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A Modern Arrangement

Chapter Text

Dot taps lightly on Miss Phryne’s bedroom door, her lips still tingling from Hugh’s goodnight kiss. Her Miss rarely precedes her to sleep, and sometimes Dot can bring her cocoa before she retires to her own bed. If Miss Phryne’s not otherwise engaged, that is. Dot always listens outside for signs of visitors (they’re almost never silent) — out of delicacy, of course.

“Is that you, Dot?” she hears. Dot cracks the door and peeks around it. Miss Phryne is lifting herself up in bed, her face strangely flushed.

“Are you all right, Miss?” Dot’s brow furrows in concern. “I didn’t wake you?"

“No no, please come in.” Miss Phryne nestles into her throne of pillows and pats the space beside her.

Dot perches next to her on the mattress and kicks off her shoes. She angles herself away from the expanse of bare shoulders exposed by Miss Phryne’s silk slip.

Dot has awoken her Miss on countless mornings, wafting in with a tray of coffee and scones. When she opens the curtains, she tries to avert her eyes discreetly from the scene in the bed — whether it’s Miss Phryne alone or tangled up with a guest — usually wearing far too few nightclothes for Dot’s comfort, in either case. She might have caught a glimpse, though, once or twice. It doesn’t seem proper how her eyes linger on the unladylike vistas of skin.

“How was your outing?” Miss Phryne asks, with a hint of mischief.

Dot smiles despite herself. “Lovely,” she says. They had been to the pictures. In the dark theater, she can coax Hugh to kiss her a bit less chastely. “It was a romance.”

“Oh, and did you feel romantic?” Miss Phryne snuggles closer.

Dot sighs. “Well,” she starts. She has no other friend to gossip with about such things, it’s true. And her Miss is so wise and worldly when it comes to male attention. “I do like kissing him while the lights are out.”

“Good for you, Dot.” Miss Phryne beams at her, and Dot blushes under the approval. “I’m sure Hugh was a perfect gentleman.”

Dot bites her lip. She turns to face her Miss, safe in the circle of her arm. “Sometimes I wish he’d be a little less of a gentleman.”

Miss Phryne never teases her about delicate matters. She draws Dot tighter against her side, all warm silk. “Have you told Hugh what you want?”

Dot hugs her knees to her chest. “It’s just, I wouldn’t know what to tell him, Miss.”

“Dot,” Miss Phryne’s tone is gentle. She seems to hesitate, which is unusual. “Have you explored by yourself, perhaps, to see what you like?”

A hand comes up to pet Dot’s cheek, soothing her blush. Her eyes go wide, and she only blushes harder. Dot is sure she’s more acquainted with the smell of sex than Father Grogan would condone. Maybe she had been interrupting something when she knocked?

Still, Dot leans her head into the touch. It’s quite a lovely hand, really, and a lovely scent. She ventures a slight nod. “Only because I knew you’d think it was all right, Miss.”

Miss Phryne lets her hand fall to Dot’s clasped fists, tracing circles with her fingers. “You were such a help to me on our last case, Dot. I believe you’re becoming a very good detective.” Dot doesn’t know if she’s relieved or disappointed at the change of subject. “Can you tell me some things you’ve learned?”

“You’ve taught me so much, Miss Phryne!” Dot tries to think — the circles are distracting. “I’ve learned to observe and remember details, to investigate and follow clues.”

“You have indeed.” Her Miss smiles at her, proud and fond. There’s an odd softness around her eyes, and Dot wonders if she was given something to observe on purpose. “In my opinion,” she continues, “investigating can be much more successful with a partner. Don’t you agree?”

Dot swallows. “Do you mean like you and Inspector Robinson?”

Miss Phryne laughs. Dot’s not quite sure what’s funny, but she likes how the sound vibrates against her ribs. “Well, certainly. But you’re a wonderful partner too, Dot.” She pushes back the covers and gracefully shifts her bare legs, turning toward Dot while keeping her close. “Do you know, ladies can help each other with all sorts of investigations.”

Dot feels a flutter low in her belly. “Even that sort?”

“Only if you want to.” Dot is warmed by how Miss Phryne is watching her, so seriously.

“But did you — did someone teach you how to... investigate?” Her Miss smirks, then. Dot squeaks, “Dr. Macmillan?”

“It was a long time ago.” Another arm comes around Dot, settling her head onto Miss Phryne’s shoulder. She smoothes a kiss on Dot’s forehead. “What do you think?”

