Lemonade toasts had been exchanged for whiskey glasses, and the majority of company had been dispersed to various corners. Jack, however, lingered as he often did these days, leaning against the mantel as they talked--about the case, the situation with Hugh, a novel he’d recently read. (D.H. Lawrence, as it turned out, not a Zane Grey. Curled on the chaise and watching him blush slightly, Phryne was not entirely convinced she managed to sufficiently hide her delight at the revelation.) From the hall, a clock gently chimed the hour; Jack glanced at his watch in surprise.
“It’s getting late,” he said. “I should….”
He always did, in the end, no matter how close they seemed to be. She no longer knew what held them back. She’d thought, the night after the Strano case… well, they hadn’t, but they would. And the promise was its own sort of thrill.
“At least finish your drink,” she replied, smiling coyly. “Unless I can tempt you into another?”
He drained the last of the whiskey from his tumbler and gave her a look, the sort of look that would incinerate a less experienced woman. Phryne rose from her seat and moved towards him.
“Perhaps just one more,” he said as she drew near, voice gravelly and weighted.
She took his glass, feeling his gaze on her as she moved away to pour them both another drink. Placing the stopper back in the bottle, her back to him, she paused; the promise of the evening was palpable in the air, the certainty of their eventual destination doing nothing to lessen its power. Tonight, perhaps, but definitely soon.
Rejoining him at the mantelpiece, she allowed her fingers to brush his as she handed back the glass.
“To temptation,” she said, raising her own drink.
His crooked smile should not have made her weak in the knees, but it did. Soon might not be soon enough.
“Why give in tonight?” she asked. “My whiskey is always on offer.”
The question behind the question was not lost on either of them. She expected him to answer flippantly, or perhaps retreat as he had so often before. A missed step in their delicate dance, though it would not sweep them off the dance floor. Instead he looked at her, all seriousness and calm, and reached out to brush a finger against the brooch he’d given her hours earlier.
“You keep touching this,” he said.
“Well, it’s quite new,” she said, aiming for smoldering and landing somewhere closer to breathless. “And given to me by a friend.”
He arched an eyebrow as his finger slid away from the brooch, up her scarf until he brushed the column of her throat instead, that same teasing knowingness in his eyes as when he’d touched her in the aftermath of Archie Woods’ attack.
“A friend, Miss Fisher?”
When a young Phryne had finally gathered the courage to steal her grandmother’s brooch from the pawnshop, she had expected to feel guilty about it--nice girls did not steal, and she had been young enough to wish she was a nice girl. As she’d slipped the pin into the pocket of her pinafore, however, she’d been struck by the visceral sense of fierce rightness--it was hers, had been hers all along, and damn anyone who tried to take it from her again.
Kissing Jack Robinson, it turned out, was remarkably similar.
What she’d intended to be a soft kiss, less seduction and more gratitude, quickly turned hungry, her hand capturing the back of his head to pull him closer, her body pressed tightly against his. They careened in the general direction of the chaise, clawing at each other’s clothes. She gasped when his hand slipped beneath her blouse, his touch as delightful as she’d imagined, then pulled away with a groan.
“Come upstairs,” she said, tugging at his jacket as they changed course.
“Just asking as a friend?”
She gave her most seductive smile, leaning close as if to whisper a secret against his ear--and bit the lobe.
“Christ, Phryne!” he exclaimed.
She pulled back, smiling smugly. The bite hadn’t been hard, after all, and from the blown pupils and heaving chest he wasn’t complaining.
“Not just anything, Jack. Which I had hoped you’d realised by now.”
He chuckled, a deep, rich sound she did not hear nearly often enough, and kissed her; hungry, yes, but steady and patient as the man himself. Which was probably for the best if they were to get upstairs, and as upstairs was where the necessities were… she manuevred them towards the door, refusing to give up his lips as she did. They’d made it out of the parlour and onto the first stair when she stopped them once more.
“Jack,” she said, searching his eyes and wondering, why, precisely, she felt the need to confirm this. “You know what this means?”
“Because you can back out, any time. No questions, no judgement.”
“But I don’t give up things I want easily, so if you come upstairs...”
He laid his hand over the pin, the size of it meaning it laid over her heart as well, and looked at her in all sincerity.
“Well then,” she said, trying to hide her smile, “you have nobody to blame but yourself.”
They fumbled as they made their way up the stairs, their certainty making the kisses lighter, the touches softer; there was no press for time, no reason to doubt. Just two people who understood each other, enjoyed each other, who were learning each others’ bodies--the way Phryne melted at the feathersoft lips at her neck, the deep groan Jack gave when she teased his cock with just the right amount of firmness, the shape of scars traced with curious tongues. The sweetness as they laughed together, soft little huffs exhaled against skin and deep belly laughs when a skittering hand tickled. The rhythm between them, familiar and challenging, the ease with which they found it. The sated contentment in the aftermath, entwined and still exploring, still curious, even as exhaustion overtook them.
“We absolutely should have done that sooner,” Phryne grumbled, nestling her head against his shoulder and doing her damnedest to keep sleep at bay just a little longer.
“Should we?” he asked; his tone was dry, but there was a sincere question beneath it all, and she considered her answer. It had taken them a long time to get here, with a lot of missed opportunities, a lot of what-ifs; but every one had been necessary, had brought them to this moment, where they could be open and honest and, yes, in love.
“Perhaps not,” she conceded, letting her eyes drift shut. “But we’re doing it again soon.”