Chapter 1: Cheese and Onion Pie
It is just dinner. (onions are cubed)
It is just dinner. (cheese is grated)
What can possibly go wrong? (milk, mustard, worchester, parsley are out and prepped)
It is just dinner. (pie crust rolled and ready to assemble)
Who am I kidding? (pie crust still rolled and ready to put together)
It's Phryne. Quite a lot can go wrong. (Wine. Two bottles.)
Nevertheless, I am still making dinner. (Heats the skillet)
The current score is 2:4, Jack's favor. Of the 2 truths, one is answered, one is forfeit (hence, the making of dinner). Of the 4 dares, 3 are complete and 1 twice attempted.
The problem, if it can be considered a problem, is the accumulated loss of reason that has been part of each consecutive dare. More precisely, with the last 2 attempted dares. He wins, he loses brain cells. How is that fair? His ideas for follow on winnings are simply too indecent to propose. Worse, it is far too enjoyable to think about it.
The onions sweat (though only a little less than the mild-mannered detective) then they rest (not at all like the mild-mannered detective). Milk, mustard and spices are added to the onions before layering into the pie crust with the cheese. Do not think of the next dare. Top layer goes on. Pinch up the sides. The next dare will not include pinching.Then egg wash. Then...hmm...the egg wash suggests an idea. Well, maybe not with eggs. Focus. Make some cuts in the top crust. Pop it in the oven. 45 minutes.
Open the wine.
Flowers? Check. Candles? Check. Nerves on fire? Check. Dessert? Needs work.
Clean berries. Cream is whipped. Is there time to make fudge sauce? Yes, there is time to make fudge sauce: semi-sweet chocolate, cream, butter, sugar, vanilla, salt. Grateful for Mrs. Henderson's recipe. Hoping Mrs. Henderson won't notice what time his visitor leaves. Stop that - it is only a first date.
Oh, god. Who am I kidding?
The sauce has reached a silky consistency. Smells good. It must be ready. Tastes good. Really good.
It is our first date. Is it a date? Will she think it is a date? She can't possibly think anything else. Right? I am cooking. We will be alone. In my place. Oh, god. How do I look? Fixes tie, smooths hair. Removes apron. Puts on jacket. Takes off jacket. Takes off waistcoat. Tries a sweater. Yes, the sweater. Sleeves rolled up. Not twice, just once. Nope, roll them down and cufflink up the sleeves. Perfectly calm. She's here.
Close eyes. Deep breath. Open eyes. Open door.
"Good evening, Jack." She looks eager, shy, and uncharacteristically sweet. Why does she look sweet? She's never sweet. Unless, I'm about to get into trouble. Phryne, stop being sweet. At least, wait until after dinner.
"Miss Fisher." All day thoughts of what she might be wearing: silk dress to show her every move and feature, evening dress for dramatic impact, nothing at all for greater impact (please, no...yes...definitely no), stylish pantsuit to show who is in control. She wears a dress. It is pretty. Blue flowers. The hem ends at her knee. Oh, her knees. Blue stockings. He's staring. Move dummy. Let her in.
"It smells divine."
No, Phryne...that's you. "I hope you are hungry."
Words. Jack. Use your words. Any of them. Really. Starting now. Stop staring at her lips. No, whatever you do...don't reach for her waist. No, I said don't. Do not...whatever you do...do not pull her closer. Now, stop that. Just don't kiss her.
Now you've done it. You are kissing her. She's barely in the house. Oh, yes. Her lipstick will be everywhere. Just. Uh. Thinking. Words. Wait. No lipstick. She isn't wearing lipstick. Intoxicating. Was doing something. Dinner. Remember dinner? You are making dinner. Remember how long it took? Think about onions. Yes, onions. Did you remember to rub your hands in coffee grounds? Yes, you did. Good. Onions. Words.
Wait. Not kissing now. Eyes still closed. Open your eyes.
"Well, Jack. It is good to see you, too!"
Reply. Speak. No, do not do it again! She's talking...why don't you try it, too? There you go. You are doing it again. Some soldier you are. Must you kiss her now? Like that? Isn't there time later? No? Not time later? Must do this now? Okay, must do this now. Against the table? Really? Yes, oh yes. Really. Must. Table good. Yes. No. Stop. Really. Stop.
"Sorry. I shouldn't have..." He is looking into her eyes and smiling. "I thought of doing that all day."
"What else have you been thinking about today, Jack?"
"Where we should eat. As you'll notice, I haven't quite figured out where to set a table for dinner. No dining room."
"Have you ever eaten in your boudoir, Jack?"
He's blushing again. "Perhaps, we can stay somewhere in the downstairs suite of rooms."
Phryne notices: he's off his game. Cooking. The sweater. His blush. The unexpected kiss. There may be...quite possibly...very possibly...an opportunity to get some of her own back. So far, he has won 4 to her 2, and one of those was a gimme so that he could make her dinner. Would it be so wrong to take advantage of someone cooking for her? No. It would not. The game is on. Now, which game shall it be?
Gently, gently she tells herself.
Phryne brings the candles and the flowers to the floor in front of the fire. Jack approves and brings 2 glasses of wine.
"My master sends me to you, sir." She starts.
Oh, dear. "What for?" he responds.
He knows this one. "To do as I do."
She takes a sip of wine. Then he does. She raises her eyebrows at him...he isn't supposed to stop. He takes another. Then another. Then another. He raises his eyebrows as if to ask how long he should continue. Then another. She gets up to get something from the kitchen to allow him to stop.
She comes back in the room with the bottle, some paper, 2 pens and his hat. "We need some new forfeits, Jack."
"What's wrong with dinner?"
"Dinner already smells wonderful but I shouldn't have to wait so long to get my rewards. These will be payable tonight. Smaller forfeits. I will write one then you will write one."
"You must do the forfeit. No exceptions."
"Writing the forfeits?"
"We each write 10. They go in this hat. Forfeits are selected randomly whenever and for whomever stops obeying the messenger."
What was he saying earlier? It is just dinner? Not just dinner. It is Phryne at dinner. Being Phryne. "Same conditions as before - I can stay dressed, no breaking the law."
"I'll give you one of those. Which is more important, Jack?"
What are you doing? What are you agreeing to? Stop that right now. Say you aren't playing. Pull out the chess board. You can still save this evening. Don't you dare smile at her antics. "The law is more important."
They write their respective forfeits behind curved hand, glancing up at each other to make sure messages can't be deciphered. He's pretty sure he's going to take the worst of this.
So, he starts. "My master sends me to you, madam."
"Why ever for?"
"To as I do." He takes a sip of his wine glass.
She rolls her eyes at him. "Hardly ingenuitive, Jack" she says between sips.
"Just letting you catch up." He waits until her glass is empty before he leaves the room to take the pie out of the oven.
She sees his strategy. Oh, Jack - you are so out of your depth. She asks him for something and he takes it back...with more. It is so easy to make this work to her benefit. Too easy. She looks over to the kitchen to make sure he's out of sight. What forfeits has he written so far? They each only have a few.
"To ask a question for which yes must be the answer." Traditional but has promise.
"To sit for a painting." There is room for improvement with this one. Perhaps he is thinking of the Sarcelle? If so, it could be perfect as is.
"No reading the forfeits! Put them back." he calls out from the other room. How does he know, she wonders? This is already an excellent game. She gets up and walks into the kitchen.
"My master sends me to you, sir."
"To do what I do." She takes a hop on one leg.
