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Third Time's a Charm

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The first time that Phryne Fisher invited Jack Robinson over for dinner with the intent to seduce him, she sent her household—except for Mr. Butler, whose discretion was legendary—out to see the circus. She wanted the privacy—she had the idea that Jack would know his way around a woman’s body, and she anticipated that he would manage to make her scream with pleasure.

As she lit the candles on her dining room table—all of the candles, this time—she smiled a little, the thought of finally acting on the sexual tension that always hung in the air between herself and Jack making her body tingle with anticipation. Her preoccupation with what she wanted to happen was why, when her father appeared at her door—unexpected and most definitely unwelcome—she hadn’t been able to articulate to Jack the reason she had to cancel. Her disappointment was acute, and she thought that she’d be able to explain better face to face.

She hadn’t expected Jack to be so put out—she’d tried to tease him out of his irritation as they’d gone about their investigation of the cruelly murdered magician’s assistant, but it wasn’t until she invited him over again, promising to explain, that he’d softened.

And then she’d made him wait for hours while she stood guard over a damn contortionist.

Phryne knew that this second instance of apparent disregard for Jack’s feelings would mean that she’d have to work hard for forgiveness. The sea-green gown she’d hurriedly changed into was one she’d purchased with Jack in mind, and she was braced to apologize as she pushed through the doors of her parlor.

“Jack, at last!” She said, smiling her most charming smile as she closed the door behind her and then pushed past where he was standing. Thank goodness she’d made it in time—he was obviously about to leave. “I’m so sorry I kept you.” She turned to look at him, hoping to dazzle him at least a little.

“I’m sorry too, Miss Fisher.” His voice conveyed his anger—and his hurt—that she’d seemingly stood him up for a second time.

“Oh,” she replied, dismayed. “Why don’t you sit down and…” She turned to the serving tray she’d seen on the small table, only to realize that both martini glasses were empty, and there was an empty whisky glass beside the tray. “...have another drink?” How much had he drunk while he waited for her? Not too much, she hoped—there was still the possibility of salvaging this evening.

“No, no, no.” Jack turned toward her, his face set in determined lines. “I need to make something perfectly clear.”

“Go ahead.” Phryne looked at him closely—he had been drinking; maybe she should stop him. Goodness knows she’d said some things while intoxicated that she’d regretted later.

“Well, you know I’m a liberal-minded man.” He waved a hand—a departure from his usually still posture. Whatever he was feeling, he was feeling it deeply. “Maybe not as liberal-minded as you’d like me to be, or as much as I would like me to be for you, but I don’t want you to think I’m like all those other liberal-minded men.”

Puzzled, Phryne blurted, “What other men?” She hadn’t had a man in her bed for quite some time, and now that she’d decided that Jack was the one she wanted there, she intended that he’d be the only visitor to her boudoir. It was very clear to her that Jack would not be open to sharing her with other lovers, and she could live with that. Besides, she was certain that Jack’s intensity indicated a passionate nature that would keep her happy for quite some time.

“Well, the parade.” He waved his arms some more. “The constant parade of French artists, of fugitive anarchists, of, of, of Russian clairvoyants.The tango dancers, and… and men who… men who wear damned cravats!”

Speechless, Phryne watched as Jack sighed heavily, leaned forward and threw back the drink that sat waiting on the small coffee table. She was torn between being amazed that he’d kept a mental list of the men she’d entertained and being upset that he didn’t know that he was different. She opened her mouth to speak, but he went on.

“Well, I’m not one of them and I never will be. Even if you want me to be. That’s all I have to say.” Turning, he made for the parlor door.

Finally finding her voice, Phryne cried, “Jack, wait.” She felt a thrill when he stopped and turned back to her, his eyes anguished. “Don’t walk away,” she said softly, stepping up to slide her fingers under his lapels. “Please.”

“I can’t be that liberal, Phryne,” he murmured, one hand rising to cup the side of her neck.

“I wouldn’t ask you to be,” she assured him, raising her shoulder and tilting her head toward his hand, as if to keep it there. His fingers were warm and dry, and his thumb pressing to the underside of her jaw felt right in a way that she couldn’t articulate.

“Kiss me, Jack?” The words were a whisper, and he groaned slightly as he leaned forward to comply, pressing his lips to hers, his tongue sliding sweetly into her mouth. His kiss tasted of the slightly spicy flavor of the last drink he’d taken, and something that was indefinable and so new that it felt precious.

