Sarah said to herself before shouting, “IT’S OPEN!”
Still in nothing but her bra and underwear, Sarah still couldn’t decide on what top to wear. There was the simple, but pretty beige blouse that was three-quartered sleeved. Holly called it the pioneer blouse, even though it really didn’t look like something that would have been worn in that time period. The only con was that it required dry cleaning. Her other option was a blue laced top that swung loosely around the hip. It reminded her a little of a poet’s blouse she had when she was younger. Holly would help her in making a decision. She knew her black bra would be able to be seen through the beige blouse, so she grabbed a white bra that hanged off of a knob of her dresser drawer and began to remove her black one. She heard footsteps approaching her bedroom, and her back was turned to the door.
“Thank goodness you’re here. Help me pick something out.” Sarah said as she finished putting on her white bra before turning around and seeing Jareth Kingston standing in her doorway. He was clutching a few books, and Sarah could tell that he was trying his hardest to keep his eyes on hers even though she knew he got a good view a few seconds earlier.
“What are you doing here?” Sarah asked, suddenly realizing that she was practically naked in front of her classmate.
“You said the door was open.” Jareth said, gently roving his eyes over her form.
It was then that Sarah grabbed her jeans and started to put them on. She bent over, but didn’t realize that she was giving him a view of what her bra held in.
“How did you get my address?” Sarah asked, pulling the henley she wore earlier over her head.
“Student directory. I texted you earlier to tell you I was coming over.”
“It’s obvious I didn’t get the text!” Sarah said, quite flustered. She grabbed her phone off of the nightstand and realized that she did receive the text over an hour ago, but her phone was still on silent. She really needed to put the damn thing on vibrate.
Neither appeared to know what to say in that moment. Jareth moved the books around slightly, not knowing what to do with them. The two heard the front door of Sarah’s apartment door open.
“Yo, ready to go?” Holly shouted.
“We’re in here.” Sarah said, not realizing she included Jareth in the sentence.
The sound of Holly’s boots kept getting closer and closer to her bedroom. Jareth and Sarah still maintained eye contact.
“Sarah, Lucy found the engagement ring Dylan had been hiding in of all places, his sock drawer, so our get together tonight is a semi-celebration of their engage…” Holly stopped when she saw Jareth Kingston standing in Sarah’s bedroom.
“Well, this is an interesting development!” Holly said, going back and forth between the two.
“He just came by to drop off some books for our project.” Sarah said, rather flustered.
“Yep. See. Books.” Jareth said before placing them on Sarah’s bed.
There was an uncomfortable silence between the three.
“So, you all are going out to celebrate Dylan’s unexpected engagement?” Jareth said, knowing he wasn’t invited.
“Yeah…” Holly said, before adding, “I’m gonna go. This is too awkward for me. I’ll see you in a bit Sarah. Jareth, you should come and prove to some of your fellow classmates that you don’t spend your weekends S&Ming with freshmen girls.”
“What?” Jareth asked.
“Just ignore her.” Sarah said as they both heard Holly exit the apartment.
“I should go. Apparently my weekends are spent luring freshmen girls into sadomasochism.” Jareth said.
“Come on, what better way to prove to our entire class that you’re not a complete closed off jerk. Plus, you’ll get respect from Holly if you can let her comments roll off your shoulders. Don’t tell me you’ve got better things to do with your Saturday night.”
“I always do.” Jareth said, knowing that she could tell he was being a smartass.
“I’ll drive.” Sarah said, deciding to go with the “pioneer” blouse. Grabbing it off of the hanger, she didn’t bother to ask Jareth to leave as she yanked off her henley and put on the chosen blouse. She didn’t care if he got another peek of her bra; it was a strange initiation between the two.
After pinning her hair up, she expected Jareth to turn down her offer. He wasn’t in her bedroom when she put on a pair of flats, so she just assumed that he left. Walking into the living room, she found him skimming over her bookshelf with interest. He must have sensed her presence in the room because he kept his back to her as he said,
“You have quite an impressive collection of books.”
“Thanks.” Sarah said.
“Why all of the theater books? Don’t tell me you wanted to act also.” Jareth said, turning his head to look at Sarah.
“Those were my mother’s.”
“Why would you have your mum’s books?” Jareth asked absent-mindedly.
“She’s dead.” Sarah bluntly said.
“Shit, I’m sorry. I didn’t know.” Jareth said, now understanding that they had more in common than he originally thought.
“Why don’t we just head to Harvey’s?” Sarah spoke, wanting to get out of an apartment that was beginning to feel a bit too suffocating.
Sarah drove the two of them. As they listened to the local news station, Sarah offered to change the station, but she was surprised when Jareth admitted that he listened to that station too.
Harvey’s was about ten minutes from Sarah’s apartment. After parking her vehicle, the two walked towards the bar. Jareth appeared to be slightly nervous, and Sarah found his discomfort a bit humorous.
“You know, by being here, you’re proving that you’re human.”
“Yeah, yeah yeah.” Jareth said as they walked into Harvey’s.
Jareth opened the door for Sarah, and they were immediately greeted by the rest of their classmates.
“I’M ENGAGED!” Lucy shouted from the bar.
Sarah laughed and looked at Jareth before telling him, “It’s okay. Relax. By the looks of it, they’ve already had a drink or two.”
“I’m not worried about socializing with everyone in our seminar. I just want to know if I’ll need another bath once I get home.” Jareth said.
Sarah grabbed Jareth’s arm and guided him to the bar where the rest of their classmates were there. Lucy hugged Sarah and showed her the ring she accidentally discovered. Jareth introduce himself and congratulated her on the engagement. Lucy, while she wasn’t in the class, gave him a look that read: I don’t know you, but I know all about you.
Sarah was worried that Jareth would have trouble “hanging out” with the rest of the class, but he held his own and it was nice seeing him outside of his comfort zone. As Sarah clutched her Newcastle ale to her, she noticed that Jareth was genuinely engaged in a conversation with a few of their classmates. He mostly stuck to water, but she did notice him holding a pint of what appeared to be Guiness in his hand.
She was thrown out of her observation when she felt a shot glass being pushed in her direction.
“A drink for me lady!” Holly said.
“What is this?” Sarah asked.
“I have to give you credit for making Kingston a little more likeable, so here is a shot of your favorite.” Holly said jokingly.
Sarah knew what it was after seeing her coy face. Holly made the rounds, handing the rest of their classmates a shot. Jareth made his way back to her, holding the shot glass.
“Tequila.” Jareth said knowingly.
“Leave it to Holly to choose this form of poison.”
“Ah, you’re a lightweight when it comes to tequila.”
Sarah didn't have to say anything to tell Jareth all that he needed to know. A few seconds later, Dylan gave an impromptu speech about how thankful he was that everyone was there. He even mentioned that he was warming up to Jareth a bit, and Jareth raised his shot glass in appreciation as did a few other classmates. Lucy then interrupted him and told him to just get it over with.
Seconds later, everyone threw back his or her shot. Jareth took her glass from her, and Sarah didn’t think anything of it. Some of the classmates veered off into their own conversations, and Jareth ushered Sarah to a table in the corner of Harvey’s. He also bought another round of shots and drinks for the two of them.
“So Sarah, here we are, at Harvey’s nonetheless!”
Sarah knew that she should probably eat something. The wings weren’t anything to write home about, but food was food. She already had two shots, and was working on her second Newcastle, thanks to Jareth. He didn’t appear to be effected by the alcohol that was flowing.
“I saw you out there socializing with our class. I think you even like a majority of us, but you’re too proud to show it.” Sarah said, the alcohol was beginning to cloud her judgement a little.
“You are such a lightweight.” Jareth said endearingly.
“Nah, I just don’t drink very often.” Sarah said, swallowing a little more loudly than she anticipated she would.
“More or less. What about you? Don’t you Brits get to start at 16?”
“Notice how we don’t tend to binge drink. Well, except for some of those football fans.”
Sarah nodded, and continued to slightly bob her head up and down to the song blaring through the speakers.
“Wow, you really are a lightweight!” Jareth said. “I’m curious about how you would be full on drunk.”
Sarah eyed him before saying, “Mister, I can handle my alcohol!”
“Shall I order another round then?” Jareth dared her.
“Bring it on Brit boy!”
After two more rounds that involved shots and Newcastle, Jareth noticed a flushing of Sarah’s skin and a glassiness to her eyes. If Jareth wouldn’t have spoken, she would have forgotten that he was even there.
“Are you okay?” He asked.
Sarah was still moving her head around, this time to a song by The Rolling Stones. Jareth moved close enough to hear her humming along to “Miss You.” It was then that she noticed how close he was to her.
Then she was back in her own little world.
“I’m going to roll out with the big guns.” Jareth said, a sly smirk on his face.
“You’re not going to take advantage of my state of slight inebriation to ask me how I lost my virginity, are you?” Sarah asked, still slightly on point.
“I would never take advantage of you that way. Darling, if what I’m seeing before me is ‘slight,’ then I’d hate to see you full on drunk.” He added, still with the smirk on his face. “It’s a serious question: Why literature?”
Sarah pondered his question for a few seconds before giving him a response.
“I love literature because it’s allowed me live millions of lives. That’s so cheesy, I know, but when my parents got divorced, books were there. When my father got re-married and I didn’t care for my quote unquote wicked stepmother, books were there. When my mom died,…”
“…books were there.” Jareth finished.
“Yeah. I wasn’t very social as a kid; I knew that I was different because I wasn’t into the things that everyone else was into, but I had my books. I thought something was wrong with me for a while because I wasn’t trying to get a boyfriend, nor did I care if I had a date to the Prom. Instead, I wanted date…
“Don’t you dare tell me Mr. Darcy!” Jareth said.
“No, Amory Blaine from Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise. I just wanted to cradle him in my arms and love him the way he wanted to be loved.”
Before Sarah could go off on a tangent about her love for the character, she pulled herself back before adding, “There’s a certain level of solace that can be found from such things.”
Sarah leaned her head back into the booth and closed her eyes. Jareth thought she fell asleep, and he couldn’t keep his eyes off of her.
“So what about you? Why literature?” Sarah kept her eyes closed.
“The same reasons as you. There’s always someone out there who has it much worse than you do, even if it’s in a fictional book.”
Jareth wanted to reach out and touch his partner’s skin. He wanted to know if it was as soft as he fantasized it would be. Before he realized what he was doing, his hand was reaching for her. He touched her face, and she shot awake.
“I'm awake.” Sarah said, looking at her partner.
“Maybe you should eat something.” Jareth suggested.
“Nah, I didn’t get enough sleep last night.”
“Come on. I’ll take you home. You’ve had a little too much to drink.”
