Skin of the Night

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Chapter 52: I Haven't Had My Dessert Yet

I admired my circumstance while I chewed on my last bite. The flavour of it exploded in my mouth, and the red Bordeaux wine he had chosen to complement the dish was outstanding. I was impressed by what he’d managed.

On the table between us stood a bouquet of white flowers that I did not know the name of, but they were big and reminded me of lilies. Earlier, when I’d seen the serviettes that he had artistically folded, I hadn’t been able to help my laugh. He did nothing half-way, did he?

Shifting my blue eyes onto his comely face, I smiled to myself. Sometimes, I had to just savour the view of him. He was without a doubt the most handsome man I’d ever seen in real life, and he was exclusively mine for the time being.

His stout jaw clenched and unclenched while he chewed, and I was puzzled by the fact that I found the sight arousing. Did I find everything he did arousing? Could he as much as breathe without drenching my knickers? I honestly doubted it every now and then. I groaned inwardly and rolled my eyes at myself, but he didn’t notice. Clearly, he was preoccupied with his thoughts. I wondered if it was the Porter & Co case.

Even though his cooking deserved to be devoured until he’d have to roll me out of his flat, I didn’t eat too much. Having a bloated stomach wasn’t particularly tempting when considering what I had in mind for dessert. With thanks to self-discipline, I therefore managed to resist a second serving. Abandoning my knife and fork after my last mouthful, I leaned back and sent him a beam across the table.

“You’re a wonderful cook, Will,” I complimented him.

He smiled on his mouthful and passed me a wink. “I’ll cook you the scrambled eggs you love so much for breakfast in the morning. I even bought in extra butter, just for you.”

I released a besotted sigh and stared smitten at him. I would never have enough of his attentive side. “I wasn’t wrong when I said you’re boyfriend material the night we met. Go intuition,” I countered and patted my own shoulder.

He arched a brow at me, seemingly not flattered. “I find it strange that you consider me boyfriend material, and yet you’re so difficult about committing to me. What a paradox you are.” Reaching for his glass of wine, he had a sip while I pondered over what he’d said.

“I’m not that difficult now, am I? I’ll agree I was difficult to begin with,” I said, “but I had valid reasons for that. You’re my boss for one thing, and Jason’s brother for another. Plus, I had Robby to take care of my sex drive. And above all, I wasn’t looking for anything serious when you barged into my life.”

“Barged,” he echoed amused. “Was that what I did?”

“I’d say so. How long did we spend at that place before you essentially dragged me home with you? An hour?”

“About,” he confirmed with a slight nod of his head. “And how about now then, Cara? You looking for anything serious now?”

My stomach fluttered with the myriad butterflies that suddenly found a home in it. I looked shyly away from him when heat dominated my cheeks. “I’ve already told you I’m serious about you.”

“You’ll forgive me if I can’t hear that enough,” he replied affectionately and placed his glass back to the table between us. “It’s music to my ears.”

I squeezed my cheeks together while wondering how it was possible for a man like William to be cute. I hadn’t thought he had it in him, but he just proved me wrong.

“And you’re still difficult, but you’re getting there,” he added. “I’m aware this is your first experience with dating someone, so I’m smearing myself in with patience. I know I can be demanding, but I’d say we’re doing rather well at communicating.”

“You interrupt me quite often when we’re arguing, though.”

“I prefer monologues to dialogues,” he joked, earning himself a giggle from my mouth.

“No shit, narcissist.”

“I wasn’t serious. I’m sorry if that’s a habit of mine. I’ll bear it in mind for next time.”

“Thanks.”

“I’m not very impressed with your appetite, by the way,” he said and pointed to my plate. “You hardly ate. Were you lying when you said you appreciated my cooking?”

I shook my head. “No, it was delicious. I wasn’t very hungry is all.”

His stare was scrutinising. “Please tell me you’ve got a healthy relationship with food.”

I smirked, albeit touched by his concern. “William, I eat as much as a horse on a regular basis. Don’t worry. If you don’t believe me, you can ask Jason. He’ll confirm it. I eat nearly as much as he does, and that’s a lot.”

