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Kings and Desperate Women

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Chapter 1 - A New Junior Assistant
JOHN
John Kingsley, recently divorced, glanced over at the photo of his wife and son. It sat in a rather ornate frame toward the back of his broad desk and he was contemplating whether he should simply place a folded up sheet of paper over his ex or get a solo picture of his son,Christopher. Maybe he should cut Elizabeth out of the photo with a big, sharp, pair of scissors. He had thought about that several times but hadn’t gotten around to it. He would deal with it later. He had work to do now.

It was almost time to go on the air. He hosted a popular radio call-in show and had to get himself ready for the usual assortment of opinionated, loud, hateful, ignorant, but sometimes interesting listeners who kept him on the air. He leaned back in his swivel chair and sighed. With heavy eyelids, he pulled the phone toward him then dragged the boom for the microphone into place.

He reached out to the side toward a small table then realized what he was reaching for wasn’t there. With a snap, he pressed a button and a tired voice crackled over the intercom, “Yes, John?”

“Do I not bring in 75% of this station’s revenue each year, Peter?” His British-Irish accent was clipped and falsely lilting.

The voice sighed audibly, “What is it, John?”

“One would think that my small request for fresh ice water each morning might be honored.” John spun back and forth in his chair as he spoke. “After all, my voice is what keeps us all in the money, isn’t it?”

“One of the girls will get it to you shortly. You could have just called them directly.”

“I thought perhaps, as station manager, you could make sure the ice water is not missed in the future.”

“Sure, John.”

John gave a half grin and a snort as he clicked off. Then he narrowed his eyes as he spun and caught sight of a giant photo of himself embedded high above the door to the studio. This one had replaced the last which had been shot out with a loud blast almost a year ago. He lost his grin and balled up a piece of paper then threw it at the new photo. He wished this one would disappear as well. The paper ball barely made it three feet before it fell flatly to the ground.

He glanced back at the picture of Elizabeth and Christopher. Elizabeth had the most beautiful eyes he had ever looked into. He tore off a piece of paper and tried to hang it across her side of the photo but it kept slipping. He was interrupted when a young girl entered the room carrying a tray with a pitcher of water, a glass, and a bucket brimming with ice.

“Good morning,” she said. “I’m your new junior assistant, Lana.”

“You are, are you?” He eyed her, up and down. “Junior assistant, you say?” His voice got thick as he took in her curves and lush red hair.

“Yes sir,” she assured him.

He leaned forward with a smirk, and said, “Well, if that’s the case, assist me. Pour me a drink.” He tilted his chin towards a little bar across the room, then he narrowed his eyes. “Pour yourself one too. Nice hair.”

Lana walked over to the bar. “What would you like, Mr. Kingsley?” She looked back at him.

“Scotch and water.” He leaned back as he watched her. “Easy on the water.”

She poured the scotch then lifted the glass for him to see as she slowly poured the water. “This much?” He noted that her eyes were almost as blue as his as she looked up at him for a response.

“Very good.” He was surprised that her hands didn’t shake. Usually the girls that came in here were terrified. They talked about him out there, he knew it. And what they said was never nice.

She carried the drink to him. “Would you like a glass of ice water as well?”

“You’re a composed little thing, aren’t you?” He began gently spinning himself in the chair. “Go ahead and have that drink I offered you.”

“I’m working, Sir.”

“If you’re assisting me, Lana… Lana, correct?” He raised his eyebrows and she nodded. “If you’re assisting me, Lana, then you need to do what I say and I say, have a drink.”

“Would you like your ice water before I have my drink,” she tilted her chin down, “or after?”

He guffawed. “I’ll take it before, but then you really WILL have to have that drink.”

She poured his ice water and brought it to him.

“And what will you drink, Miss Lana? Is it Miss or Mrs?”

“Miss.”

“Good. That makes you a much better assistant.” He raised his scotch to her. “And what will you have?”

“Perhaps a cognac. This looks like a fine one.” She picked up a bottle and examined the label.

“Yes, Hine Champagne Cognac. $200 a bottle.” He smiled. “I think you’ll enjoy it. You seem like a girl who enjoys the more exquisite things in life.”

“Perhaps,” she opened it and poured a small amount then sipped. “In modest amounts.” She answered without smiling.

He laughed. “Oh, I think I’m going to enjoy having you as my assistant.” He reached for his headphones. “Now, get out of here. Take your drink with you and be on your way. I have to get on the air.”

She moved toward the door, still unsmiling as she carried her glass.

“Oh, and Lana.” He turned toward her and she looked back at him. “Come back after the show is over and assist me again.” He gazed up at her with heavy lids. “I’ll need help closing up.”

“Certainly, Sir.” She bowed her head slightly then went out the door. She was the least servile ‘servant’ he had encountered in this place and that intrigued him. Where did she come from anyway? He spun back toward the soundboard and caught sight of Elizabeth. The familiar warmth of her face hurt his heart. Perhaps he should just place the photo face down. But he couldn’t do that. He was going to have to sit there conducting business as usual, pushing out witty quips and bits of humor as he always did, all under the beautiful dark and watchful eyes of Elizabeth, her loving, innocent, and reproachful gaze ever haunting him.




LANA
Lana killed to get this job, not literally of course, but she had worked hard for it. And, yes, it didn’t hurt that her late dad’s best friend was good pals with Pete Hererra: Station Manager, Pete Herrera. Everyone networked these days. John Kingsley was the most popular talk show host in Montreal. She had been listening to him with her grandma since she was a kid. Damned if she wasn’t going to end up working in his studio. She’d had his poster in her room since the first year he went on the air and she had been dreaming about meeting the man since she was old enough to dream about men at all. The other girls could have their Donnie Osmonds and Shaun Cassidies, but Lana was fixated on Kingsley.

Pete Hererra hired her and warned her that she was not going to be happy with this job. He only hired her out of desperation. Nobody wanted to work with John Kingsley anymore. He was known for his up and down moods, his lashing out at women, at anyone who tried to attend to him or take care of his administrative needs. He was particular about the type of paper his assistants used, the size of the margins, the way they sat, talked, and hit the keys. She was told that he was completely unbearable. Pete didn’t hold out much hope that Lana would last more than a few days, especially since she didn’t have much experience. She was newly out of secretarial school. But Pete had no idea how determined Lana was and he had no idea how well researched John Kingsley had been by Lana Armitage. Just about everything she had ever gotten, Lana had gotten for herself and she was determined to get John Kingsley, one way or another.

And why wouldn’t he want someone like her? She knew she was beautiful. She had been told that time and again by a lot of people, but she didn’t need to hear it. She could see it for herself in the mirror. She was fit and curved in the right places. Plus she knew what to do with it, how to toss her head to show off her hair and to walk with just enough sway so that she was enticing but didn’t look like a whore. And with a nice coat of lipstick, her mouth could draw the eyes of any man. John was no exception today.

Still, she knew better than to make it easy. He was a man used to getting what he wanted when he wanted it. She would have to make herself more valuable than just another good looking woman. She would have to make herself into someone he would want to attain.

She smiled to herself as she sat on the bus home and thought about how the day went. She helped him close out the administrative tasks of the show but had kept it remotely professional. There was puzzlement… interest… in his face. He had asked her how she liked the cognac and she told him she had liked it very much but said nothing more. Her professional demeanor and the fact that she stood tall as they worked together sent him the message that she wasn’t going to be intimidated, yet she willingly took on every task he gave her. She was good at what she did. She excelled in school, was a quick and exceptionally accurate typist, which seemed to impress him (although she suspected he was not looking at her fingers). All in all, things went better than she had even expected.

It did not escape her, however, that Elizabeth’s photo sat there prominently on his desk, right by the soundboard, where it was a constant reminder of what he used to have. She would have to figure out a way to get rid of that. It would be one thing if the photo were of Christopher only, but why would John keep a picture of Elizabeth. After all, they were divorced now and everybody knew it was ugly. It was all over the papers. He was a cheat. But, come on, a man like John… Did Elizabeth seriously expect him to be faithful?

If John were Lana’s, she would be more understanding of him than Elizabeth apparently was. But then again, Lana would keep him so busy, he wouldn’t have any energy left for another woman. She’d drain him of every little bit though every adventurous way he could imagine. Then, if he still felt like he had to have a taste of something else, maybe she’d join him and give him a real jolt. After all, with someone like John Kingsley, you’d have to make the sky the limit. Elizabeth was a fool for leaving him. But Elizabeth’s loss would be Lana’s gain, one way or another.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2
John
John didn’t want to go home. What was home anyway? He puttered around the studio thinking of new tasks that had to be done. He had offered the penthouse to Elizabeth but she didn’t want it. Too many painful memories, she said. Being held hostage with your young son by two maniacs might do that to a person, he supposed. But he also supposed she hadn’t been that worried about the fact that he, too, had been held at gunpoint simultaneously. He punched the back of the couch as he walked by then swirled the drink in his glass.

She complained that he didn’t show enough emotion about it all. Just because he didn’t melt down like she did, didn’t mean he was “devoid of feeling.” Yes, that’s how she put it: “devoid of feeling.” She was so wrong. He was rife with feelings. Had he not read her a most heartfelt goodbye when he had decided it was the end for him? Read it, right on the air! But she accused him of playacting, performing for the listening audience. It was Elizabeth’s ultimate impression that he had pretended to be speaking to her soul, while intentionally manipulating his audience into heartbreak over his imminent demise by using his poetic but restrained words of love. Perhaps there was a bit of that, but they were words of love for her. She just didn’t appreciate it. No, she never appreciated him. Always so worried about how much he drank.

He held his glass in the air and clinked the ice cubes. Well, nobody would nag him about that now. That cute little junior assistant wouldn’t nag him about it. He smirked as he took a long gulp. No, she didn’t seem like the nagging type. He was sure he could think of a number of ways in which she could assist him and he had a distinct feeling that a tiny push in the right direction would have her assisting him in that bed he had upstairs. That loft in the studio had come in handy a number of times. Of course, it was installed under the guise of having so much work he sometimes had to spend the night here, but the “work” was generally done up there in the bed and was never done alone. Unfortunately, much to Elizabeth’s dismay, she was not the one who had been helping him with that “work.”

He poured himself another scotch and water then relaxed on the plush couch. Leaning back, he gazed out the window that overlooked the city. He should be enjoying his freedom, no one to bother him about having a few drinks before he hopped in the car, no one cramping his style at parties. He should be reveling in the ability to have an orgy up here if he wanted to and not have to worry about a wedding ring. He could have who he wanted when he wanted, no one to lean over him and say, “I want you to live a long life,” or “You’ve drunk too much, it’s not safe.” No one to give a damn what he did or how he did it. That was a good thing. He had lacked this freedom for such a long time, he had forgotten how to appreciate it. It was actually better for him to be out from under Elizabeth’s watch. Now he could have what he really wanted: lots of good sex, lots of good booze, and lots of independence.

Evening was overtaking the city as John looked out the window and soon all he could see was his own reflection peering back, light glaring behind him. He toasted his other self, raising his glass in a jaunty move and saying, “Cheers, Old Boy,” then he knocked back the rest of his drink. At least I’m not drinking alone he thought with a chuckle then he looked back at his reflection and raised an eyebrow. You’re rich, you’re famous, you’re relatively good looking… he cocked his head to the side when he thought that… yes, still good looking in spite of your age. You have the whole world out there for you. But somehow John couldn’t see much of the world past the reflection in the window, just a few headlights moving across the highway behind his face. People moving toward home, where someone would be waiting for them, maybe talking about his show and planning to call in tomorrow, laughing as they discussed a subject or pounding on their table with passion if it was about politics. There were people out there all over the city, talking to each other, having dinner together.

Well, he’d hear about it in the morning after the jovial notes of his theme song hit the air. He supposed he’d just sleep up there in the loft tonight. He didn’t want to go to the empty penthouse. Besides, the scotch was getting to him. Why bother driving the damn car? Elizabeth would be happy that he wasn’t on the road. He gave a small snort at that thought then slowly climbed the stairs to the loft. It didn’t take much to peel off his clothes then fall face down on the bed, barely making it under the covers before he passed out.


Cool fingers pulled him from his sleep. The touch became more insistent, grabbing his shoulder. “Mr. Kingsley… Sir… time to wake up.” He tried to ignore her but it wasn’t working. “Mr. Kingsley. You have to wake up.” He was still lying face down and his whole body ached.

Craning his head slightly, he squinted and looked toward her. “What? Why?”

“You have a show to do Mr. Kingsley… in an hour.” Lana’s voice was quietly stern. “I’ll be glad to go get you some breakfast, but it’s time to get up… now.” She emphasized the ‘now’ in a way that let him know she wasn’t going to leave him alone.

“Leave me alone.”

“I can’t, Mr. Kingsley. I think you know that. Now, get up.”

“You’re fired.”

“No, I’m not. You need me to get you some breakfast.” Lana almost smiled, but not quite.

“Two eggs, sunny side up with bacon. Tea with lemon. Are you ever going to smile? It would make my morning go easier.” He began to roll over.

“Toast or flapjacks?”

“Toast.” She turned to leave then paused and turned back to him. “You can get your own clothes?”

His lips turned down. “Yes, dear assistant. I think I can manage that.”

With a nod, Lana disappeared down the stairs and left to order his breakfast. He cleaned himself up and picked out a fresh shirt and pants, professionally cleaned and pressed. His clothes were perfectly fit to his body, now all he had to do was get his hair in some order. If he could erase the bags from under his eyes, he would be more than presentable, but those telltale signs of ill-care refused to leave him. He took the stairs slowly, head still hurting. He knew he had some aspirin around here someplace and he dug in his drawers until he found it, washing it down with yesterday’s ice water.

Time to get ready. He slid behind his desk and pulled out notes for the day. What the hell was he doing, anyway? Oh yes, he had a guest today, a separatist. And they were going to discuss Canada’s National Energy Program. That always caused quite a stir. People had strong opinions on the NEP and they loved to share them. It would be a doozy today. He needed a drink.

Just about that time, Lana came in bearing a tray with his pitcher of ice water. “Breakfast should be here in about five minutes, Mr. Kingsley.” She set the tray down and poured his water.

“I need a drink, Lana.”

“Scotch and water?”

“Yes, good girl.”

“Let me just check for your breakfast first. I wouldn’t want it to get cold.” She left him holding the glass of plain ice water. He stared at it for a moment then drank some. It felt good on his parched throat. He could swear he actually felt the water moving through his body, hitting parts of him that water hadn’t touched in decades. Maybe he should start the day with actual water more often.

Lana came back in with breakfast, still steaming and smelling fragrantly of bacon. “Oh, Lana, you are the love of my life.”

She gave a little smirk.

“What’s that? A smile?” Kingsley grinned as she set the plate down in front of him. “The sun just came out,” he effused.

“Shall I put butter and jelly on your toast, Mr. Kingsley?”

“I would like that, Lana.” He peered up at her. “Why don’t you just call me John.”

“That seems a bit disrespectful, Sir. I wouldn’t want to step out of my place.”

Kingsley chuckled. “I can tell by the way you hold yourself that your position does not determine the amount of respect you feel for those around you.”

“Sir?”

“John.”

“John?”

“I think you know what I mean.”

“Having to behave in a respectful manner does not always equal actually having respect. Is that what you are pointing out?”

“Exactly.”

“I respect you, Sir… John, for what you do. But I’m also very aware that you’re a man.” Her voice slid into a slight huskiness.

John leaned back a bit and put his hand on his chin. He looked up at her and tapped his lower lip with one finger. “JUST a man… or… a man.”

“A man.” Her stern blue eyes drove through his curious scrutiny.

“Interesting,” he said, “and, as my assistant, might you able to assist me with…?”

“With anything you might need.” Lana’s voice was thick.

“Anything?”

“Anything.”

“You don’t really seem like the type, Lana,” John leaned forward and began to eat his breakfast. “You don’t seem like the ‘anything’ type.”

“I’m not A type… and I’m not THE type. I’m here as your assistant, a job I very much wanted and a job I very much intend to do… well.” She reached over and spread butter on his toast then covered it with a thin layer of jelly. As she leaned, her words were spoken softly and very close to his left ear. “What you want, you’ll get. What you don’t want, I won’t bother you with.”

John felt a jolt snap through him. This was rather exciting. He hadn’t felt a zip like this in quite some time. This girl might be fun. “Go lock the door, Lana.”

She did as he asked then returned. “So, if I asked you, right here and now, to ‘assist’ me by, say, unbuttoning your sweater and taking off your bra, you would… assist me… in that manner?” He leaned back in his chair.

“Is that what you want?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “Sure.”

She reached up and undid each button on her sweater slowly enough to make his heart palpitate but quickly enough to be efficient. With almost delicate precision, she pulled the front open, revealing a red silk bra underneath. It held her breasts in place, flesh slightly protruding over the top of each cup.

John tried to keep his breath even. He wanted to appear cool about all this, even if he was having a hard time swallowing. The girl was gorgeous and here she was offering him… well… whatever she was offering him. There had to be a catch.

Lana reached behind her back and unclipped her bra then slid it forward revealing her lovely pink breasts. “You’re gorgeous, Lana.”

She gave a small smile.

“May I touch?” He raised his eyebrows.

With a nod she walked over and he put his hands on her, breakfast forgotten.

The sound of the buzzer made him jump but she stayed calm and answered. “Yes?”

“Mr. Kingsley’s guest is here.”

“I’ll be out momentarily and will show him in.”

John pulled his hands away and turned back toward breakfast. “That was very pleasant, Lana.”

“Whatever I can do, Sir.” She pulled her clothes together and gave him a small grin. “I want us to have a great working relationship.” With that, she picked up a piece of jam-slathered toast and lifted it to his lips. John took a bite and gave a cheerful “Mmm, delicious.”

Lana left him with his food and went to welcome his guest.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3
Lana

She wasn’t sure… she wasn’t sure if she had been too bold. Maybe he’d think she was a slut, but maybe not. Seeing him in that bed, all warm and sleepy, had been overwhelming for her. It was hard not to just crawl in there with him and confess that she had been insane for him most of her life… practically all of her life.