“I’m fine! I can see all three of you.” Sarah said as she tried to stand up, only to clutch the table in front of her.
“Come on Williams, I’ll drive you home.” Jareth moved to gently grab Sarah for fear that she was going to fall.
“Hey, what’s going on?” Holly asked as she noticed them heading towards the exit.
“Someone’s had a little too much to drink. I’m going to take her home.” Jareth said.
Holly was thrown off a bit by how nice Jareth was being.
“Yeah, she can’t handle her alcohol, even if she never admits it.” Holly said. “Sarah, I’ll see you on Monday.”
Sarah just smiled at her.
“Thanks for taking her home, Jareth. You know, I think you should come out with all of us more often. You’re cool when you’re not being an academic a-hole.” Holly said.
“Thanks, I guess.” Jareth said. “Please tell everyone goodbye for us.”
“Sure thing chicken wing.” Holly said as she headed back towards the bar.
Walking towards Sarah’s car, Jareth held onto her arm to make sure she didn’t fall.
“Ever the gentleman.” Sarah said, letting her partner lead her to the vehicle. “You drank too. What if you get us killed?”
“I can handle my alcohol, unlike you.” Jareth responded as he led her to the car.
Sarah reluctantly handed him her keys. The drive home was quiet, but not as awkward as Sarah thought it would be. She didn’t know she was drifting off until she felt Jareth’s hand gently shake her shoulder.
“At least wait until we get to your flat before you pass out on me.” Jareth said.
“What, you won’t carry me up the stairs?” Sarah said.
“There is a lift.” Jareth said.
Sarah turned her head towards Jareth and observed him. If alcohol was indeed a truth serum, she spoke before she let could stop herself.
“You are so beautiful.” Sarah said, moving her left arm to run her fingers through the bottom of his tresses. “It’s too bad your tongue gets in the way.” Sarah added before turning her head away from him.
“I don’t have any complaints about my tongue and what it can do.” Jareth said, knowing he would get a bit of a rise out of her.
“You know, you’re not so bad when you take that stick out of your arse.”
“You’re not the first to say it, and I’m sure you won’t be the last.”
Minutes later, Jareth pulled into the parking lot of Sarah’s apartment complex.
After making sure that she didn’t bump her head while exiting her car, Jareth escorted her up to her apartment. Sarah immediately went to her room to wash her face and brush her teeth. Jareth followed her in her room (to make sure she didn’t fall and knock herself out on the sink he told himself) and focused on her bedroom.
“I don’t need a babysitter.” She said, dressed in her night clothes.
Moving the comforter, she was too tired to care anymore.
“Just making sure that you’re fine.” Jareth said, moving towards the entrance of her room.
“I am.” Sarah said, staring at Jareth. She remembered their moment earlier when he saw her in her underwear, but she wanted to sleep, so such thoughts were pushed back in her brain.
“I’ll see myself out.” Jareth said.
Sarah didn’t know what to say, so she chose to let sleep take over her body. The last sound she heard before closing her eyes was the closing of her door. She just assumed that Jareth made sure the door was locked from the inside.
The next morning Sarah woke up to the sound of a car alarm going off in the parking lot. Stretching her limbs, she got out of bed and popped two aspirin to ease the slight headache she felt. Walking into the living room, she saw a note that was left on the coffee table.
I’m bringing breakfast @ 8.
Sarah looked at the clock in her kitchen and saw that it was 7:42. She should just text him and tell him not to worry about it, but she knew that wouldn’t change anything. She smelled her hair and knew that no amount of dry shampoo would get the funk of cigarettes and alcohol out of it. A five minute shower would be needed, but time management was something she was an expert on.
Putting on a pot of coffee, she took a quick shower and towel dried her hair. Just as she zipped up her jeans, she heard a knock on her door. Right on time: 8:00. Sarah opened her door for Jareth and saw him carry in a bag from her favorite local bakery.
“Oh gosh, you had to go Rustique!” Sarah said.
“Their breakfast platters are impressive.” Jareth said as he closed the door and locked it behind him. “I didn’t know exactly what you liked, so I just went with the basics.”
Sarah moved to clear a few books off of her dining table to make room for Jareth’s sweet gesture. Setting out the coffee pot, she spoke,
“You know, you really didn’t have to do this.”
“I wanted to. I figured we could get some work done too while we’re here. I have my notes in my car.”
“I thought we’re ahead of schedule.”
“Oh we are, but why not try to stay ahead?” Jareth said, handing the container with her food to her.
As the two ate their breakfast, Sarah randomly noted,
“How come you look like you didn’t even drink last night? I’m two steps away from feeling like I got run over by a train.”
“I don’t know. Maybe it’s magic.” Jareth said. “You look okay.”
“That’s the magic of two aspirin and a shower.”
“How can a student like you with not job that I know of afford a place like this? Daddy funding this?”
“No, my mother’s life insurance is.” Sarah solemnly said.
“Wow, that was the asshole in me coming out.”
“It’s fine. My mom wanted to make sure that I was going to be financially secure. I tried to work part time, but when my GPA dropped, I knew i had to give it up.”
“How did she die?” Jareth asked.
“Why didn’t you say anything when I talked about my mum?” Jareth asked.
“I didn’t see the point of it. You needed that moment, and who was I to steal it? I really wasn’t that close to my mom to be honest. After my parents divorced, she moved to London to act on the West End. She was very successful, but it strained our relationship a bit. Once a week phone calls became once a month and then two times a year. I think the reason why I inherited everything of hers is because she felt a bit guilty with how things turned out between us. I think that’s why I want to go to Oxford so bad; in a way, it’ll being me closer to her. I could have stayed in touch more, and I do feel bad about that sometimes, but what can you do?” Sarah said, suddenly losing her appetite.
Jareth wanted to grab her hand, but he didn’t think it appropriate in that moment. Still, his hand inched towards hers. Sarah backed up the chair and put the rest of her breakfast in a reusable container.
Moving into the living room with her coffee, she set up a workspace on her coffee table. Jareth took a few seconds to gather his thoughts before joining her. Unlike her, he finished his breakfast. Rinsing the dishes before leaving them in her sink, he felt the tension dissipate as soon as he walked into the living room. Her academic game face was on. There would be no more talk of their families.
Jareth stepped out of the apartment to grab his notes from his car.
“Did you bring your laptop by any chance?” Sarah asked as he walked back in.
“No, but I can go by my place and grab it if you think we need it. The presentation is coming along nicely, so I don’t think it’s needed.”
“That’s fine.” Sarah said, brushing her hair away from her face.
Sarah didn’t notice Jareth looking at her; she was too far in the zone. He told her he was digging for more information relating to Shakespeare and the supernatural, but he did that work already. He just needed to be patient.
The following Wednesday, Lucy invited Holly and Sarah out to lunch at their go to sandwich shop.
“Well?” Holly said, hoping her sudden interest in her lunch would force someone else to change the subject.
“Well what?” Sarah asked.
“It’s kind of an inside joke in our class with the two of you. Lucy’s not even in the class and she’s in on it.”
“Some, myself included, are under the impression that the two of you just need to quote unquote fuck each other’s brains out and get whatever it is between you two just out of your systems or something.” Lucy said, waving her hands around as if something was in front of her.
“Are you serious? You think all of this is some sort of underlying sexual tension?” Sarah asked.
“I’m not even in that class and I can feel it from a mile away. It was one thing to hear Dylan talk about it, but watching the two of you at Harvey’s the other day confirmed everything for me.” Lucy added. “He’s hot, and better yet, he likes you. That’s all the more reason to jump on that.”
“He doesn’t like me.” Sarah said, messing with her food.
Holly and Lucy started laughing.
“Sarah, for someone so smart, you are so clueless in the game of sexual politics. Kingston is the aggravating little boy on the playground pushing you out of the way, not because he thinks you’re a gross girl, but because he knows it will get your attention. I mean, come on, doesn’t every girl know stuff like that?” Holly said.
“He doesn’t like me. Sure, we’re getting along better, but that’s only because we’re partners. Our grade depends on it.”
“He looked mighty happy to be stuck with you the day you were late for class.” Holly added.
“You two need to stop. You’ve been watching too much Hallmark channel.” Sarah said, now more interested in honey dijon mustard added to her sandwich.
“Why are you hating on Hallmark?” Lucy asked jokingly.
“If you could see what I see…” Holly said.
“Can we just change the subject. Lucy, have you started dress shopping yet?” Sarah asked, hoping that Lucy and Holly would fall for the steering of the conversation. It did.
The next two weeks was a set schedule of working on their project and making sure that their sources were properly cited. Jareth’s go with the flow attitude pushed her buttons one too many times, but she knew when to pull herself out of the situation. The presentation was coming along nicely, and Sarah trusted Jareth’s judgment on the organization of it.
Sarah had done a great job of pushing aside her conversation with Holly and Lucy weeks earlier. She didn’t need such thoughts clouding her judgement, but sometimes she would let her thoughts linger. Did he like her? Was all of this just part of a plan? If he did like her, he had a funny way of showing it.
“Sarah, you there?” Jareth asked, waving his hands.
“I’m sorry, what?”
They were working in her apartment since Sarah offered to get them takeout from the Thai restaurant they visited when they first started working together.
“Someone’s knocking on your door.” Jareth said.
“That must be the delivery guy.” Sarah said, getting up quickly to get their food.
After taking a break to eat dinner, Jareth and Sarah got back to work. It was getting close to ten o’clock, and both should have called it a night. Still, they were almost done with everything. Weeks of getting along and forming some strange friendship was unfurled in a matter of seconds.
“No, I think we’ve got more than enough information. If we were to write a paper, we would be tipping off at 30 pages.” Jareth said.
“But you have to admit that a fairy tale would be a good addition.”
“It’ll become a cliche city Sarah. We have enough.”
“Then what’s one more example?”
“God Sarah, can’t you just leave well enough alone? Don’t tell me to sleep on it because I’m pretty sure I’ll have the same opinion 24 hours from now.”
“Here we go again.” Sarah said, getting up to bring her glass into the kitchen.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jareth asked.
“Don’t get all condescending on me. I merely made a suggestion, and given your reaction, it was a stupid one. Forget it.”
“How was my turning your idea down condescending?” Jareth asked as Sarah walked back into the living room.
“Just forget it. I’m tired. You’re tired. Pardon me for forgetting my place.” Sarah said, grabbing two books to put back on her bookshelf.
“What the hell does that supposed to mean? You think I don’t value your work?”
“It’s been obvious since day one! All semester you’ve picked on everyone, me especially. Nothing I’ve said to you since the day we started working together has mattered.”
It wasn’t until Sarah turned around that she saw Jareth standing no more than three feet away from her.
