Phryne smoothed her hands over her hips, examining herself in the mirror. This dress was divine, she had to admit. It was a masterpiece of shimmering black lace and shiny black satin that wrapped in diagonal stripes around her body, going from thin at one shoulder to wide at the hem. It had been lined with a layer of silk the same tone as her skin, so the lace sections gave the illusion that they were covering only her naked body. Its skirt swished gracefully around her calves, and the asymmetrical neckline showcased her collarbones and her long, graceful neck.
It could definitely be classified as “lethal,” she thought with a pleased smile. She’d only worn it once before, to that first dinner with Lin, when she’d managed to offend him so much he hadn’t wanted to stay and get her out of it. That time, she had to admit, wearing this had been calculated—she’d been attracted to Lin, and would have welcomed him in her bed, but what she’d really wanted from him that night was information. She’d hoped the dress or some time in the boudoir would distract him into revealing something he might not have done otherwise.
Since then, she hadn’t had a male companion she’d truly wanted to wear this gorgeous thing for—until now. Jack was coming over for dinner tonight, and she could hardly wait.
Phryne sat at her dressing table, sliding sparkling beaded earrings through her lobes to dangle beneath the fringe of her hair. She considered a comb and decided against it—simplicity felt like the order of the day. Let the dress speak for itself. She hoped that Jack would hear the message it was sending: I want you, Jack Robinson. Don’t make me wait any longer.
She and Jack had been dancing around each other in the week since her return from London. She’d decided during the long quiet flight to and from England that she wanted to attempt something more with Jack; she’d known it before she left, but knowing and following through had been different things. She could see now how she’d pushed him away even as she’d tried to pull him close. She was ready to stop doing that now.
And so, over the past week, they’d had dinner almost every night and, each time, he’d stayed after for a nightcap and some rather wonderful kisses and caresses. She’d invited him up to her boudoir as well, but he’d demurred, saying that this felt like his version of pursuit, that he was enjoying the slow buildup of desire.
If she was honest, Phryne was too. She had ways to relieve her own sexual tension, and the experience of Jack’s pursuit was too delicious to rush. She hoped, however, that this night, this dress, would be the one that would tip him past his breaking point. She was rather looking forward to it.
Phryne made her face up, slicking glossy red over her lips, before stepping into her strappy black sandals. She was ready. Now all she had to do was wait for Jack.
Jack adjusted his tie in the rearview mirror of his car. It was the same fury of blue and red that he’d purchased for their first dinner together—the one that had ended with him in her bed without her. He’d found since then that its vivid pattern gave him a sort of false confidence, something he often felt he needed around a certain Honorable Miss. He’d worn it tonight because he was off duty tomorrow, and he hoped that this would be the night that he’d visit her boudoir again, this time not alone.
The past week of dinners and kisses and roaming hands—both of their hands—had been wonderful. He’d left each night wanting more, hoping that he’d left her wanting more too. He hadn’t wanted to be like her other men, falling into her bed for a quick tumble and then never returning. He wanted to be her first choice of men, so that even if she felt the need for a variety of partners, he would be the one she came back to. She was more than a beautiful woman to him, more than a willing bedpartner. She was his best friend and his partner in crime—so to speak—and he wanted to take that partnership to the next level. He had no intention of destroying it.
It was possible, he supposed, that they’d have sex and then realize that their partnership was better without it, but it seemed unlikely. In his opinion, they’d be even better partners as lovers than they were without sex, but he was trying to be open to all the possibilities, the way she’d taught him to be.
Whichever way their partnership progressed from here, they were going to have at least one night together, and he hoped it would be tonight. Straightening his hat, he climbed out of his car and headed up to Wardlow’s front door. It was time.
At his knock, Mr Butler swung the door wide, greeting him with a smile.
“Good evening, inspector.” He took Jack’s overcoat and hat. “Miss Fisher is in the parlor. Dinner will be served shortly.”
“Thank you, Mr Butler.” Jack smiled at the older man; he hoped that Mr Butler’s warmth toward him was because he approved of Jack’s liaisons with his employer. He was sure that the older man was perfectly cordial to all of Miss Fisher’s visitors, but he would like to know that Mr Butler was rooting for him.
