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Delight Out of Loosened Soil

Chapter Text

“Down the alley, Jack!”

Phryne Fisher was flying down the sidewalk, navy heels ringing on the pavement and red coat billowing in her wake. Just ahead, Detective Inspector Jack Robinson grabbed at the corner of a brick building as he abruptly swung down a narrow lane, the worn soles of his leather shoes skidding on the dirt.

“Stop! Police! Barrows, we know it was you; we saw you with the necklace!” Jack's voice ricocheted off the walls, but the running figure ahead didn't slow.

Phryne had nearly caught up to Jack when the alley opened abruptly onto a dirt yard, derelict stables to one side, five or six scrawny chickens flapping desperately to avoid the onslaught of humans pounding into their domain.

“Jack! He's going to go over the gate!” Phryne looked about for something to throw at the suspect, but short of a chicken, the ground appeared free of suitable projectiles.

“Drop it, Barrows! There's no way out! Even if you get away, we know who you are and we'll be on you in no time!”

The man seemed to pause in midair, and Jack and Phryne saw him toss a handful of something sparkling to the side of back gate. Then he vaulted over the fence, and they heard the heavy thud of his boots hitting the ground on the other side, his footsteps quickly retreating.

When Phryne reached Jack's side, he was doubled up, hands braced on his knees, his chest heaving.

“Blast! I wanted him locked up today!” Jack removed his hat and wiped his brow, dislodging the set of his hair, and causing several curls to flop onto his forehead.

Phryne leaned on a post under a slanted tin roof and caught her breath. Her eyes lingered on Jack's large hand, which came up to roughly loosen the knot of his tie and pop open the first button of his dress shirt.

“Well, it looked like he tossed the diamonds. If we find them we can at least return them to the museum, and he'll be out of options when you do catch up with him.”

Jack gave a sideways nod, and looked around the area where they were standing. “Did you see where they went? I thought they landed somewhere around here...” He pivoted, glancing back and forth, squinting against the bright afternoon sun.

“Actually, Jack, I think I did see where they ended up...” Phryne grimaced apologetically, and pointed to a patch of what appeared to be very wet mud under a crooked downspout, a few feet from the fence. Jack looked over and scowled before turning back to her.

“Are you sure, Miss Fisher? Because as much as I do occasionally love to root about in fresh earth, this is not generally what I have in mind.”

“I'm afraid I am, Jack. I saw them hit the surface, and thought it was just a shallow pool, but,” she cleared her throat daintily, “it does appear to be quite a... trough.”

Indeed, there was no sign of the diamonds, or anything indicating a bottom to the puddle. Jack cast about and found a long branch on the ground nearby. He cracked the wood over his knee, breaking off a leafy bit near the top, and started poking the muck to gauge its depth. Pulling the stick back out, he scowled again. At its deepest, it looked like the mud went down a good 8 inches. 8 inches, by about two and a half feet in diameter. By any measure, great deal of mud.

“Wonderful,” said Jack. He removed his coat and suit jacket as one, handing them to Phryne along with his hat. She couldn't hold back a flirty little smile at the sight he made: hair loosened, a sheen on his face, the muscles of his arms showing slightly through his shirtsleeves. She'd seen him more disrobed than this once before, of course, on the beach at Queenscliff, but something had changed between them since then, and it made this unselfconscious display stir something visceral.

Phryne, dearest, this is not the time. (If there ever was a time...) But not here and now, for heaven's sake.

She hung his hat and coats on a couple of nails protruding from the post beside her, trying not to notice they were warm from his body and smelled like spice and leather and books. She wondered if that was what his neck smelled like.

Crouching down beside Jack, she stole a glance at the hollow at the base of his throat. She had fleeting image of dipping her tongue into the spot, and began to feel a familiar tingling low in her belly.

“This isn't going to be pretty, Miss Fisher,” he said, beginning to prod the edge of the pond of mud with his long fingers.

“Oh for heaven's sake, Jack, I won't be be offended by a little mud!”

“Shall we switch places then?” he asked dryly, levelling his gaze at her.

“Well let's not get carried away; I'm sure you have this right in hand, Inspector. And besides, your hands are so much bigger and stronger than mine, with those lovely long fingers.” She held his eyes, dipping her chin down so she was looking at him through her thick lashes. She didn't miss the slight bob in his Adam's apple.

My, my. Then again, perhaps this might be the time after all...

“I see. Once again, only interested in the loftier points of the work, and unwilling to get dirty.” Jack heard the words as they left his mouth as if in slow motion, and he was washed over with the realization that he had just walked into a very warm place indeed.

Darling, you just clinched it. Challenge accepted.

“Oh, Inspector,” Phryne fairly purred next to him, “I promise you, I can get just as dirty as you please.”

Entirely against his will, Jack's cock stirred in his trousers, and he felt a heat stealing up his chest. This was not remotely how this afternoon was supposed to go, he thought. It wasn't how this occasion was supposed to go either, come to that (though he wasn't quite ready to admit this was that occasion yet at all). He tried desperately to marshal his thoughts and focus on the task at hand.

You were a soldier for Christ's sake, Robinson.

“I will believe that when I see you with your perfectly manicured hands wrist deep in mud, Miss Fisher.”

Jack probed a little further, and noticed his white cuffs were starting to get filthy.

“Oh, hang it,” he said, lifting his mud-coated hands, and trying adorably to wriggle his sleeves a little further up his arms without actually touching them.

Phryne giggled.

“Here, let me.” She plucked off her white lace gloves, setting them on a stump behind her.

Pushing up her own sleeves, she stepped forward, balancing carefully so didn't tip into the mud, and began uncoupling Jack's cufflinks. Her elegant fingers nimbly slipped a post through the slot, and she withdrew first one and then the other from his cuffs. She tucked the studs into her coat pocket, and returned to Jack's left wrist. As she leaned down again, she caught his eyes flicker from her lips to the shadow between her breasts and linger there. Her coat was open, the silk blouse she wore underneath gaping as she leaned forward.

Darling Jack, do you know how easy it would be for you to have me? And oh to have you.... Phryne hid a smile, and felt a warmth begin to coil between her legs.