Jack starts hopping on one leg. He is trying to continue serving dinner. The slicing of the pie doesn't go badly but the serving it onto a plate is not going to go well at all. He hops over to get utensils and serviettes, laughing. She is satisfied with this performance. She takes the utensils and serviettes back to their fireside picnic area. Jack soon follows with plates of pie and peas. Phryne has refilled their wine glasses.
Jack hands her the plates so that he can sit down next to her. She sits on the side of her hip with both knees bent. He sits just next to her so that her knee is aligned to his hip and vice versa. He peaks inside the hat. "No fair. I get to redo them."
"Why don't you just read mine, Jack?"
The first: "Five minutes, blindfolded." He pauses. There is a 50 percent chance that she gets this one and only a 5 percent chance that this one is chosen at all.
The second: "To hum Advance Australia Fair against winners choice of anatomy, clothed or un as the current situation permits." His hand flew to his mouth, amused. His fingers curl around his lips to provide a moment for composure.
"Very creative, Miss Fisher. My master sends me to you, madam."
"To do what I do." He feeds her a bite of cheese and onion pie.
"Mm. This is delicious." She feeds him his first bite, eagerly accepted. His eyes are shiny and he is chewing with a grin. He looks exactly like the day she fed him gratin in this office. This is a man who loves his food. She gives him another bite. "Is this your idea of hospitality? Are you going to let me starve, Jack?"
He shakes his head. "This is your game. One more." He takes one more greedy bite. "Can we say "stop" or do we have to keep leaving the room?"
"I thought you were a stickler for rules, Jack. You have to leave the room before getting a new message."
"Can we stay and finish dinner first?"
"Then, I shan't let you starve." He picks up her plate and begins to feed her as well. "Why this particular game, Miss Fisher?"
"I couldn't find your chess board." She unwittingly glances at the chess board then to back to Jack with an innocent looking smile. Jack leans in to steal a kiss. "What was that for?"
"For that ridiculous lie. Besides, you are eating too slowly. I'm almost done."
"You had a head start, if you remember. And, if you interrupt me, I'll just take longer."
"Take all the time you need." He leans in for another kiss. This time - more slowly, more softly. He feeds her another bite. As she chews, he writes another forfeit.
Chapter 2: Seashells
Jack cleans up after dinner.
Jack reluctantly takes the empty dinner plates back into his kitchen. He has always prided himself on being clean and tidy - his person and his house. In that moment, he wanted to stay, sitting closely with his dinner companion. Feeling her thigh along his. Perhaps kissing her again. Alas, those dishes were distracting and he wanted all of his attention (and his wits) available for this evening.
This seemed like such an unlikely pairing, the two of them - the divorced detective and the socialite. This particular socialite was following him into the kitchen with her glass of wine and his hat. What did she think she was up to?
"My master sends me to you, sir." One thing she wasn't up to was wasting any time.
"What for, madam?" he was standing at the sink, amused, preparing to clean up from dinner.
"To repeat what I say." She pauses expectantly and waits for him to turn around. "Seashore seashells shine superlative to shandies."
She nods. "Very good, Keep going."
He takes off his watch and prepares the sink for washing. "Seashore...seashells...shine...superlative...to...shandies."
She has gone to the stove, finds a spoon and helps herself to a small taste of the warming fudge sauce. He hears an enthusiastic "mmm!" and finds himself hoping that it doesn't occur to her that it might occur to him to use it in some way other than its intended purpose.
His eyes smile back at her. His mouth remains preoccupied. "Seashore...seashells...shine...superlative...to...shandies." Their dishes are clean. She dries them (he wouldn't have expected that!) and he puts the remaining food away to complete his tidying up.
"Shesore...shesells..." Did she notice? Yes, she noticed. In fact, she's holding out the hat for his first forfeit. He reaches in to pick up a piece of paper. It is one that he didn't fold. Damn. He opens it. Already? Damn.
"Which one did you get, Jack?" She says this greedily. He hands the paper to her. "Nude from the waist up." She breathes in deeply and gives him an exceedingly large grin. "You should be grateful that you didn't pick its twin." Jack closes his eyes to collect himself. Phryne, on the other hand, makes herself comfortable at his kitchen table. She is resting one cheek on her closed fist. "I could help, if you'd like."
Jack takes a swig from Phryne's wine glass. He's pouting. Pouting! This makes Phryne joyous. She doesn't say anything, she doesn't move...except with her eyes "go on then, Jack. I'm waiting..."
He lifts up the waistband of his sweater to the bottom of his chest before reaching over his shoulders to pull it over his head. He has mussed his hair. How lovely. He uses his right hand to pull at the accordion on his left arm and somehow makes the sweater hop neatly into his hands so that he can fold it longways before draping it over the chair. He glances into her eyes, calmer now, before attending to his cuff links. Again he starts with his right hand. He reaches into the bottom of his sleeve (how nicely he does that) and rotates the stay so that it slides out of the button hole at his wrist. He repeats this on the other side and places both cuff links on the table in front of him.
Phryne feels her grin being replaced by another expression all together. Keep going Jack. This is divine.
Jack brings up both hands to his collar to unbutton the atlas of his shirt. "Is that a new tie, Jack?" he nods. It is of cream colored diamonds created by deep red stripes. Bold choice, Jack. He uses one hand to hold the knot and the other to slide the tail free. He holds the tie upright to allow it to straighten and folds it over the sweater.
She so badly wants to help him. She makes herself stay put. He is moving slowly. It is excruciating. Deliciously excruciating.
He begins unbuttoning his shirt. He looks at her as she does this. His chin just off perpendicular as if he wants to but cannot deny either what he is doing or how much she appreciates it. He pulls the shirt tails out of his pants. He is finally unbuttoned. Keep going, Jack. Breathe deeply if you have to but keep going. He rolls his shirt off around his lean but formidable shoulders. Now she can see how the mechanics of each movement are driven by snake-like gears and pulleys hidden under his skin.
One. More. Layer. (for now)
The thin cotton sheath is pulled up to his chest, exposing a surprisingly taut stomach and a delicate stripe of hair starting below his navel and disappearing at his waistband. He has reached over his shoulders again but her attention is at the rising hem, slowly revealing one rib at a time connected his breastbone, then coin sized nipples of diluted bister and rippling lats as the cloth comes over his head. The garment is placed over his tie and his hands used to smooth down his hair.
She smiles wordlessly, takes her wineglass and walks into the other room.
Chapter 3: A Better Detective?
Jack reminisces about a previous time spent in Miss Fisher's kitchen. The two detectives sat at the table, examining a torn page out of the kabbalah with ancient hebrew written across the edge of a page. He addresses Collins "Do you have a match, Constable?" His response "What are you trying to match, sir?" "My wits against Miss Fisher." His effort hasn't stopped since then. The state of his half-dress necessitates a prompt regathering of his wits.
Jack collects more full sized sheets of paper from his desk before picking up his hat from the table and returning to the other room to sit next to Phryne. She may have won the last round. Regardless of whether he wins this one or she wins this one, he will be pleased with the result.
Jack leans over and says quietly "My master sends me to you, madam."
"Really? Whatever for?" She is enjoying this far too much.
"To do what I do." He hands her a piece of paper. Then he grabs a pen and holds it upright for her to take from him. He lays face down on the ground and starts to write one word at a time:
"Between"... then he looks up at her to make sure she follows.
