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Therefore is Winged Cupid Painted Blind

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It took Jack several minutes to realize that Phryne's cheeks weren’t just flushed from the thrill of catching the crook, or even what she had been up to in the process. She was clutching Jack’s coat tightly around her shoulders, covering some excessively skimpy underthings that Jack had carefully averted his eyes from. She was shivering slightly as well, which made sense on this cold street corner in the middle of the night, but Jack was relieved to see Dot trot over to her mistress’s side with several layers of Phryne’s own clothing.

Jack kept an eye on her as he directed the booking of one Mr. Charles Wilson, rapist and human trafficker, now caught in the act of attempting to sell one Honourable Phryne Fisher for what Jack couldn’t help but think was an absurdly low sum. But after Jack had bundled him into the police car and off to the station, red-faced and furious and handcuffed, he was startled to see that Miss Fisher was, again, alone.

“Can I help you, Miss Fisher?” he said, walking to her side. She was still shivering, even though she had kept Jack’s coat layered over her own, and the flush in her cheeks was hectic.

“If you would, Jack,” she said. She wouldn’t meet his eyes. “I sent Dot home. I find myself somewhat overwhelmed, I must admit. I would prefer your company, if… if you are not needed at the station, or—”

“Of course, Miss Fisher,” Jack said, his sense of concern growing. He reached to take Miss Fisher’s elbow to guide her to the car, but when she slipped out of reach he began to fear the worst.

As they drove towards her home, she was uncharacteristically quiet. Jack let her be for a few minutes, but then cleared his throat. “He didn’t, ah… that is, Mr. Wilson didn’t go as far as to…”

“Oh! Oh no, Jack,” Phryne said, turning to look at him reassuringly quickly. “No, your arrival was quite timely. He had barely removed my top, I am—unharmed.”

“Good,” Jack said viciously, then bit his tongue. He tried to keep his jealous impulses in check around Phryne, knowing they were both inappropriate and unwanted. He had acceded to Phryne’s horrible plan to use herself as bait with not a few misgivings, but the urgency had been clear, and as usual Phryne’s hair-brained scheme had ended up the only option. But the thought of Mr. Wilson’s vile hands pulling her shirt out of her waistband, up and up until…

Jack purposefully relaxed his hands on the steering wheel until his knuckles were no longer white. Wilson hadn’t touched her, so it didn’t matter. Still, Phryne was unusually quiet. She had returned to staring out the window, but she couldn’t seem to keep her hands still. She absentmindedly rubbed the collar of his coat, still wrapped around her shoulders. Then one hand fluttered up to press against her cheek, then her knee, then she began twisting the fabric of her dress until Jack almost thought she would tear it.

He mulled it over as he drove. Flushed, unwilling to be touched, denying any physical offense on her person, sending Dot away…

He pulled up in front of her house, but as she reached for the door he put his hand on her knee. She froze, though he could feel a fine tremor under his hand.

“Miss Fisher,” he said. His own voice sounded rough to his ears. “Did you eat or drink anything while you were with Mr. Wilson?”

“Yes,” she said, almost inaudibly, then cleared her throat. She was unnaturally still in her seat. “Yes. That was how he prevented the girls from escaping. He had me drink it. He said it would—that I would—that the physical effects—Jack, please, your hand, I can’t—"

Jack removed his hand as if he had been burned, but Phryne gave a horrible little cry, half swallowed, her whole body following his hand as if turning to the sun.

“Please,” she panted. “Please, Jack, I know I’m asking far too much, but I can’t be alone right now.”

“Miss Fisher,” he started, his gut clenched into horrible knots. Everything in him cried out to help her, to soothe her, to not leave her in need. But he couldn’t. Not like this.

“Jack—" she said again, then swallowed and made a visible effort to regain control of herself. “Jack, if you would—simply see me inside. I don’t know what I would—I don’t want to see Mr. Butler. Like this.”

He hesitated one more moment, then abruptly opened his door and exited the car. He took the time for one steadying breath of the cold night air before steeling himself and walking around to open Phryne’s door for her.