“Hold still,” she said, and began deftly folding up the starched white cotton until it banded the thickest part of his tanned forearm.

Jack cleared his throat. Breathe, man. This is just a practicality. Nothing more. Completely chaste.

Phryne's eyes traced over the well-defined muscles and tendons of Jack's wrist and arm, and she ran her forefingers under the folded cuff to make sure it lay smoothly. She heard Jack's soft intake of breath as she did, and let her fingers linger a moment, the backs of them flush against his skin.

“Better?” She was surprised by the softness in her voice, and there was something else... something unfamiliar... Suddenly she realized what is was: she was nervous.

Well doesn't that beat all. Maybe there really is a first time for everything.

Jack swallowed and nodded, hoping she hadn't noticed the catch in his breath. (Would it be so bad it she had?) He looked at her face, almost level with his, framed by a dark curtain of hair. Her red lips were slightly parted; below that, he could see the lace of her camisole falling away from her chest. The soft inner curves of her breasts were plump from leaning forward, and his fingers ached with wanting to touch her. His spine tingled, tiny firefly sparks threatening to shoot up and over his skin if he didn't get himself under control.

Ice water, Prudence Stanley, Hugh Collins, uphill cycling, wet socks, paper cuts.... Jack tried to ground himself in the least erotic thoughts he could bring to mind, in what he was beginning to realize might be a futile effort to steer things back to propriety. He clenched his teeth, wondering if she'd notice if he bit his cheek enough to draw blood. Probably.

His left arm done, Phryne had to move to Jack's other side to avoid him having to move his hands and drip mud all over them both. She rose slowly, steadying herself with a hand at the top of his back between his shoulders. As she shifted behind him, she couldn't resist curling her fingers and raking them gently over the fine hairs at the base of his skull, then swirling them back and down again. This time, there was no mistaking the groan that escaped his lips, and she felt a frisson of arousal rush through her.

Jack's body began to respond to what he would later recall as a totally unfair onslaught. He was more than half hard in the tight confines of his trousers, and was grateful for both his stance (currently crouching with much of his torso leaning over his lap) and his coat. Oh god, the coat was behind him, on a hook, far away. Excellent.

Phryne settled on his right side, keeping her eyes on his outstretched arm. He'd lowered the left one to the ground for balance, and his right was propped on his knee. As she reached for the cuff, she noticed how tightly the fabric of his trousers was pulled over his muscular thighs, and a quick glance further up showed his thighs weren't the only parts of him feeling constricted. She felt her own breathing get shallower, and licked her lips, determined to focus on the job in front of her.

Was she really considering seducing Jack Robinson in a barnyard, with his arms elbow-deep in mud? She had to admit, this was ridiculous even for her, but even as she tried to shake sense back into her head, her fingers reached for his skin rather than the cuff of his shirt. Almost of their own will, they lingered on the delicate warmth of his inner wrist before trailing up the inside of his sleeve. It was indescribably intimate, and every moment she was afraid he would ask her to stop.

Jack was perched on a precipice. He could count on one hand how many times he and Phryne had touched, skin to skin, beyond the odd hand held in assistance. She often took his arm, and he steered her by her own arm almost as often (but always, there were coats and jackets, capes and cardigans). He had carried her, certainly, after Foyle's poison invaded her body, and there was that kiss (the one he relived in his dreams). But her skin, her hands, her fingers against his flesh... It was undoing him in a way that made him understand drowning men.

He could, he knew suddenly and with surprising clarity, stop this. He could stand, mud everywhere, words rough and wrong, and pull away. He saw that scene unfold in an instant in his mind and knew that she would play her part, if that's what he wrote.

But the bigger surprise was that he saw another scene, even more sharp, in even more depth, and all he saw in it was her. Her body, her lips, her hair spread across his naked chest. He didn't know precisely what happened in between this moment and that one, but all at once he believed it existed. And that fact made him realize he was not going to say no.

Phryne stilled her fingers when they reached as far up Jack's sleeve as they would reach. She swallowed, and brought her eyes up to meet his, an uncharacteristic uncertainty shaking her.

Please, Jack...

This wasn't a Phryne Fisher seduction. She wasn't sure what it was, but she knew she couldn't remember feeling this way, as if balanced on the point of a pin, maybe ever before. Hope and fear and need in equal measure made her eyes prick with threatening tears.

As her hand drew slowly down to rest once again on his wrist, their eyes met, and Phryne lost her breath. In the many worlds she saw in Jack's blue-grey eyes, one word rose above everything else.

Yes.

Jack...” It was a whispered question, a plea, a dream.

Jack, lips parted, eyes dark, nodded.

“Let's get this mess done, yes?” he said lowly, his gaze flickering from her eyes to her lips again.

It was her turn to nod.

She rolled up his sleeve, and stood back as Jack returned to probing the mud for the treasure, her hand on his shoulder as he worked.

Finally, his eyebrows shot up, and he levered himself forward to reach deep into the pit. Moments later, his hand rose, a clod of mud and what was obviously the diamond necklace they'd been searching for caged in his fingers.

“There's a pump over there; I'll see if it works.”

Phryne hurried across the dirt yard to an ancient stand pump near the stables. As she hoisted the handle and primed the pump a few times, an odd, lonely feeling stole over her, and she wondered if the spell had been broken. They hadn't been interrupted this time, no Aunt Prudence or Dot to step in and derail the course of things, but perhaps this wasn't so different. They'd had a job to do and it was done, at least for today, and maybe the return to the workings of real life and the world was too much for whatever had been suspended between them.

Jack was a careful man, she knew. Maybe careful enough to think that all the interruptions were for the best. Maybe careful enough to believe these moments were all they were meant to have.

Water began to trickle out of the tap, and Phryne shook her head slightly, trying to loosen the tightness constricting her throat.

She looked up from the gush of water that was now flowing from the pump. Jack was standing, letting as much of the muck fall through his fingers as possible. He strode over to her, hands held out in front, his eyes firmly on hers.

