Chapter 1: Chapter One
Bo got off on the eleventh floor and sashayed forward, six-inch heels making soft, clicking noises as they hit the carpeted floor. The hotel was familiar; the routine even more so. She danced the same dance every week. This time was perhaps a little different. Bo recalled what Evony told her about the client: female, early thirties, upper crust, wanted a companion for a social function. Not usually up Bo’s alley but Ciara was out on a cruise with her business tycoon client and Bo was unexpectedly free that evening.
The room number was eleven twenty-nine. Bo made some minimal adjustments with her clothes before raising her right hand to knock.
There was the faint sound of quick steps coming from inside, and then the door opened to reveal a slender woman standing there. She was pretty in an unconventional way with silky blond hair draping artlessly down her shoulders. Her eyes, though quiet and watchful, were the most striking feature. They were big and brown and full of light. Her expression was coolly polite but she couldn’t stop the little inhalation of breath at the sight of Bo.
“You’re not what I expected,” she said after a pause. She didn’t sound too displeased but her eyes were critical as they took in Bo.
A sleek, jet-black brow shot up. “You’re not what I expected either.” She didn’t look like a client. She seemed too…put-together, for lack of a better word. There was that nervousness of someone who was hiring an escort for the first time, of course, but other than that….
“I suppose you’re good enough,” the blonde continued, interrupting Bo’s silent assessment. The escort smiled, which smile widened into a smirk as the blonde’s eyes continued to rove over her body with a little more appreciation than she earlier exhibited.
“Can I come in?”
The blonde raised her eyes back to Bo’s. She appeared startled and embarrassed, color blooming on pale cheeks. Bo watched her, charmed in spite of herself as the other woman stepped back with a self-deprecating smile.
Bo strode in, throwing a languid glance at the blonde over her shoulder. “So, I’m your date for the evening.” It wasn’t a question. Bo knew her business. Sometimes, it wasn’t sex but companionship that clients required. From what Evony said, this seemed like the latter. Too bad, Bo thought as she boldly ran her gaze over the slender curves before her.
The blonde was crossing the room to grab her purse on the mantelpiece, completely unaware of the predatory eyes on her. “Dinner starts at eight,” she was saying. “We’ll have to be there at least an hour early to mingle. There’s going to be a short program to introduce the –” She cut herself off as she seemed to notice for the first time that Bo had not removed her coat. She frowned and asked, “May I see what you’re wearing?”
Dimpling a little, Bo stepped into her personal space. “You’re welcome to look but you’ll have to do it yourself.” She grabbed the pale hands and deliberately placed it on the belt of her coat. She could hear the blonde’s breath hitch a little before liquid brown eyes rose to meet hers. Bo’s smile deepened into a leer. She seldom found herself attracted to clients but up-close and her eyes looking at her like that, close to smoldering, Bo had to admit the woman was breathtaking.
It seemed an eternity before the blonde spoke. Her voice was dark chocolate. “I’m paying you for an evening’s worth of dinner.”
Bo put a hand out to stroke a strand of gold hair that strayed from the rest. “Are you sure you only want dinner?” She questioned softly.
“Hm,” the blonde sounded, glancing down.
Bo’s fingers had migrated to her cheek, stroking the smooth skin. “Because I can make it worth your while.” She let her index finger run down the length of the blonde’s neck to trace the delicate collar bone fanning above the chest.
The blonde held her breath for a moment before she let it out in one long exhale. She smiled more at herself than what Bo said. “I’m sure you can but right now, dinner’s all I require.” She raised her eyes to Bo’s. “You don’t have to try so hard.”
It was like water dousing flame. Bo stiffened visibly. She’d never been able to take rejection easily and that sounded a lot like rejection even as the blonde continued to hold her gaze. “The name’s Bo and if you think this is hard, you’re in for a little surprise, blondie.”
Blondie just smiled, apparently not the least bit put-off by Bo’s show of annoyance. Quite the opposite, in fact; she looked amused. “I’m Lauren Lewis. It’s nice to meet you, Bo.”
Bo took the proffered hand and gave it a light squeeze out of spite. “Pleasure’s all mine.”
“Now,” Lauren said as she stepped back to look pointedly at Bo’s coat, “can I see the dress?”
Seeing no point in playing it coy (the woman was certainly not made of ice but her control was frustrating), Bo obligingly opened her coat to reveal the little black dress she was wearing. It wasn’t the only black dress she owned but it was the only one that could pass a formal dinner without getting eye-raped throughout the whole process. Not that it wouldn’t happen either way, but the point was she was decent. Or at least, that was what her best friend and flat mate, Kenzi, had assured her of, but the look on Lauren’s face was giving her serious misgivings.