Phryne rolls onto her belly so that she is side by side with the inspector and able to look into his sheet of paper. She writes: "Between"
Jack continues "us detectives, the better is" he looks over to make sure she is writing. He sees on her page "Between us detectives, the better is"
Jack continues again "Detective Inspector Jack Robinson." He raises his eyebrows to Phryne to see if she takes the bait.
His paper says "Between us two detectives, the better is Detective Inspector Jack Robinson."
Her paper says "Between us two detectives, the better is"...
He leans over and whispers in her ear "I can't be that difficult, Miss Fisher...to finally admit it." He feels her breath catch and senses her closing her eyes. "It would be a relief, wouldn't it? To write it down? To confess your deepest thoughts?"
In reality, her only confession would be about what his voice was doing to the rest of her body.
"Keep writing, Miss Fisher and I'll keep doing this." His tongue dabs at the contour of her ear. The heat of his breath travels inside her ear, down her spine and out through the tips of her toes. She lets the pen start moving in her hand. No, it wouldn't be that bad to write it down. The twirls of ink are as incoherent as her thoughts. Jack turns his head to look what she has written on the paper: "Between us detectives, the better is" and then a single line of ink resembling the stem of a flower drifting down to the bottom of the page. He looks directly into her eyes and says "Oh, now that is a shame". He holds the hat for her to allow her to pick up a forfeit.
Phryne collapses onto her stomach, reaches her arm up into the hat and picks out a piece of paper. With a quick roll onto her back, she stashes the forfeit in her loosely closed fist. She caresses the inspectors face. Forfeit? What forfeit? He leans in and hovers close her face, his eyes darting between hers. She arches into him, wraps her arms around his neck and, with softly parted lips, she closes the gap between them. She finds her mouth fully penetrated, his tongue kneading into hers. The heat from his chest, making her skin fall away from hers. She could surrender right now. Game over. No regrets. She groans and pulls him closer.
"Miss Fisher." He has returned to hover over her, a little out of breath. "You aren't getting out of a forfeit that easily." He returned to sitting and held his hand out for her to lever herself to a similar position. She opens her fist to reveal the paper. It is another that she has folded.
"Read it, Jack." He takes the paper from her palm and opens it.
"Only a single layer of clothing is left. The winner removes the rest." His pulse thunders. He looks into her eyes. "Are you sure, Phryne?" The desire reflecting back to him is palpable. She is sure.
His hands skate along her ribs to detect a hidden zipper along her left side. He revels in the unwrapping of his new lover, in the promise of the next inch, in the next moment, in the next sigh, in the next taste. He supports the cloth at the top of the zipper by placing his hand flat against the cloth. It makes the delicate zipper release smoothly. The tension of the dress softens tooth by tooth. He slides his hands under the hem of her dress and over her body, allowing the fabric to gather along his rising arms. Her face briefly disappears in a blanket of blue flowers then reveals itself at the other side. She looks lighter now. He carefully drapes her dress along the back of his settee before sitting aside her again.
He lifts a foot to unbuckle her right shoe. Her leg is supported with one hand; his other slides her heel way from her foot. He places her shoe behind him and gently lowers her leg. He moves to the other. The strap is thin and less flexible than the other. He rests her leg on his and uses both hands to unbuckle this second shoe. His left hand finds its way to caressing her calf as her shoe is removed.
She is wearing a camisole with nothing else under it. Tap pants. Stockings. Her garter belt and smalls make up two layers. The choice between them is his, he knows. He smooths a path up her leg with his hand and fingers at the stay terminating one of the suspenders.There is little he finds more arousing than the feel of silk stockings against the firm pull of suspenders. His joy in applying his tongue to silk, comes from administering heightened stimulus with simultaneous frictions. However, if her pants are the items removed, he won't last. He makes his decision, hoping that another evening like this is possible.
Jack holds the stay along the flat of his four fingers and uses his thumb to release it. Thank god he still remembers how to do this with a single hand. He repeats this to the other stay along this stocking then moves to the two along her other leg. Now for the belt itself. This, he definitely will need both hands. He wraps his hands around her to tuck them below her pants. He finds the fastenings and loops the fabric gently until it is free. Not as bad as it could have been. He pulls the belt out slowly and realizes he could stop. The stockings slouch at her thighs.
His fingers find themselves brushing the lip of silk; it opens to him. Should he continue? If he does, he won't stop. She saves him.
"My master sends me to you, sir." She hasn't left the room, he noted. No matter.
"What for?" He is so warm sitting next to her like this.
"To do what I do." She wraps his fingers in her own and distributes tiny kisses to their tips.
He does this to her pinky finger, ring finger, middle finger, index finger. And again. Then he takes the tip of her index into his mouth slowly and runs his teeth along her skin. Another forfeit is coming his way but he doesn't give a damn. He does the same with her middle finger. Then her ring finger...but before releasing it, sucks it into his mouth along with her pinky finger, rolls his tongue around them and slides them out in release. He presses his lips against the arch of her palm and nibbles at the pad of flesh at the base of her fingers. He raises his head to watch her and strokes down her thumb onto her forearm.
She smiles at his silent acknowledgement and reaches into the hat on his behalf. This one has been opened. She reads it first and purses her lips in pleasure.
"Well, well, Jack..."
She turns the paper toward him so that he can read it: "Five minutes, blindfolded."
Chapter 4: Blindfolds
"When was the last time you had a blindfold on, Jack?"
Phryne is trying (not very hard) to keep from smiling. Trying harder not to lick her lips. Trying even harder than that to keep her hands glued to the floor while they had a brief chat about ... oh...safety. Some guidelines. Consent. Some rules. What to do if it gets to be too much. She would be very surprised (impressed?) if his experience included this particular scenario.
"It was at a birthday party."
"I was six. Maybe seven."
"We were bobbing for apples."
Ooh? "Did you get any?"
His smile was shy. "I did. Seized it by the stem."
Her eyes flew open. "Jack! Did you really?"
He is missing something. What did he just say? Oh, god. Her mind! Honestly. "Phryne..." he glances under hooded eyes and sniggers nervously. He isn't exactly inexperienced but she could make him feel as if he is.
She flirts back with her eyes. She noticed him playing with her stockings before. "I think we should use these, Jack." She slides her index finger between her leg and the silk. They are begging to be removed. "Perhaps, you can get these off for me?" First the stockings, then you...then me...then perhaps both of us together. She gives herself a moment to let her thoughts get ahead of this moment. Never in a million years did she expect this level of collusion from him - in this game or any other.
She watches his beautiful hands slide under one stocking, gathering it in his hands as they slid down her leg, below her heel and off her toes. He takes a moment to straighten it out. She stretches her hand out so that he would give it to her. She folds it along the short axis and puts it over her eyes. It helps that they are blue but she can still see his silhouette beyond the layers of silk. Both stockings are needed. Shame, she was hoping to put the other to use in a different way. Jack is examining her as if she were going to share her plans with him. No, darling - that isn't quite how this works. She leans back on her elbows and extends her other leg to him.
"Why do I get the feeling, you should be telling me something right now." He lifts her leg such that her foot rests on his stomach. His fingertips circle around her knee.
Because you are really very good, Inspector. "Have you heard that people who have a diminished sense of one kind compensate with others?"
There were stories of war veterans who had lost sight and became more dependent on touch or hearing. He hadn't had much experience of this happening. He would be lying if he didn't say that this experiment made him feel skittish. He wasn't a man who liked to give up control, in the bedroom (living room?) or anywhere else. Nevertheless, it was five minutes. What could happen in five minutes? Oh yes, this is Phryne Fisher. A great deal can happen in five minutes.
