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The first thing you do after Ryan dismisses you from Jasmine’s dressing room is go to the bar and drink. Not wine, you think, rummaging through the bottles under the bar — there, Old Tom, that should do it. Three fingers in a glass, down in two mouthfuls, and if the taste reminds you of anyone you furiously refuse to acknowledge it.

Ryan is crazy. You’d thought this before — anyone who saw the bottom of the ocean as free real estate had to be certifiable — but you’d never seen such specific proof until now.

“It’s not enough,” he’d told you, moustache bristling. “If you’re seeing him here, it’s too easy for him to leave business behind.”

That’s the point, you think angrily, pouring yourself another shot. That’s the reason anyone comes here. It’s an escape, a fantasy. Eve’s Garden, where the only sin that existed was, well, the original one.

Getting Fontaine backstage had been difficult enough. There’s no way you’ll be able to wrangle an invite back to Fontaine Futuristics, let alone Fontaine’s private apartment at Mercury Suites. Who does Ryan think you are? You doubt if even Fontaine’s friends are allowed back to his penthouse — assuming he has any friends.

You could almost feel sorry for him for that.

“What’s the matter?” You look up as Jasmine’s voice cuts through your mess of thoughts. “Andrew finished with you, has he?”

The whiskey is already creeping into your brain, and you’re filled with the need to reassure her, whatever the consequences.

“Jasmine,” you begin, “It’s not like that.”

“Like what?” She looks tired tonight. Her usually bouncing waves are lying flat on her shoulders, and there are circles under her eyes that even makeup can’t conceal. “It’s alright,” she says, gently. “You don’t have to pretend. I know it’s not your fault.”

She takes the empty shot glass from your unresisting fingers and pours one for herself, tipping it back elegantly, staring into the dregs. “We all gotta do what we have to to survive down here.”

It occurs to you that she’s no longer talking about you, but you’re already too buzzed to be able to pinpoint her target.

“Jasmine,” you say. You’ve just remembered something, something you haven’t thought about since Ryan’s disastrous party. Say hi to Jasmine for me . “What do you know about Frank Fontaine?”

She looks at you sharply, doe-eyes seemingly caught in the headlights. “Nothing. Why?”

“You never talked to him?”

“Well, sure,” she says warily. “I might have brought him over a drink or two. You know him far better than that by now, I’m sure.”

You reach for the bottle, not wanting to admit just how wrong she is.

*

You would think you’d be used to it by now — Frank Fontaine in your bedroom — but he still seems larger than life, out of place in this pokey little backstage dive. You’ve always thought men all look the same once their status-symbol clothes come off, but Fontaine is just as inscrutable naked as when he’s fully dressed. His armour isn’t carried in his suits but in his attitude, in the mean quirk of his mouth, the gaze that follows you round the room like a cat eyeing a mouse it might later decide to eat.

“Dance for me.”

“I just did. Didn’t you notice?” You kick your heels off and go to join him where he’s laid back on the bed, crawling across the mattress until you're straddling his lap.

“Oh, I noticed.” His hands are on you immediately, cupping your ass, running down your thighs, leaving trails of fire in their wake. God, you wish he wasn’t so good at this. Every nerve in your body is telling you to forget Ryan, forget everything outside this room and let Fontaine have you in whatever way he wants.

But you have to pull yourself together. You have one goal tonight — to get invited onto his turf. As far as the honey trap is concerned this is make or break, and you’re well aware you’ll be the one getting broken if Ryan doesn’t get his money’s worth.

You feel his arm at your back, and suddenly the room spins as he flips you both, crowding in on top of you and sucking hot kisses into the crook of your shoulder.

It's going to be impossible to stop him if you don't get a move on.

“Hey, Frank?”

He makes a noise of acknowledgement without ceasing his assault on your neck.

“I need to tell you something. Something I’m… not meant to.”

He pulls back at that, fixing you with a stare. “You’re not pregnant, are you?”

“Jesus!” You laugh, caught off-guard. “No, nothing like that.”

He grunts and returns to your neck, pulling your hips closer, grinding into you. You’re melting against the sheets, hot and sticky, your body already falling open under his touch. You cling to your weakening mental resolve. Later . Scheming first — and if that fails, you can surrender completely in the knowledge that it’ll be your last chance to make the most of it.

“Frank!” You bat his shoulder, and he stops again.

“Christ, what is it?”

“It’s something I overheard. Thought you’d want to know about it.”

“Yeah? Go on then, I ain’t getting any younger here.”

Hi cock is pressing into your hip, warm and insistent. You wish it was less distracting than it is.