He scrupulously avoided touching her as she stood, although she listed to the side as if drunk. He couldn’t tear his eyes off her, though, as they sneaked through the kitchen door and up the stairs. Her eyes were bright and clear, as if she were in the middle of an investigation, not drugged half out of her mind. No matter how many times Jack had seen her looking like that, he had never yet been able to stop himself from responding. Tonight, though, she was shivering, and almost slipped on the stairs. Jack jerked in an aborted attempt to catch her, but she wrenched herself upright. Before he could register anything else, she had reached the top of the stairs, thrown herself into her room, and closed the door swiftly behind her.

“Good night, Miss Fisher,” Jack said dryly to the closed door.

“Wait—Jack—" he heard, very close, as if she was pressed up against the other side of the door. He couldn’t stop himself—he took a step closer until he was only a breath away from the door himself.

“Jack, it’s—getting worse,” she said. “I don’t—trust myself.”

Jack swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry. “I’ll go, uh, shall I get—"

“Jack,” she interrupted. He couldn’t move, the sound of his name in that voice pinning him like a butterfly. “Jack,” she said again, almost inaudible. “You’re the only one I trust.”

His head spun. He found his hands pressed against the wood of the door without any clear memory of raising them.

A small click caught his attention, then a movement under the door. A key. He knelt and picked it up, turning it over thoughtfully in his fingers. She had locked herself in, entrusting him not only with her safety from others, but from her own actions.

“Jack?” she said, recalling his attention to her immediately. She sounded unsure, shaken in a way he had rarely heard.

“I’m here,” he said quickly.

“You’ll stay?” she said.

“Yes,” he said.

“And you won’t—"


“Even if I—"

“Yes,” he said again, feeling his voice drop deep in his chest. He was still kneeling in front of the door. He turned and sat, leaned his head back against the wood and licked his dry lips. “I’ll be here, Phryne.”

Her sigh, shaky with relief—and something else?—was almost more than he could bear. He closed his eyes, but quickly opened them again. With his eyes closed every small sound became magnified, every rustle of clothing and in-drawn breath on the other side of the door setting the insides of his eyelids on fire. He could picture all too well what might be happening. Had she moved to her bed, or was she still bare inches away from him on the other side of the door? Was she already disrobed, her skin flushed with fever in the lamplight? Or worse, was she still wearing his coat, one hand clutching the hem, the other—

She groaned, quiet but unmistakable. She was still sitting next to the door. He shifted uncomfortably, but she groaned again, and again, panting in a clear and building rhythm. Then, suddenly, nothing but silence.

Jack swallowed, his throat painfully dry. He must think of something else, anything at all. Not the latest case on his desk—the dangers of recalling this situation while on duty tomorrow were immediately apparent. A boxing match—the latest news from—


It was barely audible, more a breath than a fully vocalized word. Jack tried to pretend he had imagined it, that Miss Fisher was not really on the other side of a thin door thinking—

“Jack. Please.”

It was barely louder, but undeniable. Jack couldn’t bring himself to answer. Perhaps if he ignored her, if he stared at the wall and emptied his mind of all thoughts he wouldn’t—

“I—I want you. Jack, I want you, please, touch—touch me—"

“I—" Jack said, and had to clear his throat. “I’m staying out here, Miss Fisher.”

“Yes—no—Jack—I can’t—" A quick breath, and then Phryne’s voice, quiet and almost ashamed. “I can’t do this myself, Jack.”

“You can’t—“ Jack started without thinking, then stopped himself.

“I can’t come, Jack,” she said, and Jack felt his head thunk against the door behind him. “I can’t—it’s not enough, I need—I’ve got to have—Jack, Jack, please don’t let me come out, please come in, don’t come in, oh god—"

“Phryne,” Jack heard himself say, and her voice cut off. “I’m staying out here,” he said again, “but—if I were in there—" He paused at the sound of a quiet whimper, but she didn’t say anything else. “If I were in there,” he continued, “I would put my hand on the side of your neck. Do that for me, Phryne.”

“Ah,” he heard her say.

“Slide your hand up, into your hair,” he said. He had never heard his own voice sound like that. “Close your fingers now, Phryne, make a fist.”

“Yes—I—” he heard, but ignored it.

“That’s what I would do, Phryne, if I were in there with you. God, I’ve wanted to slide my fingers into your hair, I would tilt your head back and I would kiss you.” He paused, but could only hear her breathing raggedly. “Put your fingers in your mouth for me, Phryne.”