"I can imagine how that is likely true."
"So, this will make your other senses more acute. It may feel quite intense."
Intuitively, this makes sense to him. Though he wouldn't have thought it necessary to put these thoughts into words.
"I want this to be pleasurable for you, Jack. For that to happen, you need to know you can trust that if you need me to stop, I will." She looks straight at him, nodding subtly and willing him to do the same. She doesn't expect him to understand but she does want him to hear the words so he could use them if he needs to.
One of his eyebrows raised up, giving her an inquisitive look. "Alright." Is this a question? She isn't sure.
"So, if you want me to stop - if you really want me to stop - tell me the word you will use to ask me to stop."
He swallowed. Why would he not simply say "stop?" He leaned back on his elbow and pushed his hand through his hair. He smiled as he thought about their recent undercover operation. "Frankie."
"She got me into this mess."
"Fair enough." Phryne smiles and glances down at her other leg to indicate that the article of clothing needs to be put to a purpose other than covering her leg. Jack set to attending her thighs. This time, he allows his fingers to glide about her skin before and after the silk was peeled away. "Is there anything I shouldn't do, Jack?"
His repeated blinks told her that he has no way of answering that question. Bless him. Hopefully, he still won't know how to answer that in another five (ten?) minutes. He hands her he other stocking. She aligns and folds them before looking through them. Pitch blue. Perfect.
He looks nervous.
She crawls up and kneels next to him. She tenderly brushes his hair away from his face with her fingers. His gaze is heavy on her face; she glances at him sideways, occupying herself by twirling his hair around her fingers. She tilts her head over to his and brushes his forehead with her lips. Then kisses at his temple. When he closes his eyes, she brushes her lips against one lid and then the other. She sits in his lap sideways and takes his lips into hers. "Are you ready?" She sees him swallow. "I'm going to put this on and then you are going to make yourself comfortable. We'll start then." He nods.
She wraps the cloth around his eyes so it coveres him from the middle of his forehead to his cheeks. She ties a half-knot behind his head. Then she smooths the silk around his nose so it is more comfortable. She adjusts the knot. "Can you see?" He tries to blink. Those eyelashes are gorgeous. She already can't wait to see them again. She wraps the tails around themselves so he can lay back comfortably without the knot coming undone.
"No, I can't see anything." His pulse is visible in his neck. She reminds herself that everything feels bigger and faster to him right now. She slowly brushes her fingertips across his lips. He kisses them. Then, she kisses him gently, slowly over and over. She feels his palms open and firm against her back. I'm right here, Jack. She administers soothing caresses to his face and arms until his palms relax.
"Lie down" She guides him slowly. His hands reach out tentatively. The height of the settee is all wrong. The feel of the carpet isn't what he expects. Even his joints aren't bending the way he is used to. Phryne lay next to him, issuing calm strokes to his cheeks, his arms. She brings his hand up to press into her lips. "Jack, I'm going to get something from the other room. I will be right back." His hand twitches in hers. She strokes his head and kisses him. I will be right back. Count to one hundred. He doesn't say anything. "Say it out loud. I promise I'll be right back."
She hears his shaky whisper "one...two...three..." and nips back into the kitchen. She had spied a few useful goodies on the hob and in the ice box earlier. She gathers these and places them on a tray. She also fills a large bowl with hot water and adds that and a clean towel to the same tray. She creeps silently into the other room.
He would hear everything. Smell everything. He stops counting. She doesn't say a word as she dips a basting brush into that lovely fudge sauce that had been simmering earlier. She quickly tests it against her wrist to make sure it isn't too hot. Nope. Perfect. She holds the brush over him and watches it drizzle and pool on his chest.
For him, he feels nothing at first. After a moment, it feels like someone is dragging a long hair across him. Then, he feels...warmth. And, he smells it. Of course, the she-devil would think to do this. It was his one shot at surprising her.
He feels her weight shift over him.
Oh, god. What is that? Is that ice tracing over his chest?
He feels something at his lips. A finger? His tongue peeks out of his mouth and he tastes chocolate on her finger. Then cold again. Her tongue in his mouth, icy and covered in sauce. He opens his mouth to her. She sucks on his bottom lip and lets it snap back.
The next moment is eternity.
Finally, there is something else at his bottom lip. Cool. Juicy. He opens his mouth. A berry covered in cream. The flavors in his mouth explode against chocolate remnants. His entire head can taste it.
She returns to his chest. She is running her tongue in circles around one of his nipples. She sips up the splash of sauce recently deposited. His chest arches up to meet her. Oh, please don't stop.
Another kiss. This one sticky. He licks his lips after and holds one lip over the other to force the feeling to endure.
Her nails! Scrape along his sides. He feels his stomach clench. He lays his hands flat against the ground. It is his only orientation. Her tongue traces along the tracks of her nails. Her hair traces the tracks of her tongue. He feels something against his chest. Not her fingers, but skin. When did she remove her top? The plump hemispheres drag across him with stuttered friction. Jack's groin floods.
Her tongue is back at his mouth, tasting of berries this time.
She stops kissing him and starts feeding him again. Another berry. Chocolate on her finger. Cream covering the protrusion of her breast. He takes the entirety of it into his mouth. He latches onto the nipple as she pulls out of him and lets his head float upward to follow it before she presses him back down. She straddles him and licks his chest clean.
Her mouth is over his again. He reaches out with his tongue. She teases it with her own before pulling away.
Another moment. Another eternity.
He hears water sloshing. Then dripping.
Warm! All over his chest from a warm wet towel. Shocking. Soothing. Hot. Confusing. Cold as soon as it is absent. His skin in goose bumps. Air currents drift over him, opening doors in his body he never knew existed. He hears more water dripping. This time the warmth is pulled across his body in a wide swath before it disappears. A deep shiver. His spine pulses.
Then tight, cool flicks of the corners of the towel against his nipples like pinches. The same corners tracing circles across his ribs and over his stomach like silver spoons. Blood rushes to his skin. The patterns of warm and cool transform current flow beyond his veins.
Cool wind across his skin. He groans.
Then her body draped across him, touching there and there as gravity allows.
"Jack." He is completely disoriented. "Come back." She takes off his blindfold. He lay his head back with his eyes closed. She moves to lay beside him, leaning on her elbow.
He looks to her. "That was five minutes?"
"More or less." Uh. More. Much more.
Huh. He needs a moment. She gives it to him. He opens his eyes again and looks at her. He is glowing. Jack. Handsome, brave Jack. His hand curls around the back of her head to bring himself close to her. The space between them is breathing. His hands find her face. His fingertips trace her eyebrows, the outside of her ear, the contour of her cheek, across her cupids bow. His kiss rolls her onto her back. His hips mutely pulse into hers. One elbow supports his weight to allow this other hand to butterfly across her collarbone, across her chest, along her rib cage before sweeping up her leg with a yaw so that it wraps around him.
How long ago was it that they were playing draughts? She introduced her silly game. What was he so afraid of? It couldn't have been this. Say he wasn't afraid of this.
No, he wasn't afraid of this. He was afraid that he would be the only one feeling "this". His skin crawls back onto him and he's able to think once more.
Jack rolls to his side. "Is it always like this for you, Phryne?"