Dot takes a breath. The flutter is crescendoing to a drumbeat at her core. She had considered it Hugh’s drumbeat. It would be handy if she understood what comes next, wouldn’t it? “Yes,” she says. Miss Phryne usually knows what’s best, in any case. “I mean, I’d like to try.”

Dot is glad not to meet her eyes, though, when Miss Phryne slides behind her. “Come here,” she says, and sinks back with Dot cushioned between her knees. Her Miss pulls the pins from Dot’s hair, gently, and rakes through the waves. It’s rather heavenly, if she overlooks how the nude thighs have set her trembling.

“Now Dot,” Miss Phryne says, “I’m going to touch you.” Her fingertips are tingling up Dot’s wrists like a current. “We’re going to learn some things together. But if you want to stop or go back, just say so. Can you do that?”

Dot’s face is hidden in Miss Phryne’s neck, but she nods.

Her dress opens at the front — not an entirely accidental choice for her date, if Dot’s honest — and Miss Phryne traces her throat to the first button. Her fingers paint gooseflesh down Dot’s sternum in intervals fixed by the placket, venturing along her collarbone and across the restless plane of her chest. And then the touch is no longer on the flat, but touring the yielding swell of her décolletage, making Dot quiver.

“Does that feel nice?” Miss Phryne’s voice is pitched lower, like it’s stroking Dot too. Alight with some new boldness, Dot presses her lips to her Miss’s skin, just below her ear. She is enveloped in French perfume. She senses Miss Phryne’s smile before she sits Dot up, saying “there’s a good girl” as she sweeps sleeves and straps off her arms. A dainty lacework of kisses drifts over Dot’s shoulders, and she hardly notices her Miss loosening the sides of her brassiere.

Dot should be embarrassed — falling back in Miss Phryne’s embrace, her dress and slip gathered at her waist — but the caresses leave her too molten to manage it. Her bra is still draped over her, but now it’s less encumbering to her Miss’s hands. They come up underneath to cradle her bosom — (Dot tries it out in her head) her breasts. A thumb brushes over her nipple and Dot squirms.

Miss Phryne’s fingers hover on the sensitive underside, teasing. “Go ahead Dot, tell me what you like.”

Dot gives a little whimper. “More,” she says. “Harder.”

“Well done.” Miss Phryne’s mouth whispers against Dot’s shoulder. As she pinches both nipples, her tongue flicks out to taste the tender medallion at the border of Dot’s neck. When Dot arches, her Miss bites — not too hard, but hard enough to make Dot moan.

Miss Phryne’s fingers stay busy. “Like this?” she says, trapping a bud between her knuckles. “Like this?” She licks her thumb and forefinger, uses them in a slippery twist. Dot says “yes” too many times, each time bunching her dress higher up her thighs.

Dot doesn’t register that Miss Phryne has stilled until she feels her suspender graze along her leg. Her Miss’s hands are splayed across the window of skin between her stocking and her girdle. She’s tugging at one of the clips. “More evidence to collect,” she says, sounding unexpectedly bashful.

“Together,” Dot says, and her hands go to the fastenings up the hip. Miss Phryne doesn’t favor the more supportive undergarments, but Dot has plenty of practice. With the hooks open and one set of suspenders undone she can shove the thing aside.

“Dottie Williams,” Miss Phryne says, charmed. Dot is in French knickers of fine silk — her Miss’s gift. It’s not that she expected Hugh to see them, not anytime soon, but a lady dresses to please herself. She does love how it feels to wear them, a secret pressed close against a secret. The silk is damp. Miss Phryne skims her palm up Dot’s thigh and lets her fingers rest there.

“Do you know why you get wet like that?” Her Miss’s voice has a glow.

It seems unbecoming to twitch toward her hand, so Dot attempts to find words. “I think so, Miss.”

“Shall we test your theory, then?”

Dot shakes into action, wriggling out of her dress, her girdle, her stockings, her bra, her knickers. She leaves the slip pooled around her waist — she likes that their attire matches.

Miss Phryne must too, or she wants to make Dot comfortable, because she shimmies off the straps of her own slip. Her breasts are soft on Dot’s back, her nipples two pricks of heat.

Dot’s arm comes up to cover her chest, but her Miss’s hands are there first. “So lovely,” she says, mapping the unfashionable curves. And then her touch trails down, tangling in Dot’s curls. She presses right at the top of the seam and makes a slow circle.

Dot licks her lips. “Lower,” she says.

