Move in and don't ever move out // Part 4
Leigh Shaw x Reader
Summary: After Leigh asks to spend a few days at your house, living together awakens unwanted feelings in both of you
Word count: 3.307 II 10.920
Warnings: angst; fluff
All parts || Part 3
A few days have passed since you and Leigh had that intense moment together and there seems to be a silent agreement between you not to talk about it.
Not that you are complaining. Acknowledging that that moment happened also means acknowledging that your feelings for Leigh have returned and that was the last thing you wanted to do.
But things are going well, as they were before. You are, as usual, in the living room, enjoying each other's company in silence.
“Can I write about you in my column?” Leigh breaks the silence and you continue fiddling with your cell phone as you answer. “It depends, are you going to talk about how awesome I am?” You joke and she snorts, giggling. “Obviously.”
“What are you writing about?” You ask, putting your phone way and Leigh sighs. “Just about my life actually. Drew wants me to be honest about my life so that people can relate. So since you are part of my life now, it makes sense that I would write about you too. But only if you're okay with it, of course.”
Leigh explain casually, but you can't help the silly smile that invades your face when she talks about you being part of her life now.
“I'm cool with it, yeah. As long as you talk about how charming and funny I am.” You tease and Leigh rolls her eyes. “Oh yes, hilarious.” You’re about to play offended, but then you realize something and raise your eyebrows, an amused smile on your face. “You agree that I'm charming, then.” You say and Leigh frowns.
“What?” She asks and you giggle amused. “You made fun of me when I said I was funny, but you didn't say anything about me being charming.”
Leigh raises her brows, trying as hard as she can to ignore the heat on her cheeks “Are you hunting for compliments?” She teases and you chuckle, resting your back comfortably. “Sure, they're always welcome.”
Leigh rolls her eyes, trying to ignore the way this conversation has stirred her.
Leigh has a meeting with the people from Basically News today and should be gone for the rest of the afternoon, which gives you the perfect opportunity to organize the office. With luck, everything will be ready for when she returns.
You hired a painter to fix the mess you and Leigh made on the room and when he glances you a shocked, judgmental look, you just shrug your shoulders feeling slightly ashamed.
While he paints the room, you build the furniture you had bought, laughing lightly as you read the instructions, remembering when you and Leigh built the bookcase a few days ago.
The room is small and it doesn't take long for the painter to finish. So you pay him and thank him for his services, and after waiting for the paint to dry a bit, you start carrying things into the room.
You organize everything in the best way you can, making everything as beautiful and cozy as possible. When you finally finish, you feel exhausted and sweaty, but you smile proud of the result.
Soon you hear the front door opening and you rush your way out of the room, closing the door behind you.
“God, I'm exhausted, I can't wait to take a shower.” You hear Leigh grumbling as she closes the door and when she looks at you, she frowns. “God, you're rotten. You clearly need a shower too.”
You chuckle and look at her teasingly. “Is this an invitation to take a shower with you, Shaw?” She rolls her eyes and crosses her arms, shaking her head annoyed and feeling her cheeks warm up on her face. “You're full of crap these days, aren’t you?”
You chuckle again and tilt your head towards the room. “Come on, I wanna show you something.”
You lead her into the room and stop in front of the door with an eager smile on your face. Leigh frowns, but your joy is contagious so she smiles too. “What did you do?” She asks, one brow raised, but instead of answering, you just open the door.
Leigh observes the room with an expression of complete surprise. What was once a room with walls completely ruined by your mess is now an office. A very nice office, by the way, with a desk, a small bookshelf and some discrete decorations. Leigh smiles, noticing how everything is just the way she likes it.
“What is this?” Leigh turns her attention back to you, astonished, and you smile shyly.
“Well, I've been thinking... Maybe it would be nice if you had a place to work. You always write in the living room... And I'm not saying you can't be in the living room! You can stay wherever you feel most comfortable. I just... I don't know... I thought it would be a good idea to have your own office.”
Leigh listens to your embarrassed speech with a mixture of amusement and tenderness. A loving smile emerges on her face as she watches your cheeks blush.
She is about to thank you but she stops suddenly, raising her eyebrows at what she has just realized. "Why did you set up an office for me in your house?"
You massage the back of your neck shyly as Leigh looks at you with eyes full of expectation. “I've been thinking... And it's okay if you don't want to, but living with you has been a lot better than I thought it would be, and I would really appreciate it if instead of staying here for a few days you would move in for good.”
You admit it and the way your cheeks are burning makes you even more nervous but Leigh looks at you with a happy smile on her face and a silly giggle escapes her lips. “I’d love to move in with you.”
You widen your eyes in enthusiasm at the answer and Leigh laughs even harder. "Are you serious?" You ask excitedly and Leigh replies in the same tone "Of course I am!"
Without thinking too much about it, you hug her around the waist and spin her around, and Leigh wraps her arms around your neck. You both laugh happily and foolishly at the idea of moving in together for good. None of you really thinking about what this might entail.
After several days of living together, you imagined that Leigh actually moving in with you wouldn’t change things that much. But turned out you were very wrong.
Soon enough the decorations in the rooms, especially in the kitchen and living room, changed. Not that you were complaining. Leigh was clearly better than you at this sort of thing, and the house was much nicer and cozier now.