“Too low?” She wondered, noting that the blonde was frowning down at her cleavage. She made a show of adjusting the décolletage, much good it did. The gesture only served to accentuate the girls more. When she still got no reaction, she prompted, “Lauren?”
“God, you’re so beautiful,” the blonde blurted out.
Bo could only grin, wide-eyed.
Lauren realized her blunder quickly. “Sorry, I’m….”
“It’s okay. I’m used to it.” Bo smirked impishly, adding, “Kinda my thing, you know?”
Lauren rolled her eyes skyward, cheeks suffused in color. “Yeah, I noticed.”
“You’re quite charming yourself, Lauren Lewis,” Bo said lazily. “And I’m flirting with you, if that’s okay.”
The blonde smiled shyly as she went to grab her coat from the back of a chair. “Flirting is etiquette, but I think we better get a move on. I don’t want to be late.”
“If anybody asks, you’re an artist and we met a few weeks ago at an art exhibit,” she was saying while they were walking down the hallway outside. “After that, we’ve had a couple of meetings for coffee but this is our first real date and we’re just getting to know each other.”
“Wow,” Bo mused. “You really thought about this.”
Something in Bo’s tone reached the blonde who turned to her, saw her expression and rolled her eyes. There was that shy smile again. “I’m sorry,” Lauren spoke quickly. “I don’t mean to be so….”
“Clinical? Detached?” Bo provided. “Freezing?”
“…rushed,” Lauren finished. “It’s just that I’m nervous.”
“Nervous, wow. If this is you nervous, I dread to see how you are calm.” Bo gave her a cheeky grin, which coaxed another smile from the other.
“My boss is going to be there,” Lauren disclosed tentatively.
“Ah.” Bo nodded as though she understood perfectly. An ex-girlfriend for a boss. This would not be the first time Bo’s services were procured to upstage a former flame. The thing was that Lauren Lewis did not strike Bo as someone who would stoop that low. She barely knew the woman but that was her impression of her.
“It’s not like that,” Lauren softly corrected as though she could read Bo’s thoughts. “Lachlan just finds it impossible that a woman could be single and be happy and satisfied at the same time.”
“So this Lachlan’s an asshole then,” Bo summarized for her, drawing a laugh from Lauren. Bo looked at her, entranced by the laughing face and the sound she made. It was such a free laugh, so unlike the calm and collected front she presented to the world. It made her think there was more to Lauren Lewis than met the eye. She resolved to find out before the night was over.
Exactly one hour later, Bo found out that the ‘more’ to Lauren Lewis was doctor and science geek. It turned out that the dinner they were attending was a science forum with actual scientists in attendance. Bo left Lauren’s side for a couple of minutes to get drinks and came back to find the blonde absorbed in animated conversation with a gray-haired guy wearing scholarly glasses. Snippets of their talk filtered back to her:
“…fractal patterns due to physical forces and local instabilities….”
“…inserting genes for different colored proteins….”
Bo reached Lauren’s side. The blonde was saying to the gray hair, “Similar phenomena are seen in the emergence of order in economic, social and political systems.” She paused but only long enough to receive the drink that Bo handed to her before she continued, “The behavior of large populations can be hard to predict, but the work has resulted in the validation of fast and accurate computer models that provide a test for reprogramming of multicellular systems.”
“Yes, I’ve read the literature, Dr. Lewis,” the gray hair replied. “I can see the potential of such an experimental system.” He smiled, fishing something out of his breast pocket. It was his card and he handed it to Lauren, saying, “I’d like to pick your brain, get your insight on how this can capture physics, cellularity and genetics of growth. Would you be amenable to dinner with a small group of like-minded friends?”
Lauren looked positively enthused. Listening to her basically stammer her acquiescence to the invite, Bo understood this was a big deal. The gray hair must be somebody important. She looked him over, noting the handsome face, the well-manicured fingernails, the pressed suit. He noticed Bo watching him and she saw him do a double-take like they always did before his eyes adopted that familiar speculative gleam.
“Sorry.” Lauren was suddenly reminded of her manners. “Dr. Hasselhof, this is my date, Bo.”
“Lovely,” Dr. Hasselhof said, taking hold of Bo’s hand. Bo resisted the urge to roll her eyes and instead showed him a dimpled smile.
