The itch of his fingertips searching the small of my back, their slow creep upward along my spine, prompts an encouraging, impatient whine to emerge from deep within me. Tasting his tongue curled around mine competes with the firm promise I seek beneath his waist. Fumbling with his belt, the cold metal buckle nearly burns the flame of my hands and I gasp, then again when Kiril unfastens the hooks on the back of my bra.
But the glorious release of tension across my chest, is confused by the sudden grip of both my wrists, and the way Kiril forces my hands out either side of my body, away from diving into his trousers.
“Miho, stop,” he rasps, even as I struggle to kiss him again, and it’s not until his voice comes more sharply that I blink. “Stop!”
With each breath that puffs out, the flames die back, and I realise what I was just about to do – what I have done, and choking in surprise I stumble out of his grip and flop onto the end of the bed.
My body is humming, while at the same time shivering with growing panic.
“What the fuck… what just happened?” I pant, hugging my arms over my chest, until a few seconds later I let outrage prop me up. “What did you do?”
“I stopped you from wrapping your fingers around my…” Kiril begins, but I shake my furiously, so I don’t have to picture it.
“No, no,” I growl, rolling to the side and getting back to my feet. “Don’t say it! I know what… oh boy.”
He was the one who stopped us when I was reaching for…
“Why? Why did I jump him?”
“Apart from the obvious?” Kiril smirked, watching me carefully from where he hasn’t moved – and again I’m, unsure if I’ve spoken my thoughts aloud.
“Did I get cause up in that vision of Jazz?” I scowl to myself, fighting the urge to fix my bra. “Vision of Jazz? Could it be real?”
“Tell me what you saw,” Kiril instructs, taking a step toward me, and I hold up my hands.
“Stay right there,” I warn tightly as I sift through my thoughts.
“Jazz was here, and she was with Konstantin, together, here,” I exhale, then narrow my eyes at Kiril. “But, if they were together then why are they missing? Would your brother hurt her Kiril?”
For easily thirty seconds he appears to be thinking, but his eyes never lift from me.
“In point of fact I don’t know my brother very well,” he admits with a slight shrug. “We’re different animals.”
“With a card to his apartment,” I sneer.
“I’m a resourceful man,” he quips.
“Stop manipulating me!” I snap, starting forward with my finger pointed aggressively. “I want my best friend back!”
“Calm down, you’re being hysterical.”
My jaw clenches around a screaming retort that would only prove him right, and his expression softens a little.
“Turn around,” he prompts, and my face scrunches up even more.
“Your bra,” he clarifies. “Turn around and I’ll do it up.”
“I can do it myself,” I mutter, but this seems to amuse him.
“Don’t be childish,” he chides, approaching, but I’m worried, worried that if he touches me I’ll lose myself again.
“Don’t be an ass,” I volley. “Very mature.”
“You think I’ll take advantage?” he enquires with one eyebrow raised.
“There’s plenty of precedent for that,” I reply curtly, but do not move as he steps closer.
“Afraid you’ll kiss me again?” he smirks.
“You kissed me,” I correct, but we both know once into it, we were kissing each other.
“Just turn around,” he huffs, taking my arm and giving me a half spin.
“I was pretty clear about you keeping your hands to yourself,” I growl, but his hands are already back up under my blouse and nimble fingers are joining hook to loop.
“It’s a little late for that now don’t you think?” he chuckles, far too close to my ear for comfort. “And let’s not forget your wandering hands.”
Embarrassment filled my cheeks – I know he’s right.
“Done,” he announces, stepping back, and I take a moment to fix myself before turning around again to face his smugness. “I don’t suppose you’re going to help do my pants back up?”
I shouldn’t look, I shouldn’t, but my eyes move to his crotch of their own accord and I am forced to swallow the growing lump in my… throat.
“If Konstantin wanted to hide, where would he go?” I ask, instead of addressing his increasing amusement.
