“How many people have you killed?”
He doesn’t like to talk about those things but she’s curious so she asks anyway. Unbuttons his pants with one hand and slowly pulls the zipper down with the other.
“Enough,” he replies in the flat monotone he uses at all times. Even now, when she's on her knees in front of him, there’s no inflection. She looks up; an eyebrow raised and pulls him free. He’s hard, thick and twitching, his tip damp in her hand and Nika doesn’t need him to admit he wants her. This is more than enough.
“What about a ballpark?”
She smiles and takes the head into her mouth, sucks deeply, runs her teeth gently along it’s underside before sinking down further, swallowing around him and repeating the movement. He doesn’t moan, doesn’t tell her how sexy she is or to use more tongue. He doesn’t grab painful fistfuls of hair and pump himself into her mouth. He doesn’t smack her ass or groan through clenched teeth that she was worth every cent of the 35 dollars he paid for her.
Nika knew he wouldn’t but the memories of dimly lit back rooms, of heavy stomachs hanging over the tops of slacks, of sweaty, wide-open thighs flit across her mind and stops her short anyway. She leans back on her haunches, brings her hand to her mouth, suddenly light headed and nauseous. Nika has learned to live, if not quite come to terms, with her past but it still creeps up on her sometimes. Makes her nervous and afraid and the only thing that can calm her on those days is the knowledge that the people who did it to her are all dead.
She opens her eyes and sees he’s looking back, as steady and silent as the grave. That this man killed them.
Nika feels her stomach beginning to settle, she wants him and, just as significant to her, he wants her too. She knows admitting that, admitting a weakness because that’s what he thinks this is, wasn’t easy for him. She appreciates it more than he’ll ever know. Nika smiles then, calmed by his lack of emotion and easily slips her mask back into place. He knows the truth, though. How scared she gets, that she hasn’t really let any of it go. She, most likely, never fooled him in the first place and she’ll make sure never to forget that.
“Where were we then?” She takes him back into her mouth before he can answer but she has the feeling that he wasn’t going to anyway.
On her birthday, Nika finds an envelope on the floor in front of her door with a ticket to Istanbul inside. Nika doesn’t work, the large deposit that appears in her bank account every month makes that unnecessary, so it’s no trouble to catch a flight out that very night.
When they touch down, she doesn’t bother looking for him at the terminal, just catches a cab and watches the sunrise through the window as they drive to the hotel. The same hotel he bought her to then. She pays the driver, goes in and walks right past the front desk into the elevator, hits 22 without a thought.
When the doors open, she strides down the hall and stops in front of their room as if she’s in a daze. She doesn’t knock, doesn’t stop and check for traps either. He wouldn’t have set any up, not when he knew she was coming. The door is unlocked and her eyes take a moment to adjust to the sunlight when she sees him sitting at the computer. He looks the same as always—the same as he did then— still dressed in his black suit, red tie and white shirt.
She drops her coat and purse on the ground and makes her way out onto the balcony.
“I made us reservations for tonight,” he finally says, not bothering to turn away from what he’s doing or fill her in on what he’s talking about. She already understands though. She feels like they’re picking up on a conversation they started three years ago. “You might want to take a nap first.”
She’d slept on the plane and until the words left his mouth, she hadn’t been the slightest bit tired. Now she hobbles to bed, pulls her clothes off with her eyes half closed and gets beneath the covers with a sigh. She wonders, before falling asleep, if— along with the weapons training and inoculation to pain—they taught him how to cast spells.
When they get to the restaurant that night, the food’s good but the wine’s better and she drinks enough to make the staff nervous. He almost has to carry her out and when they get back to the hotel, she knows her lines and repeats them well. He plays his part too. Fills in his dialogue as if they haven’t already said it. As if he doesn’t already know how it ends. His eyes still widen gently when she tells him she’s not wearing any underwear. There’s still slight discomfort when she straddles him and takes down her dress.
She’s leaning forward to kiss the spot behind his ear when he stops her.
She narrows her eyes at him. This isn’t what happens next, they’re recreating something here and he’s going off script. It’s not unexpected—she was definitely hoping he wouldn’t knock her out this time—but she doesn’t know what he’s after now. She decides to ignore him, leans forward, and tries to get him back on track when he puts a firm but gentle hand between her breast. “Lie back,” he repeats and this time she doesn’t fight when he rolls them over.
He straddles her and leans up onto his knees to pull off his jacket and tie. He unbuttons the cuffs of his sleeves and rolls them up to the elbow. His face is very serious now, when he’d been relaxed the rest of the night and Nika’s getting worried.