Besides, Leigh made a point of buying a lot of healthy foods and kept a daily diet of what to eat, which you were not too keen to follow. But considering that Leigh was way more stubborn than you, you didn't have much choice. But you’re also very stubborn yourself, so you would never admit that your well-being has improved a lot since you started eating better.
You were helping Leigh carry a box of her things into her room one day when she suddenly stopped, looking at the door next to you. You frown in confusion, but before you can ask, she speaks.
"I don't think I've ever seen that door open." She tilts her head toward the door and you assume a thoughtful expression, but then slightly widen your eyes in surprise. "Gee, it's true.”
"Is that your play room, (Y/n)?" She looks at you with her brows raised mischievously and you grimace. “Please tell me you did not just make a reference to 50 Shades of Grey.”
Leigh laughs amusedly as you two put the box you were carrying on the floor. "Jules made me watch it."
"That must have been quite an experience." You joke and she assumes a sarcastic expression. "Oh, a lot. I spent half the movie wanting to kill Jules and the other half wanting to kill myself."
You laugh and put your hand on the doorknob. "Ready to see my play room, Ms. Shaw?" you ask in a mocking flirtatious tone and Leigh giggles but replies in the same tone. "Dying to, Ms. (Y/l/n)."
You open the door, revealing several shelves with comic books, action figures, and various other pop culture items. "You're such a nerd," Leigh sneers, but she looks at everything with great enthusiasm and you smile, crossing your arms and leaning your shoulder on the side of the door.
"After I came back to LA and put my new stuff together with the stuff I already had here I realized that I had a lot of nerdy stuff" You make quotation marks with your fingers and Leigh chuckles. "I didn't want to go spreading them all over the house so I figured I'd leave a separate room just to keep them."
Leigh nods in agreement, admiring your collections and smiling fondly at things you had mentioned before and things she already knew. But as soon as her eyes land on a specific item on the wall, she freezes.
In a simple but beautiful frame, you had one of the copies of the comic Matt wrote framed. Leigh runs her fingers gently across the frame, feeling her eyes burn slightly as tears form.
You walk slowly and stop beside her, also admiring the comic on the wall. "It’s a great comic. It deserved a special place." You speak slowly and Leigh looks up at you, her eyes full of tenderness and laden with tears.
"It's a very sweet gesture." She speaks softly, trying to hold back the tears and you just smile, preventing tears from forming in your own eyes.
You both look at the frame again, and when Leigh rests her head on your shoulder, you close your eyes, trying to ignore the feeling of guilt that begins to take over you.
You've been distant for a few days now and that bothers Leigh quite a lot, but at least the distance is helping her deal with her conflicting feelings for you.
You’ve been distant, so when you invite Leigh to join you for dinner with some friends from work on Friday, she’s surprised, but accepts without a second thought.
In the middle of the night of that day, you wake up with a thirst and go to the kitchen, drink some water and walk back to your room, all in zombie style.
But then you hear some noises coming from Leigh's room. You move closer to identify what it is and your heart squeezes when you realize that it’s the sound of crying.
Without hesitation, you lightly knock on the door and the noise stops immediately. A few seconds later, you hear the rattling of the doorknob, and the door opens next.
Leigh's swollen face and red nose and eyes make you want to cry too. Or to hold her tight and never let go. But you control yourself not to do either of those things.
"Hey" you say softly, unsure of what to say next. You want to ask if she’s okay, but she’s obviously not. You also want to ask what happened, but besides being too intrusive, it doesn't take a genius to know it's about Matt. Leigh murmurs an almost inaudible "Hi" and your heart hurts even harder.
Before you can figure out what to say, though, Leigh speaks again. “Sorry, did I wake you up?” she asks worriedly and you immediately shake your head. "No, no. I just went to get a drink of water and ended up hearing.... Is there anything I can do for you?"
A dry laugh escapes her lips. "I don't think there's anything anyone can do for me." You just nod slowly, unsure of what to say next. "I get it... Well, if you need me, you know where to find me." You say, pointing to your room and smile lovingly at her. "Good night, Leigh.”
Leigh is silent, so you figure she won't say anything else and you turn around. As you walk to your room, Leigh calls your name.
When you turn to her again, Leigh runs her hands on her arms anxiously. "Can you... Can you stay with me tonight? Please."
She sounds so fragile and hurt that it’s impossible for you not to walk up to her and hug her tight. Leigh doesn't hesitate to hug you back either, burying her face in your chest and trying her best to hold back the tears that threaten to fall again.
"Of course I can." You say after you move apart and Leigh gives you a grateful smile. You walk slowly into the room and you lie on the bed, unsure of what to do next but Leigh lays her head on your chest and wraps her arm around your waist.
Without a second thought, you hug her back, one hand hugging her and drawing small circles in her back, and the other running your fingers through her hair.
Having you so close, feeling your touch in such a new and intimate way only increases the conflict within Leigh. On one hand, she wants to allow herself to open up to you, to let you in and never let you go. On the other hand, the weight of guilt is overwhelming, and just the thought that this might be a betrayal to Matt already makes her want to run away.