Miss Phryne listens, dipping her fingers to make them slick and swirling up around that silvery nub. Dot is surprised when she strokes just above it, back and forth on a swollen cord of flesh. “Oh,” she says. And then again, more resonant. “Oh.”

“Come,” Miss Phryne says, “feel what I’m doing.” She places Dot’s hand over her own. Dot bends her fingertips right onto her Miss’s nails to learn their movements: a glide, a patter, a figure eight. Faster. Her hips start to surge, electric.

Miss Phryne stops, leaving Dot gasping. “Which way?” she asks. Her lips are at Dot’s ear, the lightest kiss. Dot guides her Miss’s fingers in the shape that enflamed her.

“What a talented girl.” Miss Phryne frees her hand from the middle. “Your turn.”

Dot doesn’t know if she can, but Miss Phryne’s questing motions make promises below, and she knows she can’t not. She keeps fondling herself, focusing to one sharp spike through the center as her Miss dips inside.

Dot feels taut, pliable yet strung like a harp. The upward pressure at her entrance is strange and delicious, an impression that quite unforeseen events might unfold. Miss Phryne goes deeper, and every tiny advance is a landscape of sensation. Dot senses her Miss shifting, fitting her other arm between them. Her head is still pillowed on the elegant shoulder, and Miss Phryne’s sigh of satisfaction glimmers on her cheek.

Her finger finds some mystery, a webwork that connects to Dot’s own hand, pulling her harder, lower, sharper against her pleasure. Dot hears the word she’s saying: “There.”

She hears Miss Phryne: “Let go, darling. I’ll catch you.”

Dot falls, spiraling into a maelstrom that swallows her whole. Dimly, she perceives Miss Phryne finishing herself, going rigid and holding Dot tight between her thighs.

After a long moment, Miss Phryne kisses Dot’s temple and helps her back into her slip. Dot curls up to her knees and reaches for her dress. She’s raw all over, seized again with uncertainty.

“My Dot.” Miss Phryne is so sweet in her amusement. “Will you stay here with me?” She tosses the dress to the floor and steers Dot under the covers. With the lamp out, cuddled to her Miss’s side, Dot drifts. Before sleep takes her, she thinks of how it will look in the morning: the familiar debauched scene, but with her at the center. Her clothes strewn about the bed, her immodest skin emerging from the sheets, her limbs wrapped around Miss Phryne. She might just have a peek.

Chapter Text

Hugh considers it a privilege, running files to the Inspector after hours. To his house, that is — a more recent invitation. The Inspector sent Hugh for background while he was interviewing in the field. With Miss Fisher. That always puts him in an odd mood of late (Hugh prefers not to consider why).

It did make for an awkward situation, carrying the stack of folders to the pictures. Dottie insisted on perusing them, of course, despite his objections. But it’s worth it when Hugh hops up the stairs to the Inspector’s flat and sees the glow within. He knocks — confidently, he hopes. These visits still give him a bit of nerves. The Inspector seems at ease, though, when he ushers Hugh inside.

The sitting room is neat but not spartan, with its wall of books and armchairs round the hearth. The Inspector seats himself on an overstuffed sofa, old fashioned but cozy, so Hugh sits beside him. He hands over the files, and the Inspector flips through them. He takes his time.

“Good work, Collins,” he says, finally. Hugh fidgets, like he does whenever the Inspector praises him. It makes a knot of warmth scrunch in his chest.

Hugh is wondering if that’s his cue to leave when the Inspector clears his throat. “How was your evening with Miss Williams, Collins?”

Hugh wasn’t expecting the personal inquiry. The Inspector always catches him off guard. “Uh,” he says, “very nice.” He knows he’s floundering. “I mean, we enjoyed the picture.”

“A satisfying ending?” He says it lightly, looking down to tidy the papers, but Hugh’s not so sure it’s an innocent question. He has no idea how the picture ended.

The Inspector fixes him with that gaze, the one for interrogating suspects, and honesty tumbles out. “I was kissing Miss Williams during that part, Sir.”

“So, quite satisfying then.” One side of the Inspector’s mouth quirks up.

Hugh’s eyes get wider. That odd mood.

The thing is, no one else understands how Dottie thrills and confuses him. Given an opening to ask advice, in the intimacy of the Inspector’s sitting room no less, Hugh should really forge ahead.

“It’s just,” he says, “it seems like Dottie wants, well, more.”

The Inspector raises an eyebrow. “And how do you feel about that, Collins?”

