You don’t know
You’re reacting all along
What I see
Is killing me
You won’t make it on your own
In this hell of a season
Give me more of a reason
To be with you
Be with you, yeah
Say you’ll be better
I’ll keep waiting forever
You know I do
Know I do, oh
I don’t know
I’m pretending that I do
It’s my curse
I can reverse
I’m still waiting here for you
In this hell of a season
Give me more of a reason
To be with you
Be with you, oh
Hell of a Season – The Black Keys
Rome, Fall, 2010
Leaning on the window of the research room in Casa Medici, he listened to the plaintive sounds of the cello coming from the public music room below. They weren’t meant to be there, they weren’t French nationals and Mia was the only one of them that could possibly pass as an artist but the allocated cover allowed them to move freely here. Angelique was accompanying Mia on piano giving Jean Claude and Ethan the opportunity to scour through the archives of the library.
“My friend, you wear your heart on your sleeve. Why do you both pretend that there is no connection between you?” Jean Claude had not raised his head from the documents he was examining, his white gloves tracing the text carefully, reading glasses perched precariously on the end of his nose. “Mia has the look of a woman who wants to tear you limb from limb while maintaining a carefully constructed indifference. This can only be a woman scorned.”
Ethan didn’t reply, rather he turned back to the window and listened to her play. All of her emotion poured through the instrument, everything that she was holding back from him. Two months had passed since they were thrown together in Spain before moving to Rome to chase a trail that did not look hopeful. Two months in which he thought that perhaps she might at least show some crack in that careful reserve. Instead, she projected a frivolous airhead when they were in public and an ice maiden when they were alone.
“It no longer matters. What happened was so long ago, we were young, life goes on.” His voice was so quiet that he was not even sure that Jean-Claude had heard him. Silence descended over the building. After a few minutes he heard her footsteps approaching the library. The careful opening of the door was in deference to the age and history of this place rather than any gesture to their work. Not that he was achieving very much.
“Ah, Mia. You need to take Ethan out of here. He is climbing the walls and straining my nerves, noh?” She stood still, looking from one man to the other before nodding. Ethan could not resist her lure. He followed like a puppy and heard the quiet titter of Jean-Claude’s laughter as they descended the spiral staircase.
Outside on the street they helped themselves to a scooter. Ethan revved the engine as Mia donned a helmet and climbed on behind, squeezing her body into his. When they had first arrived in Rome, she would not touch him, preferring instead to grip the back of the scooter with her hands. To maintain balance, her thighs would tighten against his, thus defeating the purpose. Now, she wrapped her arms around his waist and snuggled against his back, sending his body into a frenzy from which he did not wish to recover.
Rather than heading away from the city, he weaved his way down the hill towards the Piazza Papolo, threading past cafes and galleries, through the narrow streets towards the river. Today, he had a need to go to the Vatican; something that was happening with more regularity than he cared to consider. Mia barely raised an eyebrow as he parked the scooter near the piazza San Pedro before he handed her off the bike. They walked with purpose across the square towards the entry turnstiles as Mia took the scarf from around her waist and draped it carefully over her shoulders. Ethan inhaled deeply as he watched her bare skin disappear beneath the fabric and quietly made the sign of the cross as they approached the large wooden doors of the Basilica.
Once inside he moved with purpose towards one of the chapels on the right hand side, joining a small group of tourists who were receiving a blessing at the altar. Mia stood back and watched as he knelt and prayed to a God that she had little use for. As she watched, a diminutive nun approached her.
“Your young man is of the faith but you are not, I take it.” A wizened face spoke to her in broken heavily accented English. Mia responded in French.
“Oh, he is not my young man. And no, I am sorry, I am not a Catholic.” Her voice cracked with the emotion of those words.
“Ah, the foolishness of youth. Anyone can see that he is indeed ‘your’ young man. I watched him escort you across the square. And you do not have to be a Catholic to have faith. You believe in him, at least.”
Mia wiped the smallest of tears from her eye. “He was once a man I believed in completely. My faith was strong. But then he … disappointed me. He lost the right to call me his a long time ago. Perhaps it would be better if I converted after all.”