A short laugh passed his lips. “That’s impressive. How are you this slender?”

“I’m blessed with a brilliant metabolism. And I exercise regularly. Plus, I tend to eat healthy, and I have a healthy relationship with alcohol, too.”

His striking eyes narrowed at me. “Have you forgotten I held your hair while you vomited the other day?”

I blushed profusely at the unpleasant memory. “You can’t hold that against me. That was the exception to the rule. You can ask Jason about this as well – he’ll back me up.”

Reclining in his seat, he nodded. “Yes, now that you mention it, I do recall him stating that night that he’d rarely seen you that plastered.”

“See? And don’t forget that I’m still in my early twenties. Binge drinking when people my age first get to it is rather normal in this country. This isn’t France or Italy. We don’t treat alcohol like they do.”

“You sound ridiculous. We should treat it like they do,” he argued annoyed. “I’ve always despised that part of our culture. It’s pathetic and unbecoming. Embarrassing, even. Do you know that the external social expense of alcohol costs England around twenty-one billion pounds a year? That’s fucking abhorrent. Imagine what we could have spent those resources on if people weren’t such bleeding idiots. We could have countered actual, serious crime - organised crime, but instead, the police have got to bring Billy to the station because he’s so sloshed he doesn’t remember where he lives. Angela over there has managed to drink herself into a coma, so the ambulance just arrived for her. Oh, and after that, they’ve got to respond to a pub brawl, because Ned just had to punch Jimmy in the face.”

Involuntary laughter sprinted out of my mouth. I loved William’s flair for sarcasm. It was bloody sharp, just like the entire man.

“When do I cast my vote, Mr Politician? William Night for prime minister.”

His expression turned proper condescending. “Since when did criticising society make people politicians? Caring for how the country is managed seems like a fair concern to me. And you know I’m opinionated.”

His brain was turning me on. Beneath the table, I squeezed my thighs together in search of some friction.

“I agree with this. I wasn’t defending that part of our culture. I was only saying. The point of this is that I don’t drink much very often. But now I’m curious. From the sound of it, you didn’t experiment with alcohol during your teens.”

He reached for his glass of wine again, only to stir it. While staring at the spiralling red liquid, he said, “I did experiment, but I wasn’t reckless. Smoked some spliff on occasion, and attended a few parties, but like you, my education was sacred to me. I was also preoccupied with sports, particularly football. Didn’t want to sacrifice my stamina for rubbish like drugs. You know I’ve always been driven.”

My eyes were slightly wide. I hadn’t expected this at all. ”You smoked marijuana?” I queried astonished. I’d always avoided it, because I feared getting caught by the police. A criminal record was out of the question when I was pursuing law for a career.

He chuckled. “Yeah. I smoked marijuana much more than I drank alcohol. Was my favourite drug. Still is, but I don’t do it anymore, seeing as it’s illegal. I remember I used to be scared shitless – paranoid, actually - whenever I got a hold of it, since I worried the police would catch me.” Well, we had that in common. “I was at my most rebellious when I experimented with it – I was sixteen, seventeen? Quit after about a year when I realised I was actually close to obtaining the degree I’d always wanted. I had straight A’s when I finished my A levels. Didn’t want to wave the opportunity goodbye because of a potential criminal record. It’s not worth risking my career for.

“But I do find it much more rewarding than alcohol. I fancy reflection, and marijuana provokes that. It’s also much safer than alcohol. When you’re high, you’re still relatively in control of yourself, in contrast to when you’re drunk. You only laugh and think a lot. Either way, it’s probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life, all things considered. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. Taught me a lesson or two.”

I was gaping at him. “Did Alex and Andy do it with you?” I probed, morbidly curious.

He laughed wholeheartedly. “If they did? We used to sit in the attic of my parents’ house in Chelsea, high as a fucking kite, listening to old vinyl records while we discussed everything and nothing. We’ve got some seriously great memories from that time. We quit together, actually. Sort of a pact.”

