“You can’t get in the way of my work, Jonathan.”
“He wants to hurt you, Monica.”
“He doesn’t know how.”
“You’re wrong. Very, very wrong.”
I crossed my arms to match my legs. “Is there something you want to tell me?”
He swallowed, watching me. I watched him back. The tension made my heart pound, my palms sweat. My neck broke out in goose bumps, but I would not waver.
“I do have something to tell you,” he said.
“When I say I own you, it’s just a manner of speaking. It doesn’t mean you don’t have your own life, or you’re a possession I can throw away when I’m bored. It means I am directly responsible for your well-being. If I sense a threat to your health or happiness, I will step in to protect you, even if you don’t want me to.”
Those words, so cold and practical, without a flowery phrase or hyperbole, made my lower lip quiver and a swelling, wet pressure collect in my eyes. Fuck.
“You can’t keep me from working,” I said, breathing hard, trying to forget the tears threatening to drop. “You have my word. I’m yours. You are the only man I want. I know what happened to you before—”
“Monica, you’re not hearing me—”
“I am hearing you. You think Kevin wants to hurt me, and I’m telling you he can only hurt me if I give him my body, which I won’t do.”
He leaned forward as though he wanted to touch me, but wouldn’t. “You said yourself he gets raw, then he gets cold, and then he does the piece. Maybe you’re the piece.”
I watched my hands fidget. “I can’t stop my career for maybes.” My eyes went back to him. “When I say you’re a king, you are. You rule the world. You have everything. You can do whatever you want. I’m nobody. I have nothing to call my own. I could die tomorrow, and I’d be forgotten in a year. Like Gabby. If I don’t record her music, it’ll disappear, and if I let you stop me from doing whatever I have to do to make work, I’ll disappear too.”
I was crying full bore, with little sniffles and big, wet tears. He reached for his pocket, and I knew he would get out one of his expensive hankies. I hated that it was the second time I’d cried in front of him. I didn’t make crying a habit. I hated it. I found no release in it, just sore eyes and shame. I grabbed his hand before it could leave his pocket. “Don’t let my stupid crying get in the way of what you want to say.”
“I wanted to say ‘blow.’”
“No need.” I cleared my throat, tilted my head, and pinched the corners of my eyes. Then I smiled a customer service smile. “See? All done.”
He took my wrists and pulled me to him, gathered me up in his lap, and put my arms around his neck. “You think I’d forget you so easily?” he said, his face so close I could see the flecks of blue in his green eyes.
“L.A. is full of pretty girls. You’d find another one.” He started to say something, some petty, pithy reassurance that would make me feel even more insignificant. I put my fingers on his lips before he could get a word out and whispered, “Shh. Behave.”
He smiled under my hand, then kissed it. “We’re all forgotten. Every one of us. Even artists and rich men. Eventually.”
“My voice could survive.”
“But with what meaning? This moment, here? On this little patio? This makes us who we are, and in a week, it’s going to be a few pieces of memory. In a year… it’s gone, and everything’s changed.”
“Are you a nihilist, Jonathan?” I stroked the hair on his cheeks as I teased him with my tone.
“I believe in plenty. You, for one. Your loyalty to your friend. The way you took care of her and still take care of her.” He kissed my lips and kept his face so close to mine I felt his breath. “Will you let me take care of you?”
“To an extent.”
“I want to get someone in to put food in your fridge.”
“Your deadbolt is broken. That day when I said the door was unlocked, it wasn’t. I opened the doorknob lock with a credit card. The deadbolt wasn’t even set right.”
“I’ll fix it.”
“I’ll get someone in.” His fingers found their way between my legs again, stroking inside my thighs.
“Jonathan, I put the first one in. I can do it again.”
“Oh, is that why it works so well?” I pursed my lips. He pulled my hand off his cheek and held it. “I’m not questioning your competence, but I don’t think you’re defining yourself by your ability to set in a deadbolt. Or are you going to become L.A.’s first singing locksmith?”
I rested my head on his shoulder. “Fine. You have someone lock me up tight.”
“On all the doors.” His fingertips found a place between my legs where moisture gathered in response to his touch and his breath.
I sighed. “If it’ll make you happy.”
“It would keep unhappiness at bay.” He dragged his finger up my pu**y and across my clit. My breath hitched from the soreness and pleasure. “Open your legs for me.”
“Another go?” I murmured.
We shifted so my back was to him. He released himself with the clink of a belt buckle and the purr of a zipper. I put my hands on the table as he reached around and pulled my legs farther apart.
“All the way,” he said. “I want you to feel me.” He stretched me apart to the point of pain, then pulled off my robe. Again, I found myself nude against his clothed body, exposed, vulnerable to him. His dick rolled past my ass and found the source of my wetness. I put my weight on it and groaned with how deep he went, how the soreness stung, and how the skin of my snatch felt abused and loved.
Our hands met between our legs, feeling where we were coupled, taking turns touching my clit, stroking his shaft when it was exposed and feeling it enter me. I rubbed his balls under his clothes. Our hands went wild, fingers kneading, palms rubbing. He ran his damp hand up my belly and held my breast, twisting the nipple between two fingers. I was crazy with him, a circle of hunger and desire. He pulled me toward him until the back of my head was on his shoulder, and he whispered in my ear, “You are mine, goddess.”
I groaned. Close, wrapped in a web of hands and wetness and throbbing shaft moving inside me.
“Mine,” he said, pressing my hand to where were coupled, his sliding dick against my wet flesh. “This is us together. I own it. This body is my plaything. Your ache is mine. Your orgasm is mine. Your hunger is mine. Your dirty thoughts are mine.”