“Just something Ryan said the other day. About… bugging the place.”

It’s a lie, but lies are all you have to work with. At least it gets his attention. “Ryan’s bugging a whorehouse?”

You frown. “First of all, Eve’s is a club. Officially.”

“Really.” He grinds onto you pointedly and you try not to lose your train of thought.

“Alright,” you mutter. “Some of us… moonlight.”

His hand comes up to your chin, but you raise it before he can touch you. He smiles. “I ain’t got nothing to hide. Ryan can listen to me getting off all he wants, might even learn something."

In hindsight you definitely should have expected that.

“You're not worried about being spied on?” you push.

He shrugs. “It's not as if we're talkin’ business, is it?”

No, it's certainly not. You buck your hips against him and he hums in the back of his throat, his eyes falling shut.

“Maybe this would be more fun at home.” You make it playful, but his eyes snap open.

“You angling for an invite?” You thank your stars that that's incredulity and not anger; he's not storming out of here, though maybe that has more to do with the hand you've got wrapped around his dick.

“You're not worried about me, are you?” you breathe. “I promise you can search me for wires all you want.”

He huffs a laugh, covering your hand with his own and stroking himself with it. “Tempting.” His other hand comes up to your mouth and you suck on his fingers obediently, breathing in sharply when he moves to thumb your clit.

You don't dare bring it up again for the rest of the night, but when your rose arrives the next morning there's a card inside the box. Address, date and time, signed with a double F.

*

The evening is balmy, the hint of brine in the air just slightly stronger than usual as you step out of the Metro station at Olympus Heights. It’s past rush hour, the city lulling as the working day ends and the nightlife starts to stir. Usually you’d be at Eve’s by this time, making yourself up, chatting with the other girls. But not today.

You've never been to Mercury Suites before. In truth, aside from commuting to your apartment in Apollo Square you rarely venture outside of Fort Frolic. You certainly never have cause to visit anywhere this fancy, and you feel self-conscious in the dress you've picked out, a figure-hugging ocean-blue in shining satin that nevertheless pales next to the outfits worn by those around you.

Not that anyone’s looking your way. You’re covered up with a plain black coat that falls to your calves, a hat pinned low over your eyes. You doubt Fontaine wants your presence advertised, and besides, you don’t fancy having to answer any awkward questions from curious residents.

The desk clerk barely looks at you as you give your name at the entrance hall. He waves you through with no more than a brief once-over.

Whatever. You’re going up in the world.

You reach the elevator just as the doors are closing, catching them with an arm. There’s a woman already in there, older than you, with impeccably styled hair and a row of real pearls shining around her throat. For a moment you think you recognise her, but then you realise she must be a patient of Steinman. For all the doctor’s artistic posturing, his disciples all ended up looking eerily similar.

The woman turns her head slightly, the air of disdain palpable. She sneaks a look over your shoulder as you key in the code for the penthouse, and you have to suppress a grin at her widening eyes, her furtive double take. You could get used to this. She gets out on the second floor, stealing a backwards glance at you, and you smile serenely as the doors close behind her.

Whatever you’re expecting to see on the top floor, a Japanese rock garden isn’t it. Fontaine’s never struck you as particularly zen, but this hallway stretches ahead seemingly for miles. You wonder if he’s set this up to throw people off. It’s definitely unsettled you, and as you walk past the stretch of gravel to the imposing doors you have to reassure yourself that you have permission — from both sides — to be here.

He meets you at the door.

“And what time d’you call this?”

You’re ten minutes late. “Sorry, Frank.” You turn your head to accept his cheek kiss, chaste on the surface but of course his hand wanders down to grab your ass. No jacket today, he’s in just a white shirt and suspenders, the top two buttons open. His cologne is already making you weak. You internally snap at yourself to get it together.

“Time is money.” He winks at you. “Your money, a’course. Come in.”

You step into the vast entrance hall and — well. What is there to say, really, except that it’s even more Fontaine than you could have imagined.

“Is that a bear?”

He gives you a look. “What do you think, genius?”

The bear towers above you as you follow his gesture to climb the staircase, light glinting off its claws, which are almost as tall as you are. You can’t help imagining them tearing into you, exploding through your chest, and as the thought passes through your mind Fontaine comes up behind you, a firm hand at the small of your back.

His bedroom is three times the size of your apartment. A huge bed takes up the far wall, while a fireplace sits close by. It’s relatively rare to see one in Rapture — something to do with the smoke. He takes a poker and prods the logs lying there while you shrug out of your coat and remove your hat, laying them on a luxurious armchair.