Phryne slid her hands up his chest to wrap around his shoulders, one slipping into the short, soft hairs at the back of his neck. She leaned into him, feeling his other arm wind around her waist to hold her close as he kissed her long and hard. When his hand on her back dropped to her bottom and pulled her even closer, she could feel his arousal against her stomach. This, she thought. This is what I’ve been waiting for.

“Come upstairs, Jack,” she breathed when their lips finally parted, their foreheads pressed together. “Come to my bed.”

Jack’s breathing was heavy, his heart thudding against hers. He nodded, apparently lost for words. Phryne leaned in and kissed him again, soft and sweet, before taking his hand to lead him out of the parlor. They made their way to the stairs in silence, and began to climb. As they rounded the landing, Jack clutched at the bannister.

“My head is spinning, Phryne,” he admitted. “What was that last drink?”

Looking back over her shoulder at him, she realized that he did look a little off. What had he drunk last? A small cordial glass with a very dark brown liquid… no. Her father’s tonic. Phryne’s heart fell. Would that man never stop getting in the way of her life?

“Oh, Jack,” she whispered, her plans for the rest of the evening shriveling quickly. “Let’s get you upstairs, hm?”

Jack nodded, his eyes warm and trusting. Phryne’s mind raced as they took the final steps and rounded the corner to the door of her boudoir. Perhaps all was not lost. She could give him the pajamas she’d bought for him, and maybe there could be some more kissing. She very definitely enjoyed the kissing. He wouldn’t be awake much longer, though—and who knew how much of this evening he’d remember? Her father’s tonic was powerful stuff, and she’d bet Henry had worked his way up to a liberal dose.

They stepped into her boudoir, and Phryne nudged Jack to sit on the edge of her bed. Holding his eyes, she pushed his jacket over his shoulders. He didn’t resist, but when she turned away to lay it over the arm of the sofa, he made a soft noise of protest. Smiling, she turned back to him, stepping close to run her fingers into his hair.

“Jack,” she whispered, a thrill coursing through her as he laid his face against her stomach, his arms going around her hips.

“Phryne,” he murmured, his deep voice vibrating against her belly.

“Let’s get you out of these clothes, shall we?”

Jack looked up at her, and the look he gave her was sly and knowing. “Just me, Miss Fisher?”

Phryne felt her lips twist as she smiled, loving his humor. “Of course not, Jack, but we have to start somewhere, don’t we?” She reached for his tie, slipping it free of its Windsor knot and smoothing it against his shirtfront as she went to work on his collar buttons.

Jack helped, silently unbuttoning his waistcoat. He shrugged to remove it, catching Phryne’s eye; without his jacket, the strength in his shoulders was clear, and the fine lawn of his white dress shirt was underscored by the tight-fitting shirt he wore beneath it. Phryne felt her breath speeding up at the sight of his burgundy braces, stretched tight across his back, and she reminded herself that the chances of them being intimate tonight were slim to none. That fact was underscored when Jack yawned hugely, surprise suffusing his face.

“I am sorry, Phryne,” he said. “Believe me, I am not in the least bored by what we’re doing here.”

“I know, Jack, and believe me, neither am I.” Phryne stroked his hair. “But I’m very sorry to say that I think we may have to postpone. My father left his sleeping draught on the table in the parlor, and you downed it just before we came up here.”

“What? No, I…” His words were interrupted by another yawn. “Oh god, did I?”

“I’m afraid so.” Phryne leaned in and pressed a kiss to Jack’s hair. “It’s all right, inspector. We can try again. I won’t be letting you get away.”

“Damn,” he said softly, dropping his head to press his forehead to her stomach again.

“Sleep now, darling Jack. I can guarantee that the next time you come to my bed there won’t be much sleeping at all.” Combing her fingers through his hair, Phryne made the words a promise. She would have this man in her bed—he was already firmly in her heart.

“I will hold you to that, Miss Fisher.” His words were slightly slurred, and in moments, he was a heavy weight against her. With a sigh, Phryne pushed him gently backward to lie atop the covers. She’d need Mr. Butler’s help to get him into those pajamas, it seemed.

Her third invitation was issued the following evening, after she’d performed the Miraculous Mermaid trick—without drowning, she was proud to say—and they’d captured the murderous Eva Callahan. Jack had caught her bicep as he was leaving the theater, and the rise of his eyebrows had been enough of a question—she’d nodded slightly.

“I might be late,” he’d murmured.

