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In the Night We Trust

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You wake to Pale's muffled voice. Blindly, you run your hands over the bed, touching nothing but warm, rumpled sheets. You sigh and look around the dim bedroom to find yourself alone.

You hope he's just calling in. He'd promised he'd take it easy today.

It goes quiet before Pale pads into the bedroom, wearing only a pair of navy-blue briefs. He sees you watching him, and he gives a little grin. You push the blanket down and pat the bed in reply.

He good-naturedly huffs and sits. Before he can face you, you urge him onto his side and scoot close. He slides his legs between the sheets as you press against his back. His skin is hot on your cheek.

You put your arm around him, holding him like he's a giant teddy bear. He rests his hand on your wrist. You feel the languid rise of his ribs.

When you wake again, you're alone. It's quiet and close to noon. You lie there for a minute and then hear the crinkle of a newspaper. You smile to yourself, because Pale's still home. You hurry to put on a robe and use the bathroom. Who knows how long he's been waiting for you.

You stop at the bedroom doorway to stare at him lounging on a sofa. His drying hair is finger-combed away from his fresh face. His cream-toned shirt is unbuttoned to mid-chest with the sleeves rolled up. Those long legs of his are wrapped in faded black denim. On the carpet, his scuffed cowboy boots cross at the ankle.

He notices you, and his expression softens. He lets the newspaper section in his hands go limp. "Hey, princess."

"Hi," you say, feeling almost bashful. You really like him looking casual. "Have you been waiting long?"

"Nah, just got to—" He checks the section he's holding. "—Finance."

"Cool, let me clean up and we'll go to lunch."

"Ain't no rush," he says as he flaps the newspaper vertical.

As you turn, he adds, "Gotta drop somethin' by the bank before we eat."

There's no point in arguing about doing something work related on a day off. This is probably taking it easy for him. You say "okay" and head for the bathroom. You take care of your teeth, hair, and face. In the walk-in closet, you choose a black-and-white gingham dress, flats, and a wide-brimmed hat. You pack a compact cross-body purse, zipping it closed as you return to the living room.

Pale tosses the newspaper on the sofa when he sees you. He wipes his hands on his thighs as he goes for a manilla folder on the desk. You can't help but notice the way his jeans hug his body when he crosses to the front door. It's distracting. He hooks a pair of sunglasses on his shirt before opening the door.

"You look nice," you comment as you wait with him for the elevator.

"I ain't the only one."

You smile and glance at him, catching his eyes trail down your body. Maybe you weren't the only distracted one here.

Darryl waits for you and Pale in front of the hotel. The limo is gray again. After you climb inside, you want to ask Pale what kind of paperwork he's dropping off. However, the likelihood of hearing about Philip Stucky has you staying quiet. It really is better to remain ignorant about his business.

You stand on the sidewalk with Darryl as Pale runs the folder into the bank. You discover Darryl lives in Hawthorne with his girlfriend and her son. You ask if he's ever driven around famous people. He chuckles with a shrug, admitting he took Don Henley to Chateau Marmont last month.

"Holy shit," you laugh.

"He was an asshole—" He quickly holds up an apologetic hand. "Pardon me—but…" He shrugs again. "He tipped me fifty bucks."

"Well, it's not like he can't afford it."

Darryl snorts. "I know dat's right."

Right then, Pale comes out sans folder. He slips on his sunglasses and greets Darryl as you get into the limo. They discuss logistics for a minute before Pale joins you.

"So, this Langer's a decent place, huh?" Pale asks as the limo slides into traffic.

"Yeah, Kit swears it's a good deli. She says it reminds her of home."

She'd taken you there once with an insistence on teaching you a thing or two. The meal had been great. Over beef stew and cheese blintzes, you'd learned how to handle johns like a pro.

He says, "And Kit's from Long Island."

"Originally, yup."

"How the hell she get out here?"

"She doesn't talk about it much. She's mentioned a high-school teacher." You make a face. "Her mom kicked her out."

He hums in thought and is quiet for a moment before he says, "Been thinkin' about pastrami ever since ya mentioned it last night."

"Well, they got plenty of pastrami, baby."

There is a teasing tone in his voice as he says, "Enough for someone like me?"

"Like someone with a big appetite?" you retort with a grin.

"Yeah."

You bite your bottom lip. "I hope so."

A few minutes later, the limo pulls next to the bus stop beside Langer's. Pale tells Darryl he has the door. The scent of roasting beef and caramelizing onions flood the car as Pale opens the door.

"Fuck," Pale whispers to himself as he gets out.

He offers his hand to help you stand, and shuts the door behind you.

"I didn't think shit like this existed out here."

You smile. "Surprise!" you exclaim as you take his hand and lead him to the entrance around the corner.

He follows, and his reflection in the wide windows looks delighted. That alone makes the trip worth it.

The restaurant is loud with multiple conversations and busy with servers bustling between tables. You're shown to the last available booth by the window. The table is a wood-printed formica, shiny with age and multiple cleanings. The springy seats are brown, tufted naugahyde. Brown-shaded chandeliers hang from the drop-ceiling. It's so unpretentious, just like you remember, and it puts you right at ease.