Turning to the parlor, Jack stepped in and stopped, barely aware of Mr Butler pulling the doors closed behind him. He was far too busy looking at Phryne. She stood by the fireplace, drink in hand, in a dress so stunning that he felt as if he’d been kicked in the solar plexus. His eyes traced the lines of her body revealed by the satin and lace construction; he could see the curve of her waist and her small breasts—both perfectly sized for his hands. Her graceful arms were bare to the shoulder, and her neck called out to be worshipped with his lips. Her hair was a glossy cap, her eyes and lips vivid splashes of color in the black-and-white cloth and skin scheme of her clothing.
Phryne smirked as she watched Jack try to recover his composure. The dress was doing its job beautifully. She walked toward him, her movements made more languid by her own low-key arousal and the knowledge that he was watching, she lifted the whiskey she’d poured for him and brought it closer, holding it out.
He accepted the glass from her dumbly, seemingly unable to speak.
“Cat got your tongue, Jack?” Her voice was a purr, and she stroked his lapel with her free hand, running one long finger over his boldly patterend tie. She loved it when he wore this tie. He’d worn it for the first time the night of their date that had gone so terribly wrong and several more times since, and each time he’d worn it, he’d seemed to pick her over whatever other distraction he had going on. She thought of it as her tie, and its presence around his neck tonight told her that he, too, was tired of waiting.
Jack took a mouthful of whiskey, swallowing hard before responding. “You are… exquisite, Miss Fisher.” His voice was hoarse, and she stepped a little closer, pressing her body to his. She could feel his cock hardening against her and his free hand settled in the curve of her waist.
“Aren’t you going to kiss me hello?” She looked up at him through her lashes, loving the way his mouth quirked into a smile at her wiles.
“Far be it from me to deny you anything,” he rumbled, and then his mouth was on hers.
God, he is delicious. Her eyes fluttered closed and she leaned into his body, all of her focus on their kiss. He tasted of whiskey and himself—the best of all flavors—and he used his tongue and lips with skill. Her hand on his lapel stroked up to wrap around his neck, cupping the back of his head and loving the bristly-soft texture of his hair there. He slid his palm down to cup her buttock, pulling her closer.
It was familiar by now, this kissing and wandering of hands, and yet each time it was new. Over the past week, he’d kissed her numerous times and touched most of her body through the fabric of her clothing. He hadn’t so much as dipped a finger inside to touch her flesh, though she’d done her best to wear clothing that gave him access. She arched into him, her body already attuned to his relatively chaste touches, her arousal growing.
“Jack,” she whimpered, “please.”
Jack pulled back from the kiss, his eyes half-closed with pleasure as he looked at her. “Please what, Miss Fisher?”
“Touch me, Jack.”
He gripped her buttock, his fingers denting her soft flesh. “I am touching you,” he replied. “Or would you rather that my hand was here?” He stroked up her body, tracing the diagonal stripe of her dress to close over her breast. Her nipple, already taut, hardened in a rush as he brushed it with his thumb, and she gasped.
“Both lovely options,” she said breathlessly, “but I want your hands on my skin.”
“Ah,” Jack’s breath came out in a shudder, and he held her eyes as his hand moved from her breast to her thigh, where he began to gather up the fabric of her dress, pulling it higher. “How long do you think we have before dinner?”
“Sod dinner!” Phryne threw back the last of her whiskey and flailed out her arm to set her empty glass on the piano. Then she wrapped her arm around his waist, raising her knee so that he could reach the bottom edge of her gown without bending. He took a sip of whiskey himself and leaned in to kiss her again as his long fingers found her silk-covered knee. He slid his hand up the back of her leg, tracing the top line of her stocking and tucking beneath the strap of her garter where it crossed her naked buttock.
“Jesus, Phryne, you’re not wearing knickers,” he groaned against her mouth.
“I’m so glad you noticed, Jack,” she gasped, her hand under his coat dropping to grasp his bottom as well.