“What are you doing?” She asks slowly, her reactions dulled by the plane ride and the food and the drinks and his hands.
“I… read a book…,” he actually sounds almost nervous when he says those cryptic words and if she wasn’t interested already, that would have done it.
“What kind of book?”
He lowers his head, takes her nipple between his two front teeth, runs his tongue across it and Nika gasps in surprise. Oh, she thinks. That sort of book.
He repeats the move on her other breast before trailing kisses down her flat abdomen. He puts her left leg over his shoulder, kisses the damp skin behind her knee, nips the tendon between her pelvis and her thigh and leans toward the slick flesh between her thighs slowly before stopping. “Is this all right?”
“Yes,” she breathes quickly. Too quickly to play this off as something she could take or leave but she doesn’t care what he thinks of her desires anymore. He’s obviously had desires of his own. She bites her bottom lip at the thought of him pouring over books and websites trying to learn how to do this well. How to please her and Nika’s hands reach above her head to grab the headboard thoughtlessly.
His face is flushed as he nods and bends her other leg so it’s bent at the knee and flat against the mattress. He lowers his mouth to her again, but this time he makes contact. He licks her clit slowly before taking it into his mouth. Slips a finger inside of her, pulls down instead of looking up for her g-spot and Nika’s shoulders draw in on themselves. She has to bite back a strangled groan of pleasure. The touch is unfamiliar but welcome. It makes her feel like there’s a cock’s inside of her when all it is is a finger and she grinds down on him shamelessly.
She vaguely wonders what the name of that book was.
When she wakes up the next day—on her back, heavy eyelids, head throbbing—he’s already gone.
“Wanna hear something great?”
She says the words lowly even though it’s just the two of them here today. It’s mid-afternoon and even though the small twin she’s been relegated to during the renovation isn’t big enough for the both of them, they find a way to make it work. She’s naked and facing him, leaning back onto her elbows with her feet flat on either side of his hips. He’s naked too, legs stretched out along her sides. He’s been at the vineyard for five months straight now and his hair is growing in, dark and full. She wonders if he’s ever seen it like that before, she wants to tug on it, to make a joke but she’s afraid he’ll shave and disappear if she does.
“Yes,” he responds lightly and she knows him well enough now to hear the strain he’s hiding behind the words. “What is it?”
She raises her hips, drags her pussy against him until he’s a wet as she is. He never tries to move her along though, never tries to push inside before she says he can. Nika loves that about him. That he can talk about every mundane thing she can think even when he’s so hard his cock looks like it’s attached to his abdomen with a strip of Velcro. “Well,” she says slowly. “I can make that,” Nika gazes pointedly at his dick before she meets his gaze again. “Disappear. You want to see how?”
He smiles, raises his eyebrow—just a little—as she angles his dick away from his stomach and begins to nudge it inside. It’s been a long time for her— since the day he took her from Mikhail to be exact— and she’d almost forgotten this, what it felt like to work a cock inside. To feel yourself stretching and opening around it. To watch another human disappear inside of your body. She lets him in slowly, inch by inch and she doesn’t stop until they meet pelvis to pelvis.
She feels breathless, too full and twitchy with the desire to move, but she stays still. “Pretty cool, huh?”
“Yes,” he says eyes wandering to the place they’re joined like he can’t help but to look. In this moment, he’s just a normal guy, awed by the fact that a girl let him inside her and Nika bites her lip as she pulls herself away from him. Watches him slide free wetly with hooded eyes, only to take him back inside.
She rocks against him gently. Until her thighs ache, until they’re both tacky with sweat, until his mouth opens slightly and his eyes go all soft and hazy with desire. She’s never seen him like this before. She’s never seen him look so human.
His voice startles her and he must notice because he lets the question trail off. She smiles to soothe him and nods her approval for whatever it is he wants to do. He licks his fingers, places them against her clit gently and even though his touch is timid, his wide digits make up for what he lacks in confidence.
She speeds up, and so does his touch. He slips a free hand around her hips, begins to push into her thrusts and she lets her head roll back onto her shoulders as he tugs her further into his lap.
Nika’s never had the energy for dreams. However, that—like many things—is changing.
She hopes the vineyard will do well, that he’ll recognize and trust how happy they are together. He leans forward, rests his damp forehead against her clavicle and captures a beaded nipple in his mouth.
Nika hopes that, this time, he’ll stay.