The waitress—an older woman with dyed-dark, teased hair rolled into a twist—asks what you both want to drink. Pale skims the back of the menu, lights up, and orders an egg cream. With a grin, you ask for a cream soda.

When she comes back with your drinks, you both order, with him getting a nineteen combo and you a ten. He requests a side of knish and potato salad, and you order cheese fries.

You ask about the egg cream, wondering if it has actual eggs in it. It doesn't look like it does. It looks like frothy Nestle Quik.

He sticks a straw in the glass and slides it to you. "Try it."

It's bubbly chocolate milk, sweet and creamy and light.

You make an appreciative noise and slide the glass back to him. He takes a sip and comments they didn't use Hershey's. That seems to please him.

"You know a lot about drinks," you say.

"Well, yeah, I was a bartender."

"Like in Cocktail?"

"Fuuuck no!" he laughs. "Started as a busboy during school—fuckin' disgusting job. When I looked old enough, they stuck me behind the bar. Shittin' clueless me makin' drinks for these asshats that didn't know a mint julep from grass clippin's." He waves a hand in the air. "Oh, but they'd bitch, though!

"Anyway…" He takes a drink of his egg cream. "Got married after school, and her father got me a job at a fuckin' golf course." He gives you an incredulous look, and you agree. You can't envision him at a golf course.

He continues, "Mint julep central, I swear to Christ. The restaurant had this policy that bartenders don't take orders on busy nights: Fridays, Saturdays. Keeps folks clean at the tables, right? People get their drinks sooner with the servers puttin' in the orders on those nights, too, but that's beside the point.

"So, I'm workin' Saturday night. The old lady just had our second, and we're both draggin' serious ass—"

He's interrupted by the waitress with your sandwiches and sides. The pastrami on the diagonally-cut sandwiches are piled thick.

He lowly whistles. "Lookit that. Holy shit."

The waitress laughs.

Pale rotates his sandwich and says, "That's a thing of beauty."

She's grinning when she tells you both to enjoy and that she'll be around later.

He wastes no time in picking up one half of his sandwich and taking a huge bite. He groans as his eyes roll back. It looks almost orgasmic for him.

You're now certain you've done well by bringing him here. You tuck into your sandwich, and it is totally groan-worthy. The pastrami is so tender, and the swiss cheese is a perfect complement.

"This is sacrilege," Pale says after swallowing. "But this pastrami might be better than Katz's." He takes another bite and mumbles, "Holy shit."

You both finish half your sandwiches before you prompt: "So, Saturday night at the golf course."

"Yeah, second kid. I'm tired as shit, but ya know, maintainin'." He wipes his hands on a napkin and drinks half his egg cream. "There's this table full of rig workers. Usually, I ain't one to judge. Everyone's welcome to get shitfaced at my place, ya know?

"At the first, they're cool. They ain't harrassin' nobody. They're drinkin' an' eatin' an' shit. After they all get a snootful, they start comin' up to the bar," he says as he picks up the rectangular knish, gives it a little pinch to open the side, and squeezes brown mustard inside. His voice goes nasal as he says, "They want shots. They want another starter..."

He bites into the knish and gets a surprised look. "This whole time, the other bartender's been turnin' 'em away." He silently offers you the knish to try. "Like, I'm busy makin' pina coladas—no time for that bullshit."

You take a bite of the knish, and it's delicious. Inside the thick crust is mashed potato, some kind of grain, and meaty mushrooms. The mustard is the perfect amount of sharpness. You nod in delight and hand it back.

"Finally," he says before taking another bite of knish. "King a this table of dipshits gets loud. King Dipshit. He's yellin' for service. The whole dining room's twitchy. People are lookin' to leave, which ain't no good for business.

"Now their server's a pro, so she comes out and tells 'em about the policy and that, ya know, she's happy to run interference for 'em. They wave her off, all 'whateva, toots.'

"They're makin' my ass hurt by now." He puts the knish down. "They've been makin' my ass hurt. So, I come around the bar and tell 'em the policy's the fuckin' policy. Ya know, let your server do her fuckin' job, right? The fucker wants an exception—of course. Like he's a regular, which he was not.

"Dipshit gets in my face, threatin' to get me fired. 'You'll be sorry.'" He makes his hand a moving mouth. "Blah, blah. Then he calls the server a nasty skank bitch." He cuts through the air with the same hand. "Last straw. I grab him by his Kmart sport jacket and haul his ass to the parking lot."

"Oh my god," you interject and stab a soggy, cheese-covered french fry.

"Yeah, he's flailin' around like fish and yakin' away—pissin' me off." Pale imitates him by wiggling in his seat, making you smile. "Insists he's friends with the manager. I'm like, ain't no one friends with that prick. So, I drop the dipshit out front. He's too drunk to brace, and blam—" He claps. "—chin, nose, everything, hits the concrete. Blood every-fuckin'-where."