“You three are really good for each other, sounds like,” I commented.

The grin that claimed his mouth was so pure that I couldn’t help admiring it. Above sparkled his mesmersing eyes with glee. “Yeah, we are,” he confirmed.

“How did you get involved with it?” I continued to probe.

An amused laugh escaped his mouth while he looked blankly to my left, clearly reminiscing. “Alex lost his virginity with this girl named Scarlet who was in the year above ours. They were regular bed-partners for about a year, so she hung out with us a lot. Cool girl. I really liked her. She handled my banter with grace, and retaliated without mercy. Anyway, she smoked a lot. So she was sort of our dealer, for lack of a better word. Her parents are renowned artists, and they smoked a lot as well. She stole their stash quite often, but was never punished. Poor role-models, I suppose.”

“She sounds intriguing,” I commented. A femme fatale, I supposed, luring the three chaps onto such an unlawful path.

“She was brilliant. Very clever and quite unconventional. She was also a feminist. I remember I was gutted when she left for university to study psychology. I haven’t spoken to her since.”

“So Alex has a weakness for mischievous girls, does he?” I couldn’t help my crooked smile.

He laughed wholeheartedly. “Back then, yeah, I suppose. She was thrilling to him. Brought an element of suspense into his otherwise humdrum life. But his taste has matured since then. These days, he’s weak for idealists. He’s always been quite idealistic himself. But more than anything, he’s weak for stability and reliability in his women. Ironic that he’s in a relationship with Abigail, seeing as she is anything but that. She’s neurotic.”

“And I suppose this - what was her name, Ivy? - is an idealist, then?” My head tilted.

He shrugged his shoulders. “I wouldn’t know. I don’t know her that well yet. But considering his interest in her, I gather she must be.”

I nodded to myself while thoughts of my sister came to mind. Phoebe was also undoubtedly an idealist. “Idealists are charming.”

“They’re quite cute, indeed.”

“You sound degrading.”

Chuckling, he rubbed the back of his head. “Well, I tend to find them a bit naïve, but when they aren’t, they’re crucial for the world. In the end, they’re the ones that implore us to move in a constructive direction. Without them, this world would be hell on earth, I’m sure.”

I resorted to thought for a moment, intrigued by the stories of his adolescence.

“When did you first have sex, then?” I bluntly asked and studied him engrossed. He didn’t as much as stir.

“I was fifteen.”

I rolled my eyes. “Why am I not surprised?”

He laughed. “Been sexually active for nearly half my life now. Odd to think of.”

“Ever been inactive?” My tone was dry, but I was genuinely curious.

“Are you asking if I’ve had any dry-spells?”

“Mhm.”

“Nope. Never.”

I pursed my lips for a beat. “No wonder you’re so good in bed.”

His responding smile was smug. “I like sex.”

“I’m shocked.”

“And I like it with you the most.”

I blushed against my will. If he’d been sexually active for thirteen years of his life, I gathered that was an achievement. “Who was your first, then?” I inquired.

He pouted and looked shamefacedly away from me. “Girl named Blaire. I was her first as well. She was in my class. I broke her heart eventually. I still feel shit about it. Let it be known that I didn’t take advantage of her. I made my intentions clear from the start, but I was her first love, so I suppose she was blind to reason. She didn’t listen, and foolish as I was, I decided to treat her like an adult, meaning I expected her to know what was best for herself.”

“You’re such a little shit, Will,” I scolded. “I feel terrible for all the women you’ve left behind. You’re a ruthless heartbreaker. Blaire, Kate, Francesca. How long is the list? Honestly?”

He turned his head to glower at me. “You don’t want to know. And it’s never been on purpose. You know as well as I do that you can’t choose who you fall in love with. We can only choose whether to pursue it or not.”

I swallowed a lump in my throat when I realised that this piece of information was actually alarming. Clearly, he had a knack for seducing women and leaving them in ruins. Was I going to be a number in that row?