Hugh doesn’t know how he feels. “I don’t know, Sir,” he says. The Inspector looks at him quizzically; he should try to explain further. “I think that I, that is, I want to. But it doesn’t seem gentlemanly. And I’m better at that. I mean, I know how to do that, be a gentleman.”

The words come out in a volley. Hugh feels himself blush. He’s bungling it, but the Inspector nods as if he can translate. He pauses, though, pensive. Hugh gets worried.

“During the war,” the Inspector says. Hugh sits up straighter. He rarely speaks about that time. “At the front,” he goes on, “we had a saying: Take comfort where you can.”

Hugh scrambles to keep up — he’s not sure what the meaning is behind the story. Then he realizes the Inspector’s hand is on his thigh, long fingers spanning the muscle. Hugh goes very still.

“Those days gave me something, Collins, beyond a way to survive the trenches. I came to know myself better. Or differently.” He looks at Hugh, appraisingly, his eyes piercing but kind. Hugh tries not to squirm. “I expect you would benefit from that sort of tutelage. Gentleman to gentleman.”

Hugh has a moment to consider, that’s a mercy. Did he never notice the Inspector’s captivating eyes? He doesn’t want to leave this haven, where the Inspector watches him like that. Also, he’s starting to get hard.

He hesitates too long, or long enough, and the Inspector reaches for his fly. Before Hugh can let out the breath he’s holding, he’s out and cupped in the Inspector’s palm. He has no idea what to do now.

The Inspector seems to be waiting. “A gentleman says please, Collins.”

“Um, please.” Suddenly Hugh wants desperately to get it right.

“Go on.” The Inspector’s hand tightens, but only a fraction. He’s tormentingly unmoved.

Hugh resolves not to think too much about what, exactly, is happening. “Touch me,” he says. “Please.”

The Inspector doesn’t stir. “Name it, Collins.”

“Please touch...” Hugh swallows. “Touch my cock. Please.”

The Inspector lays a hand on his chest — before Hugh registers why, he’s pushed back against the arm of the sofa.

And then the Inspector’s mouth is on him. Hugh definitely wasn’t expecting that. It takes a few dizzying gallops for his mind to catch up to his cock, before it scorches through him: the paradise of melted suction. The Inspector is everywhere, engulfing Hugh in roaring heat. Within the gyre, a tongue sizzles up and down his length, cresting over the head.

Hugh finds himself helpless, giddy. The Inspector hovers over him, a hand still braced on his sternum. One more hard suck and he feels his climax barreling forward like a train.

And then it stops. “Wait,” the Inspector says. His thumb and finger close around Hugh’s cock in a vise, throttling the rush of pleasure. Hugh groans. “Look at me,” he hears.

He opens his eyes and sees the Inspector’s mouth, flushed and slick. That doesn’t help. “You have to learn to wait, Collins.” He moves his hands to Hugh’s hipbones, inside the waistband of his shorts. “Breathe deeply. Pull the energy here. Do you feel that?” The Inspector presses him into the cushion, making a weight in the cradle of his pelvis. Hugh nods. “Get your focus out of your cock.” The Inspector’s gaze dips down, but then it’s holding Hugh’s again, just stern enough to keep him throbbing. “Pay attention to what’s around you. Who's around you. Don’t go somewhere else. All right?”

Hugh really is trying to concentrate. “Yes,” he says. “Yes, Sir.”

The Inspector starts again without warning, jerking Hugh with one hand while he swallows his cock. Hugh swears he’s taking a rhythm from the thunderous pounding of his heart. He follows the advice, and feels: his own breath; the sofa slung beneath him; the roughness of clothes against his skin; the smell of aftershave and whiskey; the wool at the Inspector’s shoulders, firm and warm, where he grips them. Hugh climbs higher, and he doesn’t come.

The Inspector makes a sound along him — pleased? Something flips in Hugh’s core and propels his hips upward, meeting the cascade over his cock. The Inspector lets him, head now still as Hugh pumps into his mouth. He’s close. In his eagerness, Hugh thuds at a wall and the Inspector’s throat contracts. And then his mouth is gone.

“Oh,” Hugh says, anxiety crashing down, “sorry. Sorry about that.”

“Stop worrying, Collins.” The Inspector sounds a bit hoarse, but he’s smiling. Leering, actually. Hugh shivers, not unpleasantly. “Get out of your own head. You need to think about what she feels. Can you do that for me?”

