Skin of the Night

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Chapter 69: Or The Fat Lady Fancies Having A Sing

What was that daft man on about now? ‘Or the fat lady fancies having a sing’? Mystified, I stared at the phrase that was written on my Starbucks flat white. I was well aware of the idiom, but I was clueless beyond that. What was he referring to? Worse was it that he refused to elaborate on his strange messages. Yesterday, it had been, ‘You call the shots, babe’, and before that again, ‘Each had a half of a king and queen seat’.

Through narrowed eyes, I recognised the handwriting as Tiffany’s – William’s favourite barista. Perhaps she’d have a clue. I decided in the same moment that, after work, or tomorrow morning, I would drop by to interrogate the sweetheart.

“I’m watching you,” Andy’s voice suddenly whispered in my ear. Startled, I jumped in my seat while I whirled around to face him.

“Oh, you creepy twat!” I grumbled annoyed. “Why’d you have to do that every single day?”

His brown eyes sparkled of sadistic amusement as he laughed at my response and had himself a seat on the corner of the desk. In front of me, Violet struggled to keep a straight face.

Ever since William had been assaulted, Andy had brought it upon himself to tease me in his stead. As such, he was particularly fond of sneaking through the open door of Violet’s office to pay me a fright, as I was always seated with my back toward the doorway. Generally, I adored Andy, but that habit of his was something I’d rather do without. However, I knew full well that I was special to him, seeing as I was his best mate’s romantic interest – and now partner – and that equalled special treatment.

Indeed, he treated me as though I were the younger sister he’d never had. I quite appreciated that, because I wanted to regard Andy as a version of a brother now that Will and I were official. At the end of the day, their friendship bordered that of brotherhood. There was also the fact that he’d saved William’s life to consider. If it weren’t for his heroic actions, I would have been looking at a rather bleak and lonely future. For that, I’d be forever in his debt, and I would express it by treating him like the brother he pretended to be, something I was positive he preferred.

“How come you never learn? Slow lady, you are, and I who thought Will fancied them clever,” he teased back and then proceeded to blow a bubble with his chewing gum. As he leaned toward me, I saw his mocking grin behind it, so I grabbed my notebook and gently slapped his face with it, literally bursting his bubble.

“Oh, so that’s how Will likes it, is it? Slapped and spanked by a dominatrix?” he joked in response and raised a hand to peel the layer of chewing gum off his pointed nose.

“What do you want, Andy?” Violet enquired and reclined in her seat while she grinned at my actions.

“Well,” he sighed, “I’m actually here for you.” Directing his eyes at Violet, he paid her a wink. “It’s Friday, which means: when did you want to leave work to meet Will?”

“Is Chloe coming?” she replied with a tilt of her head.

“Nah. I asked her, but she’s not feeling well.”

Certain he was hinting toward her pregnancy, I stole a glance at him, but he kept his eyes on Violet and his face didn’t as much as twitch. From that, I gathered he hadn’t told Violet about her pregnancy yet, even if they were good friends. As far as I was aware, he’d only made three of his colleagues aware; Elisabeth, William and I.

“Quit lying to my face, Andy. Did you have a fight again?” Violet countered perceptively. I blinked from surprise. She must have caught onto something I hadn’t.

He sighed. “Yeah, we did, but it’s not related to why she can’t show. She’s honestly not feeling well.”

“Big fight?” Violet probed sympathetically.

Andy’s eyes flickered in my direction. “Wasn’t really a fight. She’s just a bit upset following Will’s assault. While she’s both relieved and proud that I got him out of harm’s way, part of her is angry with me for getting involved, since I could’ve ended up seriously injured, or even dead, myself – especially now that we’re going to try and have a baby together. She’s just a bit confused about what to make of it.”

So Violet was aware after all, it would seem. Regardless, I stiffened in my seat. I hadn’t considered that aspect of his decision to intervene. Andy was going to be a father, and he’d risked his chance at being a present one when he made the choice to aid William. While I was confident he hadn’t as much as hesitated, this made the gravity of it much more apparent. William’s friends were truly a remarkable bunch, and it spoke to his character. Their loyalty was unquestionable, and it moved me.

“That’s understandable,” said Violet, “but you’re still alive, so Chloe will come around. I hope she’ll feel better soon, though, with regards to her pregnancy. Anyway, you coming along, Cara?” she then asked of me.