Still, even for one night she lets you comfort her, feeling your touch and smelling your scent until she falls asleep.
You have no idea how long you stayed there, but as soon as you realize that Leigh has fallen asleep, you allow yourself to do the same.
It’s been a few days since you slept in Leigh's room.
And even though she thanked you with a tender hug the next morning, you both seem to avoid the subject the same way you avoid talking about the day of the dancing in the living room.
But there’s no tension of any kind between you. In fact, it seems that things only get better every day. It just seems that Leigh doesn't want to talk about it, and you obviously don't pressure her to do so.
"Drew is organizing a costume party for Basically News" Leigh says one day, when you two are having ice cream in the kitchen.
"Um, that's interesting. Is that an invitation or a comment?" You ask with a raised eyebrow and Leigh smiles mockingly. "It was just supposed to be a comment, but since you invited me to dinner tomorrow I would feel guilty about not inviting you to the party."
You make a hurt expression. "Gee, what an honor then." Leigh laughs and shoves another scoop of ice cream into her mouth. "Of course it's an invitation, you idiot. I want you to come."
"Okay, then. Since you want me to come." You say trying to avoid the silly smile that wants to escape your lips and Leigh rolls her eyes, a shy smile forming on her own lips.
"Have you chosen which costume you’ll wear?" You ask after enjoying some of the ice cream and Leigh shakes her head. "Not yet. I was wondering if you had any characters from your comics neerdy stuff to recommend."
You think for a moment and hum as an idea comes to you. "There’s the Scarlet Witch." You suggest and with Leigh's confused expression you pick up your cell phone and start looking for a picture of the witch to show her.
"There's not the slightest possibility of me wearing an outfit like that." Leigh declares with a mixture of astonishment and offense on her face and you laugh, putting the cell phone back on the counter.
"And what are you going to dress up as? A tree?" She scoffs and you force a fake laugh. "Wow, Leigh, how hilarious you are. I think you should dress up as a clown." You retort and Leigh makes a fake offended expression. She throws the dishrag in your face and you laugh.
The night of the dinner has arrived and you decided to dress up nicely.
After you were ready, you went into the living room to wait for Leigh. It didn't take long for her to join you, and as soon as your eyes fell on her, your brain stopped working.
"It's not nice to stare, you know?" she says with a mocking smile and flushed cheeks. You chuckle softly, admiring her. "Well, it's not my fault you look so pretty." The words escape your mouth and you scold yourself as soon as they do, but Leigh giggles shyly so you don't worry too much.
"Shall we?" You say indicating the door and trying your best to pick up the pace of your breathing. "We shall." She says with a smile and you two walk towards the door.
Dinner is going pretty well, although you have to try very hard not to stare at Leigh all the time. It is inevitable the way your gaze searches for her even if you do everything you can to avoid it.
It's beautiful to see the way Leigh is allowing herself to have fun tonight, talking and laughing with your colleagues and if you could, you would stand there just watching her.
"You didn't tell us your girlfriend was a lot more fun than you, (Y/n)." Your colleague who is sitting in front of you, Jennifer, sneers and you almost choke on your drink.
You and Leigh exchange embarrassed glances and you turn your attention back to Jennifer, your cheeks burning. "She's not my girlfriend. We're just friends." You explain and Jennifer quickly begins to apologize.
An uncomfortable atmosphere forms around you. Freaking out too much, you don’t notice the slight expression of hurt that flashes across Leigh's face.
Trying to bring back the pleasant atmosphere from before you joke. "And there is not the slightest possibility that she is more fun than me. She's just pretending to be a nice person.”
Jennifer giggles and Leigh taps you lightly on the arm. The conversation soon becomes as light as before, but neither of you can avoid the tension that has arisen.
It’s late when you and Leigh return home. You chat and laugh about some of the evening's events until you stop in front of her door.
She turns to face you and you both stare at each other for a few moments, silly smiles on both your faces.
"I had a really good time tonight." You admit and Leigh's smile widens. "Me too." And there it was again. The twinkle in her eyes that you've noticed a few times before and that always makes your heart beat a little faster on your chest.
But this time you can't help yourself and you put your hands on her waist and pull her close, connecting your lips to hers next.
Leigh freezes, completely surprised by your sudden action. You notice, and soon come to your senses as well. You widen your eyes and move quickly and awkwardly away from her, mumbling words of apology.
But Leigh moves toward you and brings her hands to the back of your neck, connecting your lips once more. You melt instantly at her touch, and don't think twice before putting your hands on her waist again and corresponding to the kiss.
You run your tongue gently over Leigh's bottom lip asking for passage, and when she gives it to you, you waste no time.
You both sigh as your tongues meet, and when Leigh pulls you into her room you don't stop her.
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The Wrong Lifetime – One
story masterlist | main masterlist | wattpad
author’s note: here’s the long-awaited first chapter! i do hope you all enjoy!
Also a quick one – Y/B/N = your brother’s name, Y/M/N = your mother’s name and Y/D/N = your dad’s name
"You move anymore and you're gonna hit a waiter."
I gave my brother a disapproving look as he grinned at my dismay. "Easy for you to say. You're wearing a suit and not a dress that's heavier than your body."
