Title:  A Lost Christmas

By: tayryn

Rating: oh, darlings… this is a PEAR!!  This is me writing it after all.

Disclaimer: I don’t own them.  Disney and Meg Cabot do.  If I did, we’d certainly have way more C&J… WAY MORE!!  With hints of pearage!

Summary:  Joseph and Clarisse get a little lost.

Dedication: This story is for the queen of the chamber… Susan!!  Merry Christmas, my friend.  May it be a blessed one… filled with love.


Thanks as always to my wonderful beta, Jaya!




“You want to what?”


“I have some last minutes gifts I wish to pick up… personal gifts… and I wish to go get them.”


Joseph regarded his queen with an unreadable expression on his face as she continued.


“Clarisse… it’s Christmas Eve.”


“I know that, Joseph.”  Clarisse said with a hint of exasperation in her voice.  “And I have been extremely busy, as you well know… when have I had time to do a little shopping?”


“You’re the queen for Pete’s sake!  You can have anything you want brought here to the palace,” Joseph said.  “And if you must go out, why not simply into the city?  Why do you have to go all the way to France?”


“Simply put… because I wish to go to France,” Clarisse told him.  “Joseph, you know as well as I do that if I were to go out here in Pyrus, it would disrupt the stores.  And really, the town I wish to go to is just on the other side of the mountains.  It’s not that long of a drive.”


“Your presence would still cause a ruckus.”


“But not as badly,” Clarisse said then got up from her desk and walked around it so that she was standing before him.  “Please, Joseph… I would really like to do this.”


Joseph did not reply but merely looked at her.




Joseph sighed.  “When do you want to leave?”


Clarisse smiled and lifted her hand to his cheek.  “Thank you, Joseph.”




Clarisse bit her lip as the car swerved and she heard Joseph swear.  She peered out the windshield and swallowed hard.  The snow, which had only just begun to fall when they left that morning, was now falling so hard that visibility was practically non-existent.


The silence in the car was deafening, the stereo having been turned off long ago so that Joseph could concentrate fully on the road.


“Damn!”  Joseph swore again as the car fishtailed on the icy road.


“Joseph?”  Clarisse asked with a hint of concern in her voice.


“I can’t see… it’s practically a whiteout…” Joseph told her as he tried to peer through the blowing snow.  “I don’t think we’ve gone off the road… so we should be fine.”


“Maybe we should pull off… wait it out…” Clarisse suggested.


“No,” Joseph shook his head.  “Our best option is to simply keep going.  Even slow and steady is better than not moving at all.  What time is it?”


Clarisse looked at her watch.  “Eight o’clock.”


Joseph nodded.  “If all goes well… if we can sustain even this pace, we should be back at the palace by midnight.”


Clarisse merely nodded, trusting that Joseph knew what he was talking about.  She laid her head back against the headrest and closed her eyes for a moment.  A small smile pulled at the corner of her mouth when she heard Joseph swear yet again.  It really was quite endearing, as cursing was just not something Joseph really did.


“Son of a…”


All of sudden, Clarisse felt as if her world was spinning out of control.  Her eyes flew open and a small yelp of surprise left her lips as she realized the car was fishtailing… that Joseph had lost control. 


“Hang on!”  Joseph cried out to her as he fought to regain control of the car.


“Joseph!!”  Clarisse screamed as the car suddenly spun off the road and slid down a small ravine.


Joseph reached out to grasp Clarisse’s shoulder once the car stopped.  “Are you all right?”


Clarisse nodded slowly as she turned to look at him.  “What happened?”


“It must have been a patch of black ice,” Joseph replied as he gently squeezed her shoulder.  “Are you certain you’re all right?”


“Yes, Joseph.”  Clarisse gave him a small smile; a smile that immediately disappeared when she turned to look out the window.  “What do we do now?”


“Well, we can’t stay here,” Joseph told her.


“Why not?”


“For one thing, we do not have enough gas to keep the car running until we’re rescued.  Two, I am not entirely certain we’ve landed in a safe enough position…”


“You mean we could slide down further?!”  Clarisse asked with alarm.


“It is possible,” Joseph told her.  “I don’t think we should risk it.”


“So, you’re saying we should leave the car and what… try to make our way home in this blizzard?”  Clarisse said.  “Joseph… it’s freezing out there.  At least in here, it’s still warm.”


“It’s going to get very very cold in here, very very quickly,” Joseph replied.  “We need to find some better shelter.  Someplace where we can hole up until the storm passes, and also where we can build a fire.”


“Joseph, I…” Clarisse glanced out the window.  “I don’t think I can make it out there.  I’m not exactly dressed like Nanook of the North.”


“At least you are wearing pants.  I’ve got a spare jacket in a bag in the backseat…”


“You’ve got a spare jacket?”  Clarisse asked with an amused smile.


“Yes,” Joseph replied.  “With the hazards of my job, I’ve learned that having a spare is always a good idea.”


Clarisse shook her head.  “I really shouldn’t be surprised.  You’re always prepared for everything.  I’ll bet you were a boy scout when you were little.”


Joseph laughed.  “Actually, I used to beat the boys up who were boy scouts.”


“You didn’t!?”


“I did,” Joseph admitted with a grin as he reached into his pocket for his cell phone.  He flipped it open.  “Good.  It’s weak… but there’s a signal,” he told her and pressed the button that would dial directly to the security office.  “Why don’t you pull your jacket back on and grab your purse.  As soon as I inform Shades of our situation, we’re going to head out,” Joseph said then turned his attention to his phone.  “Shades!  Joseph.  We’ve got a situation…”


Clarisse listened in while Joseph talked with Shades, his voice getting louder with each passing second.


“Dammit!  Lost the signal!”  Joseph told her.  “However, I did manage to give Shades enough information so that he is aware of the situation.”


“Are they going to send anyone out to rescue us?”


Joseph shook his head.  “No.  It’s too dangerous.  Besides, at the moment, I’m not completely certain where we are.”


Clarisse’s eyes widened and she was about to say something when Joseph continued.


“Don’t worry, Clarisse.  By the light of day, I will be able to tell you where we are.  At the moment though, our priority is to find shelter and stay warm,” he said then began to shift in his seat.  He stopped and looked down at her feet.  “You’re not wearing heels are you?”


“No.  I’m wearing flats.”


“Rubber soles?”


Clarisse nodded.


“Good… but your feet are going to get awfully wet…” Joseph said thoughtfully as he shifted completely around so that he was facing the back seat.  “Or maybe not,” he said as he reached out to grab one of the shopping bags on the back seat.  “Did you buy any clothing?”




“Any socks?  Sweaters?  What?”


Clarisse shook her head.


“What did you buy?”  Joseph asked as he reached for the smallest plastic bag.  No sooner had he lifted the bag than Clarisse had turned and snatched it from his hands.


“Not that one… it’s… it’s personal.”


Joseph merely grinned.  He’d caught the name on the side of the bag but being the gentleman he was, he did not comment.  Instead, Joseph reached for two of the other bags.  He held them up.  “Can I dump these?”


“Whatever for?!”


“We’re going to wrap your feet in the bags to help keep them dry,” Joseph told her and gestured to the bags again.  “So, I repeat… can I dump these?”


“I… yes… but we’re not going to just leave the gifts behind are we?”  Clarisse asked as Joseph unceremoniously emptied the bags.  Various items tumbled off the seat onto the floor as he tossed the empty sacks at her.  “Joseph!”  She repeated.  “Those gifts cannot be left behind.”


“Clarisse… at the moment, the only thing I am concerned with is getting you to shelter,” Joseph told her.  “Now… put those bags on your feet, tie them securely then put your shoes back on.”




“Now, Clarisse!  We don’t have time to argue about this,” Joseph told her as he began to rummage through the other bags.  He frowned and shook his head.  “Damn.”




