There is nothing in their agreement that requires Neal to pay attendance on June beyond the occasional breakfast together, or perhaps lunch. His work with Peter keeps him pretty busy and even in June's widowhood, she still does the rounds of charity meetings and soirees.
But one night, she asks.
"There's a party. A simple gathering," she begins, hands folded primly in her lap. "I was wondering if you would be willing to be my escort for the evening."
Neal cocks his head, a slight smile on his face. "How can I refuse a request from such a beautiful lady?" She stands and walks over to him, her eyes intent.
"Wear the Brioni," she says, fingers flicking a bit of lint from his shoulder. "I haven't seen you in it yet."
Something about the way she gives this order, wrapped in the subtle influence that only women of her age and station exudes, tugs at him, And he wonders.
Neal realizes as they step into the foyer of the mansion that sits smack dab in the middle Central Park West that this is not just a 'simple gathering.' People who follow the rich and famous can barely dream about the kind of power that does not speak out loud but exerts its influence in the shadows. He casts a look at June and sees a fine tremor in her shoulders. "Are you okay?" he whispers, fingers lightly brushing her elbow.
"I haven't been here since my husband died," she whispers back, turning her head causing her lips to barely miss his. "I'll be fine."
Any thief worth his salt knows when he's being watched and he wonders if they see a wounded queen with no king by her side.
Tucking her hand in the crook of his arm, his fingers play over hers in a subtle caress. "Of course you'll be fine," Neal says with his most devil-may-care grin. "You're with me."
They move about the room and Neal notes the eyes that linger a little too long only to slide away quickly. The assessing glances, whispers behind not so discreet hands. He is a knight, a shield against their curiosity and spite.
"They don't know what to make of us," June says later as they dance.
Neal is bold, leaning is so his lips can brush her ear. "Do you care?" he asks, one hand traveling down her back until it's just above the curve of her ass. He presses her in and relishes her light sigh at the contact. "It's not like any of them really matter."
She looks at him then, her eyes wide and dark. "They don't do they?" The music stops and she steps away. "I believe I'm ready to go home."
In the car, he never lets go of her hand, and she rests her head on his shoulder as the city passes by and when they reach home, he escorts her to her room stopping at the door.
"Thank you for your company tonight, Neal," June says softly. "It helped having a friend."
He takes her hand and kisses the back of it, before turning it over to kiss her wrist, his eyes never leaving hers. "This friend is hoping the night isn't over yet."
"You don't have to..."
Neal steps into her, pulling her close. "Consider it a nightcap," he says before his lips come down on hers.
He's faked many things in his life; it's what thieves do. But he doesn't fake undressing her, baring warm brown skin that's still smooth and inviting. He doesn't fake the kisses that trail from her knees to her pussy. And when he's inside her, there's no faking the cries of passion that he wrings from her over and over again.