“You mistake my words, young one. I said that he is yours not that you are his, although I suspect that we are talking semantics. And you should not talk of converting on a whim. We have enough bad Catholics raised in the shadow of the church.” She chuckled at her own joke. Ethan stood at that moment turning to walk back and join her. The older woman patted her arm briefly before shuffling away with a smile, leaving Mia to ponder her words.
Ethan took in the slightly stunned look on Mia’s face and approached her with a sense of trepidation. He wanted to take her hand, to hold her face and kiss her, even in this most holiest of places. His reaction to her was at a chemical level that he could no longer control. Instead of the usual look of disdain on her face, he saw disbelief and his eyes glanced towards the old nun she had been talking to. Just as he did, the woman turned and faced him, the light filtering through the round ceiling windows struck her face. Her smile was serene, knowing and he felt an incredible wisdom and sense of well-being. As his smile widened her
head inclined slightly and she turned to continue on her way.
Feeling a light-hearted hope that he hadn’t felt for a long time Ethan turned back to a still stunned Mia. When her eyes met his, he saw enough to tell him that if he was patient she would come back to him. He had no idea how he knew that but it was enough. Their hands touched briefly as they walked towards the door and made their way across the square. Once more on the bike and heading back towards the historic district she leaned her body against his soaking up his warmth and he smiled, really smiled for the first time in nearly five years.
We walk back to the safe house in silence. I go inside to pick up my bag and she walks me outside again. As we approach the door of the building she pulls out her phone and sends a text before gripping my hand and dragging me toward a taxi. Once inside she gives instructions to take us to a small boutique hotel near Pike’s Market and her lips are on mine possessively before I can speak.
“Babe, what are you doing?” I murmur through the kiss. She groans into my mouth with her hands on my collar pulling me in close. I can taste coffee on her tongue with a hint of mint. The unsubtle press of her breasts against my chest is sending electricity through my body making my cock dance in my pants.
“I need you. Now!” She growls. Immediately my hand dives beneath her skirt and slides up her thigh. When I reach her apex I search for panties that aren’t even present. Instead, I feel the hot skin of her sweet pussy, soaked in moisture that releases a musky aroma as soon as I touch her.
“Jesus, babe. I missed you so much.” She swallows my murmured words with her tongue and the suction of her full lips as she presses herself into my hand with a throaty groan.
“Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain.” Her tongue thrusts back into my mouth as I laugh.
“How about a little holy fuck instead.” I insert my finger inside her swollen lips and she gasps, her strong muscles gripping me.
“Better be a fucking big one, repeated over and over.”
“Better watch your mouth or I might have to spank you for blaspheming.” I remove my fingers and give her thigh a gentle slap, making her jump and writhe. The cab driver has us firmly in his sights through the mirror. “Eyes front buddy.”
As he looks away Mia giggles into my neck. “I want you to tie me down and fuck me hard all afternoon.”
“Oh, no, baby. I am going to fuck you painfully slow. I have at least four hours before I have to meet Ana and I am going to make the most of every one.”
I toss a note at the driver before the car has come to a stop and we race into the hotel. As I start toward the reception desk Mia reaches into her bra, pulls out a key card and waves it at me with a grin. Smiling I take it from her and pull her into the elevator instead. Once the door closes I turn around and press her into the back wall and lift her arms above her head as I grind into her pelvis. Ever responsive, she whimpers into my mouth letting me feel her need. The elevator stops two floors up and a couple step inside wearing exercise gear. When I step away from Mia she has a wet patch on the front of her skirt so I move in front and shield her body. Our eyes lock, the humor and lust fighting with each other as the guy clears his throat. They step out four floors later and we continue up one more level.
Without hesitation she drags me down the corridor and into the suite. A bucket of champagne is standing on the sideboard. I glance around and notice she has clothes for both of us laid out and a selection of toys on the bed. Once more I am a little blown away at her eagerness for hot sex given her virginal state just prior to our wedding.
“Pour me a drink babe, I’ll be out in a minute.” She calls over her shoulder as she heads into the bathroom. Within moments I have two flutes filled and have stripped down to my boxers. Being a woman of many talents Mia is standing at the door of the bathroom ready for me when I turn around and I almost drop the glasses. With one arm above her head she leans on the door in the skimpiest of balcony bras, a suspender, black stockings and high heels, her eyes are glowing with anticipation. Struggling to recover my equilibrium I approach her. There is no way I can hide the way my pants are tenting at the sight of her.