“Dr. Hasselhof is one of the pioneers of synthetic biology,” Lauren explained, turning to Bo, her eyes alight. “It’s a new field that brings engineering principles to biology to reprogram living systems using DNA….”
Most of what Lauren said flew over her head but Bo didn’t mind. There was something captivating about Lauren’s enthusiasm on the subject. And it was adorable how she seemed to think that Bo even cared to know about these things. Science was never Bo’s favorite subject as a student, but she could listen to that soft, throaty voice go on all evening.
Things took a downward turn when Bo met the famous Lachlan later at evening. Even without Lauren introducing them, Bo would have known who he was from the self-satisfied smirk on his face and the barely concealed look of contempt in his eyes.
There were four of them at the table. Lachlan brought a date: a pretty, young thing with curly brown hair and light, grey eyes. Bo noted with curiosity that though this Nadia kept trying to catch Lauren’s eyes, the blonde was studiously avoiding her gaze. Bo understood that there was a story here but it wasn’t her business to know. So when Lauren excused herself after dinner to go to the restroom and Nadia offered to accompany her, Bo stayed behind. She made small talk with Lachlan, who was courteous for the most part though something about his mannerisms struck her as sordid. She was relieved when Lauren returned but a little puzzled because Nadia looked upset.
“Everything alright?” She asked in an undertone as Lauren took her seat.
The blonde took a moment to answer. On the other side of the table, Bo could see that Lachlan had not missed the fact that Nadia’s eyes were red-rimmed as though she’d been crying. He was quietly interrogating her, his face dark. When Nadia didn’t seem to answer one of his questions, he grabbed her wrist angrily. At once, Bo bolted forward and pulled at his sleeve forcefully.
Surprised, Lachlan turned to Bo. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Sorry.” Bo gave him her most winning smile. “But this shirt, it’s silk, isn’t it?”
Lachlan’s face became an expression of quiet wrath but the deflection worked. He remembered where he was. People from neighboring tables were already sending them curious glances. He let go of Nadia and made a move to fix his collar.
Nadia took hold of her wine glass and drank from it. Her eyes wandered briefly over to Bo but her expression was carefully neutral. The situation diffused, Lauren sent Bo a grateful look before she started a conversation to further steer them away from the tension.
“Thank you,” Lauren said to her later in the car.
“You don’t have to thank me, Lauren,” Bo replied.
“No, I mean, thank you for what you did with Lachlan.”
Bo turned to study her profile. Thoughts whirled inside her, threatening to form into words. Before they could, she reached up with her right hand to brush back the strands of golden hair. Lauren’s face was hidden in shadow when she turned but Bo could hear everythingin her voice.
“I know,” Bo whispered, stroking the line of her jaw.
“I mean, I don’t usually….”
“Shh, it’s okay.”
“You’re so beautiful.” She let out a breathy laugh. “I didn’t expect that.”
Bo grinned, putting more pressure on her hand to force the other to lean closer. “I’m flattered, Dr. Lewis.”
The blonde’s eyes were practically glued to her mouth by this point but for some reason, she erupted into a bubble of words: “I, ah, I get that someone in your profession would be physically attractive for obvious reasons. It’s interesting actually because one study suggested people are able to gauge beauty at a subliminal level by seeing only a glimpse of a picture for one-hundredth of a second and –”
“Shut up and kiss me.”
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
The kiss was soft and full of restraint, a mere brushing of lips that nevertheless made delicious tingles on Bo’s nerve-endings. Lauren tasted sweet like she knew she would. The rich flavor of wine lingered on Bo’s tongue as she explored the moist, silky texture of her lips. She could get drunk from this. Sliding her hands from Lauren’s neck down her shoulders to the flare of her hips, Bo began rubbing slow circles there in time with the movement of their mouths.
Lauren moaned into the kiss, hands coming up to cup Bo’s cheek, her thumbs resting just below her ears to brush there sensually. Their tongues danced a duet as the pleasure increased. Bo pressed herself closer to Lauren, one hand cupping her nape to keep her still, the other riding her side onto the roundness of her buttocks. Lauren gasped, drawing back a little but Bo merely slashed her mouth along her jaw, moving with precision towards a sensitive ear.
Someone cleared their throat.
“I think we’re entertaining the driver,” Lauren whispered huskily, unable to stop herself from shivering when Bo grazed an earlobe with her teeth.
