The dull intake of breath gave her away. That, and dark eyes piercing my shoulder blades like shurikens, slices so precise, so beautifully perfect and deadly you barely registered the penetration into muscle and bone.
They flirted into ebon, silver-tinged in certain light, those eyes. I’d first noticed them at an odd moment, shoulder and hipping her out of my way in my mad rush to grapple with the first cup of dark roast of the day. It hadn’t sent up the usual flags, cautionary waves of what the fucks and there’s no such thing as co-incidence…
Same time, day after day after day. A week, then two. Shoulder, hip. Move, bitch.
And still no warning, other than feeling flush with resistance, building the barricade because if I didn’t, no one else would.
And then she pushed back. It’d been so unexpected, so delightfully arrogant and aggressive and assertive. My space. Make me. Wait your turn.
“Blondie.” She muttered it sotto voce, all of her five-five and change, my space, your space.
I had nowhere to look but down, down down down, into round orbs, almost childlike with deceptive insouciance, taking my measure. She reached for the cup. My cup. Her cup. Ours. And the first step balanced and rocked—heel-to-toe and back—the stray streaks of platinum framing her face slip-sliding fore and aft.
Stretching, knuckles fleshed, blue-rimmed, oddly imperfect … she fisted possession and in that moment the ache began in the one place I could never again go.
The barista stood, slack-jawed. He was unwilling to referee the smackdown as I advanced, palm flat, bitch-slapping the contours of the vente, just enough for flesh and heat to come to an understanding.
The line behind pressured with anxiety.
“Get a fucking room.”
Soft lips, pouty and full, pursed, accenting her annoyance. She flicked a glance back at the suit. Her finger twitched in salute. If he saw, it didn’t register. She’d netted him, same as me, two floundering guppies gulping air for all we were worth. His bulge pronounced his acquiescence as a Greek chorus of impatience hemmed us hip to cock.
Dark Eyes bracketed the suit’s left, the cup forgotten, leaving me to sweep it across the imaginary line of defiance. Advantage, Finna.
Small victories require celebration. Angling my shoulder back in the suit’s direction, my free hand cupped the straining fabric, content to savor the smooth slip of an expensive wool blend. He lifted the briefcase infinitesimally, looking to shield my movement, and sucked air. Not loud. But enough to let me know I had his undivided.
I had height and wingspan, and the shelter of curves and sister-in-arms. The barista had line-of-sight to the full frontal attack, my thumb and forefinger impinging on a cock set to detonate. I rocked the zipper, pinched and prodded and swept turgid flesh against thin, silk boxers and the seeping, weeping, uncut splendor of a cock I owned completely.
The devil with rounded hips and luscious lips locked eyes with mine. There was that glint again, this time less a dare, more approval.
Soft, lisping ‘unh-unh-unh’ punctuated the bubble of silence. The barista’s face turned puce, then parchment, eyes narrowed to slits, his hips undulating against the counter as steaming cups lined up with military precision to his left. He took attendance in thrusts and when the hiss of, “Fuuuuck,” whispered into our cave, we all stared at the spreading stain with satisfaction.
The boy-man behind the counter grasped a wad of napkins and slipped them under my wrist, under the hand possessively manhandling the cooling cup of mocha latte. Sweat beaded his upper lip in small, glistening droplets, coating the straggly attempt at ’tude with wish fulfillment.
I looked at Dark Eyes and allowed an uptick to my own lips, mirroring hers. She deftly maneuvered the hapless suit’s briefcase to hide his indiscretion, as I slid her cup back across the demilitarized zone and gratefully accepted my own fresh brew.
“Allow me…” was followed by bills being passed forward amidst rasping attempts to gain control. He slipped something into my back pocket. Dark Eyes cocked an eyebrow, gracing me for the first time with a full out grin.
I nodded and let him think what he wanted. Scooping up my cup and hers, I followed co-incidence past the admiring glare of the barista, allowing my hip one last pass across flesh so sensitized the suit sobbed, “God,” and then we bolted onto a street filled with normal and every day and reeking of stale over-achievement.
The sidewalks were a mish-mash of frost heave and misalignment. We straddled cracks and avoided eye contact. Out there, in the urban jungle, instinct and habit warred with curiosity, caution winning out, perpetuating our odds of making it through the next minute, the next hour, the next day.