Sitting in the kitchen listening to his voice with grandma each morning had saved her after Dad died. At first, she didn’t understand all the things everyone talked about on that show. She was too young to grasp the politics and current event discussions, but she loved his voice. Anything he said with that Britishy-Irishy sing-song voice was something she wanted to hear, something she wanted to hang on to. She would laugh at the things her grandma laughed at, even when she didn’t know what was funny about them. She would nod and agree with the stuff her grandma said Kingsley was so smart about. She would yelp when Grandma slapped the table, listening to Kingsley put some snotty listener in their place. He was suave, he was cool, he was confident and witty. Lana got an autographed photo of him and cut out newspaper articles. She had things taped all over her bedroom. Of course, now that she was older, she had taken most of it off the walls and kept it all in a box under the bed, but it was still there.

And she had been listening last year when those terrorists held him hostage in his studio, a gun to his head. Already she had determined to work for him someday, but as she listened to the drama unfold, she knew she’d have to redouble her efforts to get into that studio and protect him if he made it through this ordeal.

In school she was quiet, studious, and kept to herself. She’d had a couple of boyfriends, she wasn’t a virgin. She knew her way around a man, but she never felt anything like she felt for Kingsley, and she vowed that if those terrorists didn’t kill him, somehow she was going to be with him. Yeah, he was married at the time, but everybody knew he was a player. Now, he didn’t even have his stupid wife. Now, he was totally free and this was her turn to be whatever he needed her to be. Still, she didn’t want to be too easy. With a man like him, it’d be boring. She’d have to be a little mysterious and somehow, a little harder to get than he’d think. She’d have to keep it interesting. This was just a beginning. And tonight, when she was under the blankets, grandma snoring in the next room, Lana would have to relive that moment that he touched her. She’d imagine those long fingers exploring other parts of her body, probing, wanting. She would have him someday soon. She was sure of that.

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John

Unfortunately, John had an appointment immediately after the show so he couldn’t explore this new found adventure with his “junior assistant” any further in the afternoon. He had tickets to the opera in the evening, going with a group from a local law firm, so he couldn’t even indulge in an after hours escapade with Lana. But that was okay, he thought, he was enjoying this sense of anticipation. Good grief, she was young, and she had an extremely attractive body. The feel of her breasts was still on his hands and he knew he would be thinking about that tonight once he slid under the covers and was ready to sleep… or maybe not so ready. As a matter of fact, he was noticing an extra spring in his step ever since this morning, not to mention the clever girl had completely avoided bringing him his morning scotch and water, thus her breasts had served as his wake up instead of the punch he usually got from the drink. He supposed that was a good trade off. Maybe somebody WAS looking out for him after all.

He thought he had lost all mooring when he lost Elizabeth but here was Lana, substituting herself for the booze. He liked that. He needed somebody who thought about him first. He was a self-centered bastard and he wanted to stay that way. Lana would be the perfect diversion for now and maybe for a while. It would be fun to explore exactly how much assisting she’d be willing to do.

——————————————————————-

The next morning he greeted her with a smile, taking in the way her blue skirt and blouse clung to her nice figure. “Good morning, Lana. I trust you slept well.”

“Very well, John. Thank you.” She bore the tray carrying his ice water then set it down and poured him a glass. “Here you go, Sir. Have you had breakfast?”

“No, I have not.” He lifted the glass to her in a mock toast then sipped.

“Two eggs, sunny-side up, toast, bacon? Would you like orange juice also, Sir?”

“Good memory, dear. Yes, orange juice would be wonderful. Perhaps with a bit of vodka.”

“I’ll go order your food.” She nodded and left.

John turned to his notes but it was hard to concentrate. He was wondering about what else he might get Lana to do today. How far was she really willing to go? And could he crack that stiff composure of hers. He wondered if there was a wild woman under that formal exterior. Just thinking those thoughts made his body react, much to his surprise. After years of drinking and just being his age, he was used to needing a bit more stimulation to get to this point. She was making him feel like a much younger man.

He looked up for a moment to gaze out the window. It was sunny over the city and the glare made him squint, but the clouds and sky were beautiful and raised his spirits. Things were actually quite nice in his life, overall. But the picture of Elizabeth caught his eye. He missed Christopher too. Sure, he had visitation but he didn’t know quite what to do with the child when Elizabeth wasn’t there. He had never been a very great father. The best he did was read to his son at night. He had always been good about reading to Christopher. John knew how to tell a riveting tale. But one couldn’t spend an entire afternoon reading. Elizabeth had been the stabilizer in their relationship, filling in the blanks when John didn’t know how to act or react.

He stared into her unmoving face. Those eyes always got to him. He knew people thought he only married her for her money, or because her father owned the station. But John had married her for her eyes, or maybe for the way her skin felt when he ran his hands over it. Maybe he had married her for that soft voice that could sooth his raw feelings when he thought about what a wasted life he was living. Sure, the money and position didn’t hurt, but Elizabeth had been a catch no matter how you cut it. She could have been living in a box by the gutter and he would have been smitten. It’s just that he wasn’t one to fall over a woman. He had done that once, years ago, back in his twenties and had gotten ground under her stiletto heel. Back then he had vowed he’d never let another woman grab him by the balls. And he hadn’t, not Elizabeth, not anybody. He’d made a profession out of keeping his heart at arm’s length. No one, ever, was going to tear him apart.

And he was glad he had made that emotional rule for himself, otherwise he might not have made it through that divorce. Luckily, he was able to simply have a few drinks the night Elizabeth packed a couple of bags and walked out with Christopher in tow. He kissed her cheek and wished her well then hit the scotch. He even turned on the evening news. All was calm for him as he added more ice to his glass and emptied the bottle. That’s how you do it, he thought, as he dozed on the couch. He woke up there, head askew on a throw pillow, and crawled into work the next morning, not even skipping a beat. Yep, that’s how you do it.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4 - The Kissing Rule

Lana came in with breakfast and it smelled great. There was still a good hour before he was to go on the air. He made sure to have his notes in order so that he could enjoy this prep time in a different manner. He cut the eggs with the side of his fork and tucked a bite into his mouth then sipped his coffee. “So, Lana,” he said, after a casual swallow. She was on the other side of the room, fluffing a throw pillow. “What about the rest of you?”

“The rest of me?”

“Yes.” He took another bite. “I found that it assisted me quite well to get a look at you yesterday,” he smirked as he chewed. “I had a certain glee throughout the day after that lovely morning treat.”

“I’m glad I could be of use to you, Sir.”

“John.” He lifted one shoulder as he reminded her.

“John.” She lowered her chin and looked up at him. “Is there something I can do to make your day better today?”

He waved his butter knife in the air, toast in his other hand, and nonchalantly said, “Well, if the top half of you is any indication of how great the rest of you will be, I’d certainly like a peek.” He popped a corner of toast into his mouth and raised his eyebrows.

Lana walked over and locked the studio door then she walked back and stood some distance from his desk. She was far enough from him that he could see her, top to bottom, and she pulled her blue blouse up over her head. After that, she unzipped her skirt and let it glide to the floor. She was wearing a pale slip under the clothes and she dragged it up over her head so that he could see her tiny panties and soft bra. Today it was blue, sculptured cotton. It took just moments for her to unclasp the bra and let it drop to the floor, then she slid the panties down until all that remained was her heels. She stepped out of the dropped clothes and walked over to him, then she turned slowly while he examined her.

His arm seemed paralyzed midway still holding toast as he gaped at her. His eyes were level with her midriff and he wasn’t sure whether to glance down or up so he continually went back and forth. He could hear his pulse in his ears and felt himself bulge under the cloth of his slacks.

“Go ahead, touch if you want to,” she whispered.

He dropped the toast then reached out and slid his hand between her legs. It was soft and warm with just a trace of moisture. He pulled her closer to him, burying his face in there. He knew what to do. He knew what he wanted, and he explored her with his tongue finally feeling her shiver. Yes, that composure could be broken. He reached for her breasts then looked up at her. Her lips were parted and her eyes were half-closed. She was glorious in her desire, like a pin-up queen, red hair tossed around her shoulders. He couldn’t wait any longer, he stood and loosened his pants, letting them slide to his ankles. “Come here,” he whispered, then sat back down, ready for her.

She climbed onto his lap, facing him, and positioned herself to take him in. He was ready and slid into her with ease then she began to rise and fall, pulsing around him as she pumped her thighs. He watched her breasts move with the action. Oh, this was definitely assisting him! Her pace got faster and he began to join, pushing into her. Their breathing came in gasps until both of them hit the pinnacle and she pulled everything out of him which he gave willingly. She turned her face towards his then leaned forward to kiss him but he jerked away. “Oh no,” he said, “No kisses for assistants.”

She pulled back and looked at him.

“Kisses are for love-making, not this.” He smirked. “I kiss my wife, not the women I fuck.”

“You don’t have a wife anymore,” she countered as she slid off his lap. She walked over to the bar and grabbed some Kleenex to clean herself off then she dressed quickly and efficiently. “But you do have an assistant.”

“A junior assistant.” He smirked.

“Yes,” she ground her teeth. “A junior assistant. Is there anything more I can do for you, Sir.”

“No, Lana.” He resumed his breakfast without looking at her. “Be on your way.”

She turned and went out the door.

After she left he put his toast down and leaned back in the chair. THAT certainly was interesting. He wondered if she’d even be back. He chuckled to himself. It was fun to break her down, fuck her then give her a hard time. He enjoyed destroying that perfect composure. It gave him almost as much pleasure as her incredible body. Well, he didn’t expect her to show up tomorrow. He wished he hadn't been quite so mean.

He spun in his chair and shrugged. Oh well, and he went back to his food.


Lana

Well, it was a start. He may have been an ass afterward but that was exactly what she was expecting. She had heard the stories. If he thought he was going to get rid of her that easily, he was sorely mistaken. She’d be back for more anytime he was ready. Whatever he wanted, however he wanted it, she was ready. And if he wanted to push her around when he was finished, she was ready for that too. The only thing that got to her was the kissing thing. She wanted a taste of his lips and she hadn’t heard about his kissing rule… or whatever it was. Nobody had told her about him not kissing the women he slept with. She was going to get him to kiss her, and kiss her frequently. She didn’t care what it took.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5 His Day

John

It was his day. He hadn’t really been looking forward to it. Actually, it was worse than that. He had been dreading it. It was his day to take Christopher. He didn’t know what to do with the boy. Christopher wasn’t like other children. Elizabeth knew what was wrong with him. She went to all his appointments and took him to the special school. Sure, John went to the conferences, but he had no idea what the teachers were talking about. He counted on Elizabeth to keep up with the complexities of Christopher’s condition. All John knew was that Christopher didn’t talk. Christopher just liked to draw. He drew all the time. He was pretty good at it too. Thank god for that. The boy had nothing else to go on. Fortunately, between the money John set aside for him and the healthy trust fund Elizabeth’s father set up, Christopher would be well taken care of for life, but it was good that Christopher had some sort of talent, something John and Elizabeth might be able to talk about some day. Little quips that they could toss off at a cocktail party - Yes, Christopher’s exhibition debuts next month at Boutique Soleil. He has such a unique talent. Only, he and Elizabeth wouldn’t be going to cocktail parties together anymore, would they?

He heard her delicate knock on the door. She didn’t need to do that. She still had keys, he never asked her to return them. John went to the door and swept it open.

“You could have simply let yourself in. So good to see you, Darling,” He stepped forward and kissed her cheek before she could pull away.

“Yes, you too, John.” She slid past him, steering Christopher toward the huge living room.

He closed the door and followed her, drink in hand. “Can I offer you something?”

“No, thank you. I don’t really have time.”

“Oh?” He raised his eyebrows. “Hot date?”

“I brought Christopher’s art supplies with him because I wasn’t sure if you had anything here anymore.” She pointed to the little bag she had set on the glass table.

“Where are you off to?” John sidled closer to her.

“And he hasn’t had lunch yet but won’t need to eat for an hour or two.”

“Are YOU having lunch with someone? You’re welcome to stay. I can order from that little French restaurant you always loved… Chateau Champlain, isn’t it?”

“John, please pay attention.” Elizabeth frowned and pulled the edges of her fur coat together.

“I’m paying very close attention.” He sipped his drink. “Very… lunch in an hour, maybe two. You brought his art supplies. You’re in a hurry… would you like a drink before you go?”

“John, I don’t feel very comfortable with how seriously you’re taking your visit with Christopher.”

“Then perhaps you should stay and supervise.” He moved to the couch, raised his glass then sat and leaned back.

Elizabeth bit her lip then perched on the edge of an easy chair.

“And how is the boy doing in school these days? The least you can do, Elizabeth, is update me on the child’s progress.” He peered over at her with a slight smirk.

She shifted in the chair. “He struggles, but the teachers are quite helpful. He can write up to ten, though.” She gave a little smile then looked down at the boy.

“How wonderful.” John took a long slug from his glass. “And who are you meeting today? One of his teachers?”

Elizabeth straightened up in the chair and leaned forward, “You are incorrigible, John.”

“Me?” he responded, eyes wide, glass halted midway to his lips.

“Yes, you. You never listen. You care about no one except yourself. You don’t even care about your own son.”

“How could you say that? I look forward to my bi-weekly visits with great anticipation.” He dragged out the word dramatically. “And I always cared about you, Elizabeth. I still do.” His voice was wry but he looked into his glass before he finished speaking and his grasp was tight, knuckles white.

She shook her head. “Christopher does not appreciate French food. You might simply order spaghetti or ravioli, or even send out for hamburgers. He will be happy with that.”

“I can’t interest you in staying for awhile, I guess. More important things to do?”

She stood and glanced down at Christopher. “I’ll be back before his bed time, so you won’t have to worry about that.”

“So you won’t be spending the night away?”

“Not this time.”

“Not this time?”

“There are some books in his bag. I know you like to read to him.”

“Where will you be, Elizabeth?” His blue eyes were piercing. “In case of emergency, I need to know.”

“Call my father. He’ll know.” She gave Christopher a kiss then turned toward the door.

“Have a wonderful time.” John lifted his glass and she looked back at him with tight lips then left.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6 - A Brilliant Show

When Monday morning rolled around John was at his desk early. He had gotten his notes together and figured he would have to order his own breakfast and nag somebody to bring the ice water. He shouldn’t have been so rough on Lana. There was a lot more play left in that girl and he certainly messed it up. He probably should have kept it professional anyway… but that would have been hard. She made herself very available.

He was staring into space, slowly banging a pencil eraser against his bottom lip as he pondered these things then the door clicked open and there she was carrying a tray with both his breakfast and his ice water.

“Good morning,” she greeted him crisply as she walked over, “I assumed you wanted the usual for breakfast.”

“Lana.” The pencil stopped midair.

“Yes, Sir?” She set the plate in front of him, silverware and napkin to the side. “Tea, Sir?”

“John.” He looked up at her. She didn’t meet his eyes.

“Tea, John?”

“I thought you might not be back this morning.”

“And why would you think that, John? Tea?” She lifted the small pot, still not looking him in the face.

“Yes, thank you, tea.” He continued to peer at her. “I think I may have been rather unkind to you last week.”

“Yes, Sir. You were.” She gave him a sidelong glance and he grinned.

“I apologize.” He bowed his head slightly. “Can we start over?”

“Certainly, Sir.”

“John.”

“Yes, certainly, John.”

He put his hand on hers. “I appreciate your help.” He looked up at her, his blue eyes as wide and clear as the sky outside the window. “You are a wonderful assistant and I am lucky to have you.”

She gave a little smile and a pink flush ran across her face. “Thank you, John. I always wanted to be your assistant.”

“Did you?” He cocked his head to the side. “THIS is the job you always wanted?”

“Yes.” She was a bit breathless. “Always.” She cast her eyes down. “But I suppose I shouldn’t tell you that. You’re going to think I’m an obsessed fan.”

“And are you? An obsessed fan?” He still looked at her but began to turn towards his breakfast.

She chuckled. “I suppose I am. But I promise I won’t tie you to the bed or anything.”

“That could be interesting.” He smiled up at her.

“Yes, I guess it could.” She smiled back down at him. “I’ll be back to collect your dishes.”

“Thank you, Lana. And I’ll have some correspondence after the show.”

“Certainly, Sir… John.”

He let her leave, difficult as it was. It might have been nice to have a little morning wake up with her. But he had to keep his wits about him. Still, she was a very pretty girl and certainly made it obvious she was interested. Maybe this afternoon…


He was brilliant during the show. The callers seemed extra passionate and some were quite argumentative but, somehow, John came up with a quip, a jabbing insult or a probing question to put them off balance. It was remarkable. One of his best shows in weeks.

He seemed to have a little extra pep in his responses. He knew his shows had needed more zip. It had been tough since the divorce. He hadn’t been up to par. It was noticeable. Even Peter had remarked on it. But John hadn’t really cared. He began to consider retirement. Suddenly, having Lana bouncing about seemed to give him the much needed extra energy. It was nice to be admired, especially by one so young and attractive. Someone who had their whole life ahead of them. She could have picked any sort of celebrity to pursue but somehow she had picked a two-bit local talk show host. How had THAT happened? Perhaps he wasn’t as washed-up and irrelevant as he had been feeling. Maybe he still had “it,” whatever “it” was these days.

Lana came in shortly after the close of the show. She held a pencil and her steno pad, ready for dictation.

“Come, lock the door and sit on the couch with me, Lana. I’m sure we could both use a drink.” John patted the cushion next to him. “Cognac?”

She nodded and he poured her a finger full. “Here you go, dear.” John handed her the glass.

“Thank you, John.”

He got comfortable. “Tell me about yourself, Lana.”

“Nothing really to tell, John. I’ve never done anything in my life except go to school.”

“What do your parents do?”

“Well, my father was part of the RCMP.”

“Very nice. Is he retired now?”

“No, he was killed in the line of duty.”

“I’m so sorry.” John really did feel sorry for the girl. His own father had died when he was young. That made it tough for him and his mother. They just scraped by. He made a mental note to be sure Lana was receiving decent pay for her job here. Maybe she should be promoted to assistant, not just “junior assistant.”

“And your mother?”

“She died long before him. I didn’t really know her.”

“Good grief, Lana. You’ve had a rather tough life.”

“Not really,” she peered into the cognac. “I’ve lived with my grandma most of it. She has been wonderful.” She looked back up at John. “That’s how I got to be a fan of yours. We used to listen to you every morning before school. I was late a lot.” She grinned then took a sip of her drink, eyes sparkling.