Occupied with the intoxicating woman in her arms, Bo vaguely recalled the bearded face of the driver and imagined his expression at the sight of his two female passengers passionately kissing each other in the back of his cab. Probably his lesbian fantasy come to life. Though fairly amused by this, she didn’t want to share Lauren with anyone, not even for just a look. So she reluctantly let her go, opening her eyes slowly to take in the tousled blonde hair, the kiss-swollen lips, the eyes dark with passion.
After a moment, Lauren found her voice. “That was….”
“As far as kisses go, that was incredible, Doc,” Bo said teasingly as she raised a hand to tuck Lauren’s hair back.
The blonde merely ran her thumb along Bo’s mouth, tracing a line on her bottom lip. She swallowed, looked down and smiled in embarrassment. “I don’t know what I’m doing,” she confessed shyly.
Bo heard a snort coming from the driver’s seat in front but she ignored it. Instead she smirked, playing with the ends of Lauren’s hair. “Don’t you?”
“Hmm,” Lauren chuckled. She might be blushing but Bo couldn’t tell in the dark. Part of her was playing the game, enticing a client to spend more money than they originally intended, encouraging business. But another part was wondering what the blonde would be like in bed. Outwardly, Lauren seemed as skittish and shy as a kitten but she seemed to like control and Bo was getting worked up wondering whether that would translate to topping during sex.
Suddenly, the cab stopped, which seemed to put Lauren out of her momentary daze. She looked out and Bo followed her gaze. Outside was an old building in a nice neighborhood complete with tree-lined boulevards and a small park. Somehow, Bo was not surprised that Lauren lived here.
“Well, this is me,” the blonde said with an awkward smile.
Bo grinned, knowing without having to ask that tonight was not the night. She was not going to walk Lauren to her flat. She was not going to get invited in on the pretense of having a night cap. It was not for lack of desire on both parties (for there was plenty, of that Bo was certain) but neither the timing nor the mood was right. Bo suspected it had something to do with the conversation with Nadia. She was fairly convinced that she and Lauren were lovers but she didn’t know the whole story and, at this point, didn’t really want to know. It was bad for business, getting involved in the emotional affairs of her clients, and Bo planned to keep this strictly professional. So after collecting her fee, she said goodbye and watched the blonde exit the car.
A uniformed doorman greeted Lauren and opened the door for her. Bo didn’t wait for her to get inside before she turned to the cab driver and gave him directions to her address. It was not until later that Bo realized she was horny, which seldom happened after she was with a client. She smirked inwardly, a little surprised that the shy blonde with vanilla written all over could get her so worked up. Leaning forward, she instructed the driver to drop her off at a corner in front of an Irish pub called the Dal Riata.
The next day, Bo woke up with the worst hangover in the world. It was compounded when Kenzi jumped on her bed to pester her about the guy she was with last night. Apparently, Kenzi had seen her exit the Dal with Dyson, a detective who worked at the local station and with whom Bo shared casual sex with. Kenzi somehow got it into her head that it was going to turn into something more but Bo was dispelled of that particular delusion early when Dyson made it clear to her he was not available for anything more. That had hurt but if anything Bo was good at covering for herself and she found that she valued Dyson’s friendship more than a romance with him. The sex was just something that happened sometimes.
“Ugh, Kenz, could you not? My head is killing me,” Bo grumbled, trying to bury her head under the pillow but the younger girl had other ideas as she grabbed the pillow and tossed it away. “Argh!”
“C’mon, Bo-Bo, spill! Gimme the deets!” Kenzi insisted. “Well, not those kind of deets but you know, what’d he say? Did he say he lurves you?”
Kenzi realized her mistake at once and clamped her mouth shut. But Bo was already sitting up and rubbing the sleep from her eyes. “Nothing,” Kenzi said quickly. “I didn’t say anything.” She hopped off the bed, watching Bo warily.
“Dyson told you he loves me?” Bo questioned, completely awake now despite the pounding in her head that wasn’t helped by the new information Kenzi dumped on her. Dyson loved her? Since when? And why didn’t he say anything? All that time, spouting nonsense about ‘friends with benefits,’ keeping her at arm’s length, and he was in love with her? She tried to wrap her mind around it and even though there was the slight thrill of conquest at the knowledge, in fact, it was pissing her off.
Kenzi saw Bo’s expression change from just hungover to royally pissed. Her blue eyes widened considerably, knowing that she unintentionally stirred the pot with that unwarranted disclosure and Dyson was so going to kill her. She frantically thought of ideas to tame the beast and latched onto the first thing that came to mind. “So I heard you got yourself a pretty vanilla last night,” she started.
Bo gave her a withering look. “Don’t even.”