From anyone else, this would sound like bragging. But the way he's telling the story, it just sounds like another day in the life of.

"Now he's groanin'. His buddies are bookin' it. I'm yellin' for 'em to take their king with 'em. Two come around, get the fucker to his feet. He pushes 'em away, spins to me, and tries to clock me in the nose."

Your eyes go wide. "Did he hit you?"

"Oh yeah, he got me. Too slow to dodge, too goddamn tired. Anyway, right in the chin. I get him back—right, left. There's your exception, Your Majesty." He shakes his head, looking proud for a second. "Fucked up my wedding ring." He holds up a bare left hand. "Got blood on my work shirt. Jesus Christ, what a fuckin' mess."

"Were you fired?"

"Nope! Not a peep. The server had one of their cards for the reservation. She charged that one for the whole table, because if the till came up short, we'd all be toast—and broke."

"That's shit."

"Yeah, I lined up another job after that. Back of house. Got sick of those hoity-toity assholes." He pointed. "They were shitty tippers, too!"

"What did your wife say about the ring and the blood?"

He wryly says, "Nothin', though she sure noticed a lack of tips!"

"But not your chin?"

"Maybe? She didn't say nothin'."

You grunt at your fries, not wanting to bad-mouth someone you didn't know. You'd like to think you'd notice—and want to take care of—your husband if he came home with bruises on his face, though.

"Eh." He picks up the remaining half of his sandwich. "I wasn't the one with a baby on my tit and a toddler crawlin' up my leg."

He did have a point, and you say, "I guess so…"

You both eat in silence until he explains, "We married young, like juuust legal. By the time the kids were in school, she was done with me. I mean, she prayed for me, but what the fuck good did that ever do?"

You snort and meet his gaze. "Yeah, I've had people pray for me, too."

He looks at you for a moment. Really looks. You wonder if you have mustard or grease on your face, but it doesn't seem like he sees something amiss. His expression morphs to something completely warm. The corners of his eyes crinkle before his lips turn up for a private grin.

"I bet."


You take Pale's hand as you pass the Santa Monica Pier sign. There isn't a huge crowd seeing as it's a weekday afternoon. The wind strengthens as you walk, and the brim of your hat flutters. Indistinct music comes from the cars rolling past, and gulls cry overhead. The scent of saltwater and hot pavement fills your nose.

Ahead, the soft horizon of blue ocean stretches from the Palisades onward. As you crest the rise of the pier road, the parked cars below shimmer like a desert mirage. The golden beach beyond teems with people. The hippodrome stands stolid on the pier. In the distance, the ferris wheel slowly turns.

You glance at Pale, but his expressive eyes are hidden by black Ray-Bans. He feels relaxed as his shirt ripples in the breeze. Some part of you can't believe you'd talked him into visiting something so touristy. He doesn't seem the type, but he'd relented when you mentioned the old-fashioned arcade.

Your excitement grows as you take the first step onto the wood deck of the pier. Your steps match the pace of the canned salsa music coming from a restaurant on your left. He easily keeps up as you pass umbrellaed carts selling screen-printed t-shirts and cheap sunglasses.

A guitar-playing busker begins strumming The Doobie Brothers' "Listen to the Music". Pale leads you around the crowd surrounding the busker. People part for him like he's Moses with the Red Sea.

He pauses to ask where to go, and you point to the vaguely old-western building down the promenade. Above the building's colonnade are signs for foosball, air hockey, skee ball, and a shooting gallery. There was more than that, though. They had Street Fighter II, Pac-Man, pinball, and other games you'd never seen before until setting foot inside.

In the shelter of the arcade, Pale exchanges five-dollars worth of tokens for each of you. You dump your coins into your purse and look around the open area.

"C'mon," you say and put a hand around his upper arm. "Skee ball."

He scoffs, "Skee ball," but lets you tug him back to the line of machines.

"What? Afraid of my skee-ball prowess?"

"Oh, you got ball prowess alright, princess. I ain't disputin' that."

You laugh as you choose your machine. He sets up next to you as you fish a couple of tokens from your purse.

"Wanna make it interesting, handsome?"

His eyes sparkle at the challenge. "Whatcha got in mind?"

"The one with the most tickets gets to be the boss tonight?"

He hums in thought as he sways to you. You try not to linger too long on the gold chain resting in the triangle of his exposed chest. Or the way his jeans cling to his hips.

He tilts your chin up as he purrs, "Ain't I always the boss, honey?"

"Well…" You bite your bottom lip. "Maybe not tonight."

"Oh-ho!" he chuckles. "Whaddya gonna do to me?"

With one hand, you reach around him to squeeze a cheek of his ass. He jerks forward, and his eyes go hot. He wets his lips. And fuck, that's so distracting.

You murmur, "I guess you'll just have to wait and see."

"Ya kinda makin' me wanna lose over here."

"You know no matter what, I'll take care of you, baby."

He stares at your lips. "Y'always do."