“I was hoping that you had bought some clothes.  Something else you could put on to help keep you warm,” Joseph answered.  “I guess you’ll have to make due with my spare jacket,” he said as he pulled the black leather bag up from the floor behind his seat.


“Joseph…” Clarisse began as she pulled the second bag onto her foot, tied it then slipped her shoes back on.  “Do we really have to do this?  Can we not just wait in the car?  I…” she glanced outside again, “I don’t think I can do this…”


Joseph turned to her and placed a hand on her shoulder.  “Yes you can.  I will be with you every step of the way,” he told her as he handed her the spare jacket.  “You know we have to, Clarisse.”


Clarisse sighed and nodded.






Clarisse had never been so cold.




She burrowed deeper into Joseph’s jacket as the biting wind continued to whip around them.


“Joseph!”  Clarisse called out to the man who was a few steps in front of her.  “Joseph, stop!”


Joseph stopped and waited for her to catch up to him.  He wrapped an arm around her and bent his head down close to hers.  “Are you all right?”


Clarisse shook her head.


“What’s wrong?”


“I’m frozen!  I can no longer feel my feet… my hands… my entire body feels like one big icicle,” Clarisse told him.  “Please… can we just stop… or go back to the car?”


Joseph shook his head.  “I’m sorry, Clarisse.  We have to keep going.  There has to be some shelter around here somewhere.”


“No… Joseph… I can’t…” Clarisse pleaded with him even as she nestled closer, seeking some of his warmth.  “Please…”


Joseph wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly.  “You can, Clarisse.  You have to.  It won’t be too much longer… I promise.”


Clarisse suddenly pushed him away.  “How can you promise that when you have no bloody idea where in the hell we are!?”  She stepped back when he reached for her.  “No!  I want to go back to the car now, Joseph!  Do you hear me!?”


Clarisse knew she was being childish, but found she couldn’t help herself.  She was cold.  She was miserable.  She was tired, and all she wanted to do in that moment was curl up and sleep forever.


“Your Majesty…” Joseph reached out for her again.  “Be reasonable.  We’ve come too far to turn back now.  Our best course of action is to continue moving forward.”


Clarisse shook her head and took another step back.  She tripped over a snow-covered root and gave a short shout of surprise as she began to fall.  Her arms pinwheeled as she fought to keep her balance.


Joseph lunged after her but was too late to stop her from falling.


There was a thunderous crack followed by a loud splash and in an instant, Clarisse disappeared from view.


“Oh God!”  Joseph cried as he dropped the bag he was carrying, shed his jacket and dove into the water after her.


His eyes burned from the freezing water as he frantically swam down towards where he could just make out Clarisse sinking beneath him.  ‘Please!’  He prayed.  ‘Please let me reach her.’  Joseph kicked harder, knowing his queen was not a very strong swimmer.  ‘Please, God… don’t let me lose her…’


Joseph’s fingers suddenly found purchase around Clarisse’s wrist.  He immediately began to swim for the surface, pulling Clarisse with him.


After what felt like an eternity, they broke the surface; both gasping for breath.  Clarisse began to choke as she inhaled more water.  Joseph dragged her with him to the edge and pushed her out of the water then quickly followed.


“Clarisse!  Clarisse, are you all right?”  Joseph pounded on her back as she coughed up more water.


Clarisse nodded and shook her head at the same time as she continued to choke.  “I… so… cold…” she stuttered as her body began to shake.


Dammit!  Take the jacket off!  Now!”  Joseph told her as he grasped the neck of the coat and began to tug.  Once it was off he picked the one he’d discarded before diving into the water and helped her put it on.  “I know you’re wet… but this will help a little.”


“But what about you?”  Clarisse asked through chattering teeth as she wrapped her arms around herself.


“I’ll wear the wet one.”


“Oh, Joseph…”


“It’s all right, Clarisse… I’ll be all right.”  Joseph said as he pulled the wet coat on.


Clarisse reached out a frozen hand and cupped his wet cheek.  “Joseph…”


Joseph covered her hand with his.  “It’s all right,” he repeated then pulled her hand away.  He gave it a gentle squeeze.  “We need to keep moving.”


Clarisse nodded but did not let go of his hand.


Joseph grabbed the gym bag off the ground, slung it over his head then gave her a small smile.  “We can do this.”


“We can do this,” Clarisse replied then chuckled softly.




“You were right,” she said.


“About what?”


“The bags kept my feet dry!”






Clarisse tried to see where Joseph was pointing.


“There!  Can you see it?”


“See what?”


“There’s a structure,” Joseph told her.  “Just over there.  I can just make it out.”


Clarisse shook her head.  “I can’t see anything.”


“It’s there!  Come on…” Joseph grabbed her arm and led her, once again, through the driving snow.


Clarisse stumbled after him as she tried to keep up with his quick pace.  “Joseph… slow down… I can’t keep up…”


Joseph slowed slightly but only just.  He kept his tight grip on her arm, and continued his trek through the now thigh high snow; the only thought going through his mind that he needed to get Clarisse to shelter and get her warmed up.


“Joseph!”  Clarisse called to him some twenty minutes later.  “Joseph!  I can see it!  I can see the building.”


Joseph’s only response was to squeeze her arm and continue to plow ahead.


Moments later they stumbled to the door of the small wooden structure.  Joseph tried the door, but wasn’t surprised when it wouldn’t open.  He bent down to look at the lock then stood and turned to Clarisse.


Clarisse was surprised when he stepped closer, unzipped the jacket she was wearing and reached inside.  She was so cold that she barely registered the back of his hand brushing against her breast as he pulled his hand back out, holding a slim black case.


“What is that?”


“Tools of the trade,” Joseph answered as he opened it, pulled out two thin tools then knelt before the door.


Clarisse watched intently as Joseph slipped the two pieces into the lock, fiddled with them and then suddenly found herself being ushered into the small cabin.  She watched as Joseph shut and locked the door then marched across the dark room.


“Good… good…” she heard Joseph murmur as he stopped in front of the small fireplace and kicked at what Clarisse assumed to be a pile of firewood.  He then walked over to the corner, and she heard the scratch of a match.


Seconds later, light filled the room and Clarisse saw that Joseph was standing next to a small bed in the corner.


Joseph pulled the sheets back on the bed and patted the mattress.  “Good…” he murmured then turned around to look at her.  “You need to get those clothes off!”


“What?!”  Clarisse looked at him with wide eyes.


“Your clothes,” Joseph walked back over to her.  “You need to get out of those wet clothes before hypothermia sets in… if it hasn’t already.”


“Oh, Joseph… I…” Clarisse shook her head.


“This is no time to be shy, Clarisse.  We’re both freezing, and we need to warm up.  Now, strip… down to your bra and panties, unless they’re soaked too, then you’ll need to remove them as well,” Joseph told her.  “Then I want you to get into that bed.  The sheets are clean.  I’m going to make a fire then I will join you.”


“Join me?”


“Body heat… it will warm us faster,” Joseph replied then moved over to the fireplace.  “I’ll keep my back turned while you strip… just make it fast.”




“Just do it, Clarisse!  Please.”  Joseph said in a quiet but firm voice.  “When you’re ready, and beneath the blankets… blow out the candle…” he told her then turned his back to her and began to work on starting a fire. 


Clarisse hesitated for a moment then shivered as a strong wind blew against the cabin, slipping through the cracks and chilling her more.  She quickly removed Joseph’s leather jacket then her own.  With very cold, almost numb fingers she then began to work on the buttons on her blouse.


Several moments later, clad in just her bra and panties and shivering uncontrollably, Clarisse debated on whether or not she should remove them.  They were wet.  Cold and wet.


‘But Joseph said he would be joining me in the bed,’ she thought to herself and looked down at the twin bed.




