The pastry kitchens at the Leucé are silent, dark. Midnight has crept past and gone, and still Sarah remains. In the dim, cool room, she stands at the edge of the marble countertop, where she burned and hunched and narrowed her focus on seemingly a million plates, always striving to be exact, to be right.
Most of the time, she wasn’t. If anything, her time here has helped her learn to cope with that.
But it’s the last day of her internship, and there’s a slushy early March snow falling outside, and Sarah can’t quite bring herself to leave. Everyone has gone, waiting for her at their favorite local bar to celebrate her future. She has a week of vacation in which she and Patrick are going to California, and then she starts at Philippe Lyonnais’ kitchen in two weeks. There is the promise of a ring for her finger, and her belongings have started their crawl to Patrick’s apartment. There is so much to look forward to, and yet. She cannot move from this counter.
When she leans back on her heels, she thinks she can feel the imprint of her body weight in the tile floor.
“Sarabelle,” he says from behind her, voice low and darkly sweet. A shiver curls down her spine.
“It’s stupid,” she says softly, tucking the loose smooth strands of her hair behind her ears. It feels strange to be in street clothes at this marble countertop. “Just saying goodbye, I guess.”
She flattens her hands on the cool marble as she listens to his slow easy step towards her. His palm rests between her shoulder blades, warm through her t-shirt. It is inches from where she wants him.
His breath is warm at the nape of her neck. “Je comprends,” he murmurs. His other large hand skims up her hip, the side of her torso, down the length of her arm with light fingertips. The shiver curls up her spine and raises the hair on the nape of her neck.
“We never got a chance to do this one,” she says wryly, turning her head to look at him over her shoulder.
Those fierce blue eyes are even darker and glimmering in the dim light. “What do you think we are doing right now, bébé?” he asks, leaning into kiss her lightly.
Immediately she feels that warm rush of want, low in her middle, between her thighs. Her nipples tighten against the lacy cups of her bra. “Patrick, they’re waiting – “
“Let them wait,” he says, low and commanding.
All of her muscles seem to melt at the tone. To be fully relaxed and boneless is a gift, she knows this now. It is not weakness; it’s a different kind of trust. Inhaling deeply, she flicks her gaze aside to him.
“This means I get to tie you up again.”
Eyes gleaming, he leans in and bites at the arch of her throat. His mouth is open and wet and warm against her too-cool skin. “Remember when you were shy?” he says, all amusement.
“You like me better this way,” she says with a soft laugh. To tease with him is a great pleasure. He has let her in so far, and she the same with him. Beyond the masks of perfection and ease and focus, they are more alike than at first glance. Complementary, she thinks.
She feels his smile against her skin. His hand moves to the nape of her neck, cupping it firmly.
“Yield to me,” he whispers, like dark silk against her skin.
And she does. She lets him guide her until her stomach and breasts rest against the marble, until she leans her cheek against the cool countertop and sighs.
“I love you,” he says. Sometimes it still sounds as if the words are torn from some deep cavernous place. She understands, and loves him all the more for it.
He strokes one hand down the length of her spine and then dips his fingers around her waist and into the front of her jeans. Buttons are for lesser men; she shudders as he cups her sex and rubs the heel of his hand against her. She is already wet for him; she can feel his smile of recognition against her neck as he leans over her, kisses the back of her neck. The contrast between the heat of his body and the cool marble, even through her t-shirt, is unbearable. She arches her hips into his touch and he pins them to the edge of the counter, harnessing her every movement.
Shit, she likes this so much.
Her thighs spread, her body begging for a harder touch, a longer stroke. She pants as he kisses along the line of her neck, his tongue flickering out to taste her skin.
“You are so pretty,” he whispers against her. His clever fingers stroke her through her lace panties, and she is all but climbing against his knuckles as he rubs against her. “I think about you in other kitchens and I’m so fucking envious – I just –“
She presses her hips back against his, rubbing against the erection she feels trapped in his jeans. He inhales sharply, teeth grazing her shoulder, under the hem of her t-shirt.
“Sarabelle,” he murmurs, covering her in warmth. His steady hands slide away from her, undo the buttons of her jeans and slide down. It is eerily quiet but for their harsh breathing and the sounds of skin on skin in the deep midnight room. A soft low sound of want curls from her throat as he tugs down her jeans, trapping her knees. She spreads her thighs as best she can, stretches her arms out in front of her head, as if she is reaching for the opposite end of the counter. As he enters her, stretching her, she shifts back and arches her spine, shudders taking over her muscles, into the very marrow of her bones. He is there with her, supporting her, moving within her easy and slow, as if they have all the time in the world.
Sarah shuts her eyes and melts into the marble, gasping for him as her name drags itself from his lips over and over. His fingertips slide between her thighs to circle at her clit as he mouths at the bare skin of the small of her back, exposed as her shirt rides up. Her fingers claw for purchase and find nothing but smooth cool surfaces. It is unbearable and beautiful, and she knows it is only because it is Patrick here with her.
“Come for me, Sarah,” he breathes over her spine and she arches, clenching around him and shaking with the crest of her pleasure. She is at his mercy, and he is at hers. It is a strange cliff to be going over; she’s glad they’re going together.
“I’ll miss you,” he says abruptly as they dress and clean up, leaving the kitchen as spotless as it was when the first close occurred just an hour ago.
She blinks, tucking her hair behind her ears. That didn’t make any sense. He was coming to California with her. He proposed marriage to her. He couldn’t cry off, not this soon. “What?”
“Here,” he says, sweeping a practiced arm in the direction of the empty kitchens. Relief settles through her. “I’m proud as hell of you, Sarabelle. But I’ll miss you in my kitchen.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll be in your kitchen,” she says quietly, a warm smile growing on her lips. “The one at home is all yours.”
Patrick grins then, and flushes just a bit in the dimly lit kitchen. He helps her with her coat, sliding his hand into hers as they walk out of the Leucé kitchen. “I still have so many ideas for the counters there.”
“So do I,” she teases, squeezing his hand. “We’ll trade off.”
“You’re going to kill me,” he mutters.
She laughs, and takes a last glance at the kitchens before the doors shut. A perfect ending, and a perfect beginning.