“Are you packing or are you just happy to see me.” Placing the glasses on the table I stalk over to her. Even with heels on I can stand over her and she has to lean her head back a fraction to look into my eyes. They sparkle as she looks at me setting my blood racing. I trace the outline of her face with the back of my hand before grasping her chin and pulling her in for a kiss. Our lips meet my tongue sweeping past hers before tugging at her bottom lip with my teeth.
“I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you, baby. I missed you so much.” My hands reach down to grab the cheeks of her ass. She has the most amazing ass. Most women spend their lives trying to minimize their backsides. Not my girl. She fills my hands with her soft plump flesh while her generous thighs wrap around me. Her body is still firm and athletic but she is all woman, rounded curves and luscious feminine beauty. I carry her over to the bed and lower her down. Her hands strip my boxers down my legs and I sink between her thighs entering her with a firm thrust. Her heat, her moisture, her scent is overwhelming making it impossible for me to hold back.
“Don’t hold back baby. I know you need to come. I’m ready for you.” She slides our hands between us until we are both stroking her clit and she’s right. Her body is ready to explode her muscles pulsing violently around me almost sucking my orgasm out of me.
“Shit babe. I’m sorry. Damn it.” She does this to me every time. I feel like a horny teenager whenever I am around her. She only has to open her legs and I am ready to explode.
“Hey, don’t. That was amazing.”
“No, it was too damn quick and you deserve better. I’m sorry.” I pull out of her and go to the bathroom to get a warm cloth. When I walk back into the bedroom Mia is lying on the bed with her hand draped over her face. I wipe between her legs before throwing the cloth down beside the bed. Lying down next to her I pull her into my chest and feel her stiffen in my arms. Pulling her hand away I see that she is crying. “Honey, what’s wrong?”
“I missed you so much and I was looking forward to this and then you…you…take the most beautiful lovemaking and make it seem so inadequate. Like I am inadequate.” I stare at her in horror.
“Baby, no. It’s me, not you.” I pin her back on the mattress, wiping the hair out of her eyes and I look at her intently. “Sweetheart, I didn’t mean to make you cry. That was beautiful, you are beautiful. I just wanted it to last longer. I want to be perfect for you but you set me off every time. I have no control where you are concerned. I’m sorry. I don’t ever want to make you cry. Please don’t cry.”
“Does it matter that much? You turn me on so much just by breathing, I don’t understand how that happens. Is there something that I can do better? I want to be better for you.” This is a Mia that I hardly ever get to see. Her rare insecurity is so endearing.
“Babe, you couldn’t be any better. Here.” I take her hand and place it over my already hardening cock. “This is what you do to me. I am horny for you all the time.” I lean in and kiss her as she begins to smile. A smile that turns into the sexiest damn giggle I have ever heard.
“All the time?”
“All the time, you witch.” She giggles into my mouth some more. “And you know it.” Her hand starts to stroke, bringing me further to life. “Baby, this time I am going to fuck you hard until you scream. I promise.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” Her smiling lips whisper into mine. “Now get over here and show me what you can do.”
Four hours later, having thoroughly worshiped at the altar that is my wife’s body and making her scream out a deity’s name in every language she knows I was on my way to meet Ana at the apartment. As I walked towards the building I received a text from Rory.
Swallow 13 inside your sister’s apartment. Proceed with caution.
I am about to take off at a run when I spot Christian Grey’s black SUV outside the building with he and his driver still inside. Trying hard to maintain some semblance of cool I walk up to the door of the building. I almost have to issue a written invitation before either of them notice me and begin to move.
“Kavanagh! Wait!” Christian is out of the car in one fluid movement racing toward me. “Sorry, I think there is a situation. You need to wait here.” He pushes me out of the way, while grabbing Ana’s keys from me, a look of panic in his eyes and I fall back against the wall as I watch him racing up the stairs.
“Mr Kavanagh. I apologize. Mr Grey is a little anxious about an unwanted visitor who may be inside your sister’s apartment. If you could wait here, sir, we will go and clear the building.” Jason Taylor, Christian’s bodyguard is trying to maintain an outward calm but I can see that he is anxious to follow his boss, probably to stop him from doing something profoundly stupid.