“Your brother is a bloody saint compared to you. Instead of seducing susceptible women to get his fill, and leaving a trail of broken hearts behind him, he rubs one out.”

His ensuing smile was half-hearted. “Ah, Jason,” he cooed fondly. “The only reason he does that is because he’s traumatised, Cara. Hasn’t he told you how he lost his virginity?”

I shook my head. “Only when.”

His smile faded entirely. “Well, it was with a girl named Sarah, and she was a year younger than him. He was seventeen if I’m not wrong.”

“Seventeen,” I confirmed.

“I’m worried I’ll be spilling a secret if I continue this story,” he murmured and frowned to himself.

“Don’t be. Now that I know there’s a story behind it, I’ll force it out of him if you refuse to tell me.”

He sighed, and I could see that he wasn’t looking forward to share this piece of information. “It’s a tragic story. He met her at a house party. Drunk out of their minds, they had sex there. She didn’t attend the same school as he, so he gave her his number, thinking it was the gallant thing to do. She reached out to him the day after I think it was. They went on a few dates after that, and she was head over heels about him from minute one. And that bloody clown has always been ruled by his bad conscience, so he didn’t have the heart to reject her since he’d been her first as well.

“She was a pushy little girl. I remember her quite well. Brown hair, pretty brown eyes. Since I was studying at Cambridge when this happened, I didn’t meet her until the summer, but Mum and Dad told me when I returned for the holiday that they often saw her waiting outside the house until Jason came home from wherever he’d been.

“She was completely obsessed with him. She’d send him crazy love letters, poems, as well as photos she’d made, taping their faces onto the bodies of couples she’d probably cut out of some magazines. She’d ring him at every hour of the day, demanding to know where he was, what he was doing, and whom he was with.

“Eventually, Mum and Dad were forced to do an intervention. They told him he had to reconsider his relationship with her, because it had started to affect his grades before the summer. Because she would get upset if he couldn’t spend time with her, he had studied much less.

“I remember I felt terrible for him, not to forget protective. She was exploiting his level of compassion for other people. Jason’s always been remarkably compassionate. What’s more, she was ruining his potential. He’d wanted to study medicine since he was ten, and she was seriously diminishing his chances; forced him to place his education in jeopardy in order to spend enough time with her.

“It wasn’t until I had a serious conversation with him that summer, about his future, that he mustered the courage to break up with her. After that she went ballistic. She’d always stalked him, but it escalated - got completely out of hand. When he wouldn’t take her back, she threatened him with suicide. At that point, Mum was forced to ring her parents, who eventually had to call social services to get her the help she required. Turns out she was bipolar.

“So... Jason’s traumatised. He barely ever dares to casually sleep with women, and when he does, he gives them a fake name and a false number.”

There was hardly any blood in my face while I stared at him with parted lips. No wonder Jason was so shy of women in that sense, and no wonder he’d never told me about this. I’d never dreamed this to be the reason behind his hesitance toward pursuing women. My heart felt heavy just thinking about the emotional abuse he had suffered. My poor lovely Jason. He might be the least deserving person of such an ordeal.

All I wanted to do in that moment was cradle him, cuddle him, reassure him. I missed him acutely.

“I’m going to have to tell him I told you. I feel bad now,” he said with eyes glued to his glass of wine. He looked ashamed of himself. “I don’t think he’s going to mind, though. I’m sure the only reason he hasn’t told you is because he doesn’t like talking about it.”

“No wonder,” I breathed and rested my head in my hands with my elbows planted on the table between us.

“Speaking of Jason, what’s he doing tonight?” he queried, and I was grateful he was changing the subject.

“He’s going to the cinema with Giselle, Stephen and Livy. Asked if we wanted to join them for a few pints afterward.”

“Yeah, that’s not going to happen. I haven’t had my dessert yet,” he purred and sent me a suggestive wink.

“What, you haven’t made me a cake?”

He chuckled. “Why - is it your birthday? Thought that was February second.”

“Good memory,” I complimented him, flattered.

