You'd heard footsteps thundering up the cushioned stairs behind you, but what you hadn't expected was a hand pressing lightly on the back of your arm. You swiveled on your heel, legs split between stairs, to turn around and see... a complete stranger.
"Jennifer, right?" he asked.
You nodded curtly, scanning his long face for any recognizable signs. "I'm... sorry, have we met before?"
"I don't think we have." His lips curled upwards into a dizzy little smile. His chin alternated choppily between jutting out and retreating as he spoke. Your gaze darted to the thoroughly drained champagne flute floating in his grip, then to his other hand, extended towards you. "Kendall. Kendall Roy."
"Oh." You didn't really keep up with the news, but the name was impossible not to recognize—but even if you'd known who he was, what exactly were you supposed to say? Oh, yeah, the guy who fired everyone at Vaulter? The guy whose job it is to look like a sweaty, pasty sandbag on TV? You returned the handshake, if for no other reason than to pawn off the clamminess of your palm on someone else.
"You were amazing," he offered abruptly, rushing the tempo a little. "In the play. Your delivery was, uh, compelling. Really good. I liked it."
Well, that was certainly several compelling crumbs of flattery all laid out in front of you at once. And from a guy who didn't even particularly seem that tapped into theater. You found yourself suddenly very aware of the intensity, the darkness of his eyes—were his pupils really blown that wide? At a preview? Why?—and how tightly his gaze was locked onto your mouth.
"Thanks," you said, somewhat taken aback. "We—the cast, we did the best we could with what we had, y'know?"
"Yeah. Uh-huh." The tone of his voice had turned low, dismissive, very blatantly, as if he was fast-forwarding through the conversation in his mind. "You wanna get out of here?"
So that's where he was headed. Of course.
"Uh, some of the cast, we're getting together for drinks down the street, just—"
"Come on." That playful little smile again. Like a greater-than sign laid on its side. "You wanna get out of here."
He leaned towards you ever so slightly, intently studying your face for a reaction. Your eyes narrowed. You felt as if you should have been perturbed by the firmness—not to mention the inherent smugness—of his intonation, but you couldn't help but bend towards him in turn. Kendall Roy was, after all, a very powerful man. A powerful man, who was also rich. Who was complimenting you.
"I mean, yes, okay, I do want to get out of here," you said finally, cautiously shifting your weight off the last stair. "Do you... want? To get out of here?"
"Jennifer, I want," he started, just a touch too quickly again, "a lot of things. But let's start with drinks. Sure."
You stepped out of the elevator first, and you nearly walked straight into a coat rack adorning the nearest wall. Before you could, however, Kendall's hands reached out from behind you and gripped your arms, pulling you backwards into a sort of stumbling half-embrace.
"Whoa, there." You turned your head to meet his gaze and were rewarded by the sight of a joyous little smile playing on his lips, not unlike the expression of a man who'd just come in from the cold to a warm fire. Even through the multiple layers of coat between the two of you, you could feel his toned forearms pressed against your body, a grip more possessive than you were expecting.
Much to your disappointment, he let go of you momentarily to flick the light switch, revealing a spacious living room furnished like a fucking Blueground listing—unflinchingly sterile, utilitarian, yet flooded with earth tones as if those alone could lend any sense of individual warmth.
"You rent this place?" you asked, looking to make yourself seem like someone interested in more than just Waystar Royco's numerous investments in film and television.
"I own it," he corrected, striding past you as you hung up your jacket. He practically dove for the couch; while he didn't exactly stick the landing, being more than a couple drinks in at this point, he was upright enough to carry on a conversation. "The units below it, too. I have a guy, he's flipping them for me."
A magazine of golf courses for sale splayed open on the coffee table caught your eye. "I didn't know you were into real estate."
"I'm not." He glanced up at you, dead-eyed like a shark, his expression unreadable, the spread of his legs taking up most of the couch. "What music you listen to?"
"A little bit of everything, really, I guess," you said, baffled.
He slid a remote off one arm of the couch and, with a press of a button, sweeping strings poured out of Bluetooth speakers scattered around the kitchen and bounced off the walls. You recognized it pretty quickly—the discordant piano, Nina Simone's voice crackling... wait.
"Is this Kanye?" you asked, nose crinkling slightly. "Isn't he, like, problematic now?"
Kendall's eyebrows shot up, as if he'd just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. "Not your thing? Sorry."
He stammered and muttered his way through two more sorrys as he fiddled neurotically with his Apple Watch, because of course Kendall Roy had a fucking Apple Watch, and changed the music to some generic hip-hop instrumental, something safe, corporate. He leapt into telling you about how most of his family preferred listening to some piano player who was famous in the eighties, you think. He's less, uh, political than Springsteen—whatever that meant. Admittedly, you had already lost track of what he was wandering through telling you as soon as he'd motioned you onto the couch next to him. He'd turned towards you then, sitting straighter now, five o'clock shadow glimmering, caught in a surprisingly flattering stripe of light—
"Look, Jennifer. Connor tells me that, uh, you're excellent at pretending."