He wrapped an arm around my shoulder and squeezed it gently. "Y/N, you complain too much. Look where we are! You need to learn to enjoy yourself."
Taking a look around the room, I saw a hall filled with people I didn't know mingling with one another. Flutes of champagne were on almost every hand and laughter filled the air as everybody enjoyed their evening, soaking in the luxuries of a ball somebody I didn't know was hosting. Orchestral music was drowned out by conversations and servers moved through the hall like mice, scuttling around and constantly topping up champagne. I wasn't a fan, as usual.
"Are you both ready? Your father is bringing the Maximoffs here any second," my mother's voice grabbed my attention. "Y/N, at least try to look happy to be here."
I forced a smile, making her give me a knowing look before looking to my brother and fixing his tie.
"You both know how important this is," she told us for the millionth time, fussing over my brother's appearance. "They're expecting–"
"Well-behaved, respectful individuals," I finished for her. "We know, mum. You've told us only a gazillion times."
She pressed her lips together, hands on her hips as her eyes fell to me, displeased. "If this engagement is to go as planned, I need you on your best behaviour."
"I'm always on my best behaviour," I reassured her. "But okay. I'll lighten up."
"Thank you," she said with a grateful smile, before glancing over her shoulder. "Okay. Here they come. Smiles, please."
My brother looked to me, showing me his teeth. "Is there anything in my teeth?"
I cracked a smile to make myself feel better. "Gums."
He gave me a disappointed look. "You know men don't like women who are smart arses."
I rolled my eyes at his comment, knowing men didn't like women who didn't like men. But, of course, I didn't say that.
All her and my dad had been talking about for the past few weeks was this engagement. My brother, a very successful author, was to be engaged to his publisher's twin sister, some girl called Wanda. The Maximoffs were an esteemed family and their unification with ours was in everyone's best interests, especially my brother's who was one of the most eligible bachelors in the city.
I didn't know much about the Maximoffs, only that their son and my brother's 'boss', if you will, Pietro, ran a successful publishing house. It had been in their family name since their parents emigrated to England from Sokovia when Pietro and Wanda were children. They'd built themselves up from nothing and were now high members of society, the perfect family to be involved with.
Y/B/N was to be engaged to Wanda, their daughter, since she was getting to that age where they wanted to find someone for her. My brother's name was put into the mix when Pietro recommended him and the rest was history.
Tonight was the first unofficial meeting with them and my mother had been nonstop lecturing me on the dos and don't's of how to act, as if I was a child that couldn’t behave. Of course, it was only a mere greeting. The true engagement was to be proposed tomorrow night, but that didn't matter to my fussy mother who was insistent on making a good impression.
I found myself straightening up and pressing my hands down my dress to rid it of creases as my brother adjusted his blazer. The Maximoffs were being led our way by my father, the four of them all with smiles on their lips and flutes of champagne in their hands.
"Dear, I would like to introduce you to Mr and Mrs Maximoff and their lovely children, Pietro and Wanda," my dad introduced, stopping before us, before looking to the Maximoffs. "This is my family. My wife, Y/M/N, and my children, Y/N and Y/B/N."
"Please, call me Oleg and my wife Iryna," the twins' father, Oleg, said with a kind smile. He held out his hand to my mother, adding, "It's a pleasure, Y/M/N."
They shook hands and then looked to my brother and I, exchanging quick greetings with us. As they were saying something to my brother, probably gushing over his writing as everyone did, I took a look at the quiet twins behind them.
I vaguely recognised the guy and his striking silver hair from my brother's work, knowing he was Pietro. But I'd never seen the girl before and knew immediately that if I had, I wouldn't forget her face. She was stunning, it didn't take a genius to see that. But not the stunning that you glanced once at and forgot about. No, she was the stunning that knocked the breath out of you and made you forget what your name was.
"...lovely to meet you again!" my brother was saying all the right things to impress his soon-to-be in-laws, but it went over me as I found myself unable to tear my gaze from this mystery woman.
Further introductions went on in the background, before the green eyes I was so enthralled with were looking my way, making me blink suddenly. I instantly looked away, afraid I'd been caught, and zoned back into the conversation that was taking place.
"It's great to finally put a name to a face," the girl, Wanda, was saying to my brother with a honey sweet smile and sultry Russian-accented voice, and judging by his expression, he was just as caught up in her beauty as I was. "I look forward to getting to know you more."
"And I you," he returned with his signature grin.
Her eyes fell to mine once again, lips curving into an amused smile. "And of course, Y/B/N's beautiful sister, Y/N. How lucky a man he must be to have a sister as stunning as you."
The others chuckled, clearly taken by Wanda's smooth way with words. In their eyes, it was flattery at its finest. After all, she was to be welcomed into our family and sucking up to the sister was the best way forward. But I guess, I'd like to believe that there was some truth to her words as her entrancing green eyes sparkled with delight.
"You don't need to win over my sister to get on my good side," Y/B/N joked before I could speak, stealing Wanda's attention away momentarily.
She suppressed a laugh, tilting her head as she studied him with an unreadable expression, before looking to me with curious eyes.
"Thank you for your kind words, Wanda," I finally said to her, offering a small smile.