“Like I said,” he shrugs, “I don’t know him that well, but that he frequented Pale alerted me to his interest in your friend.”
“Then what was the point of all this?” I exclaim, throwing my hands up in exasperation.
“You saw something, didn’t you?” he asks rhetorically, and my hands drop to my sides.
“Maybe I saw what I wanted to see,” I admit, searching the floor for the fallen bead.
“Or your deep connection to Miss Mann actually allowed you to catch a glimpse of what transpired here,” he counters, and I can’t figure if he’s making fun of me with that serious tone of voice. “Either way we…”
His sentence is interrupted by the call of his phone, which he doesn’t hesitate to answer.
“Tell him they’ll be free and unharmed by tomorrow 0:900,” he states, his voice now cool and smooth and completely business, but I’m not interested in his dealings.
Spying the bead, I snatch it up and hold it tightly.
If what I saw was some sort of flashback, it only tells me Jazz and Konstantin were there together, nothing about when or what happened before or after – this is maybe more frustrating than having seen nothing at all. I want to cry, but I don’t.
By the time Kiril is finished with his call, I’ve wandered back out into the main living area and are just staring blankly out toward the river.
“What if they’re both at the bottom?” I wonder morbidly.
“Unlikely,” Kiril scoffs, one hand in his pocket as he saunters from the corridor. “I’ll put some feelers out, see if I can’t track him down, but you… you need to stop wandering around shouting his name.”
“Why?” I frown, snapping from my gloom.
“Because if his disappearance is the result of something sinister, you may very well draw that upon yourself,” he reasons, but is tone is the type you’d use when explaining something to a child.
I cannot, however, deny he’s right.
“I’ll drop you home,” he then says, turning for the front door, speaking as he walked toward it. “Get some rest, then beautify yourself for tonight.”
“You don’t seriously expect me to go through with that now,” I scowl, and he pauses at the door to look back over his shoulder.
Miho was unable to rest – no surprises there. The trip back to her apartment had been cloaked in a silence Kiril seemed comfortable with, but Miho couldn’t decide which emotion in her was the strongest.
Still pacing later that evening, she decided upon ‘Irrmortifrustration’.
“Still can’t believe you’re going through with this,” she muttered to herself, checking herself in the mirror again. “Ugh, why should you care how you look?”
She did, however, and that only pissed her off more.
At the begrudgingly agreed upon time, she swathed her shoulders in a warm wrap and headed downstairs to the front of her building. There waiting, was a now familiar stretch limousine, and leaning against it the same driver she’d caught sight of earlier that day.
Inclining her head, she stepped to the door at the rear he opened, only to reveal the empty cabin.
“No Kiril?” she frowned, pausing in the doorway.
“Mr. Lambert had business requiring his attention,” the driver responded, his voice a monotone. “He will meet you at the venue.”
“Of course he will,” she sighed, then folded herself into the car.
“Yeah, this isn’t the most ridiculous shit you’ve gotten yourself into,” she told herself scathingly, disregarding whether the driver could hear her or not.
In her mind, she played out all the possible scenarios. A swanky ballroom full of influential businessmen, sipping expensive champagne talking shop, while the wives, girlfriends and manipulated arm-candy smile until their cheeks hurt.
“Aaaaand when I find you Jazz, you’re going to pay for this.”
Resisting the urge to fidget, Miho tried to focus on the time, calculating how many hours she would have to play nice with Kiril until she’d be free of her obligation, but her mind kept wandering back to the far too pleasant pressure of his body against hers, and the delightful burn of desire he’d kindled in her.
Then cursed herself… and crossed her legs.
“We’ve arrived Miss Fujiwara,” the driver said through the small window between the front and back sections of the limo.
“Peachy,” she exhaled, and straightened her gown while waiting for the door to open.
She expected Kiril to be there waiting, but no, he wasn’t, and the driver helped her disembark and walked her to the entrance of The Grand At Trafalgar Square, then left her to find her own way.
