“Why didn’t you tell me she was your lover?” I ask, pretty sure I already know the answer.
“Because you’re so psychotic about her. You’ve been obsessed with the competition between you two for so long I knew you would never let your guard down with me if I told you she was my ex-girlfriend. I didn’t lie about it; I just didn’t make it a point to tell you.”
“So anytime I want to trust someone I should ask them, ‘Did you screw Valerie James?’ and then I will know who to trust?”
“No, but I bet you’d get some answers you didn’t expect.” He chuckled.
“Well, I know she has half the journalism world wrapped around her fingers, but to her credit I thought it was her talent and the Ladies World brand, not her legs and her fake red hair.”
“Oh, she’s a natural redhead. Trust me.”
“Argh!” I pull and try to break free from his embrace, but he doesn’t let me go, just laughs. It makes me laugh too. “Fine, I don’t want to know any more about you and her.”
“There is no me and her. There is just me, and I want you. Besides, you’re wrong about her.”
“Oh really? Do tell,” I egg him on. I can’t wait to hear what bullshit she’s told him.
“Val doesn’t like you,” he says bluntly. Mark’s right, he is honest. “But she does respect you. She told me you called her a whore in front of a presentation the first time you two met. She admitted she talked to an editor friend or two about hassling you when you applied because she thought it would teach you a lesson about playing nice in the sandbox. But she had no idea they would take it as a blockade. She was actually kind of proud when Lynx hit the stands. She thought you were a worthy opponent.”
“I didn’t mean to call her that, it just, well, I was—”
“Mad because she didn’t know or care who you were.”
“She told you that?”
“No, but I’ve seen you in action. That’s why you two could never work together. You’re way too much similar.”
“See, how am I supposed to trust you or open my body to you if all I keep thinking is whether or not you’re comparing me to Valerie? All my life I’ve been behind her, cleaning up the crumbs off her table. In school I was in her shadow, when I got into the journalism field, I was in her shadow; she even had a Sandstone Ventures bailout before me. Now, I find out she’s had you too. Everything I do with you, I’ll know she has already done. You’re... used.”
“I’m sorry, I forgot you were a virgin when we met,” Mark replies incredulously. It makes me laugh some more.
“I wasn’t. By far.” I slap him on the leg. The feel of his body around mine, warm and luscious makes me want to forget this day ever happened.
“If you don’t want to do something she’s done, then do something new. For this day, and this day only, I will be your submissive and you can give me the orders.” Mark moves around off the couch and gets on his knees before me.
My eyes widen in shock. Is he serious? The Mark Stone who is always in control, will submit himself to my orders? Then a smile starts to play at my lips.
I take a moment to imagine the possibilities. What do I want him to do? My first instinct is to look toward his actual bedroom, not the “playroom” he’s taken me in, and ask him to make love to me there for the very first time. I decide against it. If we ever make love in his bed I want it to be at his invitation, not some power play of mine. Reaching down, I toy with his tie a moment. He bends his head down to kiss my hand.
“Strip,” I say. Mark starts to undo his tie in a hurry. “No, no, no. I didn’t say take your clothes off, I said strip. Put on a show. Let me see your stuff, big guy.”
Mark laughs. He rises and goes over to the windows and draws the shades. Stopping by the stereo, he programs in some numbers and some slow R&B music begins to fill the room.
“Sorry, that’s as close to strip-tastic as my music gets.” I almost protest when I realize the song he has picked is “Let’s Stay Together” but decide to just lean back and enjoy the show.
“Let’s see some moves,” I catcall from my position on the couch. He begins to slowly pump his hips with a big grin on his face. I can tell he is having fun with this even though he doesn’t have the slightest idea what he’s doing. He opens one side of his suit coat grinding towards me then twists his back attempting to remove it fully. His arm gets stuck in the sleeve and he ends up spending the whole chorus flopping around beating at the trapped sleeve like it’s some kind of parasite attempting to devour him. We both laugh as he subdues the monster and throws it across the room victoriously.
He takes off his tie, clearly he’s had more practice at this, and kisses one end, then runs it up the length of my body until it rests below my chin. He draws close to me, like he is going to pick up the tie with his teeth, but instead leans over and kisses me deeply. The song changes to Prince’s “Kiss” just at the perfect time.
“You timed that,” I say.
“Nope, I had no idea that was next. I just took advantage of it.” He laughs and turns his back to me, wiggling his butt in the worst shake down I’ve ever seen. He is trying to unbutton his shirt but I see him fumbling with each button as he tries to undo them. I am just about tell him it’s okay when he abandons the effort entirely and just rips the shirt open, sending buttons flying across the room. He turns and holds open his shirt, his chest peeking through the separated fabric, my reaction to this has gone from curiosity to humorous acceptance to arousal as I look at the chest and imagine my hands running across it.
I reach out and pull him down on the couch with me, taking his hands and pinning him back as I push him against the arm. Leaning down, I rub my tongue up his abdomen to his chest, feeling his passion rise beneath me. He kisses me again and tries to get back up but I put my hand on his warm chest, feeling his heart pounding under my touch.
“But I’m not done,” he complains.
“Yes, you are,” I say fervently, kissing him again and enjoying the feel of his lips. They are the perfect size and fullness to fit instinctively with mine. It’s just like they were made for me.
“But I’ve still got the big finale,” he responds, pushes his hips against me, his obvious erection rubbing against my leg.
“Honey, trust me. That dance is over,” I give a snide head shake as I say it.