and discovering other peoples' weaknesses.
His returning teasing comment elicited a wider grin from her. “Is that so?” she said as he informed her that she wasn’t that much of a challenge. “Well, I guess I’ll just have to step up my game then.” A simple threat, but one he could be sure she would more than fulfill. If he wanted to sass back -- and she loved when he did -- then Mercury was only going to use it as an excuse to be even worse than she already was.
And he wouldn’t have to wait terribly long for that particular shoe to drop, as Mercury inquired as to whether or not he was going to join her in fully indulging the setting or not. The mention of the chains got exactly the expression she had been hoping for out of him, his stony gaze quickly darting away as his cheeks turned a little pink. Themesycia and Simon both fed on the tidbit of information like starved beasts, his mother gasping in shock and voicing her pleasure over the insight into Vandrad’s naughty side that she probably assumed he didn’t even have after all this time. Simon was equally as impressed by the notion, going so far as to comment about how he and Themesycia apparently shared a kink.
That seemed to be the cue for him to make a decision. Curly agreeing to the teased request, he did his usual schtick of grumbling and pulling her away, complete with calling her “woman” which Mercury had long since deemed a term of endearment, even though he definitely didn’t mean it to be. What was weird about it was that he actually took her by the hand, rather than dragging her firmly by her arm or elbow. It wasn’t something that she made a comment on or even thought too overly hard about, but she did make a mental note of it, tucking it away in the same corner of her brain that she’d stored all the other weird occurances away for later contemplation.
She’d gotten ready and emerged from the station, proudly clad in her new attire and firmly expecting him to be brooding against a wall somewhere waiting for her to come out. Instead, Vandrad caught her by complete and utter surprise by having taken the time to don himself in an outfit that almost exactly matched how he’d looked the day Mercury kidnapping. Her green eyes went fully wide for a brief moment before she erupted in a deep, belly clutching laughter that almost caused her to lose her balance in her heels. Stumbling just a bit, she rested her hand on the nearest surface to steady herself, her torso bent over as she continued to laugh and laugh until one or two small tears dripped out of her eyes.
“Oh my fucking stars,” she breathed, doing her best to collect and compose herself. It was the hardest she’d laughed around him before. Actually, it was probably the hardest she’d ever laughed at all, given that she was rarely if ever prone to boisterous displays of emotion. Normally all of her mannerisms were very subdued, even her flirts and grins and teases, but it seemed he’d found the right strategy to get a rather uncharacteristic reaction out of her.
And he wasn’t the only one. While she had been busy laughing, apparently he had been busy admiring her own attire, and his satisfaction of it was nearly impossible to miss. Similarly unmistakable was the teasing look on her face when she noticed it, giving him a cheshire grin that was even wider than usual given how hard she’d just been laughing. He dryly congratulated her on fitting in with the locals, though the comment was a pretty feeble cover up. Vandrad must have recognized that because he didn’t even give her a chance to say anything about it, quickly turning and heading back up toward his family with her following in his wake, smiling wickedly.
He somehow managed to get himself under control by then, probably pretty desperate to keep his family from making comments. Now Mercury was in a conundrum, however. Since the moment she realized what she was in for with this after party, she’d had it pretty set in her head that she was going to use every conceivable opportunity to keep stringing Themesycia and Simon along, curious to see how far she could push one or both of them before they exploded. And while she still greatly wanted to do that, there was also a part of her that was equally as interested in turning more of her focus on Vandrad.
Not necessarily in an attempt to get him to sleep with her again; they’d already played that game, and she highly doubted he was very interested in a round two, betraying bodily reactions aside. Rather, it was the mild streak of sadism in Mercury that was greatly titillated by the idea of getting further such embarrassing reactions out of him in front of his family, feuling them with just as much dirt and gossip as they had done with her about the surly man. The idea sounded more than delightful to her.
Well, she’d play it by ear.
When they got back to the dais, Simon had supposedly run off somewhere. The two of them sat at the behest of Vandrad’s mother, with Mercury between the two of them. The prince inquired as to his uncle’s whereabouts, to which Themesycia explained that she was fairly certain he’d spotted another pair of relatives that Mercury had yet to meet. Knowing that the Silver Wolf mage would be without context, the duchess elaborated to say that the other uncle and aunt, Dudley and Everance, apparently were known for never coming to the formal galas but always showing up in time for the party that followed after.
“I can’t say I blame them,” Mercury chirped. “Not that the gala wasn’t fun, because I did greatly enjoy it. It was the nicest event I’ve ever been to. However, this is much more exciting.” It took almost no time at all for the duchess to slip an arm around Mercury’s back and start trailing her fingers down her thigh, commenting on how much she enjoyed the change in attire, as well as to the woman’s hair, which was now much easier to hold onto. “Uh oh,” Mercury purred back teasingly, “She’s catching onto my ploys. I think I’m in trouble.”
Themesycia reached for her drink only to find it conveniently empty. Glancing to her son, she asked him to fetch her another glass, and one for Mercury as well. No one was fooled by the tactic, least of all Vandrad, who narrowed his eyes suspiciously at his mother and wondered aloud why she couldn’t do it herself. She easily replied that it was kinder that he do the favor for his mother as a gesture of love, as well as saying how it would be rude for him to expect his guest to service herself in his own home.
Whatever he did or did not take away from her words, it seemed it was enough to persuade him. He stood, confirming Themesycia’s drink request before looking to Mercury and asking if she wanted anything. “A beer of some kind would be lovely,” she told him. “Preferably something on the darker side if it’s available.” With that, he turned and made his way through the crowd and toward the bar, leaving Mercury grinning as she watched him go, entertained by how obedient he was at home. Not that she’d ever ordered him around before, so to speak, but she was fairly certain if she tried he’d just tell her to fuck off for the sake of being stubborn. There was only one time she could think of that he’d ever taken a suggestion or order from her without resistance, and that had been during a very real life or death situation.
But of course, now the two women were alone again, and her attention could only stay so long on his taut, barely concealed ass before it was pulled back in the direction of his equally attractive mother. Mercury’s eyes twinkled with mirth and mischief as the duchess stated her open opinion of what the Silver Wolf’s attire was doing for her, feeling the woman’s hand squeeze a bit tighter on her leg. But rather than allow herself to be so easily baited into that kind of talk, she gave the older woman a wicked smirk and innocently remarked, “Well, it certainly wasn’t a reaction he was capable of hiding in that loin cloth.”
Then, just as innocently, she allowed herself to follow up with a bit of verbal teasing of her own toward the duchess. “Though if I may, nothing was sexier tonight than you taking that self absorbed bimbo to task.” Mercury gave a dreamy sigh, turning her head up slightly toward the ceiling as though fondly reminiscing over the still recent memory. “I’ll admit I’m a little disappointed that my chance to take revenge and ridicule her myself was taken away, but honestly it was probably better that you and Vandrad stepped in before I could. Otherwise, they’d still be mopping the blood off the floor, and I’d hate to cause that kind of scene in your own home when you and your family have been so generous to me all night. Besides, it’s not like I was the only one of your guests she was harping on, so you had more cause to let loose than I did, and I greatly appreciated the show.”