Resisting the urge to bail on account of Kiril’s exceptionally bad manners, she politely inquired of staff at reception where she was directed to the elevator and the appropriate floor for The Ballroom.
The venue was unlike any she had ever been in, with beautiful Victorian Era ceiling moulding and majestic columns. For a moment, Miho forgot her annoyance, and walked along the rich carpet toward the double doors outside which stood two beaming men in tuxedoes.
“Madam?” one greeted, prompting – no doubt – for her name.
Hoping Kiril had at least remembered to pass on that much, Miho conjured up her best smile.
“Miho Fujiwara,” she declared confidently, and the attendant checked the list before looking up with broad grin.
“Of course, Miss Fujiwara,” he then bowed. “Please just wait one moment.”
Wondering why she wasn’t just let into the ballroom, Miho just shrugged and waited while the man disappeared inside.
A minute later he appeared once more and thanked her, before stepping out of the way, he and his compatriot each taking a door and pushing it dramatically inward to the sound of a loud speaker.
“Announcing, Miss Miho Fujiwara!”
People in their finery, paused with champagne flutes half way to their lips, paused hald way through conversations, paused mid multi-million-dollar deal, to turn their eyes to where Miho now stood the absolute centre of attention.
“Fuck me,” she sighed, adopting her best ‘I’m in charge here’ posture. “I’m going to kill him.”
Like she belonged there amid London’s most wealthy, Miho strode forward like a panther stalking prey… and her prey was Kiril. The image of biting his face off made her smile widen for extra authenticity.
Oh, and it was authentic.
People parted as she approached, either because they thought she was important, or maybe because her inner thoughts were beginning to show on her face.
“Come out, come out, wherever you aaaare,” she grated under her breath, until she noticed the stares focusing behind her, instead of on her.
“You’re late,” Kiril smirked, his expression clear in the tone of his voice.
Slowly, Miho pivoted, narrowing her eyes on him haughtily.
“And you’re an asshole,” she declared airily, spreading her hands like a true show-woman.
But her insult only seemed to buoy him.
“Maybe,” he admitted, stepping cockily toward her, “but a lucky asshole.”
“Lucky I don’t deck you right here,” she hissed as she took the hand he offered like it was choreographed, and he kissed her cheek: feather-light.
“You didn’t disappoint,” he whispered, cool air tickling across her ear.
“I never do, you arrogant prick,” she assured.
“Now now, Sparrow, let’s be civil in front of the audience,” he chided, straightening and offering onlookers a blinding smile before resting one hand on Miho’s hip. “Let’s get you a drink.”
“You’re not afraid I’ll tip it over your head?” she smiled, nodding to those who inclined their head as she and Kiril carved their way through curious guests. “Because after that announcement, you deserve it.”
“Should I not wish to show you off?” he asked, snagging a champagne from the waiter now standing patiently before him, before passing it Miho.
His charming smile persisted, and Miho conceded by lifting the glass from his light grip.
“You’re testing me,” she sniffed, before taking a sip. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you’re daring me to walk out on you in the most fabulous fashion.”
“I would never,” he replied, watching her with an intensity Miho could feel digging beneath her gown.
“Because you know I’ll do it,” she pointed out. “What might that do to your reputation? If I was to make a real spectacle?”
“I think you have better survival instincts than that,” he says, walking her toward a large window.
“And if you’re wrong?” she poked, peering at him over the rim of her flute.
“I kill you, dispose of the body, and get on with my night,” he shrugged, all nonchalant, but he inched a little closer to her, eyes flaring.
In response, Miho’s body flushed with heat. She didn’t believe him – or told herself she didn’t believe him – when in the pit of her stomach something told her he was fully capable of that level of ruthlessness.
“Unfortunately,” she said finally, “I’m much better at getting myself into trouble than I am at doing what I should, so I hope you bought a drop sheet and a shovel.”