“I hate to think of myself as being a cause for truancy.” His eyes sparkled back at hers as she sipped.

“Oh, I think I turned out alright.”

“I think you did too.” He reached over and stroked her knee with one finger. “Your grandma must be very proud of you.”

Lana nodded. “Yes, she was very excited when I got this job. You’re her favorite.”

“Really?”

Lana slid a little closer to him, “Oh, yes. Definitely.”

“And you’re still a fan, even now that you’ve gotten to know me?” He drifted toward her.

“Mm hmm… even more so.” She leaned back on the couch as he slid his hand up under her skirt.

“I’m so glad to hear that.” His voice was silky as he touched her, finding her vulnerable spots. She relaxed into him and drew quick breaths. “Does that feel good?” He knew it did.

“Very good,” she whispered.

“Shall we go upstairs?”

She nodded and they set down their drinks then climbed the winding stairs to the loft bedroom. John locked the upstairs door then turned and leaned against it. “Let me watch you.” He grinned as she slowly took off her clothes. She stood there smiling back at him, letting him enjoy her body, then she reached up to unclasp her necklace but he stopped her. “No, leave that on. I like you in jewelry. Leave the bracelet on too,” then he moved forward and drew his nails gently down the front of her body. She trembled at his touch. “Did you ever think of me when you touched yourself? Back when you were a fan?”

“All the time.”

“Really?”

“Yes, and even when I was with other men, I thought of you.”

“Did you?”

“Yes, I dreamed of the day I would finally have you in me.”

That shot like lightning through John and he guided her down onto the bed almost roughly. She gasped and reached for him, tearing at his shirt. The two of them managed to get the clothes off of him in a torrent of chaos then she rubbed against him until he was ready. It took almost no time and they were rising and falling in rhythm, breath sawing into the air. He pushed himself up and looked into her eyes reaching with one hand to drag his fingers through her hair even as he still drove himself into her.

She rose to him, reaching her apex and, with it, her mouth sought his, but he dodged away even as he moaned and flooded her, feeling the intensity of her passion. When they had both finished, he dropped to her side. They lay panting for a moment, then she rolled over and slung her arm across his chest. She kissed his shoulder then reached forward to kiss his neck. “Ahhh, that was so good, Lana,” John patted the arm that lay across his chest then gently tucked it away from him and swung himself up off the bed. I’m going to take a quick shower. You’re welcome to the shower when I’m finished, if you like. I have some very high quality women’s products in there.” John walked stiffly across the floor as she watched him.

“John?”

“Yes?” He didn’t turn towards her.

“Never mind.”

He disappeared into the bathroom and the sound of pounding water filled the air. She was gone when he came out. He had forgotten to give her the correspondence but he supposed they could always get to that tomorrow.

Chapter Text

Lana
Lana knew he was brilliant. She knew he was arrogant. She knew he could be an ass. She also knew he was handsome, even at this age. What she didn’t expect was exactly how overwhelming his presence would be.

With his six foot two inch stature, his incredible stage-ready voice, those penetrating eyes, and those long expressive hands, he could sweep any woman off her feet. Lana thought she’d be prepared for that. After all, she had been “in love” with him for over fifteen years now, ever since she was about nine. But there was no preparation for how it felt when he touched her. It was like being transported to someplace outside her body, except that her body was very very much involved in the whole thing. The feel of his hands on her was better than anything she had imagined back when she had been a lonely teenager fantasizing under her sheet in the middle of the night. He made her feel like she’d never breathe again, like she might scream, or pass out, or die right there, the pleasure was so intense. No other man made her feel like that.

But afterwards, when she wanted to tell him that, when she wanted to hold him and feel his arms around her, when she wanted to see if he had felt something too, he just got up to take a shower, as if this happened to him every day.

And maybe it did. She’d have to accept that. Maybe this did happen to someone like John Kingsley. But it didn’t happen every day to her. How could she feel so full and so empty both at the same time? It didn’t matter. She wanted this again. She wanted it as soon and as often as she could get him to touch her.


John

John toweled off his hair then selected fresh clothes. He’d have to go back to the penthouse tonight. He couldn’t sleep here again. Maybe some time he’d invite Lana. She’d probably be awed by the view. He was sure Lana had never seen anything like the penthouse.

Unlike Lana, Elizabeth had grown up in places even fancier. The penthouse was nothing to her, almost an inconvenience. John was the one who had wanted to live in the city. What it might have been like if he had been more willing to commute. Would Christopher have done better in the suburbs?

Ah, what did it matter? Christopher was barely his problem now. He only saw him once every couple of weeks. When Elizabeth and Christopher lived at the penthouse, Christopher was sometimes under foot with his pencils and paintbrushes everywhere. The child was quite a Picasso. And Elizabeth would hang Christopher’s silly drawings in the kitchen or in John’s den, her eyes all shiny and excited.

“Look, John, look at what talent he has!” she’d say, her lovely face aglow. And John could barely turn toward the picture because he’d be so caught up looking at Elizabeth.

Elizabeth was a phenomenal mother. Her patience was never ending. He had to give her that. And he supposed her patience was almost never ending with him as well. John knew there were times when he could be a bit trying. There were parties at which John might overindulge and Elizabeth didn’t like that but he did it anyway. Then she’d look across the room at him and she’d have that frown. She wouldn’t know he saw it, but he liked it. He liked to see her worried about him.

What he didn’t like was when the other men gravitated to her with their sympathy. He could read their thoughts. “Oh, poor Elizabeth, gentle little thing married to that dog, John Kingsley. She could have done so much better than that.” He could see it in their faces as they floated around Elizabeth so, of course, he’d saunter over to her and drape himself across Elizabeth’s shoulders, reminding them of exactly who owned her. Well, maybe “owned” wasn’t a good word, but they needed to remember that he had caught her and he didn’t intend to let go.

But, somehow, he had.

John found his way downstairs from the studio bedroom loft. Yes, somehow he had let her go. She twisted that long dark hair up into a chignon, put a scarf around her neck, picked up her little suitcase and walked out, Christopher’s hand soundly clutched in hers. “I’ll send for my things,” she told John. He remembered that day and could still hear her voice echoing like a bad dream. “You are devoid of feeling, John. You show no emotion,”she said. She was wrong.

“Bitch,” John mumbled as he poured himself a drink. He plopped three ice cubes in the glass then swung it lightly in the air. “Here’s to the bitch,” he said, then he sat down on the couch and stared into the brown liquid morosely. He acknowledged to himself that Elizabeth could never be considered that horrible word. She was the best thing that ever happened to him.

But he wasn’t going to think about that now.

What did he care? He took a huge slug of his drink. He had that new junior assistant to play with. The girl with the red hair and the nice breasts. She was hot, she was ready, she was there to please him and he was going to make sure she did, in any and every way he wanted. He didn’t need Elizabeth. She just dragged him down. He had that assistant… that assistant… Lana. What did he need Elizabeth for?


And Lana was there for him every morning even before he got there. And if he slept at the studio, she was there to shake his shoulder, the scent of her perfume breaking into his dreams. He would sometimes reach out and drag her under the sheets with him, enjoying her happy giggles and her quick willingness to shed her clothes and have a sunrise pick-me-up. Morning was a good time for him. It seemed like he was always ready when he woke up and it seemed like she was always willing when he was ready, an extremely convenient situation for both of them. He had never seen a woman explode so quickly with just one touch or even just a lick or a hot breath in the right place. And he knew just the right places. Sometimes the ease with which he could get her started (and finished) would make him chuckle. He felt powerful, confident, eager to see what else she might like.

At the same time, dodging her kisses and holding part of himself back from her gave him a perverse pleasure. Seeing the blue in her eyes go a little darker and sensing the vacuum in the air after he got out of bed made him all the more anxious to have her again later. It was a delightful game that he loved to play. He’d pull her into bed, laugh with her, cuddle her, tell her how beautiful she was (and she was beautiful), then he’d take her, hard.

Afterwards he’d roll off, wash up and act as if she was just an assistant again. He loved to see her eyes in those moments, loved to see her naked body as she drew the sheet higher to cover herself, as if she was suddenly aware of her vulnerability. Her smile would droop and she’d pull her knees up under the covers, almost protectively. When she did that, he’d have the most powerful urge to spread her knees apart and take her all over again just because he could. But he’d force himself to hold back. Maybe some time he would actually do it. Somehow, he wanted her to know that she had no protection from him. That he would do what he wanted to her, when he wanted, and how he wanted. That was their deal. He could tell she was in, deeper and deeper each time they were together and he liked it that way. He wondered just how far she would go with this.

Chapter Text

Chapter 8 - That Was Elizabeth's

Everybody knew the show was terrific these days. There was even buzz in the local papers. John hoped Elizabeth was taking note of it. She should see that he wasn’t collapsing under the weight of their divorce. He was doing quite well, thank you.

Peter (the station manager) was pleased with the situation as well, although none too pleased about what was going on with Lana and had made a half-hearted effort to talk with John about her. After all, Lana was the daughter of his best friend’s deceased brother, but John skimmed him off, assuring Peter that Lana was a lovely girl and that he was taking good care of her. John wasn’t worried about Peter bothering him any further. And why would he? Good god, Lana was not a child. She was a twenty-four year old woman, an adult. Lana knew what she wanted. John smirked thinking about that. Yes, she certainly knew what she wanted. She wanted him. And here she was, bringing him breakfast and ice water again… and tea, just the way he liked it.

“Oh, Lana, my dear… my darling… how did I live life before you!” He was generously effusive.

Lana’s smile was broad as she spread out his breakfast in front of him then poured his tea.

“Hmmm,” John looked up at her. “What is that I see on your arm?” He eyed the bangle she wore on her tricep. It accentuated her toned arm. “Very appealing.”

“It’s called an arm cuff.” Lana glanced down. “Do you like it?”

“Very much.” He turned toward his eggs. “It’s going to be hard to focus on the show. I’ll be thinking about you… wearing that arm cuff.” He took a bite then turned his gaze to her, “and not wearing anything else.”

Lana blushed and smiled. Her hands trembled just slightly. He loved that. He slid his nails down the inside of her wrist and she gave a little gasp. She was an adorable puppet in his hands. “Lana,” he scolded, “you’re a terrible distraction. You’ll be the ruin of me.”

“Oh, John, finish your breakfast and I’ll come back to get your dishes before you go on the air.”

“You’re amazing, Lana. The light of my life.” He blew her a kiss and a brief shadow passed across her face. He knew how much she wanted to put her lips on his and these false kisses bothered her. But she forced a smile as she bowed out.

After the show they locked the doors and headed up the little staircase to the loft. He leaned back on the bed while she slowly peeled off her dress, leaving her arm cuff in place as he requested. She also left on her heels and strolled across the room to him, putting one knee up on the bed and leaning forward as if to kiss him. He put his hands on her shoulders and held her back. “Let me look at you,” he said, and she sat back. He reached out and stroked her hair, pushing a few wild strands off her face, then he drew the back of his hand very lightly down the side of her cheek. She shivered and half closed her eyes. He continued down her neck with the light touch, then down her chest and over her breast loving the way her body responded. She swelled at his touch and her body leaned into him. His hand moved further down, down her belly and into her warmth, probing and exploring. She opened herself to him and he watched her face as he got the response he wanted. “Look at me Lana.” She opened her eyes, so blue he felt as if her feelings were pouring out of them, so blue he believed she was falling into him. “Are you mine?” His gaze was deep and he smiled just a bit.

She nodded, “Yes.” It came out as a whisper.

“Are you sure?” he asked, still looking into her eyes while he touched her more feverishly.

“Yes,”she groaned.

“I don’t know if I believe you,” he teased.

“I am,” she sighed, “I am yours, forever.”

“Do you promise?”

“Yes, yes… I promise,” she moaned and her eyes closed, her head tilted back.

“Look at me.” He watched her force her head up. She did as he asked and met his gaze through half-closed eyes.

“Can I do anything I want with you?” His touch was insistent, frenetic.

“Anything.” Her body rose and fell with the movement of his hand.

“Anything at all?”

“Yes,” she nodded.

“Good girl,” and he sent her off into a spiral of pleasure that had her crying out to him, grabbing his arm and clawing at him, but he didn’t stop until he was sure she could take no more and only then did he pull his slacks down and let her take him in her mouth, insanely pleasuring him as he pushed his fingers through her hair. He exploded into her all the while wishing that Elizabeth had done this more often, thinking of Elizabeth’s mouth on him and how it would have felt to have Elizabeth’s hair wrapped in his hands. The image made him collapse even further into the power of his peak and he leaned forward, nearly pushing Lana onto her back with his thrusts. She threw her arms around him, her hands gripping his rear as she pulled his body even closer, urging him further until he groaned and fell to the side. “That… that,” he said with closed eyes, “was very satisfying.”

Lana crawled up by him and snuggled close to his chest. “Did that feel good?”

“Oh, very good.” He opened his eyes half way. “And, as a special treat, would you like to come to my penthouse for dinner, Lana.”

Her eyes were full of light when she looked up at him. “Yes, that would be wonderful.”

“As soon as I regain my strength,” he smiled, “We’ll leave.”

Of course, Lana was overwhelmed by the view from the living room window. It was especially beautiful at night when one could see the lights of the city. John ordered from Chateau Champlain, which impressed Lana, and he served her favorite cognac.

He didn’t think he had it in him but, after dinner, Lana was kneeling in front of him with her face in his lap making him groan and rise and fall and explode all over again. He knew he’d sleep well tonight. He was ready to call a taxi for her but she insisted on cleaning up the dishes first. Always an assistant, he guessed. He gave her a hug before she left along with a fifty to cover the cost of the cab. A man could get used to this life… even the vacuum of silence that settled in around him once she was gone. Perhaps next time he’d have her spend the night.

Perhaps not. That side of the bed was Elizabeth’s

Chapter Text

Chapter 9 A Bonus

Lana
He took her to his place… to his house. Well, his penthouse. And what a penthouse! She had never seen anything like it. It was bigger than any stand-alone house she had ever been in. There were so many rooms, she wanted to explore the whole thing but only got to see the living room and kitchen. Oh man, she wanted to see the bedroom so badly… and she would, she would make sure of that!

And he was so beautiful there. He fit the place. Sitting on that luxurious couch, eating that expensive food, just talking about things. He was so confident, so relaxed. Lana believed she really was in love with him. This was not just some childhood crush anymore. This was true love. It gave her whole body a rush of heat just thinking about his body slung across the furniture, those hands holding a little glass of cognac. He was sophisticated and smart, worldly and rich. It seemed like he knew everything and he could make love. Oh, the way he touched her… the way he felt… the things he said and the way he took command. He made her want to do anything he asked, give him everything she had.

She had never really cared for oral before. It wasn’t comfortable or fun to have a guy’s “thing” down your throat. She never understood the girls who got into that. Her only reason for ever doing that stuff was to practice in anticipation of someday doing that for John Kingsley (which she had suspected would always remain a fantasy). Now she was glad she had practiced. And she also realized that doing it could be a joy if you were doing it to somebody you loved, if you were doing it to somebody whose pleasure was even more important than your own.

And by the time she was swallowing him up, he had spun her off to another universe. He had given her physical pleasures that she hadn’t known existed and put her in a place where she wanted him inside of her again and again and again. The way he filled her was incredible and even the thought did things to her insides, released hormones to the point where she could swear little hearts were dancing around her head, like a cartoon. There was never another man like him. He was the most wonderful human being to ever exist. But, more than anything, she wanted to taste his lips. She wanted him to put his mouth over hers, passionately, and kiss her as if she was someone important to him, as if he needed her as much as she needed him. That one missing piece was piercing her. Still, she’d take whatever she could get. If he was strict about this no-kissing rule, she’d have to live without his lips, wouldn’t she? Maybe someday, maybe if he ever fell in love with her. Maybe it was sweet that he saved his kisses for love. For now she’d wait, as long as she could get everything else.


John

He had done it. He had gotten the Carling O’Keefe sponsorship for his show. It was huge dollars with an enormous bonus for him and he had done it single-handedly. The show was going so well right now that he had several bigger companies looking to sponsor him. Ratings were higher than ever. The temporary lull after his divorce was officially over. He knew exactly how he was going to celebrate this.

First he spun Lana around in the air when she arrived in the studio that morning then, after the show, he gave her the rest of the day off. She seemed a little disappointed at his dismissal until he gave her a hundred dollar bill and told her to go get her hair done and get prettied up, he would call her later. Then he was off to Hemsley’s, one of his favorite jewelry stores. After some deliberation, he picked out an elegant diamond bracelet woven in gold to be sent to Elizabeth. He included a note letting her know that he appreciated her contribution to his success. That set him back over five thousand dollars and he examined it with satisfaction imagining Elizabeth’s delight when she opened it. She had always admired diamonds.

Next, he picked out a gold herringbone bracelet with a small diamond heart for Lana which was more economical, coming in at a mere $725. He had that wrapped but decided to take it to her rather than to send it to her place. He went back to the studio to put some things in order then went to administration to find Lana’s address. He grinned as he thought of the surprise on her face when he showed up at her door bearing gifts. He was feeling rather magnanimous after receiving his bonus and thought he might take her someplace nice for dinner. When he got to her house, however, she had not returned home yet. Her grandmother answered the door and appeared dumbstruck at the sight of him.

“Why, you’re… you’re… come in Mr. Kingsley… come in. Lana should be home any minute.” Lana’s grandma pulled back the door and waved John inside.

“Please, call me John.”

The grandma tittered a bit then led him inside and offered him some coffee. “Might you have some tea?” he inquired.

“Certainly,” and she set the kettle on. “Please, sit down. I have some biscottis if you like.”

“Thank you. It is wonderful to be so nicely welcomed. What a lovely home.” He glanced around the kitchen. All was quite modest. Well, even less than modest. The place was bare but, at least, clean. It could have used a coat of paint and the appliances looked as if they were older than the grandma. The old lady must have struggled to raise the girl. He caught sight of an ancient radio in the corner. “And is that how you listen in the mornings?”

“It sure is.” She smiled at him. “Every morning for the past seventeen years. Ever since the first day you went on the air.”