Meeting her warm eyes, I blinked twice over. Since Violet and Andy had invited William for dinner, I had taken the liberty to make plans with Olivia. A ladies’ night was far overdue.

“Uh, no. I’ve got other plans.”

A small crease formed between her neatly plucked eyebrows. “Pity. I would’ve fancied having you there.”

“The hell’s this?” Andy interjected and reached for my cup of coffee to read the phrase.

“Your best mate is a bit of a nutter,” I explained. “He’s doing my head in with all these cryptic innuendos.”

He frowned to himself as he analysed the cup. “This is Will’s doing?”

“Yeah. Any ideas?”

“Fat lady fancies having a sing... Must be referring to Jason.”

I burst out laughing at his joke, as I hadn’t seen that coming in a million years. “Andy, oh my, God! Had Jason heard that!”

“He would’ve laughed. He’s got a mirror, don’t he?”

“You two are so awful to him,” I scolded through another chuckle.

He snorted. “Listen, when I was eleven, I was trying to woo this girl in my class, yeah? Naomi.

“One day, I asked if she wanted to come and watch a football match of ours. Now, Jason was only seven at the time, but he was always allowed to practice with us, since he always hung out with Alex, Will and I. He was benched during that match, so, to pull my leg, he put a bag of dog shit that he’d found on the way in my bag. You can only imagine how awkward it was walking Naomi home after that match, since I smelled of dog shit. I thought it came from her, and she thought it came from me. Safe to say, we stopped flirting after that.”

Violet and I were laughing at the top of our lungs when he grabbed a red apple from the bowl of fruit on her desk. After tossing his chewing gum into the bin beneath it, he had a huge bite and grinned at us while he munched. “Jason has it coming for him. Worst cock-block I’ve ever met. I remember William cried of laughter when I told him what had happened the next day. That’s how I found out who’d done it. Will refused to say, but I can read that prick like the back of my hand.”

“Ah, Jason’s a legend,” I uttered through a delighted sigh.

He smirked. “Yeah, from what I’ve seen, he treats you like a queen.”

“I’ve never met Jason,” Violet thought aloud. “Only heard stories.”

Andy ran a lazy hand through his blonde mane and steered his attention to her. “You’d like him.”

“Med student, isn’t he?”

Both Andy and I nodded, to which she pursed her lips to suppress a smile.

“Family of brains, aren’t they?” she mumbled under her breath and focused on her screen again.

“Indeed.” Hopping off the desk, he tucked his free hand into his pocket and had another bite of the apple. “So when do we leave, then?”

“I won’t be finished before seven,” she replied flatly.

“Seven it is.”


“No idea?” I asked again and stared deep into Abina’s eyes to assess her sincerity. As one of the baristas on the clock, I’d hoped Tiffany might have said something to her before her shift ended this afternoon.

She shook her pretty head and sent me a sympathetic smile. “No. She mentioned it, but she’s got no clue what he’s on about. William is one of our favourite regulars, mainly because he’s always asking us to write these cryptic messages on his orders. Whenever we’ve asked about their meaning, his answers have been equally cryptic. You’ve no idea how many hilarious theories we’ve entertained.”

I chuckled. “He’s a bit of a character, isn’t he?”

She grinned. “Absolutely.”

“How long has he been a regular here?”

“’Bout two years?”

“And how long have you worked here?”

“One.”

My curiosity was piqued. Ever rapid, my mind journeyed into wondering if he had done this to any of his prior bed partners, such as Violet. However, she hadn’t mentioned anything. Then again, perhaps she’d bit her tongue because she didn’t want to ruin it for me. It would hold true to her character. “Has he always been doing this?”

Abina’s large eyes narrowed as she pondered. “Not like this. He’d throw a good, thought-provoking joke in every now and then, but this is much more specific. William was quite standard as a customer before this. Always polite, though.” She giggled as she was reminded of something. “We used to find him super mysterious, actually. He never shared much about himself. Still doesn’t, but now we find him even more mysterious, since he’s always asking us to write these funny messages on his orders, and we know they’re for you. He must be a very entertaining partner. Not much room for boredom, eh?” She winked at me.

I chuckled again. “Sounds about right. I remember when I used to work at Starbucks. I always appreciated the strange customers the most. Work here can get quite mundane if it weren’t for the customers.”

“You used to work at Starbucks?” she echoed enthused.

I nodded. “Quit about three years ago, when I started studying.”

