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Never Too Late

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As morning light peeked through the purposefully paper thin crack of pleated European blackout curtains, Beca stirred. She shifted and winced, naked beneath her expensive-as-fuck black silky Porthault sheets. Her body bore marks--bruises and scratches--along with achy muscles, evidence of a night well spent. She reached to her bedside table and flicked the switch that powered the curtains to draw themselves open more fully, allowing more natural light to pour into the elegant bedroom, reflecting off the crystal chandelier that hung over her king-sized four poster.

Beside her, last night’s entertainment stirred, whimpering in protest as she buried her face in Beca’s pillows, ginger curls wildly splayed over the pillowcase.

“Hey,” Beca said, turning to face her. She reached over to savor the sight of the gorgeous escort she’d summoned last night to warm her bed and temporarily trick her heart. Beca allowed herself to trace her fingertips along the length of her spine, savoring the softness of the skin beneath her touch and the toned back muscles arching up into her. Reacting. With her face mashed into the pillow, she almost… almost looked like--

“Hmm?” The redhead yawned and turned to peek at Beca from her pillow, a sated smile pulling on her face. The wrong face. Too many freckles, the bridge of her nose too wide. Eyes more green than blue. “G’morning, Beca.” The voice sounded all wrong. It had been okay--good, even--as raspy, pleading whispers in the pitch darkness with music pulsing through the room to distort the sound.

This chick was better than most of the others. She was good, last night. Convincing.

Mornings after always proved cruel.

“So what happened to your real Chloe?”

Beca bristled, wrenching away from the stranger. “I fucking told you not to use that name again,” she growled, turning her back on her. She tugged open her bedside table drawer with more force than necessary, pulling out the sealed manila envelope she’d prepared in advance, stuffed with several hundred dollar bills. (More than she agreed to pay, but that was gifted due to the heavy pool of guilt than actual generosity.) Beca tossed it onto the bed; it hit the sheet by the woman’s thigh, and Beca swung her legs over the side of her bed, gripping hard at the edge of the mattress with both hands, hanging her head. “You can see yourself out.” She closed her eyes, not wanting to look at the wrong face again. Not wanting to hear the wrong voice speak again.

“I’m sorry, baby.” The nameless woman crawled across the mattress and draped herself over Beca’s back, peppering her bare, tattooed shoulder with soft kisses. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”

Beca opened her eyes and, out of her periphery, watched the woman’s gorgeous red hair--the reason she’d selected her in the first place--fall in a curtain over her own shoulder. Her heart wrenched as sudden hot rawness prickled and burned her steely eyes. Swallowing back the emotion, blinking back the tears and refusing to let them fall, she reached up with a shaky hand to twirl those achingly familiar red tendrils around her fingers.

“I let her go.” Beca’s admission came in a whisper, colored with shame and despair. It had been fifteen years and Beca couldn’t forget. Couldn’t move on. She had everything she could ever want, otherwise--her own musical empire, an army of Grammys, a family of established and budding artists under her wing, more wealth and prestige than she knew what the fuck to do with--but she’d give them all up, give everything up in a heartbeat if it meant she could travel back through time and right the wrongs she’d made.

“Let me make it up to you,” the woman whispered, her tongue tracing the outer shell of Beca’s ear. “I don’t want to leave you all worked up like this, baby. Please.”

The whispered plea combined with the ginger curls threading through her fingers resparked the fantasy and she took in a shaky breath, considering. “I…”

“C’mon, Becs,” she husked, taking Beca’s earlobe between her teeth. God, she was good. She remembered the nickname. “One more.”

Beca whimpered. She felt the woman’s hand slip over her hip and between her legs, fingertips inching up her inner thigh. With a trembling free hand, Beca reached for the switch and flicked it back, her curtains electronically drawing closed to once again darken the bedroom to mostly shadows.

“Good girl,” the escort purred as Beca relaxed against her, fingers trailing upward to lazily stroke through her folds.

“Fuck,” Beca choked, slamming her eyes shut as a tear slipped free, falling hot and thick down her cheek.

The whisper in her ear was barely there. Perfectly disguised. “What do you want, Becs?”

“More.” Beca’s plea rang desperate, coated with decades of lustful longing as her grip tightened in those almost perfect ginger locks. “More, please. Please, Chlo…”

“Shh, baby. I’ve got you,” she whispered, trailing her kisses up the side of Beca’s neck. “I’m here, Beca.”

Beca gritted her teeth and fought the demons that always swirled and attacked--the grief, the doubt, the burning shame and stabbing regret. Arousal coursed through her at the touch--Chloe’s touch--and she succumbed to the twisted fantasy once more.