“I’m flattered.” He lowered his head. “I don’t often meet someone so dedicated.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t miss a show… nor would Lana… before she got the job with you, that is.” She stood up and poured the now-hot water over a tea bag then put a biscotti on a plate for him. “It certainly is a privilege to have you come to our house. I couldn’t believe it when I saw your Rolls Royce outside. It’s breathtaking.”

“Well, I feel very blessed to have a few nice things.” John took a sip of the tea. “But you are quite blessed to have such a lovely granddaughter. Lana is smart and hardworking.”

“Yes, she is, isn’t she? We’re all very proud of her.”

“You’ve raised her well.”

“It wasn’t easy, Mr. Kingsley. It truly wasn’t.”

“Please, call me John.”

“John.” She shook her head. “We had to scrape by, her and me, after her father died. But we did it.”

“What a testimony to your strength.” John reached out and covered the old woman’s hand with his. Her cheeks filled with color.

“You’re such a great man, Mr. Kingsley. You’re clever and knowledgeable about so many things.” She shook her head. “I can’t believe you’re really here, sitting at my table.”

John smiled. “It is my privilege, Ma’am… but”

“Yes?”

“You haven’t told me your name,” and he chuckled.

“Oh my! I haven’t, have I? It’s Sophie.” Sophie laughed with him, “Sophie Armitage.

“Well, Sophie Armitage, it is my privilege to be sitting at your table.” He gave a modest nod. About then they heard a key in the front door and looked over to see Lana enter.

“John! I thought that was your car.” She laughed, “Nobody around her drives a Rolls.”

“Lana, I’ve been having a wonderful time chatting with your grandmother.” John rose from his chair and gave Lana a formal embrace.

“I hope she treated you well.”

“She was a beautiful hostess. She gave me tea and biscuits.” He beamed down on Sophie.

Sophie’s eyes glowed. “Now I see why you love working with him so much.”

Lana hooked her arm through John’s. “He is a wonderful boss.”

“You’re going to like me even better in a moment.” John’s smile was mischievous.

Lana looked up at him. “Why?”

“I brought you a little present. I managed to snag the Carling O’Keefe sponsorship today and with it I got a bit of a bonus.”

“Oh, John, that is just terrific. I know how important that sponsorship was to you.” Lana’s eyes brightened.

“Yes, and you had a lot to do with it.”

“Oh, not at all. I just stood in the background.” She waved her hand.

“And supported me all the way. So…” he reached into his coat pocket, “here’s a little something for you,” and he pulled out the long rectangular box and handed it to her.

Lana took the box with gentle hands and wide eyes. She stroked the lid carefully, shoulders raised in excitement. “What is it?”

“Open it,“ John told her.

With a huge smile, Lana lifted the lid, “Oh my god, John. How could you do this? It’s so beautiful.” She held up the bracelet to the light. “I’ve never owned anything so glorious in my life. Look Grandma,” and she brought it over to Sophie and stretched it out so Sophie could catch the sparkle.

“It’s fabulous,” Sophie’s voice was almost a whisper.

“It’s amazing, John.” Lana draped it over her wrist and came over for John to fasten it. “How can I ever thank you?”

He clasped the bracelet. “Come to dinner with me.”

Lana laughed. “That’s hardly a thank you.”

“It would be my pleasure to take you out.”

“Well, I would be more than happy to go.”

He extended his arm and she grabbed it. “I will return her in one piece and take very good care of her until then,” he called over his shoulder to Sophie.

“I trust you.” Sophie laughed. “Have a good time, you two.”

John took Lana out to the car, leaving behind his unfinished tea and untouched biscotti.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10 If You’ve Got Something to Say…

John
It was the weekend and John was jarred out of his sleep by the jangling ring of the telephone. He swore that he’d move the thing out of his bedroom but he was afraid the boy or Elizabeth would have some sort of emergency and need him. After a few misses, he was able to grab the receiver without having to open his eyes.

“Yes?” His voice came out in a slur.

“John, is that you?”

“Yes, Elizabeth?” His eyes opened and he sat up, swinging his legs over the side of the bed. “Is everything alright?”

“Of course, John, it’s ten-o-clock in the morning. Were you still sleeping?”

“I had a late night.”

“Were you drinking? Oh, never mind. It’s none of my business what you do anymore.”

John could almost see the turn of her head and the droop of her eyelids. He knew the expression that went with that tone.

“I’ll always be your business, Elizabeth.” His tone was sing-song. “After all, I send the support checks every month, don’t I?”

“John.”

“And you needn’t worry. In case you haven’t noticed, business is going very well.” His lips twisted.

“That’s what I was calling about.”

“What were you calling about, Elizabeth?”

“I wanted to let you know that I sent back the bracelet you bought.”

“You sent it back?” John frowned. “You didn’t like it? You can always pick out another.”

“It’s not that, John. As a matter of fact, it was beautiful. You’ve always had excellent taste… in jewelry, at least,” she paused, “but I think the money would be better used in Christopher’s trust fund. It’s not appropriate for you to be sending me jewelry any more.”

“Well… I didn’t send it like that… inappropriately,” he rolled the word over his tongue. “Don’t get the wrong message. I was simply expressing my appreciation for any small contribution you might have made to my current success.” John stood up and paced as far as the phone cord would allow.

“If you have a message intended for me, you can write it or, better yet, call.”

“I thought a gift might be a better expression of my feelings.”

“If you have something to say to me, John,” her voice was gentle, almost sad, “I’d rather hear it in words. Anything you might want to tell me.”

The line was silent.

“John?” She waited. “Are you still there?”

“I’ll put the money in Christopher’s account, Elizabeth, just as you asked.”

“That would be my preference.”

“Good as done.”

“Are you alright?”

“Of course, I’m alright. Life is wonderful.”

“Okay, I’ll see you Wednesday night when I bring Christopher.”

“Yes, until then.” He hung up the phone quietly.

He supposed he should shower and get started on the day. He wasn’t going to let this damn conversation hang over him. If Elizabeth didn’t want the jewels, she didn’t have to take the jewels. He’d be glad to put the money in Christopher’s account. That’s probably what he should have done in the first place. How stupid he was to even think about giving Elizabeth a present. Of course, she took it the wrong way. He wasn’t interested in anything “inappropriate” with her. He was busy with the red head, that young girl, Lana. She was hot, she did things to him that Elizabeth didn’t really care for. Elizabeth was never so eager to suck on him like the red head did. No, he didn’t need Elizabeth for “inappropriate” things. Lana did plenty of inappropriate things. How outrageous it was of Elizabeth to imply, to even think, that’s what the gift was all about. If he wasn’t so anxious to shower and call Lana, he’d phone Elizabeth right now and tear into her with his indignation.

Except he knew he would never do that… because maybe there was a small slice of truth in what she had said. Still, SHE didn’t KNOW that. She could only guess at it, just as she always guessed at everything about him. And she had always guessed so well. She knew things she should have never known. But that had made it easy to live with her. She understood him. When others looked at her with pity because she was married to “that jerk, Kingsley,” John knew that Elizabeth saw past his exterior. Elizabeth saw what was buried deep inside. He didn’t HAVE to say it. Why, all of the sudden, was she asking for words? Wasn’t jewelry enough? Why did she have to change things? Everything had gone smoothly for the last twelve years then suddenly, those terrorists changed his life. Not in the way that was expected. He thought that he was done for, that he would die at the end of a shotgun. And he half felt as if he deserved it. After all, if he hadn't been enticed by that brunette, he would have never ended up alone in the studio with that woman and her fanatic. His death would have been just reward for his many infidelities. And by the end of the ordeal, he was prepared to be blown to bits as he strolled out the door. That’s why he had given his veiled declaration of love to Elizabeth. He wanted her to know.

Of course, he wanted the world to remember him too. He had performed his declaration, as an actor. But that didn’t mean he was’t sincere about each word he had spoken. The event had splintered their status quo, though. He could feel it. Elizabeth wanted something, expected something…

Well, he needed to take a shower, but maybe first he’d have a drink. That conversation got him down. Damn her. Why did she have to start his day like this? He had been on top of the world and now he felt like someone kicked the breath out of him. He’d be in a mood all day long because of her.

John staggered down to the living room and poured himself a scotch. He downed the shot then took another. That was better… maybe a third and he’d be able to face the shower.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11 - Make Me Feel Better

Lana

John called her into the studio. It was unusual to work on a Saturday afternoon but she was glad to do it… maybe it wouldn’t be all work. Lana smiled. As a matter of fact, maybe it wouldn’t be much work at all.

She struggled, trying to decide whether to go with the bracelet he gave her or with the arm cuff. Eventually, she decided on the bracelet. She knew he found the arm cuff sexy, but she wanted him to know how much she appreciated the bracelet. She’d find some other ways to spice herself up for him. Every part of her body was cleaned up, softened, perfumed, as appealing as she could possibly make it. She considered herself a presentable gift to be spread before the man she adored. And she was ready to spread.

Humming a little tune, she waved goodbye to Grandma, then headed for the bus. The usually aggravating ride was eventless and easy on the weekend. She hopped off at the corner by the studio but when she got to the office, she could tell John’s mood was dark.

“Fix me a drink, Lana.” John sat at his desk, staring into space.

“Okay,” she nodded and headed toward the bar, shedding her coat. “Scotch and water?”

“No water.”

“Alright,” she gave him a sidelong glance. “Are you okay, John?”

He glared at her. “Don’t I look okay?”

“Well, no… frankly, you don’t.” She brought the drink over to him.

“Oh…” He wasn’t used to an honest response and had to grapple with that for a moment. “I’m not okay.” He spun gently from side to side in his chair. “I’ve not been having a good day.”

She nodded sympathetically. “Is there anything I can do?”

He took a sip then looked up at her with those eyes. That’s how she framed it when she thought about his face. He had “those eyes.” There were times when he looked at her and his blue eyes had such a light behind them that the glow nearly lit his brow. When he looked at her with “those eyes,” she went weak in the knees, an old phrase that she now completely understood.

“Lana, you are my angel.” She peered down at him. “Will you come and make me feel good?” He reached out to her and she moved closer. He guided her down between his legs. She knew what he liked. She knelt so that her face was near his waist, then she unzipped him and began to massage. The little sigh he gave was reward enough. She leaned forward and took him in her mouth, first slowly, then more rapidly. To increase the pleasure, she’d stop now and then, licking and kissing, reveling in the sound of his moans, and his tight grasp on the arms of the chair. Sometimes he’d reach forward and push her head closer into him. When he did that, she made it more intense and she would wrap her arms around his thighs and clutch him, forcing him deeper into her throat in ways she had read about, practically choking herself in order to be sure he had maximum pleasure. She could tell by the way his hips rose and fell that his mind was no longer on his problems and it warmed her to know she had the power to relieve this heavily burdened man of whatever it was that haunted him. Finally, he exploded into her mouth and she kept him going even as the pulsing slowed and he collapsed into the chair. Only when she was sure that he was utterly spent, did she finally pull away.

He seemed completely relaxed then. He slumped back into the chair, a blissful smile spread across his face, eyes closed, a golden glow on his skin. “Oh, Lana,” he whispered, “that was better than scotch.”

She giggled.

“Just let me rest for a minute,” he told her, “then we will see what we might be able to do for you.” He half opened-one eye and raised an eyebrow as he looked up at her.

“You can rest as long as you need to,” she cooed, then inserted herself into his lap. His arms circled her and she leaned down, her lips coming close to his. At that, he raised his hand and pushed her away, albeit gently.

“No,” he said. “No kisses. Kisses are special.”

A frown passed across her face. “I thought I was… special.”

“Don’t whine, Lana. I hate whiners.” John sat up and, in doing so, inadvertently pushed her off his lap.

“I’m not whining. I just thought…”

“Well, that was your first mistake.” He tossed back his scotch. “Don’t think.”

She bit her lip.

“Let’s,” he began, “go upstairs and see if I can make YOU feel good now.” He gave her a heavy lidded grin. “How does THAT sound?”

“Fine.” She followed him up the winding staircase, shoulders drooping and when she got to the top he told her to take off her clothes. Without looking at him, she peeled off her blouse and skirt, then removed her bra and panties. He lay on the bed the whole time, one ankle crossed over another, a smirk on his face.

Chapter Text

Chapter 12 - Night at the Opera

“You look gorgeous.” He raised his hands and applauded her. “Every time I look at you, you are more beautiful than the last.”

Lana glanced up at him, her chin still down.

“Lana… are you… pouting?” His eyes were wide but he continued to smirk.

“Why are you so mean to me?” She put her arms in front of her body and walked over to him.

He leaned forward and first took one arm, pulling it away from in front of her, then he took the other and gently forced it to the side. He kissed the soft flesh of her belly and trailed more kisses down her body, interrupting the process by saying, “I will make it up to you now.” He grabbed her hips and yanked her towards him then pressed his face into her warmth, doing things that made her groan. Truly, her knees went weak so that he had to support her body then lie her back on the bed while she nearly sobbed, begging for him to finish her. Instead, he just grinned and kept her going, made her continue to beg and claw at him until, at last, he brought her to completion. Then he quickly readied himself and slid into her.

This was everything the books had promised. Lana nearly screamed with passion. The man she loved, pouring everything into her, giving her all of himself. She wrapped her legs around him and lifted her body, taking as much of him into her as she could, clinging and moaning, tearing gently into his back, biting his neck, wanting, craving. She needed to kiss him and her lips sought his but his face was always to the side or upward. She fought to open her eyes and enjoy the sight of him, the tousled hair, the beautiful cheekbones, the reality that she was with him - John Kingsley - the man she had desired all her life. A kiss… his mouth on hers, but he was always too far away. If she lifted her shoulders enough to steal a kiss, his face was turned or too far upward. Her lips would simply land on his neck or his chest or his shoulder. Someday, she told herself, someday.

When he was finished, John fell off of her and lay on the bed. She loved the look on his face, it was almost angelic. He was handsome even at this age and she had seen photos of him from before, when he was much younger. How could any woman survive a man like him? And how could Elizabeth have divorced him? Lana was ready to make love to him all over again, just from looking at his face. She drew little circles on his chest and belly as she watched him.

“Mmm that feels good.” His voice was languid so Lana snuggled down into him. He echoed as her ear pressed into his chest. “I wish I could stay and enjoy it.” He said and began to pull himself to his feet.

Lana half sat. “Why? Where are you going?”

He stood up then leaned over her and stroked her hair. “I have opera tickets tonight, my dear. Some old friends are expecting me.”

“Opera?”

“Yes.” He walked toward the shower.

Lana pulled her knees up and circled them with her arms. “I’ve never been to the opera. Is it nice?”

“It’s beautiful,” he said. “I’ll have to take you some time.” He left the door open and she heard the water start to run.

She wrapped the sheet around her as she got up and followed him into the bathroom. “Are you taking somebody?” Her voice was tiny.

“No,” he chuckled, “I am not taking anybody.”

“Oh.”

“Say,” he peeked out at her, “Would you like to wait here for me. It shouldn’t be a late night and maybe we can…” he shrugged his shoulders, “whatever, afterwards.”

Lana nodded. “Okay.”

“You can order something to eat while I am gone,” he called from behind the curtain, “anything you want… there’s money in the top drawer… you know where.”

“Thanks.” She wandered back into the bedroom and looked at his bookshelves. As he showered she pulled out a few books and thumbed through them. Finally deciding on one, she brought it back to the bed with her.

He came out of the bathroom toweling himself dry. He headed toward the closet but glanced over at her. “Into poetry, I see?”

“Yes, this is really good.”

“I’m glad you’re enjoying it.”

The tuxedo fit with precision, the shoes shone blindingly, he seemed even taller than usual, overwhelming. John was past handsome once he was ready to go. Lana got up to hug him, the stiff material grazed her skin and she wanted nothing but to wrap herself around him. He had to take her arms and push her lightly away. “You’re making it very difficult to leave,” he chided her with a grin. She noted a most definite bulge in his crotch.

“Good. Maybe you’ll come home sooner.”

“Oh, assuredly.” He smiled down on her. “I will see you after the fat lady sings, as they say.” He raised his eyebrows, clicked his heels and was out the upstairs door. She locked it behind him.


Even though he said he’d be back soon, at 11pm Lana’s eyes were drooping and by midnight she drifted off. She was awakened by voices outside the same door she had locked and when she glanced over at the clock, she saw it was 2am. In a moment, she heard the key jiggle and the door popped open, John staggered in, his arm draped over the shoulders of a dark haired woman who was wearing a fur. For a moment, Lana thought it was Elizabeth but when her eyes came into focus, she realized it was just some other young woman, no one she’d ever seen before. Lana pulled the sheet up over her bare chest.

“Lana,” John held a bottle in his right hand. He leaned heavily on the girl and waved the bottle in the air. “Meet Emily.” He swung down to look Emily in the face. “It’s Emily, right?” and the girl nodded confirmation. “Yes,” he said again, “Meet Emily.”

Lana just stared.

“Oh, Lana.” John chided her. “Emily is a very nice girl. Why are you so quiet?” He staggered to the side and set the bottle down, then he staggered back to Emily. “Please, Lana, let’s welcome Emily into our little home from home.” His words were slurred and he wrapped his arms around Emily. “Lana,” he said, with one eyebrow raised. “Watch this.” John leaned into Emily and she staggered a bit along with him then raised her face to his. He pushed his mouth over Emily’s and his head moved with the passion of the kiss he gave her. After a moment, the two parted. “What do you think of that, Lana?”

Lana pulled her knees up and clutched the sheet to her. She blinked a few times.

“Didn’t you see it, Lana?” And he leaned down and pressed his lips against Emily’s once more, gave a little moan and said, “Oooh, that tastes so good.” He kept the kiss going and, as they kissed, he pulled Emily toward the bed.

Lana yanked the sheet and stood up, wrapping herself in it as she had done earlier. “I’m leaving.” She stalked around the edge of the bed and moved to pass the couple but John reached out with one hand and grabbed her by the hair.

“No, Lana. I want you to watch.” He held her by the hair, forcing her face toward them as he rolled his mouth across Emily’s. Lana saw his tongue move between Emily’s lips and he pushed it into Emily’s mouth, probing and passionate. Eyes closed, he drew the kiss out, almost sagging from the intensity yet hanging tightly to Lana’s hair as he forced her in place.