She went to stand aside, to make room for him beside the spout, when suddenly he leaned in and captured her lips in a firm and deepening kiss. Her hands clutched the handle of the pump, her whole awareness narrowed to the one part of them touching. A second went by, and then she sank into his lips, his chest, the warmth of his body, and wrapped her arms around his waist.

When they pulled apart (his hands held awkwardly to the side, still caked with mud), she kept a hold of him, letting her hands wrap forward to smooth over his chest.

“Hello, Jack,” she managed, breathless.

He smirked adorably, his lips reddened by the kiss and her lipstick.

“I just thought we should get that right out of the way,” he said, his eyes twinkling. “Just in case there was any question about what happens next.”

He stepped back, still smiling gently, and waited for her to pump the lever again. She grinned.

She watched as he cradled the necklace in his large hands, carefully washing off as much mud as he could.

“And what does happen next, Inspector?” she asked, joy beginning to bubble in her chest.

“Well, Miss Fisher, let me see.” Jack turned the necklace over and over in his hands as he spoke. “I believe I dry off my hands, we retrieve our belongings back there, and then deposit this in the evidence locker at the station. After that, I imagine it might not be unreasonable to think we might have dinner together.”

“No, not too unreasonable, I imagine,” said Phryne, a small smile teasing her mouth. “At mine, perhaps? I believe Mr. Butler is making a roast tonight...”

“Delightful.”

“And then?”

“Why, it seems we share a fondness for whiskey, so I imagine a nightcap in your comfortably appointed parlour is likely.”

“Oh very likely, Jack. I can see it now. Shall we have a fire, do you think?”

Jack finished with the water, and carefully shook his clean hands around the delicate jewelry to flick some water off it.

“I believe that would be possible.” He shifted the necklace into his left hand and reached into his trouser pocket with his right for a handkerchief, which he wrapped around the diamonds.

“And then, Inspector?” Phryne moved out from behind the pump and came to stand in front of Jack, nearly pressed against his broad chest. Her voice was soft when she spoke again. “What happens then?”

Jack leaned forward slowly, only taking his eyes from hers when he was right beside her cheek. His cool hand came up and tucked her hair behind her ear, baring it to his mouth, and sending a shiver though her she could feel between her thighs. Phryne's eyes fluttered shut as first his lips, and then his tongue came out to trace - achingly slowly - the crest and curve of her ear, before his teeth bit down lightly on her earlobe. She inhaled sharply, feeling herself become instantly wet.

“And then, Phryne, I will take you upstairs, to your fabled boudoir, and make love to you so hard and long and thoroughly you forget every other man who ever gained entry.”

Phryne nearly came right there and then. The rumbled growl of his voice, of those words, of a promise she somehow knew he would keep, was almost too much. When she opened her eyes, expecting to see him halfway across the yard, she faltered and a glittering smile blossomed on her face. Jack was standing just in front of her, his elbow offered, a tilted grin on his beautiful mouth.

“Shall we, Miss Fisher? We have a quite an evening ahead of us.”

Chapter Text

Neither one spoke on the walk back to the police car. Phryne kept her hand tucked into Jack's elbow, Jack carried the handkerchief with the diamonds in his other hand, and neither one hurried. In all, it looked much like many afternoons normally did for Melbourne's most dashing detectives.

But if one were to look closely, one might see a tiny curled smile on Inspector Robinson's mouth, and a particular sparkle in Miss Fisher's blue eyes. Closer inspection might even reveal the slow, constant swirling of her fingers on his arm, but one would have to be looking very close indeed to see that.

Jack held the side door for Phryne, and handed her the packet of damp cloth, his eyes crinkling at the edges just a little. Once seated, he swung the car smoothly out into the street, and kept his eyes on the road. Phryne sat very still beside him, a smile playing at her red lips.

When they had turned onto a wide avenue that marked the border of St. Kilda's, Phryne turned to him in surprise. Weren't they heading for the station?

“I wonder, Miss Fisher, it if might be best for me to take you home.”

Phryne's heart seized. Oh no, he wasn't doing anything stupid like coming to his senses, was he?

She opened her mouth, ready to be persuasive.

“After all, no sense in both of us having to fill out evidence forms, and it would give me a chance to dash home and freshen up before our dinner.” He turned the car onto the Esplanade, his face passive, his attention focused calmly on the road.

Phryne beamed.

“How thoughtful, Jack. And it will give me the opportunity to let Mr. Butler know I'll have company tonight. For dinner, of course.” He couldn't mistake the pause she'd left after 'tonight', and to his astonishment, it didn't make him nervous.

“That works out well all around, then. So shall I return, at say, 8:00?” They'd pulled up in front of 221B, and Jack put the car in park.

“I look forward to it, Inspector.”

Jack got out to open Phryne's door, and offered his hand as she climbed out of the seat. She hadn't re-donned her gloves, and he couldn't resist stroking his thumb gently down the back of her hand, his eyes never leaving hers.

A shiver sparkled over her skin, and she smiled slowly. He released her fingers with a little bow, and strode back to the driver's side, tipping his hat as he got in.

“Oh and Jack,” she called, pausing on the walk to look over her shoulder, “Pack a bag.”

He heard her easy laugh as he drove away.

It wasn't that Jack Robinson was in the habit of seducing glorious women. He was fairly sure it hadn't ever happened before, and so he was at somewhat of a loss to explain just what exactly had happened that afternoon.

Everything had changed.

Pressing the gas rather harder than was prudent, he couldn't suppress the whoop of joy that burst forth from his chest, somewhere between a laugh and a shout. Her scent still lingered in the confines of the car, and he wanted to close his eyes and revel in it. Might have done, even, if the pressing reality of a tight schedule weren't looming. No, there would be time for revelling later, he thought, and the notion flooded his mind with images and sensations that went straight to his groin.

Damn it, he thought. At this rate he'd be striding into City South sporting a terrific erection, which was not going to help anything.

Get it under control, mate. Just finish the job.

“Sir!” Hugh Collins' voice greeted Jack as he appeared in the doorway of his office minutes later. “I was just leaving you a message. Barrows' partner Declan Early talked – Early's down in the cells now – and spilled everything about the robbery at the museum. Said Barrows is likely to try to hide out at a place down by the docks, and should be there by sundown.”