A second, and then he heard a muffled moan. “Good,” he said, his voice dropping even further. “Suck on them like that for me, Phryne.” God, he couldn’t believe he was doing this—he had never been the kind of man to play with his words. But it was welling out of him, smooth and dark as if he’d been thinking it over for months. Jack almost snorted—well, he’d been telling himself he hadn’t been thinking it over for months.

“What next, Phryne?” he said musingly. “I don’t know that I could stop kissing you once I got started. I’d want to taste every bit of your lips, explore your mouth until I could recognize you blindfolded.” He heard a moan from behind the door and smiled—Phryne didn’t mind that image a bit, did she?—but kept going without a pause. “But there are other parts of you I want my tongue on now. Take your fingers out of your mouth and put them on your breast.” He hesitated a second, then corrected himself. “On your nipple.”

“Ah!” Phryne said, sounding shocked.

“Is that how my mouth would feel?” Jack asked.

“No,” Phryne whispered, and Jack froze until she said, “Too cold.”

“Right,” Jack said. “If I were blowing on your nipple, then?”

“Ah,” Phryne said again, in an entirely different tone of voice.

“Keep moving your fingers down,” Jack said. “That’s my tongue, moving from your breast over your belly. I’ve always wondered,” he added in a conversational tone, “are you ticklish?”

“Don’t you dare, Jack Robinson,” Phryne said, her voice warm with laughter. Jack exhaled tension he didn’t know he’d been holding, hearing that familiar teasing tone. As long as Phryne sounded like that, everything would be fine.

“In that case,” Jack said, his own voice warm, “put your hands, both your hands, over the curve of your hips. The times I’ve thought about holding the curve of your hips, Phryne Fisher…” He trailed off, swallowing what he wanted to say. Now was not the time for that. There was plenty he could say, though. “Keep moving your hands—pull your legs up so you can move your hands all the way down your thighs. Slowly, Phryne,” he added, and was rewarded by a frustrated, muffled grunt.

“The way I would,” he said, conciliatory. “Slowly, not missing a centimeter. I want to know how every bit of you feels, Phryne, I’m going to take my time today.”

He heard her draw in a slow, shaky breath, then exhale. “I’m all yours, Jack,” she said softly.

Jack couldn’t speak for a second, overwhelmed by what those words did to him. He had to give the skin on the inside of his arm a ruthless twist to snap himself out of it—Phryne didn’t mean it like that, would never mean it like that. Yes, she needed him right now for a specific purpose, but he must not take advantage of the situation and allow himself to pretend it was anything beyond that. He would be barely better than the infamous Mr. Charles Wilson, he told himself viciously, and pushed the whole thing out of his mind.

“Then open your legs,” Jack said, proud that his voice still sounded steady and warm, without a hint of his inner turmoil. “Move your hands up the insides of your thighs, as slowly as I would. If I were touching you, Phryne, I would touch you with my whole hands—I’d feel your skin with my fingertips, my palms—scratch yourself, just a little.”

He heard her suck in a breath and smiled. “Like that,” he said. “My fingertips are rougher than yours, I imagine. And perhaps the skin of my cheek would feel rougher still.”

“Would you—would your cheek be on my thigh now?” Phryne said, aiming for nonchalant but missing by a mile.

“Oh god yes,” Jack said without hesitating. He saw no point in attempting to hide his physical appreciation of the situation, since it clearly heightened Phryne’s own. He shifted a little, trying to make himself more comfortable against the door. “I’d want to look at you, certainly, but I’d want to taste you too much to wait long. And smell you,” he added, taking a deep breath. Perhaps, even on this side of the heavy wood between them, he could smell her. Or perhaps it was only an overactive imagination. “If my cheek was on your thigh now, I know I would smell you.”

“You could taste me too,” she added. She sounded so near, only inches from the door. “I’m wet all down my thighs, Jack, please, I need more than—”

“I’ve got you,” he interrupted. “I’ve got you, those are my hands sliding up your thighs, my fingers opening you up—Phryne—” He found himself on his knees again, facing the door, both hands pressed against it as if he could reach through the solid wood for her. He took a deep breath. “Tell me how you would—if I was there, tell me how you would take my hand and you would show me how to touch you. Tell me how to touch you.”

