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"You see right through me," Julia says as she touches herself, as David watches and she watches him watching.

That's his job, after all: to watch her. If there's a difference between standing outside her office while she shifts paper from one side of a desk to another, and standing outside her hotel suite while she slides her hand into her trousers, well… he's never been one to let semantics interfere with the larger objectives.

She smiles when he crosses the threshold into her room, even though he doesn't come any closer.

"Glad you could make it," she says, and pulls her hand from between her legs.

David thinks she'll go to him, but instead she walks over to the side bar and pours herself a glass of red wine: in the glass it's the same color as blood after it dries. Her trousers are still unbuttoned, fabric shoved halfway down her hips. "It really has been a bear of a day, hasn't it."

She settles herself on the armchair by the window, tips the bottle towards him in silent offer.

He shakes his head. "No thank you, ma'am."

"I thought we'd established that you should call me Julia in here," she says, with a wry twist of her mouth.

He's slow to reply, that moment in the elevator still replaying in his head. The cool assurance of her tone: that he'd be waiting for her, that he'd come when she called. That she could rely on him, really. He hasn't felt that way in a long time.

By the time he realizes she's waiting for an answer, it's too late — she's leaning forward, posture sharpening. "Unless that's what you'd prefer."

Her eyes are sharp, molten hot. Of course she knows. Christ.

David sucks in a breath. The same hysterical adrenaline as that night on the train — or at least a close cousin — spikes in his bloodstream. "Yes, ma’am."

Julia's eyebrows tick up a single degree. She takes a long sip of wine, and David can see her roll it around in her mouth before swallowing it down.

"Come here," she says, her lips stained dark. "Take off your clothes."

David's fingers are thick and shaky over his shirt buttons. He pauses to recenter himself, tries to let his body work through its usual menial tasks without his brain getting in the way: unstrapping his vest, pulling off his undershirt, stepping out of his loafers one by one as he crosses the room.

His hands are on the button of his trousers when he reaches her.

"Stop."

David doesn't know whether she means the undressing or the approaching. He stands still, lets his hands fall slack to his sides.

The re-circulated hotel air is cool on his bare skin, but it's the heavy pressure of Julia's gaze on him — more evaluative than appreciative — that makes him shiver.

"You've been on your feet all day," she says at last. "Go on."

David glances at the other armchair but she makes a low, corrective sound in her throat. Gestures with her glass at the floor in front of her.

"On your knees, David," she says, and arousal sideswipes him so hard it feels like his knees just about buckle of their own accord. He makes a sound, he's not sure what — he can barely hear anything over the throbbing of blood in his ears, his temples, his cock. He hits the ground with more force than he means to and lists a little to one side; his shoulder bumps the side of her leg.

"There you go." Julia's free hand presses down his shoulder until he sinks back onto his heels. She sifts her fingers through his curls, her nails tracing shimmering trails of sensation across his scalp.

He rests his head on her thigh. Closes his eyes. His mouth smudges against the fabric of her trousers and he breathes deep, inhales the mingled scent of perfume and fabric detergent and something earthy below it.

David turns his face in, nosing his way up her inseam — but she tugs his hair warningly, pushing him back down.

"Easy, easy." Her cool hand cups his chin, tilts his face up. "Stay just like this, okay?" Her face is kinder than he's ever seen it before.

David tries to speak, but his mouth has gone dry. He swallows. "Yes, ma'am."

She smiles. "Good, David. That's very good."

He settles back to his earlier position: crouched between her legs, head bowed against the inside of her right knee. His hands splay out into the thick weft of the carpet.

Above him, Julia opens up one of her briefing books; he hears the whisper of turning pages, the impatient tap of her fingers taking notes on her tablet. Every so often, she takes a sip of wine for herself, and then reaches down, touching the glass to his lips and tilting it up for him to drink.

It tastes heavy, somehow, and almost sweet at the very end — David doesn't know shit about wine. Obviously expensive, in the nonchalant way that everything in Julia's world seems to be. Rather than think about that, he focuses on drinking from the exact spot where her lips have marked the rim of the glass.

A drop trickles from the corner of his lips. Julia swipes her thumb over his chin and wipes it away. David strains against the desire to catch her thumb in his mouth, suck at her skin and feel her press down on the plush, pulpy heat of his tongue. He wants her fingers in his mouth, around his throat, against the front of his trousers where his erection is jutting out. He wants.

He doesn't move. Time slows and then speeds back up, a wire spring pulled taut and then released.

The buzzing atonal drone of Julia's phone startles him, but she cups the nape of his neck, holding him in place.

"Tahir." A pause. "No, you're not interrupting. Let's go over it now." Her thumb digs into the base of David's skull, kneading at a knot there; he pushes his face into her leg to muffle his groan.

He ought to pay attention. Tahir's voice is a tinny buzz over the line; it sounds like he's giving Julia some kind of report. Numbers from the Whip about RIPA 18, maybe. Craddock would want to know.

But then again maybe Julia knows what Craddock and Samson want, maybe she's guessed that they've asked David to spy on her. Maybe she's specifically engineered this call with Tahir to make sure he's reporting back useless information.

She's smart, David knows, and ruthless. She would do that.

In any case, if that's what she wants, she'll be disappointed. He can only pick up about one word in three from Tahir's end of the line, and his brain can't seem to hold his thoughts together long enough to piece together the rest.

It's only when she ends the call that he realizes how far he's drifted. The sound of her setting her phone back on the table rouses him like a dog on the hunt — no, David thinks, the other way around. Like a deer, hearing a snapped twig in the forest.

"David," she sighs, "what am I going to do with you."

Her hand settles back into his hair, and he turns his face into it, nuzzling kisses into the paper-fine skin of her inner forearm.

It takes him a while to come back to a place where he can speak. "Whatever you like, ma'am," he manages, and means it.

Julia laughs as though she already knew that: a warm throaty chuckle that's nothing like the feminine, focus-tested laugh he hears around the office.

She shimmies her hips, sliding down her trousers and pants, baring herself to him — he's already leaning in even before she guides him towards her cunt.

She keeps a firm grip on the curls at the back of his head and positions him exactly how she wants him: his mouth parted over her, the flat of his tongue making long passes across her clit before flicking inside to catch a taste of her…. Red wine, somehow, only darker, more sultry.

"Good, David," she murmurs, "Just, stay there — yes." She wraps her legs around his shoulders, trapping him in place, fuck, like he can just stay here forever, like he never has to move his mouth away from the slick chamber of her cunt, never has to do anything but stay here for her, letting her grind down on his face as she chases her pleasure.

She brings herself off on his mouth twice, gasping out breathless praise as she soaks his mouth and chin. The second time, she pulls his hair so hard he sees white, and he comes in his trousers, untouched.

David returns back to himself in pieces: the crick in his neck from straining forwards, the rapidly cooling tacky feeling between his legs. The aftershocks are still working their way through his limbs, sparks zipping from the soles of his feet up into his hands.

The susurrant whir of the heating system clicks on; tendrils of warm air prickle his arms.

"Are you all right?" Julia asks, hesitant. Not for her own sake, he thinks. For him.

He nods. "I'm great," he says. His voice sounds strange to his own ears, like it's being piped in from somewhere else.

When Julia goes to stand, the whole world tilts sickeningly on its axis. A low noise escapes him; he pushes his face against her thigh. They ought to get up, he knows. There's a huge bed waiting for them, with clean sheets and a state-of-the-art mattress. But he just. He can't yet.

"All right," Julia says. "All right." Carefully — so carefully that for the first time, David wonders what it might be like to love this woman — she slides to the floor beside him, draws him close, and keeps him there until they're both ready to move.