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Malcolm Tucker. The dark lord of Downing Street, the PM’s enforcer, the psychotic Glaswegian bully– asleep peacefully in bed. His face was different when he was relaxed, not snarling. It was still beaky behind that nose, still alarmingly like a bird of prey, but Clara could see the smile lines around his mouth, at the corners of his eyes. He wasn’t a man who wanted to snarl. That was, perhaps, his greatest secret.

Malcolm. There he lay, sleeping, the dog-tag around his neck. She’d bought it on a whim, when she’d ducked into the sex shop to buy something for him. She hadn’t had any ideas about what, maybe a bigger plug or a new flogger, but then she’d seen the jewelry. “Make me yours,” he’d said, that first time, when asked what he wanted. Clara suspected it was what he wanted most. All of the rest of it was about proving to himself or to her that he belonged to her. Everything in pursuit of that one goal. So she’d bought it, and had waited a long time until it felt like the right moment to give it to him.

Malcolm. Her colleague with benefits no longer. Her boyfriend, now. Her partner, even. The man she would go on holiday with, would worry about, would be with exclusively. A sleeping man who looked to be nowhere near waking up. She needed coffee. A bit of breakfast. Clara pulled the bedroom door to quietly on her way out, so she wouldn’t wake him.

While the coffee brewed she cleaned up from last night: threw out the remains of the bottle of wine they’d forgotten, picked up Malcolm’s shirt and jacket from the floor. He’d been so eager. So eager. She’d shown him the necklace and he’d been overwhelmed by it.

Clara poured herself a cup of coffee. Cream and sugar, spoon tinkling in the mug. She tasted it. Not bad. A little gritty from the press, but the beans were good. Malcolm’s money had bought them a swank holiday. She had no regrets about that.

On holiday with Malcolm. She hadn’t predicted this. She hadn’t predicted fucking up so badly the other night, either. Fuck up she had, though, and she was still shaken by it. Malcolm wasn’t a masochist, she’d learned that fairly early. He endured pain for her because he wanted to please her. To prove himself to her. He would do ridiculous things to prove himself. It was a constant temptation to her, his willingness to submit to her. To do whatever she asked. She could ask him to do insane things, and he would fling himself into them with the same savage joy that he flung himself into being the Party’s enforcer.

The flogging had been a wonderful experience for both of them. She’d taken her time with it, worked him up slowly, and brought him into a trance state that apparently had been deeply meaningful to him. He’d wanted it again, she’d wanted it again, and she’d muffed it. The belt had broken him. The sight of him curled up on the floor of the bedroom, shoulders heaving almost silently– she’d wanted to cry with him. She’d stayed strong for him, because what else could she had done? The poor bastard had successfully kept the lid on that for years, and then she’d gone and clumsily ripped it off.

She’d been impatient. She’d been selfish. She’d wanted to hear him made those sounds he made when she hurt him, those desperate whimpers, her name said with such raw intensity. She’d rushed to the moment instead of giving him the time she knew he needed to relax into it.

Though it would have come out eventually. That was the thing about doing intense scenes. Eventually the buried things came up. Eventually Malcolm would have cracked open anyway. She just hadn’t predicted what it would be about.

She hadn’t predicted any of this. Not one single bit. Hadn’t predicted she’d feel like this. That he’d feel like this. She’d meant it to be just sex. Great sex, the kind of sex she liked and had a difficult time finding, that’s all she’d wanted. And now she was– She was backed into a corner, that’s what she was. She had to find a way out that didn’t make her a liar to Danny’s memory.

This was too much for her on a morning like this, a sunny late winter morning in the south of France. She was on holiday with her boyfriend. She didn’t have to think about heavy things. Drink coffee, read a book, relax. That was her agenda.

Clara found her carry-on bag and dug out the book club novel she was dutifully working her way through. She’d probably never manage to finish it in time for the meeting next week. Her career was kicking up its heels these days. The book club might not be interesting enough to make the cut. She might as well try to keep up, though.