“Excellent work, Collins. Write it up, and then find out who's on tonight. Three men should be enough to go down and pick him up.”

“Very good, Sir. I'm on, and I can bring Wellesley and Davis. Whoa - are those the diamonds? They're awfully large, aren't they!”

“They are. Have these entered into the evidence locker, Collins. They were tossed by the suspect and witnessed by myself and Miss Fisher. I'd appreciate if you took the lead on this one tonight, Collins.”

Hugh straightened up and his mouth fell open a little at Jack's words. “Sir?”

He looked at his superior. The inspector didn't look quite right... His coat was fully done up despite the warm day, and there was a slight flush to his skin, and a tightness around his features.

“Are you feeling poorly, Inspector? Should I call Dr. MacMillan?”

Jack stopped shuffling files on his desk for a moment and looked at Collins. Ill? Oh... Oh.

“Ah, no, thank you Collins. I'll be fine. Just need a good night's rest, I'm sure. I'm sure you'll have everything in hand here.”

“Absolutely sir! No worries whatsoever. Do you want me to telephone you later to let you know what happened?”

Jack paused. “Erm, no, no thank you, Collins, I'll trust you and your team. We can reconvene in the morning.”

Hugh saluted and left the office beaming. Jack smoothed a hand over his face. God, he must look a sight.

You are out of practice, soldier.

He needed to get a handle on himself, or this was going to be a very short evening.

He grabbed his hat from the stand and nodded goodnight to the constables on duty at the desk.

Home, bathe, dress... Phryne.

The thought of her name hardened him further, and he shifted uncomfortably in the seat of the car. This was going to be a little trickier than he thought.

***

“Dot? Mr. Butler?” Phryne called as she hung her cloche on the hall tree. There was movement in the kitchen and Mr. Butler appeared in the doorway.

“Welcome home, Miss,” he smiled warmly. “Dorothy is taking her mother to visit her aunt this weekend, remember? Is there anything I can do for you?”

“Oh of course!” Phryne shook her head. “Of course. No, nothing. I'm going to take a long bath and dress for dinner. I hope it isn't too much trouble, but Inspector Robinson will be joining me, Mr. B., and,” she paused, her foot on the first step of the staircase, “And he may be... lingering.”

If she'd been looking at him, she might have seen a twinkle in the older man's eye. “Very good, Miss. I'll make sure the meal is something special. Will the Inspector be requiring anything else for the evening?”

“Well, Mr. B.,” Phryne said with a light laugh, “We'll have to see.”

Tobias Butler smiled and returned to his kitchen, thinking perhaps all was finally going to fall into place with his two favourite detectives. Maybe a champagne trifle was in order...

***

The doorbell to Wardlow sounded at 7:52 that evening, and Phryne's heart leaped in her chest when she heard it. Tonight there would be no interruptions, and she thought - she hoped - they were both ready.

When she rounded the landing on the stairs, Mr. Butler had already opened the door, and Jack Robinson stood in her hallway, much as he had done a hundred times before. Only tonight, everything was different.

His hair was neatly styled, as always; his impeccable three-piece-suit sharp and well-tailored (though a different suit from this afternoon's, for obvious reasons). His shoes were freshly shined, and, she noticed with some affection, the white shirt he wore underneath his vest was pristine and crisp. All together, no different than ever before.

The expression on his face, however, was one she 'd never seen, not till a few short hours ago, and it made her knees feel like jelly. God he was delicious, and he was looking at her like he was ready to taste every part of her.

“Jack,” she said, her tongue snapping the 'k' as sharp as a whip.

He had removed his hat and coat, and handed Mr. Butler something Phryne was delighted to realize was an overnight bag.

He waited for her, a few feet from the last step, so that she had to move into his orbit before he spoke.

“Miss Fisher,” he said quietly, his eyes bright and happy, “ you are exquisite.” He leaned in, and placed a lingering, light-as-air kiss against her cheek.

Phryne felt a swift rush of heat to her core, and had to blink a few times to make sure they were really here. When the vision of Jack didn't evaporate, she smiled broadly.

“Thank you, Inspector; I was inspired.” She took his arm, and together they walked into the parlour, the pale gold satin of her dress swirling around their legs.

As Jack took up his customary place at her mantel, Phryne walked to the bar cart where Mr. Butler had two effervescent cocktails waiting.

Jack's eyes lingered on her. This wasn't so different; he had often watched her. He'd watched as she poured herself across his desk, and the way her silk skirts painted her slim legs. He'd watched as her lips opened wide in laughter, and her eyes opened wide in empathy. He had mastered watching her discreetly, quietly, secretly; not because she would have minded to know he enjoyed it, but because he would have minded her knowing. But her form and figure and face had long since been the stuff of his dreams, and his perfection, and now, it seemed, the curtain had been thrown back, and he was allowed to delight in her moving in front of him.

When she turned around, drinks suspended in elegant hands, she stopped.

She had been stared at by many, many men (and more than a few women). She knew her assets, knew how to deploy them, and didn't regret the enjoyment she got from being admired. But this man, this steady, careful man, had seemed nearly immune.

The way he was looking at her now, she realized he had always been looking.

“Hello, Jack,” she said, sidling up to him, perhaps closer than she might have before.

“Hello, Phryne.”

They clinked glasses, and each took the first sip of their drinks.

Jack was grateful for the strength of the cocktail, despite its bubbles. He didn't want to miss a moment of this evening, but he couldn't deny a little steadying influence would not go amiss. He watched Phryne cross the room to close the parlour doors: the confident sway of her limbs, the impossibly alluring tilt of her head, the smoulder in her lips, and the laughter in her eyes. She was glorious, but he knew that already.

He'd always felt in awe, a worshipper before a goddess; two steps behind. Somehow, today, that had changed. For the first time, he gazed at her with eyes level with her own, willing and eager to show her everything of himself.