The uncharacteristic curse from Joseph drew Clarisse’s attention away from the bed to where he was still kneeling in front of the fireplace.  A very small flame could be seen.




“The wood is a little damp… it’s having a hard time catching,” he answered.  “Are you ready?”


“Al… almost…” Clarisse replied.  She pulled her lower lip between her teeth and made her decision then crawled into the small bed.  She blew out the candle then curled up in the middle of the bed beneath the blanket.


From the bed, Clarisse watched Joseph stand and strip off his jacket.  ‘I should not be watching this,’ she thought to herself as he pulled his black turtleneck up over his head, and tossed it onto a nearby chair then kicked off his boots.  Clarisse swallowed hard when his hands went to the button on his trousers but she watched as he pushed them down, bending over to pull them off.


A small smile graced Clarisse’s lips.


She would never admit it to anyone, but she very much enjoyed looking at Joseph’s backside.


Clarisse felt a slight blush creep over her cheeks as she continued to stare then her eyes widened when she watched him push down the black boxer briefs he was wearing; leaving him completely naked.


Joseph turned and the blush on Clarisse’s cheeks grew as the now blazing fire illuminated him from behind, creating a fiery halo around his body and giving Clarisse a very good view of Joseph in all his glory.


She closed her eyes as he began to walk towards the bed.  When he suddenly stopped, she cracked one eye open to see what he was doing, and watched as he bent down to scoop up her clothes.


Joseph looked at the pile then glanced over at the bed, noting that Clarisse had both eyes closed and the blankets pulled up to her chin.  “Clarisse?”




“Are your bra and panties dry?”


“Dry enough… yes.  Why?”


“Just making sure.  I don’t want you getting sick.”


“They’re fine, Joseph.”


Joseph nodded, despite the fact that he knew she couldn’t see him then moved back towards the fire.


Once again peeking through one eye, Clarisse watched Joseph as he laid her clothes out beside his own on the small rug before the fireplace.  He added a few more logs to the blaze then turned and walked back towards the bed.




Clarisse, without opening her eyes, shifted as close to the wall as she could, making room for Joseph in the bed.  She held her breath when she felt the blankets lift and the bed dip as Joseph slipped in beside her.


“All right…” Joseph said in a quiet voice, waiting for Clarisse to open her eyes.  “Come here.  We need to combine our body heat.”


“Joseph… I…”


“Clarisse, we’ve been through this already.  Now come here,” Joseph shifted onto his side and reached out for her. 


Clarisse shivered at the feel of his hand on her waist and moved into his arms; the need to be warm outweighing her need for propriety.


“What the hell!?”  Joseph exclaimed as her cold and wet bra came into contact with his bare chest. 


Clarisse gasped when his hand suddenly cupped the side of her breast.  While she knew he wasn’t doing it for any other reason than to verify that the garment was indeed wet, the feel of his hand on her breast sent an unexpected thrill shooting through her body.


“Your bra is soaked through!  You told me it was dry.”


“I said it was dry enough,” Clarisse responded then fought the sudden urge to whimper as his hand left her breast and moved to her hip.  She inhaled sharply when he curved his hand slightly over her rear.


“Your panties are cold and wet as well,” Joseph said and cursed under his breath as he brought his hand back up.  With a snap of his fingers, the clasp on Clarisse’s bra came undone.


“What are you doing?”  Clarisse asked as he suddenly pushed her onto her back.


“Removing your bra,” Joseph told her, anger evident in his voice, as he pulled the garment off her body without dislodging the blankets.  “And next…” his hand slid back down to her hip and his fingers slipped beneath the satiny material.


“Oh no, Joseph... I… JOSEPH!”  Clarisse cried out when he suddenly ripped her panties away from her body and dropped them to the floor.  She felt a sudden and strange ache begin between her thighs at the combination of the forceful way Joseph had removed her underwear and the knowledge that she was lying naked in a bed with him.




The man she’d secretly fallen in love with oh so long ago.


“Much better,” Joseph murmured as he gathered Clarisse back into his arms, making sure the blankets were secure around them.  “I’m sorry, Clarisse,” he said in a soft voice as he began to rub her arms then her back.


“It’s all right, Joseph.”  Clarisse replied as she snuggled closer, just managing to stop the low moan that had risen in her throat when he tangled his legs with hers; insinuating one between and one over hers.  “I should have removed them… it… I was being silly.”


“No you weren’t,” Joseph told her.  His hands paused on her back.  “I do understand.”


Clarisse shifted so that her head was on the pillow, allowing her to look into his face.  “Thank you, Joseph.”


“Anytime, Your Majesty.” Joseph said with a smile.


Clarisse frowned.




“Nothing,” she shook her head.  How could she tell him that hearing him call her ‘Your Majesty’ while lying naked in his arms was just not something she wanted to hear?


For just a little while, she wanted to ignore the outside world… to forget that she was a queen with a country to rule, and simply enjoy the feeling of being held in the arms of the man she secretly loved. 


“Clarisse?  What is it?”


Clarisse shook her head again.


“Clarisse… tell me.”


“It’s… it’s silly, Joseph.  Never mind,” Clarisse said then at his penetrating look she finally said.  “You called me ‘Your Majesty’…”


“What was wrong about that?”


“Joseph… we’re lying naked in each other’s arms…” Clarisse stopped as soon as she began; a very deep blush suffusing her face with colour.  She quickly decided to change the topic.  “Joseph where are we?”


“From the looks of it, I would say we’re in a hunter’s cabin,” Joseph answered as he pulled her a little closer; his hands continuing to rub her back in an effort to warm her more.


“Oh…” Clarisse murmured and closed her eyes.


They fell into a comfortable silence; the only sound in the cabin that of their soft breathing and the crackling of the fire.


“I’m sorry, Joseph.” Clarisse said in a hushed voice some moments later.


“For what?”


“For insisting that you take me shopping…” she answered.


“There is no need to apologize.”


“But there is.  If I hadn’t have been so determined to go today, we would not be here right now, freezing to death.”


“Well, I could have done without the walk in the blizzard, and the polar bear dip…” Joseph told her with a small smile.


Clarisse nodded and shivered at the memory of the ice-cold water closing around her.


“But we’re not freezing to death,” Joseph finished, bringing Clarisse’s attention back to the present.


Clarisse watched as his eyes suddenly darkened in the low light and felt a different kind of shiver run through her body.  Only one time before had Joseph looked at her as he was looking at her now.  Just a few months earlier… the day they danced alone in the consulate ballroom after Mia’s first dance lesson.  The tension between them had doubled.


The same tension that Clarisse could feel building between them now.


She closed her eyes, knowing she was being a coward, and broke the connection as she burrowed deeper beneath the blanket.  “I am still sorry…”


Joseph didn’t reply but simply pulled her closer, his hands continuing to rub her back while his legs continued to rub against hers.  “Try to get some sleep.  It will help.”






“Why haven’t you tried to call the palace?”


“The cell phone was ruined when I dove into the lake after you.”




“It’s not your fault, Clarisse.” Joseph told her again, instinctively knowing what she was thinking.


Clarisse merely nodded then shifted closer as a strong wind blew against the cabin, once again seeping through the cracks in the walls and beneath the blanket.  “Oh… I don’t think I’ve ever been so cold…”


Joseph’s hands began to move a little more vigorously over her back.  “Forgive me, Your Majesty…” he murmured just before he lowered his hands.


Clarisse inhaled sharply when his hands slipped down to rub her rear and her thighs.  She could feel the heat of his palms against her skin and felt a sudden yearning to have them all over her body… and not just as a means to keep her warm.


“Try to rest, Clarisse…” Joseph told her.  “I am certain Shades will find us in the morning.”