“Let me go, John.” She struggled and tears began to streak down her face. “Let me go.” She reached up and grabbed at his wrist, but he just pulled tighter.

“No, I want you to see this. It feels sooo goood,” he stretched the words out as he looked at her sideways. He kept his eyes on hers while he kissed Emily over and over again, the sounds of the kisses filling the room. After a few minutes he pulled his face away and frowned. “Oh, Lana, you’re upset. What’s wrong? Do you want to kiss her too?” Then he forced Lana’s face into Emily’s. “You’re always harping on how much you want to kiss.” Lana turned her face away and squirmed trying to escape him. “Come on, Lana. Stop your complaining. Start your kissing.”

“I hate you, John. I hate you!” Lana’s voice was choked. “You have no feelings.” She pulled against his grip. “You are… completely… completely devoid of feelings,” she screamed and he suddenly let go.

He peered at her, mouth slightly agape. “Get out of here, Lana.” Then he looked over at Emily. “You too… get out of here.” He stumbled over to the bed. “Couple of sluts.” He fell face down on the bed and lay there. Lana and Emily just stood and watched him for a moment, then Lana pushed Emily out the door and locked it. Finally, she tiptoed around the room, gathering her clothes as she sniffed and wiped her face with the back of her hand. She glanced back at John, then she reached down to her wrist, carefully removed the bracelet and put it on the dresser. Grabbing her purse, she tiptoed down the circular stairs and left the studio.

Chapter Text

Chapter 12 - Remorse
John

His head was throbbing. No, it was worse than throbbing. And his clothes dug into him as he rolled over. The light was painful. His entire body was in pain. And everything hurt even more horribly when he sat up. John pushed himself off the bed and staggered toward the bathroom. He turned on the sink and cupped his hands shoveling water into his mouth and over his face. One day he was going to kill himself with his drinking, he was sure of that. Right now he almost wished he had. This was no way to live. If Elizabeth was here, she’d be bringing him tea and a damp washcloth. With a chiding frown and cool hands, she would take care of him. Her care would make him almost glad to be hungover. How many mornings had she leaned over him and fluffed the pillows, her delicate perfume soothing his ragged nerves. She’d scold him for indulging and he’d put his arms around her tiny body, peculiar in the way that she could be firm and soft, both at the same time. This was a pleasure he had enjoyed for over twelve years. Even when she was angry at him, she still cared. It was a soft anger, a lovely anger, an anger laced with tenderness.

Back then, if he was home, he’d drag himself out of bed, get in the shower, then have breakfast with Elizabeth and Christopher. He’d see what Elizabeth had planned for a lovely Sunday. They’d take Christopher someplace, someplace Christopher would enjoy and Elizabeth would watch Christopher light up while John watched Elizabeth light up and everything would be just perfect, at least sometimes. Those times when he was home on Sundays.

But if he was home now, in that penthouse, there would be no Elizabeth or Christopher. He’d be alone and in pain just like he was here, in the studio. Maybe he should call Lana. Oh… Lana. That was a problem.

He stepped through the bathroom door and peeled off his clothes, dropping them to the floor. He’d worry about getting them to the cleaners later. Right now he needed to feel the shower over him. The water offered some relief.

He probed his memory, everything was a little foggy. He remembered leaving for the opera, meeting up with the Jorgensons then going out afterwards to listen to some jazz and get a drink at Biddles. That’s where he met that girl… the brunette in the fur. He should stay away from brunettes in furs. What was her name? Emmy? Emma? No, Emily, he thought. He and Emily had quite a few drinks. She laughed at his jokes and touched his leg, quite nicely. She had great hands. He closed his eyes trying to remember. Yes, she touched more than his leg, he recalled that now. And she kissed him.

Oh yes, he remembered kissing her. And then he remembered kissing her up here, in front of Lana. He remembered the steely satisfaction he felt doing that. The way he hardened looking at Lana’s tears run down her face, forcing her to watch.

He knew this kissing thing bothered Lana and, truly, he wasn’t so opposed to kissing her. He just avoided kissing women besides Elizabeth. It wasn’t a hard and fast rule, only some sort of instinct. It gave him a kick, though, to deprive Lana. He wasn’t sure why, but watching her frustration thrilled him. He had to keep from laughing when he pulled away at just the last second, her lips almost claiming him. It added spice to the moment. But now he was afraid he had gone too far.

He stepped out of the shower and began to towel off, kicking the tux to the side. Feeling a lot better, he walked naked from the bathroom back into the bedroom and opened the closet. What to wear? A classic longsleeve button down and some slacks. He laid them out on the bed then moved to the dresser. Good thing he kept so many clothes here at the studio.

Then he caught sight of the bracelet. Uh oh… serious trouble. He was going to have to run some interference on this thing. He picked it up and turned it from side to side. This was definitely a message. She hadn’t left it here by accident. He set it back down and got his briefs and tee.

As he dressed, he formulated his strategy. The more he remembered of the night before, the more he realized he was going to have to really stretch on this one. First he searched the phone book for the only open florist on Sundays, then used a combination of star power and money to have a huge bouquet delivered to her house within the next two hours. It was a little more difficult to find a store to send out chocolates but he was able to do it. Then it was just a matter of waiting until he was sure she had received them. SHE may not want to accept them but he knew that dear, sweet Sophie would force her to take the gifts. He smiled at that thought. In the meantime, he ordered his own breakfast, rubbing his hands together and feeling better about facing the day. Somehow, last night’s antics had robbed yesterday of all his awful feelings.


“Hello, Lana.” He tried to sound contrite.

“I don’t want to talk to you.” Her voice shook.

“Lana, I was very drunk… which I know is no excuse,” he was quick to add. “And I’m not altogether sure exactly what happened last night,” he waited and she said nothing. “But I think I did something very bad to you. Something to hurt you.”

“You did. It was horrible and I don’t want to see you anymore.”

“Lana.”

“Furthermore, I quit.” He heard her breath come in spurts.

“You can’t leave me, Lana.”

“No? Watch me.” Her voice was surprisingly poisonous.

“You know how much I need you. I can’t live without you.” He tried to cajole her.

“You’re a bastard, John. You’ve been a bastard to me more than once. This was just the limit.”

“Let me make it up to you.” He set his tone to just the right combination of light and sorrowful.

“How?” There was a crack in her voice that gave him an edge of hope. She was turning the corner.

“I’ll… I’ll take you to the opera?”

He heard a quick intake of breath and then she hung up the phone.

John pulled the receiver away from his ear and looked at it. Well, he didn’t handle that very well but he knew already she had chinks in her armour. He’d have her back in this office by Wednesday, maybe even Tuesday.

He had dinner for two sent to her house. Again, he was sure Sophie would be impressed. There was no way the Grandma was going to let food go to waste.

On Monday morning, he knew not to expect her. He ordered his own breakfast and humbly got his ice water while the office buzzed about the junior assistant missing in action. He did a good show but not a great one. His mind was on his plans for the rest of the day. He drove over to Hemsley’s. This situation called for big guns. After much mulling about and discussions with the saleslady, he picked out a gorgeous emerald necklace, something almost in the range of what he’d spend on Elizabeth, but not quite. It’d look great on the girl, those jewels contrasted against that hair, resting on those lovely breasts. He looked forward to the sight.

He instructed them to wrap it up then he took it to the car and pointed himself toward her house. He knew how excited the grandma would be to see his Rolls pull up to the curb. The neighborhood would be abuzz.

When he got to the door, he took a deep breath then knocked. He could see her shadow behind the translucent glass.

“Lana?”

“Go away.” She sounded more pouty than angry.

“Okay,” he said, as dejectedly as he could. “I have a little gift for you… as an apology. I’ll just leave it here, on the steps.” He set the box down then backed up until he was on the sidewalk. He waited and was rewarded by the door opening, just a sliver. She peeked out then squatted and reached to pick up the box.

“Open it,” he called gently.

She looked down at him then frowned, but she fiddled with the lid. John noticed Lana’s grandma had come to stand in the doorway behind her. Grandma looked curiously over Lana’s shoulder. She whispered something so Lana began to lift the lid of the box more earnestly. Soon, it was opened, the tissue paper pushed to the side, and the necklace revealed.

“Lana,” his stage voice enhanced the drama, “Will you ever ever forgive me?”

“Probably not.” He could see her soften.

“Why don’t you try the necklace on?”

Lana gave him a doubtful look but Grandma pushed her arm, so Lana took the necklace from the box and let her grandmother clasp it around her neck.

“Lana,” John whistled. “You make those emeralds look extraordinary.”

“Stop it, John.” Her words were terse.

“Stop what?” He peered up at her, eyes wide.

“I know what you’re doing.” Her glare accused him as she clutched the jewels tensely, the necklace poking into her skin.

“Maybe so, but, is it working?” With a sweet grin, he took a step forward

“You’re a cruel man.” Both her grasp and her voice relaxed slightly.

“I am cruel, Lana.. but will you come back to me?” With one foot up on the first step, he reached out a beseeching hand.

“I hate you.” She turned away with a pout.

“That’s okay. You can keep hating me, just come back to me.” He took another step up. “Don’t torture me this way… even if I deserve it.” Creeping slowly toward her, he found himself by her side.

She was silent.

“Lana,” he said effusively, “I will throw myself at your feet.”

“Stop.” She bumped him with her shoulder and lowered her hand from her neck. The corners of her mouth twitched.

“Watch me. I will embarrass you in front of all your neighbors by crying out to you from the ground.” He rolled the ‘r’ and pretended to bow down on one knee.

She giggled and pulled him up. “You’re ridiculous.”

“I heard you laugh.” His eyes brightened. “Does that mean you’ll come back to me? Will you be there in the morning? Don’t make me suffer, Lana.”

She frowned. “I don’t want to be ‘junior assistant’ anymore. I want to be ‘assistant.’”

“Done.” He nodded. “You’ll be ‘assistant’ and with a raise.” He lifted his hand, palm up, promising.

“I’ll be there for you.” Her voice was warm.

He smiled. “I look forward to it, Lana.”

Back at the studio, John rubbed his palms together then made himself a drink. See? He told himself. Easy as that. He knew she’d be back to work for him and back between his legs very quickly. What a woman. Now SHE was the kind of woman he needed. Elizabeth was his past. Women like Lana would be the future.

He wasn’t going to start brooding about Elizabeth again. Elizabeth would be over on Wednesday and maybe he could convince her to stay for dinner, as co-parents, to discuss the boy’s progress. She probably wouldn’t stay, though. What was he going to do with Christopher anyway. He wondered if the boy would want to watch television. Maybe he should buy one of those new video recorders so they could see movies together. That would be something Elizabeth didn’t have… at least not yet. He guessed he’d figure it out on Wednesday. He could invite Lana but, somehow, he didn’t want Elizabeth to know about Lana. Not yet, at least. There might come a time when Lana would come in handy, but for right now, he’d rather have Elizabeth to himself. Also, Elizabeth didn’t need to know about him seeing anyone.

Chapter Text

Chapter 13 - Laughing at Iago

John kept things at a more professional level on Tuesday and Wednesday. He made sure Lana got her new title and a raise. She made such a small salary, that wasn’t difficult. And, as far as the fringe benefits (for him) went, if she still wanted him (and he was very sure she did), she could make the first move. He’d encourage her a little if she didn’t do anything by Friday but, for right now, he could use the rest. Besides, he needed to figure out Wednesday night with Christopher. This was always stressful.

He was home before 6:00 PM, expecting them at 6:30. He had decided to order lasagna. Elizabeth had told him the boy liked Italian. Just in case, he ordered enough for three. Elizabeth never ate much anyway. And he had a good red in the kitchen. She liked red wine with her pasta. Still, he didn’t count on her staying.

The buzzer announced their arrival. It still irritated him that she didn’t let herself in, but this was not a time to be petulant.

“Elizabeth, Christopher, Welcome.” John swept the door open a smile.

“Thank you, John.” She led Christopher in and over to the couch. “You’re in a good mood tonight. All is well with you?”

“Yes, dear, very well.” He nodded. “And with you?”

“Things are fine.” She carefully slid each of Christopher’s arms out of his sweater. She folded it then lay it over the back of the couch. Turning toward John, Elizabeth said, “He hasn’t eaten.”

“I expected that, I’ve ordered Italian for us.”

She frowned. “I’m not staying.”

“By ‘us,’ I meant Christopher and myself, not you.”

“Oh,” she glanced downward, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have presumed…”

John shook his head, “No, that’s perfectly fine. You may presume anything you like. You may even stay if you like, but I had not expected that.” He strolled over and tousled Christopher’s hair. “There might be enough.” He didn’t look at her.

“No, as I said, I’m not staying.” She shifted from one foot to another and he raised his eyes to her.

“That’s fine. We’ll see you when you return, then.” They stared at each other, silently. “Unless…”

“Yes?”

“Would you like a glass of wine before you go?”

Elizabeth bit her lip and shook her head. “That probably wouldn’t be a good idea. I should get going.”

“As you wish.” John’s hands trembled for a moment just looking at her. He rubbed the sides of his legs trying to regain his composure. His insides hurt. He wished that she would just touch him, his arm or his hand, just one touch. Why was she still standing there staring at him with those eyes? She was so beautiful. “Off with you,” he said, and his chuckle stuck in his throat.

“Yes… off with me,” she answered and slowly walked toward the door, then she circled back and gave Christopher a hug, carefully avoiding contact with John. “Take care of him.”

“Always,” John replied.

Elizabeth let herself out.

With a long exhale, John dropped to the couch. He watched Christopher drawing then reached out and dragged his hand over Christopher’s hair. “Love you, Boy,” he said quietly. Leaning forward, he looked down at the paper. Christopher did have a way with art. It looked like he was sketching a horse but the horse was done in very un-horselike colors, some pinks and greens and yellows. This fantasy animal appeared to be prancing through the clouds, off to some adventure in the sky. The drawing was really quite good and all done with colored pencil and crayon. John sighed then rose to his feet and headed for the bar. He grabbed the scotch and a glass. Might as well have a little pick-me-up while he waited for the food. He sat back down and poured the drink in the glass, still holding the bottle.

Christopher paid him no mind so John held the bottle up in the air out of boredom. He looked at it, swaying it slightly as if it were a doll. In his best stage voice, he said, “ O, villainous! I have looked upon the world for four times seven years, and since I could distinguish betwixt a benefit and an injury, I never found a man that knew how to love himself. Ere I would say I would drown myself for the love of a guinea hen, I would change my humanity with a baboon.”

Then he raised the glass and used a slightly different voice to respond, “What should I do? I confess it is my shame to be so fond, but it is not in my virtue to amend it.”

He was startled to hear a giggle from next to him. Glancing down he saw Christopher looking up at him, a huge smile across his face. Christopher was riveted with the bottle and glass play.

John smiled back and waved the bottle again and continued, emphasizing the words. “Virtue? A fig! ’Tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus. Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners. So that if we will plant nettles or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up thyme,supply it with one gender of herbs or distract it with many, either to have it sterile with idleness or manured with industry, why the power and corrigible authority of this lies in our wills.”

He paused and Christopher guffawed. John couldn’t help but laugh right along with him.

John continued the play, astounded that Christopher could find Othello so amusing. This ridiculous performance was hilarious for both of them and the boy’s laughter ignited John’s mirth until the two of them were falling over each other on the couch. At that point, John could barely spit out the words he knew so well. This certainly was a world away from how he had performed Iago on stage in London. Unfortunately, he hadn’t had a chance to perform it often. Perhaps his audiences hadn’t appreciated the performances as heartily as his son did. When the lasagna arrived, John had to catch his breath in order to answer the door and he hadn’t even had his scotch yet.

He rolled up his sleeves and served himself and the boy. They ate in front of television, sometimes it seemed like Christopher was even watching tv with him. John would ask questions, “Do you like this show?” or “Have you seen a lot of animal movies? knowing that Christopher wouldn’t answer but asking anyway. It somehow seemed to make sense to do that.

By the time Elizabeth was supposed to show up, Christopher was leaning against John, half-asleep, knees curled up. John had put his arm around the boy, awkwardly, as they watched together so had to slide himself out in order to go answer her buzz. While he waited for her to get to the door, he tried to tidy his shirt. He was disheveled from the evening’s fun and didn’t like things to appear so unruly. He let Elizabeth in and she frowned.

“Have you been drinking?”

He raised his eyebrows. “Elizabeth, I thought you knew, I always drink. Wasn’t that one of the problems?”

“John.” She shook her head and slid by him. “Where is Christopher?”

“In front of television.”

“Has he been watching television all night?” She turned toward John, voice tense.

“Part of the night.”

“While you drank?”

“No, not while I drank.” He wanted to sound acerbic but his voice came out soft so he cleared his throat. “Not while I drank,” he forced a stronger tone. “I didn’t even have a drink tonight.”

“What’s that over there?” She lifted her chin toward the scotch bottle and half full glass on the coffee table.

“A drink… I poured… for myself,” he began, “but didn’t end up drinking because we got busy with something else.”

Once again, Elizabeth shook her head. She went to the couch and rescued Christopher’s sweater from the crevice where it had slid earlier while Chris and John were laughing, then she went over to Christopher and guided his sleepy arms into the sleeves.

“Elizabeth?”

“What?” She answered without looking up.

“The boy and I had fun tonight. I wasn’t drinking.”

“You had fun?” She raised her eyes to him and he saw the skepticism in her face.

“We did.”

“You had fun with Christopher?” Her movements slowed as she pulled the sweater around the boy.

John nodded.

“I’m glad, John.” A small smile spread across her face. “That’s really nice. The smile moved to her eyes.

“Yes,” he smiled back. “It actually was kind of nice. He likes Shakespeare.”

“What?” She stopped moving altogether.

“He does,” John nodded again. “He likes Shakespeare. It makes him laugh.”

Elizabeth chuckled. “You must be joking.”

John shook his head and walked over by her. “No, I’m not. He was laughing at Iago.”

She laughed then and John joined in. He squatted down next to her and they both looked at the half-asleep boy. “That is hilarious,” she whispered.

“I know. I couldn’t believe it.”

“How in the world did you discover that?”

“Completely by accident.”

“Only you, John… only you would discover something like that by accident,” and she turned toward him, smiled, and touched his arm.

