“And you’re not?”
“Do I need to remind you of the cock-block?”
She threw her head back in frustration. “Oh, my God. You and your dick. Go whack off in the shower. You’ll be fine.” Then she curled her legs up underneath her and leaned toward me, her eyes sweet yet demanding. “Now admit that I did good.”
I hesitated. Finally, reluctantly, I conceded. “You did good.” I took another sip from my drink, letting the burn of it relax me and melt away the desire to hold onto the reins. “Actually, you did really good, Celia. Nice job.”
She wrinkled up her nose in glee as she soaked up my approval. Her pure joy somehow made it easier to continue the acknowledgment.
“You’re a lot more flexible with the experiments than you used to be,” I said. “You’ve come a long way.” There’d been quite a few in the early days that we’d barely survived. I’d never realized how naturally that scheming came to me. How hard it was to teach someone else. Yet, even with the difficulties, Celia had been born for it.
“I’d hope I’m better. We’ve been doing this now for…what? Three years?” She rolled her soda bottle in between her hands as she spoke, like a stick she was trying to rub into fire. “It’s about time I finally got a Hudson compliment.”
She was nervous, and I suddenly realized how much my acclaim meant to her. Was this the first time she’d received it?
I finished my Scotch and set the glass down on the coffee table, then peered at her with narrowed eyes. “I’ve complimented you before. Haven’t I?”
She shook her head. “I’m not complaining. I haven’t deserved it.”
I shrugged half-heartedly. She’d made mistakes, but overall I’d been pleased with her as a partner. More than pleased. I’d also been glad for her company.
She pursed her lips now, as if thinking. “Remember that couple in your building? The newlyweds?”
I nodded. How could I forget? They’d been our first experiment together.
Celia dropped her bottle into her lap and propped her elbow on the back of the couch, leaning her face onto her hand. “I’d been so nervous when I first approached him. Tim was his name. I was supposed to drop that bag of groceries, remember? And see if he’d help me with it. That was all there was to the first contact. You’d coached me and coached me. I swear I stood in that alcove of the lobby watching him flick through his mail for, I don’t know, an eternity before I had the guts to go out there. Then dropping my bag was easy because I was shaking so hard.”
“But he noticed you. He helped you with the groceries.”
“He brushed my hand even. On purpose, I think. And it was only our first meeting.” Her eyes narrowed as she lost herself in the memory. “He kept staring at my cle**age, and I remember how amazing it felt to have his attention, but at the same time, I thought he was a bit of a smarmy ass**le.” She laughed. “Obviously, I got over the smarmy ass**le part.”
I chuckled. “Obviously.”
It had been a great study. Celia had seduced Tim, the husband, while I’d worked my charm on the wife. My subject had resisted me, deeply devoted to her marriage, but Celia had succeeded in getting her subject in bed. Repeatedly. They’d had an all-out affair. Even when the wife had found out, she still refused to sleep with me, though she’d shown more than once that she was attracted. It had not been what I’d hypothesized. More surprising was that she forgave him for his infidelity.
I’d filed the entire experience as another attestation to the detriment of love. Why the f**k would any sane person forgive a spouse for that kind of gross unfaithfulness? It was weakness. Devotion made people stupid. There was no doubt in my mind.
“I still get nervous the first time we start any new game.” She leaned back into the corner of the couch and bent her legs up in front of her, her bare feet perching on the edge of my thigh. “And this is the first time I’ve felt comfortable changing things up without talking to you first.”
“Well, we don’t need to make that a habit now.” I pulled one of her feet into my hands and started rubbing it.
“We’ll see how it goes, I guess.”
I tried not to let that bother me. Things would morph just fine, I told myself. Whether I was in control or not.
We settled into silence. I continued my massage as I thought about how we’d both changed in the last years. Through our games, we’d become comfortable with more than just improvising. We’d found an ease in our relationship as well. We frequently staged kisses and embraces without any residual sexual tension. The undercurrent of emotional pull that had once existed between us had dissolved into something less fraught, less physical, yet intimate. We shared a rapport with each other that we had with no one else. We were…close. Friends. Partners.
I dropped her foot in my lap, ready to move to the other. The first brushed against my crotch. Celia’s forehead rose. “Is that your dick?”
“I told you I was hard.” It was actually a semi now, but certainly not flaccid, and the reminder of my pent-up lust for Monica had me stiffening again.
“Still?” She poked at my bulge with her toe and waggled her brows. “I can do something about that if you want.”
“Are you serious?” The idea alone already had me softening. We’d become close, but the idea of taking things to a physical level still seemed wrong.
“Why not?” She flicked her tongue along her lower lip. It was meant to be sexy, and any other man would probably have taken it as such. Not me.
I had to look away. “Uh, thank you, but no.” I pushed her feet off my lap to further enunciate my lack of interest in what she was proposing.
“You’re such an ass**le.” Her scowl was present in her voice. “You’re a total man-whore, but you won’t let me suck you off?”
“It would ruin our relationship.”
I studied her, trying to determine if she was pulling my leg. A side effect of knowing how well a person can pretend is that you don’t know when to question their sincerity. “Are you really serious about this?”
She shrugged. “I’m excited about how tonight went. It made me horny.”
“I get the excitement.” But I wasn’t ha**ng s*x with Celia. “I’ll buy you a vibrator.”
“Fine.” She folded her arms over her chest. “I’m not really interested in sucking your hairy little prick anyway.”