She can feel his disquiet. "Never, Jack. It is never like this." She can't quite say the next words. Every lover is different. Every experience is different even with the same lover; surely he must know that from his marriage. "What do you need, Jack?" He shakes his head. He has no idea. So, he rests his head on his elbow and takes in her beautiful face. His fingers reach up on their own accord to wrap themselves in her hair.
After a few moments, he looks around. "What have you done to my living room?" It is a mess. "Stay here. I'll be right back." He puts the pot and brush and dishes and towels and everything else she brought out onto the tray and into the kitchen. Putting things back in their place makes him feel better.
Phryne follows him. She has put her camisole back on. He wouldn't have expected that. She has his hat in her hand. She dumps the forfeits all over the table and dons his hat at a fetching angle before perching herself cross legged on the kitchen table.
"I think you do know what you need."
She reaches into the mess of forfeits and removes all the ones that she folded. He sees what she's doing and feels a flush creep over his chest and into his face. She removes the ones that have already been opened and read. He leans back against the sink with arms folded. He isn't sure he wants to face this. What was he thinking?
There is only one left. He wrote it. She picks it up and holds in her palm like a baby bird. "I think this piece of paper will tell me what you want." She looks at him from under hooded eyes. "I'm going to open it now."
He watches the paper unfurl in slow motion. He knows exactly what it says. The right side of her mouth tilts upward. She makes eye contact. The walls of his house fall away to let him glimpse infinity. He is just as unable to contemplate it as anyone else.
She is standing in front of him now. "Yes, Jack. I will." They leave his kitchen with her in his arms. The piece of paper she had been holding drifted to the kitchen floor:
"Stay. Make love to me. As many times as we can."
Chapter 5: Silhouettes
"I can put a fire on."
It is freezing in here. It is not so cold that he can see his breath. But, each of them are covered in goose bumps, not entirely the making of each other's company.
"You already have."
The cold atmosphere is a sharp contrast to the hands caressing her. They are warmer for it. She feels him more acutely. Each stroke sizzles at its application, transferring energy into her, melding the temperature between them. Each egress brings about a rush of cold, enabling the room to steal away what he has just given her. She finds the circulating eddy currents about her skin exhilarating.
"I should close the curtains."
The window is at the rear of his cottage. A glance outside reveals his garden in monochrome. They will have tea there in the morning when the colors wake up. Since he can see out, it might be possible for someone to see in. The curtains of the house butting against his hang tightly together. Should they open, it is unlikely that anyone be able to see into his bedroom. Just in case they can, he should secure their privacy.
"Keep them open."
The moonlight casts onto their bodies and their movements. She arches into him to give her a neck. She watches him apply himself to her in silhouette on the far wall. She admires the flashes of light that coincide with the sliding and merging and posturing of the two dimensional shapes. The image is sharp enough to see his tongue flick to her collarbone before he applies his lips.
"Do you need..."
He must have forgotten something. Does she have all she needs? Is she comfortable? His room contains one bed, barely large enough for the both of them. The white sheets, slightly starched, are taut under two layers of olive green wool blankets. He is grateful that he allowed himself the luxury of a second pillow at the time of his move. Aside from the two of them, all else it contains is a nightstand, supporting an enameled lamp and two books. There is also an armoire for his suits, smalls and assortment of casual clothes.
Her senses are full of the man in front of her. He smells of sandalwood soap and warmth. He tastes of wine and chocolate. He sounds of rumbles and textures more complex than her education affords her. His looks are calm and complex, daring and shy, surrendering and concerned and all together gorgeous. He feels. Oh, he feels like boat tied at a dock as a storm surges. A shelter that knocks about more dangerously because it is tethered.
He doesn't know what he wants to say.
She presses her index finger against his jaw to direct his attention to the wall behind them. She sees his recognition in profile and, then, face on as he snaps back to her. Her eyes flit back to the wall. Watch.
The female silhouette finishes undressing, revealing a structure seen twice in flesh: once on stage, once post blindfold. Never like this. As the arms are lifting away the fabric from the rest of the body, different hands explore a waist and lowest ribs. Gaining confidence, they move to explore a local apex - hard in shadow, soft in flesh. He rotates his hand to see more clearly how the weight of a thumb manipulates the direction and amplitude of other's diminutive peak. He registers the revealing of a deeper curve below the waist facing away from him, a shallower curve of a thigh, emanating from a barely visible fuzz.
The petite set of hands has set to removing clothes from the larger body. The shadow is briefly indistinct as it shapes a bulk downward movement. A hooked finger pulls a string, another hand finds the other and another form is cast down, revealing an appendage. It is handled delicately. One hand becomes a plinth, letting the other pet along its length until one tapered tip circles around the other in small rings. A picture of the Sistine chapel flashes in front of him, forcing an inappropriate guffaw.
He looks at her, embarrassed and pleased, nibbling at his own lower lip.
She tips her head to the back wall.
He shakes his head to deny her, for once. He wants her, not her shadow.
Chapter 6: A Small Interrogation
Jack Robinson has never before made love to a woman without some concurrent declaration of love. To do so now is indefensible. Nor, will he get away with an application of that age old rehearsal of using the word in a different way: "I love that dress on you" or "I love how masterfully you apprehended that criminal on behalf of the Victorian Constabulary" or, even more daring, "I love the way you have masterfully positioned yourself in my house, on my bed, on your knees, and stroking me thus."
Earlier, she spoke of his need. He doesn't want to think of whether his needs revolve this evening or, more generally, around her. He can get on independently. He has proven that. He has fashioned himself to be a modern man - modern enough. Should she disappear from his life, or he from hers, he would still know how to get up each day. Dress himself. Feed himself. He'll answer the next phone call, visit the next crime scene. He knows how to don his gloves to collect evidence. He is fully able to complete a report in triplicate and do his part in a larger plan for a more just world. He does quite well on his own. Capable. Yes, that is the word. He couldn't possibly need her. Even this will not be said aloud. Her need for him is even less. It must be. So, why him? He looks askance at her shadow drinking from his lips, unbelieving. How could he possibly whet her appetite?
Or satisfy it?
He needs to know. He brushes through her hair with his fingers. "How is it, Miss Fisher, that we find ourselves here?"
"You invited me, remember?" She is undeterred in her administrations.
"I do remember. That doesn't explain how we came to be here. Like this." He continues to nuzzle her neck.
"Would you deny this, Jack?" She stops to look at him seriously, catching another of his shifts in mood.
"I am smarter than that. Besides, you should know how rarely I deny anything if you are involved." His eyes dance around her face looking for anything to help him understand. "However, if I am honest..."
"You are always honest." She watches his chest rise on an inhale and prepares herself for the things he says sometimes that makes her heart stop.
"I find our current situation unfathomable."
"Oh, I see." Phryne stopped everything to slide her hands into his. "When you say unfathomable, are you speaking of the unlikelihood that we should be lovers or of the depth of..." She didn't know what to say next. She doesn't do feelings.
"Why me, Phryne? You can have anyone."
"Why not you?"
"We work together, for a start. It makes everything so...complicated."
"Is now a good time to bring up how much I like your desk, Jack?"
"Phryne..." he rolls his eyes.
"I like complicated." Of course, she does. "Besides...so do you." Does he? When did that happen? He avoids complicated. Oh, no. She's right. How does she do that?
"You are not getting off that easy."
"Well, I might if you just tried touching me mmmph." His kiss silences her.
"Don't change the subject."
