Ellen wished the first time it happened had been in West Virginia. She wished she could have blamed the whole thing on a momentary lapse in judgment brought on by the anonymity of a hotel room and the fact that she was still grieving over the loss of the love of her life. Hotel rooms always had that feeling about them, that sense that someone had just fucked in them or that someone was about to. Maybe she’d seen too many movies about cheap affairs but just walking into one always made Ellen ache a little bit in a delicious way.
It would make sense that this was where she and Tom had begun whatever it was that was going on. It would be easier to explain away to her conscience and she might have felt a bit more justified if they were caught and she’d have to defend herself. She was grieving; they were lonely; it was a hotel room in another city and you just have to do things like that in hotel rooms in foreign cities.
That wasn’t the first time though.
The first time it happens David is alive and well and they are nowhere unfamiliar at all. In fact, she and Tom are in the office, a place that’s starting to look more familiar than the home she shares with her fiancé, even with the lack of pictures around
And maybe that’s part of it too. The fact that Patty prefers to keep reminders of home outside of work allows Ellen to forget about that other life, just for a little while. It allows her to forget about a family that demands too much of her and a sweet, kind, handsome fiancé who tries really hard but still doesn’t quite understand her ambition or the thrill that she gets from this case, from being able to tear an asshole’s life apart while he works so hard as a doctor to put people back together.
She’s not sure if that’s an example of opposites attracting or just a really fucked up and contrary basis for a relationship. Either way there are nights when that ring feels really heavy on her finger.
Tom understands. Even if he’s not as cutthroat as Patty or even she is, he understands the thrill of winning and how you might have to push the boundaries of ethics to get that done. He loves being a lawyer and loves Patty. It took her a long time to understand affection for her boss. Longer even still to feel it herself.
Tom was different though. She liked Tom right away. She remembered how excited she’d been to get the call that Hewes and Associates was interested in her, and how warm and inviting Tom sounded, his voice sliding over her in a way that had taken her by surprise, David’s sleep heavy weight on her shoulder an unwelcome intrusion.
She liked him even more when she met him, his friendly smile and the firm palm that always found the small of her back as he led her around. She was intimidated by her first real job and it seemed she spent most of her time with her stomach in knots so Tom’s face was always a welcome sight and a conversation with him seemed to be one of the best ways to ease her tension.
Then before she knew it, she had settled in and they had become a team. The anxiety never went away entirely but she started to recognize that as a side effect of working for Patty. Even after ten years, Tom’s worry lines never went away entirely.
It was another late night, courtesy of Arthur Frobisher, and another round of murmured apologies on their respective cell phones. Even as Ellen fought not to hear the annoyance in David’s voice, she couldn’t help but overhear Tom’s placating tones across the room. He sounded well practiced.
Tom looked resigned as he sat down again at the conference table and pulled a pile of folders in front of him. “He take it okay?” he asked, not even bothering to look up.
Ellen shrugged and quirked an eyebrow. “What do you think?”
Tom chuckled at that. “I think that as far as working for Patty Hewes is concerned, he ain’t seen nothing yet.”
“Does it get easier?”
He finally looked up. “Disappointing people? Never. But some things are more important.”
Ellen doesn’t ask what, just nods and pulls her own set of files in front of her.
They worked companionably for a while, the sounds of pencils scratching and papers shuffling the only sound as they watched the office slowly empty out.
After a while, Ellen sighed and sat back, pulling her feet up under herself as her eyes traced the New York City skyline at night. “It’s beautiful.” She murmured to herself before turning to Tom for confirmation.
His eyes slid back up to her face so quickly that she could almost convince herself that she’d imagined it. She looked down and realized that her new position had caused her skirt to ride high on her thighs. She looked up to apologize and found Tom staring at the pages in front of him, blushing profusely and loosening the buttons at his collar.
“Oh.” She didn’t quite realize she’d said the word aloud until he looked up at her, fiddling with a pen between his fingers as he tried desperately to look normal.
“What?” he asked, voice strained and throaty.