He looked down at her hand and felt an almost electric tingle. At the same time he wanted to cry, bury his face in her lap, and beg her to take him back. He swallowed then raised his eyes. She was peering deep into him, her face growing serious once again.

“I’ve got to get him home now, John.”

John nodded and forced himself to stand. “Would you like me to carry him out to your car?”

She shook her head. “That won’t be necessary. He’s not that heavy.” She pulled Christopher into her arms. “I’d appreciate it if you’d put his things into the bag, though, and hand it to me.”

“Certainly.” And he did as she asked then walked them to the door. He closed it lightly behind her and leaned against it. Shutting his eyes, he breathed in the last scent of her perfume then pushed himself away and headed toward the undrunk glass of scotch. Now, he really needed it.

Chapter Text

Chapter 14 - Your Bed Must Be Getting Very Lonely

The rest of the week was rather low-key. The show went well but was less frenetic than it had been over the past few months. He kept an even keel and the ratings were great. He just wasn’t quite as hard on the callers this week as he had been recently. He was also a little easier on Lana. He was subdued. He felt as if he needed a rest. By Friday afternoon, though, Lana was hanging by his desk, drawing little fingernail circles on the edge and glancing at him. He looked up at her. “What is it, Lana?”

“Do you need anything from me?”

“I think we’ve gotten everything done.”

She nodded but didn’t move, her finger still on the edge of the desk. “John?”

“Mmm hmmm?” He shuffled through his notes.

“Are you upset with me?”

“Why, not at all, Lana.” Raising his glance to her, he smiled. “Why would I be?”

“It’s just…” her voice trailed off.

“What’s bothering you, dear?”

“Well, you haven’t…” She shifted her weight from one hip to the other. “You haven’t… you know.”

“Haven’t what?”

“Asked for anything special.”

“I don’t want to trouble you, Lana.”

Coming around the desk towards him, she said,“It’s not any trouble, John.” She leaned over his chair, putting a hand on each of the arms. “I enjoy doing things for you.”

“Do you?” His voice was husky. He was tired but getting interested.

“Oh yes. Don’t ever feel like it’s troubling to me.” She sunk to her knees and looked up at him, blue eyes shining. One soft hand reached up and began massaging him. He shifted his hips slightly. “Doesn’t that feel good?” Her voice was a tempting whisper.

“Mmmm, Lana, you are a bad influence. I should be working on my notes for next week.” His eyelids began to droop.

“I’ll help you with that… later. Just enjoy this right now.” She unzipped him, freeing him from the constraints of his slacks.

Pulling in a long breath, he lay back even further. How could he resist it? Lana draped her lips over him, rising up and down as he grew harder in her mouth. By now she knew his likes and what thrilled him the most. Her tongue danced over him and her fingernails traced exciting patterns around his most sensitive areas until he didn’t think he could stand much more of it. She had him reacting like a twenty-year old. Her mouth was a powerful aphrodisiac and it wasn’t long before he was responding fully, gasping, throbbing, forgetting everything except the sensations washing through him until he collapsed in delighted exhaustion.

She lay her head against his thigh and he reached down to stroke her head. “That was wonderful, as always, Lana.” He let out a long sigh. “You are truly amazing.”

She kissed his leg through his slacks and continued kissing all the way up to his belly then chest, rising to his neck then up his neck to his chin. He knew, then, what was coming. He also knew he’d have to let her kiss him. There was no way out of this one. He accepted her lips and let her tongue probe his mouth but did very little to encourage more. Still, her breath quickened and he knew this little bit satisfied her.

“I love you, John.”

He felt the whisper of her breath on his cheek and he reached out to rub her back. “I’m glad you care about me, Lana.”

“No, I love you.” She pressed her face against his, the warmth of her smooth skin caressed him but felt all wrong. “I’ve always loved you,” she said.

“Lana,” he gently forced her away. “I want you to take a deep breath.”

She looked up at him, eyes wide and blue, almost childish.

“Take a deep breath,” he repeated, and she did as he asked. “Now, I am incredibly flattered and happy that someone as young and beautiful and…” he searched for the word, “talented… as you could have such passionate feelings about me.”

She hung on his words.

“But, love is a very serious thing.”

Lana nodded. “I know. I’ve never ever loved anyone else.”

He sighed. “Of that, I am sure.” Then he held her to his chest and stroked her hair. “I feel as if I would be doing you a great disservice if I didn’t explain to you that you don’t know what love truly is if you’re wasting yours on me.” With that, he leaned down and kissed the top of her head. “You are truly too good for me.” He gazed into the air sadly as she tucked herself into him. “Lana…” He felt her nod. He opened his mouth then shut it. “Nothing.”

She pulled away from him and looked up. “What?”

“Let’s get some dinner.”


He didn’t call her on Saturday. He supposed she would be disappointed but he felt tired inside, tired and serene. And on Sunday he called Elizabeth. He surprised himself by wondering about the boy. He thought maybe he could talk to Christopher on the phone. He knew Chris wouldn’t answer back, but perhaps John could just say a few words to him. Elizabeth was fine with that and she told John that Christopher had smiled at the sound of his voice. Elizabeth’s voice sounded like a smile too.

John imagined her at the other end. Certainly she would be wearing something soft and pretty. He remembered how she would curl up with the phone at her ear, loose waves of hair tumbling down from however she had pinned it up, casually. Whenever he saw her like that, he couldn’t help but to dive in and start kissing her neck, interrupting her conversations. That delicious neck. Just thinking about it made him shift in his seat. Why couldn’t things have just stayed as they were? He had everything back then: Elizabeth, the show, Christopher (when he wanted him), other women from time to time, women who hung on him at parties, lots of parties and flowing booze, money, a little power. Now? Well he had women who hung on him and he certainly had flowing booze. The money was still fine and the power… well, it came in handy, but other than that, who really cared?

He wanted a drink but he didn’t want a drink. He wanted to think. But when he sat and thought, he just ended up feeling sad. Still, he spent the day split between pondering things while gazing at the view out the penthouse window and going over his notes for the coming week. It didn’t hurt to actually be prepared. The show was going better than ever and he wanted to keep it that way.


Monday went well. He switched up breakfast, telling Lana he only wanted a hard boiled egg and some toast with his tea. He’d have something more later. The heavy breakfasts were making him sluggish when he was on the air. He could feel the change in his energy while he broadcast. He felt a change in his demeanor as well. Still wry, he also had an edge of flip and fun that hadn’t been there previously, almost as if he was including the caller in the joke instead of making the caller the butt of the joke. He didn’t go so far as to make the show warm. His show would never be a warm and cozy call-in. But,now and then, it could be enjoyable for all. Even the staff seemed more relaxed afterwards.

Lana came in, eyes shining and she applauded. “You handled that beautifully!” She strutted across the studio. “You just keep getting better and better.” Heading toward the bar she asked, “Scotch and water?”

“No,” he said, shaking his head, “I’m trying to cut back.”

“That’s good,” she turned towards him, question in her face. “Any particular reason?”

“Well, I didn’t treat YOU very nicely last time I got drunk, did I?”

She shook her head.

“Maybe I should take it easy on the scotch.”

“Maybe so.” She bit her lower lip as she answered and he was surprised at how doubtful she sounded.

“Well, that ties it up for today.” Rubbing his hands together, he smiled up at her.

Lana sat down on the couch. “Do you need me?” she asked, “to do anything?”

“No, Lana.” He leaned back. “Not like that.”

“Okay.” She looked down at her knees.

They were silent for a moment.

“Tell me about yourself, Lana.” He put his hands behind his head and leaned further back.

“I told you before, I’ve never done anything.”

“You said your father was RCMP.”

“Yes.”

“And your mother died when you were young?”

“Yes, of cancer, when I was four.”

“I’m sorry.” His voice softened. “How did your father die? You said in the line of duty?”

‘I really don’t want to talk about this, John.” Lana stood up and straightened her skirt.

“Okay, I apologize. I didn’t mean to upset you.” John leaned forward. “Really,” he said, rising up to meet her. “I just wanted us to interact like…” he paused, “like human beings.”

“I thought we WERE interacting like human beings.” She looked up at him.

“I meant,” he shook his head. “Never mind. I didn’t want to make you sad.”

“That’s okay,” she smiled. “You don’t make me sad. As a matter of fact, no one makes me happy the way YOU make me happy.” She tilted her head down and looked up at him flirtatiously. “Can we go upstairs. Your bed must be getting very lonely.”

John gazed down at her and was briefly silent then answered, “Sure.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 16 - This is What I’ve Always Wanted to Do

John

Lana peeled off her clothes slowly. She was wearing that arm cuff he liked so much but, somehow, it was difficult to get the thrill he usually got at the sight of her. She was beautiful, her long red hair swept over one shoulder like Rita Hayworth, breasts swaying slightly. Her waist cinched perfectly and her hips curved into a delicious womanly arc. Everything about her was enticing. And the closer she came to him, the more delectable she was. But he had a foggy feeling in his belly, something was empty.

Nevertheless, he ignored the feeling and ignoring it became easier when her silky legs spread before him. He put a hand on each of her thighs and he buried himself in her scent. His mind focused only on her as he listened to her moans and felt her writhing under his tongue. At that point, nothing seemed to intrude upon him except the desire to drive himself into her and bring both of them to conclusion. Their sweat mingled and the sound of their sighs echoed in the quiet room. And, yes, he let her capture his lips and gain entrance to his mouth as they pushed toward each other. He held the back of her head with his hand, allowing her to feel the full pressure of the kiss. It slid him out of his joy but he was able to finish, then they both lay side by side, regaining control of their breath.

She pulled the sheet over them and moved closer to his arm. He lay there, eyes half closed, enjoying the relaxation that stole over his body. Night was creeping across the room and it grew darker and darker until they could barely see each other.

“My father wasn’t killed in the line of duty,” she said softly.

John shifted and looked down at her.

“He committed suicide.”

Saying nothing, John reached around and pulled her closer. He waited to see if she would say more, but she didn’t.

Lana

John had been acting distant. He wasn’t unfriendly, as a matter of fact he was more tender than ever, but he had lost that sexual urgency she was used to. It made her nervous, made her feel not-in-control, not that she ever really felt in control, but when he was ogling her and breathing at her for sex, she felt as if she had some sort of handle on their relationship. This “new” John, the one that showed up after the horrible night when he brought that girl in, this new John was thoughtful but frightening. He wanted to talk - which was fine, but she liked talking about HIM. She never liked sharing things about herself.

She hadn’t gone out with many men, but when she did, she liked men who preferred to do the talking. Until recently, John was like that. He liked to talk about himself or to have sex. When he focused on her, she felt tongue-tied and uncomfortable. She felt stupid and exposed. She wanted to be his girl, to dress up, wear the jewels he gave her and someday hang on his arm when he went places. She wanted to pamper him, serve him, and make his body feel good. She wanted to give him whatever he wanted but she couldn’t exactly tell what he wanted when he leaned back in his chair and said he wanted to talk, especially when he said he wanted to talk about her. And why did he want to talk about her father? That chapter of her life was closed, done with. She didn’t want to think about him, she didn’t want to remember Daddy. She would rather talk about John and John’s life. Her life was dull and boring except for the moments it was sad. Why her?

And why should they talk anyway? When they climbed into bed together, they hummed. She could get him to forget about talking and he made her feel things she had never felt before. What he did to her was unlike anything other men had done. The pulses that drove through her body and made her legs cling to him and assured her that her feelings were truly love. Nobody could feel something so strongly and not be in love. When his lips traveled over her skin, she thought she was as close to madness as one could be without completely going out of their mind.

In the past she had touched herself, dreaming of what it would feel like to be with him. Even her richest fantasy hadn’t come close to reality. John Kingsley could bring her to heights she didn’t know existed and all with just a twist of his fingers or the slightest enticing movement of his tongue. And she knew he enjoyed doing that to her. Wasn’t the way she responded to him proof of her love? Just thinking of it made her squirm in her chair.

But lately, he was almost depriving her. She’d wait around after work hoping that he’d want to take her upstairs to the loft bed or even just sit in his chair and let her tend to him on her knees. Instead of calling her over or doing that sidelong glance thing with a grin, he’d tell her the tasks were done, thank her for her work and dismiss her. It was respectful, even kind, but not what she wanted. She wanted him back again, the way he was. She’d rather have him cruel than dismissive as long as he was still doing those things to her that he did so amazingly.


John

Lana sat at the reception desk outside of John’s office and watched as he said goodbye to the businessmen he had been meeting with. Once they were gone he looked over at her, “Lana, you’re still here?”

She nodded. “Just finishing up some things. Let me come in and clean up your things.”

“Okay.”

He let her enter before him.

“Was it a good meeting?” She asked as she busied herself rinsing their glasses and fluffing the couch pillows.

“Yes.” John slid his papers away in the desk drawers.

“I’m glad.” Lana turned and stood still, biting her lip and looking at him.

“What is it?” John peered up at her.

“What are you doing?” Lana spoke in a little voice and lifted her shoulder while she sauntered across the room.

John gave a little grin. “What would you like me to do?”

“I don’t know.” She sidled up to him and leaned over his chair until her breasts were lined up with his face. “I have no plans for the evening.”

He leaned back, trying to keep a proprietous distance - maybe he shouldn’t go any further - then let out his breath and pushed his face into her softly scented bust. She reached around and held him to her. “I want you,” she whispered. He grabbed her by the waist, pulling her into him. Gently biting through her blouse, he traveled over her until he reached the spot where her nipple pushed against the cloth. The feel as he rubbed his lips against her sent shock waves through his groin and he took it in his mouth, clamping down more tightly as she pulled in a long breath. He stretched and teased her with his teeth as she groaned. If this is what she wants, he thought, who am I to deny her? then he slid his left hand down, pushing through the material of her skirt to massage her fully clothed crotch. It all reminded him of his school days back in England when he was a fifteen-year-old boy, playing with Elaine McDougall. As kids, they had been experimenting, leaning against the wall of a broken down shed in the woods. He kissed Elaine’s cheeks, pink with winter’s wind. It was too cold for Elaine to take her coat off so he had touched her through her clothes, bit her like this and listened to her sighs. John glanced up at Lana. Her eyes were closed and her head tilted back, her body rocking in rhythm to his hand. She was an amazing sexual creature, but not HIS creature. Still, he would enjoy her for now. And, with that, he spun her into ecstasy so that she tore at him and cried out for him to stop but not stop, never stop. Then she leaned forward, nearly collapsing into his lap but still keeping her legs spread for more while he used all his perseverance to keep her coming. Her orgasm seemed to be earth-shaking and he smiled as it continued on and on until she fell into his lap and he held her.


Lana

Oh yes, this was more like it. He had acted off kilter at first, leaning away from her, but then he fell into her, doing what he always did and doing it well. After driving her insane down at the desk, she pulled him upstairs. She hadn’t allowed him to touch her again, at least not at first. It was her turn to please him. Things had to get back into balance. She could feel his desire as she unbuttoned him, slowly. But turnabout was fair play. Deciding to do as he had done, she dropped to her knees and bit him through his slacks. He laughed and pushed her head, but she insisted and he gasped as she became completely unruly. He got so hard she was afraid it would be painful for him to stay constricted in those pants, but he dealt with it as she nibbled and bit and played. He spread his legs and seemed to want more so she grabbed his rear and pulled him into her face. She showed no mercy, she even made him jump and chuckle now and then with aggressive escapades. Finally he told her the slacks had to come off. And when they did, he looked gloriously ready. Still, she wanted to torture him even more. She made him stand as she circled him and kissed the center of his back, licking and nibbling as she came around to his chest. The smile on his face and his accepting stance gave her all the reinforcement she needed to affirm his delight.

Then she stripped off her own clothes and rubbed herself against his hardness. He felt good against her skin. He clutched her waist and held her close. “I’m too old for this. You’re wearing me out,” his voice came out in a choke.

Her insides felt as if they were melting from the depth of his blue eyes gazing into hers. How could anyone not fall in love with this man? “Good,” she said. She knew her smile was devilish. “Then you won’t need anybody else.” He laughed and kissed her neck.

He had said the things she wanted to hear in exactly the way she wanted to hear them. She looked up into his face. His smile was so beautiful, his eyes so shiny. She slid her hands down his body and around to his rear. The feel of his flesh, the muscles moving under her fingers, all of it made her heart pulse. He was so hard as he slid between her legs. She savored the sound of his breath and the way his grin began to disappear as passion overtook him. She knew his face by heart. His eyes would half-close and his chin would rise as he got ready to move into her.

She pulled him onto the bed and spread herself, ready for him. He entered and she gasped, never getting used to the thrill she felt when he did that. As he first started to move, he watched her, his eyes heavy lidded. She saw his glance slide down to her breasts then back up to her face. When their eyes met, he smiled momentarily, then he ground his teeth as he moved faster, his mouth finally opening to moan. She never tired of seeing him on top of her, soaring into ecstasy, and the vision of this man, giving everything to her, spun her into another orgasm so powerful that she, too, had to close her eyes and give into the sweep of emotions. Tears threatened the edges of her eyelids as she clung to him and they finished with ragged breath, collapsing against each other.

“Good grief, Lana,” he said, as he rolled to the side. “What are you doing to me?”

“Something that should be done to you well and often.”

He chortled. “I guess you’re taking care of THAT.”

She turned to stare into his eyes. “I love taking care of you this way.” Reaching out to push her fingers through the waves of his hair. “This is what I’ve always wanted to do.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 18 - Kisses
John

Sometimes those declarations of love and devotion made John a little nervous, and sometimes they made him a bit sad. “I love being the recipient of your life’s goal,” he told her, “but, Sweetheart, you must have had other occupations in mind besides working for me… some back-up plan? Didn’t you ever dream about being a nurse maybe or a teacher…,” he stroked her hair, “perhaps a ballerina? You’re graceful enough.”

Lana chuckled. “Not really.” She drew circles on his chest. “I love your voice.” She sighed. “I’ve always loved your voice.” She lay back a little. “But I guess I’ve always been interested in show-business things.”

“Really?” He looked down at her. “Maybe to be an actress.”

“Oh no,” she shook her head, “I could never do that. I’m too shy.”

John chuckled. “You don’t seem shy to me.”