“You need your rest too, Joseph.”  Clarisse said, still half distracted by the feel of Joseph’s hands moving over her…


“I will rest.  Don’t worry.”


His hands moved down her back… over her bottom to her thighs then back up.  Before long, the soothing motion lulled her asleep.


Joseph glanced down at the sleeping queen in his arms and tightened his embrace.  He closed his eyes, telling himself that he would only do so for a few minutes.




Clarisse was having the most incredible dream.




She was with Joseph.


More specifically… she was on her back in a large, luxurious bed with Joseph stretched out over her.


Clarisse moaned softly.


She’d had this dream before, and it was one she very much enjoyed.


Clarisse moaned again.  Her dream Joseph was kissing his way along her throat, little nibbling kisses that both tickled and aroused her.


“Mmm… Joseph…” she exhaled sharply as his lips closed around her nipple and arched beneath him as he sucked hard on the pointed tip.


Her hands clenched on his shoulders as he moved to her other breast, bestowing the same sweet torture on that nipple as well before slowly moving lower.




Joseph was having the most incredible dream.




He was with Clarisse.


More specifically… he was stretched out over her as she lay on her back in a large, luxurious bed.


Joseph moaned softly.


He’d had this dream before, and it was one he very much enjoyed.


Joseph moaned again.  He kissed his dream queen along her throat; nibbling, sucking kisses designed to arouse and enflame her.


He smiled at the sharp breath Clarisse released as he captured one of her rosy nipples in his mouth.  He pulled hard on the pointed tip and swirled his tongue around it.


Joseph felt her hands clench on his shoulders as he moved to her other breast then began to kiss and lick his way over the silky skin of her stomach.


“Joseph…” he heard her moan his name as her fingers tightened on his shoulders in an almost painful grip.  “Joseph… I need you… now… please…”


Unable to resist her, in any fashion, Joseph abandoned his quest and moved back over Clarisse.  He settled his hips in the cradle of her thighs.




Their lips came together in a passionate kiss as their bodies rubbed and rocked together in a most delicious friction.


“Joseph…” Clarisse moaned breathlessly against his lips.  She undulated her hips restlessly against him as she slid her hands down to clutch at his rear.  “Oh, Joseph… please…”


“Yes… Clarisse…” Joseph replied in a husky groan as he rose up on his arms above her.  “My queen… I love you…”


“I love you too…”


Their eyes locked and with a powerful thrust of his hips, Joseph sank his throbbing member deep within the hot depths of her body.




Clarisse’s eyes flew open.




Joseph’s eyes flew open.




Blue eyes met blue eyes, both wide in shock.


“Oh God!”


“Oh shit… Your Majesty… I… I’m sorry…” Joseph stammered uncharacteristically at finding himself not simply dreaming about making love to his queen, but actually, physically making love to his queen.


“Joseph…” Clarisse gasped, unable to believe that he was truly above her.  That it wasn’t just a dream.  That Joseph was actually making love to her, his body intimately joined with hers.


“I’m sorry…” Joseph repeated as he moved to pull out of her.


“No!”  Clarisse cried out and wrapped one of her legs around his hips.




“Please…” she said.  “I…” Clarisse clutched at his shoulders and shifted beneath him which caused him to sink deeper inside her.


They moaned in unison.


“Clarisse… I swear to you… I did not know…” Joseph told her as he fought the urge to start thrusting into her.


“I know…” Clarisse replied.  “I know… I was dreaming about you… I always do…” she said then inhaled sharply when Joseph moved slightly; shards of pleasure shooting up her body.


Joseph moved once more in an effort to withdraw from her body and roll off of her but Clarisse would not allow him to.


“No… stay… please…” Clarisse asked him again.  “I… I want…”


“What do you want, Clarisse?”  Joseph asked her.


“I want you.”


Joseph arched an eyebrow at her.  “Is that all you want?”


Clarisse shook her head.  “No…”


“Tell me what you want, Clarisse?”


“I want you to make love to me, Joseph…” Clarisse whispered as she looked up at him with eyes bright with love, and simmering with desire.


Joseph lowered himself down onto his elbows, both moaning when his chest settled against hers, and looked deep into her eyes.  “Are you certain, Clarisse?  Are you very certain this is what you want?”


“Yes, Joseph.  I have never been more certain of anything in my life.  I want you.  I want you so much… I always have…” Clarisse reached up and cupped his cheek.  “Make love to me…”


A slow smile filled Joseph’s face just before he lowered his lips to hers in a loving kiss.  He teased her with soft, breathless kisses; flicking his tongue against her lips again and again until Clarisse parted her lips and allowed his tongue into her mouth.


They groaned as their tongues tangled together, offering each their first taste of the other as they explored each other’s mouths.  They teased and tasted… wrestled and twisted… learning and committing each other’s flavour to memory.


Joseph broke off the kiss to trail his lips along her jaw to her throat where he nibbled at the soft skin just below her ear.  He gently pulled her earlobe between his teeth then began to murmur all the things he wanted, and planned to do to her.


Clarisse felt her desire grow with every word Joseph whispered in her ear.  Her fingers danced over the sinewy muscles in his back, enjoying the hard feel of his body all around her.


A sudden whimper escaped her lips when she felt Joseph suddenly slide out of her body.




“Ssh… trust me…” Joseph whispered as he shifted lower, and bracketed her breasts with his hands.  “Beautiful,” he murmured as he stroked both nipples with his thumbs.  “Just beautiful,” he repeated as he watched them ruche up beneath his touch then dipped his head to flick his tongue against each of the berried tips.


“Ooh… Jo… mmmseph…” Clarisse moaned as Joseph took her left nipple into his mouth and suckled hard.  She arched beneath him, wordlessly begging for more.


Joseph released her breast with an audible pop then resumed his journey down her body, slipping beneath the blanket as he kissed a trail along the midline of her torso.  He licked a ring around her navel then continued to shift lower.


“Joseph…” Clarisse called out to him uncertainly when she felt him settle between her thighs.  “Jo… oh…” she gasped at the feel of his fingers combing through the soft curls then cried out his name when he pulled her open and covered her sex with his mouth.


Heedless of the chill in the air, Clarisse somehow managed to throw the blanket off, wanting desperately to see Joseph as he loved her so intimately.  The sight of his face buried between her thighs sent a surge of lust traveling through her body.


Joseph groaned as the unique flavour that was Clarisse flooded his senses while he licked and sucked at the pink, swollen flesh before him.  His lips closed around her clit and he drew hard on the enlarged bundle of nerves.


“Oh God!”  Clarisse cried out as Joseph swirled his tongue around her clit, teasing the tender bud until she was writhing on the bed beneath him.  “Oh, Joseph…”


Joseph smiled against her as he continued to feast on her swollen flesh then gently eased a thick finger inside her.  Her low hiss of pleasure was music to his ears, and he added a second finger then began to thrust them in and out of her.


“Jo… mmm… oh yes, Joseph…”


Joseph continued to plunge his fingers into her… in and out… over and over, keeping time with his lips and tongue against her clitoris until Clarisse was arching off the bed; thrusting her hips against him. 


Joseph’s fingers plunged… his tongue licked… his lips sucked, pulling and pushing Clarisse higher and higher… feelings unlike anything she’d ever felt before coursing through her body.  One hand fell to the sheets, clenching the material tightly as the other slid down to smooth over Joseph’s head as the sensations grew.


“Joseph… oooh… I… oh, please…” Clarisse muttered over and over as the waves of pleasure increased.  “…please… I… don’t… Joseph…”


“Let go, Clarisse…” Joseph murmured against her.  “Let go… come for me…”


“No…” Clarisse shook her head against the pillow.  “Joseph… I’ve nevoooh…”


Joseph grazed her clit with his teeth.  “Come, my love… give in to the feelings…”






The cabin was suddenly filled with screams of Joseph’s name as with another thrust of his fingers and a hard suck on her clit, Clarisse came.