“I’ll wait up,” she’d replied. His smile had been nothing more than a twitch of his lips and a crinkle at his eyes, but she’d seen it. He’d nodded acknowledgement before releasing her arm, his fingers trailing down her forearm and across her palm.

Now, Phryne sat in her parlor, waiting as patiently as she could manage. Her father was already upstairs, sleeping deeply with the aid of his tonic, and her staff had retired to their beds, so no interruptions would come from either quarter. She’d attempted to pass the time reading, but had been unable to focus on even the most salacious stories in her collection, so she’d finally given up, setting her book aside and letting her mind run through the evening’s possibilities.

When the knock came, it was a familiar soft rap of knuckles against the glass beside her front door. Her heart racing, Phryne stood and turned the switch on the single small lamp she’d been sitting with. Moving out into the foyer, her heart jumped at the silhouette—fedora and all—that was outlined against the light of the street lamp outside. Licking her lips, she smoothed the lapels of her favorite black satin dressing gown, then tugged at the belt to tighten it. It had been difficult for her not to dress up for him—she’d told herself that he’d seen her in her full plumage already, and would again, but it had been the memory of his face the night that George Sanderson and Sidney Fletcher had been arrested that had swayed her. That night, she’d worn this very dressing gown and no makeup whatsoever, and he’d looked as though he would eat her alive. If it hadn’t been for her aunt’s untimely arrival, he might have. Tonight there’d be no such interruption.

Taking a deep breath and letting it out—why was she so nervous?—Phryne swung open the door. Jack stood on the doorstep in the same gray wool suit he’d worn earlier in the evening.

“Hello, Jack,” she said softly.

“Miss Fisher,” he replied, his voice soft and intimate. “May I come in?”

Phryne stepped back, opening the door wider, and he stepped through. Without a word, he stripped off his overcoat and his hat, hanging both on the hooks of her coat rack. Phryne closed the door behind him and turned the key in the lock; the soft click seemed to have a deeper meaning than just protecting her home, and she shivered at the idea that he was locked in with her. Nothing to keep them apart.

Turning to face him, she leaned back against the door. He stood, solid as ever, in her entryway, waiting for a cue from her.

“Would you like a drink?” Her voice was husky, and though the words made sense, she wasn’t sure why she’d said them. The last thing she wanted to do was stall.

“Not unless you do.” He stepped close, and she could feel the heat of his body through his suit. Lifting a hand, he tucked a curl of hair behind her ear, then trailed his fingertips over her cheekbone. “Do you?”

Phryne shook her head and lifted a hand to catch his. She straightened, and when he didn’t move back, she pressed herself into his chest, her fingers twining with his. He smiled with his eyes and leaned in, brushing his lips over hers.

“Come upstairs, Jack?” The words left her on a breath of air, and she felt him shiver.

He nodded, a small, tight movement, and stepped back, tugging at her hand. Phryne followed, step by step, as he led her up the stairs and into her boudoir. He closed the door behind them and then stepped close again.

“Where were we?” He raised the hand that wasn’t still holding hers—neither of them seemed to want to let go—and slid it under her hair to cup the back of her neck. “Oh yes, right… about… here.”

His lips caught at hers, and Phryne felt her eyes flutter shut. His mouth was warm, and those lips, with their pronounced cupid’s bow, were soft… until they weren’t, and he was crushing his mouth against hers, his lips opening to admit her tongue. Phryne felt a moan catch in her throat, and she slid her free hand around his waist, her hand opening wide against the satin back of his waistcoat. The kiss was long and deep, each of them clutching at the other, trying to get closer as the fire between them, banked and smoldering for so long, burst into flame.

In moments, they were pulling at Jack’s clothing, divesting him as quickly as possible of all his layers while doing their best to never let their lips part. When Jack had stripped off his jacket, waistcoat, and shirt, Phryne shrugged off her robe, letting it fall unheeded to the floor. The red slip nightgown she revealed seemed to strike Jack like a hammer blow, and he froze midmotion, his hands at his trouser fastenings.

“God, Phryne, you are exquisite,” he breathed, reaching for her.

She went willingly into his arms, wanting to feel him close again. This time as he kissed her, she tugged at the bottom hem of his undershirt, wanting to feel his skin. It felt like warm velvet against her palms, and she stroked up his back, her mouth feeding at his; she could feel the hard ridge of his cock against her belly, but that was less important in this moment than the taste of his mouth and the heat of his skin.

“Take this off,” she said against his lips, tugging gently at the shirt, and he obliged, pulling it over his head. Phryne reached out to stroke across his shoulders, loving the strong lines of his muscles, then down his chest, her fingernails scraping lightly across his nipples.