“I don’t suppose Henrik showed you how much can fit in the truck of the limo,” he mused, hovering close to her tall and broad.
“Henrik has far better manners than you,” she grunted quietly, irritated she felt compelled to avert her gaze, causing Kiril to laugh and place his hand in the small of her back.
“I’m sure politeness will make all the difference when you’re being buried in a shallow grave,” he murmured, his low voice reverberating all throughout her body.
But with jaw set and nostrils flaring, Miho refused to recoil, and instead reciprocated his touch with her palm flat against his chest and drew her face a little closer.
“You’re not the first date I’ve had who’s threatened to kill me,” she whispered cheekily.
“Can’t say I’m surprised, given how stubborn you are,” he volleyed, not moving away, not moving at all.
“What an adorable new toy, Mr. Lambert,” a sing-song voice intruded, and Miho glanced to the curvaceous owner with brows raised. “She looks positively delicious.”
The words themselves might have been a compliment, might have been, but there was condescension dripping from every syllable that slipped between her red painted lips, and scathing judgement cackling behind her smoky eyes.
Hackles instantly raised, Miho tilted her head a little to one side and responded in as cheerfully innocent – but clearly derisive – a way as possible.
“That’s funny,” she smiled: razorblades, “because I was just noting to Kiril that you look positively tasteless.”
Blinking once, the woman then stared pure violence at Miho, who refused to flinch. Kiril, on the other hand, emitted an unrestrained chortle.
“Stubborn, but entertaining.”
With her lips curling back into a sneer, the woman shifted her feet and made her next attack.
“What happened to your other little pet? Run out of pennies?”
“Why?” Kiril returned lightly, the woman’s barb falling flat in the space between them. “Are you running low?”
It was Miho’s turn to snicker, and she found herself leaning a little against Kiril, bound by their complicity.
Desperate to conceal her mortification and loss of confidence, the still unnamed woman lifted her chin defiantly – but there wasn’t anything she could say really.
“If you’re quite done with the ridiculous insults, Miss Flannigan,” Kiril exhaled, the kind of sigh that indicated he was very much done wasting his time with her, “I would like to get back to enjoying my evening. My lawyers will be in contact tomorrow to finalise contracts.”
He then angled his body toward Miho, a definite snub.
Miss Flannigan’s fingers curled toward her palm and then out again. Miho could tell she was struggling to determine the best way to retreat without making it look like she was scuttling away with her tail between her legs.
Unfortunately, there was no elegant way to achieve that considering the burns she’d received, and eventually she stalked away in a huff.
“What was that all about?” Miho asked with a frown, but Kiril was smiling at her intently.
“Okay that’s just creepy.”
“You’ve impressed me again, Sparrow,” he said, slowly reaching toward her face. “You went straight for her jugular.”
“She offered it to me, approaching with snarky remarks like that,” she replied lightly, watching his fingers until they were just about to touch her lips.
Then she inched her head back a little.
“Hands off, remember?” she pointed out, but Kiril didn’t look the slightest bit discouraged.
“After our interlude earlier today, I think we’ve moved well past that,” he smirked, and his thumb had brushed her cheek before she could shift away further.
“I’m here because I agreed to be, not because I want to be,” she declared.
“Now that, is a lie,” he contested, and Miho had stepped back against the cold glass of the window before her movement had consciously registered.
“Cut it out,” she hissed, swiping the air with her free hand. “If you want to hunt ass, look elsewhere. You, are my connection to Konstantin and nothing more.”
“Your nose will grow if you keep that up,” he chuckled, digging his hands into his trouser pockets. “But, speaking of Konstantin, why don’t we talk about the vision you had.”
A reflexive shiver bloomed goosepimples over her bare arms, the images and sensations suddenly revisiting with perfect clarity.
“Obviously it left an impression,” Kiril noted, “but I’m more intrigued by why you would imagine something like that.”