“You think I don’t value your work? Your mind?” Jareth kept moving closer to her.
Sarah was now backed into her bookshelf, not realizing how close he was until she noticed the peppermint that lingered in his breath. It was from a candy that was put in their takeout bag. She didn’t notice how her chest met his. There were moments she thought he would kiss her, the lean in was there, but he would pull away right before their lips met.
The look in his eyes was the same one she saw the day he walked in on her as she was changing. She could see him swallow, their eyes still locked on one another.
“Dare you to move.” Sarah whispered, knowing that she was playing with fire.
Jareth cunningly smiled before he crushed his lips against hers. Their kisses weren’t slow and sweet, they were brutal and bruising. In the moment, Sarah wanted nothing more than to wear such a bruise. He gently grabbed her face with his hands, holding her face to his as he pushed his hips into hers. Sarah could feel his hardness press into her, and it only added fuel to the fire that was her lust.
Sarah broke away from him if only to breathe and leaned her head back against the wall of her bookshelf. She needed a moment to regain some ounce of control, but hadn’t she been doing that all of her life? Jareth’s lips continued to move down her neck, his grip on her iron clad.
She turned her head to look towards the window, happy to see that her curtains were closed for the most part. She didn’t want to give her neighbors a show, but Jareth Kingston was the kind of person who make her reconsider such a thing. Loosening his hands, he leaned his forehead against hers, trying to force his heartbeat to slow down.
“Have you any idea how many times I’ve fantasized doing this to you?” Jareth whispered into her skin.
Sarah indulged in his whim. She yielded to this side of him.
“How long?” She answered, expecting him to say something to the tune of a few hours.
“Since the day you walked into that classroom. Please tell me you figured it all out by now.” He said as he began to kiss every inch of her face that his lips could reach.
The antagonizing. The constant egging and prodding. All of it was a ruse to capture her attention. Holly and Lucy were right! Their entire class was right! Sarah didn’t understand why, but his confession turned her on more than she thought it would.
“Then there was that day I saw you in your knickers.” Jareth said before bringing his lips back to hers.
After a few minutes of relentless kissing, Sarah ran her hand along his zipped up pants. He closed his eyes and leaned his head against hers again. He licked his lips, waiting in anticipation for her next move. Sarah knew she had all of the power as she unzipped his pants and moved her hand inside of his briefs.
Running her hand up and down his length, Sarah saw the pained expression on Jareth’s face as she slowly glided her hand along his now weeping member.
“Don’t stop. Please…” Jareth said, his lips making their way back to hers.
He began to move thrust into her hand, and Sarah rejoiced in the friction it caused. If someone would have told her weeks ago when their odd partnership began that she would be giving her arch nemesis, Jareth Kingston, a hand job while pressed against her bookshelf then she would have ordered that person a mental evaluation.
Sarah continued to move her hand, her lips still at war with his. She noticed that she was trapped between his arms, both of them gripping a part of her shelf. As she picked up the pace of her hand, she suddenly felt his hand softly cup her cheek. Breaking away from his lips, she kissed his palm before leaning back into the shelf as his hand explored her face.
“I want to touch you. I need to feel your heat.” Jareth whispered as he lowered his hand towards her center. She stopped for a moment to allow him to unzip her pants and move his hand inside of her underwear. The two were still for a moment while Jareth slowly moved this hand towards the heat he so sought.
Sarah gasped as she felt his finger slowly enter her. Jareth’s eyes focusing only on hers.
“Fuck, you’re so wet.” He whispered.
Taking a few minutes to slowly explore, he inserted another finger. Sarah’s head still rested on the bookshelf. She had to remind herself to breathe in and breathe out, and she felt Jareth’s eyes burning into her very flesh. She needed a distraction - something to focus on, so she returned her hand to his swollen flesh.
Moving his lips to hers, Sarah noticed that his kisses were softer, less aggressive than they were before. They were indulging in each other’s flesh, taking what the other was willing to offer. They were surrendering to each other. Was he the wolf? Perhaps she was all along?
Sarah felt his fingers speed up and she tried to do the same with her hand on his cock, but she couldn’t concentrate on her task because she was so close and he knew it.
“Come for me Sarah. Surrender to me the way I long to surrender to you.” He whispered as he continued to stroke her. “That’s it. I feel you’re getting closer. I bet you taste wonderful.”
His words took her over the edge and it didn’t take log for her to come hard. Resting her head against his shoulder, he slowed down the pace of his fingers, slowly easing his way out of her. Jareth grabbed her back, clutching her to him. Her hand still rested on his erect member.
Taking a few seconds to allow her heartbeat to slow down, Sarah continued to stroke him. She heard him utter a few curse words under his breath, and she knew that she was going in the right direction.
“How many times did you touch yourself imaging this scenario?” Sarah asked, feeling emboldened by his earlier confession. He didn’t have to answer her because she could tell he was close. “Do you long to take me against this?”
“Fuck.” Jareth groaned out as he gripped her bookshelf tighter.
Sarah moved her free hand to his mouth, roughly running her fingers over his lips. Grabbing his chin, she forced him to look into her eyes. She smiled because she knew in that moment that she had him.
“How long have you fantasized surrendering to me?” Sarah asked. “Do it. Give in. You can fall. I’ve got you.” Sarah continued, soon feeling his release in her hand.
She softly stroked him as he continued to come into her hand. Their throats were dry, but none of that mattered. She wanted to kiss him, but she didn’t know what that would imply with their relationship.
“Where do we go from here?” Jareth asked, kissing her lightly as he zipped up her jeans. Seconds later he did the same for his own zipper.
“I don’t know.” Sarah responded as she wrapped her arms around his neck.
“I don’t know either.” Jareth said.
“That makes two of us then.” Sarah said before she started laughing.
They didn’t have to say anything to know that things just got a lot more complicated, and for once, Sarah welcomed the complication.
Chapter 4: 4
I'd like to apologize for not posting this sooner. Long story short: I had a sudden family emergency which involved a hospital, but all appears to be fine now. I guess I needed more time to process things than I originally thought. I hope you all enjoy this chapter.
It was 1:23 in the morning, and Sarah couldn't sleep. She was in a state of being torn between now knowing what the hell transpired between her and Jareth Kingston and giddily smiling because something did happen.
She retraced her fingers over her lips, hoping that the action could possibly give her a clue to better understanding their predicament, but it only added to the mystery. Did he really mean all of the things he said, or was he playing her? Her stomach burst with the excitement that came from such pure, unadulterated lust. But then there was the fear. What would happen when the semester ended?
Sarah tried not to overanalyze the situation, but it was all she could do in that moment. She was studying literature, overthinking was part of the package. She still couldn't wrap her head around how she felt, but what really worried her was how Jareth Kingston made her feel. She felt alive being pressed into the bookshelf. She felt powerful knowing that she could take a man notorious for his sharp tongue and bring him to his metaphorical knees. It also scared her because she knew deep down that he was being honest. He respected her even if it didn't seem that way to the world.
Turning over to face the other side of her room, she wanted nothing but sleep, but it was a cruel mistress. Closing her eyes, she heard the ding from her phone indicating a text message. Grabbing her phone, she expected it to be Holly butt texting her, but it was Jareth.
I can't stop thinking about what happened.
There it was: regret. He was going to return to his original state. Maybe it was for the best that things went back to normal, whatever that was. Sarah grabbed her phone, texting a response.
Let's just act like nothing ever happened.
Seconds later she heard her phone ding and read his response.
I spent half the night wanking off just thinking about you. I regret nothing.
If Sarah wouldn't have been fully awake, she would have assumed the text was sent to the wrong person. Sarah appreciated his honesty, but not so early in the morning. Plus, she knew this was a conversation she would have to delete from her phone.
Thanks. I guess.
Sarah didn't know what else to write, but went with the first thought in her head: I'd ask what you thought about, but I need to sleep.
Sarah felt free indulging in her naughtier side. She could blame her lack of sleep for that response.
Damn, he was straightforward. She never was a big fan of that word, but she was a little too curious about what it sounded like exiting his mouth. Sarah could tell he was typing more, and seconds later she received another message.
I imagine you taste like honey and wine. I plan on showing you one day when this business with our project is over. That is, if you will allow me.
Sarah didn't have to see Jareth's face to know the look that was on his face. She felt her cheeks redden, knowing that they had to pump the brakes on this before it got too crazy.
Sarah responded: Go to sleep. I'm sure you'll find a way to bring this up again soon.
Yeah, a tired one.
Sleep didn't come to her until an hour later.
The next time the class met, Jareth and Sarah kept the seating arrangement they previously had. But it wasn't anything unusual because everyone in the seminar was sitting next to his or her partner.
It was the first time they saw each other since "the incident" as Sarah had so aptly put it. If Jareth Kingston was anything, he was good at playing it cool. Class went off without any hiccups, and Sarah began to doubt if what happened even happened as things flowed back to normal. As the class was discussing more of Angela Carter's work, Sarah focused all of her attention on what was being said, or at least she tried to.
She couldn't get his text messages out of her head. Images swam in her head when she allowed it, but she was thankful for the distraction that was school. Not today, though. As if he sensed her mind being adrift, Sarah felt a hand on her left thigh.
Slightly jumping, Sarah hoped she didn't attract the attention of her class only to find that she did. She didn't have to look to see who was responsible for such a thing. Jareth's hand was still on her thigh, his slight grip letting her know that he wasn't removing it any time soon.
"Is everything fine Ms. Williams?" Dr. Eubanks asked.
"Fine." Sarah choked out.
She felt the stares of everyone else in the class, none of them seeing her partner's hand thanks to the round table they were sitting at. Sarah knew that if she acknowledged Jareth then everyone else would know what was possibly going on. He played it as if nothing was going on - his focus directed towards Holly's critique of a Carter character.
In any other normal situation, Sarah would slap someone for being so forward, but she felt something stir in her. If Jareth Kingston wanted to play, then she could do the same. She knew that he expected her to yank his hand away, which was now slyly moving up and down her thigh.
"I'd like to add something to what Holly said." Jareth said.
As he elaborated on "The Tiger's Bride," Sarah knew the timing was perfect when she placed her left hand on top of his. Jareth wasn't expecting her to do such a thing, and the pause in his discussion proved it.
Sarah looked at him, knowing that no one else in the room would be able to see the look she was giving him. She feigned innocence as she placed her hand on his right thigh and slowly moved it to his crotch area. Sarah had him, and she knew it, all while keeping her own cool.
"You okay?" Sarah asked out loud, letting him know that she owned this round.
He looked at her like she was a platter he was eager to dive into and eat.
"Fine." He said before finishing his point.