You back away and slip two tokens in the skee ball machine, feeling Pale's eyes on you the whole time. He steps in front of his machine and loads in two tokens. You give him a wink before you roll the ball down the ramp.

At the end, you both do well. You pocket your tickets and tell him to pick the next game. He goes for the shooting game, Jungle Hunt. You make him go first and enjoy watching him handle the fake rifle. Before his time is up, you press against his back and settle your hands at the top of his fly.

"Hey, no cheating!" he half-heartedly complains.

You rub your breasts on his back. "I'm not cheating. I'm supporting. You have to keep your torso tight."

He misses his last shot and groans. "I'm turnin' ya over my knee tonight."

"That's if you win!" you say and step around him to pick up the rifle.

He harrumphs as he tears off his tickets and folds them into his back pocket. You put in your tokens and take aim. You're not bad, but the targets are fast.

Pale doesn't help when he ducks under the brim of your hat to kiss your neck. His lips feel sinful as they lightly trail over your skin. He digs his teeth into where your neck meets shoulder, and your knees quake.

Your ticket count from that game isn't great.

Next, is Whac-A-Mole, and you both hip-check each other while talking smack. On and on, you go around the arcade, competitively teasing. When the tokens are gone, he gets more. You play Duck Hunt, Baseball Pro, and this weird Feed Big Bertha hoop game.

By the end of the third round of tokens, you're both under pressure at the last game: Frogger. You snarl and stomp as you try to get your frog safely across the swamp. You don't know why you want to win so badly, but you're invested.

Next to you, he growls and gnashes his teeth. "I'm gonna fuck ya so fuckin' hard, you'll feel it next week!"

You don't know if he's talking to you or the frog on screen. You bite back laughter as you focus on getting your frog to the finish-line. Time runs out on the game before you make it, but you think you were closer than him.

"Fucker, fucker, fucker!" Pale hisses at the screen, cheeks flushed.

The tally shows you'd earned more points. Tickets trundle out of the slots on the front of the machine as you have your victory dance. Your string of tickets is longer.

"Alright, let's count out," he grumps and tears off his tickets. "Fuckin' game."

"Hey, either way we're winning, right?"

"Yeah, you're winning this dick tonight."

You collect your tickets and then look him in the eye. "I sure am."

His mouth quirks as if he's attempting to hide a grin. You give him another wink just for the hell of it. He smiles as he turns to the line of air hockey tables.

As you follow him to an unoccupied table, you watch him move. You can't help but remember him last night: looking so refined in a tux, yet whispering such filth in your ear. Then there was the way he took you. There were faint bruises on your hips, and you could still vaguely feel the hard fucking he'd given you.

He dumps his tickets on the table and begins counting. You unload the accordioned stacks of tickets from your purse to count. In the end, you beat him by four. He's surprisingly gracious. You pool your tickets together to trade them for a Batman pencil case and a handful of candy.

Pale snatches a generic grape sucker from the sampler bag and pops it in his mouth. You tear open the pouch of Pop Rocks and pour some on your tongue. Kids dart around you as you walk away from the prize counter.

It's a shock to see how low the sun is in the sky when you step outside. You didn't think you'd been playing long. The crowds are different now, as are the buskers. One of the buskers plays some kind of xylophone. It's soothing against the backdrop of ocean waves.

You point with the bag of candy further down the pier. He nods with a grunt, sliding his sunglasses over his eyes. In the distance, the delighted screams from the amusement park fills the air. While it would be hilarious to see Pale on a ride, you won't force him. You know how he feels about heights.

You walk past caricature artists and a line for funnel cakes as you finish your Pop Rocks. There are carts selling painted shells and handmade sandals and personalized name jewelry. The farther you walk, the more fishermen you see. Finally, you find a vacant bench facing the Palisades and lead him over.

You sit and place the bag of candy on the bench between you. The breeze ruffles his hair as he roots around in the bag, and he pushes his sunglasses into his hair. You rest your feet on the guard-rail in front of you and sigh, asking him what he's looking for.

He holds up a mini Abba-Zaba bar and says, "This."

You smile and find a tiny box of Runts in the bag. As you eat a banana-shaped candy, he asks:

"If you're the boss tonight, what're ya gonna do with me?"

You hum. "I haven't given it much thought, actually."

He razzes, "Like a typical boss."

"Oh, so you had a plan?" you laugh.

"Damn right—" He pulls at a bite of taffy with his teeth. "I had a plan."

"Tell me about this plan."

"Well, it doesn't matter now," he says as he chews. "I ain't the boss."

"Aw, c'mon, tell me. As the boss, I insist."

He gives you a sidelong glance, looking pleased with himself.

You prod at him with an elbow and coax, "C'mon."

"Alright, fine." He puts an arm on the back of the bench. "First things first, you're naked."

"Do I undress for you?"

"Of course, gimme a little show."

"Maybe a lapdance?"

"You ever done that?"

"A time or two," you reply and lift a shoulder.