“I didn’t…” she began, words so quick her mind trailed behind.
Scowling, Miho filled her mouth the bubbling goodness of the no doubt expensive champagne, buying herself time to think over her response.
“I don’t know, Kiril,” she shrugged, annoyed. “It looked and felt real. I was in Jazz’s body, and I can’t explain how I know I… I didn’t just make it up.”
“I believe you,” he assured, but Miho peered at him sceptically. “I’m just curious to know if you’ve experienced it before.”
“No,” she sighed. “But Jazz is family, my only family, so if I was going to go coo-coo over someone, it’d be her.”
“Oh I think you’re crazy, but not for having visions,” he laughed, and this time, under the weight of his stare, Miho felt herself blushing.
“Hmph, for being here with you maybe,” she countered. “You need to help me find them.”
“Let’s just see how the rest of this evening goes,” he replied noncommittally, and motioned for her to follow him.
Before dinner was served, Miho trailed Kiril around the lavish ballroom, introduced to business associates, competitors and rivals by name, and with his hand on her back or her arm over his. Beyond that, there was little for Miho to do other than listen and try to decode.
After the meal was consumed, there was that kind of dancing one always saw on television at formal events, the kind where people were controlled, counting steps, or glued to his or her partner in an intimacy almost too indecent for public. Kiril’s fingers curled over hers, his palm pressed firmly in what now felt like a familiar place on the lower part of her spine.
“So, am I going to have to lure you with my brother to get you to see me again?” Kiril whispered against her ear, and Miho tensed, leaned back a little so she could look into his face.
Reflex drew a biting retort to her tongue first – something about not being interested in pretentious, arrogant, controlling types, but the moment her lips parted, she nearly choked. She simply couldn’t force the words into existence when he was looking at her so hungrily, like he was completely parched and only she could sate his thirst.
“Why would you ask that?” she replied finally, a slight frown tugging her brows downward.
At this, Kiril chuckled, twirling them gracefully around the dancefloor.
“Shall I list all the reasons a man might like to spend time with out?”
“Definitely,” she nodded, but her face was burning – and that pissed her off.
“Who the hell is he to make me feel this way?” she thought, and Kiril’s smile only widened.
“You forget I’ve seen you in your element, night after night, stalking the floor of Pale, playing the perfect hostess one moment, and disarming a disorderly drunk the next,” he explained. “I’ve watched you put down a man three feet thicker than you like it was nothing…”
“You’re exaggerating. I never take on anyone more than two feet thicker,” she smirked, but it wavered a little as Kiril tipped her back and left her dangling: vulnerable.
“A part of me wants to taunt you until you have a go at me,” he laughed, his fingers tapping against her shoulder blade.
“Well, you’re on the right track,” she sniffed, not daring to move lest he drop her. “What else has you so besotted?”
“Is that what I am?” he snorted.
People were starting to stare at them now.
“Well you’re obviously partial to my cleavage,” Miho pointed out, tearing her eyes from his to look along her body, and she suddenly found herself upright once more and pressed to Kiril firmly.
“I cannot deny, the curves of your body are…”
As his sentence stalled, one arm unfurled from around her and touched beneath her chin, tracing over her skin so lightly on a path toward the ample ravine between her breasts.
“Off limits,” Miho gasped, but she couldn’t move – not because he held her so tightly but because…
“I don’t want to?”
“Are you sure?” he breathed to her throat, and Miho’s body shuddered a traitorously pleasant shiver.
“You’re far too used to getting what you want,” she tried to growl, but her voice cracked.
“So, you’ll deny me on principle?” he questioned, sliding his hand a little lower to just above the arc of her backside. “Even if you’re denying yourself something you want?”
“Seems I left presumptuous out of my description for you,” Miho grunted.
“I’m not wrong though, am I?” he smirked, his self- assuredness both irritating and somehow thrilling at the same time.