"Anytime," she quipped, biting her lip to contain her smile.
It was oh so wrong of me to even slightly check her out as she did, knowing that it was not only inappropriate since she was to be my brother's bride, but also wrong since she was a girl and I wasn't supposed to do this. A heat crept up neck as I avoided her teasing gaze, wondering if she knew what she was doing or if she was just a naturally flirty person.
"I'm Pietro," her brother spoke, making me look up again. He was directing a charming smile my way as he continued, "It's an honour to finally meet my best author's younger sister."
I put out my hand for him to shake, but he simply grabbed it and pressed a gentle kiss to the top. I flushed at the contact, a nervous smile on my lips.
"Er, it's nice to meet you, too, Pietro," I returned, subtly wiping my hand when he let go of it.
The twins stood side by side, smiling our way, and I realised just why all the chatter in our social circles revolved around them. Charming, distinguished, good-looking – they were the whole package.
Our parents continued to talk, catching up and talking about stuff I didn't care much for. Every now and then, Y/B/N would chime in if a question was directed his way, or Pietro would add his two cents, or Wanda would say something funny, and I would pretend to get along with all of them when I so desperately wished to go home and go to sleep.
Admittedly, my eyes veered over to my soon-to-be sister-in-law every now and then, unable to look away. She was drop dead gorgeous, with bright hazel eyes that looked green like the earth at this moment, and long brown hair that was pulled back out of her face, revealing her charming smile. Sometimes, when she would smile really widely, a dimple would expose itself on her left cheek at the corner of her mouth, and I was sure that nothing else was cuter than that. Y/B/N was one lucky man.
"...would love for you all to come to our home tomorrow evening for dinner," my father was inviting them all over, bringing me back to reality. "It'll be a great way to get to know each other in a more intimate setting. And it'll give the kids a better chance to get to know each other."
Iryna smiled brightly. "We would love to, Y/D/N. Tomorrow evening is great."
"Perfect," my mum said excitedly. "We'll see you all then."
"Do enjoy the rest of your evening," Oleg said, looking to us all, before looking to my brother. "And Y/B/N, it was good to meet you tonight. I look forward to seeing you again tomorrow."
"You, too, sir," Y/B/N said, shaking his hand with a smile. "I'll see you tomorrow."
Oleg and Iryna gave us all a smile before turning to leave. Pietro and Wanda did the same, though when Wanda's eyes flickered to mine, she waved her fingers slowly and with a playful smile on her lips. My mouth opened slightly, unsure what to do or say, but nobody seemed to notice as she turned and left, leaving me standing there with confusion.
"Well, I think that went well," my mum said, and I tore my gaze from Wanda's retreating form. "Couldn't have gone better actually."
"I agree," my dad said, wrapping an arm around my mum's waist with a smile. "Tomorrow night will be splendid." He looked to Y/B/N. "What did you think of Wanda, son?"
Y/B/N looked like he was on top of the world with his love struck smile and relaxed posture. "She's beautiful. And did you hear that accent? Wonderful."
My mother chuckled. "How sweet. You're already smitten."
"What did you think of her, Y/N?" my brother asked, and all eyes fell to me.
I straightened up. "Oh, I– er– she's very nice. A beautiful young woman."
"Right?" he said in agreement. "I feel like she really likes you, too. How cool is that? You guys can become friends and be, like, close sister-in-laws."
I forced a small smile. "Yeah. Something like that."
Of course, for everyone's benefit, getting along with Wanda Maximoff was the best bet. But something about her was different and I was yet to discover what.
The following evening was when we saw the Maximoffs next. As invited, they turned up at our front door dressed less glamorously than last night, given the occasion, but appearing just as excited. Our servants were quick to take their jackets and hang them up elsewhere as we exchanged greetings in the hall.
The Maximoff parents were genuinely kind and humbling people to be around, I'd come to learn that when they thanked our servants for their help and asked them how their day was, making friendly chatter. Not many people did that when entering our home – it was certainly refreshing to see. They greeted Y/B/N and I kindly before moving onto our parents.
The Maximoff children were just as kind, though with a hint of mischief in their stride as they moved to greet my brother and I. Pietro approached me first, lips pulling into a smile as he bowed playfully. In the corner of my eye, I could see Wanda and Y/B/N exchanging greetings.
"It's a pleasure to be in your presence yet again, Y/N," Pietro said generously. "You look lovely this evening."
A smile appeared on my lips at his kind eyes. "Thank you, Pietro. You look very handsome this evening also."
"Apparently it's lamb for dinner, is that true?" he asked, taking me by surprise. I wasn't sure if he was serious, but when his sister slapped him on the arm, I figured he was.
"Don't be greedy, Piet," she scolded him like this was a regular thing.
"What? It was a simple question," he said with a shrug, before looking to my brother with a grin. "Ah, Y/B/N Y/L/N, my favourite writer."
As he moved over to greet him, Wanda looked over to me with a knowing smile.
"It's good to see you again," she said softly, maintaining eye contact.
"You, too," I played along with whatever was happening, the usual script at a time like this. "I'm sure tonight will be something special for you and my brother. It's good to have you here."
She tilted her head intimidatingly. "Bol'shoye tebe spasibo."