Having suckled at the teat of incarceration for two long years, I wasn’t in any hurry to renew my acquaintance with entrapment, so I tilted the cup in wry salute and turned left. It was fifty-fifty. I had no place to be, no prospects, no compelling obligations. And little wish for companionship. Two years of up close and knife in your ribcage was sufficient to convince me loner status was everything it was cracked up to be.
Dark Eyes hadn’t gotten the message. Or I’d hit the lotto of bad choices and inadvertently keyed into her agenda for the day. Unlike the strident and determined stream of pedestrians, we lock-stepped in a slo-mo saunter up Ninth, already oozing temptation in shades of curry and chorizo and jalapeno.
Our shoulders touched, the contact incidental as ducking and dodging morphed to shoving us aside, irritants on the ass of importance and places-to-be. She stayed just behind me enough to disavow my need to view generous hips so well-rounded it invited lip-tonguing and untoward thoughts.
When she turned up 55th, I followed lemming style. We zigged and zagged, then came to rest before gleaning glass and steel, and turnstiles filled with power skirts and wingtips.
She asked, “Where will I find you?”
Taking my bearings, basking in the musical echo of accented words caressing my inner goddess, I replied with another question, “The playground?” I disliked kids intensely, but it was safe, open and filled with entitled mothers and illegal nannies living the good life vicariously through their charges.
Without a word, she joined the hordes, disappearing from sight so thoroughly it gave me pause. Did I just imagine that morning, that confrontation, the soothing wash of a man’s joy slicking my palm in supplication?
I fingered the bit of cardstock out of my back pocket and stared at the words, unseeing, savoring the moment again when I had the element of control and surprise on my side.
The words zipless fuck rang true and clean and unbidden, and the reality of my life opened to new possibilities. And regrets.
I was, after all was said and done, Richter’s thing. He possessed me in ways no other ever had, or likely ever would.
With Richter’s fuck Dominic, I’d lost whatever ground I’d gained with Anna Marie Sanchez. Though in our tentative postering and hesitant reluctance to learn new steps, we’d barely gotten to hello.
A few touches. Fingers unbraiding and straightening out the kinks, hard muscle kneaded into compliance, a flush of engorgement and pressure and the glorious release of acceptance…
It was so like Richter, that endless tease with no release, tuning to an arpeggio with one and only one outcome: denial. Abrasion, microderming passion into long, drawn-out passages that left us breathless with unfulfillment, that next step the last step toward admission and commission, and all the sins of the mother and the daughter and the sister taut on a bundle of nerves knowing no gender.
Knowing lust, understanding it—how it owned you, penetrated you to a core you reserved only for yourself and one other—had ill prepared me for these feelings and it smarted, in that inconsequential way undeserving of more than an expletive and a shrug. Like the worst kind of flirt, it teased with stinging discomfort, promising pain but never delivering. I needed Nik for the real agony, and the quick flick of a blade to take me out of all our comfort zones and into his.
It was impossible to engage in blood-sport without emotion. My adrenalin high came with susurrations of love me babe, love you Liebchen, love me, love you…
Scuffling sounds of wool socks on composite dopplered left-to-right as Annie returned to her haven and her hell. She cooked. She chopped, and rinsed, and sautéed and baked to ease me into her trap of need. She enabled me as few had. Dark Eyes lay a daily offering on the altar of obsession and transgression, unwilling and unable to bare flesh to flesh, skin to skin, need to need.
Forever damned to provider and caregiver, she’d carved out space in my belly as a substitute for carving out a piece of my soul. I was grateful for that. And resentful.
I liked the way that command rolled like a pinball, pinging and bouncing and jiggering my body into a false positive of joy and abandon. Richter would use the Vampyr’s dick to do what he couldn’t: control me, penetrate me, fill me and reduce me to a quivering, needy bundle of nerves and submission.
And then what?
Mindlessly I clicked through the sequence until the file and its contents lay spread in convoluted splendor across the screen. There was little there I didn’t already know.
The one bit—the target—that was a surprise.
Apparently my lover, my jailer, my enemy would have me come at him impaled on the cock of the one man who threatened his hegemony, with my cunt and my skills sacrificed to an end game I couldn’t possibly understand.
Fingers firmly gripped my shoulders, pinning me against the chair back. Her tongue, warm and wet and insistent, toyed with the lobe and she whispered, “Fuck me first.”