Hugh manages to signal his agreement. In fact he’s utterly bewildered, but he’s far beyond objecting. The Inspector gives his pants a tug. Hugh raises his hips, and with one efficient motion he’s bare to the tops of his thighs. He’s surprised when the Inspector lowers himself to the floor, kneeling and ducking under the yoke of Hugh’s legs. When he bends back to Hugh’s cock, over the bunch of his clothing, it lifts his knees higher.

Hugh wants to shut his eyes again, but he also wants to watch. The Inspector’s fingers curve behind his cock, aligning with the shaft. And then his lips close over both of them, slicking the digits against Hugh's length. The Inspector looks up at him through his lashes, and Hugh is nearly gone. Perhaps safer not to watch, after all. In the black, he misses the Inspector switching hands until a spit-smooth finger probes below.

The room tilts. Hugh thinks he should inquire, protest, or shift away, but the Inspector’s devastating mouth has anchored him in place. A finger pierces him, demanding that Hugh stretch around it, and the ripple of his muscles draws his cock, his balls, his arse into a luminescent coil. And then the finger moves. The Inspector moves, thrusting inexorably out and in. Hugh’s sure he’s making noises, mortifying ones, but he’s too liquified to care. Everything goes supple under the Inspector’s hand and tongue, until the burn as a second finger opens him. The rousing scrape of teeth as he gets sloppy. The riddle of a spot he touches, blazing like a bomb.

“May I?” Hugh can only get that far. He takes a hum around his cock for permission and spends in the Inspector’s mouth.

When Hugh finally opens his eyes, the Inspector is studying him rather fondly. To cover his bashfulness, Hugh wiggles back into his pants. It’s only after he’s buttoned up that he notices the Inspector isn’t. His hand is on his own erection, stroking languidly.

The Inspector rises and settles back onto the sofa, lets his palm rest on the back of Hugh’s neck. “Good work, Collins,” he says, with a smile. Feeling blooms in Hugh’s chest.

Hugh does understand a few things about being a gentleman. “Can I do something,” he says, “you know, for you?”

The Inspector’s smile gets bigger, although it might be part amusement. “Go on then,” he says. Hugh moves his hand over, wraps his fist around the shaft. It feels different than his own cock. Not too different, though. The Inspector links their fingers and shows Hugh how to touch him. When he comes, handkerchief at the ready, he gasps and squeezes Hugh’s shoulder. It doesn’t take long, and Hugh finds he’s disappointed.

But Hugh’s sent off to the washroom to clean up, and when he returns his Inspector is impeccable again, save for the swollen blush around his lips. He walks Hugh to the door.

They pause there, in the entry. “When she asks you, Collins,” the Inspector says, hand on Hugh’s elbow, “say yes.” His arm comes up, and he brushes Hugh’s cheek with his knuckles. “And if you ask me, Collins, I’ll say yes too.”

Chapter Text

“What are we going to do with them?” Phryne perches on Jack’s desk, an inch closer than usual. The station is hushed and half dark; with drunks in the lockup, the night shift is downstairs. Jack has just sent Hugh home.

He raises an eyebrow. It’s the end of their next investigation (or the beginning). As Phryne bends toward him, the tail of her chiffon scarf wafts onto his knee. Her touch has been this light, of late, hovering with extraordinary gentleness at the corona of his heart. She won’t torment him, not much, and that means something.

It was a serious question. They are a paradox — his constable and her companion. Jack loves looking up at Phryne, but when he stands they’re nearer. “Well, Miss Fisher,” he says, “if this is a modern age, we’ll simply have to devise a modern arrangement.”

Phryne tips her chin down, gazing at him through her eyelashes. “Jack Robinson, I suspect that you’re a great deal more modern than you let on.”

Jack can feel the warmth humming between them when they stand like this. By force of habit, he steps back, and there’s the familiar ache. He has always been one to pause and think, to take a moment. But he’s done all his thinking. In this moment, he closes the door to his office — and locks it. He turns, hand on his hip, and sees Phryne’s breath catch. She stays still, though, as he returns to her side.

Before he met her, Jack wouldn’t have dreamed of kissing someone in his office. He has dreamed of it often, since. Since Phryne, the distinction between dreams and waking has become less solid. Reality shimmers away behind visions of what might please her (excite her).

“Interesting theory,” he says. He leans in, letting the words ghost across her cheek. “You are a lady detective — perhaps you should investigate.”