His hand spread on her ass, he lifted his head and took the last gulp of his own drink, leaning slightly over to set the glass on the coffee table. With both hands free, he wrapped an arm around her waist and slid the hand under her skirt over her hip to cup her mons.
The slide of his fingers between her nether lips was electrifying, and Phryne’s head fell back, a groan escaping her lips. At last! His hands, his beautiful hands, were on her skin. She nearly came just at the thought.
When Phryne tilted her head, Jack took the invitation to put his mouth to her neck, tracing his tongue against her skin as his fingers traced her clit. She tastes so good… Sliding his fingers lower, he pushed one inside her body, her slickness sucking at him, her muscles grasping to pull him closer. He heard her gasp, felt her fingers grip his ass and smiled against her throat. Breathing deeply, he took in her scent—perfume, sweat, and something more. Perhaps that something more would be identifiable in the morning, when they’d both shed their additional layers of pomade and cologne in the exertions of the night.
She leaned back against the arm he had wrapped around her waist, and Jack trailed his mouth down to trace her collarbone as he added a second finger to the one pumping between her legs. He pressed his thumb into her clit, alternating finger thrusts with a swirling pressure to that sensitive nub.
Trailing his mouth back up her neck, he whispered in her ear. “I love the sounds you make, Phryne Fisher. I’ve been imagining them for so long, and the real thing is so much more beautiful than I’d guessed it would be.” He pressed a kiss beneath her ear before sucking her earlobe into his mouth. “You’re so hot and wet against my fingers. I can feel you rippling against me. You’re going to come soon, aren’t you?”
Phryne gasped, her hand on the back of his head fisting in his hair as he changed the angle of his finger thrusts. Curling a finger back to meet his thumb, Jack rolled her clit between them, continuing to pump his fingers within her.
“Yes, Jack!” Her voice was high and quiet, and her hips moved in a careful counterpoint to his fingers. “God, your hands….”
“I can’t wait to taste you, Phryne. You smell so good, and my mouth is watering at the thought of how your juices will feel against my tongue.” He met her mouth, which she’d turned blindly toward him, his tongue thrusting inside in the same rhythm as his fingers.
Jack flattened his hand between her legs, pressing the heel hard against her clit, grinding against her as his fingers within her sped up.
Lifting his mouth from hers, he growled. “Come, Phryne. Come now!”
With a wail that he captured with his lips, she did; he could feel the rippling of her muscles against his fingers and he kept them pressed deep within her, wanting to feel every instant of her orgasm. The arm he’d wrapped around her shook with her tremors, and he felt her leg slip down his hip, squeezing his hand between her thighs.
When the orgasm released her, Phryne slumped bonelessly against Jack, her hand on his ass moving up to wrap around his shoulders. He gently pulled his hand from between her legs, allowing her skirt to fall between them once again. Lifting his mouth from hers, he raised his head; she let hers fall to his shoulder, her nose near his throat, breathing in his scent.
She watched as Jack lifted his wet fingers to his mouth, licking them and his palm thoroughly to capture the essence of Phryne that was smeared there.
“You meant that? About tasting me?” Her voice was quiet and a little incredulous. She hadn’t expected that Jack would want to do that. In hindsight, she wasn’t sure why. Once he knew that she wanted him, he’d thrown himself into seducing her.
“Delicious,” he rumbled, wrapping his now-clean hand around her back. “I can’t wait for seconds.” Phryne smiled up at him.
“Too bad Mr B will be announcing dinner any moment,” she said. “Or I’d ravish you right here on the parlor rug.”
Jack smiled as he looked down at her. Reaching for his handkerchief, he wiped at her face—she presumed that he was cleaning her smeared lipstick away. “Perhaps another time,” he said softly, leaning in to kiss her when he was through.
“I’ll look forward to it,” she whispered against him.
“May I stay tonight?”
“Oh, please do,” she squeezed the arms she still held around his neck. “I don’t think I could stand another night with only my fingers for company.”
Jack chuckled, a warm, intimate sound. “You’re welcome to use mine anytime.”
Phryne’s smile was brilliant, and if Mr Butler hadn’t chosen that moment to knock on the door and announce dinner, she’d have pulled Jack to the rug and to hell with having dinner at all.