I raised my eyebrows, intrigued by her ability to change languages so smoothly. Though, it made sense since she was Sokovian, making Russian her first language. Didn't make it any easier to not be attracted to though.
"I'm sorry," I apologised. disguising my attraction with genuine confusion. "What does that mean?"
She smiled, a hint of smugness present as she answered, "Thank you very much. That's what it means."
I pressed my lips together, humming in response. She held my gaze for a second longer than usual and I wanted to look away, but I was drawn in by the beautiful golden flecks swirled into her irises, captivating and chilling all at once. She didn't seem uncomfortable with the eye contact, instead revelling in it with a content smirk when she saw me squirm. I ended up looking away first, unable to hold a pretty girl's gaze for more than a few seconds without panicking.
"I have something to show you!" my brother was saying excitedly to Pietro. "It's in my study, c'mon."
The two of them wandered off before my mum could stop them.
"Don't be too long, boys!" she called after them, before sighing and looking to Wanda and I. "Y/N, dear, why don't you show Wanda around upstairs, maybe? Hopefully the boys should be back after that and we can all eat dinner together."
I swallowed hard, glancing at a still-smirking Wanda, before looking back to my mum. "Erm, are you sure?"
"Yes, yes, go on, it'll give you ladies a chance to get to know each other better!" she insisted, before ushering me away. "Don't take too long though. Dinner will be ready soon."
Licking my lips nervously, I nodded, watching my mum return to the conversation my dad and Wanda's parents were having. They were led into the living room as Wanda and I were left standing in the hall, her waiting for me to say something.
"This way, I guess," I got out awkwardly, purposely avoiding her eyes as I motioned to the grand staircase.
"After you," she said politely, and I said nothing as I took the lead.
I ended up showing her around the upstairs rooms, including the library we had and the many guest rooms. It was a big home with lots to show for it, so the tour wasn't too boring.
Wanda stayed quiet throughout it, sometimes dropping in a comment or question every now and then, but otherwise listening intently as I explained everything as interestingly as I could. When she did speak, she would leave me fumbling for words or forgetting how to speak altogether. I wondered if she was teasing me on purpose, wanting to get a rise out of her soon-to-be sister-in-law, or if she just wasn't aware of what she was doing.
But every time her mischievous gaze fell to me with a matching smile, I knew that she had to be aware of her actions. Nobody was that teasing without wanting to be. So, that led me to my next question. Why?
Eventually, the last room on the tour was my bedroom. I stepped inside first, holding the door open for her as she followed after and looked around with amusement.
"This is your room," she stated, feet taking her further inside as she took in the appearance of my desk, my bed and my wardrobe. "Fascinating."
I was curious to know what she meant by that, but realising that this woman was an enigma in more ways than one, I knew she wouldn't give me a straight answer. So, I said nothing as I followed after her, remaining close as she soaked in my belongings.
Stopping at my desk, her eyes gazed over the papers spilling from closed notebooks, books marked with string and pens littered across the wood. Thankfully, nothing was open and she didn't seem to be the nosy type, so had no intention of going through anything.
"I see you like writing," she noticed, fingers hovering above the notebooks but not quite making a move to touch them. "Runs in the family, doesn't it?"
"I guess," I said, unsure what she wanted to hear.
She looked up at me, smile tugging at her lips. The same damned smile that had been directed at me since she got here.
"Do you write like your brother?"
I tried not to laugh. "More like he writes like me."
She watched me closely, amusement dancing in her eyes. "He's the author in the family."
I mirrored her smile, though mine was fake. "Published author, love. Doesn't make him the only one."
A chuckle flew from her lips as she looked across my messy desk again, clearly not offended by the hint of annoyance in my voice. I shouldn't have been so offended by her words – she didn't know anything about me – but it always ground my gears when people stuck up for Y/B/N like he was God's gift.
"Do you write?" I asked, half interested and half wanting to change the subject. The least I could do was try to get to know her a little better.
"I prefer painting," she answered without mischief. "It's my favourite thing to do."
Her eyes lit up at the mere mention of art, but she did a good job at reigning it in. She was still studying the books on my desk, distracting herself with the spines instead of facing me.
"And what do you like to paint?" I asked, genuinely interested now that I was beginning to see her actually fond of something that didn't involve making me flustered.
She shrugged, but I knew it was a pretence. "Scenery. Landscapes. We have a beautiful garden at home and it's a pleasure to paint." She finally met my eyes again, a smile of adoration on her lips as she continued talking about the garden. "The flowers, the trees, the little pond we have. It's the perfect subject."
The smile that appeared on my lips was automatic as her passion for her hobby was contagious. The way her whole face lit up, eyes bright with excitement and lips unable to do anything but smile, was intoxicating and I tried not to get lost in the moment. It was true though, what people said. Nobody looked more beautiful than when talking about something they loved.
"I’d love to see your work sometime," I told her earnestly.
Playfulness returning, she hummed in agreement. "Only if I can see yours."
I laughed, looking down at my shoes. "Maybe not."
"Well, that's a shame," she said, still playful, though when I looked up, I almost believed her.