“Ah—Jack—” he heard. His forehead hit the door with a thunk. “You would—I want your mouth where—where my fingers are—god, I’d want you to go slow, Jack, I've thought of this for so long but I can’t—I can’t—”

“You can, Phryne,” he said, feeling almost as desperate as she sounded, straining against the door between them. “Those are my fingers on you—my head you’re guiding—slowly, because I would be—” He swallowed. “I would be unsure of myself,” he said softly. “I would want to get it right because—for you—”

He heard her let out a long string of curses, then nothing.

“Phryne?” he said. He fumbled for the key he had dropped on the carpet, suddenly afraid. But—

“Mm,” he heard.

“Phryne, are you all right?”

“Mm,” she said again. “M’good.”

He sat back on his heels, letting out an explosive breath. “Phryne,” he tried again. “Phryne, move to the bed. Walk over to the bed, love, you can’t sleep all night on the floor.”

“Yes… inna minute…” he heard, even nearer to him, as if she had cuddled closer to the door.

He closed his eyes, then opened them with a sigh. He turned around with his back to the door and stretched his legs out in front of him, adjusting his erection to make himself as comfortable as possible. He slipped the key safely into his waistcoat pocket and leaned his head back, prepared to wait it out.

The grey light of pre-dawn woke him, long before even the faithful Dot began to stir. He listened carefully through the door behind him, and grinned when he heard a faint, entirely un-ladylike snore. He carefully took the key out of his pocket and put it into the lock, turning it soundlessly until it clicked open. Then, leaving the door closed with the key in the lock, he heaved himself to his feet and tip-toed, ignominiously, out the back door, to catch what sleep he could in his own cold bed.

He was at the station on time the next morning, coatless but alert. He’d had many worse nights, and after a shave and a cold shower felt barely the worse for wear. Miss Fisher did not appear at the station while Jack filed paperwork and completed the ugly work of documenting Mr. Wilson’s admission of guilt. Dot stopped by with a sandwich and a basket of cookies for Collins, and while she didn’t mention Miss Fisher’s well-being specifically, she seemed unconcerned. Jack was happy to assume Miss Fisher was up and about and minding her own business for once, and he felt no qualms about stealing a cookie.

He could admit he had been hoping to see her, but was also relieved when the day drew to a close and she had stayed away. While he knew they should and would discuss the previous night at some point, the station would certainly not be his top choice of venue. He drew a bit of a blank when trying to think of any venue that wouldn’t be terrifying—a public restaurant? His bedroom? Her bedroom? Good lord—but the station was definitely a terrible option.

He had been home long enough to put away his holster and pour two glasses of whiskey before he heard a rap at the door. He smiled and balanced both glasses in one hand while he opened the door.

“Miss Fisher,” he said, and handed her a glass while relieving her of his coat, which she had slung insouciantly over one shoulder.

“Why, thank you, Jack.” She dimpled at him, casually threw her hat on a side table, and drank half her glass in one swallow as she preceded him into the drawing room.

“Make yourself at home,” he said dryly, and followed her. She had already settled herself in one of the larger armchairs, all long legs and graceful arms over the side. Jack opted to stay standing—perhaps a cowardly choice, but he felt he could use any possible advantage during this conversation.

“To what do I owe the pleasure, Miss Fisher?” he asked, letting her take the offensive.

“Why, I’ve come to take you up on your offer, Jack,” she said. Her voice was light and her eyes were dancing, but her foot was twitching back and forth and her eyes glanced away from his for an instant.

“And which offer was that?” he said, taking a sip of his whiskey.

“The blindfold,” she said.

He choked. In an instant she was up and by his side. “My goodness, Jack, are you all right?” she said with deep concern.

“You did that on purpose,” he accused, as soon as he could catch his breath.

“Well, yes,” she admitted easily, her hand lingering on his shoulder.

He took a deep breath, trying to regain his focus, but she was still so near that her scent was making him dizzy. And could he even smell, perhaps, the same scent he thought he’d caught through the door last night…? He pushed the thought away—he had to keep his wits about him right now.

“You were saying about a, uh, blindfold,” he said unsteadily.

“Oh yes!” she said cheerfully, but her eyes flickered away again. “I believe your exact phrase was that you were interested in exploring my mouth until you could recognize me blindfolded. Was that it?”

“Yes,” he said slowly. “Yes, I think that was exactly what I said.” It was, word for word.

