Page 17 of The Protege

“You never say good girl anymore.” The feel of her body close to mine. The deep pools of her green eyes as she looks up at me.

“Don’t I?”

“No, you don’t. Daddy.”

The miniscule hesitation right before she says it. Daddy. “What? Don’t call me that.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m not your father.”

“I know. I didn’t mean it that way.”

I was always Laszlo to Isabeau. She didn’t call me daddy until the night of her eighteenth birthday. I said “good girl” a lot when she was younger, when correcting her and praising her had been easy. Before it started taking on new and unexpected dimensions. Before I started thinking about her in ways I knew I shouldn’t.

Isabeau slips like a fish into my lap, making my breath catch. My desire for her paralyzes me as I’m caught between acting on my fantasies and pushing her away. I should push her away. Her fingers stroke my short beard, her nails scratching through the bristles. Her soft, pink mouth is very close to mine. “Do you like that, daddy?”

Yes. Yes I like that. Her touch, her weight in my lap. That word. Daddy. It sounds decadent and more than little slutty from her grown up but still very young mouth. And when she presses her lips against mine I let her. My hands slide around her hips and I pull her tightly against my thickening cock, letting her feel my length through her underwear. What she does to me. What she’s been doing to me for months even though I’ve hated myself for it.

Her sharp intake of breath. The way she looks wonderingly down at the evidence of my arousal and then slides back and forward against me, tentative, holding onto the lapels of my suit jacket. Her soft cry of pleasure as rubbing her clit against my cock seems to send sparks through her. Raising her eyes to mine, eloquent with arousal.

“Good girl,” I murmur, encouraging the back and forth of her sex against me, holding her lightly, guiding her. Just a little longer and she’ll be coming in my lap. Fuck, I’ve wanted this. This, and so much more. She moves faster, breathing hard, her eyes filled with need for me. Isabeau’s perfect green eyes.

Isabeau, and the green eyes that have looked to me for ten years with trust and love. Since she was a child. And now, what? I’m going to fuck her on her eighteenth birthday? Is this all she means to me? Shock and guilt sluices me like an icy waterfall and I shove her off my lap and onto the empty sofa seat.

“No. Isabeau. We can’t.”

She’s barely a woman and she’s naïve about men. If I hadn’t known that already from spending just about every day with her since she was eight years old I would have felt it in the tentative way she moved against me, the surprise on her face that rubbing her clit against me had felt so good.

“Laszlo?”

Her voice pulls me back to the present. She has a neutral, expectant expression on her face that I’ve seen a thousand times on the faces of my orchestra, but when I look closer I’m certain she knows exactly where my mind went.

“From forty-four,” I say, naming a measure at random.

I turn toward the window as she plays, closing my eyes to the painful memory that’s waiting in the wings. I try desperately to keep it at bay but it crashes over me.

Isabeau looks up at me in surprise, her mussed hair falling into her eyes. “What’s wrong, daddy?”

All the ways I’ve thought about her since she turned seventeen flood my head, swiftly followed by self-loathing and the horror that she’s somehow discovered that I’ve thought about how good it would be to take her to bed and teach her about things other than music. Discover what she wants. Show her what I want. Hear her say Yes, sir when I ask her if she likes the way I touch her, if she wants more. No, what she said. Yes, daddy. Fuck, that’s much better. That’s perfect.

My protégé, who is not only a virgin and in my care but half my age. I need to explain to her why it would be wrong for us to have a sexual relationship but I can’t think straight. I’m torn between my desire for her and my instincts to keep her safe, keep her happy, and never, ever touch her like that. All the pent-up need and self-recrimination wells up, and when she reaches for me again I grab her wrist and growl, “Isabeau, what the fuck are you doing?”

The second the words were out of my mouth I regretted them, not just because I was lying about how much I liked what she’d done, but also because how much it hurt her that I talked to her that way. Her nearly bringing herself to orgasm in my lap was the sweetest moment of my life, but I was so used to berating myself over my feelings for her by then that the guilt erupted at a ten on the Richter scale and I lashed out at her. Ever since then the sweetest moment also became the most shameful, because I hurt her. And I’ve never said sorry.

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