That’s what did it. The first voice she’d heard at the firm, and the first smiling face, normally so controlled and steady. But she’d rattled him. Done it in a way even Patty couldn’t. Even in her fantasies . . . and she could admit she’d had a few. Alone in her shower after spending the day with Tom and while David snored in the bed right outside, or early in the morning in her bed if Tom called her for a Starbucks order before he headed in to work. But in every one of those fantasies, his voice was still his, still soothing and calm. The fact that she could make him sound so. . .raw. It sent a zipping sharp sensation straight between her legs.
She must have been staring because Tom stood awkwardly after a moment, murmuring something about making copies and heading home. Ellen stood and walked after him, catching him at the door and placing an arm on his shoulder to reassure him. “Tom.” She said quietly and he turned. “It’s okay.”
“Ellen-” He paused, seemingly unsure what to say. Finally, he sighed. “This is embarrassing. You’re young and I’m-” he trailed off, seeming unwilling to voice any of the many adjectives that came to mind.
“You’re-” She prompted before she shook her head and kissed him.
Kissing him was also different than she’d expected. He was aggressive and possessive, his fingers digging into her sides as he maneuvered them back into the office and pushed her up against the conference table before he palmed her thighs and lifted her onto the surface.
Ellen’s hands instinctually fought to undo the buttons down his blue shirt and she moaned as she curled her fingers in his chest hair, good steady Tom and his racing heartbeat under her palms.
He buried his face in the nape of her neck, breathing in the scent of her hair before his tongue slid out to trace a wet path across her collarbone and down.
“Take your top off.” He’d growled and she obeyed immediately, pulling the blouse over her head and blushing a little as she revealed the sensible white bra she’d selected that morning. “Gotta learn to plan ahead, Ellen.” She remembered thinking to herself. “Never know when you’ll decide to start an office affair.”
Tom didn’t seem to care, his clever fingers tugging at the straps until her breasts popped out and he could cover them with his mouth.
Ellen shuddered and moaned as he tugged roughly on her nipple with his teeth, realizing somewhere in the back of her mind that she should be more cautious of the marks he was probably leaving on her skin. Ellen couldn’t seem to get her thoughts together enough to even warn him though, not when he was moving down, laying hot wet kisses across her stomach and hip. He looked up at her, those blue eyes heavy with arousal and Ellen grinned, the sound of their heavy breathing the only break in the silence.
Suddenly Tom reached underneath her skirt and tugged hard, ripping a hole in her brand new pair of panty hose. Ellen squeaked, her thighs suddenly more than slick in preparation for his touch.
Tom settled back in his chair and grabbed her skirt, dragging her over to him so he could bury his face between her legs and just breathe in. It was obscene. She couldn’t help but wonder if he’d done the same as her. If in his bed and his shower he’d thought about this moment the way she had, if his mouth had ever watered from wondering what she tasted like.
The first touch of his tongue to her body and she jerked in surprise, a low keening sound leaving her mouth as he licked insistently, his tongue working her efficiently and enthusiastically. She could barely hear the little grunts he was making over the rushing of blood in her own ears. After a few moments, one of his blunt fingers joined in, penetrating roughly and then sliding into her body deeply, his fingers crooking up. She really moaned at that sensation, rocking her hips back against his hand and his face, her fingers grasping for purchase in his short hair. He quickly added a second and then a third finger, her slickness easing the way until she felt full, so much more full than when David was deep inside her. She could feel the cold metal of Tom’s wedding ring inside of her and she gasped and came, his mouth continuing to slide against her until she stopped quivering.
“Tom?” she questioned tentatively, sitting up on her elbows to look at him. “Hold on, I could. . .”
But he shook his head and stepped back, his erection still obvious in his suit pant. “I, I gotta go. My uh-” He choked on the word. “I’m uh, expected.”
And he was gone before she’d even managed to stand on her shaky legs.
After that, she’d figured that was the end of it. She texted David that she was on her way home and tried her best to bury the guilt that washed over her when he texted back that he’d ordered out and was waiting up to have dinner with her. She’s spent a few more minutes cleaning up, putting the files back in place for the morning before she spent a few minutes after that in the ladies room, dabbing toilet paper between her thighs and burying her ruined stockings in the garbage can.
By the time she found her way home, she could almost convince herself that it hadn’t happened.