“Well,” she drawled, “I was thinking… you, me, a scarf… or perhaps… one of your ties…” She reached out to draw a finger up his tie, but he caught her hand.

“Phryne,” he said gently, “look at me.”

She did, as always, unhesitatingly and unflinchingly. But there was something… Jack had been a detective far too long to not trust his instincts in a situation like this. He blew out a frustrated sigh. “Why are you doing this?” he asked without thinking, then winced. As if the Honourable Phryne Fisher had given a straight answer to that question once in her entire life.

As expected, she smiled widely and he braced himself for whatever half-truth would come out of her mouth next. “Because it’s fun, Jack!” she said brightly. “Because we both have bodies and those bodies are clearly… compatible, if the other night was any indication. Because I’ve been waiting a long time and there is no reason at all to wait any longer.” There was something that caught Jack’s attention in that statement, but Phryne continued before he could pinpoint it. “Because this is who I am, Jack, this is what life should be! Why all the sneaking around and putting up barriers and hiding, when all we’ve got is today?” She paused and took a deep breath, then, when he didn’t say anything, said quietly, “You say something now, Jack.”

He was conscious of her hand still resting in his, his thumb smoothing over the back of hers. “I don’t—I’m not like that,” he said haltingly. “I can’t—I know how uncertain life is, we all learned that. But there’s more to—there’s more to us than just today. I believe that, Phryne, because—I love you.”

She took a sharp breath, but he rushed on. “I know that’s not what you’re looking for and I—I find I love that as well. I’m not asking for forever, Phryne, I’m asking for—” He stopped, frustrated with himself, and took a deep breath. She squeezed his hand and he swallowed. Every touch from her was as potent as a night with any other woman. How could he do justice to what she meant to him?

“Everything I said last night, I meant,” he said. “I’ve thought about this a long time, because—because it matters to me, what the two of us have. And yes, god, you're—you're gorgeous, I've thought about touching you, and kissing you, and—everything everything two bodies can do. But not because we’re bodies, Phryne, and maybe our time together will be short but it will be more than—than something just to pass the time. At least for me.” He stared at his hand on hers with a sense of unreality, almost lightheaded as he listened to the words coming out of his own mouth. “You have my heart, Phryne, as well as my body. I don’t need fidelity, but I do need something real.”

She drew back as if he had hit her, her eyes wide and shocked. He immediately reached for her, horrified, but she stepped further back, out of his reach.

“No,” she said after a long minute. “I deserved that.” Her voice shook. Jack stood helpless, unsure what to say or do. “What I was offering you tonight wasn’t—wasn’t an even exchange for what you gave me last night. That wasn’t worthy of you, Jack, and I apologize.” She dashed a tear from her eye impatiently.

Jack felt as if he had ripped his own heart out of his chest. “Phryne—no, that’s not what I—I just meant that—”

“Stop.” She shook her head impatiently. “I’ll—I’ll see you tomorrow, Jack.”

It wasn’t until after the door closed behind her that Jack realized. She had been afraid, that entire conversation. That was what had seemed so off. She had been terrified, pushing herself far beyond her comfort level. But why would she do that?

Well, whatever her reason had been, he had done nothing but make her fears come true. She had worried that he would hurt her—her, the unsinkable Phryne Fisher. In the years he’d known her, he had only seen her afraid of the worst sort of monsters. Until now. Until Jack Robinson came along. Rosie had always told him he had a certain skill for hitting where it hurt the hardest, he thought bitterly, and picked up the whiskey. He hesitated, thinking of the next morning and the cases waiting on his desk, then made a face and refilled his glass, two, three, four fingers high. Some nights were made for drinking yourself to sleep.

Things went back to normal. Miss Fisher was at the station before he was the next day, but while Collins did a noticeable double take at Jack’s red eyes and rumpled shirt, Miss Fisher didn’t say a word.

She made a half-hearted attempt at their usual banter the rest of the day, and Jack said his part on autopilot. His head was killing him and he kept finding himself absently rubbing at his chest, as if to soothe a wound, or pick a scab.