"Are you...mmph." Silenced again. She pulls him onto the bed and onto her, their arms and legs in tangles. "Ja..mmm...wommmmmm...". She is quite happy not to say anymore on the subject, especially if he keeps her from speaking using this particular method.
"I am asking you a question."
"Oh? I thought you were kissing me."
"Only because you keep not answering my question."
"You are hardly giving me sufficient reason to engage in honest discussion. I like that. Let's continue. Now, about that desk...mmmph nnve nmnm". He is incapable of thinking. How difficult is it to get a straight answer out of this woman? And, why does he continue playing along with her silly games?
"Phryne!" He is trying very hard to maintain his composure.
"Are you going to interrogate me, Inspector."
"Yes. Yes, I am." Jack wraps his legs around her hips, anchoring himself to the bed. "Why did you start this game?" He is determined to get some answers.
"Well, we were already playing one game, Jack. And, games are so much fun."
"Answer the question, Miss Fisher."
"You are asking the wrong question."
"What is the right question?"
"Why did you opt in?" She is amused.
No. No, no, no. "That is hardly the right question. You are attempting to change the subject again. From you to me. The subject is currently you. You can interrogate me later."
"Are you unfairly extracting a Truth from me, Jack? I don't recall that being in the rules."
"Whether you like it or not, I have an entire bank of examples for which I was right and you were wrong. Stop quibbling and tell me."
"Tell you what? I have forgotten already." She wiggles underneath him, enjoying his weight.
"The game, Phryne. When you started this game. What did you want from it?" Her attempted diversions entertain him.
"I wanted...," she is laughing before she stopped. "you, Jack. I wanted you."
He stares at her in incredulity. This is exactly the thing he cannot believe and, yet, when said with that sagacity there is nothing left for him to ask. She wanted him. She wants him. He feels foolish for making her say that thing which should be obvious. What else does he need to know?
"And now?" He repositions his legs so that he is nested between hers.
"Jack, how can you ask that?" She wraps her arms and legs around him.
"How can you deny me the pleasure of hearing you say it? Tell me again."
"You are being greedy, Jack Robinson."
"I am, Miss Fisher. I am very greedy." Jack took her top lip in his softly. He stayed close to whisper into her mouth. "Please, tell me again that you want me."
Her eyes were captured by his intensity. She heard herself saying, as genuinely as she has ever said anything in her life, "I want you, Jack." These words open a door between them. As easily as she invites him for tea or, more likely, to sip whiskey after closing a case, he enters into her.
Chapter 7: Tipping the Scales
There were glimpses, of course, of the real Jack Robinson. These clues had been sprinkled amongst his habits and neuroses. She had spied the possibility that somewhere and somehow he might fully reveal himself to her. "Gratin, Jack!" That was the first time. There were other times that gave indications of how he might be otherwise. He could have been a solid plank, nervous and erratic, hinging only at the hip. He could have been awkward, stopping as soon as he entered into her, then pumping quickly until he was spent. He could have been ...and even if he was all of those things she would have enjoyed him.
Yet, he wasn't.
Phryne's love life, though with others of varied in skill and temparment, was most definitive in its physical nature. She could recite back each caress of previous lovers and remember which parts of their anatomies pressed on her differently to make her feel different things. It reminded her that she was a sensual animal. Not Jack. Now now. That isn't to say that she didn't enjoy the full feeling she gets with him inside of her. And yet, that aspect of their making love wasn't forefront in her mind. Nor was it dwelling on what this intercourse may mean. Where Phryne might have shunned the idea of spirits or, even, angels, she believed in the human soul. Right now, hers was greeting his. A simple hello told him that she saw him.
He saw her, too.
She knew she was smiling because her cheeks were getting sore. She thought she would remember what it felt like to look at his face with his crinkled nose and lopsided smile. Come closer Jack so that I can taste you again. She hummed against his lips and ran her hands along each side of his spine, to feel how his entire body undulated into hers.
She felt a shiver ripple through her from the sides of her abdomen.
"Are you cold, Phryne?"
"A little. But, don't stop. Please." She ran her fingertips along his forehead and into his hair.
He shifted onto one elbow so that he could run his hand down her flank to pull them closer together. "Am I too heavy?"
"No. Just right." The substance of him is what she wanted. She flexed her legs to pull her body into him. They moved with vigor. Their breath became more rapid as they did so. She plastered her mouth to his. She wanted to feel every part of him against her. HIs exhale brushed her cheek and caused strands of her hair to float backwards.
"Phryne." Her name rumbled into her ear cascaded down her arms. It caused her to tangle her fingers deeply into his hair to raise herself again to take his tongue into her mouth before she collapsed back onto the pillow. He took in the look of her. He was slack jawed and unfocused the moment before he careened into her.
The wood behind her is smacked into the wall. Her hand felt his jaw clenching. She stays with this movement. It is steady but she is not. Soon, she arched and released her knees outward. She may have said something. His name, perhaps. She didn't know. His breath was at her neck. She refolded herself around him and rocked against his pubis. His blood pulsed at the same rate as hers, almost as if he was responsible for driving the oxygen around her body.
They wrapped around each other, using fingertips to trace each other's face, soft voices to whisper each other's name and mouths to alternate between shared smiles and more kisses.
Eventually, their smiles relaxed and kisses mutated into the eskimo kind.
Their mutual silence has protected the spell long enough for their feelings to cure. In reality, neither was up for speaking. Phryne shivered again. Jack pulled back the covers and got her tucked in. He curled up behind her.
"I don't want to sleep, Jack." Her eyes were already closing. In the battle between Phryne Fisher and Phryne Fisher, there was no question who would win.
"Why, not?" He saw her between his own blinks.
"You might not make me dinner again."
If someone asked him right now whether he'd be willing to make dinner for her every night for the rest of his life, he just might say yes. "Why would you think that?"
Her eyes opened wide and she flipped toward him. "Mac thinks I might be too much trouble."
He felt his chest shake against her. Then, he heard himself laughing. Phryne didn't appear to be as amused as he was. "I don't see why that would concern you. It never has before."
"It doesn't. I'm just making polite conversation." She never made polite conversation.
"Phryne. I will admit something to you but it is only because I'm feeling a certain amount of equanimity."
She looked at his chest and followed the movements of her hands. She might have been pouting. It could have been a trick of the light.
Jack tipped her chin with two fingertips so that she looked up at him. "You are...usually...just the right amount of trouble. But, if you tell anyone that I said that, I will deny it vehemently."
She rolled her eyes and gave him half a smile.
"Is something on your mind, Phryne?" He slid his hands down her arms. This wasn't the mood he expected from her. He wondered if he's done something wrong.
"You never said, Jack."
He was confused. "I never said what?"
"Why you opted in."
Oh. That's easy. "I couldn't resist."
She pushes him onto his back. "That's it? That's all you have for me?"
"Um hmm. That's all I have." He flexed his stomach muscles to bring his face closer to hers. "Did you want it to be more complicated?"
He propped himself on his elbows. "If I promise to make you dinner again sometime in the near future, will you figure out how to deal with this disappointment?"
"Perhaps. If I must."
"Are you not happy enough to be considered irresistable, Miss Fisher?"
"It does sound much better when you put it like that."
He pulled her to him to rest her head on his chest. He closed his eyes and let his hands drift over her back. "You already knew that."
"I might have."
"Did you know that you've become my favorite detective to work with?"
Jack opened his eyes to contemplate the ceiling. "Did you know how much I liked making breakfast for you the other morning?"