Joseph groaned as her juices washed over his fingers to soak his palm.  He withdrew his fingers, replacing the glistening digits with his tongue.  He thrust the muscle deep inside her to lap at her essence, consuming every drop as if he were a man dying of thirst.


Clarisse continued to pant Joseph’s name as wave after wave of sensation rolled over her; sensations she’d never dreamt existed attacking every nerve-ending in her body.  She could feel his tongue and fingers moving against her, the touch prolonging the exquisite feelings from her first orgasm.


“Joseph…” Clarisse pulled gently on the fringe of hair on Joseph’s head.  “Joseph… come here…”


Joseph gave her sex one last, deeply penetrating kiss then slid his body up over hers until they were face to face.  He settled his hips in the cradle of her thighs, his erection nestling in her slick, swollen folds.  Joseph lowered his mouth to hers, kissing her hungrily.


Clarisse moaned, surprised at tasting herself on Joseph’s lips and tongue, and finding that the taste increased her arousal.  She ran her hands down his back to clutch his rear and broke out of the kiss.


“Joseph… I… that was…” words failed her as she stared up at him with bright eyes.  “Thank you…”


“Thank you for letting me, my queen.”  Joseph told her. “For so long I’ve desired to love you… love you as you deserved to be loved.  Fully… passionately… reverently…”




“Let me show you more, my queen…” Joseph whispered while raining soft kisses all over her face.  “Let me love you… let me show you how it can be between us…”


“Yes, Joseph… love me…” Clarisse answered as she drew her foot up along the back of his leg.  “Love me as you have in so many of my dreams…”


“I will love you better than in your dreams…” Joseph told her as he swooped down to once more catch her lips in a fervent kiss.


They kissed feverishly as hands began to once again explore bodies.  Joseph’s hands found and caressed her breasts; his fingers circling and pulling at her already tight nipples… making them ache even more.  Clarisse’s hands trailed down his back to his rear; her fingers massaging the firm muscles they found and urging him closer.


“Joseph… Joseph please… I want…” Clarisse circled her hips beneath him, rubbing her curls tantalizingly against his throbbing member.  “…love, please…”


Joseph nodded and slipped a hand between their bodies to grasp his arousal.  He stroked the broad head up and down her folds, spreading her moisture around before he began to press his length inside her.


Clarisse’s breath caught as Joseph continued to slowly fill her; inch by hot hard inch, until he was seated fully within her.  Her eyes were wide, the feeling of him buried so deep within her even more intense than when she’d woken up from her dream earlier to find them joined together.


“Oh, Joseph…” she whispered in a voice thick with emotion.


Joseph held her gaze, his eyes bright with what could only be called love.  “I know…”


“Love me now…”




Joseph pulled back, withdrawing almost completely before he slowly sank back into her.  Clarisse groaned his name.  Joseph withdrew again… then once more thrust back into her.  Over and over he repeated this, and each time he buried his length completely within Clarisse’s willing body, she would clench her hands on his ass.


At Joseph’s quiet urging, Clarisse began to move with him, lifting her hips to meet his every thrust.  She closed her eyes as with each stroke of his shaft inside her, Clarisse felt the most incredible sensations course through her body. 


This was all so new to her.


True, she was not a timid virgin… after all, she had been married. 


But sex with Rupert… the few times they had had it… had never been like what she was currently experiencing in Joseph’s embrace at this moment.


A simple touch of his hand would cause her heart to skip a beat.  Holding his gaze across the room would start her blood to humming through her veins.  His very presence would, and had from the moment they met, have her feeling things she’d only ever dreamt about.


“Clarisse…” Joseph moaned as he continued to thrust into Clarisse, pleased and encouraged as she responded so ardently to his lovemaking.


“Joseph…” Clarisse said breathlessly as he bent low and caught one of her nipples in his mouth.  “Oh yes…” she hissed as he swirled his tongue around the berried tip then whimpered when he suddenly stopped moving within her.  “Joseph?”


Joseph released her nipple and rose up on his elbows to gaze down at her.  He cradled her head in his hands and threaded his fingers through her short, tousled hair.  Joseph stroked her cheeks with his thumbs.  “Wrap your legs around me, Clarisse.”


Clarisse nodded and brought her legs up, bending and wrapping them around his hips.


They moaned together as the change allowed Joseph to sink even deeper within her.


Reina mia…”


“My knight…” Clarisse whispered then circled her hips beneath him.  “Love me…”


“Always…” Joseph replied then began to once again thrust into her.


“…yes…” Clarisse moaned softly and met each drive of his hips with one of her own.


The small cabin was soon filled with the sounds and scent of their lovemaking.  Their bodies moved together in complete harmony as if they’d been lovers forever.  Joseph’s hands sought Clarisse’s and laced their fingers together then raised them high above their heads as he continued to thrust in and out of her.


“Jo… seph…” Clarisse gasped and tightened her legs around his hips as the sensations he was invoking within her grew beyond even what she’d felt earlier at his hands.  “Oh, Jos… please… I… no… it’s too much…”


“There is no such thing,” Joseph told her as he ground his pelvis against her with every thrust.




“Let go…”


Clarisse shook her head.  “No… no… I… oh God…” she moaned as Joseph thrust hard, stopped and circled his hips against hers.  “…Jo… seph…”


“Give in, Clarisse…” he circled his hips again.  “Release your control… lose yourself in the feelings…”


“I… oh please…” she groaned as he withdrew slowly then thrust hard back into her.  “Oh yes… yes, Joseph!”


“Clarisse…” he repeated the same action; pulling out slowly then driving his length deep inside her.


Clarisse’s hands suddenly clenched his, and she cried out Joseph’s name as every nerve ending in her body exploded with intense feeling.  “Joseph… ohgodohgodohgod… oh, Joseph…” she continued to call out to him as the rolling waves of pleasure continued to sweep over her.


Joseph groaned at the feel of her inner walls clenching spasmodically around his shaft, her juices washing down to coat his length, and felt his control slipping.  He thrust hard against her several more times before finally giving in to the pleasure.  With a hoarse cry of her name, Joseph came; his hips jerking uncontrollably against her as he spilled his essence into her willing body.


Clarisse’s body tightened around Joseph’s… her arms, her legs and her inner walls… as she felt his juices splash against her womb, the warmth causing a second, smaller orgasm to roll over her.


Joseph collapsed on top of her, and buried his face in her neck as he fought to regain control of his breathing.  He released her hands and brought his down to thread his fingers in her hair then at the feel of Clarisse’s hands rubbing soothingly over his back, Joseph nestled deeper into her embrace.


Several minutes later, after simply lying together, enjoying the feel of their hearts beating together, Joseph raised his head to look down at Clarisse.  They shared a smile.


“I love you,” Clarisse whispered in a voice laced with heavy emotion.


“I love you too,” Joseph replied as he slid his hand down to cup her cheek.




“Merry Christmas, Gram… ma…” Mia bounded into the lounge of the queen’s suite and stopped when she noticed the room was empty.  She looked around, confusion on her face.


At that moment, the doors opened and Charlotte breezed in.


“Merry Christmas, Charlotte!”


“Merry Christmas, Princess.”


“Where’s Gramma and Joe?”  Mia asked Charlotte as she dropped down onto the couch.


“Uhm…” Charlotte began but was stopped as the doors opened once again.


“Uncle Pierre!”  Mia exclaimed and jumped up off the couch to embrace her uncle.  “Merry Christmas!”


“Merry Christmas, Amelia.”  Pierre replied as he returned his niece’s hug.  When she released him, he turned to Charlotte.  “Any news?”


“No.  Nothing yet,” Charlotte shook her head.  “We’ve not heard from them since last night.”