“Would you mind?” He points at the fireplace and makes a whooshing sound between his teeth.

“Oh,” you say, “I… don’t.” You’ve been slipped the odd gene tonic by clients, and Eve pick-me-ups are easy enough to come by, but you don’t have the Adam for anything else.

He shrugs and takes a book of matches from the mantelpiece. The flames catch easily; there’s a bed of twisted newspaper beneath the logs that you suppose he’s doused with something. You think you can make out his name in more than a few of the headlines.

“Why don’t you use plasmids?” you ask, staring into the flames. “I would've thought Frank Fontaine would have all the latest upgrades.”

“Maybe Frank Fontaine ain't who you think he is.” He steps forward and takes your hands, pulling them up to rest around his neck as if you’re dancing, which also has the side effect of pulling your body flush against his. Oh. Yes. That’s why you’re here. For a moment you’d forgotten about the money, about Ryan, overwhelmed by the grandeur and the quiet of his suite. You can’t remember the last time you’ve felt so separate from the rest of the world.

“You're not on track to become the most powerful man in Rapture?”

His breath tickles your ear. “Let’s just say I’ve learned not to mix business with pleasure.”

No information there. In some ways you’re glad there’s no chance of him accidentally hurling an electrobolt at you while in the throes of passion; you’ve never seen it yourself, but gossip spreads.

“My business is pleasure,” you say, your lips parted, inches from his. You catch his open glance down as his hands slide down past your waist. “I guess I get the best of both worlds.”

He kisses you, gentler than usual but deep, his tongue slow, searching your mouth until you’re lightheaded. His hands are firm on your ass, drawing you closer; you can’t help the shiver that runs through you at the intensity of his attention, the intent in every move.

He breaks off, kissing down your jaw, sucking red marks onto your skin. It’s just on the edge between pleasure and pain, and you find yourself clinging to his shoulders, your chest pressed against his, heartbeat to racing heartbeat.

“You like doing this here?” you murmur. You caress the back of his neck, holding him to your skin. “Having me all to yourself?”

“Security takes some beating.” He slips a hand into the space between you, creeping down past your stomach. “Ain’t no-one can get past my system, not even Ryan. We’re all alone, pet, you and me.” His voice drops to a growl. “So no-one’s gonna hear you when you’re screaming my name.”

You gasp as he lifts you into the air and practically throws you back onto his bed. He rolls up his sleeves while you lie there getting your breath back, shrugs out of his suspenders and leaves them hanging from his belt. Then he's looming over you, crawling the length of your body to straddle your waist. The room suddenly seems enormous, shadows elongating along the walls, corners turned into caverns in the firelight gloom. The smell of him fills your nostrils, amber and musk and a faint edge of something chemical.

You're so momentarily overwhelmed that you don't notice the handcuffs looped around the headboard until they snap shut over your wrists.

“What the hell?!”

“Something the matter?” he drawls, cool, but the bulge in his pants tells a different story. “Expecting to be wined and dined? ‘Fraid not, sweetheart, I don’t pay you for the conversation.”

The heat in your stomach flares even as your heart turns over. You pull against the restraints, cool metal biting at your wrists. “I’d appreciate some warning is all.” You keep your voice steady, though your heart’s kicking in your chest. At Eve's, pulling this kind of shit would earn you a ban no matter who you were — but you’re not at Eve's, and Jasmine is miles across town, probably drinking wine with the man who’d abandoned you here. “I could have brought some ideas to the table.”

“That so?” He leans over you, spreading your body beneath his. One hand strokes your hair back from your brow, which is damp with perspiration. You try to laugh it off, the mirror of your dancing routine, but here your nervousness is real and you both know it. “And what kinda ideas would someone like you need to come up with?” he continues. “New ways to get me off?” He moves down your cheek with his fingertip, slowly traces onto your neck. “Ways to squeeze more money outta me?”

“Of course not.” You shudder, trying to control your racing heart, to summon any scrap of a cool facade, but it’s useless. His hand is at your breast now, slow and rough, his knee wedged up between your thighs. You try to move, but you can only shift uselessly against him, inadvertently arching into his touch, and that just makes him smirk.

“I got an idea,” he says, low, and he takes your mouth with his. It’s deep and biting, your lips stinging from his teeth, his tongue an invasion that leaves you struggling for breath. His body heat radiates onto your chest, hot, buzzing panic that shoots straight to your cunt.

“Y’know, I don't bring many people here,” he murmurs, his voice hoarse against your mouth. “But you’re special.” He pauses and raises his head, his eyes gleaming. “Is that what you wanted to hear?”