It took a lot to challenge her, and though Kiril had requested her presence for the purposes of entertainment, Miho had to admit she too was enjoying the game.
“You know, for a business dinner, there isn’t a lot of business going on,” she said, not answering his question at all.
“Hmm,” Kiril hummed, taking the hand she had resting on his shoulder before leading her from the dancefloor.
It was clear she’d changed the subject to avoid answering, and Miho wondered why he didn’t pursue.
“More business deals are done at events like this than in boardrooms,” he explained, pausing amid tables as a stony-faced man and his escort approached. “Hardwick,” Kiril greeted, and the palms met in a solid handshake.
“Lambert,” the man nodded, his warm brown eyes only briefly glancing at Miho.
Obviously, Kiril was his primary focus, and while Miho was interested in what they had to say to one another, the stunning blond to the left of Hardwick smiled and offered Miho her hand.
“I’m Gemma,” she smiled, and Miho actually thought it looked genuine.
As such, she shook hands with the woman and introduced herself, before striking up a conversation.
“I’m not sure I’ve had enough to drink to listen to another dry discussion about security contracting or the rising price of international transport,” she offered, taking a chance that Gemma was also a little bored.
Thankfully, Miho was not met with disdain, and Gemma nodded.
Though Kiril’s hand remained resting on her hip, Miho found Gemma quite easy to talk to, and though they didn’t seem to have all that much in common, their discussion consumed Miho’s attention – right up until Hardwick mentioned…
“I’ve heard Konstantin has gotten himself into trouble.”
His tone of voice was laced with disrespect that caused Miho too look to him sharply, that and the mention of Konstantin’s name. So far as she knew, he had nothing to do with Kiril’s business, in fact Kiril said he hardly knew his brother much at all.
“My brother’s matters are his own,” Kiril shrugged, his answer cool and unruffled.
“Surely the disappearance of the golden child, has caused your family some concern,” Hardwick pursued, and Miho felt Kiril’s fingers twitch against her.
“What’s the matter Hardwick?” Kiril smirked, tall and sure. “Afraid I might inherit the family business?”
“I do not believe there is any danger of that occurring,” Hardwick volleyed, not backing down at all. “I think Konrad would sooner…”
“Konrad, is it?” Kiril interjected.
The question was pointed, rhetorical, woven with ‘that was one step too far’.
“I…” Hardwick began, a little less sure of himself, but again, Kiril cut him off: a clean break, bloodless, cauterised.
“You’d be wise to remember your place,” Kiril told him icily, so cold, so powerful, resonating, that Miho quivered and felt the urge to pull away. “Don’t go concerning yourself with matters beyond you,” he continued. “The consequences could be… messy.”
By appearance, the man named Hardwick looked a decade, maybe even two older than Kiril, and yet he’d lost his confidence of before – even shrank back a little.
“Come on Miho,” Kiril then urged, slipping his hand around hers once more. “We’re very much done here.”
Offering Gemma a small, hurried wave, Miho trotted quickly after Kiril before he dragged her off her feet.
“Konrad is your father?” she asked as she fell into step.
“Hardwick should not have mentioned that,” Kiril said firmly. “So forget what you heard.”
“As if,” Miho snorted, having barely enough time to grab her wrap and handbag from her dining chair, before Kiril began to tug her toward the ballroom doors. “I’ve been asking for information on Konstantin all over and gotten next to nothing, but clearly, in circles you say he’s not a part of, it’s known he’s disappeared.”
“Are you really so surprised a crazy woman roving the streets shouting out names was ignored?” he quipped curtly, striding through the double doors toward the elevator.
“Hey!” she barked, giving his hand a sudden tug, which brought him to a jarring halt. “Back right up with the insults.”
She gave her hand a shake, but his grip remained.
“My pursuit of Jazz is not crazy, nor are my methods,” she growled, leaning forward a little, pointing at him with her other hand. “If what that guy said is true, and Konstantin is some golden child – inferring his superiority over you in inheriting your father’s business- then it stands to reason your father would be just as invested in finding his other son as I am in locating Jazz.”