“Studying?”

“Law.”

“Oh.” She grinned. “Is that how you met him? Through work?”

I brushed my hair behind my ear. “Mm, not exactly. It’s a long story.”

“I see.” She paid me a knowing smile. “Anyway, I’m sorry I can’t be of help, Cara. Have you tried Googling it?”

Feeling dumb, I blinked at her. “Actually, no, I haven’t.”

She scoffed, but it wasn’t condescending. “Well, I’d start there, if I were you. Though, you sure you want to know? If he’s so determined not to tell you, perhaps there’s a reason for it? Why spoil the surprise?”

I looked shamefacedly away from her. “I don’t like surprises, and part of me sees this as a challenge, more so than anything else. I feel like he’s testing my wit.”

Her sweet laughter drifted through my ears. “Not to sound rude, but I think you ought to leave it alone, Cara. I’m sure Will has got his reasons, and he’ll probably get upset if you ruin it for him. I know my boyfriend would’ve been.”

I pursed my lips and rubbed the back of my head. “Yeah, maybe you’re right.”

Her eyes flickered toward the doorway when a new customer entered. “I’ve got to serve this customer.”

“Yeah, of course. Thanks for your time, Abina,” I replied and fished my wallet out of my purse to drop her ten quid for a tip.

“Cara,” she scolded. “That’s not necessary.”

“I know it isn’t, but I want to.”

“You’re very sweet. Will’s a lucky lad.”

I beamed at her. “Thanks. I hope you’ll have a nice shift. See you around.”

“Yeah. Enjoy your evening.”

“Cheers,” I called back while I headed for the exit.

During the short journey up to William’s flat, I couldn’t help my grin. I knew Garrick, the porter, noticed, but he made no comment. If he had, I wouldn’t know what to say, seeing as the reason for my smile was rather inappropriate. It was because it was Friday, which meant I’d gone two weeks without hearing anything from the clinic. Ergo, I was clean of any STDs and STIs.

Initially, I’d been meaning to inform William of it first thing when I got home from work. However, the sadistic part of me saw this as a golden opportunity to pull his leg. All I had to do was keep my grin at bay while I had my joke, so I wasn’t holding back now. In fact, I hoped grinning so hard now would make it easier to stow away later.

My heart was hammering from anticipation when I entered through the front door. “Will?” I called out as I dumped my purse on the chest of drawers to remove my shoes.

“The fuck took you so long? I’m in here.”

The welcoming words of a devoted lover, weren’t they? I wouldn’t have him any other way.

After placing my shoes away, I journeyed for his bedroom to enter his walk-in-closet. There he stood, doing the buttons of a navy blue linen shirt. When his comely face turned toward me, I paid him a small smile and propped my hip against the doorjamb.

“Sorry. I stopped by the flat to collect a few things,” I explained and brushed a lock of my long hair behind my ear. Seeing the ends, I decided that a haircut was overdue. I’d have to get an appointment sorted next week.

Though my heart already hammered in my chest, it grew even more violent in its beats upon his graceful approach. Since he hadn’t finished buttoning up his shirt, the top of his powerful chest beckoned a caress. He was unfairly sexy, and he wasn’t even trying. Pulling through with this joke was going to demand every ounce of willpower that I had.

When he reached me, he lowered his head to plant a welcoming kiss on my mouth. “Better late than never, I suppose. How was your day?”

“It was good. On my way from the flat, I stopped by just downstairs. Queried Abina about your cryptic messages on my coffees.”

His left eyebrow curled upward. “Did you, now? And what did she have to say?”

I shrugged my shoulders. “Apparently, you could get away with murder. The mystery remains solid.”

He chuckled. “Or you’re just a rubbish detective.”

“That’s not a bad comment. You see, she did say something of interest.”

Intrigued, he held my gaze. “Oh?”

“She asked whether I’d Googled the phrases, which I haven’t. Made me feel dumb, so I thought I’d get to it,” I teased and pointed over my shoulder to hint that I was going to fetch my phone from my purse.

Immediately, his left hand shot forward to grab my elbow. “Don’t do that,” he commanded, voice low. “Just leave it be, Cara. All in due time, yeah?”

Wearing the smile of the Cheshire Cat, I asked, “Worried what I might find?”

He scowled back at me. “Yes.”

“Hmm,” I hummed and folded my arms, ever playful.