A log pops in the fire amid the soft crackling of flames. Would you mind? Testing your defenses. And now there’s something off about the way he’s looking at you, the light so low that his eyes appear black.

You make your smile as light and unconcerned as you can muster. “What I wanted to hear?”

“Mm. That I’m so… swayed by your charms,” he squeezes your breast again, rolling it under his palm, “that I’d let down my guard? Give up all my secrets?” You can feel his grin against your neck, hear the steel layered behind it, and the realisation crashes over you in a tide of ice-cold horror.

He knows. He’s known this whole time.

“Andrew Ryan’s spy in my bed.” The mocking in his tone makes you shudder. “Well, I prefer you to all the useless workers he sneaks into my factories. I should invoice him for all the cash I’ve given you.”

“Get off me.”

He laughs. For a second you think he’s going to do as you ask — surely there’s nothing he wants from you now the game is over — but then his hand moves under your dress to press tight against your core, and you can feel your own pulse dancing on his fingertips. “Nice try, sweetheart,” he murmurs into your ear. “More convincing when you’re not soaking wet, eh?”

You struggle against him, succeeding only on grinding harder onto his fingers, arousal spiking through you. He pulls your knees apart and slides over you until his clothed erection is digging into your wetness, and you can't help the whimper that escapes as he ruts against you, hard.

There’s three layers of fabric between you, but his cock hits exactly the right spot, leaving you frustrated in more ways than one. You find yourself arching back into the mattress, your legs coming up to wrap around him of their own accord, and as he sinks his teeth into your neck you can’t help crying out, pain bright and singing through your veins.

He looks at you, his lips flushed, pupils blown, that smirk you hate plastered over his face. “I guess the business part of this evening is over.”

“Go to hell,” you say, but it comes out more breathless than you liked.

He laughs. “Fightin’ words for someone currently trying to get my pants off.”

Your heels are digging into his trousers as if trying to pull them down. Fuck. “You paid for a house call,” you snap, trying to bring yourself back from this hot mess of confusion. “What's a little betrayal between friends?”

His eyebrows quirk, and for a split second you think you see surprise flicker across his features. But then his expression turns dark, and before you can blink his mouth slams back to yours. There's the pain you're used to, hard and stinging until you taste blood while your dress is shoved roughly up past your hips. Your wrists throb where the cuffs cut into you but you pull on them all the same, twisting, trying to weaken the lock.

Fontaine pulls away just long enough to get your underwear off and then he's back, biting his way down your exposed throat, mouthing at your breast, his tongue sweeping hot across the bud. He's pulled your neckline down, tearing the fabric, and you know you should feel angry about that but it's lost in the anger you feel towards everything, Ryan, Fontaine and most of all yourself.

Fontaine unbuttons his pants with one hand, shoving them down just enough, and then his wide fingers are slick inside you, roughly opening you up. Part of you longs to be able to get the rest of his clothes off — there’s something so grimy about only exposing the parts you need to use — but your hands twist uselessly above your head, and your hips are jammed up against his.

Within seconds fingers are replaced by the head of his cock, smooth heat just resting at your entrance. You brace yourself for violence, but instead he pauses, and somehow the tense anticipation is even worse.

“What’s a little betrayal,” he growls, inches from your face, his dick rubbing against you slow but insistent. “You thought were so clever, gettin’ one over on me. Thought you could just swan in here and take what you wanted? Look at me,” he barks as you turn your head away. “You’re gonna look me in the eye when I’m fucking you.”

He grabs your chin and wrenches you back, forcing you to stare into his eyes as he pushes inside you, slow, raw and inevitable.

You both gasp when he bottoms out, and he stays there a moment, rolling his hips in a way that sends deep shockwaves through you. It hurts , your unprepared body still struggling to catch up with his size, but the more he moves the more the burn shifts into something darker, no longer pain but a curling tongue of heat.

He pulls out slowly, making you feel every inch, and then thrusts in again at a pace that’s more about thoroughness than speed. His eyes hungrily read your reactions, gleaming with vindictive pleasure as you pant and whimper beneath him. Half of you is lost to the intensity, the heady cocktail of fear and desire. The other half almost wants to laugh. Here you are in the middle of a fortress, at the center of the labyrinth with the monster himself. But if he thinks he can beat you at your own game, he’s very much mistaken.

You look him straight in the eye and drop your voice to a whisper. “Is it in? I barely noticed.”

He snarls and claps a hand over your mouth, fucking you in earnest. You can feel heat building, every thrust pushing you closer until you're trembling on the brink, fighting for breath beneath his hand. The room swims in red and orange, light and dark blurring, and through it all is that gaze like a gravity well, focused on you. He didn’t even need to cuff you, you realise with something like panic; he could have pinned you to the bed with just that look alone.