“You’re changing the subject and you know it,” Bo retorted, shrugging on her kimono as she lowered her legs to the floor. “When did he tell you?”
Kenzi looked contrite. “Well, he didn’t exactly tell me. I kinda figured it out last night and he sorta didn’t deny it.”
“God, he’s so irritating!” Bo exclaimed, padding across the room to the bathroom. She left the door open while she did her business, grouching the whole time. “I mean, is it so hard to say?” She deepened her voice. “’Hey, Bo, by the way, I’m in love with you, could you pass me the rubber?’ Couldn’t he have told me this before he asked me to go on all fours and –”
“Eww, Bo, gross and TMI!” came Kenzi’s disgusted reply from the bed.
“And this morning?” Bo continued as though Kenzi didn’t say anything, “When he offered me breakfast, he couldn’t have told me then?” She pulled on the flush and stepped out to join Kenzi in the bed. “Is it that hard to love me, Kenz?” She asked quietly.
The younger girl made a sympathetic sound, sidling up her back to rest her chin on Bo’s shoulder. “Absolutely not,” she reassured, wrapping an arm around Bo’s waist. “Take it from me, babe.”
Bo sighed. Kenzi’s support always made her feel better but this Dyson thing was really getting her down. Now that she knew what she knew, how was she supposed to act around him? “Should I confront him about this?” She wondered aloud. She wasn’t looking forward to it. The last time Bo tried to have the relationship talk with Dyson, she ended up being treated to the sight of the jerk getting down and dirty with some random barmaid in the back alley outside the Dal. It was horrible and Bo was a mess in the weeks that followed. The only thing that saved her then was Kenzi and her uncanny ability to sustain boundless cheer despite the doom and gloom cloud that followed Bo everywhere.
“Uhm, it’s totally your choice,” Kenzi told her, straightening and coming around to sit beside Bo. She let her legs dangle over the edge of the bed as she stared down guiltily.
Bo side-eyed her. “You’re worried about your own hide.”
She didn’t bother to deny it. “Dude carries a gun to work.”
“He’s a cop.”
“And I’m a thief. Can you see the problem here?”
“You’re a terrible influence,” Bo declared after a moment.
The younger girl smiled at her sweetly and patted her arm. “Should’ve read the fine print, hon.”
Bo strode purposely towards Evony’s office without knocking, causing the latter’s assistant to scramble from behind her desk to stop her. Too late. The owner of the escort agency was talking on the phone when the doors swung open to admit Bo in. She didn’t blink an eye and continued speaking to the caller on the other end.
“You wanted to see me?” Bo said as soon as Evony hung up.
Instead of acknowledging her right away, Evony turned to her assistant and asked, “Bianca, I need you to re-schedule my meeting with Ms. Vaughan next Tuesday.”
The assistant, ‘Bianca,’ nodded and jotted it down in her notebook.
“And set me up for an appointment with my hairdresser. I feel like pampering myself.” She primped her shiny, brown locks for emphasis before she finally deigned to glance in Bo’s direction.
“Yes, Ma’am. Would that be all?” Bianca closed her notebook and clutched it in front of her.
“Close the door when you leave,” Evony just said.
Bo waited for the distinct sound of the door clicking into place before she arched her brows at Evony in inquiry. “Can I sit?”
“I’m surprised you have to ask.”
Ignoring the quip, Bo settled on one of two Barcelona chairs in front of Evony’s desk and waited for the other woman to start. Her eyes were drawn to the simple black and red logo of a woman holding a finger to her lips with the words ‘Privé Recontrer’ written in cursive font on the wall behind Evony. The same logo adorned the outside of the entrance door as well as the calling cards that the agency hawkers regularly handed out.
“Dyson Thornwood,” Evony spoke without preamble. Bo couldn’t hide the look of surprise on her face fast enough and the older woman saw it, her eyes narrowing. “He’s a cop and it needs to stop now.”
“We hooked up –”
“Details of your sex life are always of immense interest to me, Bo. My income partly depends on it,” Evony stated. She moved so that she was looking at Bo from her side. She put an elbow on the table and crossed her legs. “You’re a free agent so you have some leeway about your personal life but you work for me, too, and I don’t want some cop sniffing around my place of business and compromising my clients.”
Bo drew her eyebrows together and looked away. As much as she hated being told off, she knew Evony had a point. Being in the escort service business was a lot like straddling the line between the legal and the illegal. And Dyson was already quite uptight about her line of work and perhaps upset with her, too, after she confronted him about his true feelings two weeks ago. Bo raised her gaze back to Evony and revealed, “We’re not seeing each other anymore.”