She laughed, “You bring out a different me. But I couldn’t get up in front of people and perform. Still,” she became serious, “I love the idea of supporting those who are creative. People like you. It gives me a feeling of purpose. I don’t just mean sexually. I like helping to make the wheels turn. Does that make sense?”

“Yes. And you’re excellent at that.” He rubbed her arm, pulling her closer. They were silent for a while and he was totally relaxed. He thought he might even doze off but then he began to wonder about her. “Lana, tell me about when you were a child. I’ll bet you were an adorable little girl with all that red hair so don’t tell me you were boring. You were probably a sweetheart.”

“Hah,” she answered, “I was always in trouble.”

“Were you?”

“As far as my father was concerned, I was.”

“What mischief did you get into?”

“I was messy.. I left things around and I was a sloppy dresser.”

“I would have never guessed, you’re very meticulous now.”

“Well, that’s thanks to him.” He caught an odd undertone to her words.

“And your grandma?”

Lana chuckled, “Not Grandma. She was much more relaxed than Daddy.”

“That’s nice. Grandparents are there to spoil you.”

“She did.” Lana paused and her words slowed. “Daddy was quite strict.... I’m not sorry for that. I needed to learn my lessons. That’s why I’m organized now.”

“He didn’t… hit you, though… did he?”

“Oh no… never. He wasn’t like that.” Lana shook her head against John’s chest. “I loved my father. He was the first man in my life,” she chuckled, “Even before you.”

“So how did he keep a wild little girl like you in line?” John smiled.

“He didn’t punish me. He used a system of rewards.” Her voice cracked a little and she cleared her throat.

John pulled back and looked at her. “What kind of rewards?”

“Just a system,” she shrugged and sat up facing him.

“For example?” John scowled and leaned forward.

“For example, if I did the dishes, then I could eat dinner.”

“And if you didn’t?”

“I wouldn’t be rewarded with food.”

“Lana, that’s punishment… it’s just..” He searched for the right description, “it’s punishment in reverse.” He shook his head. “What else?”

“Nothing much.” Pulled her knees up in front of her and clutched them to form a wall.

“You said you were sloppy… what if you didn’t dress right, for school?”

“He’d be upset. He was a Mountie. They were all very neat to the point of precision.”

“So what reward would you get? I mean, what reward would he take away if you didn’t dress right?”

“It was no big deal.”

“What was it?”

She wouldn’t meet his eyes and he watched her squirm. A blush went across her face and down her neck. “John, I don’t want to talk about this.”

John reached out and pulled her to him. The cocoon she had made out of herself softened as he rubbed her back and dragged his lips over the top of her head. “Then we don’t have to talk about it. I just… I just… I don’t know.” John shook his head gently and kept holding her. He stroked her hair and rocked slightly as he felt her body loosen up. These were tender subjects and he wondered why. He also wondered if he had caused similar tenderness in his own Christopher. What kind of reactions were building in Chris because of things John might have said or done?

“If I didn’t dress right,” Lana whispered, “my father wouldn’t give me a goodbye kiss when I left for school in the morning.” She sounded numb. “On the day he killed himself, he was angry at me. I had a wrinkled dress, so he wouldn’t kiss me. Then I never saw him again.”

It was as if a knife tore through his insides. “Oh, Lana.” He squeezed her against him. “Oh, Lana, I am so sorry.” John held her and fought a feeling of sickness. “I am such an ass.” He pulled her away just enough to look into her face. “Lana. You are kissable. You are deserving of every kiss, any kiss. You are lovable and wonderful and I am so sorry I ever acted like such a bastard to you. I want you to know that it was my problem, not yours. I should have never acted that way.” She peered up at him with wide blue eyes and all he could think about was the night he came home from the opera and the first day he touched her when he told her kisses weren’t for her, then dodging her kisses and laughing to himself. All the time he was harming a soul that had been hurting since childhood. “Do you understand, Lana?”

She nodded and he pulled her to him again, drenching her with kisses, over her head, down her forehead, around her cheeks, then over her lips,where he stopped and lingered then pushed his tongue into her mouth and joined with hers until he felt her breath deepen and her pulse quicken. He kissed her over and over again, more deeply and intensely, whispering to her how lovely she felt and how sweet her lips were. He kissed her until she finally slept in his arms.

Chapter Text

Chapter 19 - The Portrait
John

Elizabeth had agreed to let John take Christopher every Wednesday instead of every other Wednesday. Now that he knew how to communicate with the boy, he thought it might be enjoyable to spend a little more time with him. He didn’t want to be troubled by thoughts of Lana when he was having his time with Christopher but his whole interaction with her was disturbing. A mixture of guilt, regret, and something he couldn’t define. None of it very pleasant.

Still, when Elizabeth showed up, it was easy to put those worries aside. It had gotten colder out as the holidays approached and Elizabeth was wrapped in a wool coat covered with embroidery of muted color. John opened the door and she slipped through, Christopher in tow.

“No fur, Elizabeth? It’s awfully cold out there.”

“I’m not doing fur anymore, John.”

“No fur at all?”

“No, I’ve decided I don’t want animals killed just to clothe me. It’s wrong.” She frowned as she helped Christopher off with his things.

“That’s quite noble.” He strolled over to them.

“Are you mocking me?” The snap in her eyes matched the tone of her voice.

“No,” hands raised, he backed up a bit. “Not at all. I’m being sincere. I believe that is quite noble of you.” Stepping towards her slightly, he said, “Elizabeth, I have nothing but the utmost respect for you.”

She paused and looked up at him with narrowed eyes then shook her head and went back to Christopher.

John came closer then reached out and gently took her chin, raising her face to his. “I have nothing but the utmost… respect… for you.”

She looked up at him then pulled back and sat on the couch. “You aren’t drunk?”

“Not at all. I’ve cut back.” He sat down across from her.

She cocked her head to the side. “What’s your game, John?”

“I don’t have games anymore.” Unconsciously, his fist moved to his stomach. “I’m all… gamed out.” His voice struck such a sorrowful note that he blushed and stood up. “But you don’t need to hear this. You probably have someplace to be.”

“Are you alright, John?” She stayed seated and looked up at him.

“Just fine, my darling.” He smiled.

“Are you sure?” She bit her lip. “You seem…”

“I’m fine, really.”

“I worry about you.”

“Do you?” He forced the sing-song lilt into his voice. “I wouldn’t want you to stay up nights.”

“Why do you do this?”

“Do what?”

“Pull back.”

“What do you mean?”

“You say something real and then you pull back.”

“I don’t - pull back,” he turned and patted Christopher’s head, not meeting Elizabeth’s eyes.”

“As soon as things get real, you pull away.”

“I’m right here, Elizabeth. See?” He raised his hands. “Right here.”

She stood up. “Yes, right here,” she answered softly. “As always,” and she headed toward the door. “When you have something to say to me, John,” she turned back for a moment, “I’ll be ready to listen,” then she let herself out.

He just stood staring at the closed door. He was there for her, wasn’t he? He hadn’t done whatever she said - ‘pulled back.’ Why did SHE always do this? She always accused him of things.

He needed a drink.

But he wasn’t going to have one. Christopher was here and he didn’t want to ruin his time with his son. He wasn’t going to let Elizabeth ruin his time either.

Only maybe Elizabeth wasn’t ruining anything.

Why did she leave? Why couldn’t she have stayed a little longer? They could have had fun as a family.

Her skin felt so silky when he touched her face. Had it always been that smooth? He was sure it had. How had he lost her? He remembered parties where he had watched her from across the room. She was the most beautiful woman at every party. Yet, he had spent those evenings hanging on other women, enjoying their flattery and flirting. He had reveled in the spouted compliments of drunken women with brassy hair while his elegant bride had gazed at him with soulful eyes. He had trod on her feelings and it was a wonder she hadn’t left him years ago. He bit his lip. If Christopher hadn’t been sitting there, he was sure he would have cried… a grown man, sobbing on his couch. Thank god, his son was here with him. He sat down and gathered Chris in his arms. The boy seemed very uninterested but at least he didn’t squirm away. “I love you, Christopher. You’re a good boy.” John’s voice caught in his throat. He let the boy go and Christopher went back to his artwork.

John figured it was time to order some food. Perhaps the two of them would do spaghetti tonight. He knew a good place.

John tidied up a bit while Christopher leaned over his work, sketching and coloring in earnest. He was very passionate about what he was doing. The buzzer rang and John went to grab the food. Before long he had it spread out on the table and called Chris over. The conversation was one-sided as they ate, but John had gotten used to that and spoke with many diverse stage voices. He knew when he had hit a good one whenever Christopher looked up at him, with a shred of interest in his eyes or perhaps a smile now and then. It was almost like having a conversation, at least as close as Christopher would get. After dinner, Chris went back to his drawing while John cleaned up the dishes. Finally, John came into the living room and gazed out the penthouse window, mostly seeing Chris’ reflection in the glass.

“What are you drawing, Son?” he asked, turning towards the couch and looking over Christopher’s shoulder. He peered down and saw his own face, albeit drawn in a rather Picasso-like manner, but unmistakably John. The drawn John’s eyes were cast down, maybe closed, and he had a very slight smile. His head was surrounded by clouds in muted purples and blues which went with the odd hues of purple and blue that comprised his drawn skin. The portrait had a poignant feel that clutched at John’s heart. It portrayed a happy-sadness that comprised exactly what John had been feeling these days. “Is that me, Christopher?”

Chris nodded.

“May I keep it?”

Chris nodded again.

“It’s an extraordinary picture.” John sat down by him and watched him continue. “I’m really touched. It’s beautiful.”

Chris just kept coloring it, delicately, precisely.

“It’ll be the most important thing I’ve ever owned,” John said more to himself than to the boy.

Chris finished then lifted it up and presented it to his father. John swallowed and his eyes fluttered as he took it from his son. “I’m going to hang it up. I’ll get it framed.” He held it in the air. “It’s truly magnificent.”

The buzzer startled him and he rose to let Elizabeth in. “Look at what Christopher did.” He showed her the drawing.

“Oh my goodness. Is that you?” Her eyes were wide.

“Of course it is. It’s amazing.” They poured over it together, shoulders touching.

“It is.” She pulled back slightly. “John, he’s never drawn ME.”

John grinned. “You’ve never performed Shakespeare for him.” They both laughed.

“It’s a beautiful portrait, John. Don’t you think?”

“Yes, I was overwhelmed,” his voice caught and she peered at him more closely.

She moved over to the couch. “Christopher, that was a beautiful drawing you did of your daddy.”

Christopher just kept drawing circles on his paper.

“But we have to go home now, Sweetheart,” and she reached to help him get his things. He pulled away for a moment and shook his head. She looked up at John, helplessly.

John walked over to them. “You can come again next Wednesday, Son.” His voice was gentle. “But you have to go with your mother now.”

Christopher shook his head and looked up at John.

“Sometimes we have to do things we don’t really want to do,” John reached his hand out to Christopher. Chris looked at it for a moment then hesitatingly reached back and took John’s hand. He stood up, using his father’s hand for leverage then let Elizabeth dress him in his outside clothes. “I’m so proud of you for being a big boy about this.” John beamed down on him. “You are a wonderful young man,” and John bent down and hugged Chris to him. “You have a good week now, okay?” Chris nodded then Elizabeth took him and went to the door.

“This was really nice, John.”

“It was nice for me too, Elizabeth.” He closed the door behind her.

Chapter Text

Chapter 19 - Goodbyes

Wednesday night had left John so serene, he hated to even think about Lana but he needed to. Every minute that he let this go on was a minute that he was wrecking her life. She didn’t deserve it and, worse, she had already had her life wrecked by the thoughtless acts of others. Before she had even walked into his studio she had been made to feel less than a full person. It still made his insides shudder when he thought of how he had treated her, how he had looked at her, the things he had said to her. What she needed, he thought, was a chance to be something more than an old man’s plaything. She needed to realize how powerful and skilled she was as a professional, how bold she could be if she would step into the world seeking a real career. And just the opportunity came his way.

“Lana.” He approached her after the show had closed for the day.

“Yes, John?”

“I’ve got something for you to think about.”

“Yes?”

“Do you know who Joanne Silverman is?”

“The afternoon talk lady?”

“Mm hm.” Taking Lana by the hand, he guided her over to the couch and they sat down. “She has been offered a position in the States.”

“Really? Is she leaving?”

“In two weeks. Very quickly, but it’s a great job.”

“That’s good for her. What’s the job?”

“Television. She’ll be doing a television talk show. Daytime airing. It’s very exciting.” John leaned in toward her. “Lana, she told me that she needs a solid assistant, someone with top organizational skills.”

Lana paused then looked stricken. “You don’t mean me, do you? You’re not leaving me?”

“Of course not,” he answered, rubbing her hand, “but I think it would be a terrific opportunity for you. The salary is almost double what you’re making now.”

“But I love working for you.”

“I know you do, Lana, but I want you to think about your future. Think about your grandma.”

“Grandma? She loves you too. She’s happy I’m working here.”

“Yes, but the most important thing to her is you. What she wants most is to know that you’re cared for. What is best is if you can care for yourself. If you go with Joanne, you’ll have enough money to care for yourself and to send some back to Grandma now and then. And you’ll have a great future. You’ll get experience that’ll set you up for life.”

“But what about you?”

“Lana, you know in your heart that this relationship is not going to go on forever. You’re young, you have a whole life ahead of you. You’ll want children someday. You’ll want a home. You’ll want all those things that I’ve already had. I think you know that inside.”

She bit her lip.

“Don’t deny yourself this chance for a career, a chance to be an independent woman. You know already that I won’t be the last man in your life. You’ll find someone who will value you the way you SHOULD be valued. Someone who will never treat you like I did or like your father did, someone who will truly reward you, who will value you every moment they look at you, every second they are near you.”

Lana’s eyes filled with tears until one finally overflowed and dropped down her cheek. John reached over to dry it. “I love you, John,” she whispered.

“I know you do,” he said, “in your way, right now, right here.” He smiled, “But you’ll find a better love, a real love that will make this love barely a pleasant memory. I promise you.”

She nodded. “Okay, I’ll go with Joanne. What do I do next?”

“You’ll meet with her and she’ll discuss the show with you, all the particulars, then you’ll have to get ready for the move. You’re going to be a very busy girl the next couple of weeks.” He smiled. “I don’t think you’re going to have time for my breakfast and ice-water.” They both laughed, Lana, through her tears.

Lana stood up then leaned over and hugged him. “I’m sure I’ll have time for one thing. I’m not leaving without a last taste of you, John Kingsley,” she whispered.

As the days passed, John didn’t bother anybody for his needs. He simply ordered breakfast then filled his own pitcher and dealt with his own notes. He just didn’t have the energy to bother with other people. It had been nice having Lana tend to everything, but she really wasn’t a necessity, she was a luxury and he had no need for luxuries at the moment. Still, when she showed up after the show the following week, he was rather glad to see her.

“I’m leaving in two days,” she told him.

“I’m going to miss you,” he smiled up at her. “I already miss you. It’s hard work getting that ice-water.”

She laughed, “I know. That wasn’t my favorite part of the job.”

“What was your favorite part?”

“Let me show you,” and she put out her hand. He took it and rose to his feet letting her lead him to the stairs. They climbed the circular stairs to the loft one more time and when they got to the bed, she pushed him down gently and he lay there, enjoying THIS luxury… the moment of watching her undress for him. And she wore the arm cuff, just the way he liked.

“Oh, Lana… I’m going to miss this.” He sighed.

“Me too, John. I’m going to miss this more than you’ll ever know.” She crawled across the bed until she reached the top button of his shirt and she worked her way down, button by button as he lay there, letting her pamper him. Once she had his clothes completely off of him, she pulled herself up on top of his body and looked down into his face. She reached out one hand and traced a line across his brow, down his cheek and around his lips. “I’m going to miss your beautiful face, your incredible eyes.” Her finger moved over his chin. “That pouty chin.” She smiled then leaned down and put her mouth over his. She gave him a long kiss. “The feel of your lips on mine,” she whispered. “I’m going to miss those things so much.”

“And how about this?” He lifted her up and shifted his body so that she was lying back on the bed and he was on top of her. He slid down between her legs and did the things he knew would get her started then he lifted his face and looked up at her. “Are you going to miss this?”

She laughed. “Of course… I will really miss that.”

“Good.” He kissed his way up her belly and ravished each breast then kissed her neck and let his body press into hers. Finally, they lay facing each other, looking into each other’s eyes from time to time, at other times, appreciating each other’s bodies, touching, stroking, sometimes leaning down to nibble or kiss. They let things go slowly at first, then their fingers became more intense on each other until both of them were breathing hard and beginning to thrust. At that point he rolled on top of her and she welcomed him. As he entered her, Lana wrapped her legs around him. John closed his eyes and let the feeling sweep over him. A thought of Elizabeth ran through his mind. He began to move his hips in rhythm with Lana but Elizabeth poured into his head. If this was Elizabeth beneath him, if he could just have one more time with her, and it almost seemed as if he was… as if Elizabeth was grasping him between her thighs… as if it was Elizabeth whispering his name and clawing at his back. That flash in his brain thundered through him, sweeping from his feet to his thighs to his pelvis, into his belly, his chest, his head, then back down into his groin again until he thought he would rise up off the bed. He clutched at Lana, almost sobbing with the tsunami of feelings that hit him. If this was Elizabeth… and with that thought he exploded, pouring everything he had into her, more than just sex, it was a detonation of ecstacy unlike any he had experienced previously with Lana. He felt a mild sense of guilt but mostly he felt a poignant emptiness, a longing for his child’s mother.

“John… maybe I shouldn’t leave,” Lana lay close to him, still recovering her breath.

He shook his head. “No, you need to go with Joanne. You need to make a future for yourself.”

“I’m going to miss you so much.” Her voice cracked and she reached around and held him tightly.

He put his arm around her too. “I’m so glad we had each other for a while. I certainly won’t forget you, Lana.”

She pulled up to look into his eyes. “I will never ever forget you… not for a moment, John Kingsley. There won’t be a moment that I won’t think of you, that I won’t love you, that I won’t be comparing other men to you.” Her words were intense and she wore a frown to match but he just smiled up at her and pushed some errant waves of hair out of her face.

“And I’ll be hobbling around with a walker when you’re just getting started.” He smiled.