Mia looked back and forth between her uncle and Charlotte.  “What are you two talking about?”


Pierre looked at Charlotte.  “You haven’t told her?”


“Told me what?”


“No,” Charlotte shook her head.


“Have Gramma and Joe run off together?”  Mia asked with a grin then laughed at the look on Charlotte’s face.  “Oh come off it, Charlotte… you can’t tell me you can’t see that Joe and Gramma are crazy about each other!?”


“Well… I… uhm…” Charlotte stammered.


Pierre chuckled.


“You see it too, don’t you, Uncle Pierre?”


Pierre nodded.  “I’ve known for years that mother and Joe have feelings for one another,” he said.  “In fact, both my brother and my father knew as well.”


“Father and Grampa knew?  SHUT UP!”  Mia’s eyes widened.  “What did… what did Grampa do?”


“Nothing.  Father knew that Joseph… and mother would never have allowed anything to happen.  He knew, despite the fact that they, my parents, were nothing more than really good friends… that their feelings for each other were nothing more than deep fondness, that both Joseph and my mother had too much honour, and too much respect for my father to start an affair.”


“Cool!” Mia nodded.  “I knew Joe was a good man.”


“He is indeed,” Pierre replied.


“So then, if they’ve not run off together… where are they?  I was expecting them to be here this morning.”  Mia asked.


“Mother and Joseph are missing,” Pierre told his niece.


“What do you mean they’re missing?”


“Her Majesty and Joseph left yesterday to do some last minute shopping,” Charlotte explained to the teenager.  “Last night, Joseph called to say that their car had gone off the road…”




“They are all right… at least… at the time of the call they were.  Joseph told us that they were going to seek shelter, and then we lost the signal.”


“Has anyone gone out to search for them?”  Mia asked with a hint of fear in her voice.


Charlotte shook her head.  “Joseph’s instructions were to wait until morning, as he did not want anyone else getting lost in the storm.  Shades is gathering a few of the security men now to go look for them.”


“I’m going with them!”  Mia said.


“Oh no, your Highness… I can’t allow…”


“I’m going, Charlotte.  That’s all there is to it,” Mia told her.  “She’s my grandmother.”


“I’m going too,” Pierre said.


Charlotte began to shake her head then simply sighed.  “Fine!  I know I won’t be able to stop you.  Shades’ team leaves in fifteen minutes,” she said then turned and left the suite.


Pierre and Mia shared a triumphant grin.




Clarisse snuggled closer to the solid wall of warmth, fighting to keep from waking fully and sighed happily.


“Good morning,” a low rumble sounded in her ear.


“Good morning,” Clarisse murmured sleepily in response and pressed a soft kiss to his chest.  “Sleep well?”


“Well… what little I managed… yes,” Joseph replied then smiled against the top of her head as he felt the heat of her blush against his skin.


Clarisse buried her face in his chest.  With the unleashing of her passions, Clarisse found herself waking Joseph up almost every hour to make love… wanting to experience the passion, and overwhelming pleasure she’d found in his arms.


“I’m sorry…” she whispered.


“Oh, my queen… you have nothing to apologize for,” Joseph chuckled lightly as he threaded his fingers in her hair and pulled her head back so that he could look into her eyes.  “In fact… I love that you’re so passionate… so giving…” he told her then smiled.  “I always knew you would be… and I am privileged to be the one to bring it out in you.”


Clarisse shifted closer and brushed her lips against his.  “There could have been no one else to do it…” she told him softly.  “I love you, Joseph…”


“I love you too,” Joseph replied as he closed the distance between their mouths.


They kissed lovingly; a sweet gentle good morning kiss that spoke more than words and which tapered off into a series of breathless touches of lips.


“Merry Christmas, my love…”


““Mmm…” Clarisse sighed contentedly and cuddled closer.  “Merry Christmas…”


“I certainly got what I wanted this year.”


Clarisse smiled.  “So did I, Joseph… so did I.”


They snuggled together until a strong wind blew against the cabin.


Clarisse shivered in Joseph’s arms.


Joseph looked over to the fireplace, and saw that the fire had burned down to just embers.  He turned back to her.  “Let me go add some more wood to the fire,” Joseph said as he moved out of her arms and slipped out of the bed.


Clarisse curled up in the warm spot Joseph left, pulled the blanket tightly around her, and watched Joseph pad naked across the room.  She felt a rush of heat through her at the sight of his muscular nude body.  A body she’d become very intimate with over the last several hours.


‘He’s my best friend… my confidante… and now my lover!’  Clarisse thought with a smile.




Joseph was her lover.


She and Joseph were lovers.


Clarisse buried her face in the pillow to muffle the small scream she felt bubble up inside her.  She lifted her head moments later and resumed watching Joseph as he built up the fire.


“Hurry up, lover…” Clarisse called to him.  “I know of another fire that needs stoking.”


Joseph looked back and flashed her a sexy grin.  “Oh, never fear, my love… I will stoke your fire into a blazing inferno.”


“I’m counting on it.”


The two shared a smile then Joseph turned back to the fire.  Pleased that the wood he’d added would burn for a while, Joseph stood and began to walk back to the bed.


A sudden noise from outside stopped him in his tracks.


“What was that?”  Clarisse asked, sitting up slightly and holding the blanket to her chest.


“I don’t know,” Joseph said as he stepped back to the fire and pulled his pants off the chair.  He quickly pulled them on then slipped on his shirt, followed by his boots.  He grabbed her clothes and carried them over to her.  “Here, put them on then stay here in the bed.  I’m going to go take a look outside.”


“Joseph… be careful.”  Clarisse told him.


“I will.  I promise,” he said as he briefly cupped her cheek then moved quickly to grab his jacket and moved to the door.  “Stay here.”


“Be careful, Joseph!”  Clarisse called to him just as he started to open the door.


Joseph nodded then opened the door and stepped outside.




Clarisse pulled on her blouse then sat down on the bed as she buttoned it up.  She glanced anxiously at the door.  Joseph had only been outside for five minutes but it’d felt longer, and she couldn’t help but be concerned.


It could be anything out there.


A bear.


The owner of the cabin, angry that they had trespassed.




At that moment, the door opened and Mia flew into the room with a relieved cry.  Gramma!”


“Mia…” Clarisse began but was cut off as Mia threw herself into her arms.  Clarisse smiled and wrapped her arms around the teen.  “I’m all right, Mia.”


“Oh, Gramma… I was so worried,” Mia mumbled into her grandmother’s shoulder.


“I know… but as you can see, I’m fine.”  Clarisse responded then looked up as her son walked into the cabin.  “Hello, Pierre.”


“Mother,” Pierre inclined his head at her.  “I am pleased to see that you’re all right.”


“Thank you,” Clarisse smiled at him.  “Joseph took care of me,” she said as the man in question entered the cabin, followed by Charlotte and Shades.  “As he always does.”


“Just doing my job, Your Majesty.”  Joseph said as he met her eyes.


“Well…” Clarisse broke eye contact and stood.  “Are we ready to head home to the palace?”


“I just need to bank the fire,” Joseph answered.  “If you, as well as the prince and princess would like to head out to the cars with Charlotte and Shades… I will follow momentarily.”


Clarisse nodded and gestured for the others to move ahead of her to the door.  When she reached the door, Clarisse stopped and looked back at Joseph who was busy putting out the fire.  “Joseph…”


Joseph paused and looked over his shoulder at her.  He gave her a smile.  “I know, Clarisse.  I love you too.  We’ll talk later.”


Clarisse nodded and whispered back.  “I do love you so, my knight.”


Joseph’s smile grew and he turned back to the fire.




“Your Majesty, would you like the maids to run you a bath?”  Charlotte asked her sovereign as they walked through the doors of the queen’s suite.