Jack sucked in a breath at the caress, so she did it again. He tilted his head and lifted a hand to cup her breast through the silk of her slip, his thumb pressing gently against her hardened nipple. Phryne caught her bottom lip between her teeth at the sensation.

“Do that again,” she breathed.

Wordlessly, Jack obeyed; he also brought his other hand up, cradling both her breasts as if they were precious jewels. Phryne’s eyes fluttered as his thumbs brushed the rigid peaks, and she couldn’t suppress a moan when he rolled them between his thumbs and forefingers.

“Jack,” she murmured, his name an invocation.

“Take this off,” he demanded, his voice a low growl of desire.

Phryne held his eyes as she obeyed, pulling the short slip over her head and dropping it atop her dressing gown. She wore nothing beneath it, and she reveled in the sound of Jack’s groan, a sound that he muffled by wrapping his lips around her nipple. Making a low keening noise, Phryne let her head fall back and she thrust her fingers into Jack’s hair as he used his tongue in an exquisite friction against her already aroused skin.

Twisting slightly, Jack switched to her other breast, repeating his caresses; his hands slid to her hips, and he lifted her slightly, turning to lay her across the bed. Phryne fell backward on her elbows, panting; she watched his face as he shed his final layers, his eyes fierce with concentration and the color high in his cheeks. Naked, he crawled onto the bed, but when Phryne bent her knees to push herself upward, he caught her hips.

“Not yet,” he said, “first, I want…” Settling down onto his stomach, he showed her what he wanted, burying his head between her thighs.

Phryne cried out in pleasure as he teased her—she was already wet with arousal, and the idea that Jack Robinson had his beautiful mouth on her sent her flying. Helplessly, she let her knees fall wide, her eyes closing as she focused on the sensations. It wasn’t long before climax overtook her, and her inner muscles shuddered against his tongue, her hands clenching in his hair and his name a shout on her lips.

Jack raised his head, and the smug expression on his face surprised a laugh out of her even as her lungs labored to draw in enough air.

“Where on earth did you learn that?”

He rose up on his knees, wiping a hand over his face as he moved to cover her body with his own.

“Someone turned in a book at the station—you might be familiar with it? Erotica of the Far East?” He smirked at her surprised laugh. “—and, well, sometimes late at night there’s nothing to do but read.” He sat back on his heels, his cock jutting straight and hard from the juncture of his thighs. Phryne sat up, reaching for it.

“I am very impressed, inspector, though a little shocked that you’d misuse evidence in such a way.” Her voice was playful, and her hands stroked him firmly, loving the hot-silk-over-steel texture of his hardened muscle.

“Oh, I think what I did is exactly the use that particular evidence was intended for,” he corrected her, his words breathy. Lifting his hands, he tilted her head to press his mouth to hers, and she kissed him back, her tongue sliding between his lips even as her hands continued their work.

His large hands and feet had made her wonder about his size—she’d spent many a pleasurable evening imagining the shape and feel of his cock. In her experience, there was very little correlation between hand and foot size and the length of a man’s cock. Not that size was the most important thing—a small cock, used well, could provide considerable pleasure—but Phryne had to admit she was pleased by what he’d revealed. Jack’s cock was long and wide, his flared head a deep red color that edged into purple, and his veined length a shade or two darker than his skin. He fit her hands perfectly, his glans nestling snug in the hollow of her palm, and his shaft just a bit too big for her fingers. Next time, she wanted him in her mouth.

Now, though, Jack pressed her backward to lay himself over her, and Phryne guided his cock to her entrance. The stretch of her flesh as he entered her body made her cry out, and she set her hands on his buttocks, her fingernails biting into the muscled globes. He advanced slowly even as he kissed her, but he didn’t stop until he’d buried himself all the way to his root.

Lifting his mouth from hers, he whispered, “All right?”

“Better than,” she responded, flexing her hands on his bottom and lifting her feet to tuck them at the back of his knees.

His smile flashed, and he kissed her again, lying still against her; Phryne loved the feeling of his body within hers—once again, she was almost overcome by the thought that this was Jack inside her—but she couldn’t help pulsing her hips against him, wanting some movement. Before too long, she was whimpering against his mouth, the lack of motion almost tortuous in its intensity of sensation.