Fuck. You try to say his name but it’s muffled in his palm, and only makes him tighten his grip.

“No more talking,” he snarls. “No more lies. You’re mine now, understand? You’re for me , and I don’t wanna hear a word outta your mouth unless I put it there. Now,” his hand moves from your mouth to your throat and squeezes , his own voice grown husky. “Scream for me.”

It hits you like an arrow, clean and bright, pleasure rushing over you like honey. You cry out on cue, and the sound kaleidoscopes around the distant walls, coming back to you disjointed. Fontaine doesn't stop as you clench and pulse around him, fucks you through your climax and then stutters out a few last aching thrusts before he too groans, gripping your throat so hard that for a moment you see stars.

You're too out of it to care that he shoots inside you — on the spur of the moment you hook your legs around his thighs and pull him in deeper, revelling in the way that makes him shudder against you, that one small sign of vulnerability. You drift on the chemical intimacy as you sink gently back to earth, the echoing room filled with sighs, your breathing mixed with his.

The next thing that floods you is exhaustion. Fontaine lies heavy on your chest, the whole weight of him crushing you, and the pain in your wrists is even more effective at cutting through the fog. His hand peels away from your neck, patting your cheek heavily, while the rest of him lies there sticky with sweat, shirt still hanging off him. “Oh kid,” he  says, a laugh in his voice. “It’s a pleasure doing business with you.”

Slowly he pushes himself up onto his forearms and slips out of you. You shudder in disgust at the warm wet rush that follows, your momentary lapse in judgement well and truly over.

“I hope you thought that through,” you say, your voice as icy as you can muster, although it comes out as a croak.

“Oh, don't worry your pretty little head about it. I'm clean and so are you if you're working at Eve's.” He collapses next to you on the bed, rummaging at the back of the drawer that sits beside it. “Take this.” He places something on your chest, a small round pill, dark green in colour.

You decide not to question the fact that he just has emergency contraception on hand. “I'm on birth control, Frank.”

“Take it anyway.” He tosses a small bottle of Lacas at you and you, pissed off, trapped and exhausted as you are, can't help rolling your eyes.

“And the key? I might need my hands at some point in the future.”

Wordlessly, he reaches over and taps the cuffs. They spring open. You snatch your arms down and roll your aching shoulders, wincing, frowning at the open seal.

“I’ve seen locks like this on the vita-chambers.”

“Yeah, it’s coded to my DNA. You think Ryan’s the only one with genetic encryption?” He grins, turning away to stick a cigarette between his teeth. “Go get the matches, would ya?”

You’re about to tell him to damn well get them himself, but there’s a subtle shift in his voice, the easiness of a moment ago edged out by something harder. He’s no longer looking at you as he buttons his pants, examines his cigarette unconcerned. Waiting.

With a hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach, you get to your feet, wiping up as best you can using your discarded underwear as a cloth. Your limbs ache, your dress is torn at the neckline and your wrists and neck are rubbed red by the cuffs and his mouth. You put the green pill on your tongue and swig from the bottle, the liquor making your head spin.

It’ll be a while before you’ll feel like working after hours at the club. Not that it matters, you think bitterly, with Ryan and Fontaine both vying to write you cheques.  

You pad back across the room and wordlessly offer up the book of matches. Fontaine pats your cheek and takes them, still focused on his cigarette. “Thanks, doll.”

When he gets to his feet he’s positively bouncing, running a hand over his head, silver smoke pluming as he takes a deep drag. “Wait here.”

He heads away out of the firelight, swallowed up by the gloom. You sit on the bed and wait. Maybe you can use a hat pin to hold your dress together until you get home. Would Fontaine lend you his bathysphere? You doubt it.

“Frank?” You hate how small your voice sounds in the cavernous room. How breathless.

“Here.” He brings over a few sheets of paper covered in sprawling diagrams, folding them in half. “You keep ‘em in here, right?” He grins, slipping them down the front of your dress in the most invasive way possible, his hand lingering at your breast. “Now, you stole these from my desk, you little grifter you. Got clean away with it, too. Ryan will be impressed. Maybe next time we’ll go to the labs, eh? That’ll really get him excited.”

“What if he doesn’t believe me?” The last thing you want to do is look at him, but he crouches down until he’s in your eyeline, forcing eye contact.

“He’ll believe you,” Fontaine says calmly. Gently. “He’ll believe you because you’ll make him believe you. Won’t you?”

All you can do is nod.