At the end of the day, he watched Miss Fisher walk back into her house, Miss Williams by her side. He was almost certain that it wasn’t only his imagination that she had less spring in her step than usual, that she was walking slightly slower. He groaned and rubbed his head; this was not acceptable. One of them needed to take a chance, put themselves on the line, take the first step. But he was damned if he could see his way to that step with a head that felt full of cotton wool. And this thrice-cursed heartburn; he was getting too old to drink like this. Too old for any of this.

He woke up the next morning knowing what to do. He made a small purchase at a specialty shop on his way to the station, then slipped the package into his desk drawer and ignored it all day, more or less successfully.

“Inspector Robinson to see you, Miss Fisher,” Mr. Butler said, before withdrawing with his usual tact.

“Miss Fisher,” Jack said, holding his hat and the small package in his hands. She was sitting on her settee, a drink in her hand that looked untouched. Her shoes sat next to her on the floor, tipped over carelessly. He let his eyes travel from the tip of her stockinged feet up the graceful curve of her legs and hips, not bothering to hide his interest as he raised his eyes past her decolletage to the amused smile on her lips.

“Please, come in, Jack,” she said, clearly pleased and curious at his willingness to forgo his usual attempt at professionalism. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”

He perched on the edge of a chair, setting his hat down on the side table but keeping his purchase in his hands. “I came to apologize, actually,” he said.

She sat up straight. “What? Nonsense, Jack, you have nothing to apologize for—”

“No,” he held up his hand, “no, let me—I need to say this to you.”

She sat back, subdued though clearly unhappy about it.

He cleared his throat. “I made assumptions about what you wanted,” he said. “I shouldn’t have done that. You have always been—kind to me, given me the time I needed to come to my own conclusions, and I should have given you the same courtesy.”

She twitched, and as if she couldn’t help it, said, “No, Jack—I wasn’t being honest, with you or with myself. You were right—I needed to hear that I was—”

In two quick steps he was next to her, and knelt to take her hand in his. She stopped talking as if he had shouted.

“I just—I brought you this,” he said, and put the package in her hand.

They were both silent as she unwrapped the plain brown paper. It was small, barely bigger than her palm. Inside the paper was a scrap of black fabric. She drew it out and unfolded it, until it was clear that the wider, thicker fabric in the middle and the thin straps on each side had been designed with the sole purpose as a blindfold.

She was silent for a long moment. Jack focused on keeping his breath even.

“You don’t have to do this, Jack,” she said quietly. “Not as an apology, or to make me happy.”

He smiled, fondly and helplessly. “I know,” he said. “But I want to.”

She bit her lip and was silent for another long minute, turning the blindfold over and over in her hands. Then she quietly said, “Now?”

He swallowed. But: “Yes,” he said, closed his eyes, and tilted his face up towards her.

With his eyes closed, his other senses intensified. He heard the rustle of her dress as she leaned towards him, and the brush of her fingers burned over his cheeks as she tied the blindfold over his eyes. He couldn’t help the breath that gusted out of him.

“Up,” she said, standing and taking his hands in her own to pull him up. He followed her blindly as she led him out of the room and carefully up the stairs. His cheeks flamed as he thought that anyone might see, that he would never know whether anyone had seen him led, blindfolded and helpless, up the stairs to Phryne Fisher’s boudoir.

She led him through the door to her room, then left him standing as she closed and locked the door with a soft snick. He swayed towards the small sounds she made around the room, feeling unmoored and lightheaded. But she was soon next to him again, her clever fingers slipping his coat off his shoulders, undoing each button on his shirt, his cuffs, pulling his undershirt out of his waistband. He swallowed as she knelt down and guided his hand to her head for balance as she slipped off each of his shoes, then socks. “Ah,” he said involuntarily as she unbuttoned his trousers, then bit his lip. He didn’t want to break whatever spell of silence had settled over them.

He stepped out of his trousers and drawers together at her gentle urging, then raised his arms as she slipped off his undershirt. Then he was standing, fully naked except for his blindfold, in the middle of Phryne’s bedroom.

She didn’t touch him for a long moment, though he could hear her breath quite close. He wanted to reach for her, or run, or scream, but held himself in check, only his hands opening and closing compulsively.

After what felt like an age, he felt her hands again, pressing against his chest. He took a step back, then another, then another, until his legs hit the bed and he fell over backwards on top of it.

He felt the bed dip as Phryne climbed up next to him, then moved him up towards the headboard. He was completely unsurprised when she drew his arm up over his head and he felt soft fabric slide around his wrist. She took his other hand, then paused.