“The last thing you want, is to be in the same space as Konrad,” Kiril declared, and despite her bravado, that sentence struck fear in Miho, the trembling candlelight of her vehemence flickering a little dimmer.
“Why?” she forced out in a far too hoarse whisper for her liking.
“Just trust me,” he said curtly, tugging on her hand again and pulling her into the elevator a moment longer.
As the doors close, his hold falls away. Though his skin was cool – even given the amount of time his grip had persisted – I feel a warm impression where his fingers had curled. Silence floods the narrow elevator cabin, and though it is a relatively short trip to the ground floor, it seems much longer while Kiril stands two feet or so beside me with his hands dug into his pockets.
Chilly waves of deep annoyance radiate from him now, and though I also sense an underlying, boiling foundation of malice that should frighten me, I feel it’s not at me he’s truly angry.
When the doors open, he steps out ahead, his broad back a distancing wall protecting whatever the actual source of his ire. Were Hardwick’s words enough? Was Konstantin’s disappearance something worth mentioning at a business event? Yet, there was something distinctly more personal about the snide, verbal attack; Hardwick thought he’d had the upper hand, but he’d lost momentum and confidence when Kiril cut him off.
“You would be wise to remember your place,” I recall Kiril saying, and the way Hardwick’s posture had stiffened.
There were so many questions now swirling around in my mind, I don’t even notice Kiril has reached the limousine, and Henrik is standing patiently at his post, waiting for me to follow.
“The consequences could be… messy,” I hear Kiril’s voice replay once more, even as I carefully stoop to enter the vehicle and settle on my side.
Awkwardly, we sit separated as the limo moves away from the building and enters the slow stream of traffic.
“I am sorry,” he says finally, much to my absolute bewilderment, and as much is clear on my face as I look at him.
“For what part exactly?” I query, not nearly as cutting as I could have been.
It’s not hard to imagine that Kiril Lambert is not one to apologise to anyone.
“I meant what I said though,” he continues without answering my question, his gaze still stern though his voice has softened. “Digging around after Konstantin is one thing, but my father is another entirely. And don’t ask wh…”
“Why?” I interject, just as he knew I would.
“Shouldn’t you be asking a different question right now?”
“And what should I be asking right now?” I scowl, but the way Kiril’s eyes slowly skim down my throat, over my shoulders and to my chest, causes my expression to crack.
“You should be asking, where I’m taking you now,” he smiles, both suggestive and sinister at the same time.
A little urgently I look out the darkened window, but London is still flowing by.
“Do I need to be concerned?” I ask, and launch my own challenge,
I’m tired of him always putting me on the back foot, forcing me into a defensive corner.
Time for attack.
Reaching across the void between us, I take his arm and use the anchor to slide myself across the supple leather seat until we’re shoulder to shoulder.
“If you did, would I really tell you?” he counters, still and watching me with growing interest, until I place my hand against his thigh.
“What the hell am I doing?” I hiss silently, but the tense of his muscle beneath my hand sparks a clenching response of my own.
All evening there was hardly a moment he didn’t have a hand on me somewhere, but for some reason – now – this contact fanned flames left simmering by our encounter at Konstantin’s apartment.
“You’d tell me,” I whisper, dancing my fingers over the expensive fabric of his pants, inching a little higher, “because you think you’re untouchable.”
“I suppose you intend to prove this false?” he remarks, our stares interlocked.
There’s no way I can break free now, no way I can back down. Some force completely beyond my control, is driving me to him – and I crash madly through the barricades that should logically prevent me from desiring him the way I do.
“It’s unreasonable,” I tell myself, but there is painful anticipation even leeching through voice in my head.
“Stop talking,” I growl, leaning against him and toward his lips, but his hand over mine – just shy of his crotch – causes me to pause just slightly in confusion.
