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You're A Hustler Like Me

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Benny’s basement bunker was a far cry from her high rise condo, but there was a homely charm to the neighborhood at least. He got it as a sublet so Beth wondered if they could find somewhere else once his lease was up.

She could always sell her car, it was just sitting in a garage. She was also looking into getting a job recommendation from one of her Apple Pi friends. ‘Anything related to math’ was a wide net so she was sure to find something.

Yesterday Benny had helped her vacate the condo.

“Are those jeans?” he asked upon arrival. “Who are you and what have you done with Beth Harmon?”

“Well they’re practical for labor intensive activities,” she explained, before growing shy and looking away. “And I kind of thought you’d like them since you wear them all the time.”

Benny had smiled and walked up to her, putting his hands on her waist. “Beth, you look good in everything. You should wear what you want, not what you think I’d prefer.”

It was a gentle reminder that Benny wasn’t a mark, she didn’t have to be his perfect woman. He wanted the real, flawed Beth and she was still getting used to that.

“Okay,” she said, wrapping her arms around him and leaning in to kiss him softly. She wanted their last kiss in this place to be an earnest one. Not under the premise of mistletoe or the haze of provocation, but just born of pure affection.

Once they returned to the task at hand, it had taken most of the day but they managed to finish the move.

There was one set of items that had apparently arrived at Benny’s ahead of the rest though.

“Are these my hand towels?” she asked, running her fingers through the terry cotton fibers already hung on the bathroom rack. “I’ve been wondering where they went.”

“If you had wanted to hang on to ones that nice, you should have gotten them monogrammed,” he told her. “Otherwise it’s an open invitation for guests to take them home.”

“I guess I’ll just have to write my name on what I want to keep,” she replied, drawing close to him and laying a hand on his chest. “How do you feel about tattoos?”

He’d kissed her hungrily in response and they had an intense make out session against the bathroom counter. Unfortunately, they had been too tired to take things further.

Hopefully this morning however would be another story. When Benny went out to get some breakfast and the morning paper, Beth changed into a black lace bra and panty set to surprise him, feeling a little self conscious as she laid on the bed.

“I’m in here,” she called out when she heard the front door open.

He walked into the bedroom with the bagels still in hand and his mouth dropped open at the sight of her.

“It’s bad luck not to break in the bed,” Beth explained.

“Now this is my favorite kind of bed and breakfast,” he told her, stripping down until he was wearing as much as her and kicking his boots beneath the bed.

He flopped down next to her and pulled her into his embrace, kissing her slowly and deeply.

She relaxed into his arms, feeling a sense of safety and contentment. It was like she was finally home.

Her hands found their way into his hair and she lost herself in the cavern of his mouth, letting out a whine when he moved his lips away from hers and down her body.

His hands pulled down her underwear and he looked up at her inquiringly. Her mind flashed back to the Four Seasons and her friends gushing over how good he was at going down on them. It was like she was back at that table, feeling uneasy all over again.

“Benny…” she murmured with a slow shake of her head, a gentle reproach and a whispered plea to leave well enough alone. “Can we do something else?”

“Sure,” he acquiesced, pulling away to lie beside her. “Will you tell me what’s wrong though?”

She wanted to never have to think about it again, but she had entwined her life with his and that meant sharing the truth even if it was ugly.

“I don’t want to be like those other women,” she confessed, turning her head to the other side and trying to push back the guilt bubbling up. She didn’t want to hurt him or make him feel bad, but she couldn’t pretend to be unbothered.

“Beth, you could never be like them,” he told her, a light hand on her cheek, asking her to look at him. She faced him and he took her hand in his own.

“You are not a client to me and I am not in debt to you,” he reminded her tenderly. “I want to share this with you because I care about you, Beth.”

She wanted to believe him, his statements granting her reassurance.

“Please, trust me?” he implored calmly, staring deeply into her eyes. He was asking her to trust him to not hurt either of them.

Was this what it meant to love someone? Beth felt like there was nothing she wouldn’t agree to, if he looked at her like that. It was now or never. She took the leap. “Okay, if it’s what you really want, we can try it. But if either of us says stop, we drop it, yeah?”

“Of course,” he nodded and kissed her soundly.

This time he took longer to make his way down the length of her, stopping along the way to kiss and suckle at her skin. Finally he breathed over her bare crotch and a shiver went through her. At the gentle nudge of his hands on her thighs, she spread her legs apart to accommodate him.

He slid her hands beneath her, cupping her cheeks with his warm hands and tilting her lower body upward. She clenched in anticipation.

“You’re tensing up,” he told her, his lips against her groin. “Just relax.”

His voice vibrated through her very bones and sent sparks up her spine, making her arch her back.

She tried to follow his advice and loosened her muscles, taking slow, deep breaths. It wasn’t like this was her first time getting head, but being with Benny was different. She felt a sense of vulnerability that had been missing even when she had lost her virginity.

She could feel his nose brush her curls and was glad she’d trimmed them last week.

His lips traced the seam of her sex and his tongue darted out for a light lick. “You taste so good, Beth.”

She glanced down to see him looking up at her with desire in his eyes and she could only hum in acknowledgement, blood rushing to her cheeks and heat pooling in her stomach.

He flicked his tongue up against her clit and she jerked away from the sudden stimulation.

“Sorry,” he apologized, still trying to find what made her respond positively.

The look in his eyes reminded her of that first time so long ago, when he had been able to see through her act. He hadn’t ever pressed her on it, but he hadn’t looked away either. She had been scared then, but now she saw it for what it was. Acceptance, something she’d never dared dream of.

“No, do it again,” she said. “I just wasn’t ready before.”

She wasn’t an orphan anymore. She had somebody to belong to, who gave himself freely in return.

Benny renewed his attentions carefully and her breathing became erratic. As he kissed and licked and sucked, her hands found their way into his hair again and she closed her eyes.

Beth had never been big on religion, but there was something mythical and transcendent about what was passing between them. It was as if they had been teleported to a paradise where the two of them floated together, suspended between heaven and earth.

Maybe it wouldn’t last forever, but Beth was happy to be a sucker in love.