“Cara, just leave it.”

An idea occurred to me, then. In the end, William wasn’t the only one hosting a cunning demon. Right now, I intended to make full use of mine. In fact, this could be a fun little exercise. Just how well did I know my boyfriend? If he was anything like my impression of him, I could steer him onto the topic of sex in a heartbeat. From there, I could present my awaited joke. “What do I get in return?”

He blinked, visibly confused. “In return?”

“Yes, in return for not digging further. This is now a bargain.”

Perplexed, he scratched the stubble of his cheek. “Well, what would you like? Sex?” Bingo. “Because I’d love to give you that, but you’re the one being uptight about it.”

Paradoxically, he could be very predictable. In a nutshell, he was predictably unpredictable. I’d always appreciated an oxymoron, so of course I would appreciate William Night.

I feigned a guilty expression, but inwardly, I was reeling over the fact that he’d introduced the subject. “Uh, yeah, about that...” I murmured and dropped my gaze to his huge feet.

He was quiet for a brief second. When he spoke again, he sounded suspicious. “What about it?”

For dramatic emphasis, I inhaled long and loud while I avoided his eyes. Not laughing was seriously difficult. “The clinic called me today,” I murmured and stole a quick glance at him before I looked shamefacedly away.

What happened next was absolutely hilarious.

After a sharp intake of breath, he tensed, and I felt his stare upon my profile. “No,” he finally uttered through a loud exhalation. “Cara, no. You’re not being serious.”

“I am. I’m really sorry,” I replied high-pitched.

“No fucking way!” he cried out. Stealing another glance, I saw him run his left hand through his hair, repeatedly, while he turned around to pace around his walk-in-closet. “I can’t believe this! What is it, then? Chlamydia?”

“Yeah,” I squeaked. This was even harder than I’d expected. The urge to laugh was enormous.

“Cara! Bloody hell!” He sobbed tearlessly and turned to look at me. All colour had drained from his face. “Do you realise the implications of this? I’ve been eating you out like my life depends on it! Oh, my God! I’ve definitely got it in my throat! This is unbelievable! I’m going to need treatment as well! Christ!”

My lips parted with my surprise. Shit. I hadn’t thought of it quite like that. When I first thought of this joke, I’d meant to tease him about having to wait another two weeks before we could disregard a condom, since he’d expressed such impatience around it. I hadn’t considered the fact that he’d think himself infected.

“No fucking way!” Exasperated, he looked to the heavens for aid. “What the hell have I done to deserve all this? A skull fracture, broken ribs, a broken arm, a stab wound, a black eye and a concussion, and now this? This is ridiculous! There’s only so much my poor body can handle! It’s a wonder I’m still standing! I mean – my body is in fucking ruins! I don’t think I’ve ever felt so disgusting; so filthy.”

“William, it was a joke!” I hurried to say. “I haven’t got chlamydia. I’m sorry. It was only meant to be a joke. I didn’t realise you’d consider yourself infected.”

His head whipped around, and the heat of his glare was scorching. Somewhat intimidated, I retreated a step.

“What?” His voice sounded like the sharpest of blades.

I waved my hands in front of me and walked back another step. “I’m sorry,” I peeped. “I’m clean, you’re clean. It was a bad joke. I see that now.”

“A fucking joke, Cara?” he snapped, and when his jaw drew shut, the bone of it poked out on either side to serve as an indication of how hard he was clenching it.

“A very bad joke,” I replied meekly.

“A bloody terrible joke!”

Fearing his wrath, I nodded vigorously. However, it didn’t appear to stir his sympathy, because he charged toward me a split second later with a resolve that indexed my doom.

Squealing, I spun around to storm for his living room where I might find shelter, but he was too swift. I’d hardly managed three steps by the time he locked his hand around my wrist and whirled me to face him. With lightening speed, he released my wrist to instead grab hold of my jaw. While glowering down at me, he walked me backward until I bumped into the nearest wall.

“I’m very, very sorry. I hadn’t thought it through properly,” I peeped.

Ever slowly, he lifted his injured arm to trace the digits of it across my lips. “Since you’re actually clean, I’m finding it hard to stay angry with you, so you know what?” I hadn’t heard his voice this sensual in a long time, and it made my vagina throb with yearning for his flesh.

I had a faint idea where he was going, and regardless of how much I wanted it, I didn’t approve. “No, Will. You’re not getting sex out of this.”

