Persephone

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CHAPTER EIGHT

I’m about to slip my key into my door and I turn back to look at him. Standing in the hallway, half silhouetted in the dim lighting, carrying two guitar cases and nothing else.

He’s fucking beautiful.

I smile. “You should feel special,” I tell him as I unlock my door and step inside. “You’re the only person other than me to ever enter this castle.”

Dexter chuckles as he follows me. “I bet you say that to all the boys.” He smirks as he enters, but when I flip on the light his face turns to blank shock.

I can’t help but be a little smug. I try to be modest—about my wealth, asshole—but hell, my penthouse doesn’t really advocate modesty.

“I don’t fraternize with boys.” I tell him solidly as I stride into the open concept kitchen/dining area, and toss my purse on the island counter. He’s still gawking at the cathedral ceilings.

“Now I know how you managed to pull the best lawyer in the country out of your ass,” he says distantly, and I laugh to cover up the bitterness inside.

“Actually I pulled him out of my mother’s ass,” I say. “This place wedged itself right out of her rich sphincter as well.”

“And what does mom do?” He looks unsure of himself. I walk to him, take the guitar cases gently from his hands, and set them on the floor.

“You can relax.” I tell him, and stride back to the kitchen area. “My mom is an actress slash model slash sellout bitch.” I roll my eyes. “The only reason I took this place was because I needed somewhere to stay. It was a present.”

“Birthday?” he asks, and slowly moves to one of the barstools so he can face me as I rummage through the fridge.

“No, I broke up with my ex.” I chuckle darkly. “She was ecstatic.”

“He must have been quite the asshole.” Dexter states, but I know it’s more of a question. Ever the white knight.

“She, actually.” I pull two beers out of the fridge and slide one across the counter to him. I can’t help but love the look of shock on his face, now. It’s surprisingly fun to spew that interesting little tidbit at people.

Apparently I don’t fit the regular stereotypical guise of a lesbian.

“You’re gay?” He sounds incredulous, but a little disappointed as well. Of course, there’s that little bit of manly intrigue.

“Gay, straight, it’s all the same now.” I spew one of my favourite quotes and wave a hand at him.

He stiffens. “I beg to differ.”

I love having this conversation with straight men. They have such tunnel vision. It’s amusing.

“I don’t like to put labels on myself.” I lean forward. “I’ve been with men, and women, but it’s never been a gender thing. It’s a person thing. If I like you as a person, I don’t really care what you’ve got in your pants. Either is incredibly entertaining.” I wink at him and he laughs at me, sounding a little relieved.

“Okay then.”

And he’s got nothing. One point for me. I turn to the fridge and start piling things on the counter.

I get through the thinly sliced ham, smoked gouda, and green onions before he breaks the silence.

“So no pictures of your mom anywhere?” He’s studying the walls he can see. I’ve got lots of crazy art kicking around. Things I’ve collected from all of the local artists and photographers that I’ve come across in the city.

“Hell no.” I laugh and pull a bag of fresh French buns from the cupboard before me. “I decorated this place myself, you think I want to stare at her glamorous mug every day?”

He watches me hack through two buns with a massive bread knife.

I spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on all four halves and lay fresh spinach leaves across them. “Plus, you know, I’ve got to protect her identity.”

“Embarrassed?” he teases, and I chuckle. Intuitive little fuck.

“Honey, with a name like Persephone, I learned not to get embarrassed very young,” I tell him, and drizzle the spinach with a garlic vinaigrette.

“Fancy sandwiches.”

I grin. “Just because I live by myself doesn’t mean I have to eat like a sloppy bachelor.”

“Pizza is a bachelor’s ambrosia, my friend.” He puts his hands up in defense.

“Well sometime I’ll have to make you my pizza.” I fold slices of ham over one half of each bun and spread a little Hungarian spiced mustard across them. “You’ll never go to a pizza joint ever again.”

“So why don’t you run a restaurant, master chef?”

“Do I seem like the kind of person that could run anything, master inquisitor?” I reply, sprinkling dill weed onto the sandwiches. I produce a cutting board from below and set to chopping the green onions.

“Absolutely,” he says, and his eyes seem to mean it. He’s about to say something more before there’s a sharp pain in my left forefinger.

Damn him and his manliness, distracting me from the task at hand. “Fuck.”

“Are you okay?” His brow furrows and he reaches for my bleeding hand. I snatch up the cutting board and skitter away from him towards the sink.

“I will be if you stay there.” I smile shakily at him and dump the contents of the cutting board, now steadily getting redder, into the sink. I shove the bloodied onions into the garbage disposal and let the blades inside do their noisy work.

“I can help you.” He sounds confused. Better to think I’m mental, however, than to know the truth.

“It grosses me out.” I run my hands under the cold tap water and inspect the wound. It’s barely anything, just a little niche with the knife. “I don’t freak out at the sight of blood… just other people touching it or being near it… I don’t know why, it just really freaks me out.”

I glance at him to see if he’s bought what I’ve told him. To my surprise, he’s smiling and shaking his head.

“Ah, the invincible Persephone has a fear.”

“Don’t you forget about my invincibility,” I say with mock sternness, and reach under the sink for my kitchen first-aid kit. I keep one of these things everywhere.

Bathroom, living room, bedroom, kitchen, car, purse. Better to be safe than sorry.

I swab the wound with an alcohol wipe before discarding it into the garbage disposal, and then wrap a small cloth bandage around my finger. I do a quick sweep of the kitchen to make sure that I haven’t left any traces of blood anywhere, and then rinse the cutting board and knife.

I make a mental note to completely sanitize them later, and then retrieve clean ones to continue the sandwiches.

“All better.” I smile at him and concentrate on cutting the onions this time.