Phryne only has to turn her head to capture his lips. For an instant, Jack is riveted by the caress careening through him. She doesn’t exhale until he kisses her back, and only moves when his arms come up to draw her close. Then she clutches at him, ruffling his hair as she wraps her hand around his nape, dragging fiercely at his jacket as her hips crush against him. Jack likes her fierce. Her kisses are velvety sweet and deadly. He lets the coat drop to the floor and his mouth moves down her throat, hungry for her. When he sucks at her pulse, he can feel her gasp buzz on his tongue. His fingers curl into fists, rucking up her skirt.

Jack pulls back. Phryne’s lips are parted, lipstick smeared. Her eyes are deep and glittering. She has fallen back onto the desk, and his hand is on her knee, underneath her dress. She looks at him. “Yes, Jack,” she says, with that edge of gentleness. “Always yes.”

He knows why he waited, how his chest clenched with every agonizing No. He knows he needs her fiercely too, but his desperation burns more slowly. He holds her gaze as his fingers trail up her thigh, whispering over the silk stocking. His other hand grasps her scarf, and it glides around her neck as he removes it. The material catches, constricting for a moment, and Phryne gives him a devilish smile. She reaches for his tie and begins to tug, just as slowly, at the knot.

Jack arrives at the top of her stocking: the band of lace, then the satin skin, then the dagger’s hilt. He can’t help but smirk back at her. Her eyes go wide as he slips the weapon ever so carefully out of her garter.

“Phryne,” he says, and kisses her, cradling her face. His Yes. Her fingers tremble at the hollow of his throat, where she has undone the top buttons, and at the waistband of his pants. He presses against her, letting her feel how he wants her. In tandem, their breath stutters into a moan. She wraps her leg around him gracefully, and her dress gathers at her waist.

Jack tangles his hand in her hair, baring the shell of her ear. His lips trace the arc, and he murmurs, “quiet.” Phryne shudders. And then he’s on the floor, crouched between her thighs. His fingers connect them, charting the impossible skin revealed above her stocking. He can’t resist rubbing his cheek on the silk and inhaling her.

Phryne watches as he brings the dagger up and touches the point to her flesh.

Their history has been woven through with violence. The countless murders, Jack always hunched close to Phryne over a corpse. The dangerous thrill of her flirtations — confrontational at first, and then a more seductive assault. The devastating moments when he feared he would lose her. The paralyzing moments when he feared he’d lose himself. The knife is her protection, and it flays his heart.

Jack looks up at Phryne, holding the steel flat against her thigh. Her breasts rise and fall rapidly, but she stays so very still. She licks her lips as he slides the dagger under the suspender attached to her stocking. The blade is sharp, and the ribbon shears easily in two. Phryne gasps. Jack hooks his fingers under the lace and feathers a kiss on the skin it covered. And then one higher, and again higher. She tastes like whiskey. He lifts his head and sketches the knife along the line where the ribbon lay, listening to Phryne’s nearly silent whimpers. At the frilled edge of her lingerie, he pauses, replaces the bite of the blade with his mouth at the crook of her hip. She bucks into him and the knife is back in a flash, putting pressure just there through the creamy silk.

Jack tries not to dwell on how long he has wished to be exactly here.

“Careful,” he says. He meets her eyes.

“Always.” Phryne’s voice wavers with desire.

Jack turns his attention back to her knickers — flirty and luxe, draped over all but a few wayward curls. He angles the blade, brushes it across her mound as he slices the fabric right through. He lets the knife clatter to the floor, then, and spreads her open with his thumbs. Exquisite and glistening.

“Jack,” Phryne says. It’s a promise more than a plea.

When he tastes her, the world stops. He traces each fold with his tongue, memorizing. His fingers steady her, splayed over her belly, as she attempts to rise off the desk. Phryne’s hand fists in his hair; he feels tension at his neck and realizes she’s drawing him in by his tie. Smiling against her, Jack finds her pearl and sucks.

Phryne’s hips set a rhythm that he follows by instinct. With her dress slipping off one shoulder, he can reach the swell of her breast as she arches into his hand. His other hand comes up underneath, making swirls around her entrance. Jack hears a strangled cry and his fingers are pulled from the tempting peak of her nipple, enveloped in molten heat. Phryne sucks on him, hard, and his groan is drowned in her. Almost in her throat, he feels her sound more than he hears it as he presses two fingers inside her.