You'd had a few johns want you to gyrate on their laps and rub your body on them. Those were fun and usually quick tricks. You'd push your breasts in their face and slide your hands down your torso to tease. Sometimes, you'd reverse-cowgirl and roll your ass up their body.

You'd like to do it for Pale. Maybe you could do that tonight: tie him to a dining chair and show him a few moves. You bet he'd curse and growl delicious threats and strain to fuck you. But you'd ride him how you want, use him for your pleasure.

He says, "You'll have to demonstrate some time."

"I will."

He looks at you like he's imagining it. You wonder what he's thinking. He shakes himself out of it before you can ask.

"Anyway, you naked," he states. "On the bed, on all fours, 'cause ya been teasin' me."

"And it's your turn now."

"Well, I ain't gonna tease ya. I'm gonna punish ya." He glances down your body. "Yeah, been askin' for it all day."

"You can't blame me when you're all…" You wave a hand at his chest.

"When I'm all…?"

"Sexy. In jeans." You struggle to articulate your thoughts. "Your shirt's all..." You flap your hands near your neck. "There's a lot of skin, okay?"

"A lot of skin? Sweetheart, your tits have been a—a-a spectacle all day! And this shit—" He points to your bare legs. "Been wantin' them clapped around my fuckin' head since ya came out!"

You laugh at him getting so worked up. He's still for a second before he ducks his head and snorts at himself. You lean into him, resting the top of your hat on his shaking shoulder.

His head lolls back, and he asks, "Can we please go home so I can give it to ya good!?"

You sit up. "I thought I was the boss."

"Yeah, but I wanna get to work."

You shake your head in amusement. "Okay, let's go home."

You stand, roll the bag of candy closed, and shove it in your purse. Pale straightens and offers his hand.

As you stroll back towards the now-lit pier sign, you catch sight of a photo booth. You perk up and tug him to it. You can't believe you'd missed it earlier.

"We gotta!" you say as you turn to him. "I haven't seen one in ages!"

He reluctantly agrees, but insists you sit on his lap. Like you could fit beside him in that cramped stall.

Once the plastic curtain is closed and you're sitting on Pale's lap, you wrap an arm behind his neck. The booth beeps a countdown. You make sure your hat isn't in the way and smile at the flaking "look here!" sticker surrounding the lens. The flash goes off, and the countdown starts again. Before that last beep, he cups your breasts. Your mouth falls open in surprise just as the flash blinds you.

You pivot slightly on his lap and cup his cheek, an admonishment on your tongue. He wraps his arms around your waist and grins, looking mischievous and rendering you mute. You smile back right before the flash goes off again.

He pulls you in and mouths at your jaw. You lean on him and angle back, staring at the sticker with half-lidded eyes. The flash goes off one last time, and the booth beeps "ta-da!"

He kisses the hinge of your jaw once more and pats your hip. With a sigh, you push the curtain open and clamber out. He unfolds himself from the stall and waits with you as the photos develop.

After a minute, a mechanism inside the booth whirls. The photo strip drops into the metal slot on the outside of the booth. Pale snatches the strip and studies it for a moment. You ask him if they're good, and he nods.

"See for yourself," he says and hands it to you.

The photos are everything you wanted them to be. You smile at them before slipping them inside the new pencil case for safe keeping. In the meantime, he fishes a couple of quarters from his pocket. He tells you he's going to call Darryl and heads for the bank of payphones around the corner.

You peek at the photos as you wait. If you didn't know any better, you'd think the couple in them was very much in love. Though with the way he looks at you, talks with you... You minutely shake your head and put the photos away. It's easy to forget you're just a hooker.

You've heard of the girlfriend experience, but this is messing with your head now. You're attached—stupidly so—and you can admit you never want this to end with him. You hear an internal Kit snort at your confession. It makes you remember tomorrow is it. He's returning to the east coast the day after.

There's nothing you can do to change that. It will end. He's leaving.

You swallow around the lump in your throat.

New York is so far away.


The line rings as you sip at your Diet Coke. You don't think Kit would've left for the night already. You pray she hasn't done something drastic. And that Carlos hasn't decided he needs the money right away.

Kit is smart, though, and tough like an alleycat. You know she can survive.

You press the switch-hook button on the phone to end the call and then dial the front desk. When the clerk picks up, you identify yourself and ask if Kit De Luca has picked up the envelope left for her. The clerk puts you on hold. It's an agonizing minute before they come back to report the envelope is unclaimed.

You thank them and hang up. The envelope still being there doesn't have to mean anything bad, you think. Kit's allowed to be busy—it's not like she can have a night off—and it would take a while by bus to get over here. Also, she could have forgotten which hotel you're at.

You shouldn't be bothering her, anyway.

From the bedroom, Pale calls, "Hey, boss, where ya want me?"

You leave your drink and walk to the bedroom, a grin spreading over your lips. Pale stands in the bathroom doorway, naked save for a towel around his hips. The tips of his hair are damp, and his chest is flushed.

"It's a surprise," you answer. "Just get some underwear on and relax."