Twenty minutes later, Dr. Eubanks dismissed the class and Sarah got up to leave.
"Yo, let's grab some lunch. I'm starving!" Holly said before acknowledging Jareth. "Jareth, care to join us?"
"Thanks, but I've got some work to complete for my Shakespeare course. Williams, shall I see you tomorrow?"
"Yeah. See you then." Sarah said.
Jareth exited the room a few seconds before Holly and Sarah did. Minutes later as they waited in line to place their orders, Sarah felt her phone vibrate in her pocket. She saw it was from Jareth.
You should know that this isn't over.
Sarah smiled at her phone before replying: Promise?
She knew she was teasing him, but she had never been so open to doing such things with anyone else.
"Hey! What's going on?" Holly asked.
"Nothing. Dad sent a photo of Toby. That kid is something else."
Sarah could tell that Holly didn't believe her, but she didn't press the issue. Seconds later, she received another message from Jareth.
Honey and wine…
Sarah didn't respond because she knew he was goading her. Minutes later as they were eating, Sarah hoped to divert the attention away from herself and all things Jareth Kingston.
"What was up with Kingston today?" Holly asked.
"What are you talking about?"
"Come on! That man is NEVER caught off guard. Something is definitely up." Holly said.
"Your guess is as good as mine." Sarah said, focusing even more attention on the walnuts in her salad.
Maybe if she was ambivalent then Holly would move on.
"Did something happen between you and Kingston?" Holly asked, as if she were asking for Sarah to pass the salt.
Sarah dropped her fork, avoiding Holly's stare.
"No!" Sarah was quick to say, but she knew that the speed of her response gave her away.
"I knew it! I could tell that something was up between you two." Holly said.
"Can we not…"
"Oh come on! I need a distraction from the craziness that is my semester. Let me enjoy this."
"Sorry to break it to you, but there's nothing to enjoy." Sarah said.
"Oh, bull shit! Sarah, you're not a good liar. I respect the fact that you try, but come on, ever since that day I walked in on the two of you there has been something different in the air."
"Holly, you know me. Why would I get involved with someone like Kingston?"
"Have you completely forgotten the conversation we had with Lucy a few days ago? Plus, if I knew someone like that was trying to get into my pants, I wouldn't be so quick to run away."
"You don't even like him." Sarah countered.
"I'm warming up to him! He doesn't have to be a nice guy in order to pleasure a woman properly."
"And how do you know this?"
"Women can usually tell."
"You are ridiculous."
"So, nothing is going on?" Holly asked.
"And he's been a respectful guy."
"Yes." Sarah quickly answered, digging into her salad.
"And the orgasms are earth shattering?"
"Oh, yeah!" Sarah said before slamming her hand to her mouth.
Holly screeched like a little girl seeing her idol walk into the room. She didn't care if everyone in the restaurant was looking at them. Sarah, realizing her mistake, was covering up face with her hands for a few seconds.
"Holly, you can't say anything to anyone! Swear it!" Sarah pleaded.
"I need details!" Holly said, her excitement building.
"No, you want details. There's a difference." Sarah said, her appetite all but gone now.
"I won't tell anyone."
"Not even Lucy?"
"Why can't Lucy know?"
"Because she's engaged to Dylan, and I don't want the entire class knowing my business, not that there's much to report anyway."
Sarah knew that Holly would press until she got what she wanted.
"Fine. I swear on my beloved Beanie Babies collection, which is worth some money if certain websites are correct, that I will not divulge any information that you are about to tell me. I'll even spit on it."
"That won't be necessary. You know, you really should be a detective." Sarah said, slightly disturbed.
"Quit trying to change the subject. Details!" Holly pressed.
"There's really not much to say. We were working, we got into a bit of an argument, and next thing I know, I'm pressed into my bookshelf and we're, well, intimately touching one another."
Holly giggled a bit. "Only you would be so proper in describing a handjob."
"I'm beginning to regret telling you already."
"Okay, I'm serious now. Please continue." Holly smiled sweetly.
"We just made out and well, gave each other a hand job as you so eloquently put it."
"So, no sex?"
"No, sorry to let you down there."
"Oh, this isn't over Sarah! I bet that the two of you will be going at it before the semester is over."
"I'm not sharing anything else with you in regards to this subject." Sarah said.
"You do realize that your life has become a Hallmark movie." Holly said.
Sarah rolled her eyes in annoyance as Holly continued,
"Hear me out: guy and girl don't get along. Guy and girl are forced to work together. Guy and girl realize that there's chemistry, and two hours later, commercials included, guy and girl ride off in the sunset." Holly said.
"Life is not a Hallmark movie. Sorry to break it to you." Sarah said.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever." Holly said.
"You really have a Beanie Babies collection?" Sarah asked.
"Hey, don't knock em! They're adorable." Holly added.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever." Sarah said before giggling.
The next day Sarah got a text from Jareth.
Care to meet at my flat today? I promise, no sadomasochism involved.
Sure. Text me the address.
Seconds later she had the information and went about her day as usual. Later on that day she knocked on his door and heard his footsteps approach. Part of her wanted to cancel their meeting because she felt a headache forming, but she didn't want Jareth to think that she was coming up with some excuse to not see him. Sarah didn't realize that she took in and released a breath until she saw him open the door.
He was dressed like he usually was, only he was bare footed. Why that caught her attention? She wasn't entirely sure.
"Hey." Sarah said, not realizing that she came off as a bit apprehensive.
"Hey yourself." Jareth replied. "Please, come in."
Sarah walked into his apartment and noticed how sparse, but homey it was.
"Make yourself at home. I put on a pot of coffee a few minutes ago." Jareth said as he walked into the kitchen.
Sarah noticed that his laptop was open and he appeared to be working on their presentation.
"Here you go." Jareth said as he handed Sarah a cup of coffee.
"Thanks." Sarah said.
Placing her bag on the ground, she soon began to remove her notes and books.
"You've been working." Sarah stated.
"Yeah, some of the slides need a bit of tweaking. The information is on pointe, but maybe we should just stick with simplicity in terms of the presentation."
Sarah moved behind the computer and saw his work. It was just as Sarah imagined it to look: refined and professional.
"It looks good. Really good." Sarah said.
"At this rate we'll be done next week."
"With one to spare." Sarah said a bit solemnly.
"Oh, make no mistake, I still plan on seeing you." Jareth confidently said.
A bit thrown off by his audacity, Sarah slightly laughed.
"Wow, mighty presumptuous of you. What if your company isn't wanted?" Sarah asked.
Jareth smugly looked at her. "Darling, let's not dance around this. I desire you. You desire me. I reckon we can find ways to entertain ourselves until this whole presentation mess is over with, and then after that" he deliberately paused, "we shall see."
Jareth looked at her like she was a piece of cake he couldn't wait to devour, but this was a lesson in delayed gratification for him. Maybe it was a lesson for her too. Sarah decided it was best to just get to work.
Two hours later, her headache was in full swing and she couldn't concentrate on anything but the throbbing. Jareth noticed her fingers running circles on her forehead.
"You got something for that?" Jareth asked.
"No. I should probably just go home. I'm no good with this thing." Sarah said, pointing to her temple. They still had work to do, and they were ahead of schedule. A day off wouldn't be such a bad idea.
"Let me get you something." Jareth got up and headed towards his bathroom. "You can take ibuprofen, right?"
"Yeah." Sarah said, going to his kitchen to fill her now empty coffee cup with water.
When Sarah walked back into the living area, Jareth was waiting for her with the two pills. Sarah took them, but not before thanking him.
"I always find a nap helps me out when I have headaches. You are more than welcome to take my couch."
"I don't know…" Sarah said, not feeling entirely too comfortable with his kind gesture.
"I'll stay here and work on the PowerPoint. Your notes are very detailed, so I'll be fine navigating my way through them."
Sarah was torn, but when she looked at how comfortable the couch looked, she felt the temptation of a small nap pull her in.
"I guess a thirty minute nap wouldn't hurt." Sarah said.
"I wager it will be sixty minutes." Jareth cheekily added.
Sarah lay on the sofa and turned her back to Jareth. She felt his stare, but her head hurt too much to give it any more thought than necessary. Within ten minutes she was out.
Sarah was awakened by Jareth's phone conversation. She opened her eyes, not realizing that she had turned over and was now facing Jareth Kingston.
"There are only a few more weeks to the semester. I'll go back then." Jareth softly spoke.
He was walking around his living room, not aware that she was awake. She could hear a voice on the other end of the line, but felt like she was intruding on the conversation.
"Well, I'm sure the new housemaid will make sure that the silver is polished." He said sarcastically before turning around and noticing Sarah.
"Look, father, I've got to go. I'll contact you soon about my holiday." He appeared more than ready to end the conversation. "Yeah. Yeah. Yes father! Bye." Jareth sighed and ended the call before tossing his phone on the closest chair.
He smiled as he looked at her.
"You slept for over two hours."
"Did I?" Sarah asked, knowing that she wouldn't be able to sleep that night.
"Feel better?" Jareth asked.
"Yeah, I do. Maybe we should call it a day."
"On work, yes. I'm planning on ordering take out if you'd like to stay. My treat." Jareth said.
"Why not." Sarah said, still trying to wake herself up.
There was a moment of awkward silence before Sarah just decided to bite the bullet and ask.
"I take it that phone call wasn't a good one." Sarah asked.
Jareth sighed before sitting next to her on the sofa. He had a loveseat and a sitting chair, but he chose to sit next on the same piece of furniture she was on. Maybe Sarah was overthinking it.
"He means well, I know, but it just becomes so draining after a while. I don't know what I want to eat for dinner, but he expects me to know what my plans for the next 48 months are going to be."
"This conversation sounds a little familiar." Sarah said, trying to be supportive.
"You now, I've been thinking about creative writing. I like research, but I think that would bore me after a while." Jareth said, leaning his head back into the sofa.
"I never pegged you as a writer." Sarah said.
"I've got journals and journals of story ideas and poems. I have no interest in running a company, but I can probably write a novel about running one."
"Then you should pursue that." Sarah said.
"Would you? No, forget about it." Jareth seemed so unsure.
"Would I what?"
"Would you be interested in possibly reading some stuff I wrote? Just prose and things like that after the semester is over so you're not rushed or anything."
Jareth twiddled his fingers and he stared at them. He didn't notice Sarah moving closer to him. He only stopped when she placed a hand on top of his.
"I'd love to read your work."
Jareth smiled at Sarah and she smiled back.
"With that sharp tongue of yours, you must be a good writer." Sarah added.
Jareth pulled Sarah towards him and softly kissed her. Her body found its way into his lap, and soon Sarah felt his hands wandering over her chest. The air conditioning was running, but she only felt heat in the room. It was only when his hands made their way under her shirt that she reluctantly pulled away from him.