Another wink. “I do actually have dessert prepared, but I was lazy, so it’s only ice cream.”

I found it amusing that he labelled himself ‘lazy’ after serving me this incredible dinner. “You haven’t got a lazy bone in your body, Will.”

He leaned forward to stare deep into my eyes. “You must be right, seeing as my bones are currently aching for you to undress.”

My jaw dropped. I hadn’t seen that one coming. Would I ever grow used to how blunt he was? I doubted it.

“Let’s clean the table first,” I urged and looked away from him as panic consumed me. I’d have to hatch out how to get him into those handcuffs fast, because I knew perfectly well that I could only stall his lust for so long.

Pushing my seat out, I grabbed my plate and ascended from my chair to head into the kitchen with it. By the time he joined me in the space, I’d finished rinsing my plate and had stowed it away in his dishwasher. Currently about to pass him, an invisible and electric charge surged between us, begging me to draw nearer to him, preferably into his arms. I could feel his gaze search for mine, clearly curious because of my rushed behaviour.

“I have something for you,” I said in order to quench it.

“You do?”

Lifting my chin, I saw that he was both surprised and puzzled. Oh, he had no idea, the clueless fool.

“Yes. Wait here,” I told him and felt his stare bore into my back till I turned around the corner to fetch my purse from the hall. My heart accelerated when I scurried back to the kitchen. Peeking around the corner, I found him leaning against the counter with his hands tucked into his pockets, waiting for me.

“Turn around,” I ordered, deciding to improvise.

Whilst frowning, he turned to face the counter.

After a nervous breath, I said, “Don’t look. If you do, I’ll chop off your dick.”

Soft laughter drifted out of him. “Love my cock that much, do you? Keen on having it all to yourself? It’s already all yours, Cara. And I can assure you that it’s most useful when attached to my body. You wouldn’t know what to do with it as well as I do.”

I snickered to myself. He had a point. “Fine, you get to keep it. I’ll take your balls instead.”

After fishing out the handcuffs, I dumped my purse on the floor and hid them behind my back. My heart pounded against my ribs while I vigilantly approached.

“If you’re wearing nothing but your lingerie when I turn around, Cara, you’re in for a long night,” he warned. My heart caught in my throat. He must have noted my stockings. Damn him and his bloody intuition. He was ruining the surprise.

However, I hadn’t slipped out of my dress yet. I would wait with that until I had made him come solely with my mouth. Since men needed to – in his own words – ‘reload’, I wagered the sight of a woman in lingerie would speed up the process.

“I’m not. Is that a fantasy of yours?” I hoped it was.

He cocked his head from side to side. “One of many.” My prayers were heard.

I giggled and shook my head in despair of him. “Is role-play one of them?”

He shuddered. “No. Can’t stand that.”

“Good to know. I can’t either.”

“I should add that all my fantasies include you.”

I was blushing when I halted half a metre behind him and silently inhaled deep into my lungs, mustering courage. “Give me your hands, but don’t turn around. It’s a present.”

Please let this work.

His head tilted, but he didn’t turn. Very slowly, he withdrew his hands from his pockets and reached behind him. My heart stopped beating when I brought forth the metal and rushed to simultaneously cuff his wrists together. He stiffened completely before he suddenly jerked against his confines.

Squealing in fear, I jumped two metres backward. Oh, my God. I bloody did it. I had managed to subdue William fucking Night.

He whirled around to face me, and his eyes were smouldering. “What’s the meaning of this?”

Regaining control of myself, I dared to approach again. While smoothing my hands across his powerful chest, I leered up at him. The Adam’s apple of his throat ascended and fell with his swallow, and I saw his pupils dilate.

“You just said your cock was mine. I’m about to take advantage of it,” I purred and stretched up on my toes to whisper in his ear, “With my mouth.”

A whimper poured out of him as I leaned back. Holding his gaze, I sent him a lascivious and confident smile while I slowly descended onto my knees in front of him.

With eyes wide, he uttered, “Fuck.”

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