She did that thing again, where she stared at me and held my gaze as if reading my innermost private thoughts. Intimidating wasn't the word, yet it was the only one in my mind as I watched her attempt to decipher me. Clearing my throat, I looked away, suddenly aware of how close she was stood.
"So, my brother," I changed the subject yet again, noticing the entertained expression she wore. "You like him?"
"We are to be engaged, are we not?" she asked with a quirked brow, like the answer was obvious.
I hid the smile from my lips. "That's not what I asked, love."
She licked her lips, pursing them as she saw what I was trying to do. My eyes were immediately drawn to her mouth as she did, and I almost forgot to look away until she started speaking again.
"My parents arranged this," she admitted, not losing composure. "Y/B/N is a gentleman and he seems like a kind man."
I noticed how she still avoided answering the question, but decided not to say anything about it. My eyes studied her curiously though, wondering why exactly she'd agreed to the marriage then. Maybe it was a sense of duty, like every woman had nowadays. Eventually my time would come too and maybe I would be stuck in the same position as her.
"I adore his writing though," she added, like she needed to say something genuine to make up for her lack of answer.
"You and every other woman in the city," I mumbled knowingly.
Wanda let out a breathy laugh. "I'm aware of his many admirers, yes, but can you blame them? He has such a fantastic way with words. And don't get me started on that first piece he ever wrote..." Her eyes rolled back with satisfaction. "It's my favourite. I had no idea who he was back then, but the words he wrote were enough to make me fall in love. I guess it's convenient that my new husband is to be your brother, the author."
I crossed my arms as I leaned against the desk, trying not to break out into laughter. Not because of Wanda's words – they were actually quite sweet – but because of the whole situation. It was hilarious to me, since I was the reason Y/B/N got his big break as a writer anyway.
Following in our father's footsteps, Y/B/N wrote manuscript after manuscript with hopes of getting published. But unfortunately, he never got anywhere with it. I was also a writer, having been taught by my father like Y/B/N when I was a young girl, but unlike him, I was told to stop when I got older because it was 'unladylike' and 'not a woman's place'. That didn't stop me however, and I continued to write like no tomorrow.
Y/B/N's big break, and the first manuscript of his that got published by Pietro – ironically the one that Wanda was discussing right now – was written by me. I gave it to my brother, hoping he could get inspiration. He ended up sending that in and getting signed because of my work. And even now, I occasionally helped him work on pieces that otherwise wouldn't see the light of day.
But nobody wanted to hear about the young, unmarried woman who writes about other women like they are God's best creation. So, Y/B/N keeps the fame and credit whilst I write in private, unable to share any of my work with the world unless it's in excerpts of my brother's books with his name on the front cover.
"That first piece was pretty good, wasn't it?" I played along with Wanda's words, a hint of bitterness in my tone of voice.
Wanda studied me up and down, teasing smile tugging at her lips. "Jealousy doesn't look good on you, milaya."
I hummed in acknowledgement, feigning a smile in response, though I wasn't sure what that last word meant. Probably another Russian term she was using to throw me off. Of course she'd assume I was jealous of my brother's recognition. She didn't know the truth and she never could. She was also to marry my brother, the perfect author, soon; my bitter state was merely a jealous sibling and maybe it was easier to let her think that way.
"Dinner should be ready now," I told her, straightening up. "Let's head down."
She followed after me and I said nothing else as I led her back downstairs, trying not to think about how much of an ego-boost this dinner would be for my brother.
There was nothing better than hearing everyone gush over the work your brother took credit for that you actually did, right?
"Ah, ladies, perfect timing!" said my mum when we reached the dining room where everyone was taking their seats. "Please, sit and we can get started. It's a lovely roast from the kitchen tonight."
As I made my way to my usual seat opposite my brother, I saw Pietro fist-pump the air at the mention of the lamb roast, making Wanda roll her eyes and me smile at his action. Y//B/N took his seat and Wanda's parents seemed to take the two chairs beside him already. My parents took to each end of the table, leaving the Maximoff twins no choice but to sit beside me. I sat at the same spot as usual, at the edge of the table so my left-handed self wouldn't bother whoever was sat beside me, and take a lucky guess to who sat on my right.
"Wanda, dear, how was your tour?" my mum asked her as she got comfortable beside me, leg and shoulder almost touching mine and making me both nervous and disgruntled.
With a grin wide enough to impress my mother, she answered, "It was great. You have a beautiful home, Mrs Y/L/N. And Y/N was a lovely host."
At that last comment, I felt her eyes glance towards me and I wondered if she was having fun making me squirm because I knew for sure that I was anything but a lovely host.
"That's reassuring to hear," my mother responded as the food was brought out and placed in the centre of the table. She seemed like she was joking, but I knew she was just glad I'd been on my best behaviour. "And please, call me Y/M/N."
Wanda nodded gratefully as my dad began to cut into the roast. Food was served up and drinks were poured as everybody began to dig in. The Maximoffs sent their compliments to the chef, admired our home and were the perfect guests, just as they were expected to be. My family complimented Wanda and Pietro's manners, talked about how business was going and laughed at every joke Oleg and Iryna uttered, just as they were expected to be. It really was a picture-perfect scene and I resisted the urge to roll my eyes.