He was irresistible, and Sarah bit her bottom lip as she looked at his glazed eyes and wild hair. Jareth pulled her back to him, and their heavy make out session continued. Sarah could feel his hardness beneath her, and she was tempted to rub against him to torture him with such friction, but she didn't. Things were moving a bit too fast, but maybe she needed to trust the feeling in the pit of her stomach telling her to just let go and throw all of the caution she built so many years building up.
Running her fingers through his hair, Sarah didn't realize she bit his lip until he gasped. Sarah stared at him and was about to apologize when she saw him break out with the biggest smile she had ever seen him possess.
"My my Sarah, have you got some bite." He whispered before adding, "And here I thought I was the wolf."
"You wish." Sarah said before slightly slapping his chest.
Jareth grabbed her and brought her eyes to his.
"I'm serious. You think I'm not being sincere."
"No, it's just that it's hard to have a serious conversation with you being… well, you know."
Jareth deviously smiled before he pushed her back on the sofa and lay on top of her. Sarah felt his exquisite weight settle on top of her as his hand roamed up her waist. Her skin kept getting cooler and cooler, and it took Sarah a moment to realize that he was undoing the buttons of her shirt. She was thankful that her bra was a decent one, as she felt his hand slowly slide over her stomach.
"You might want to tell me stop." Jareth whispered. "I can't guarantee that I'll be able to once I get this thing off."
Sarah needed a sign — something to tell her that this shouldn't continue. Nothing as he began to move his lips over her chest. Nothing again as she pulled his shirt over his head. Nothing as she heard the movement of a zipper. Nothing as he cupped a still clothed breast. Then there was a rumble from her stomach. She hadn't eaten in hours, and she smiled at the timing of it. Her stomach rumbled again.
"That sounds like a volcano ready to explode." Jareth said, laughing along with her.
"You did promise me a meal." Sarah said.
"We should tend to that then." Jareth said as he began to button up her shirt. "What shall it be then? Chinese? Italian? Indian?"
"I've become quiet attached to that Thai place you introduced me to." Sarah said.
"Then Thai is it." Jareth said as he got up and grabbed his phone. "I'm pretty sure there's a take out menu of theirs in my kitchen."
"I'll have what you're having. Food is food when you're really hungry. You call it in and I'll go pick it up." Sarah said.
"They deliver, though."
"Yeah, but I need to cool off a bit." Sarah said.
Jareth smiled knowing exactly what she meant.
"I'm still paying." Jareth said before he got someone on the other line.
Sarah walked around his living room as she heard him place their order. His bookshelf was just as crowded, if not more crowded, than hers. Jareth didn't have many decorations on his wall, nor did she find many pictures. There was one that she focused on, and she knew that it was him with his mother. His hair was shorter, almost mod in its style, but it was cute nonetheless.
She jumped slightly when she heard Jareth say, "I was around 12 when that photo was taken."
"You look so happy."
"I was. I am. The food can be picked up in about 15 minutes."
"By the time I get there it should be ready." Sarah said as she walked to grab her purse. "I'm getting the food."
"I insist, it's my treat." Jareth protested.
"You'll get the next meal." Sarah said.
"You say that like there's going to be another one." Jareth cheekily said.
"You know damn well you're going to make sure that happens." Sarah said as she walked out the door.
Two hours later the two were watching Neil Jordan's, The Company of Wolves. Earlier, Jareth admitted that he had yet to watch it and wanted to get Sarah's interpretation of it.
As the two both sat on the sofa, Sarah ignored the production value and noted the differences between the story and the film version. There were moments Sarah couldn't stifle her laughter at the frank campiness of it, but that was almost to be expected from a "horror" film made in the 1980s.
The credits rolled and Sarah didn't notice that Jareth was on his phone.
"My company that boring?" Sarah said.
"I'm just looking at something." Jareth said.
"Maybe I should go." Sarah said, stretching out her legs.
"That actress who played Rosaleen was a teenager when she filmed that movie." Jareth said.
"That's kind of disturbing considering the sexual undertones." Sarah said.
"Yeah." Jareth added, just now noticing that Sarah was getting ready to leave. "Where are you going?"
"Home." Sarah said.
"It's still early. We can watch another film. I also purchased a used copy of A Werewolf in London."
Sarah knew she should have turned him down, and he could see her internal struggle.
"You know you want to. Pull a Rosaleen and give in to your curiosity." Jareth said.
"Could you be any more tacky?" Sarah asked, knowing she was gong to stay for a little while longer.
"You'll find out if you stay." Jareth said, spreading his arms out across the back of the couch.
Sarah rolled her eyes and kicked off her shoes.
"Fine." Sarah said.
For the first half of the movie, Sarah stiffly sat in the sofa, wanting to get comfortable. She needed to stretch her legs out and figured that the sofa had enough room for her legs and Jareth.
Lying on her right side, she misestimated the length of the sofa and felt her feet land on Jareth's thigh. She immediately drew them away into a semi-fetal position.
"Sorry." Sarah muttered.
Jareth didn't pay any mind to it, but a while later Sarah's legs began to bother her again. Jareth noticed it and grabbed Sarah's feet before placing them on his thigh. He kept his hand on her ankle as if to tell her that he didn't mind. The film continued.
Minutes later, Sarah felt him gently rub a hand up and down her ankle. She wasn't paying attention to the film anymore as she felt his hand go back and forth over her skin. Thankful that she shaved her legs that morning, Sarah tried to concentrate on the film, but couldn't. She tried to distract herself by focusing on his apparent werewolf fascination. It worked for a few minutes, but his fingers were a distraction even though he kept his hand in one location. She didn't realize the film was over until she saw the film credits.
"I've got the 1990s version that's set in Paris too." Jareth said, shaking her out of her spell. "I'll admit, I've read it's bad, but it could be worth the laughs."
Sarah pulled her legs away from him and sat up.
"No, that's fine. I think we've had enough blood and gore for one night." Sarah said as she got up to grab her stuff.
"You don't have to go." Jareth said. There was a tone of seduction to it that Sarah didn't miss.
"Maybe I should."
"Early morning?" Jareth said, calling her bluff as he moved closer and closer to her.
"No, I just…" Sarah stared at him.
This time she was backed into his wall. It was the same game they played days ago, waiting to see who would be the first to move.
"I could eat you up, you look so delectable." Jareth said, rubbing his cheek against hers.
"I once read that a gentleman is merely a patient wolf." Sarah replied, now feeling his lips on her neck.
"Ah, is that how you see me? The wolf?"
"Here I thought I was the wolf." Sarah said before her lips met his.
His hand ran over her neck and collarbone while the other one braced itself against his wall. His lips remained on hers for a few seconds before he spoke.
"Stay the night. There, I said what I've been wanting to say for hours."
Sarah turned her mouth away from his. their lips were no longer in contact, but that didn't stop his from leaving a trail of kisses along the side of her neck. When he found her jugular vein, he darted his tongue out to trace it. She didn't want to give in. She didn't want to fall into the twisted game that the two of them had been playing, but it was a dance she couldn't run away from.
"Stay the night." He requested again.
"I don't think I can." Sarah whispered, shutting her eyes tightly, still not able to face him.
Sarah felt him pull away. She didn't have to look at him to know that he was staring at her. Trying to catch her breath, she tried to formulate what words to say.
"I'm not asking you to sleep with me. I just want the pleasure of your company." Jareth softly said.
Sarah turned to face him and saw genuine honesty in eyes.
"It's not that I don't want to; it's just that I've never allowed myself to get so reckless with someone." Sarah said, leaning her head into the wall. "It's liberating, but it's scary too."
"You want to know my intentions?" Jareth posed rhetorically.
"Not if they're going to wound me."
"Why would I do such a thing?" Jareth said, keeping his distance, but still close enough to where she could feel his breath on her flesh. It was almost as if they were re-enacting the seduction scene between Rosaleen and the wolf.
"Because I'm allowing myself to become the lamb to your slaughter." Sarah answered.
"I expect so much more of you my little lamb." Jareth said, tracing his hand over her arms and torso with a slow, delicate speed that gave way to goosebumps. "I intend to court you, woo you, make love to you, and fuck you. Yes, there's a difference between the two in my world. But tonight, I just want you to show me your world."
"I'm afraid I don't understand." Sarah said, yielding to his touch.
Jareth smiled, knowing he was about about repeat a line he told her weeks earlier.
"Don't worry, you will." He said before wrapping her legs around his waist and kissing her.
He carried her to his bedroom, never loosening his grip on her body.
Sarah was no idiot, she knew where she was being taken, but she still didn't understand what Jareth meant just seconds earlier. She could feel his girth pressed against her, hard and ready for some sort of release. She too could feel the heat of her desire fanning the flames in her blood. Falling on his bed, Jareth refused to release Sarah as he continued to feast on whatever she was willing to offer. He released the button of her jeans and slowly drew the zipper down.
Sarah didn't realize how much she was aiding in the removal of her jeans until she felt the cold air on her legs. His hand was creeping towards her center, and it took everything in her power for her to gently shove him away.
"Wait." Sarah whispered, trying to catch her breath. "I still don't understand."
Jareth smiled at her, using his sinewy arms to raise himself up. The hardness was still pressed against her.
"I'm not going to have sex with you." Jareth said.
"Well then what exactly are we doing then?" Sarah questioned.
"I'm going to request something of you."
"What?" Sarah was starting to get worried.
"I want you to touch yourself. I want to watch you get off."
"What?" Sarah repeated.
"You heard me."
"I'm not going to do that! I've never done that."
"You've never touched yourself?"
"I've done that, just not in front of anyone else."
That seemed to turn Jareth on. His tell tale smirk was back.
"I bet you look lovely." He added.
"I don't think I can do that Jareth."
"You fail to see your own power Sarah. I always wondered what you would look like touching yourself. There's something so beautiful about a woman seeking her own pleasure. Men, we just wank off, rush to the completion and go about our business, but women tend to savor every little bit of it. I want to know what pleasures you. I want to watch you. Come away little lamb; come away to the slaughter."
Sarah wanted to call him out on his so-called pervertedness, but she was turned on by his confession. She was so turned on by it.
"I don't want you to think that I'm pressuring you. You can leave and I won't be offended. You could stay and we can just have a fully clothed sleepover. I'll respect your decision either way." Jareth said.
A small part of Sarah wanted to go home, but she was too fired up to do such a thing. This wasn't the sort of thing one just walked away from. Swallowing her fear and insecurities about such a thing, Jareth moved off of her. There was a look on his face of resignation: he had asked too much of her and pushed her too far.