“You need a bodyguard.” He shakes his head incredulously. “Or a babysitter,” he adds wryly with that little smirk I’m quickly coming to like.

“Want to apply?” I sprinkle the chopped onions onto the meat and add some freshly ground pepper. “You’ve got pretty solid references.” My voice is light, but he tenses a little. “What?” I raise an eyebrow. “Regretting your decision?”

“No.” He sounds almost offended. “Should I?”

“Definitely.” I smile. “You probably doomed the world by hitting that guy.” What is that theory? If you go back in time and kill a butterfly, you can change the entire course of history? Maybe one day some time traveler will be sent back to kill me because I fucked up the world so bad.

The shit that goes on in my head.

Dexter chuckles. “You are strange, Persephone.”

I wince at the sound of my name, but only by reflex. His velvet tones almost make it sound somewhat nice.

Not that I would ever admit that openly.

“You’re just learning that?” I laboriously grate the hard cheese over the sandwiches and then press them together. I slip one onto a plate and slide it across the counter to him.

“Strange but amazing.” His mouth is practically watering as he stares at the sandwich.

“Well, eat it, dammit.” I take a bite out of mine, yet another culinary masterpiece, and quickly move all of the dirty dishes to the sink. When I turn back, he’s already halfway through his.

Once we’re finished I clean up the plates and stretch my arms above my head.

“You’re probably tired.” I break the silence and glance at him. “The second door on the right past the staircase has a futon in it. You could sleep on the couch if you want, but I think that room will be more up your alley.” I smile, knowing that my music room will likely give him a raging hard on.

“And what about you?” Dexter surprises me by asking. What does that mean? Where am I sleeping? Or- “What are you doing now?” he answers my mental question, and I give him a little smile and shrug.

“Same thing I do every night, Pinky.” I chuckle. “Get naked and finish my beer in the hot tub.” I grab my bottle and stride past him smoothly towards the stairs. “Good night, unless you’d like to join me.” I toss the words over my shoulder as I ascend, and don’t look back even though I can’t hear him moving.

Perhaps he’s in shock.

I enter my haven, the circular rooftop bedroom with en-suite bathroom, walk in closet, silk sheets, and a massive wall of windows encircling a warm babbling hot tub. There are glass doors directly behind it that can open up to the night sky, where I’ve got an outdoor couch for hot summer lounging.

Tonight, though, there’s no need for the noise of the city behind me. Tonight I’m straining my ears, wondering if the sexy musician will join me. Cursing my girlishness, I realize I’m really hoping he will.

Is it my fault that I’m interested to see the full extent of his beauty? I don’t think so. I’m only human.

I shed my clothes and sink into the soothing hot water. For a moment I forget all my thoughts, my mind clearing with the warm massage on my skin. I slide down up to my chin, letting out a deep sigh.

Life is good.

“This is quaint.” Dexter’s voice rouses me. I open my eyes just as he’s lowering his jeans—no underwear. Nice.

I fight to keep my eyes from widening. Very nice.

I raise my gaze to his and he’s smirking at me as he slowly moves beneath the water. I struggle for something witty and/or casual to say.

Instead, I sit up a little, so the water is splashing against my collarbone, and take a tentative sip of my beer. The waves suddenly feel like flames licking me in all the most delicious of places.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

“You’re rather quaint yourself.” Just a pinch of sarcasm.

He’s surprised. “Oh?” His half smirk tells me he’s wondering if I’m actually talking about the rather large appendage now bobbing between his legs.

“You know, any normal guy would be all over me by now.” I take another sip of my beer and gauge his reaction from beneath my naturally thick lashes. One of the only things I can thank Mommy dearest for.

“I would think you’d have realized I’m not normal.” He still hasn’t wiped the smirk off of his face, and I almost want to smack him.

Instead, I pout.

He laughs.

It’s contagious, dammit. My sexy playful pout is broken by laughter, and I shove some water at him with my free hand. He doesn’t even bother avoiding it, simply brushes one of his large hands over his face to rid it of the droplets.

“Don’t be offended.” He takes a long swig of his beer. “It’s not that I don’t want to, trust me.” The heat in his eyes takes my breath away, and I believe him. “I just don’t touch a woman until she asks me to.”

What?

I blink at him. “You’re not joking.”

“No.” His face is dead serious.

“Wow.” I raise an eyebrow. “That’s very gentlemanly of you.”

“You’ve obviously never met a gentleman.”

“I don’t think a real gentleman would get naked so soon after meeting a woman.” I can’t help but tease him. As if I’m one to talk.

He grins before another swig. “Ah, but you invited me to.”

“Dammit, you got me there.” I sigh with feigned drama. “But you came up here pretty fast. I don’t think you have as good of self control as you think.”

This sounds like a challenge. “Oh?”

“And you admitted to wanting to.” I shrug just enough so that the tops of my breasts crest the gentle waves. I catch his eyes flicking quickly down before I lower my shoulders and smile sweetly. “Be all over me, that is.”

“And you think I can’t keep myself off of you?”

“Nobody else can.” I state smugly, playing up an ego. I mean, of course, I do have quite an ego, but I’m simply honest. Up to this point in my life, I’ve never met anyone that doesn’t want me.

And I realize that it seems to be worse knowing that Dexter wants me but won’t act on it. Why is that?

He slides around the hot tub easily and quickly enough that I gasp when his lips are suddenly inches from my own.

“I thought we agreed that I’m not like anyone else.” He breathes the words, and my lips part in an inaudible moan. This bastard is making me lose control. “And I won’t touch you until you ask me to.”

I slowly raise my eyes from his smooth lips. I’m afraid what I’ll say if I open my mouth, but I do it anyway.

What comes out is better than I could have dreamed.

“Wanna bet?”

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