Phryne propped herself to look at his face. He opened one eye to look at her. "I may not have known that."
"Did you know that I almost snuck in your room when we were undercover?" He felt her smile.
"I definitely did not know that."
"Did you know that you are most beautiful when you wake up?"
"No, Jack. I didn't" Her voice was softer now. He could feel her relaxing.
"So, perhaps now you might understand why I am so eager for you to sleep."
"But your forfeit." Each subsequent word was heavier than the next. "As many times as we can, you said."
"We don't have to sleep all night. Besides, if we do, there is always morning."
"All right. Good night, Jack."
"Good night, Phryne."
Chapter 8: The Morning After
Jack woke alone.
His bedroom was washed in grey morning light. The covers next to him had been thrown up in order to keep him warm and undisturbed. A glance over the side of the bed informed him that her undergarments were no longer there.
He made his eyes focus on the face of his watch. For the first time in ten hours, he wished he had insisted on playing chess. Her scent is still on him. She is still on him. He closed his eyes, tempted to forgo facing the day. After all, who would know?
The morning was supposed to come with laughter and the clanking of dishes. He was supposed to have been greeted with a mop of messy black hair and, if he played his cards right, more trouble. Another joke, another dare, another anything.
Instead, it was quiet.
In these moments of thinking, he had tended to essentials and splashed cold water on his face. Two drops raced beyond his neck and half-way down his chest before he captured them with a towel. He should shower and shave. He decided against it. It is his day off, after all. And it is the first since he and Phryne went undercover weeks ago.
His reflection spoke back to him. You weren't going to win this one. He had to agree.
What went wrong?
They didn't get much sleep in the end. She woke him up, what, three times? It was better than he could have ever imagined. The last time she woke him, he had been dreaming of flying. No, not flying. He had been dreaming of floating in the air. The currents were rolling under him in pillows. He dreamed the currents became warm and felt his attention driven back to his bed. When he came to, she had him in her mouth. All of him.
At the time, he felt manners required him to say that she didn't have to. Fortunately, his mouth wasn't working. He caressed the back of her neck, careful not to put any pressure on her. He got harder and as he did so, the twirls of her tongue along his shaft and across his head got bigger as well.
He knew her well enough to know that she did nothing she didn't want to. He put thoughts of stopping her away. She stopped on her own when she was ready but it was for the purpose of crawling against him. She made a blanket of her body. He wrapped his arms around her waist and received her lingering kiss. Their lips remained touching when she lowered herself onto him.
He groaned at the time.
Unlike the time before, now they moved slowly. It was like she had been in his dream with him and knew about the currents like pillows rolling under them. In this time of being together, they would simply let the movements unfold as they would and float away. He pulled closer to kiss her again.
That was when she said it.
"Jack, I love you."
Chapter 9: Swan Lake
Jack wondered about their next conversation and of how it could salvage them. It would take place in her parlor after their next case. He’d be standing at the mantle, as he often did, with a drink in hand. She’d be sitting relaxed on the chair closest to him. No, that isn’t quite right. He would have just arrived. She would be sitting on the chair closest to the fireplace and he would be accepting a drink from Mr. Butler on his way over to the mantle. He would be nonchalant.
Now, tell me Miss Fisher, does that new furrow in your brow have anything to do with your telling me that you love me the other night?”
“Jack, I never said that I loved you. I was being affectionate. I was following instructions.”
“All in the line of adhering to the forfeit?”
“Well you did say “making love”. I wanted to be complete. I’m sorry if you think I took a liberty.”
“Phryne, you told me you loved me. Let’s call a spade a spade”
“You said you loved me, too.”
He did say it. Many times. So did she.
In this fabrication, neither would have to apologize for anything they had said or done. They would get back to solving crimes with the odd flirtation and, occasionally, more. Eventually, or perhaps never, they would be able to say those words again.
He lit the stove to put the kettle on and slipped into his sweater. He belatedly registered that his parlor chair contained a demure blue puddle that he hadn’t expected to be there.
She hadn’t left.
He returned to the doorway. She was tucked in the chair overlooking his garden. Her dress was unzipped at the side, revealing a fold of skin at her waist. Her heels were snug against her hips. Her forehead perched on her knees, which was also covered with the tangled mop of hair he so wanted to see as he awoke. Her neck curved gracefully into two arms, from which her fingers dripped. In another place and time, he would have expected her to emerge in dance if, perhaps, Swan Lake started playing on his gramophone.
She must be freezing.
Jack covered Phryne with the throw from the couch, but he ended up waking her as well. She looked at him with the confused, bleary eyes one gets from rising from an uncomfortable sleep.
“Jack.” It wasn’t a greeting as much as it was an acknowledgement of the man in front of her.
“What are you doing down here?” He sandwiched her toes between his hands. They were icicles. The whistling kettle saved her the trouble of providing an immediate response.
“I’ll make some tea.”
He made some toast with marmalade to accompany the tea and brought these to the other room on the breakfast tray. He had heard her shuffling about the house for a brief morning routine. By the time he carried in the tray, her eyes were open. Just. Stretching her spine, catlike. Painted toes and fingers splayed like claws. He glanced away upon noticing the shape of her nipples, hard in the cool morning air, visible through her dress. He felt he was intruding.
At the same time, it was his living room and he had no idea what else to do. So, he poured tea. And he sat down as a gentleman might, with upright posture and crossed legs. He was holding the saucer in one hand and tipped the tea into his mouth with the other.
She picked up her teacup just under the lip with her fingertips and put her little finger under its ridge to support it and to get her hands warm. She brought it up to her mouth. She blew gently across the surface and took her first sip. That’s the thing with those deeply schooled in manners. She maintained her elegance all the more for knowing how to break the rules.
They hoped the other would speak first. One glanced over as the other demurred. They might hold eye contact for a few moments. Jack raised his eyebrows and leaned forward. “Phryne, what happened? Why were you down here?”
“Jack, I…,” she didn’t appear to have the words. Her mouth hung open as if she were urging something to come to her.
“Whatever it is, Phryne, I’m a grown man and I’m sure I can handle it. But, I am thinking a lot of different things right now. I don’t know what to do or to say. I can’t …we can’t figure it out if you won’t tell me.”
“Are you sorry about last night?”
She glanced back from looking into the garden. “No, Jack. No.”
Her own toast was in front of her. Nevertheless, she spied his. He offered his plate. She stole the top piece and delicately munched into it.
He wanted to say something to put her more at ease. But, what would he possibly say? Should he bring up that word? Should he acknowledge this thing that hung in the air or is it better to pretend it doesn’t linger about them? The thing that he meant completely but knows it was perhaps said too early? He was certain she meant it at the time. They finish their toast in silence.
“Jack, we both said some things last night...”
“Are you sorry about that?”
“Only if it means that something between us might end before it ever began.”
There it is. Ballast. “Me, too.”
What have they just told each other? Jack collected the empty plates and cups on the tray to bring back to the kitchen. An obscure thought escaped from his throat before he could stop himself from speaking. “Maybe, you just need more practice.” He chanced a parting look from under hooded eyes and departed to the kitchen.
She was on his heels. “What do you mean by that?”
He put the tray on the closest counter.
She was right behind him. He turned, put his hands on the edge of the counter behind him and stood to his full height.
“Phryne, my master brings me to you.”