"You too." Sarah replied.
It was Jareth's turn to ask the question.
"I want to see you touch yourself too." Sarah said.
Jareth rushed to remove all of his clothing, not caring if he looked like a fool. He was all too eager to join her.
"Inch back on the bed." Jareth said, trying to remain calm as he stood unashamedly naked in front of her.
"I can't see you." Sarah whispered as she began to unbutton her top.
Jareth shifted a little before adding, "No! Leave your shirt on."
Sarah didn't think much on his request as she inched a hand into her underwear. She caught a glance of his cock before she began to move a finger inside of her. She was already wet, but she didn't need to feel herself to know what was happening.
"Remove them." Jareth breathlessly said.
Sarah reached down and moved slightly to see Jareth stroking himself.
"Please, let me see you." He choked out.
Sarah slowly spread her legs in front of him before returning her finger to its previous location. She didn't see his reaction, but rather heard it.
"Fuck! I bet you're so tight." Jareth whispered.
His words egged Sarah on as her neck arched back into his bed.
"Keep talking." Sarah whispered, as she slightly picked up the speed of her finger.
"I can't wait to run my tongue over your lips. I can't wait to taste you. You're so beautiful Sarah." Jareth said as he now kneeled on the edge of the bed.
He wasn't close enough to touch her, and she understood that it was done on purpose.
She could now see him stoking himself, even if she couldn't fully see what he was stroking. His neck was also arched back, and Sarah couldn't help the moans that escaped her throat.
"When will I get to feel you? When will I get to feel your tongue on me? I love seeing you like this." Sarah breathed as her finger continued to move, her waist slightly moving up.
Jareth looked down at her, their eyes meeting in a dangerous dance.
"How many times have you fucked yourself like this, wishing it was me?" Sarah asked, surprising herself that she had the gall to say such things.
She saw Jareth continue to stare down at her, watching her finger move inside of her passage.
"Too many times." He said before adding, "Fuck, I'm so close!"
Feeling bold from their actions, Sarah picked up the pace of her finger and moved her legs up without realizing that it gave Jareth a better view.
"I'm close too." Sarah whispered, turning her head to the side, not able to take the intense lust that beamed down on her from Jareth's eyes.
Seconds later she came, clinching her eyes shut before suddenly feeling Jareth's naked weight fall but a few inches from her. He braced himself with his arms, but not before she felt his warm seed on her stomach. Meeting his forehead with hers, the two took their time catching their breaths.
"I'm sorry. I couldn't control myself." Jareth said, attempting to wipe off her stomach.
Sarah didn't know what came over her as she grabbed his hand and brought a finger with the remnants of him to her lips. Darting her tongue out, she took his finger in her mouth and gently suckled it, knowing the effect it would have on Jareth.
"You win. You're the real wolf." Jareth said before kissing her lips.
Neither cared that he was still fully naked, but they both understood that dangerous ground was being treaded upon as long as they remained in such a position.
Jareth removed himself, and Sarah remained still, thinking that he was dressing himself. It was only when she felt his hands gently spread her legs that she knew he had different plans. As if he could read her mind, Jareth softly spoke,
"I can't wait for this, if you'll do me the honor and allow me this precious treasure."
"Wait." Sarah quickly said, slightly closing her legs as she reached for a few of his pillows. Jareth didn't understand what was going on until he saw Sarah scoot up to where she could lean back on a few of his pillows.
"You minx! You want to watch me, don't you?" Jareth said, the sly look similar to the wolf's in his eyes.
"You inspire such boldness in me, Kingston." Sarah responded, deliberately keeping her legs closed. She wanted to feel him spread her open again.
Sarah didn't have much to go on with past experiences in cunnilingus because of the two serious relationships in her past. Neither Tom nor Evan took pleasure in giving pleasure the way Jareth Kingston did. He was slow and deliberate, and he managed to keep his eyes directly on hers as he moved his appendage up and down her slit. It didn't take long for Sarah to collapse into the pillows, her breathing labored and desperate.
He was right all along about that tongue of his. Sarah thought as she felt him pick up the pace.
She never felt such pleasure - she was sure she would die from it if he continued on like this. She wanted to beg, but she couldn't find the words. He seemed to be inspired by her cries, and just when she thought she couldn't take any more, his tongue pushed her over the edge. Limply grabbing a pillow next to her, she felt an ecstasy so potent that she almost wished for her death.
The last thing she felt before closing her eyes were Jareth's lips on hers.
Chapter 5: 5
Sarah woke up to the unfamiliar feeling that came from not spending the night in her own bed. It took her a few seconds to realize that she was in Jareth Kingston's bed, and he was sleeping next to her. He was delightfully naked, at least, she thought he was. Then Sarah realized she was partially nude too.
Feeling out of place and slightly awkward, Sarah wanted nothing more than to just grab her stuff and haul it out of his apartment. She didn't need the space, but some would have been appreciated. Quietly sliding on her underwear and jeans, Sarah softly began to creep out when she heard his voice.
"I hope that's not a walk of shame."
Sarah squeezed her eyes shut, knowing that the was busted.
"No. I just didn't want to wake you up." Sarah finally turned to face Jareth.
She couldn't help but smile when she saw him; he was a divine creature and Sarah wondered if this was what he looked like every morning.
"Come here." Jareth whispered.
Sarah knew she should have walked in the opposite direction, but she couldn't. As if there was an invisible rope that tethered them together, she made her way to him, thankful that she was fully clothed. Sarah awkwardly sat next to him on the bed, not knowing what to expect next.
She felt him run his arm up and down hers. It was meant to be a comforting gesture.
"I was hoping we could spend the day together."
"You're not tired of me already?" Sarah jokingly asked, even though it was laced with seriousness.
Jareth laced his fingers with Sarah's.
"Yeah, you see, this," Sarah said, lifting their interlocked hands up in the air, "is what's confusing me."
"Well, let me offer up some clarification." Jareth said.
"I can't concentrate on what you're going to say when you're naked."
"I put on some briefs after you fell asleep."
"And that's supposed to make me feel better?"
"How about we go grab some breakfast and just talk. I need to take a shower first, and you are more than welcome to join me." Jareth said shamelessly.
"Down boy!" Sarah said as she stood up and walked out of the room.
Ninety minutes later, Sarah was finishing up her second cup of coffee and they still never chatted about the issue at hand. Maybe she was overthinking things.
"I know what you're thinking about." Jareth said while putting some clotted cream on his scone.
"Oh really?" Sarah asked incredulously.
"You're still wondering about the 'state' of our partner/relationship."
"Well? What state are we in?" Sarah asked.
"I've already revealed my intentions. I was a little too forthcoming if I do say so. Should I state them again, in public?" Jareth said, a hint of deviousness in his voice.
"No!" Sarah quickly responded. "It's just that I didn't think you were serious. So does this mean that we're dating? Are you courting me?" Sarah added jokingly.
Jareth laughed. "Are you asking if you're my quote unquote bae? That words is atrocious, you know."
"Oh gosh, no! I suppose what I'm proposing is that we be discrete until all of this is over."
"All of what exactly?" Jareth asked.
"The semester? The presentation? I was hoping you could bring some ideas to the table."
Jareth sighed, knowing that Sarah needed the cards spread out on the table.
"I like you Sarah. I want to hang out with you. Catch a movie. Eat some food. Discuss books and past travels. I'd love to do other things too, but I won't say them out loud in public. I won't use the words 'going steady' to describe us, but I've only got my eyes only on you. Can't we just take it day by day? Go with the flow? Let's not worry about stupid labels."
"You're right." Sarah acknowledged.
"Wait a minute, did you just say what I thought you said?" Jareth jokingly asked.
"Our class can't know about this."
"They probably already know." Jareth said, now looking out the window. "Why should we care? We're both consenting adults, and frankly, it's none of their business."
"True, but I think we should remain low-key for the rest of the semester." Sarah said.
"So Sarah, do you like old movies?" Jareth asked.
The next two weeks was filled with various "courting rituals" between Sarah and Jareth. The two thought it best to finish their presentation before moving to the next step in their relationship, sexually speaking. There were moments where they rehearsed their presentation, both would deliver it, but as soon as it was done they would reward themselves with a make out session.
Sarah liked the idea of building up the tension; they could have easily given into the temptation, but they both were enjoying getting to know one another.
Sarah learned that Jareth was exceptionally British in just about every way with the exception of his disdain for tea. The lingo sometimes tripped her up, but she was a quick learner when he mentioned how something was "cocked up" and a "damp squid." Jareth thought her lack of knowledge in the terminology endearing. He loved teaching her a little bit about it all, reminding himself that just because she visited the UK didn't mean that she was an expert on all things British.
She helped Jareth transition into the social adventures of their classmates. Jareth wouldn't label himself as a regular of Harvey's, but the bartenders knew what he preferred to drink. The two eased into a genuine friendship, and such a thing didn't go unnoticed by their classmates. Such things were never spoken of, after all, they were all adults. Jareth's classmates warmed up to him just as he did them. His candor, still biting at times, was something everyone had grown used to.
They never arrived at the same time in order to avoid the inevitable gossip, but there were times they did leave at the same time. Sarah wouldn't say she was falling for her former nemesis, but there was a warmth in her that made her feel as if something like that could develop if the two allowed themselves to nurture whatever it is that flowed between them. She never questioned Jareth's feelings because she didn't have to. What he wasn't so quick to verbalize, he showed physically with his touch.
It was the night before their big presentation and Jareth was at Sarah's apartment. After one final run through of their presentation, Sarah saved the presentation to her jump drive and released a huge sigh of relief that they were done.
"We're going to ace it." Jareth said, placing his hands on Sarah's shoulders.
"You seem rather confident, but then again, when have you ever lacked in it?"
"I think we should celebrate!" Jareth said.
"Shouldn't we wait until we actually get the grade?" Sarah asked.
"I was thinking it would be a celebration of us and our friendship."
"Okay, so how are going to celebrate?"
"I plan on fully exploring every part of your body tomorrow evening, so don't make any plans darling." Jareth said nonchalantly.
Sarah tried not to blush.
"I thought we were talking about tonight." Sarah coyly stated.
"Let's keep it simple with takeout and a movie."
"You know that's kind of sorta becoming our thing."
Jareth smiled, the weight of something being their thing hitting him. "I like that." Jareth said.
"I like it too." Sarah spoke softly.
Two hours later after indulging in pizza and cheesy 80s horror films, Sarah stretched out her limbs and moved her neck side to side, hoping to stretch it out a bit.
"I think we should all it a night." Sarah said, trying to cover up the yawn that escaped her mouth.
"Tomorrow's the big day!" Jareth said, mischief in his features.