I nod and let them go and then follow them up as quickly and as quietly as I can, gun pulled. I text Rory to get a feed from the surveillance equipment I have already set up in the apartment. Like Mia, I was irked that I would be spying on my sister and her friend but grateful that right now I have a way to monitor what is happening inside. The screen on my phone shows that Ana is still by the kitchen bench facing a very bedraggled and unkempt looking woman who could otherwise be her mirror image who is holding a gun. Christian Grey is approaching her with Jason Taylor just inside the door of the apartment. Christian is walking across the room to join Leila Williams who has lowered both her head and her gun and dropped to her knees. Ana has lifted her hand to her mouth in horror.
Through the door I hear Christian instructing Ana to leave in a seriously pissed voice but there is no movement. There is some more discussion then I see Taylor move to sweep Ana up into his arms and I retreat to the bottom of the stairs securing both my gun and the phone out of sight. Grey is still inside the apartment it would seem which doesn’t worry me as I have seen him pocket the gun and all our intel has said that Williams may be unstable but is unlikely to hurt anyone except herself.
Ana looks shell shocked. All the color has drained from her face and something in the way she is holding her mouth in a grim line says that this is not about the gun or the girl but about Grey staying up there in the apartment and all but yelling at her to leave. She needs to be brought back to the moment.
“Jesus, Ana! What the fuck is going on?” I pace towards them insinuating my body into her space as Taylor places her back on the ground. A look of shock and then relief sweeps across her face.
I place my bag on the ground and wrap her in a hug. “Ethan. Oh, thank God!” Her body relaxes against me. A promising sign that her shock isn’t going to debilitate her completely.
“What the fuck is going on, Ana? Who’s this guy?” I look over her shoulder at Taylor who is looking at me suspiciously. I guess if your job depends on your ability to make sure that someone doesn’t steal your boss’s girlfriend from under his nose then you need to be a little cautious.
“Oh, sorry, Ethan, this is Taylor. He works with Christian. Taylor, this is Ethan, my roommate’s brother.” We nod each other. He knows who I am. He will have a file on me already. And I know him. Better than he would like.
“Ana, upstairs, what’s going on? I was fishing for the apartment keys when these guys jumped out of nowhere and grabbed them. One of them was Christian…” She explains about Christian’s ex going postal with an impressive amount of reserve. She really isn’t giving much away at all. Eventually she is back in my arms sobbing her heart out and I can’t help but feel it would be justice right now for Christian Grey to see his girl being comforted by another man. What the fuck does he think he is doing up there?
Having taken in the little scene as it unfolded inside the apartment getting Ana away from here is a priority. While Christian might have some degree of control over the situation, Leila Williams seems very unstable. Jason Taylor, like typical ex-military, looks anxious to get back amongst the action but there is no way that he going to leave Ana. I convince Ana to come with me. We go across the road to a bar for a drink while Grey and his man take care of Ms Williams.
My pocket is buzzing so I know that Rory is trying to get my attention. I also suspect that by now Mia is completely aware of what is happening. Just hold on baby, I will contact you soon. I get Ana settled at a table by the window so we can watch the action across the road. Her body is shaking and my biggest concern is her going into shock. Then I notice her hands clenched into fists and I can see that she is angry. Really angry. No shock here so I order beers and some bar snacks, knowing that the alcohol will be welcome but she isn’t likely to touch the food.
We drink our first couple of beers in record time while I try to gently probe her for information. She doesn’t give away very much which could be as a result of the NDA protocol that Grey has in place but in all the time I have known Ana, I have never known her to be one of those bitchy gossips that tells you their life story in the first fifteen minutes. Ana Steele could give some of Kate’s more affluent friends a few lessons in class.
Leila is definitely going through some emotional trauma as a result of her boyfriend being killed in a car crash. She is projecting this on Christian, probably because she feels the need to have someone take care of her. From what I know about Christian Grey all she had to do was ask but her mind is too far gone for that. It annoys me that the agency could have got her off the streets a couple of weeks ago when she first came to our attention. There was no need for Ana to go through all of this angst. But since she wasn’t a threat to national security, she falls out of our jurisdiction. I’m not paid to think about the ethics of the situation.