She was a goddess, and she made him feel like a god. Her dress was barely a garment; it seemed fabric made from gold. It was a simple bias sheath, a low cowl in the front and a scandalously low V in the back. The fabric clung to her hips and thighs and pooled at her feet in a puddle of molten metal. As she glided back towards him with the drinks, he was struck that there was no way she could be wearing anything beneath this gown at all – nothing over her small breasts, and certainly nothing on her hips and legs. Jack had been surfing on a hum of arousal since the afternoon, and had been grateful he was enough under control to be discrete when he graced her doorstep. But a long gaze at her in that dress, and he knew it was a lost cause. He felt his cock stiffening, and a tingle on the outer layer of his skin.

It was far from the first time he'd been aroused by Phryne Fisher, but tonight, he wouldn't hide it. The thought made him harder still.

“We do have a fire, after all,” Phryne said casually, nodding sideways as she rested her glass on the mantle. Her eyes flickered down to the grate, and then flashed across to Jack's trousers.

Oh my. She licked the champagne from her lips a little more deliberately than she might have.

“I approve,” he said.

“And, my dress, Inspector? I admit, I was a little at a loss... For some reason, dressing tonight was slightly more complicated than I'm used to.” Phryne batted her lashed a few times, then collected her glass and moved to the chaise, her hips swinging seductively as she walked. She threw back the liquid train on her skirt, and sat back on the chaise, crossing her legs while holding Jack's eyes. The flow of the shimmering fabric was faithful to every curve on her hips, thighs and breasts, and she couldn't miss the way his eyes grew dark as he traced her body with his gaze.

“Oh yes?” he said, taking a sip of his drink and angling his lean form so his back was to the mantle.

“Mmm...” Phryne said. “I wanted to be comfortable...”

“Comfort is important, and I'd hate to think you were constricted in any way.”

“True,” she said, smoothing the satin of her skirt. “But most of all, Jack, I wanted to be...”

He watched her, his lips slightly parted, his head tilted and the smile on his face no more than a shadow.

“I wanted to be beautiful for you.”

Phryne's eyes dropped suddenly to her lap. That came out wrong, she thought. Those weren't the words of a seductress. What was happening to her?

She heard a rustle of movement, and saw Jack's legs and torso appear before her. She didn't look up, her eyes locked on her drink, her throat tight with apprehension. She wanted to feel in control, in charge, and all she felt suddenly was bare.

And then his large warm hands were on her thighs, and Jack was kneeling before her, his glass forgotten on the mantel.

“Phryne,” he rumbled, his voice almost a whisper, “You are always, always, the most beautiful thing.”

He reached forward. She felt the warmth of his fingertips on her cheek, tucking her hair behind her ear, and dared herself to look up.

“You never have to seduce me.”

Jack leaned in and touched his lips to hers, impossibly soft, unbearably gentle. It wasn't a kiss of claiming or strength, or even of passion and sex. It was just Jack touching Phryne, the softest way he could.

“Do you want this, Phryne?” he whispered into her lips.

“Yes. Always. For so long.”

She felt his smile, and then he pulled back, and shrugged off his suit jacket.

“You did say comfort was a priority, Miss Fisher.”

She laughed.

“I did, didn't I. Let's see how comfortable we can get...”

Phryne leaned forward and captured his lips - his lovely, broad soft lips - between hers, nipping lightly at his bottom one as her hands rose to tangle in his hair.

“For so long, Phryne. So long I've wanted to taste you...” Jack wrapped his arms around her back, feeling the low dip of her dress, and the velvet softness of her skin. His tongue licked at her lips, dipping into the heat of her mouth and swirling with hers. He felt breathless, weightless, every nerve firing.

He'd been a young beau once, a suitor, a newlywed. And he had loved Rosie, and craved her body, and they had enjoyed each other's pleasure. But he had never felt the ache he felt for Phryne, a hunger that threatened to consume him from the inside, and had long ago wondered if he would die a starving man. Perhaps the scent of her, the hunger itself, was going to have to be the greatest gift of his life.

To be here, with her heat under his palm, her tongue curling into his mouth, the taste of her blinding him, her hand on his neck, was heaven of a sort Jack Robinson never imagined he'd know.

He delved into her mouth with a renewed attention, thrilling at the tiny moans she made, thinking he could spend his life kissing her if she'd let him.

When he felt her hands at his chest, nimbly flicking open the buttons on his waistcoat, he realized with a shocking clarity that this was going to happen. He curved his back slightly to give her room, but refused to relinquish her lips.

When she'd opened his waistcoat, Phryne tucked two fingers of one hand under the button placket of Jack's shirt.

Oh god, his skin. She felt a small tangle of hair, and the warm, smooth, firmness of his chest. Her thighs clenched repeatedly as she swept her fingers over what she could reach.

“More, Jack, I want more of you,” she begged.

He pulled back, frozen for a moment when he took her in. Her hair was tangled from his hands, her lips plump and wet from their kisses. The flush on her cheeks spread down her throat and her chest heaved as he watched. The delicate satin did nothing to hide her hard, pointed nipples, straining now against the gold fabric. She was completely undone and she was glorious.

Phryne lifted her eyes to his, and her fingers crept to his tie.

“I like this one, Jack,” she said breathlessly. “Let's take it off.” With an expertise he chose not to examine, she plucked the knot undone and flung the silk behind her with a grin before attacking the buttons on his shirt.

“You are debauched, you know,” he growled, and she curled forward to suck at the hollow of his throat.

“Oh god Phryne, ohhhh...” Jack couldn’t help the moan that escaped him. The swirling of her tongue on the base of his throat sent a current straight to his cock, and faster than he ever remembered it happening, he was rock hard and straining.

“Jack Robinson, I have wanted to do that for months. Months,” she panted, her smile flashing dangerously. She was a siren, a succubus, an angel of lust, and yet all of her was good, and all of her was everything he wanted.

He released her waist, where his hands had come to rest, and made quick work of his remaining buttons while she dripped kisses along his neck. When he reached for his cuffs, she stopped him suddenly.

“Wait,” she said, sliding forward so her knees splayed on either side of his kneeling thighs. “Let me?”

“Haven't we been here already today?” Jack said with a teasing smile.

“Yes....” He thought there was more, but she stopped, and almost reverently unclasped his cufflinks, cradling them in her palm before placing them on the small table with her glass.