"I meant the presentation!" Sarah responded.
"Of course, darling. What did you think I meant?"
"Oh, stop it!" Sarah said, hitting Jareth with a pillow.
"I'd ask if I can sleep over, but I don't think you'd approve."
Sarah took a few seconds to mull over his question.
"Sure." Sarah said, getting up to walk towards her bedroom.
Jareth, a bit in shock at her answer, took a few seconds to digest the information.
"You know, I just meant to sleep over." Jareth added, still in disbelief.
"I know." Sarah said.
"Alrighty then." Jareth said, following Sarah in the bedroom.
There was a simple comfort that came from two people laying side by side. As Sarah listened to Jareth Kingston inhale and exhale, his body at peace in slumber, she sometimes allowed herself to wonder just how the world allowed to get where they were going to. Before she could replay every action in their relationship book, she felt Jareth pull her closer to him.
Closing her eyes, she inhaled the scent of his cologne that almost faded away. She would now associate that smell with him no matter what. Sarah smiled at the gesture of his arm tightening around her. She grew attached, and for the first time, it felt like a great liberator.
The next day Sarah and Jareth delivered their presentation, and for a while Sarah wondered if everyone in the seminar paid more attention to their ideas or the fact that both she and Jareth got along so well. Where Jareth slightly faltered, Sarah smoothly moved in to push things forward. There was a ease to their work, and it clearly showed when their professor had a huge smile on his face once they finished the presentation.
Minutes later, after a few seconds of applause followed with a Q & A session, Sarah and Jareth observed two other classmates deliver their presentation. Sarah saw Jareth writing something in the corner of her eye, but didn't pay any mind to it until she saw it pushed in her direction. Expecting to read a note that declared: We aced that presentation, her eyes widened when she saw what he actually wrote: I can't wait to see if you fit like a glove.
Rather than play along, she ignored his note and focused on the presenters. As the class ended some time later, Jareth was eager to get the hell out of there so he could have Sarah all to himself, but Holly put a stop to his plan.
"Hey Sarah! Jareth! We're heading to Harvey's to celebrate. We're almost done with the semester, and it's 5 o'clock somewhere!" Holly said.
"Sorry, but…" Jareth started before Sarah interrupted him.
"I'd love to join you guys." Sarah replied, cooly before glancing at Jareth and adding, "Jareth, you should tag along."
Oh yeah, she could play the game better than him if needed.
"Sure." Jareth said, trying to hide his disappointment.
Holly didn't appear to notice as she moved towards another classmate.
"Why must you torture me?" Jareth whispered as he followed Sarah out of the seminar room.
"Why not?" Sarah cheekily replied.
"Darling, you better brace yourself because you're spending the entire weekend in my bed. Have no doubt it!" Jareth said as the two walked out of the building.
Sarah tried not to take his words so seriously, but there was excitement in her veins at the thought of his plans.
"I'll see you in a few." Sarah said as she headed towards her vehicle.
"I thought we'd ride together." Jareth said.
"No, I'll just meet you there."
"Is this your way to telling me that you have no intention of staying the weekend?"
"No, it's my way of saying that I need to pack a bag." Sarah said before winking at Jareth. "I'll see you soon."
Two hour later, Sarah and Jareth were celebrating the end of their presentations at Harvey's. Dylan and Lucy decided to put a brief pause on the wedding plans due to Lucy getting accepted into a med school in Pennsylvania. As Sarah listened to her explain that they were still engaged, but enjoying a long engagement, she envied the fact that things were falling into place for her two friends. She briefly wondered if such a future lay in wait for her.
Holly latched herself on to one of the employees at the bar for a while before making her way to Jareth.
"Hey, Kingston!" Holly said, a slight slur in her mouth.
"Yes?" Jareth responded curiously.
"I know what I'm not supposed to know about you and Sarah. I like you, and no, it's not the alcohol talking. Well, maybe some of it's the alcohol talking, but mark my words mister! You break her heart, I swear that I will run you over with my car, and I won't even bother to check to see if you're still breathing! Sarah's my girl, and she deserves unicorns and flowers and lots and lots of good sex."
Jareth could only smirk at Holly as she continued to ramble on and on. It wasn't until she started recommending sexual positions that Jareth decided it was time to step away from her. Holly turned her attention back to another classmate.
"Hey, we're in class together!" Holly said as Jareth tried not to laugh. Turning away, he tried to cease his chuckles.
"What's so funny?" Sarah asked.
"Your friend is going to end up in trouble tonight."
"Oh, Lucy and Dylan are going to make sure she gets home safe tonight. I think she even rode with them over here." She mentioned nonchalantly.
"I must give you credit for deliberately not standing next to me for too long." Jareth said.
"And why is that?" Sarah asked, having an idea of what he was about to say.
"My hand tends to crawl around in inappropriate places. I seem to recall an incident in our seminar room." Jareth whispered in her ear.
Sarah remained cool, even though Harvey's was beginning to feel a bit claustrophobic.
"I'd take you on that table if I could." He added.
"Is this your way of saying you're ready to go home?" Sarah asked.
"I've been ready since the moment we finished that presentation."
"Well then, you go and I'll see you in a bit."
"Oh no, I don't care if everyone in here knows. Let's go." Jareth said as he began walking towards the door.
"Hey, we can't just do that. It's rude."
"You forget that I'm not one for social graces."
"I'm going to say goodbye to everyone. I'll see you in a little bit."
"20 minutes!" Jareth shouted as he walked out of Harvey's, his keys already in tow.
Jareth Kingston stared at his door, awaiting the moment Sarah Williams knocked on it. Twenty minutes passed and he grew antsy. Thirty minutes passed and he grew aggravated. Now approaching fifty minutes, he clutched his phone, ready to dial the number and interrogate her. Their games were cute then, but now this was serious business.
Huffing in frustration, Jareth was about to dial her number, worried that something may have happened to her. Just before he pressed the button to call her, he heard a knock on his door. Not even bothering to see who it was, Jareth swung the door open and gently pulled Sarah into his flat before shutting the door and slamming her against the door.
Their lips collided against one another, and Jareth heard something fall on the floor. It must have been her overnight bag since her arms braced themselves around his neck.
"You're late." Jareth said, now moving his lips up and down her neck.
"Sorry. It wasn't so easy getting out of Harvey's. I had to make sure Holly didn't get sued for harrassment."
"No chit chat." Jareth said as he slipped his hands under her blouse.
"What happened to courting?" Sarah jokingly asked, trying to breathe through their kisses.
"What do you think the last few weeks have been?" Jareth responded, pulling Sarah towards him towards his bedroom. "I don't need the fantasy; you're here and that's all that matters."
The two continued walking until Jareth backed into his bed and fell on it, taking Sarah with him too. By this point, the two began removing each other's clothes, trying to keep their lips attached to one another. How it was managed, no one would ever really know.
Jareth's finger made its way into her underwear and gently moved up and down her slit.
"Fuck." Sarah whispered as she felt his hardness press into her abdomen.
She couldn't focus on anything anymore but the person beneath her.
"I can't get enough of seeing you like this." Jareth whispered before kissing her. His fingers continued to move inside of her, but seconds later he removed them. Making sure that she saw him, he took his fingers, wet with her essence, and put them in his mouth. He knew the effect it would have on Sarah.
Sarah sat up and straddled Jareth. Taking his fingers, still in his mouth, she moved them back towards her wet center. Jareth began to slowly move his fingers up and down her warmth again and watched breathlessly as Sarah leaned her bead back. She began to move to the rhythm of his fingers, and while the torture was slow and sweet, he couldn't bear to rush things.
Jareth could tell that she was close, but Jareth was surprised when Sarah removed his fingers. Was it too much? Was she trying to draw out her pleasure? Jareth didn't think he could get any harder, but then Sarah put his fingers, wet with her essence, in her mouth and gently sucked on them.
"Fuck, you're going to be the death of me Sarah Williams." Jareth whispered as he suddenly sat up and met her in the middle. Pushing her on her back, he didn't like the thought of her not coming. Removing her bra and underwear, Jareth was desperate to get his tongue in her.
"I'm glad you didn't come on my fingers." He stated. "I've been dying to taste you all day." Jareth added before dragging his tongue slowly up and down her clit.
He knew he was doing something right when he felt Sarah press a hand to his head, forcing him to remain where he was. Jareth's hands roamed over her breasts, gently stroking them as he heard her pleasure mounting.
Sarah wanted to beg him to fuck her. She wanted to beg him to make her come, but words were useless. He must have known that she was close given the pace of his tongue moving inside of her, and just when she thought she was rendered speechless, she spoke the truth.
"I love feeling your wicked tongue inside of me." Sarah spoke knowing that it turned Jareth on even more.
Adding a finger, Jareth picked up the speed of the appendages, not caring if the neighborhood heard them. It didn't take long for Sarah to come, her legs moving up towards her chest. As she rolled to the side, Jareth gave her a few seconds to catch her breath before moving to kiss up her torso. Every few seconds, he would replace his lips with his tongue, keeping his eyes on her.
Right before he reached her collarbone, Sarah turned her head and pulled Jareth's up to hers. Kissing him languidly, she was reminded that of the torture that pressed into her. Opening her legs to make room for him, Jareth adjusted himself to better meet her face to face.
"I'm sorry. I can't wait." Jareth said as he slowly slid into her.
He shut his eyes, relishing in the warmth that felt like it was bespoke glove designed just for him. Jareth opened his eyes before he slowly started to move, leaning on his elbows so he wouldn't completely smother Sarah. As his strokes became both steady and sharp, Jareth smiled as he looked down at the woman beneath him.
"Harder." Sarah whispered, indicating that she could handle him.
Jareth wasn't one to deny such a request, as he began to softly grunt with every thrust.
"I could eat you so like the wolf." Jareth said before kissing Sarah.
"You've proven that you have a sharp tongue." Sarah responded, as she continued to move in unison with Jareth.
"The better to eat you out with." Jareth cheekily said as he picked up the speed, knowing he was seconds away from completion.
"Fuck, I'm going to come. I'm going to come!" Jareth said, pulling out of Sarah and releasing himself on her stomach.
Jareth, exhausted and breathless, collapsed on Sarah.
"Stay longer than the weekend." Jareth spoke into her flesh.
He didn't have to see Sarah's face to know she was smiling at his proposal.
"What makes you think I won't grow tired of you?" Sarah responded.
Jareth heartily laughed as he moved to the side of her.
"Darling, we haven't even started. By the time Sunday evening rolls around, we'll practically be roommates." Jareth said.
"Oh really?" Sarah said, moving to her side to get a better look at him.
"Yep. I tend to get what I want. I wanted you, and here you are."