“No thank you, Charlotte.”  Clarisse answered.  “I think I will simply take a shower.  After all, it’s Christmas morning… and there are gifts to unwrap.”


“Very well, Your Majesty.  Would you like some breakfast brought up?”


“That would be wonderful.  Some porridge would be nice… with brown sugar,” Clarisse answered then turned to Joseph.  “Joseph, would you like anything?”


“Porridge would be fine… thank you.”  Joseph replied.


“I’ll see to it,” Charlotte said with a nod then left the suite.


“I think I will go take a quick, hot shower myself.”  Joseph told the others then he left as well.


Clarisse sighed softly as she turned away from the door to see Mia and Pierre watching her.  She smiled then began to walk towards her room.  “I won’t be terribly long, and then we can start on the gifts.”


“Take your time, mother.”  Pierre said.  “Mia and I will be fine.”


Clarisse nodded then disappeared into her room and shut the door behind her.




Clarisse stood beneath the hot spray with her eyes closed and simply let the hot water beat down on her.  While she was happy to have been rescued and returned to the amenities of the palace… Clarisse found that she was missing the quiet privacy and intimacy of the cabin.


‘You’re missing Joseph.’ The voice in her head told her.  ‘You might as well be honest with yourself.’


Clarisse sighed. 


‘I’m missing Joseph,’ she admitted then a sudden smile appeared on her face.  “I was wondering how long it would take you to join me.”


“How did you know I was here?”


“I always know when you are close, my love.”  Clarisse answered but did not open her eyes.  “My body knows…”


“Is that so?”




“And how do you know?”


“My soul senses its mate…” Clarisse slowly opened her eyes and found herself staring into his brilliant blue depths.  “Are you going to stand there watching me or are you going to join me?”


Joseph grinned.  “Well… I could happily watch you all day… especially now… with your body all slick and wet…” he trailed his eyes down and up her naked body then stepped into the large shower.  “However… I think the idea of joining you is far more appealing.”


Clarisse laughed softly and twined her arms around his neck as he joined her beneath the water.  “I am going to assume that there is a secret passage that leads here into my bedroom.”


“There is.”


“And where would the entrance to this secret passage be?”


“My room.”


Clarisse’s eyes widened.  “Are you serious?”




“How long have you known about it?”


“Since I came to work for you.”






“Have you ever used it before?”


“Yes,” Joseph answered then at her incredulous look he explained.  “I used it when Philippe passed away.  You were so lost… I was worried about you, and I wanted to be extremely nearby in case you needed me.”


“And I did,” Clarisse smiled sadly, remembering the many nights after the loss of her son when she woke up to find Joseph sitting in a chair beside her bed, ready to hold her and comfort her… to help her through the trauma of losing one’s child.  “I never did thank you for that…”


“No thanks were or are necessary,” Joseph told her.  “I would do anything for you.”


Clarisse smiled and rose up to catch his lips in a loving kiss.  “Thank you anyway.”


Joseph chuckled and tightened his hold on her.


“Now, my love…” Clarisse rubbed her body seductively against his.  “Are we going to talk or are we going to make love?”


“Definitely the latter,” Joseph replied as he backed her up against the shower wall.  “We must, after all… look after the needs of our queen.”


“And you do such a good… oooh… oh yes…” Clarisse moaned as Joseph lifted her into the air and entered her in one thrust, “…job!”


They loved each other hard and fast beneath the spray of the water as the steam billowed around them.


Clarisse bit her lip in an effort to minimize the sounds she made as Joseph drove himself hard into her, over and over.  Splinters of pleasure pierced her body, growing stronger with every thrust of his hips against her.


It wasn’t long before Clarisse’s legs were tightening around Joseph’s hips.  “Joseph… Jo… seph… close… I… oh please…”


“I know… me too…” Joseph panted and gripped her hips harder as he pumped his hips faster.


As their release loomed ever closer, Joseph caught Clarisse’s mouth in a hungry kiss just as her body tensed, and swallowed her cries of completion.  Seconds later, he echoed her screams and his hips jerked against hers as he spilled his seed into her willing body.


Joseph leaned heavily against her, holding her up against the wall as they fought to catch their breath.  When he felt strong enough he pushed back and helped Clarisse ease her legs down to the floor of the shower.


“All right?”  He asked her in a rough voice.


Clarisse nodded then smiled sheepishly at him.  “Thank you…”


“For what?”


“I’ve always wondered what it would be like to make love in the shower.”


“Is that so?  And may I ask who had the starring role?”


Clarisse laughed lightly as she reached for the soap.  “You, my knight… always you…” she then handed him the bar and presented him with her back.  “Now… soap me up.”


“Yes, your Majesty.”  Joseph grinned as he lathered up his hands.  “Your wish is my command.”


More laughter filled the shower as they quickly washed each other and in less than twenty minutes, they were climbing out and drying off.


They pulled their robes on then stopped.


Joseph and Clarisse stared at each other.






They smiled.


“I…” Clarisse began and took a step towards him then stopped.  “Joseph… I…”


“I know,” Joseph replied.  “Reality has reared its ugly head.”


Clarisse nodded sadly then closed the distance between them and cupped his cheek.  “We’ll find a way, Joseph.  I love you too much to give you up now.”


Joseph laid his hand over hers and smiled.  “I am glad to hear it, my queen,” he said then turned his head and pressed a kiss to her palm.  “I should go… get dressed…”


“Yes… I should get dressed as well,” she said.  “We’ll meet in the lounge?”


Joseph nodded.  “Of course.”


They shared a small kiss.




“You’re next, Joe!”  Mia said excitedly as she handed him a small wrapped box.


Joseph looked at the gift, turning it over in his hand slowly.  “It does not say who it’s from.”


“Yeah, I noticed that too.”  Mia nodded as she sat down on the arm of the sofa beside Joseph.  “That’s why you’re next.  I’m curious who it’s from… and why they didn’t sign the tag.”


The look on Joseph’s face showed that he too was curious as he ripped into the wrapping to reveal a long velvet box.  His eyes widened in surprise as he lifted the lid.


“What is it, Joe?”  Mia asked.


“It’s a watch,” he answered as he lifted the timepiece off the crushed velvet it was lying on.


Mia leaned closer.  “That’s not just a watch, Joe!  That’s a Rolex!  Wow!  Someone must really like you,” she said then looked over at her grandmother.


“Don’t look at me,” Clarisse raised her hands and shook her head.  “I gave him the leather jacket.”


Mia’s brow furrowed.  “Then who gave him the watch?”  She looked around at the others present.  They all shook their heads.  “Hmm… maybe you’ve got a secret admirer, Joe.”


“I doubt it, Princess.”  Joseph said dryly.


“You never know, Joe.”  Pierre commented with a grin.  “I’ve heard some of the maids talking… and apparently you are… I believe the word was ‘hot’.”


Joseph just shook his head.  “I do not think the maids could afford a Rolex.”


“Perhaps one of your friends from your Legion days,” Clarisse offered.


“Perhaps,” Joseph nodded.


“There isn’t a card in the box is there?”  Charlotte asked.




“Is there anything on the watch itself?”  Pierre asked.


Joseph turned the watch over.




“It’s inscribed,” he answered.


“Well…” Mia urged as Joseph remained silent.  “What does it say?”


Nuestro tiempo vendrá,” Joseph read the inscription in a quiet voice.


“That sounds beautiful… what does it mean?”  Mia asked.


Joseph shook his head.  The moment he’d read the inscription, he had known who’d given him the watch.


“Amelia… is not that large gift over there for you?”  Clarisse spoke up and gestured to the big gift still remaining next to the tree.


“Is it!?”  Mia exclaimed and jumped up to go look.


Joseph turned to Clarisse and the two shared an affectionate look as Mia suddenly cried out with delight.


“Oh wow, Gramma!  A new computer!”