Within the confines of even the spacious limousine cabin, Kiril somehow manages to curl his arm behind me, and drag me between his legs, holding my back to his chest with his arm across my stomach.
“Audacious little Sparrow,” he exhales against the back of my ear, lips lightly brushing.
“Kiril,” I murmur, curling my back to press against him with my ass.
“Obscene,” a judgemental voice hisses in my mind, but it’s overwhelmed by the rush of almost excruciating pleasure as Kiril strokes just his thumb beneath the short hem of my cocktail dress.
“Just my thumb,” he croons, vibrations that travel through my skin, through muscle and fat and bone, all the way to the molten centre of my body.
“It’ll take more than that,” I breathe, emptying my lungs and filling them completely as he begins to move upward, caressing inward along the delicate white of my inner thigh, until my skirt is indecently bunched.
“You have to let me…” I hiss, lolling my head back against his shoulder, speaking to the crook of his neck.
“No, I really don’t,” he contradicts, tightening his hold around me as his fingers reach their destination – upward along the tingling path of my crease and then deliberately down again ever so lightly.
Even though my panties separate us, my body responds before thought can catch up, so desperate for greater friction than his tantalising tease.
As he continues to stroke with such aching gentleness, the hand at my waist loosens and slides up over my chest, squeezing just briefly before his fingers splay beneath my chin and turn my head to him.
“How did I resist you?” he wonders, smothering my gasp with his lips, the quivering breath that tries to vault forth when his hand burrows into my slick warmth.
It becomes impossible not to squirm, not to dig my nails into his thigh with one hand and attempt to reach around behind me with the other.
“No,” he hisses, though he’s not the slightest bit out of breath as he grips my wrist and forces my arm to the side.
“Don’t play with me, Kiril,” I snarl, my teeth clenched around a whimper as he presses more insistently against the joyful inflammation of my clit.
The trace of his tongue down my throat, the sharp, fleetingly, pain of teeth nipping at my skin, sends shots of electricity through me – bursts of pain that collide with the increasing momentum of my arousal.
And I have to admit, I am no longer in control – and I don’t care.
I am so enraptured, writhing helplessly, I don’t notice the motion of the limousine has ceased, but it seems Kiril does.
“Fun time is over, Sparrow,” Kiril smiles, and I blink at him aghast as he licks his fingers provocatively, before pulling my dress down toward my knees.
“You… what?” I sputter out, winded.
“We’ve reached your apartment building,” he clarifies, lifting me off his lap and leaning forward to give the smoky glass between the front and back parts of the vehicle a tap. “You’d prefer, perhaps, that shallow grave I mentioned earlier?”
Before I can answer – even if I could think clearly enough to say something intelligible and scathing – the door to my right opens to reveal Henrik’s hand.
“Sleep well,” Kiril says, edging his thumb over his lower lip, a man savouring the taste of something delicious.
With my face painted now with intense embarrassment, my dignity in tatters, I swoop to gather my bag and take Henrik’s proffered hand.
“You’ll not have to worry about resisting me any longer, Mr. Lambert,” I spit as I head for the doors of my building, refusing to look back. “I’ll do enough for the both of us.”
Stomping up the steps, I nod but curtly to a concerned looking doorman and continue on my way to the elevator.
In times like these, Jazz would have been the first one I’d call – to rant and rave and cry and get all my frustration out, and I’ve already taken the phone from my clutch as the elevator swallows me up. So now my nostrils are burning as I try to hold back tears of shame, that I let that man I hardly know, but know enough, touch me so intimately, and who is there to comfort me?
Pitifully, I stumble into my apartment in the darkness, not daring to switch on the lights lest I catch a glance at the fool and her regret. Despite knowing full well I’ll wake in the morning with the most horrendous face smeared with makeup, I collapse onto my bed and hug my pillow.
“Just the entertainment,” I whisper to the night, but the night does not respond.