He appears caught off guard, like he has questions, but he nods and heads to the closet.

You don't want him to see what you're going to change into, so you occupy yourself by unpacking your purse. Once he's done in the closet, you walk in and choose a dove-gray silk pajama set. The loose wrap-front pants tie at the front, just like the matching sleeveless top. It came with a cropped kimono jacket that belts high at the waist.

The salespeople at V had talked you into it. They said it was sexy on you. The rich silk clung where it needed to, yet left something to the imagination. You took their word for it, since you were used to showing off the goods all the time.

You roll the pajamas and tuck them under your arm before slipping into the bathroom. There, you wash the pier off your body and fluff your hair. You floss and rinse out your mouth.

You hope the people at V were right as you dress. You want him to like it, and you need enough to take off for a tease.

When you come out of the bathroom, it's quiet. Pale lounges against the bed's headboard, a pillow wadded behind his bare upper body. One leg is folded under the other; his hands limp at his sides.

Eyes closed.

You pause for a moment to watch him. His chest steadily rises and falls. You smile and breathe, "He sleeps."

Pale's usually so full of energy, so fiery. You've never seen him like this. Oh sure, you've slept next to him, but he's always awake before you. Yet here he is, sleeping and peaceful.

You softly pad around the bed to see him better. He looks like a napping god with his wavy hair framing his face. His dark eyelashes fan above his cheekbones, and his full lips pout just a little. In the mellow lamplight, his charming moles and freckles fade a touch.

You want to kiss each one. You want to kiss him. You dare not.

You ease onto the bed next to him, a leg tucked under you. He looks younger with all his usual tension melted away. You place a kiss on your finger and press it to his unmoving lips. They're soft, plush, and give under your fingertip.

With him asleep, he'll never know you'd done that. He'll never know if you really kissed him, either. As you lean in, you tell yourself it's only this once. You need to know and then you can let it go.

You kiss his cheek as an experiment, but he doesn't stir. His skin is hot against your lips. He smells like soap. You kiss near his mouth, and still no response.

You pull back enough to make sure he's not playing possum. It doesn't look that way, so you take a deep breath and move in. The first tentative brush of your lips on his makes you want more. You gently kiss his motionless lips, imagining what it would feel like if he was awake. You wonder if he'd be aggressive or tender.

When you tilt your head to leave one last kiss, he sharply inhales. His eyelashes flutter. You're too close to act like nothing happened. He peers at you with slitted eyes. You expect him to say something, but he doesn't. He closes his eyes and leans in.

You shouldn't do it, but you can't help it. You kiss his lips again, shaky and anxious. This time, he responds. It's as if something cracks in your chest. Maybe it's your heart—you don't know—but you can't stop.

He begins kissing you in earnest. He kisses your mouth open, his tongue glides over your bottom lip. He cradles your face in his palms to hold you near. His nose presses into your cheek as he kisses you again and again.

You sink into it and hold onto his shoulders. You flick your tongue over his, but he takes control. He sucks at your bottom lip, then grazes his lips over yours in a tease you feel all the way to your toes. You whimper and rest against him.

Pale wraps an arm behind you and then the other. His fingers go into your hair as he kisses you hard. That crack in your chest becomes a fissure, and your heart floods. Floods enough to drown in.

You put your arms around him and let the deluge take you.

He lays you diagonally across the bed to rest half on you. He tastes you with lips and tongue. He nips at your bottom lip to open your mouth how he wants. He runs a hand over your side to cup one of your breasts.

You arch into it and pull him closer. He halts, skating that same hand up your body until he reaches your cheek. He holds your face and stares into your eyes. There must be something there he'd been searching for, because he gives you a look that is raw and loving and relieved.

He smooths hair away from your temple before he dives in to kiss you once more. You angle to him and curl a leg over his hip. The split in the leg of your pants slink open, so you feel his skin directly. He groans deep in his chest, pushing a hand under your ass to draw you up.

"God, ya feel so fuckin' good," he murmurs against your lips.

You reel him in for another kiss. You want to devour him, make up for lost time. Tunneling your hands in his hair, you give him open-mouthed kisses. You suck on his tongue, and his hips jerk against your thigh. The mound of his cock practically burns through the thin layers between you.

He breaks the kiss as he moves his hand back down to your chest. He looks between your bodies and plays with the silk.

"Whatcha got on?" he asks.

"Pajamas. I thought it would be good to have enough on to draw out—" You shrug a shoulder. "You know, a lapdance or something."

He hums and tugs the belt around your waist loose. Putting a little space between you, he spreads the jacket and spans a hand over your ribs. You want him to touch you more, kiss you again, and get between your legs.

He ducks in to kiss your neck as he cups your breast. The silk top slides over your skin, your nipples. You're keenly aware of how your nipples tighten. With his soft lips on your throat, you're caught in indecision on where to go. You want him everywhere.

You bring his face to yours and kiss him again. He groans as his thigh inches higher between yours. You make an approving noise, pulling him further on top of you. He nudges your legs apart and gets between them.