“Good,” Evony said, returning her attention to the paperwork on her table. “That’s all I really want to hear. Oh, and Bo?” She added just as Bo was rising from her chair.
Bo looked at her expectantly. “Yeah?”
With a knowing smirk, Evony settled back in her lounge chair. “I don’t know how you do it but you got yourself another returning customer. A Karen Beattie?”
For a moment, Bo drew a blank and she started to ask who that was when the image of the shy, pretty blonde with the soft gaze came to her. A faint smile curved her lips as she remembered how the woman kept her up for two nights straight and this with just a kiss. Last time, it was a science forum and dinner with the boss. She wondered what the occasion would be this time around. Another formal function requiring a not-so-revealing dress? She might have to go shopping with Kenzi.
Evony saw the interplay of different expressions on Bo’s face and drew a more or less accurate conclusion. “So you like this one.”
Bo was jarred from musings on her wardrobe. She looked distractedly at Evony and said without thinking, “She was sweet.”
Her reply was a snort. “Vanilla.”
“Why do people keep assuming that?”
Evony blinked up at her. After some length, she let out a bored sigh, saying, “Well, just remember she’s a client and like any other client, no –”
“No free sex,” Bo finished for her. “I know. Can I go?”
“Yes.” Evony waved her off and Bo turned to the door gratefully.
Chapter 3: Chapter Three
She wondered if she would come. In practice, escort agencies charged in advance for a booking so if a client was late for an appointment, an escort could leave any time without worry; her time was already paid for. Lauren, however, had called the hotel desk earlier to state that she was running late so Bo decided to wait. She rationalized that she didn't spend all this time getting dolled up just to end up at the Dal with Kenzi. But as the minutes ticked by, she began to have misgivings.
The sound of someone fumbling for her keycard outside the door of the hotel room roused Bo from her stupor. Shaking her head in disorientation, she was just able to fix her hair and sit up when the door swung open to let a slightly harried-looking Lauren in.
The blonde was wearing what Bo assumed was her usual work clothes: a pair of low-slung jeans and leather jacket over a white top that showed only the slightest hint of cleavage. Her hair was unbound again, tumbling in golden waves around her face and shoulders. In one hand she held what looked to be her outfit for the evening, still covered in dry-cleaning plastic, and in the other a shopping bag with pink wrapping paper peeking out. Her face was an expression of contriteness. “Bo, I’m so sorry. Did you wait long?”
It took a long time for Bo to answer. Lauren pulled casual sexy so well it made it difficult for her to form actual words. “…uh, no,” she finally managed but Lauren just gave her an odd look, causing Bo give up and just blurt out the first thing she thought when Lauren walked into that door, “You look so hot.”
Lauren let out a snort of disbelief as she went to dump her things on the bed near Bo’s feet and proceed to shrug out of her leather jacket. “I’m a mess,” she declared, “but you, however….” She slowly surveyed Bo on the bed, her eyes dark and half-lidded.
Bo didn’t move from her position but she smiled and lifted an arm in invitation. Lauren responded by moving closer, allowing Bo to straddle her legs. She reached for a strand of wavy brown hair that had fallen across Bo’s cleavage and played with it while she continued to murmur, “Lachlan called a last-minute meeting and held us up for nearly an hour. The new automation system was installed in a couple of work stations in my department and he wants to test-run it.”
“And what does this new automation system do?” Bo asked absently as she realized, somewhat belatedly, that Lauren’s new position allowed her to run her hands along jean-clad thighs and at the same time keep herself at mouth level with the most sensuous expanse of skin she’d ever seen, peeking between the gap of the blonde’s t-shirt and waistband.
“The new system can run an ELISA assay every day, seven days a week,” Lauren said, raking her fingers through Bo’s carefully arranged hair from her face, keeping them there and ruining several hours of Kenzi’s handiwork. “It will simplify a lot of things, improve consistency and at the same time increase productivity. It will mean the volumes of data I have to analyze and compare will increase but that’s the beauty of it.”
“Beautiful.” Bo had lifted her shirt a few inches to reveal more of that skin, equal parts fascinated by it and equal parts aroused. There was a small piercing scar on the navel, which teased Bo’s imagination. She couldn’t help it; she stuck her tongue out and gave the scar the slightest, tiniest lick.
Lauren gasped and her hands in Bo’s hair tightened. “Bo….”