Some time later she heard footsteps from the bedroom, water running. Malcolm was up and about. He padded out to her in boxers and nothing else. Her necklace was dark around his neck, against that pale, pale skin. Clara swallowed. She hadn’t thought looking at it would make her feel so, feel so–

Malcolm was before her, taking her face in his hands, kissing her, lingering, running his fingers through her hair.

Clara pulled back from him and kissed the end of his nose. “Nice of you to join the living.”

“Needed that lie-in.”

“What holidays are for.”

Malcolm scratched his unshaven chin. “Still waiting for the sex you promised me.”

“Will you settle for coffee?”

“Fuck you, darling.”

“Or not, as the case may be.”

She grinned at him, to show she didn’t mean it, and he flashed her two fingers for an instant. Then he was investigating the coffee pot. Clara watched him from the corner of her eye. Malcolm, the Dark Lord of Downing Street, in boxers, drinking coffee with one hand, holding a croissant with the other. He bit into it and crumbs landed on his chest. Clara smiled a tiny smile, hidden behind her paperback. Oh, she’d never get tired of looking at him. Malcolm, tall and slender and so fragile-looking, standing there bare-chested, coffee cup to his lips. Dark blue boxers, silk, her gift to him, so dark against his pale skin. The hair on his chest was graying, but the dusting of hair on his belly was still dark. Nothing to him, just wire and nerve and will. Ferocious will, driving him forward, driving their Party forward. Sometimes she thought he drove the nation itself forward, in the Party’s more pusillanimous moments. The cost was how thin he was, how exhausted he’d looked yesterday, how deeply he’d buried everything personal.

“What are you lookin’ at?” he said. He looked down at himself, saw the crumbs, dusted his chest off. Clara smiled a little wider.

“Looking at my man.”

Malcolm set down his mug. His hand went up to the necklace, and he fiddled with the tag. “Yeah. That’s me.”

“Still feeling good about that?”

“Yeah. Clara–”

“What?”

“Never going to regret it.”

“Never? That’s a long time.” Don’t say never, she thought, but did not say. Don’t say it out loud, because then you’re trapped.

“Never. Fucking know what I want, and it’s this. You.”

And then he was in front of her, gently taking her book from her hands, and kissing her again. She didn’t pull away this time. If he was going to say never, if he was going to make her mistake– What could she do? What could she do but kiss him back? Who was she to reject this gift? This gift of himself to her. His whole self.

He was all over her right now, kissing her everywhere, repeating her name, biting at her neck, licking her ears, almost frantically. Clara let him do it, let him kiss her, let him pull her hard against his body and put his tongue in her mouth. His prick was nudging against her. Poor Malcolm, always hard, so often going wanting, exactly as he wished. Nothing to him, so spare, and yet that cock was so satisfying, so thick. Clara’s body knew what it made of that, what it wanted right now. She wanted more than Malcolm’s tongue inside her. She wanted all of him.

She broke away and took his hand, led him to the bedroom. Stripped him of his boxers with impatient hands, pointed to the bed. He was on his back an instant later, splayed out, hard cock resting on his belly. Clara looked at him, lying with his palms up, the cord around his neck so stark against his skin. He breathed once, twice, deliberately.

“Grab the headboard,” she said. He obeyed.

“Who do you belong to?” she said, and was rewarded by the sight of his cock twitching and the sound of the headboard creaking.

“You,” he said. Husky voice, like rough silk, all burr and decadence, so much emotion in it. He loved telling her that; she loved asking him to say it.

She undressed herself as slowly as she could bear to, not looking away from Malcolm any more than she had to. Her Malcolm. She owned him. It said so on that tag resting on his chest. He’d given himself to her, voluntarily, because he, because he– Don’t think about it. Think about what that cock was going to feel like inside her. Think about how wet she was. About how much she loved sex with this man.

She straddled him and took him in hand. He sucked in a breath. Clara poised herself over him, let herself brush against him. There, just there, teasing them both with the promise of what came next.

“Don’t you dare come before I do.”

“Won’t. Oh fuck, please, love, Clara, please. I need you.”