Pale's hips press you into the bed. His cock is a fervid ridge digging into your belly. You rock under him and pant against his lips. He ruts with you, kissing your cheek, your jaw, your neck.

He continues down your chest until he reaches the vee of your top. He grins at you as he pulls the first tie loose before kissing the newly bared skin. The damp imprint of his kiss cools on your skin as he goes for the second. He kisses your chest and stomach as he flicks the top open.

"Fuck," he growls.

He sucks at your skin, trying to get your taste on his tongue. He moves up and up until he can lick the underside of one of your breasts. You still and push your fingers into his hair as he mouths at the outer curve. His big hands steady your ribs and arch you off the bed.

Your breath rushes from your lungs when he finally takes a nipple in his mouth. He sucks hard, making you cry out. His teeth pinch, and you jolt from the pleasurable pain. You feel it down in your cunt as your muscles clench.

He moves to your other nipple and tweaks it, pulls at it with teeth and soothes it with his tongue. You beg him for mercy or more, but doesn't matter. You only want this with him to keep going. He drags his teeth over the side of your breast, and it doesn't matter if he bruises you.

You whisper his name, and his liquid eyes dart to yours. You stare at each other as your chest heaves below his chin. He quickly slithers up your body, his pelvis slipping into place against your pussy, and catches your lips.

His chest rubs over your peaked nipples, and his arms push under your back. You're captive under his firm body—he's ensnared by your strong limbs. His skin feels as good as the silk of your pajamas, and you feel his muscles work underneath.

You already feel taken as he licks into your mouth. He overwhelms your senses, makes you breathless and dizzy with desire. He makes you laugh and feel valued. He's strong and vulnerable and secretly kind. He's so generous with you—and all you want to do is give it right back to him. You want to give him every good thing possible.

You are already taken and drowning in love.

"Please," you whisper and smooth the hair away from Pale's forehead. "I want you." You look into his dark-amber eyes. "I want this."

He nods as his chest stutters. "Okay, honey, I gotcha."

He rears onto his knees to untie your pants. He slides them down your hips and off your legs. You lie there, letting your legs bracket his thighs. You want to pull him on top of you just like this, have him thrust his bare cock in you.

You realize then he's staring between your legs. He throws your pants off the bed before swooping down to kiss your belly. You almost ask what he's doing, but you choke on the question as he curls his arms under your legs and slides down the bed.

And then his velvety tongue licks a thick stripe up your wet slit. His five-o'clock shadow scratches at your skin. You groan and let your head fall back.

He answers with a moan and wastes no time finding your clit. He flutters his tongue around it, ending in gentle suction. You push your hips towards his face as you blindly reach for his forearms. You want to tell him he doesn't have to be gentle now, you can take it, but you can't form words.

He forces you to the mattress with hands on your hipbones and buries his face in your pussy. Placing your hands on top of his, you let your knees fall open and rock against his mouth. You plead for him in half-formed sentences, begging him to continue. You quiver as you strain, your muscles tight.

He's ruthless as he laves your clit and rhythmically sucks at it. You curse, telling him you're close. Because you're stretched to the limit. He doubles his efforts with eyes closed and nose pressing into your mound.

His talented mouth works, hot and wet, between your legs until you're wrenched into orgasm. Your mouth falls open, heels digging into the mattress, as your cunt throbs. Climax runs like quicksilver through you, flashing up your spine and warming your thighs. Your heartbeat thuds in your ears as you gasp in pleasure.

You tremble and grip his hands as he draws circles over your clit with the flat of his tongue. It's too much, too good, making you jolt with each whirl. You whine his name and pull at his hands.

Pale slides his hands to your sides and licks up your folds one more time before showing mercy. You swallow through a dry throat as you look down your torso at him. He meets your gaze and sucks your come off his lips.

You touch his pink cheeks, stroke his cheekbones with your thumbs. His skin is feverish.

"C'mere," you breathe.

He grins, wipes at the lower half of his face, and crawls over you like a predator. You pull him down to kiss him again, not minding the taste of yourself in his mouth. He smells like you—all tangy and salty.

You push back the hair that's flopped over his forehead and look at him. It would be easy to get lost in studying his features. His allure, especially like this, is overwhelming.

You trail your fingers and gaze down his body. He still wears briefs, which are tented with the heft of his erection. You cup his cock through them, the cotton damp with precome.

Above you, he shudders as his cock pulses on your palm.

You meet his eyes once more and give him a squeeze. "Fuck me," you murmur.

Instead of going for a condom, he kisses you fiercely. You moan and hold his waist as you return each hard kiss. You don't care if either of you bruise.

He gets ahold of your wrists one at a time and shoves them to the bed. You arch up to keep kissing him, but he evades to kiss your throat. You throw your chin back as you writhe.

"Taste so good," he says between kisses to your neck.