Okay, maybe I was acting a little cynical. The Maximoffs weren't that bad, at least not as bad I'd assumed they would be compared to my parents' other friends. They were down-to-Earth and humbled people, a welcoming change from the usual. I just hated forced dinners and being scrutinised under my mother's eyes to behave, hence the clipped attitude.
And just on cue, the topic steered towards something lovely.
"We can't forget to talk about Y/B/N, bestselling author over here!" Oleg beamed, motioning to my brother. "I have to admit, son, I'm amazed at your writing. You clearly have your father's talent."
My brother smiled bashfully as I watched on with narrowed eyes and a tight grip on my fork.
"You flatter me," he said, but Iryna shook her head.
"I have to agree with my husband here, Y/B/N," she said. "Your writing is superb. Pietro, obviously, loves it, and Wanda is a huge fan, too."
At this, my brother glanced towards Wanda with excited eyes and she merely smiled and looked elsewhere, either embarrassed to be mentioned or playing coy. Rolling my eyes came naturally at this point.
"Tell me, how did you think of what to write for that first book?" Iryna asked with intrigue. "It was my favourite one."
Ah, yes, the first book. Apparently everyone's favourite one.
"Oh, it's best not to bring all that up–"
"I'd actually like to know, too," Wanda cut him off, her curiosity getting the better of her as she leaned forward onto the palm of her hand and watched him under long eyelashes.
I couldn't keep the smile of delight from my face as I too leaned forward curiously, eyeing my brother. "Yes, dear, brother. Please, do tell us of how you came to write such an honest, heartfelt first book."
At this, I felt both my parents send me a warning look as they knew the truth. But neither of the Maximoffs noticed as their attention was solely on my brother.
Luckily for him, he was a great liar and he smiled his charming smile and nodded, looking between the four guests.
"I guess it started after my third failed manuscript," he began, very believably. "I realised that there was something missing from my pages. Something real and genuine. Something that would appeal to my readers and make them question just how much they were appreciating their partner, you know?"
As he rambled off into another literary spout of nonsense, my smile faded and I gritted my teeth, wondering how he'd gotten so good at lying without giving away a sliver of pretence. The Maximoffs were hanging onto his every word, fascinated by the mind of a writer. I tried not to let it get to me as he butchered the meaning behind everything I had written in that first novel. Some things were better left unsaid.
When he finished, questions were fired his way and my parents watched on with pride in their eyes, as he answered them with ease. I chose to stay quiet, as usual, letting him soak in the credit for something he didn't do.
"And what do you think, Y/N?" Wanda's voice included me in the conversation, and everybody's eyes fell to me. I was only looking at her as her lips were pulled into a wide, suggestive smile and she continued, "How is it being the sister of one of today's bestselling authors?"
The usual forced smile that accompanied my lips whenever talking about Y/B/N because present, but my eyes were questioning Wanda's as she was clearly trying to get a rise out of me yet again, especially now that she assumed I was jealous of her husband-to-be's fame. Her stupid beautiful smile and stupid pretty eyes and stupid attractive accent were all taunting me.
"It makes me proud to know that he's come so far from when we were younger," I said, and though I was irritated by the way it had happened, my words weren't entirely false. "He's a talented man and he clearly has a way with words. What more is there to say?"
The elders seemed touched by my words and when I looked over the table to meet my brother's gaze, I saw the gratitude in his expression, hiding behind his smile and reserved for me. I nodded subtly, letting him know I was happy to keep his secret as long as he wished, just like we'd agreed.
Chatter and compliments soon turned to the real reason for our presence – the engagement. I tucked into my dessert as I let them talk about dates for the engagement party, logistics for guests and all the other details I could care less about. Only when my brother mentioned my name did I look up, surprised to see all eyes on me yet again.
"I'm sorry, what was that?" I asked politely, glancing around.
"Y/N, honey, lay off the chocolate cake, will you?" my mum said with a smile that I knew was code for 'put the bloody fork down'.
I forced a smile of my own as I lowered my fork and sat up straight, very ladylike, and looked to my brother.
"I was saying how I'll be sure to pick a beautiful engagement ring for Wanda here," he no-doubt repeated for my sake. "And maybe you could help me choose, to make sure it's something she may like."
A genuine sarcastic smile broke out on my lips, though not because I was interested in ring shopping with my brother. I knew absolutely nothing about dear Wanda or her taste in jewellery, but a woman was to do what she was best at – shopping! So, without sharing my true thoughts on the situation, I nodded respectfully and hummed in agreement.
"Of course," I said what everybody wanted to hear. "I'm sure we can find something to suit Wanda's taste."
Everybody resumed chatter about the wedding as I sighed quietly and got back to my cake. My right hand rested by my side and I jumped, startled when I made contact with Wanda's fingers.
"Sorry," I apologised, moving my hand a little from hers but keeping it there. "Left-handed an' all. I tend to forget."
Green eyes pierced through me with a matching sly smile. "No problem, milaya."
Again with the 'milaya' talk – what did that even mean? I returned the awkward smile as I continued eating, but I didn't fail to notice the way her hand would brush against mine throughout the rest of the meal.
Either by accident or on purpose, I'd never know, but I had my suspicions.
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