Clarisse and Joseph their gaze to look over at Mia, both of them smiling as the young woman seemed to crawl all over the box. 


“I take it that that computer is all right with you?”


“Oh yes, Gramma!  Thank you so much!”  Mia exclaimed as she ran over and embraced Clarisse.  “I love it!”


Clarisse laughed happily and returned her granddaughter’s embrace before Mia pulled away and hurried back to the box.  She watched Mia for a few moments then decided she was thirsty and stood then made her way across the room to the small buffet laid out for them by the staff.


“Do you think cook got the eggnog right this year?”


Clarisse turned at the sound of Joseph’s voice, and smiled.  “I was wondering the same thing myself.”


“Hey you two!”


Joseph and Clarisse turned as Mia called out to them.


“Look up!”


Clarisse tilted her head back and winced.  When she looked at Joseph, he was doing the same.


“Mistletoe!!” Mia giggled happily.  “You two have to kiss!”


“Mia…” Pierre began.


“Aw, Uncle Pierre… they have to!  It’s tradition!”


“Mia is right, mother.”  Pierre said with a hint of humour in his voice.  “It is tradition, and as queen… it is up to you to uphold tradition.”


Clarisse gave her son a look that when he was a boy would have had him running for cover but now only made him smile sweetly at her.  She sighed and turned to Joseph.  “I suppose we must.”


Joseph nodded reluctantly.  “If we must.”


Clarisse and Joseph leaned in towards each other and brushed their lips together then straightened back up.


“That’s not a kiss!!”  Mia cried.  “Come on…”




“You have to do better than that,” Mia spoke over her grandmother’s objections.




“Come on, Gramma… you’ve got to really kiss him.  And you, Joe… you’ve got to kiss Gramma properly.”


Joseph and Clarisse shared a look.  While they both wanted nothing more than to give in and kiss each other properly… they both knew they couldn’t. 


Not in front of everyone. 


Not yet.


Communicating silently, they leaned in again.


Clarisse sighed softly as Joseph pressed his lips lightly to hers.  They held the kiss for several seconds then separated.


“Was that better, Princess?”  Joseph asked Mia.


“Only just, Joe.”  Mia said sourly.  “I would have thought with that Spanish blood in your veins that you’d be one heler, heck of a kisser.”


Joseph merely smiled at the teen then turned back to the table, grabbed a cup, filled it and held it out to Clarisse.  “Eggnog, your Majesty?”


“Thank you, Joseph.”  Clarisse replied as she took the cup from him, smiling when his fingers brushed against hers.


Their gazes met, and each held the same promise in their eyes… later.


With a slight nod, Clarisse broke their connection and walked back to the family.  “So tell me, Pierre,” Clarisse spoke to her son.  “What is this I hear about your being asked to travel for the church?”


Pierre grinned.  “I see the Archbishop has been talking again.”


Joseph watched her for a moment more then with a soft smile, he quickly removed his old watch and replaced it with his new one before he too rejoined the family.




Clarisse crossed her arms over her chest as she leaned against her bedroom’s patio door, gazing out across the palace grounds as she waited for Joseph to join her.  Her thoughts drifted back to Christmas Eve… and the glorious hours she’d spent in Joseph’s arms.


A small smile played across her lips.


‘Glorious indeed,’ she thought to herself.  ‘Joseph is one generous lover…’


Her body quivered at the memory of the pleasure he’d brought her… with his hands… his lips… with his entire being.  With the memory came the yearning to have him touch her again… to bring her to that exquisite moment of pure pleasure.


As if knowing she was thinking about him, Joseph’s arms suddenly stole around her waist and drew her back against the hard wall of his chest.


“I was just thinking about you,” Clarisse said quietly.


“Were you really?”




“Good thoughts?”


“Very good thoughts,” Clarisse answered in a husky voice.


Joseph smiled and nuzzled his nose in her hair.  “Care to share them with me?”


Clarisse turned around in his arms and laid her hands on his chest.  “I would much rather show you.”


“Is that so?”  Joseph arched an eyebrow at her.


“It is,” Clarisse replied as she rose up on her toes to brush a soft kiss on his lips.  All of a sudden, Clarisse found her world tilting as Joseph swept her up into his arms.  “Joseph!”


Joseph smiled at her as he carried her over to her bed.  “I’ve dreamt about sweeping you into my arms like this for years.”


Clarisse smiled then dipped her head to press tiny nibbling kisses along the line of his jaw.  “Is that all you’ve dreamt about, Joseph?”  She teased.


“Oh no, my queen…” Joseph replied as he knelt on the bed and laid Clarisse down on the mattress.  He stared down at her for several moments.  “No… I’ve definitely dreamt of more,” he continued then smiled when she held her arms out to him and acceded to her silent command and moved into her embrace; covering her body with his.  “And I pray it takes a lifetime to share with you all the dreams I’ve had of you… and of the two of us.”


Clarisse smiled and twined her arms around Joseph’s neck.  “A lifetime would not be enough…”


“No… not enough…” Joseph echoed as he lowered his mouth to hers in a devastingly thorough kiss.  “…never enough…”




“I did not thank you for the watch.”


“You don’t have to.  The look on your face was thanks enough.”


Nuestro tiempo vendrá…”


Clarisse lifted her head from where it was pillowed on his chest and smiled down at him.  “Our time will come…” she repeated.  “It’s come now… however…”


“You don’t have to say anymore, Clarisse,” Joseph reached up and pressed a finger to her lips.  “I know and understand.”


“I can’t ask this of you, Joseph… to live a life of secrecy… to hide our relationship from the world…”


“You don’t have to ask.  I am more than willing to love you in secret until such a time as we can love each other in the open,” Joseph told her.  “I love you, Clarisse.  I have always loved you… and I always will.”


“Oh, Joseph… I love you too.  So much,” Clarisse replied in a quiet voice.  “I promise you… it won’t be forever.  Once Mia is crowned queen…”


“We will bring our love out into the open for all the world to see,” Joseph smiled and reached up to touch the delicate gold cross hanging on the chain between her breasts.  His Christmas gift to her. 


“Yes,” Clarisse nodded.  “When Mia is queen…”


“Until then… I am content to keep you all to myself…”


“Mmm… good…” Clarisse laughed softly and shifted her body on top of his.  “Now… I believe we have some more… gifts to exchange…” she circled her hips against his.


“Ho… ho… ho…”








“Joseph, wake up.”


Mmmnnooo…” Joseph murmured and burrowed his face into her hair.  Gobcktsleeprisse…”


Clarisse sighed and snuggled back in his arms.  “Darling…”


“Clarisse…” Joseph lifted his head so that he could peer over her shoulder.  “My love… it’s Boxing Day.  Go back to sleep.”


“But, Joseph…”


Joseph shifted away from her slightly, and gently tugged her so that she was lying on her back looking up at him.


“I’m sorry, Joseph…” she gave him a slightly embarrassed smile.  “I… I’m not used to sleeping in.”


“Neither am I… but today… I think we should try it,” Joseph told her.  “How often are we going to get the chance to simply lie in bed and hold each other?”


Clarisse’s smile turned into an affectionate one.  “Not too often.”


“Then what do you say we simply enjoy this gift?”


Clarisse turned onto her side and cuddled up to Joseph; entangling her legs with his and tucking her head under his chin.  “I say it’s a wonderful idea.”


Joseph grinned and tightened his arms around her.  “Never before would I have thought that getting lost in the snow could be a good thing…”


Clarisse smiled against his chest.  “Getting lost with you this Christmas was by far the best gift I’ve ever received.”


“For me as well, my love…” Joseph said and pressed a kiss to the top of her head then closed his eyes.


“Joseph?”  Clarisse murmured several moments later in a sleepy voice.




“Can we get lost for New Years too?”




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