He noses the pajama jacket out of the way, leaving searing kisses on each inch of skin he uncovers. He adds teeth in sensual threat. You rub your inner thighs against his legs just to touch him back. He suddenly digs his teeth into your shoulder. It hurts—sharp and thrilling and clear, like you can discern each of his teeth. It makes your soaked pussy clench. You gasp in want, tilting your pelvis up.

"Please, Pale! Please!"

He whispers, "Love it when ya beg for me."

"And I love it when you fuck me," you retort.

He chuckles and kisses the bite on your shoulder. He kisses all the way back to your lips. You deepen the kiss automatically. You put how much you want him into the kiss, how you can't get enough. You want all of him, all that he'll give you.

He sags onto his elbows, his hold loosening. You don't try to get free, though. Getting away the furthest thing from your mind.

He breaks the kiss with a "fuck" and rears back onto his knees. "Get the shit off."

"Yes, Pale."

As you shrug off the jacket and top, Pale gets a condom from the nightstand. You toss the garments away and lean on your elbows to watch him wiggle out of his briefs. His cock springs from its confines, almost smacking his abdomen.

The luscious color and perfect curve of it has your mouth watering.

He steadies his cock as he returns. You draw your legs up and open, and he takes his place between them. He kneels there, a condom packet held between his teeth, and strokes his dick a few times. Milky precome glosses the tip, and you can hardly glance away.

Without preamble, he tears the condom packet open and rolls it down his erection. You look at his face to find him already staring back.

You lie back, and he takes it for the invitation it is. He braces himself on one arm and then the other, creeping over you until he lowers himself. You run your hands up his solid arms and over his flexing shoulders. His hair tickles the back of your hands as you stop at his nape.

He slips an arm under your back and leans in to kiss you. This time it's not hard or demanding. It's not soft, either. There's something powerful and purely Pale behind it, and it takes you by surprise.

You need him now and stop the kiss. He makes a hungry, greedy sound and kisses the corner of your mouth. You reach for his cock to guide him down. He spreads his knees, getting into position.

The first touch of his dick over your sensitive folds has you biting back a whimper. You roll your hips just to feel the smooth, spongy head rub your clit.

"Don't— Don't fuckin' tease me no more, baby."

You meet his intense gaze. "Sorry, Pale."

His dick jerks in your hand.

"Lemme in," he says through gritted teeth. "Lemme fuck that sweet pussy."

"Yeah," you agree and direct his cock where you're desperate for it.

He nudges at your opening, and you let go to place your hands at his waist. He slides deep inside you in one unrelenting push. You're so wet, he glides right in. Like he was made for fucking you.

The thrust forces a short whine from your chest. Your cunt pulsates around his thick cock. His head drops next to yours with a groan as his cock jerks again.

He pants, "So goddamn good, baby."

You nod and skate your hands up his flanks. "Kiss me."

Pale does, licking into your mouth. He kisses like an invasion: conquering and leaving you speechless. He holds your jaw in more of an embrace than to control.

He widens his knees, his dick sinking deeper, and propels your legs further apart. You moan against his mouth, and he rocks his hips. You move with him, encouraging.

He holds you steady as he begins thrusting. Each time your bodies meet, he grinds and fucks pleasured whimpers from you. His grip on your shoulder tightens, and he orders you to look at him.

When you do, he digs his knees into the bed and cranks his hips. Your mouth falls open, and you claw at his damp back. He growls and thrusts faster, harder, going deep. His big cock strokes every sensitive spot as his dark eyes stare into yours.

"Tha's it, you're gonna come on my dick, aren't ya?"

"Y-yes, Pale."

"Such a good girl—God, your fuckin' pussy…"

His hips slap against yours with each powerful thrust. There's no stopping the tensing of your body, of how you strain under him. You know the release building inside you will be devastating.

"Don't stop," you whisper. "Please, don't stop."

And he doesn't. He gives you everything. He rams his big cock inside you in an unyielding rhythm. He thrusts into you over and over until you keen and writhe. Heat and sharp pleasure rush through you, making you moan in shock and still. Your pussy throbs and you can't catch your breath and it's too much.

Pale keeps fucking you, ratcheting you into such a delirious state that everything dissolves around you. You only feel his fast breath on your lips, his humid hands on your body, the drive of his strong hips pushing his cock deep inside you.

"Oh God, fuck—so fuckin' good, so fuckin'—" He groans. "—tight!"

And all yours, you think.

I love you.

His eyes widen in surprise as his breath catches and cheeks go red. He thrusts in one powerful time, sheathing himself fully and knocking a winded groan from you. He holds you tight and grinds you into the mattress while making these broken, wounded noises that half-sound like your name. His cock gets impossibly harder as it pulses and pulses.

When he calms, you hold his sweating face. His brow is furrowed, lips kiss swollen, and eyelashes clumped together with moisture. He's beautiful like this.

You smile and agree with yourself. You do love him. There's no denying it now. It's the best and worst thing that could happen.

Pale stares back, his eyes a wellspring of unvoiced emotion. You kiss him and kiss him, wrapping yourself around him, and never want to let him go.