Chapter 10: It Is Still Last Night in New York
Big thanks to ladygrayluvs and whilenotwriting for their help in getting me over hurdles and blocks. Ladies, if I can ever return the favor..
The statement caused Phryne to shift her weight to her right foot, now located behind her and pointed towards the front door. She recognized the stance as one she adopted as a resident of Collingwood. Jack dropped his eyes to her feet, crossed his arms at his chest and met her glance with his eyebrow raised.
A sheepish grin and a shrug were given as a sort of admission of an early defeat. Fine, I shall play your game. "Whatever for?"
"To ask you a series of questions. Each time, I successfully procure of the word "yes" from you, I win a kiss. For each "no", I will take a liberty."
Phryne shifted her weight again to bring both feet firmly under her body and facing Jack. She mirrored his cross-armed stance and quirked lip. She knew this mood of his. He wore it with witnesses and suspects alike but only when all facts of a case had been secured and any remaining needs were tied to the formality of a signature.
"Do you reject this idea?" Phryne had not been on the receiving end of such scrutiny. Jack's countenance implied that he had a secret armory of techniques forged for the delightful extraction of her answers.
Jack raised his arm to brush Phryne's hair with his fingers. He straightened her fringe and used his middle finger to tuck her hair behind her ear in a way he has seen her do in the past. "You have already admitted that this set of games, instigated by you, was a ruse to motivate a greater intimacy between us. Do I understand this correctly?"
Jack bent at the waist, his glance askance. He grazed her lips so quickly that ten of them would have fit into a single second. It had come and gone faster than she could either register or respond. "Based on our post recent history your current demeanor, should I interpret that your desire for this series events remain purely physical?"
Jack's fingers descended to Phryne's collarbone. He traced the structure below her neck and over to her shoulders, and started to slowly circle around her. His fingers stopped at the place in her neck where he may choose to measure her pulse, where they lingered. His soft laughter floated into her ear, "Does this mean that you have feelings for me, Miss Fisher?"
He completed his circle, wrapped his hand around her waist and dipped her. “When you say ‘I might’, I am quite certain you really mean ‘yes’”. He deposited a second chaste kiss. He lifted her back to standing and clasped his hands behind his back while starting a second circle around her in the opposite direction. "So, since you have feelings for me and since you accepted my invitation for a meal for just the two of us at my house, it would be reasonable for a man like me to assume that you might wish to act on those romantic feelings. Was this the case when you came over last night?"
He placed his lips more firmly on hers, staying close after releasing her. " When you arrived last night, did you intend on staying the evening?"
“No? Are you certain of this, Miss Fisher?” Jack slid his hand through the open zip of Phryne's blue dress to fondle her breast with his fingertips. "Do you like these liberties I am taking with you?"
"Yes, very much.”
“Good. I like taking them. I will remember this in future.” His tongue was met with eager acceptance. She wrapped her arms around his neck, keeping him close and inviting a longer exploration that alternated between urgent and tender. After some minutes, he stopped and held his lips motionless against hers. Rather than pull away, he continued to nibble at her while speaking. "Last night, you said you loved me. Did you mean it?”
Jack stroked Phryne’s cheek and kissed her gently. “Even so. I missed you this morning.” He closed one eye and looked at her sideways as if he were appraising a diamond. “Who would have thought that a woman who isn’t scared of guns, or gangsters, or drug dealers frightened herself by uttering just a few little words.” A furrow in his brow appeared at the same time that his lips turned down. “I suppose my only consolation is that the second best detective in the room couldn’t figure it out first.”
“Who said I…?” Phryne was indignant for a split-second. She snapped her mouth shut and pressed them tightly to keep from smiling.
Jack’s grin taunted her. “One more thing you’d rather not say out loud?”
"Yes…NO!” She laughed, knowing full well she’d been caught.
"Good. I love you, too. I hope we can consider that settled. The question remains about what we will do about it. I like the thought of mere dalliance. What do you say?"
Jack lifted her flimsy skirt to her thighs and fitted his hands to her bare buttocks. “No dalliance for us? What a shame. I think it could have been fun. How about a torrid affair? Would that be more to your liking?”
“This pleases me as well.” He rubbed his nose against hers.
“Jack, that last forfeit. It doesn’t really have to end so soon, does it?” She wriggled closer into him and fingered the knit of his sweater.
“Well, despite the fact that it is,” Jack looked at his watch, “eight in the morning here, it remains ‘last night’ somewhere in the world.”
She applied a neat column of kisses down his neck. “What time is it in New York?”
"It is 5pm last night in New York. Dinner isn’t even ready yet.” Jack pressed into Phryne, walking her backwards until she touched the table.
“Poor Jack. You have had such a long day at work. You must be starving. You wouldn’t dare ruin your dinner by eating earlier. Would you?” She perched herself delicately on the surface.
“I couldn’t possibly.”
“No, definitely not.”
He sat down at the table and considered how he might indulge in her offering. A sliver of pink was visible beneath the black thatch in front of him. This was accessed with a clandestine lick. His fingers explored. Each time she released a gasp or a groan, he lingered to apply more pressure or, maybe less.
“Will you make sure to remind me to speak to you later about concealing dangerous weapons under your skirt, Miss Fisher?” He captured his eyes with hers and applied light, little circles to a little, pink bud at the top of her sex.
“No, I will absolutely not.”
“Have it your way.”
Jack captured her flesh between his tongue and his teeth. He pulled at her gently. He nipped at her. He lapped and encased her in his mouth. The entire time, he watched her respond. Right now, her head was thrown back with abandon. Her skirt splayed across the table.
He wiped his face and stood up, unwilling to wait longer. “Phryne, would you…”
“Yes.” He kissed her as she undid his trousers. She used both hands to stroke him. He was fully erect.
“Your smell. I love it. Does it bother you…”?
She guided him into her. His kisses became more demanding. He moved inside of her, experimentally. He was looking for something. There. He felt himself slide against the inside of her pubic bone. She let loose the guttural sound he had heard the night before.
"Do you like that?”
"Yes!" His kisses continued. He would be sore later but this was worth it. He continued pushing into her. She was slick and juicy. He had one hand on her back and another pressing into the table.
"I swear, Phryne. I will never be able to sit down at this table again without thinking of this moment.” She started giggling and her leg slipped. For all of the pleasure it brought her, this position was damn awkward for both of them. “Hold on tighter.” Then, he chuckled and couldn't stop. The more they tried to hold this position, the more difficult it was and the harder they laughed. It only titillated them faster.
He felt the heat rise into his face. "Phryne, I'm going to..."
She did first. The convulsion in his balls triggered a race through his shaft and into her. She pulsed around him. Phryne combed her fingers through his hair, looking at him sweetly. "Jack, will you come back upstairs with me?"
The word "yes" had been on the tip of his tongue. The phone rang. He reluctantly unwrapped himself from her and walked to pick up the telephone receiver. ”Jack Robinson, here.” He had spoken in a most professional voice even as he eyed her appreciatively. Then, he grimaced and wrote down an address. Twice. ”I will be there in 30 minutes.” He replaced the receiver.
”The night has passed us after all. A murder, I’m afraid." He held up a slip of paper in the air. She nabbed it. "How will you manage to entertain yourself without me?”
”I’ll be there within 10 minutes of your arrival.”
”I hate to ask but, will you see yourself out?”
She got one last kiss before he ran upstairs to shower. In the meantime, she was tasked with figuring out how to slip past an older woman that was lingering, quite unnecessarily, by the Hispano.