Jack opened his mouth to say something, but she reached out a finger, placing it over his lips and meeting his eyes with a gaze full of.... he couldn't say love. Trust, certainly, and candour, and generosity. And so he stayed quiet and watched her.

She pulled back the two sides of the fabric of one cuff, and turned his large wrist in her hands, so the underside was facing up. With a soft glance at Jack, she lowered her mouth to his wrist, and pressed her parted lips to his pulse, her tongue swirling over the warm skin.

“Phryne,” Jack choked out her name through a stuttered breath, his thighs beginning to shake. Her mouth on him was threatening to make him come undone, and they were both still mostly dressed.

“Your hands, Jack,” Phryne whispered. “These beautiful, beautiful hands.” She dropped his hand into her lap, and repeated the kisses on the other, licking, kissing and nipping lightly at the sensitive skin of his wrist.

“They undid me today.” She searched his eyes for understanding. “These hands, your body... I've wanted you for so long, but I've wanted a lot of things... a lot of men. But when I saw you there today, just you, I...” She struggled to explain.

“I wanted to be able to do this,” she said, again bringing his hand up to her lips and kissing the broad palm of his hand. “You have been so close for so long.... It felt so wrong that I didn't know all of you. Your skin, your mouth.... It felt like a wrong thing. I want to be able to know all of you, Jack. Just me. Just you.”

There was a beat when Jack tried to absorb what she was saying. It was at once the strangest and most intimate overture he'd ever had, and he realized it mirrored his own feelings exactly. They needed nothing between them, to be each others completely.

The last thread of restraint Jack felt broke, and he lunged forward, taking her face in his hands, his kiss full of full of fervour and intensity.

“Daft woman,” he said gently when they pulled apart. “You have had all of me for so long. Maybe we both needed to be ready to bear that.”

“And?” she whispered, her lips brushing his, her tongue barely touching him as it traced the outline of his lips.

“I'm yours, Phryne.”

Their mouths crushed together, both of them pouring all of their desire and love into the kiss.

“Want you, Phryne. I want to feel all of you. Let me make love to you.” Jack's eyes were as dark and grey as a storm, and Phryne's breath caught in her chest.

Holding his gaze, she lowered her hands, and palmed the hard bulge in his trousers, gently at first, and then stroking firmly as she squeezed its contours.

Fuckfuckohfuck....” Jack's eyes screwed shut as his hands stilled over her shoulders. “Wait, please, oh god Phryne, wait...” He gulped in air, pressing his hand against the seat beside her, sitting back on his heels.

“Jack,” she whispered, “I'm sorry...I'm sorry darling...”

“No no no, never ever be sorry for that. You could kill me that way and I'd thank you for it,” Jack managed an adorable smile as he tried to collect himself. “But I don't want to rush this, and I don't want it to end now.”

“Oh darling man, you know that could be just the beginning,” she purred.

He brought her hand to his lips and kissed it, then rose to stand before her.

God, he was beautiful. Phryne felt herself slippery with arousal and felt every shift of her dress against her nipples. She wanted his skin, wanted his mouth on her. Jack stood before her, his hand holding hers, his waistcoat and shirt open to the waist, hair ruffled, his gorgeous mouth swollen and pink.

“Are you hungry, Phryne?” he asked lowly.

Phryne smiled and pulled on his hand to stand, pressing her silk-clad body against his.

“No,” she whispered, pressing her hips against his cock and pulsing slightly.

“Then I believe I have a promise to keep.”

Without another word, Jack led them from the parlour, still holding her hand. When they reached the bottom of the stairs, Phryne paused a moment, and craned her neck around the corner to the dining room and kitchen.

“Mr. Butler, I believe we'll delay dinner for a time, if that's not too much trouble.”

Jack gave her a tilted grin, and stroked one large hand down her side, trailing it firmly over her bottom.

They heard Mr. Butler's voice from the kitchen, and Jack was silently and abundantly grateful when the man's prescience once again proved extraordinary and he didn't appear in the hall. “Not a problem, Miss. I'll keep it in the oven for you, and it will be ready whenever you like.”

“Now where were we?” Phryne said, stepping in front and up a few steps.

Her position on the stairs, turned and looking down into his darkened eyes, brought them both suddenly back to another time.

“Is this perhaps a less dangerous hour, Inspector?” Phryne asked.

“Oh no, Miss Fisher,” said Jack, his voice low and rumbling. “It is a much, much more dangerous one, and that is a far more lethal dress. But it appears I've developed a desire for danger.”

He climbed to meet her and speared his fingers into her hair, kissing her mouth, then trailing his lips down her throat to the cowl of her dress.

“I need to see you, Phryne. Need to feel you. Your boudoir, now.”

She fairly dragged them both the rest of the way up the stairs.

When they reached the top landing, Jack pulled her to him and ground his pelvis into her hips.

“Want. You.” His voice travelled through her skin like a current, and she keened as his lips came to close over her breast, the fabric dampening as he sucked.

She threw her head back and it knocked unceremoniously on the wall behind her. Jack's head shot up, his eyes quickly refocusing, and when he saw the wincing smile on her face, they both cracked up, falling against each other breathless and laughing.

“Bed?” giggled Phryne against his throat.

“Bed.” Jack's arm swooped under her legs to lift her and swung her around, taking the few steps to her bedroom in long strides.

Phryne pressed her face into his neck, inhaling deeply. God, he did smell like she'd known he would, like spice and vetiver, leather and something as warm and familiar as her own skin. She smiled as she realized his scent was already beloved to her. As he crossed the threshold of her room, turning slightly to kick the door firmly closer, she reached up and suckled a tender spot under his ear, Jack stumbled and groaned from deep in his chest.

He set her down gently on the floor, and met her eyes. She stood, hands at her sides, her chest rising and falling rapidly, her eyes glazed. Jack swallowed, then lowered himself to his knees. He felt a hand come to rest on his head, and whispered her name, reverent.