“Oh, stop.” She gave him a mock slap on the shoulder.

“Come here and let me kiss you again. You need to let me remind you of how kissable you are,” and he reached up to pull her to him. He still didn’t feel quite comfortable with all this kissing. He truly wanted to save that for Elizabeth, but he owed this to Lana. After all he had done, all the ways he hurt her… and this wasn’t exactly a punishment, for heaven’s sake. His lips curved into a smile as he pressed them against her. “You have the sweetest kisses… always remember that,” he whispered.

Chapter Text

Chapter 21 - Christmas Lights

A few days later Lana was gone. The place was a little emptier. She promised to write but John almost hoped she wouldn’t. There would really be no point to it. He could keep up with her career from afar and he wouldn’t want her to believe there would be anything more to this relationship, ever.

But now… now he had no one, nothing.

Not really, he reminded himself. He had a burgeoning relationship with his son. That was actually the focal point of his life right now, after his show, of course. He had to keep the show on the right track. A lot of people were depending on it. But when he wasn’t thinking about the show, he was thinking about ways to entertain Christopher, how to get through to him, break him out of that shell. He wondered about getting the boy a puppy. John had always loved having a dog when he grew up. A puppy would be a good thing for the child.

John did his homework and found a good little mutt with long ears and medium sized paws. John thought it a good idea to name the pup Iago since Christopher seemed to like that character so much, not that he believed Christopher understood a damn thing about the play. Still, it had been fun to recite bits of it for him.

Mrs. Revner on the third floor had given John the name of her dog walking service and he retained a pleasant woman, Marlene Smalls, who was more than happy to come during the day and care for the dog while John worked. She was also eager to give the dog some training for an extra cost. John agreed to that. He knew very little about these things and he wanted the best for the boy. Whatever Miss Smalls felt was best, he would gladly cover the cost. In the meantime, Marlene showed him what he should do in the evenings, how he should leash the puppy, how he needed to take bags with him on the walks and pick up the dog droppings. (Who would have ever thought John Kingsley would be doing THAT!) She advised him about what to feed the dog and when. He wondered how animals had survived before civilization if they required all this attention now, but he obeyed everything the young woman commanded so that the dog would be cared for.

On Wednesday night, when Elizabeth brought Christopher over, he met them with Iago tucked under his arm.

“Look, Elizabeth, I have gotten a puppy for the boy.” He bent down and showed the little dog to Christopher. “Chris, meet Iago.”

“Oh, John,” Elizabeth’s voice was sharp and she pulled Christopher away. “You’re so irresponsible… always.” She dragged Chris over to the couch.

“What?” John stood up, still holding the puppy. He followed Elizabeth, eyes slanting down as if he’d been slapped. “Why? What do you mean?”

She looked back at him, fire in her expression. “The boy can’t have a puppy. He can’t take care of it. What am I going to do with it? I’ve got enough to deal with already.” The words came out in a hurried stream. “I can’t believe you did this. It’s so inconsiderate, without even checking with me. I have no place in the house for a dog.”

“Elizabeth,” he interrupted her. “Elizabeth,” he came closer. “Stop,” he said gently. “Please, I didn’t intend for you to take the puppy. Iago will be Christopher’s puppy when he’s here.” John sat down by Elizabeth. “I have arranged for the dog’s care during the week while I’m working and I’ll care for him in the evenings. You will have to do nothing.” He gave a little smile. “Alright?”

She pulled away from him and frowned. “Nothing?”

He shook his head. “Not at all. I have arranged for everything and Christopher will see Iago when he’s here. He’ll have something to look forward to.”

“You did that for him?”

John nodded.

“Well,” she just looked at him, “that was very nice of you, John.”

Christopher came over to them. He tugged at the sleeves of the coat his mother had not yet removed. John helped him take it off then Chris touched Iago with one finger. John showed Chris how to pet him with his whole hand. “This is Iago, Chris. He’ll be your puppy when you’re here. I always loved having a dog when I was your age. My dog, Blaster and I had great fun. We were best friends.”

“Blaster?” Elizabeth said.

“Mmm hmm,” John smiled and glanced at her. “That was my dog.”

“You never told me that.”

“I hadn’t really thought about it until recently.”

“That’s very sweet.”

John glanced at her again. Elizabeth seemed comfortable, more relaxed than usual and she was enjoying watching Christopher learn to interact with the puppy. Fortunately, Iago was a very laid-back dog, not terribly nippy, especially this time of night. Christopher climbed up on the couch and John put the sleepy dog into the boy’s lap. The pup curled up into a ball and nestled into Christpher’s tummy. At first Chris’ eyes widened and his arms spread apart, then after a moment, he reached down and pet the dog. He began to relax, then grinned contentedly. John and Elizabeth both smiled as they watched him.

“I guess this actually was a good idea,” Elizabeth whispered.

John gazed at her. She emanated beauty. There seemed to be an aura of loveliness surrounding her. He was almost near enough to be part of that aura, but not quite. Her hair caught the sheen of the living room light and her skin gleamed as if she had stepped out of a painting. He leaned a little closer to her and she didn’t back away but he was afraid to go further. She reached out and put her hand on his arm. “It was very thoughtful of you to go through all this trouble, John.” The warmth of her voice made him almost tremble but he held still.

“I…” he swallowed. “I just…” John looked down and couldn’t think of anything to say. His mind was blank, consumed with the desire to hold her… for two seconds. “I just… want to make the boy happy,” he finished.

“That’s so touching.” Elizabeth leaned closer to him. “I’m really touched.”

They were just inches away from each other. She stared into his eyes. He could barely look up into hers but he did so from a cast down glance, hoping against hope that what he was reading in her face was some sort of invitation. Still, he was afraid to go too far, to chase her away. He could feel her breath on his cheek and it drove him insane. The feeling moved through his body producing a pleasant discomfort in his groin that he tried to ignore.

“I… I guess I should go and let you have your time with Christopher,” she said.

“Yes.” John’s voice cracked. “I suppose so.” He sat up straight. “But you’re welcome to stay if you like.” He regained his composure.

Elizabeth rose to her feet. “No, I’ve got someplace I need to be.”

“I see.” John didn’t look at her.

“I’ll be back later to pick him up.”

“Enjoy your date.” He couldn’t keep the edge out of his voice.

She turned back toward him. “I will.” Then she pivoted to the door.

“Elizabeth?”

“Yes?” She faced him again.

He shook his head. “Nothing. Never mind.”

“John?”

“It was nothing.”

“John, if you’ve got something to say to me, you can just say it.”

“I don’t have anything to say to you, Elizabeth.” John’s fists hit his knees. “Have a good time on your date and call me if you end up spending the night. I’ll keep Christopher in his old bedroom so that you can linger in the morning.” His nails dug into his palms.

“I’ll not be spending the night away. Anything I need to do, I can do well before ten-o-clock.” Now HER voice was edgy. “You ought to remember that.”

“How true,” he snapped. “You were always efficient.”

She sighed and turned away from him. “One thing you’re good at, John Kingsley,” she paused, “is hurting people. It’s a talent you’ve cultivated over the years and a talent you continue to practice. I certainly hope that talent is serving you well.” Her step was firm as she moved further away from him.

“Elizabeth,” he rose to his feet.

“What now?” She stood still but didn’t turn back.

“I don’t want you to leave.”

“You need to goad me some more?”

“No, I didn’t mean what I said. I just wanted to hurt you, you’re right.”

“So why should I stay? I have plans.” She turned back toward him and shrugged. “Why should I stay and be abused by you when I have a perfectly fine dinner date out there waiting for me?”

He gave a little grin. “Because you can abuse me back?”

The corners of her mouth twitched. “That’s no reason.”

“I’ll give you dinner… whatever you like.” He held his hands out. “Please, just stay with me.”

She swayed back and forth, a tiny frown appearing between her eyebrows.

John put his hands together into a begging pose. “Please, Elizabeth. I promise to behave.”

She sighed and shook her head. “You make this very difficult.”

“Good. Will you stay?”

As she walked to the couch, she peeled off her coat. “I guess.” She plunked down on the couch. “You know, he’ll never date me again if I stand him up.”

John rubbed his hands together. “That’s terrific,” and he smiled, then went over to Christopher. “Chris? All okay with Iago?” Chris just looked at him, but he appeared to be content to simply sit and pet the dog.

“What shall we order, Elizabeth?” John felt as if he was floating.

“It’ll need to be Italian… for Christopher.”

They pored over the assortment of delivery menus he had in his drawer and finally decided on food then he called it in. Once Christopher got squirmy, John let him know it was probably time to walk the dog before the food came. He offered to do it alone but Elizabeth said it might be fun to do it as a family so they all bundled up and took Iago out into the night.

“Look, they’re putting out the Christmas decorations already,” she pointed up at the red and green lights decorating the street corners.

“I like it. Might as well start the season as early as possible. More time for fun.”

“I guess, but after last year… I guess I’m a little traumatized.” Elizabeth’s steps slowed. He knew that the situation with the terrorists and been horrifying for her and he wished he had been more considerate but it was past time for wishing now.

“I understand he said,” and patted her back rather awkwardly.

“It’s okay,” she looked up at him with a smile. “We all made it through.” Grabbing his arm, she strolled forward. “Look, Christopher wants to walk Iago,” she pointed down to where Christopher was clutching the leash, a little lower than where John held it.

John laughed. “Good job, Chris.” Everything felt so right to him. He was very aware of the way Elizabeth’s gloved hand weaved through his elbow and sat on his forearm. Her body bumped his now and then as they walked, looked at the sights and chatted. And when it came time to use the bags to scoop up Iago’s mess, Elizabeth couldn’t disguise her mirth watching John stoop down and take care of the nasty job. John believed the half hour walk was the happiest half hour he had spent in over a year, maybe more.

They made their way back to the penthouse making it just in time to receive the food as it was being delivered. Elizabeth helped John spread it on the table and they called Christopher. Although he didn’t speak, he watched them talk and John made sure to include him by continuing to use his stage voices and making side comments that would amuse the boy. Those moments would cause Elizabeth’s lips to twitch and John’s eyes sparkled back to her. When dinner was over, John invited her to enjoy a cognac in the living room while Christopher did some drawing. After a pause, Elizabeth accepted.

The sat side by side, looking down at Christopher as he colored. “I think he’s doing very well,” John said.

“Yes,” Elizabeth nodded.

“You’re a good mother.” John shuffled in his seat and took a sip of his drink.

“Thank you.” She looked down into hers. “I love being a mother.”

“I wish I would have been more supportive to you these past years.”

Elizabeth didn’t raise her eyes. She traced the edge of the glass with her finger. “I wish you would have too, John.”

They sat quietly for a while, then Elizabeth took a few more sips of her drink, set down the glass and started to get up. “I should be getting him home. It’s been a lovely evening.”

John rose also. “Elizabeth,” he began but she looked up at him, her eyes wide and sad. He stopped, then said, “It’s been lovely for me too.” His heart felt as if it was folding over itself then dropping into his belly.

She crossed the room and helped Christopher into his coat. John stood helplessly watching her not knowing what to say to get her to stay a few minutes longer.

“Elizabeth,” his voice cracked.

She looked up at him.

“I… I…,” he took a step toward her.

“Yes, John?”

He shook his head. “Would you like another drink.”

She sighed then looked down and said, “No, John, I’ve got to get Christopher home.”

“He can stay here tonight,” John took another step forward. “You can too.” He raised a hand. “You don’t have to stay with ME. You can just stay. For the night.”

“John, I don’t think so.”

“Why not?”

“Christopher might get the wrong idea.”

“What idea?”

“That you and I… you know.”

“Well, what would be so wrong with that, Elizabeth?” Maybe we could… maybe it could be like it used to be.” He came over to her and took one of her hands, but she pulled it away from him.

“The last thing I want, John, is for it to be like it used to be,” and she turned away and finished buttoning Chris’ coat. “I’ll bring him by next Wednesday.”

Without looking at John she led Christopher to the door and let herself out. John sat down on the couch and put his face down into his hands.

Chapter Text

Chapter 21 - Please Don’t Leave Me

In spite of all his personal turmoil, John’s show stayed top-notch. The fact that he was drinking very little had a lot to do with that. Also, he was on top of his notes. Not having Lana to rely on, he knew he’d need to keep a very tight focus on everything. He was more than a week ahead of himself, tracking what he would be discussing and updating himself on guests and briefing himself on their background and issues. Right now, he was relying on nobody but himself. That gave him an edginess and tension which came across in the show as excitement. The callers liked the electricity and his wit was sharper because of it. The better it got, the more his confidence was repaired and the easier it was for the staff to work with him. They actually smiled at him now and then and a few offered to help but he wasn’t ready to accept that just yet.

He would have been lonely in the evenings (after all, he had no Lana anymore). but he had Iago and the dog kept him busy. Ms. Smalls talked John into enrolling Iago in a dog training class so John took the dog on Tuesday and Thursday nights and, of course, John had Christopher on Wednesdays.

Still, his being busy didn’t necessarily mean that he didn’t feel empty. There were times he’d stretch out on the couch with Iago tucked up next to him. He would intend to watch television but, instead, glance over at photos of Elizabeth and Christopher and he’d find himself lost in thought about them. He’d wonder what they were doing or he’d plan some adventure for the boy. Sometimes he’d be half asleep and begin dreaming about Elizabeth’s arms, how soft they were, or the shape of her face, or the silkiness of her hair, only to shake himself out of the imagining and make himself get up and go to bed.

It had been almost a month since their evening together and the wonderful walk they had taken with the dog. Elizabeth had opted not to stay on Wednesdays when she dropped Christopher and it hurt John’s heart to see her go out the door each week but he could think of nothing to do other than to offer her dinner or a drink. She seemed interested in neither. This week appeared to be no different.

“Elizabeth.” He helped her remove Christopher’s winter coat.

“Yes, John?” She didn’t look at him.

“You’re welcome to stay. I wanted to show Chris some of the tricks Iago is learning. You might find them cute.” John tried to smile but he could read refusal in her face.

“I have someplace to be.” She stood and folded Chris’ coat over the back of the couch.

“Elizabeth?”

“Yes?”

“Will you ever stay?”

She turned toward him. ‘I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“Why is it never a good idea?” His jaw and fists were tight.

Looking down, she said, “Because it just gets things started.”

“But I WANT to get things started.” He moved toward her. “I want to start things back up with you. Please, Elizabeth. Just give me a chance.” He raised his hands palms up.

“John, do you know how many chances I gave you?” She looked him straight in the eye. “Do you know how much it hurt when you slept with other women, when you came home drunk and barely made it to the couch, when you mocked me and said such hurtful things? I gave you plenty of chances.” She began to turn away but he grabbed her arm.

“Please, Elizabeth. I can’t stand this.”

“You can’t stand being alone, John. It’s not me you want, it’s company.”

“That’s not it.” He turned her towards him. “I can’t stand being without you.”

“Oh, you stood it pretty well when you had those other women.” Her eyes snapped at him.

“I don’t want other women. I was a fool.”

“Hah, you just don’t want to be by yourself,” her voice was poisonous.

“That’s not true.”

“No?” She yanked her arm away from him.

“No. I had another woman but I only want you.”

Her eyes widened. “You had another woman?”

He stepped back. “Well, you said that I only wanted you because I didn’t want to be alone. I just wanted you to know that wasn’t true. I wasn’t alone. But I didn’t want anybody else. I only want you.”

“You had someone else?” She shook her head.

“Elizabeth, that’s not fair. You had someone else too.”

“I just dated a few men. I didn’t have another man.”

“Did you sleep with any of them?” Now, HIS voice was venomous.

“None of your business.”

“So, you did.”

“None of your business, I said.”

“Was it good?” His eyes narrowed and his nails dug into his palms.

“I suppose you didn’t sleep with your… your woman.” Elizabeth’s chin lifted.

“None of your business, Elizabeth.” John crossed his arms over his chest. “Like you said.”

“Fine.” She moved toward the couch to grab Christopher and John dropped his arms to his side.

“Elizabeth?”

“What?”

“I didn’t mean it… none of it.” He moved over to her. “Please, Elizabeth.” He put his hands on her shoulders and stopped her, then he rubbed them gently. “I need you.”

“Yes, you need me.” Her teeth were clenched.

“No… Elizabeth… I… I love you.”

She turned to him and her eyes met his. “Talk to me, John.”

“I…,” he swallowed.

“Talk to me.”

He shook his head and swallowed again then removed his hands from her shoulders.

She reached down for Christopher and said, “It’s alright.” Sighing, she added, “I understand. It’s impossible for you.” She patted John’s arm and headed for the door.

He watched her then said, “Elizabeth,” as she reached for the knob.

“Yes?”

“Please don’t go.” His voice choked and he came towards her. “Please don’t leave me.” His words came out in sobs and he buried his face in her chest as he cried. He held her to him. “Please, I love you. I always loved you.” It all came out in a garble of humiliating snivels and gasps but he didn’t care anymore. The only thing he cared about was the feel of her accepting him, holding him, kissing him. and whispering to him that she wouldn’t leave, that she would stay with him. “Elizabeth, I loved you the first moment I ever saw you. No one believed me, but I did.” He kept crying. “The best day in my life was when I found you and the worst was when you left me.” He slid down in front of her until he was kneeling, arms wrapped around her legs.

“It’s alright, John.” She squatted down by him, tears slowly making their way down her cheeks as well. Her gentle voice soothed him, as it always did. “It’s okay.” Her fingers stroked his hair. “I love you. I just couldn’t be hurt by you anymore. But I love you so much.” She lowered herself further until she was sitting and he stayed wrapped around her. They both remained on the floor in each other’s arms. Chris untangled himself from the mess and went back to the couch where he managed to wrestle his coat off then climb up next to Iago.

After a time, John raised his head. “I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed that I cried in front of you.” He wiped his face with the back of his hand. “I’m ashamed of everything I ever did to you.” He sniffed. “I’m ashamed that I wasn’t a good father before and am only learning now.” His eyes welled up again.

Elizabeth simply stroked his hair once more then pushed his head back down onto her shoulder. When the position got too painful to keep, he stood then helped her up. And, as a family, they had dinner. Later, the two of them put Christopher to bed in his room then John poured himself into Elizabeth and she accepted everything he had to give.

END