Finally, Christian has the girl bundled up and out of the apartment care of his shrink, John Flynn. Ana watches the scene unfolding carefully, with Christian emerging from the building with Leila in his arms. I hear her sharp intake of breath and see the color drain from her face. When they are gone she asks for something stronger to drink and I am happy to oblige.
When I return she takes a quick gulp then excuses herself to go to the bathroom. I take the opportunity to call Elliot and explain what is happening. If Christian has gone back to the apartment and found Ana isn’t there then he is going to be out for blood and it will most likely be mine. On the other hand I am not going to make Ana leave if she has a need to simply get drunk. Elliot understands this and at least he knows that she is safe.
“Ethan, I owe you so much, man. Christian might be a prick about the whole thing but I trust you, man. Don’t sweat it. Just look after our girl.”
“Okay, I’ll call you in an hour or so.” I hang up just as Ana approaches the table again.
“Everything ok?” She nods and picks up the snifter of brandy again, this time taking a small slip. “Do you want to talk about him? I get the impression that he won’t appreciate you being out with me.”
The look she gives me is harsh and distant. “Right now I am not sure I care very much about his approval. And no, I don’t think I want to talk about Christian.”
I nod. The waitress comes over to clear our glasses and flirts for a moment while she takes another drinks order. As she walks away she presses a card into my hand. I glance down at it, a little stunned.
Ana giggles. “Oh, she was so into you. You are going to get lucky tonight. Let me see.” She grabs it out of my hand before I can react and examines it.
“Oh my God! It’s a hotel room access card! Jeez, how forward is that? How did she know that we weren’t ‘together’?” Now it is Ana’s turn to look stunned. I quickly glance around the room and see a familiar leather-clad shadow in the corner. She stands up, holds her glass up to me in a salute before draining the contents and then walks out of the bar. Ana, luckily, is still focused on the card.
“I will take that.” She looks at me as if I have grown horns. “No. I will pass it back to her when I pay the bill. I think that will be a strong enough message.”
“Well, don’t turn her down on my account.” Our drinks arrive courtesy of another one of the waitstaff. The effects of the alcohol are taking hold with Ana so I order more food and settle in for another couple of hours of non-conversation.
Eventually she decides she is ready to go home. As the air hits her she becomes even more unsteady on her feet and I offer to go up to the Escala penthouse to help her face the music. She declines and I watch with some uncertainty as she staggers through the lobby to the elevator. I really shouldn’t have let her drink so much.
On the way back to the hotel I text Elliot to let him know that Ana is home and Mia to let her know I am on my way. When I let myself into the room I hear the gentle strains of Diana Krall Let’s Do It Again and smell the exotic vanilla scented candles dotted around the room. Mia is nowhere to be seen.
“Honey, I’m home!” Then I hear the telltale sounds of hot-sexy-woman-in-bathtub.
“Come on in, babe. The water’s fine.” I push the door to the bathroom open and see my beautiful naked wife up to pussy’s bow in bubbles and deliciousness. Christ, that looks good.
“Room enough for two in there?” She slides over and pats the water sending a slight splash of foam into the air. I strip off my clothes, knowing that I am already beginning to harden at the sight of her, and step into the bathtub.
“Here, turn around. Let me give you a rub.” I turn and sit between her legs as her strong hands begin to work on my shoulders. Magical hands. I could almost fall asleep it has me so relaxed. “Baby had a hard night?”
“You said it.” I sigh. Her fingers dig in hard biting my flesh and I jump. “Ease up a bit, baby.”
“Oh, does that hurt?” She digs in again and too late, I realize that she is spitting mad. What the fuck? I reach down and grip her thigh muscle in a charlie horse. She yelps but she lets go of my shoulder. “Ow.”
“Are you going to tell me what has you pissed?” I turn around to face her, splashing water out on the floor.
She pouts. “You spent all night in the company of a beautiful hot woman, buying her drinks and all I could do was sit and watch you. You didn’t even notice I was there.”
“Mia, I was doing my job. And that hot woman is my sister’s best friend and your brother’s girlfriend. She is like a sister to me. I wasn’t about to leave her alone when your brother had just abandoned her on the street to go look after his freaky ex-sub.” I catch the look in her eye and see that I have gone too far.
“Christian did what he had to do. And I bet he didn’t abandon her. Taylor was with her, wasn’t he?”