He toyed with the pooling hem of her dress for a moment before reaching underneath it to stroke first her ankles and then her calves. Phryne felt her knees weakening, and marvelled at what such a little touch was doing to her. It was exciting, and unnerving, but she couldn't breathe for wanting more.

Yes,” she whispered.

Jack caressed her calves beneath her skirt, the gold fabric folding and draping in his arms like thick honey. When he had pushed the gown up past her knees, he paused to swirl two fingers over the delicate skin behind them, grinning at the catch in her breath.

“Phryne. So beautiful.”

His cock was aching now, almost painful he was so aroused, but he refused to rush. He wanted to give this to her; wanted, if he was honest, to prove to her and to himself that he could be a lover worthy of her. As his hands found the silken skin of her inner thighs, the gown now puddled in the crooks of his arms, he had to close his eyes and pause. The scent of her, the heady perfume not of a bottle but of her own glorious making was wrapping him in such a cloud of lust that he worried he might explode. Unable to stop, he shifted the fabric to his shoulders, and trailed two fingers further up, hearing her whimper and sigh as they found her folds.

She was dripping. Instantly, his hand was coated with her arousal, slick and hot and as sweet as syrup. He had never before tasted a woman, though he knew it was sometimes done, and suddenly needed to kiss her there, to bury his face in her.

Phryne tugged on his shoulders and urged him up, and he noticed with some pride she looked as if she might come on the spot.

“Yes, Jack, yes... but first,” she whispered.

Curving her hands up to her shoulders, she slid the narrow straps of her gown down her arms, letting the slippery silk shimmer down her body to pool at her feet. She wore nothing underneath, and Jack thought he might faint from her beauty.

Her skin glowed brighter by far than the golden dress, her black hair shining in the light from the bedside lamp. Her small breasts were perfect, rosy pink nipples begging for his lips, and the black thatch of hair between her thighs drawing him to her like a call.

Without speaking, she stepped to the bed, reclining back against the pillows. She drew one knee up, spreading the other leg wide to the side, offering herself up to him completely.

She was perfection; the sparkling pink flesh between her legs more tender and beautiful than he ever imagined in dreams. He and Rosie had known each others bodies, but not like this; never like this. Lights had been off, covers pulled up, and even the times when they had been overcome, there was no luxuriating, no baring of everything.

“You are divine, Phryne.” Jack swallowed, and stood rooted to the spot. “May I... I want to taste you...” His voice was hoarse and he realized he was trembling.

“Yes, Jack. God yes.”

And then he was lying between her thighs, and she canted her hips to let him in, and he was overwhelmed. His tongue flicked over her clit, and she cried out, stiffening him inside his trousers even more. He licked and suckled, listening to her gorgeous sounds, delving deeper when she keened. He used his fingers to hold her open, caressing every inch of her, unable to think of anything but her. She was intoxicating, addicting, and he knew he was never going to get enough. He thrust his tongue into her passage, stiffening it, imagining his cock buried deep inside her.

Phryne writhed on the covers, her whole body sparking with sensation. How could he know? How did he know just where to be firm, where to be fast, when to suck so strongly her nipples ached with need.

It was only short moments before she felt the coiling in her belly and breasts, and tangled her fingers deeper into his hair.

“Oh god Jack oh god... So good, don't stop, don't ever stop... oh god ohhhhhhh” She came with a wail, her chest arching off the bed, the thighs seizing and clenching as she rode out her climax. Jack softened his tongue against her clit, drawing out her pleasure until she twitched with sensitivity. His lips and chin were flooded with her and he was heaving, he was so hard.

He crawled up her body, stroking her softly to bring her down. He went to wipe his mouth on his hand before kissing her, but she reached up before he could, capturing his lips and revelling in the taste of herself on his mouth. He groaned, his hips thrusting involuntarily.

“Good. God. Jack Robinson, where have you been all my life?” Phryne breathed, when she could talk.

“Happy to be of service, Miss Fisher,” Jack smirked. “And I've been right here, beside you, for some time now.”

“So you have, lovely man. I think I like this better.” Her smile was glittering, and he knew his must be the same.

“Please Jack, let me feel you. I want you. I want all of you - come inside me.”

He sat up, pulling his braces down over his arms, and shrugging off the opened shirt and waistcoat. Phryne let out a lovely moan at his bared chest and arms, unable to help running her hands over his biceps and pecs, curling her hands to scrape her nails lightly over his nipples. Jack shuddered and caught his breath, marvelling at what her touch did to him.

Her hands moved to the waistband of his trousers, the top button almost obscured by the size of his erection. Her breathing sped up as she undid the buttons, and Jack kept his hands clenched at his sides. When she'd opened the placket, he breathed a small sigh.

“That can't have been comfortable,” she teased.

“It is a lot of things, Miss Fisher, but comfortable is not one of them.”

Phryne licked her lips, and pulled on the string that held his cotton undershorts closed. Jack rose up on his knees, his eyes on hers, as she pulled the shorts and trousers over his hips, finally revealing himself to her. He felt no self-consciousness; all he had to give to her was himself, and he hoped his body would please her.

She moaned long and low, and Jack had to close his eyes so he didn't come all over the bed. He stilled her hand as she reached for him, swinging his legs off the bed and discarding the clothes, along with his socks and shoes. He felt her hands on his back, and then the mounds of her breasts pressing into his shoulders. One slender arm came down over his shoulder and reached between his legs, but he turned before she could touch him.

He kissed her deeply, moving over her, delirious with the feeling of skin on skin. She was warm and supple, as soft as velvet, and his own broken body seemed to flood with life again. Every second they touched, every tiny place they connected forced water and sun and joy into his pores. He rolled them again so she lay on top of him, the hard length of his cock pressed tightly to her stomach. The friction was incredible, and he shifted his hips slightly, trying to increase it.

“Oh love,” said Phryne, “I have something much better...”

His heart stuttered at her words, and he wondered if she'd meant them.

She rose, letting her smooth legs fall to the outsides of his hips, and shifted back so she was straddling his magnificent thighs.

“God, Jack, how have you been hiding this body... I want to eat you, I want to bite and lick and suck every part of you...”