Bo kneaded the outside of Lauren’s thighs, pushing up until her hands cupped her ass, pulling her closer still until Bo’s nose bumped against her flat stomach. She breathed in her scent; she smelled clean and fresh and faintly of buttermilk and honey. Rolling her head slightly to the side, she looked up at Lauren and bit her bottom lip. She wasn’t sure but she thought she heard Lauren swear under her breath before her mouth swooped in to cover Bo’s.
The kiss was fierce and left them both trembling with desire. For a long moment, Bo allowed her to explore her with her mouth, her tongue, probing and flicking over the top of hers. Her own hands were busy digging under her shirt, seeking and finding the hard bones, feeling the sleek muscles move beneath smooth skin. Lauren was the first to pull back, not without some difficulty, panting as she looked down at Bo, her face full of wonder.
“We’re so late, aren’t we?” Bo said, grinning. The sudden reminder caused Lauren to glance at the clock on the bureau.
“Oh, shit!” She exclaimed, snapping to attention and nearly shoving Bo away from her as she snatched up her outfit and hurried towards the bathroom. “Vicky is going to kill me! She told me it starts at ten. It’s five minutes to the hour.”
Bo only chuckled, amused by Lauren’s obvious distress. “What kind of party is it anyway? And who is Vicky?”
A half-naked Lauren poked her head out of the bathroom doorway. “She’s my best friend, roommate from college.” She ducked back but Bo could hear her add, “It’s her birthday party.”
“Tell her you got tied up at work because your asshole boss decided to play a kinky game with Elisa and a robot.”
“What?” When Lauren appeared in the doorway again, she had traded in her simple tee for a sheer tunic top with an emerald green cage back. The change was electrifying and Bo felt a fresh jolt of desire shoot straight to her core. Lauren was frowning. “ELISA is the shorthand for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. It’s not a person.”
“Hmm-hm.” Bo was barely listening. She rose to her feet and stalked towards her. The blonde was unaware, busy as she was putting a pair of earrings on and rummaging through her purse for her make-up kit. By the time she sensed Bo, the escort had already swept the blond locks from her nape to press a burning kiss on the area of skin just below one ear. Both of them felt Lauren’s shiver.
“Bo?” She asked tentatively, dropping her hands to grip the edge of the vanity as Bo continued, this time focusing her assault on her poor, sensitive ear.
Bo caught and held Lauren’s gaze through the mirror, whispering, “And tell her that I can be quite irresistible if I put my mind to it.”
Lauren opened her mouth to deliver a quip only to dissolve into a low moan when Bo opened her own mouth to take in the lobe, nipping it gently with her teeth before licking inside. One hand flattened itself against Lauren’s stomach, the other riding her hip while she continued to nip and suck until Lauren’s knees had turned to jelly under her and she was only able to remain upright because Bo was holding her up.
“Oh god, what…are you doing…hmmm….”
Bo gave her ear one last graze with her teeth before she pressed her face against the crook of Lauren’s neck. She took a deep breath, the blond locks tickling her nose. After a moment, she felt, rather than heard, Lauren hum and say, “Yeah, I think we’re definitely late now.”
“Does that mean we get to stay in?” Bo said, cocking her eyebrows suggestively.
“Why? Because you stuck your tongue in my ear?” Lauren straightened and walked out of Bo’s embrace.
Bo stared at her. “…You don’t like my tongue in your ear?”
A smirk played at the corners of Lauren’s lips. “I didn’t say that.”
Bo and Lauren took the car service downtown to the club. The party was in full swing by the time they arrived. The queue outside was long but the bouncer knew Lauren and waved her in. Taking hold of Bo’s hand, Lauren easily navigated them past the line, through the narrow doorway that led to an even narrower hallway that eventually opened into the dance floor. Once in, Bo had to adjust her eyes and ears to the multi-colored flashing strobe lights and the blaring music.
Lauren saw Vicky standing near the bar, surrounded by friends and acquaintances. She was laughing at some joke and clearly having the time of her life. Someone sweaty and obviously drunk pressed up against Bo as they tried to make way to the bar. She didn’t mind though; it was the fastest way across the room. When they reached the bar, Vicky handed them complimentary glow stick jewelry as Lauren made the necessary introductions.
Vicky smiled at Bo, her green eyes sparkling. “Wow, so you’re Bo. You’re even prettier in person.”
“Thanks,” Bo dimpled, adding, “You look great, too. Nice party.”
“Club owner’s my cousin,” Vicky revealed. “I’m glad you two could come. Especially you, Lo. Although now that I know what’s really going on,” she said, glancing at Bo meaningfully, “I think I understand why my texts are being ignored.”