He grinned, but it was a triumphant version, and that puzzled me. Leaning close, he allowed only millimetres to remain between our mouths. “Yes, I am,” he whispered, and the breeze of it made me swallow with desire. At times like this, I despised how alluring he was. He was easily the most seductive character I’d ever encountered, both in real life and in fiction.

“No,” I protested, but it didn’t sound convincing even to my ears.

His smile turned sardonic before he placed a slow, carnal kiss to my mouth. Meanwhile, he released my jaw to journey his left hand along the curve of my side, and when he reached my bum, he squeezed hungrily. “Oh, Cara,” he cooed as he pulled away from my mouth. With his nose running along the tip of mine, he continued to smile. “I definitely am, and you’re going to love every second of it. I’ll make sure of it.”

“Will–” My own gasp interrupted me when his left hand cupped my sex. The attention was sensational. It served as a painful reminder of just how euphoric sex with him was.

In a desperate attempt to recover my sensibility, I shut my eyes and gripped around his wrist to try and shove his hand away, but he was a man who could not be moved.

“Look at you,” he teased, and then his fingers started rubbing me. “I can see how much you want this, Cara. Your body is begging me to enter you,” he continued in a whisper and traced the skin from my temple to the corner of my mouth. “You miss feeling me deep within you. I’ll make you feel that again. Don’t resist it, love.”

Trapped between his body and the wall, I tensed. Keeping my head on my shoulders was proving exceptionally difficult. If he continued like this, I’d stand no chance. The fact that his seductive scent was this close didn’t aid my case, either.

“Will, stop. You might get hurt,” I warned breathily and grabbed onto his muscular shoulders. While I wanted to push him away, I was scared of causing more damage to his ribs.

“I’ll be fine,” he purred and pressed his pelvis against me, leaving the bulk of his erection to poke my lower abdomen. Blood rushed to my cheeks, and continued till the heat of it prickled across my scalp.

“Oh, my God,” I groaned and opened my eyes to find that his pupils were dilated. Mine probably were as well. The amount of arousal coursing through my veins was seriously worrying.

As if he’d read my thoughts, he increased the pressure of his rubs, and the friction of it exploded in my head like a taste of ecstasy. “Oh,” I uttered through a ragged breath.

Recognising the sound as proof of defeat, he planted his mouth on mine again and reminded me of just how much I loved him in the same go. I’d never get over what an amazing kisser he was. A perfect combination of soft and demanding, his lips moulded against mine like a silent declaration of love. In fact, he was such a great kisser that when his phone rang just a few seconds into it, I found myself annoyed with the interruption, because it reminded me of the fact that he had places he had to be.

“Ignore it,” he ordered and ravished my neck with hungry kisses.

“Will, stop. You’ve got a dinner to make. They’re probably wondering where you are.”

“They can wait.”

Even if I personally appreciated his willingness to neglect his plans for me, I cupped his jaw and forced his head away. “Don’t be ridiculous. They’re waiting for you, and haven’t seen you since Friday.”

He pouted back at me. “But I’m so bloody hard for you. Please, Cara.”

His phone kept ringing in his back pocket, and as he didn’t look about to answer it, I smoothed my hands down his muscular back to fish it out. Since I’d released his jaw, he returned to my neck and kissed all across it with zealous determination, eager to sway my mind.

“Andy,” I answered and struggled to keep my breathing stable above William’s relentless, merciless fingers. They surely weren’t making that task an easy one. In fact, they actually managed to change my mind. In a spur of the moment decision, I said, “Will’s going to run a bit late.”

When my boyfriend heard me, he stiffened for a brief second, blatantly surprised. Pulling back, he stared into my eyes with a look of disbelief.

“How late?” Andy asked of me.

I couldn’t help the lascivious smile that claimed my mouth as I watched my boyfriend revel through his eyes. “That depends on Will.”

“That depends on Will?” Andy echoed bewildered.

Having had enough, William snatched his phone out of my hand and pressed it to his ear. “Listen, mate. Something important came up. I’ll be there as soon as I’ve dealt with it. Pun intended,” and with that, he hung up and tossed his phone onto the bed behind him.

I half gasped and half laughed when I heard his cheeky statement. “William!”

He grinned back at me, clasped my jaw with his left hand, and while moving in to kiss me again, breathily stated, “I fucking love you, Cara. You won’t regret this.”

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