“Jack,” she said, tearing her mouth from his, her hands kneading at his bottom. “Please…”

In answer, Jack set his elbows beside her head, his gaze on hers, and began to move. Each thrust of his hips was as divine as the first; he withdrew until only the head of his cock remained within her, then pushed in again, slowly at first, and then speeding up until he was pounding into her. Phryne could feel the powerful muscles in his buttocks hollowing against her thighs with each thrust, and she gripped his back to hold on as he drove into her over and over.

Time seemed to flow like honey, moving slowly past as Phryne gave herself over to the sensation of being fucked by Jack. She had wanted this for so long, and her emotions built alongside her ascent to physical release, making this time, this man, into the lover she hadn’t known she was waiting for.

She screamed when orgasm shattered her, vaguely aware through her own release of Jack’s shout of climax, which he attempted to muffle by clenching his jaw, his lips thinning with the pressure. Her arms closed around him as he collapsed against her; his body a welcome weight atop her own. Breathing in the scent of their lovemaking, she held him close, feeling his stomach and chest move against hers as he fought to catch his breath. His mouth worked against her neck, soft whispers that might have been her name, and she turned her head to nuzzle at his ear, whispering his name.

Some time later—it might have been minutes or hours, but it hardly mattered—he lifted his head, pressing kisses along her neck and up to find her mouth. Without breaking the kiss, he rolled to his back, and she draped herself over his chest, her hands moving up his sides to slide her fingers into his hair again. He stroked his hands up her back, wrapping her warmly in his arms, and Phryne hoped that he could feel her heart beating inside his chest as she imagined she could feel his.

As their breathing steadied, their kisses became softer, trailing off to soft brushes of smiling lips. Phryne was the first to speak.

“I’m pleased that you came by this evening, Jack,” she whispered. “I don’t know why we waited so long to come to this point.”

“We are usually a bit better at putting the pieces together,” he acknowledged with a wry smile. Phryne felt the vibrations of his words against her chest, pressed tightly to his. “But this time,” he touched his lips to hers, his hands stroking warmly up her back, “it might have been our most important breakthrough yet.”

Overcome with tenderness, Phryne leaned in to kiss him soundly, enjoying the feeling of his skin against hers. He hummed with pleasure, his hands stroking her from nape to buttocks. When she lifted her head to rest her forehead against his, they were both breathless.

“What now, Miss Fisher?” His words slid into her mouth, an insubstantial kiss that she nonetheless felt the weight of.

“In the short term, I’m hoping that you’ll stay so that I can ravish you again in the morning,” she admitted, stroking his nose with her own and loving the almost shy smile that lit his blue eyes.

“And in the longer term?” His vulnerability was clear to her; her traditional man doing his best to be liberal for her sake.

“I can’t promise you forever, Jack,” she replied, all flippancy gone from her voice, “because I don’t believe in making promises I can’t be sure to keep. What I can promise is that you are the only one I want in my bed for the foreseeable future.”

Jack’s slow smile spread like sunrise across his face, creasing his cheeks and narrowing his eyes, and Phryne felt her own smile growing in response.

“So I acquitted myself well, then?” He said, his hands kneading her buttocks. The sensation made her want to purr like a contented cat.

“Admirably well, inspector,” she murmured, stretching against him.

“I’ll admit to some relief,” he said softly. “I worried that I wouldn’t be skilled enough to please you.”

“Jack,” she whispered, “you will always please me, because you touch more than my skin. You touch my heart.” Her eyes met his, and she saw the shocked understanding as he took her meaning.

“Phryne,” he murmured, his eyes closing for a moment as he took a deep breath. “I love you, you know.” He opened his eyes, his words matter-of-fact. “More than words can say.”

Phryne smiled and leaned in to kiss him one more time, her lips clinging softly to his. Sliding off of Jack’s chest, she sat up, reaching to tug the covers over them. She’d folded them back to the foot of the bed before going down to wait for him in the parlor. Jack leaned up to help, and then lay back down against the pillows while Phryne leaned to turn off the bedside lamp.

In the darkened room, she crawled close to Jack, snuggling up against his side. She laid her head in the hollow of his shoulder and her hand flat against his heart, one knee sliding up and over his thigh. She felt him press a kiss to the top of her head as his arm curled warmly around her shoulders.

“Goodnight, Jack,” she breathed on a satisfied sigh, her eyes closing as the evening’s activities caught up with her.

“Goodnight, Phryne,” he returned, his sleepy voice rumbling against her ear.

“Be sure to stay and be ravished again in the morning,” she murmured, and his laughter was an almost silent huff of air in the stillness of the room.

“Believe me,” he mumbled, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”