“For the last time, Vicky, I haven’t been ignoring your texts,” Lauren replied defensively. “I’ve been busy this week.”
“I’m sure you were,” Vicky said patronizingly. Then leaning forward, she added in a stage whisper that was loud enough for Bo to hear (which was the intention, of course), “She looks like she’s a tiger in bed. Did you at least make sure to hydrate properly?”
The sheer embarrassment on Lauren’s face almost made Bo lose it right then and there. It looked like all the blood came rushing to her face at that moment and Lauren started and stuttered and started again before giving up and just hid her face behind the palm of her hands. Bo wanted to laugh but Lauren looked so adorable being miserable, she couldn’t resist sliding an arm around her waist and planting a quick, comforting peck on one warm cheek.
Vicky chuckled, watching the two of them. “Alright, fine,” she said. “You’re forgiven but only because your girlfriend seems such a sweetie.”
“She’s not –”
“We’re not –”
Bo and Lauren said simultaneously before breaking off to stare at each other guiltily.
Vicky raised her eyebrows. “Oh, did I stumble on something awkward? Well, while you two figure that one out…. Lo, where’s my present?”
If Bo was the type to blush, she would blush. She felt that quick, breathless pressure in her chest and recognized it. She had a brief thought: What are you doing, Bo? Suddenly, her hand felt like a piece of log on Lauren’s body and as the blonde moved to whip out the shopping bag with the pink paper wrapper she’d brought earlier, it was easily dislodged and fell to her side without a flourish. She stayed where she was as Vicky let out a girlish squeal once she saw what Lauren had given her. The two women hugged and laughed and talked over each other, forgetting Bo for the moment.
Bo looked at Lauren blankly.
“I said are you going to be okay by yourself? Vicky and I are just going to go to the DJ’s booth,” Lauren repeated, giving Bo a strange look. She must have picked up on Bo’s change of demeanor and wondered about it.
Bo smiled for her benefit and waved her off. “Go. I’ll be fine. I’ll order us a drink. What would you like?”
“A Screaming Orgasm!” Vicky shouted from a few distances away, meaning it to be a complete innuendo.
Lauren gave her the finger jokingly before she turned to Bo. “Sorry about that.”
Bo shook her head. “I don’t mind.”
“I mean, I like screaming orgasms,” Lauren admitted before she realized what she was going to say. “The drink, I mean.”
“Is that what you want?” Bo asked.
“The drink, Lauren.”
“Oh, yes!” Lauren almost slapped her own forehead. “I mean, no. I like to start with Hendricks Ellison, please.”
Bo chuckled, charmed all over again. “Okay. One Hendricks Ellison coming right up.” As Bo waited for the bar tender to finish with another customer, she realized that Lauren had stayed behind. She glanced at her wonderingly.
Brown eyes watched her quietly, filled with unspoken truths.
“I’m sorry if this is awkward for you,” Lauren said tentatively. She looked down, seeming to find her shoes incredibly fascinating.
Bo put a hand on Lauren’s arm. “It’s not.” How was it she’d never noticed how fragile she was? She wondered. Her eyes were so young, so vulnerable. The curve of her cheek was so delicate. She felt something soften inside of her that shouldn’t have.
Suddenly, the music stopped and the DJ announced that the next song was for the birthday girl. As soon as they heard Vicky’s name mentioned, they turned towards the booth. Sure enough, the raven-haired woman was there, sharing a passionate smooch with the disc jockey. Bo let out a surprised chuckle while Lauren just shook her head, amused.
The music was good. Bo found herself bobbing her head in time with the beat. The bartender was finally able to take their orders: a Hendricks Ellison for Lauren and Lemon Gingerini for Bo. When their drinks arrived, Bo finished hers quickly.
Lauren narrowed her eyes at her as she took a sip of her drink. “Why do I have the feeling you’re used to harder stuff?”
Bo grinned. “My best friend is Russian. Every time I ask for water, she gives me vodka.”
“You know vodka means –”
“That’s her excuse every time.” There was a beat, and then: “Wanna dance?”
“Hmm, I don’t know,” Lauren hedged. “A friend once told me I dance like a tree trunk.”
“Kenzi once told me I dance like my feet are dogs,” Bo disclosed, laughing.
“That doesn’t sound very sexy.”
“On second thought, I think I’d like to see this un-sexy dance. At the very worst, we’d be two un-sexy people not dirty dancing on the dance floor.”
By the time they finally hit the dance floor, Bo was nearly in tears.