"Is that so?" Sarah said as she ran her tongue over one of Jareth's nipples.
"God, this is better than I even imagined." Jareth said, feeling himself grow hard at her ministrations.
Sarah soon moved on top of Jareth, attaching her lips to his. Jareth instinctively wanted to cage his arms around her, but he felt the pull of such a beautiful surrender. Feeling her hand seek out of cock, Jareth didn't care what she did, as long he could feel her.
Suddenly there was a coolness that came from the separation of bodies. Before Jareth could question her, he felt her warmth envelop him. Staring at the woman on top of him, Jareth could only watch in awe as she slowly rode him.
"I love watching you seek your pleasure. It pleases me so, Sarah." Jareth said.
"I love you submitting to me. It pleases me so, Jareth." Sarah said as she felt her body mold to his like a perfect puzzle piece.
Jareth sat up to meet her and grabbed her head before he crushed her lips to his. Picking up the pace, the two moved together in unison. There was a slight banging that distracted Jareth until he realized it was his bed hitting the wall. Let the neighbors complain - he didn't care.
He could tell that she was close and tried to bring her over the edge.
"I can't come in you." Jareth whispered.
"I'm on the pill." Sarah replied before adding, "Come with me."
She met him one, two, three more times. They swallowed each other's scream.
Sarah wiped his hair away from his face, a glowing smile on her face.
"You really are so beautiful." Sarah said.
Pulling Sarah towards him and allowing her to get comfortable, the two soon succumbed to slumber.
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. This is the final chapter of this story, and it's more of an epilogue than a chapter if I'm going to be honest. For everyone who has left feedback, I do appreciate it.
18 months later
"I'm going to expect you to come back next week with the first three books of Milton's "Paradise Lost" read and annotated. And when I say 'annotate,' I'm not talking about reading it only once. I'm talking two, three, maybe even four times if needed be. Please be prepared to discuss them. Remember, we won't be meeting on Monday and Wednesday." Sarah said as she began to pack up her rustic leather satchel. It was a gift from Lucy and Dylan when everyone found out she truly was going to spend an academic year at Oxford.
Looking at her watch, she tried not to stress about the time. It took her a while to get used to the British way of time telling, but everything else came with simple ease. It didn't take long for her to pick up the lingo, appreciate the food, and know when to look right versus left. She had some help, of course, but if there was one task she refused to take on it was driving in the United Kingdom.
Walking out of the building which housed her class, Sarah ran her hands over the stone, feeling the bones of the architecture. She still couldn't believe that she was finally at Oxford, and she was incredibly happy. Skype allowed her to stay in touch with her former classmates and friends back home in America, and it surprised her a bit to know that some of her classmates placed bets as to how long it would take before she and Jareth Kingston got together.
The fellowship was going well, but Sarah wasn't entirely sure her future lay at Oxford. The University of Kent was interested in her based on her academic research, but there would be conditions for her acceptance and they all hinged on one particular man.
Exiting the building, Sarah wasn't expecting to see her fiance of two weeks waiting for her. Jareth Kingston had surprised her with a single carat diamond ring in their Thai food from their favorite local place in Cambridge. She remembered his proposal as if it happened yesterday.
"Let's start a wolf pack Sarah." Jareth said as he saw the realization hit her face.
She didn't remember even saying yes. One moment she heard his words, and the next he was gleefully smiling.
"It was my mum's." Jareth said as he slipped the ring on her finger. "I think my father never intended on passing this to me, but let's be honest, I think he likes you more than he likes me."
"What are you doing here?" Sarah asked, surprised, shaking herself out of her flashback.
"I thought I'd surprise you and pick you up. We've got a fifty minute ride from here to Heathrow, and I know you're probably already worried about us getting there on time."
"Well, I don't have my bags."
"I put them in the car." Jareth said, smiling at the thought that he knew exactly what she was going to ask.
"Future husband, you've thought of everything." Sarah said.
"Of course, future wife." Jareth said before kissing Sarah.
Normally, Sarah hated such pet names, but such things seemed to work for them. Their relationship, once completely established, was so lovely in its simplicity. Jareth still jokingly accused her of being uptight every now and again, but it was something she found endearing.
"Come now. I can't even begin to tell you how lucky I was to find a parking spot. I'm pretty sure it belongs to someone else, so we best get on the road."
Wrapping an arm around her shoulder, he asked, "So, how is the class going?"
"It's good, but I think that maybe I'm assigning too much work."
"You're teaching a class at the most prestigious school in the United Kingdom and you're worried about assigning too much work?" Jareth said.
"Maybe I'm overthinking it."
"Sarah Williams, overthinking? No way!"
Sarah scoffed and looked up at Jareth.
"Admit it, you wouldn't have me any other way." Sarah added.
"We do indeed balance each other out."
"I really am looking forward to getting out of town for a few days."
"Darling, we're getting out of the country. Who would have thought yours truly would have been personally invited to Dylan and Lucy's wedding."
"True." Sarah said jokingly.
"Oh come on, we're all friends now. I have to give them credit for knowing that something was up between the two of us."
"I'm sure Holly will be happy to see you."
"I sometimes wonder if that bartender at Harvey's ever had to get a restraining order on her." Jareth joked.
"Probably. She did stay on to teach other there." Sarah said, clutching Jareth's hand that was around her shoulder. "Did you get any writing done today?"
"I reckon I got in about three or four chapters, but I think I might do some editing on the plane. I don't know. One minute it's clear and the next it's hazy." Jareth said as he unlocked the car that would take them to the airport.
"I once read that Stephen King was notorious for writing a bunch of stuff and then giving it a rest for a year or two before returning to it."
"Don't tell father that! I'm still shocked that he's fine with me pursuing writing as a career."
"Thanks to me!" Sarah added before getting in the passenger side of the car.
"Yes dear, thanks to you." Jareth said with a hint of false annoyance.
"I can't help it that Mr. Kingston likes me so much." Sarah said.
"Father is going to make sure that William Shakesmeow gets fed, and he sends his love."
"Oh, how domesticated you've become Jareth Kingston." Sarah said as his car came into view.
"That's a stupid name for cat." Jareth said.
"Yeah, but you love him all the same." Sarah said.
As Jareth drove them to Heathrow, Sarah asked, "Do you think we should share our wonderful news with all of our old classmates?"
"Why should we hide it?" Jareth asked.
"I don't want to take anything away from Dylan and Lucy's celebration. It's their wedding."
"Well someone's eventually going to notice a particular type of a ring on a particular finger, and I'll be damned if you remove it for the sake of being sensitive to others."
"If someone asks then I'll confirm it. I just don't want to steal anyone's thunder."
"You worry too much. I'm sure everyone will be overjoyed and Lucy will throw some hideous bouquet in your direction. The only thing they might get their knickers in a twist over is how you didn't tell them all sooner."
"Well, I haven't chatted with anyone in the last few weeks. Everyone's been so busy. And you need to be nice!" Sarah said.
"I am being nice. I don't even see why we should go through all the pomp and circumstance of a wedding. I'm perfectly happy popping in to Vegas on the way home."
Sarah laughed before adding, "No! My father would kill me! I'm his only daughter, and I can't take away his one opportunity to walk me down an aisle. Plus, I thought we agreed that we'd have a long engagement."
"Yes, but what if Kent wants you to stay?"
"Could you see yourself in Kent?" Sarah asked seriously.
"I see myself where you see yourself. However, I don't see myself in a place where tornadoes or typhoons are a major occurrence. Nor do I see myself in the Arctic Circle."
"No sense of adventure? I have indeed domesticated you! In all honesty, I'd like to stay in the UK, but I wouldn't mind returning to the States."
"Me too." Jareth said before grabbing Sarah's hand and kissing it.
"I'm still keeping my surname." Sarah randomly added.
Jareth rolled his eyes as he continued to drive.
"But what about our children? Think of them at least?"
"Children? You want children Jareth Kingston?"
"I want children with you."
"They will have your last name."
"Sarah Williams-Kingston. That sounds like rubbish." Jareth jokingly said.
"Well, get over it Brit boy. So, tell me more about your latest writing. I'm interesting in seeing how you've combined modern noir with fantasy." Sarah said as she stared at the window.
"I'm thinking that once I get in a few more chapters in my book that I should pursue getting a literary agent."
"That's a good idea."
"Until then, I think I'm going to take that writing job for that local UK blog. It'll be good to earn some extra money, and I'll have some creative freedom to focus on subjects that I'd like to focus on."
"So you'd be a journalist?"
"I think that's a bit of a stretch, but I'd get to write about the stuff I know and enjoy. Great restaurants. Book reviews. It wouldn't be anything official."
"It sounds like you'd be able to work from home."
"Yep, so that way I can stay on top of the house cleaning." Jareth cheekily said.
The two were silent for a few moments before Sarah asked,
"Did you pack the wedding gift?"
"We shipped it to them weeks ago, remember? We got them that fancy french press coffee thing. What is it with college professors and french presses?"
"I remember you talked about sending them a copy of the Kamasutra to which I distinctly remember threatening you with no physical contact unless you changed your mind."
"Our sex life is amazing. Why not share it with the rest of the world?" Jareth asked.
"The rest of the world is not two of our friends."
"Oh come on, it would have been funny."
"No it wouldn't have been." Sarah replied, trying to stifle her laughter.
"Just think, we could have dog tagged what we tried and put post it notes on the things we especially liked." Jareth said, lightly nudging his fiance's arm.
"You're ridiculous sometimes."
"Yes, but you wouldn't have me any other way."
As the two continued the drive towards, not only Heathrow, but their future, Sarah looked at the man she once loathed and grabbed his hand. She appreciated the fact that the two didn't have to talk to one in order for them to understand what the other person was thinking. They also didn't have to engage in small talk just to avoid any awkward silences.
Later, Jareth pulled into the parking area for the airport. Turning off the car, he noted to himself that they were well ahead of time with their schedule. The two could grab some food and a drink before boarding their plane, and Sarah would most likely want to sleep a bit on the flight.
"We're going to a wedding." Sarah randomly stated.
"To the future Mr. and Mrs. Dylan and Lucy Rhee." Jareth replied before kissing Sarah's hand.
He never ceased to be surprised with the way things turned out. He got what he had wanted since the day he saw Sarah Williams step foot into their seminar class. In the beginning it was about attaining the prize, never about building a life with her. As he watched Sarah absentmindedly pin up her hair, he suddenly grew excited with the thought that one day he would look at her and not see his girlfriend or fiance. He would one day see his wife. He would one day see the mother of their children. His steady rock of support in a world that could easily tear anyone to shreds.
"Ready future wife?" Jareth asked before exiting the car.
"Ready future husband." Sarah replied.