“Is this all right?” she said softly. It was the first thing either of them had said since entering the bedroom.

“Yes,” he said, and cleared his throat. “Yes.” And then, “Please.”

That got him a soft kiss on his cheek, and he shivered happily as she tied his other wrist to the headboard. He tugged experimentally, but the fabric held. He couldn’t help the tremor that shook his body.

“You can make noise, Jack,” Phryne said in his ear. She must have been leaning over him, as close as she could get without touching. “I like it when you talk. Where are all those dirty, dirty words you told me the other night, hm?”

“I—” Jack croaked, and swallowed. His mouth was dry as a desert, but every part of him yearned to give Phryne whatever she asked for. “I don’t—what do you—”

“Hm,” Phryne said. She sounded pleased, which warmed him all over. She drew her hand up his side and arm to his hand, and laced her fingers with his. He couldn’t help the moan that escaped as he twisted towards her touch. “Yes,” she said. “Like that, Jack. Just… just let me see you.”

Then her mouth was on his. God, was this their first kiss? Her lips were soft, then demanding. He opened for her helplessly, overwhelmed. He should have known it would be like this, that she would take over every bit of him, that he would give everything to her and thrill to every second of it.

Her whole body was pressed against his now, naked and soft and warm. He realized that his cock was full and throbbing, and had been for quite a while. He was panting in between kisses, little broken sounds escaping him, and Phryne’s hands felt like they were everywhere, on his hip, twisting his nipple, the underside of his arm, the side of his neck, pulling at his hair. She was making soft sounds into his mouth too, and he tried to swallow each of them, deliriously wanting to keep each moan for himself, forever.

She pulled away, and his head lifted, trying to follow her. Her fingers touched his lower lip, and he sucked them into his mouth greedily. “Ah!” she said, sounding just like she had—was it only three days ago?—when she had seemed infinitely untouchable. He ran his tongue over the tips of her fingers and nipped gently, glorying in the gasps and bitten-off moans that drew out of her.

Eventually she drew her fingers out. “No,” he said without thinking, lifting his head, and she laughed.

“Patience, Jack Robinson,” she said, warm and joyful. “I know what you want.”

Then she was gone, but before he could protest again she was back, one leg slung over his shoulder and the insides of her thighs brushing his cheeks.

“Oh god, Phryne,” he gasped. His hips came off the bed, pressing into the air, the smell of her overwhelming and thrilling.

“Mm,” she said, deeply self-satisfied, and then his tongue was on her and she was filling his senses, everywhere around him. The taste of her, her smell, her silky hot skin under his tongue, her whole-hearted moans and curses above him. His head was spinning. Then her thighs tightened around him for an endless moment, and she fell apart.

He gasped as she slid down his body, her mouth finding his again. She kissed him almost lazily, but he couldn’t focus, his hips twitching into the air above him.

She laughed into his mouth, then slid down farther, her legs anchoring his hips to the bed.

Then, god, her hand was tight around his cock, and he arched into her touch, breathless with wanting. His wrists twisted against his ties and his head thrashed from side to side.

Then he blinked, and squinted. She had tugged the blindfold off of his eyes, and for a second he couldn’t see anything. Then his eyes focused, and there she was—hair mussed, lips red and bitten, sitting naked and glorious above him, and as if it had been punched out of him, he came.

Afterwards, when she untied him and they had wiped each other off, they lay wound up in each other trading half-voiced words and gentle kisses until Jack was almost asleep.

“Jack,” she said presently.

“Mm?” he said, no more than half awake.

“I do love you, you know,” she said.

“Mm,” he said, and patted her hair vaguely.

“Really?” she said, and poked him in the side, laughing.

He squirmed and caught her hand, grumbling.

“Come on, Jack,” she cajoled. “That’s all I get?”

He let out a heavy sigh, sending her into more giggles, then opened his eyes and in one swift move, rolled them both over.

Nose to nose, he said, “I love you, Phryne Fisher. I’ll say it as often or as little as you want, and you can say it to me as often or as little as you want, and either way I promise you I know it every second of every day.”

“Mm,” she said, and kissed the tip of his nose. “All right, then. Now you can go to sleep.”

He fell asleep laughing.