Since he asked so nicely, since he begged so beautifully, and since she wanted it too, Clara shifted and let him inside. Sinking down on to him slowly, a little painfully, not quite enough foreplay, for she was wet but not all the way aroused, but she couldn’t wait for this. She wanted him, wanted him underneath her, wanted him inside her, wanted this man who’d given himself to her moaning beneath her. It felt good anyway, felt good to feel herself opening for him, felt good to hear him gasping, to see the muscles in his arms tighten as he pulled at the headboard.

Clara settled herself all the way over him and let herself rest on his hips. His eyes were half closed and he looked desperate already, face flushed. Why not give him a little more to think about, a little teasing, a little taste of what he loved? She let her fingers find his nipples, brushing over them at first, then taking hold and squeezing. He moaned, swore, moaned again. Clara twisted. No mercy, no relenting, because that was what he needed. He gasped out obscenities mixed with endearments, with pleas to her to do something incoherent, with fervent oaths declaring himself her property. Clara grinned down at him, at his screwed-up face, at the sweat springing out on his temples.

“You like this?”

“Fuck.”

“Tell me you like it or I’ll stop.”

“I like it, I like it, fuck me, fuck me, Clara, don’t stop, please, I’m yours.”

Let him prove it, hurt him just enough to turn him on even more, hurt him just enough that he felt he’d proven himself to her, because that was what he needed, that was what he craved, and giving him what he wanted so badly did something to her she didn’t have words for. Didn’t dare name because, because–

She let go of him and sat back, touched herself for a moment while she watched Malcolm catch his breath and recover. Nice lazy touches on her clit, enough to work herself up, enough to get Malcolm watching intently, mouth open. Touch her fingers to his lips, let him lick her, let him taste what he loved so much. Now time to fuck. Fuck him? Be fucked by him, while he held onto the headboard desperately.

Narrow hips, rising to meet hers, that wonderfully heavy cock moving inside her. Clara knelt up over him to give him more room to thrust, to give herself more of that feeling. Two fingers down, on her clit, just brushing it. No sense rushing this. Give him time to catch up with her, watch his face, that sharp dangerous face, now with eyes closed in concentration. Mouth just open, his breath coming rougher now, a little moan when she tightened herself around him, oh yes, watch the pleasure spread over him, watch his face and chest flush red. He had to be close now.

Clara had no intention of allowing him to screw up. Not on this holiday; not after his breakdown. He was going to have a good time; everything was going to be perfect. He was going to come this morning and he was going to know she wanted him and he was going to be happy. So she slowed down, slid herself down onto him, held him in place, and touched herself in earnest. He was watching her now, intently. She brought herself close, so close, then rose up over him again. Slammed down. Fuck him into the mattress, while he tried to fuck her off it, and there it was, the taste in her mouth, the build-up, a moment of hovering, then shuddering, the release, holding herself in place with what remained of her brain while he thrust up into her desperately. Then the sound of Malcolm coming, crying out her name, his cock inside her pulsing, and she collapsed forward onto him.

Malcolm. Cuddling her in a post-orgasmic haze. Cuddling afterward was almost her favorite part. Not that she was knocking orgasms, not by any means, but it was a surprise to her that cuddling with the Dark Lord of Downing Street had turned out to be so pleasant. So soft and slow and reassuring, her head on his chest, his fingers tracing patterns on her shoulder. Sweat slowly cooling, hearts slowing to normal, her body half on top of his, her toes tickling his shin. So good. Even better: no need to get out of bed any time soon. They could lie here for hours yet, bodies sticky, the smell of sex still on them, until they decided they wanted coffee, or a nice walk out to a cafe for lunch. Holidays were the best.

“Clara,” Malcolm said, into her hair, almost dreamily.

“Yeah?”

“Love you so fucking much.”

She tightened her arm around him and shifted so she could press her lips to his chest, just below where her name tag rested on it. Squeezed him tight again, and laid her cheek against him and tried not to cry because she couldn’t say it back. Wanted to; couldn’t. She burrowed her face into his chest and hoped it would say what she wasn’t allowed to.