We stare at each other angrily for a moment before I speak. “Yes, Taylor was with her but Christian should have called the police. He isn’t qualified to handle Leila’s mental state nor should he have confronted a woman with a gun.”
“Are you going to tell me that if someone was holding a gun on me that you wouldn’t try to do something about it?”
“Don’t turn my words. Yes, I would take a bullet for you. But I am trained to do that.”
“So you would do it as a trained agent but not as my husband?” This is getting out of hand. She keeps twisting my words.
“That is not what I meant and you know it. I would do anything for you. I would give my life for you. Nothing would stand in my way. But as an agent, we have protocols to follow and by anyone’s book what Christian did tonight was stupid and reckless. He should have called the police and not tried to be a fucking hero. If he had done that I would not have had to spend the night drinking in a bar with a woman who is not my wife and we would not be having this fucking argument.”
Suddenly she giggles. “We’re having our first fight.”
“This isn’t our first fight, Mia.” I sigh running a wet hand through my hair.
“It’s our first fight as a couple.” She peers up at me with that super sexy smile that has me immediately reaching for my nether regions. Pussy-whipped and loving it, Kavanagh?
“Baby, you know I would give my left testicle to only ever have to spend my time with you. No woman has ever or will ever come close to you. I have loved you since you were 15 years old and I can’t imagine a day when I won’t feel like my world begins and ends with you.”
Her eyes water up and she reaches her hands out to pull my face towards her for a kiss. What should be a romantic make up moment turns into strangled battle not to drown as I lose my balance and fall face first into her chest forcing us both down under the water. When we emerge with a splutter we both have bubble foam sticking out at odd angles from our heads. Smooth, Kavanagh. We burst out laughing.
“Come here, minx.” I pull her up to straddle my lap. She wraps her legs around my waist and her hands around my head as we reinstate our kiss. This time with perfect balance and a deathly slow grind below the water I taste her lips, her tongue, her teeth, savoring every morsel. Her hands in my hair begin to gently massage my scalp sending delightfully sensual shocks down my spine.
I let my hands roam over her back, ensuring that I get those spots that make her move involuntarily. The tender zone down the side of her rib cage just below her armpits has her pressing her breasts firmly against my chest. A touch of the shapely form of her hips has her writhing on my lap in a gentle wave. The sensitive flesh where her ass meets the top of her thigh causes her to thrust her hips into my lower belly. When I slide my hand down her upper leg and hit the skin behind her knee she arches her back with a groan and it opens her up enough that I can slide home.
“That feel okay, babe?” I gave her no warning before I entered her. Not verbal anyway. Even though we both were heading in this direction I never want to take sex for granted.
“You know it is.” Her eyes fix on mine and without saying another word we watch each other carefully as we start to move. Her pupils are fully dilated. Her lips are slightly parted allowing her to alternate from slipping her tongue across them to biting them as the intensity builds. At least this time, after an afternoon of making love to her and a night fueled by one too many drinks, I won’t be racing to the finish line. This time we can take it slow.
Her stomach muscles are working overtime as she raises and lowers herself on my cock. I help her out with my hands but she does all the hard work and she looks so fucking amazing as she does, her whole torso undulating in waves, a light sweat breaking out across her chest. The hard pebbles of her breasts offer themselves enticingly to me and I break our gaze for a moment to suckle on them, licking and laving the areola of each one until the telltale bumps appear. I pull back a fraction to blow warm air on them and she lets out a little hiss that makes me return my gaze to her eyes again.
We both watch carefully. The flush creeps up her body and her movement gets more frantic. Her hand reaches down between us to touch herself and it seems that is just enough. I feel her muscles tighten around me, a gently squeezing pulse that builds as she comes.
“I love you.” Her whisper, so sincere, falls from her lips with a gasp. “I love you. Always you.”
My own orgasm follows closely and I marvel at how right this feels. My Mia, always so beautiful, so sensual, so passionate. I could spend the rest of my days worshiping her and never get enough. Pulling her hard down on to me as I explode inside her has me gasping for air.
Her hands are back on my head, pushing the hair back. I place my hand on the back of her neck and pull her in for a kiss. She presses her lips softly against mine with a smile and then we pull back again to look at each other.
“Always you, Mia. I will always love you.” These words will come back to us over the next couple of days. They might be the only thing that stop us both from going a little crazy.