She reached down and stroked his length with one hand, pressing him hard enough to feel him contract, before wrapping both hands around the base, and beginning to pump him slowly. He was magnificent: incredibly large, thick and long, his head smooth and plump.

Jack groaned, the sound of a man on the edge, and Phryne paused, feeling herself flood with wetness again. She felt like a bow string, held taut even once it's been released. His hands rose to her breasts, feathering touches in circles around her nipples, making her ache with needing more pressure.

“Yes,” she whispered, “More, harder...” He clasped one erect bud between his first two fingers, then threw his other arm behind him as a brace so he could lean up to take her into his mouth. She cried out, feeling him twitch in her hands as he suckled strongly on her nipple.

She continued stroking him with one hand, using the other to trace her fingers delicately around the corona, flicking lightly at the little seam on the underside. They were both panting, and when she gave a clever twist with one wrist, Jack's hand paused on her breast and he croaked her name, moisture seeping from his tip even as she stilled her hands.

When Phryne flashed him a heated grin, and tilted her pelvis to lean her mouth down to his cock, Jack let out a string of profanity that actually made her giggle.

“Oh I think I like this side of Inspector Robinson.”

Jack pushed her gently back to sitting, a censuring frown on his face. “I think you'll find that that was entirely just Jack. And if you want this over immediately, please continue what you were doing.”

Phryne grinned.

“If, however,” Jack's long fingers stroked down her stomach to her curls, then twisted underneath to bury themselves in her folds, spreading the slickness he found there forward before settling to circle her clit, “if you want something else, I would very much like to fuck you, Miss Fisher.”

At his words, a tiny orgasm shot through Phryne's body, and she gripped Jack's thick forearms as her head arched back in a shiver. When she came down, Jack was watching her with absolute adoration on his face.

“I hardly touched.....” he marvelled.

“That is what you do to me, Jack. It's all for you. Come inside me.”

Jack nodded solemnly.

She rose on her knees, edging forward until she was poised above his length, and pressed down on him while she tilted her hips forward and back. The feeling of her slick, swollen sex sliding over his aching cock was making Jack delirious, the only thing as strong as his need for release was his desire for this never to end.

He gripped her hips, lifting her easily and catching her eyes as she stilled. Then she sank, slowly and exquisitely, onto the hard length of him, and they both cried out softly at the bliss of it.

“Wait, wait... please...” Jack breathed, willing himself to find the stamina he needed.

“Yes, darling, yes...”

Her inner walls pulsed around him and he suddenly needed to move more than he needed to breath. He thrust up, harder than he intended, and she let out a sharp cry of pleasure.

“God yes, more Jack...” She began rocking her hips against his, letting herself come halfway off him with each forward thrust, before impaling herself again. She was so wet, so wet and hot and tight and her neck was arching back, her breasts bouncing beautifully with each stroke.

His hands kneaded her hips, and one reached up to pinch and roll her nipple, pulling it away from her breast and feeling it tighten until it was hard as a strawberry. His mouth watered with needing to taste her, and he again pressed himself up to her chest. The change in position made Phryne sit back a little, bouncing on his cock with long, hard strokes. He could feel the sparks beginning to fire at the base of his spine, and he bent his knees, spreading his thighs wide, trying to anchor himself, to wait for her.

She was lust itself, her skin flushed and sparkling with sweat, her chest heaving and her lips open in a desperate silent plea. He'd imagined this moment, imagined her above him (though he'd never had a woman this way), imagined her cunt sucking on his shaft, imagined the cries she'd make as she chased her climax. But in his wildest dreams, there was nothing so erotic as this moment, and the sweet noises she was making were nearly enough to bring him undone on their own.

He needed to wait, needed to bring her there too. He released her hip, and thrust his fingers between them, crying out as he felt the slick width of himself pumping in and out of her. He brought his fingers forward, and started to roll and circle her clit until he felt her body begin to coil.

He stiffened his hips and thrust up into her as hard as he could, countering her downward thrusts. She shook her tousled head, trying to find words, even as she gripped his arms to the point of pain.

“Come, Jack, come with me, come for me... Oh god, oh god, oh Jack...” She shattered, her chest arcing towards him, her mouth wide in a silent wail, the muscles of her passage rippling strongly up and down his cock. In less than a second, he exploded inside her, an unrecognizable sound coming from deep in his chest, his vision narrowing to a million tiny points of white light. Then there was no sound, no room, nothing, until he came to, Phryne sprawled on his chest, both of them panting, the sweat cooling on their heated skin.

Jack looked down, shocked at the intensity of his climax. Her head lay in the crook of his shoulder, her breath puffing over his chest, her black hair spread on his tanned skin like tangled silk. His arm was stroking her back, and as he pressed a kiss to the top of her forehead, he felt little points of heat on his skin. He felt her shuddered inhale, and looked down.

Phryne Fisher was crying.

He brought both arms around her, cradling her to his chest, one hand stroking her hair as she wept silently. Finally he felt her breathing calm.

“I don't do that, Jack. I don't cry,” she said softly.

“I know, sweet.”

“I don't know... I don't know what happened.... It was.... God it was perfect.” He heard the catch in her voice on the last word, and squeezed her again.

“Dammit,” she choked.

Phryne felt Jack's gentle laugh as her head rose and fell on his chest.

“Are you laughing at me?”

“No, love. No. Are you... Are you alright, Phryne? Are you alright with this?” His voice was tender, but she heard the noble tremble in it.

“I am undone, Jack Robinson. I don't know if.... I don't think I've ever....” Phryne wished she had Jack's facility with words. “All of someone is a lot, isn't it.”

“It is.”

“I'll be very careful with yours, Jack. It's my most precious thing.”

Now Jack felt tears prick his own eyes, and had to swallow several times before responding.

“Phryne, you... You are my most precious thing. Everything I am is yours. And I'm not going anywhere.”

“Nowhere, Jack. Promise.”

“Yes, love. Yes.”

Even as he felt fresh tears on his skin, he felt her smile, and when she lifted her face to him, reaching up and touching her lips, salty and warm to his, he knew – the way he'd known that afternoon, his hands deep in mud in a barnyard – that whatever the road between now and the end, they'd find it together.