She’s slick and tight, smooth and rippled, and Jack seeks the throbbing places to stroke. He wants to survey every inch of her. The ruined lingerie tickles his nose and her thighs close around his head. He can hardly breathe, but when Phryne speaks — “Yes. Jack. There.” — he’s never felt safer. He crooks a third finger into the hole beneath, breaching the taut muscle and knowing them both in layers — her parts cloaking his hand. Phryne inhales once, seizes up, and peaks in waves, her mouth a silent O. He hasn’t forgotten that they’re in his office, but he’s never felt more at home.

When Jack locks the door, Phryne stops thinking about Dot and Hugh. She stops thinking. It has taken practice, letting him lead. She’s accustomed to striving for what she wants. But ungrasping, she’s learned, has made space for sudden tenderness. He walks toward her, and she lets him.

Jack stands so close that she can smell him — laundry soap, hair oil, and musk. Her heartbeat quickens and heat sinks like a weight in her belly. She is delighted.

“Interesting theory,” he says. He’s practically sighing in her ear. “You are a lady detective — perhaps you should investigate.”

It had come to her slowly, the idea that Jack demurred not out of prudishness or honor, inexperience or censure. The idea that he refused her because he was all too serious about what she offered. The evidence was mounting. His words sound like an invitation — and those are rare and precious, from him. In any case, she never turns down a challenge. So she kisses him.

His lips are softer than she remembers, silken against hers. Phryne doesn’t dare move. She has no idea what will happen now, and it thrills her. Then his mouth draws at hers, with a hint of tongue and teeth, and she melts into his arms. They are absolutely consuming, Jack’s kisses. She had forgotten kisses like this, ones that send a thousand unsaid words searing through the body. Kisses with an undertow that pulls them closer until she’s tearing at his clothes to reach his skin. Even the back of his neck is heavenly to touch, velvet with close cropped hair.

With Jack’s mouth at her throat, she loses track of undressing him. Mercifully, he sheds his jacket, and she grips the flex of his biceps through a cotton shirt. She can only clutch at him and slot her hips around his thigh.

Jack stops, abruptly. His hands land her on the desk as he pushes away and she realizes he’s caught up her dress. She looks into his eyes. He doesn’t want to stop.

Phryne has one bequest for him — so easy for her to give; so hard for him to accept. The same as it ever was: “Yes, Jack. Always yes.”

She invariably yearns to go faster. But it is exquisite how slowly Jack’s hand inches up her thigh. She watches him as he takes a fistful of her scarf and pulls, the fabric sliding off in a delicious caress. Oh, the things she’d like to do to him with her scarves. Or — she puts her fingers to work at the knot of his tie.

And then he reaches her dagger. Had he been thinking of the weapon all this time? She’s caught off guard by his positively wicked gaze. As he claims the knife, Phryne trembles with excitement.

Jack almost never says her name. It floats across her lips as he leans in to kiss her, so sweetly. She wants to take him, but she wants more to hold his heart. She wants to touch his cock, but she hesitates. He thrusts against her — he’s already hard. The pressure is perfect, and she moans. He does too, she’s certain. It’s quite unfair that only she’s admonished to be quiet, but she can’t mind when he whispers it so darkly in her ear.

When Jack kneels between her legs, though, she wonders if she’ll be able to obey. She wonders if he’ll do it, what it seems he might. It’s not what she’d expect of a man like him, but Jack has long since shattered her expectations. Phryne’s breath comes shallow and quick. He rubs his face on the inside of her thigh, and she knows she’s very wet. And then she feels the pinprick of the dagger and all her muscles tense.

It’s so like Jack to stay her on a knife’s edge. It’s like their every stolen moment: her the leap over the precipice and him the counterweight that catches them. Deadly serious. She loves him looking up at her, all tightly coiled feeling and desire. For him, she can be quiet. And she can be still.

Phryne watches him slide the dagger along her flesh, feels the forged and sharpened threat of the steel. She has often imagined him unhooking her suspenders. Instead, he cuts the ribbon right in two. Jack, inviting himself in. She can hardly help her little moans as his lips stroke her skin, moving ever higher up her thigh. His lips, and then the knife. She knows he won’t cut her, but she knows he could. Jack sees intimately how danger intoxicates her.

He dips down suddenly, sucking open mouthed at the hollow of her hip. His tongue flicks under the hem of her lingerie, ticklishly close to where she needs it. She rises to meet him but the blade stops her arc, pressing right at the damp crease in the silk. Just there, the point a stab of arousal at her crest. Deadly serious, her Jack. She is breathless when he gazes up at her — nearly undone.

“Careful,” he says.

Phryne wants to tell him — she’s never been more so than with him. “Always,” she says.