"Oh, is that... is that what he calls acting?"
"So either you're that good of a pretender," he continued, "or there's something going on here. You. Me. Us. Am I right?"
Okay, this was moving a little fast, if only because the brazen sincerity he radiated suggested he was proposing more than just a one-night stand. "Kendall," you managed, "I do-"
"Because, the way I see it, at this point, you have two options. Either you call an Uber now and the most we see of each other for the rest of our lives is a glimpse at opening night, or you take off that skirt right now and let me drown in your pussy."
In hindsight, you had at the time picked up on something unnervingly robotic, meticulously rehearsed, about the way he'd ended that sentence so straightforwardly—as if he had been reading from a teleprompter. But the fervor, the desperation oozing out of every tremble of his mouth and body convinced you that you were more than just a want to him. This was something he needed. You were something he needed.
Before you could even take your skirt off, Kendall took your chin into his right hand and pulled you into his orbit, smashing his mouth against yours. His left hand frantically dragged across your thigh, then gripped the skin of your knee. Before you knew it, he'd shedded his blazer, revealing a dark brown—more earth tones?—shirt underneath that clung attractively to his arms. He had the body of someone who does things like running on treadmills for the sole purpose of enhancing the Beastie Boys listening experience and paying eight dollars for kale in a cup, because those were actually things he did all the time.
You might have found it detestably enviable how much work genetics and testosterone had put in for him had you not been distracted by the gentle, playful tease of his tongue on the rim of your lower lip. He pulled away from you for just a moment, glowing with self-satisfaction.
"Like what you see?" he asked, which was just about the most obnoxious thing he could have asked you at that very moment. As his hand slid up your skirt and pulled your underwear to the side, however, all you could respond with was a broken whimper. "Okay. Oh, yeah, you do."
"Relax," you mustered with a grin, thrusting into the palm of his hand.
His exploratory rubbing through and around the fabric of your underwear eventually escalated to him on his knees in front of you, his jeans a pool of fabric on the polished floor beneath him, his eyes flitting between emphatically closed and boring holes into your body as he sucked your clit to a steady, predictable rhythm. Your clit was throbbing so hard with every angular flick of his tongue, it almost felt discomforting—but then again, you thought to yourself, who else could say they'd smothered Kendall Roy's face with their pussy?
Kendall pulled away from you for just a moment. No longer was the smack of his lips against your pussy drowning out the sound of his hand shuffling into the hole of his boxers. You slid one hand into his hair and, with one pull, yanked his gaze upwards to meet yours. His eyes were glassy with hunger. His mouth was shiny with drool and wet. He looked positively mesmerized by you, and that immediately sent you on a serious power trip.
"What do you want?" he asked, dazed, every word drawn out slightly more than the one before it. "Like, what do you really want? I'll give it to you. Just say the word."
"I want you to drown in it," you said without thinking.
You practically saw the green light reflected in his eyes—and he responded to it so enthusiastically, diving back in without a second thought. It wasn't long before you came as he alternated between flicking his tongue on your clit and sucking, rushing all the blood in your body to your pussy.
But you wanted more.
And you told him you wanted more, and he stood up with his cock—which was only slightly above average, why lie—straining against his boxers, and in a second he was lying down on the couch for you.
"Thank you. You're... you're so... so beautiful," he mumbled, somewhat out of nowhere, his ability to enunciate rapidly fading away as you slowly slid down onto his cock.
All of a sudden, his expression turned strained.
"Choke me, Jennifer. Choke me."
"I want it. Please."
It wasn't the strangest request you'd gotten from a sexual partner, and it shouldn't have surprised you, but something about it surprised you nonetheless. How quickly he was willing to give up control. How desperate and vulnerable he'd seemed then, even though the only thing he'd revealed to you at that moment was that he wanted anything at all.
"Thank youthankyouthankyou—I needed this." His eyes opened and shut frantically as your thumb drew circles on the thin skin of his throat. "You—I think—harder—I think—oh, God, harder—"
"Where are you headed?" He was lying on his stomach, half-asking, half-moaning.
You glanced up from your phone. "Uh. Out?"
He turned over with a start, shooting upright. "Are you calling an Uber? Don't call an Uber. I'll have my guy come get you in the morning."
"No, Kendall, it's fine, really—"
"Jennifer. Don't call an Uber. You never know who might be out there this late." What bullshit. And why did he sound like such a dad? Jesus, had you just fucked a guy with kids?
You walked up to his bedside and drank in his expression: open-mouthed, wordlessly pleading. "Come on," he said, softer, reaching out to cup your face in his hand. "I fly out tomorrow morning. I know this great juice bar—I'm, I'm really into almond milk now."
"Almond milk?" you echoed.
"Yeah. We can g—I'll get you something. Before I go."