But when he glides the knife between the silk and her muff, slicing her knickers clean through, abandon throbs to the surface. Luckily, he doesn’t tease her. He spreads her open to him, rapturous. She is so exposed (her favorite). Wonderful man, Phryne thinks, as she murmurs his name.

For once, he doesn’t make her wait. His mouth is everywhere — too much and too little to bear. She tries to focus on the nib of his tongue, the patterns he’s etching on her flesh. His long fingers tether her to the desk, elegant and slightly rough on her skin. Her hands grasp for him, tousling his hair into curls and seizing his tie. With purchase, she steers him to the spot that makes her quake — and holds him there.

Phryne leans back on her elbow, strewn amongst the case files and office trifles on his desk. Jack reaches up and finds the curve of her breast. His fingers brush her nipple, papery light, and she has to choke a moan.

There’s magic in a locked door (perhaps that’s behind her love of lockpicks). Her parlor has no lock. Phryne can hear the occasional muted sounds of officers passing through the lobby outside. She’s certain Jack can’t — and if hooking her knees over his shoulders to clasp him to her helps to close his ears, so much the better. There’s an odd security to his professional domain, the lettered door a ward against interruptions. She doesn’t want to stop.

Still, she was instructed to be quiet. His fingers are the nearest things, so she pulls them to her mouth and sucks. A groan vibrates through each of them. Hers, because Jack is exploring her with his other hand. He flutters his fingers at her entrance in time with his tongue, drawing out the liquor as she clenches at nothing. When he pushes inside, Phryne bites down on the taste of him.

Jack is relentlessly methodical, not thrusting like most men but probing for her secrets — an interrogation. His fingers map one ley line and then another until she can’t tell how they’re every place inside her. She murmurs nonsense — mostly “yes” and “Jack,” her only words — and then, when he circles a waiting climax: “There.” He penetrates her arse, closing the circuit so that all of her thrums with Jack, Jack, Jack. The surprise and the sensation are divine, and Phryne tips over the precipice into a soaring abyss of pleasure. Only an ecstatic gasp and the surge of her hips betray her.

Afterwards, she flows off the desk and onto the floor, caught in Jack’s arms. Her legs are shaking. She pillows her head on his chest for a moment, kisses his neck where she feels his heartbeat racing.

“You hold many mysteries, Jack Robinson.”

When she looks up at him, he’s smiling serenely. “If I were predictable, I’d hardly stand a chance.”

Phryne kisses him — tasting herself, spelling schoolgirl love notes with her tongue — and manages to distract him from her hand at his fly. He is so hard, still. She has the buttons half undone when they both hear a noise from the station — an indistinct request and rummaging at reception.

Jack grips her wrist. His eyebrows draw together as if in pain. “Phryne, I can’t. Not here.”

“I know,” she says. She keeps her eyes on him, reassuring, as she reaches for the discarded scarf. He hisses but lets her work one hand into his shorts, threading the delicate chiffon underneath his cock. She ties it in a neat bow, snug enough to capture his erection.

“A promise,” she says, and tucks the whole bundle back into his pants.

“Perhaps a change of scene is in order, then?” His voice has gone gritty.

Phryne thinks of her home — right now, Dot and Hugh are probably sitting at her kitchen table, doing puzzles from the paper. “I do have quite a large house, if you recall. Perfect for all manner of modern arrangements.”

Jack raises an eyebrow. “While that venue might prove educational for some, I believe you’ve never visited my home, Miss Fisher.”

She knows full well she hasn’t, and she beams. “Is that an invitation?”

Jack stands and helps her up, buttoning his shirt and righting his crumpled tie. He adjusts the awkward bulge in his pants but doesn’t protest. He certainly deserves it — Phryne’s fussing with the tangle of her damaged lingerie. Impatient, she locates the dagger and splits her knickers up the hip in one smooth motion. Jack coughs. She leaves the dangling garter and frees the torn smalls from the intact side.

Phryne steps closer to Jack, who’s wearing a lopsided smile. “Two problems solved,” she says. Bunching up the silk, she skims it across his face, wiping any evidence from his mouth and chin. Jack watches her, his eyes filthy with devotion.

When she’s satisfied, he pulls her into an embrace, holding her against him as they time their stealth departure. Phryne feels their bodies simmering in rhythm.

She slips her knickers and her dagger into his jacket pocket. "If we’re retiring to your house, it seems only fair that I drive." She has plans for him in the Hispano. And tonight, she thinks, Jack wouldn’t refuse her anything.