Credits rolled. So went another sappy romantic comedy, the third one I’d consumed in as many days. Me. Mister Sensitivity. I’d like to be able to say I didn’t know what was going on with me, but I hadn’t reached the point of lying to myself. Yet. I tapped a key and the tablet went dark.
It was the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. A fuzzy orange sphere shimmered on the glass tower across the avenue, drenching my office in thin, calming light. I stretched my fists above my head and yawned before picking up the collection of pages I’d been ignoring in my lap.
Peer group valuation multiples and secondary market projections slid around the pages and became a blur. Blowing out a deep breath, I refocused. I creased my brow and studied the numbers in earnest. It was time to get serious.
I rolled up the pages of analysis and drummed my head, wondering if I could hammer out a tune by changing the aperture of my mouth. This is fucking hopeless.
I flicked my wrist and the papers joined the heap on the floor.
The office was more deserted than the average Saturday, but this wasn’t the average weekend. Even William, captain of our little band of capitalists, was nowhere to be found, having disappeared in the direction of the Atlantic Ocean. A handful of edgy first year analysts puttered at their workstations, firing off emails to document their dedication, in the hope that someone who mattered would give a shit.
I was killing time, although I would have argued the point. My real objective was to convince myself I had something worthwhile to do while millions around me celebrated the long holiday weekend. They streamed out of the city toward lakes and beaches, put kegs on ice for rooftop parties, and rubbed against each other in steamy bars to toast the unofficial start of summer.
I picked up my phone and clicked on the photo that had arrived by text that afternoon. It was the thong adorned ass of a dripping sunbather bent over her beach chair. wish u were here, asshole.
I winced. They would be off the beach by now, showered and dressed for a night in the clubs. A group of friends had begged me to join them at a rented condo in Aruba for their annual pussy hunt. No, I told them. I had a deal I needed to close before the end of the quarter.
It was a lie, of course. Such was my state of mind that a week of wallowing in self pity seemed preferable to six tropical nights of guilt-free, anonymous sex.
I brushed my thumb across the display in my palm and watched images of Ellen scroll by. I knew them all by heart; knew when they were taken and where we were at the time. Her face was red with laughter in most of them, caught as she so often was, in an embarrassing position. I felt a smile creep into the corners of my mouth despite my determined melancholy.
I’d ruined it all. It was the tired, old story you’ve heard a million times and I was the cliché. I didn’t know I loved her. Yes, it really is possible to be that stupid. As I studied her pale blue eyes, I recalled the things she’d said when she finally made the break, her voice rasping through tears. Every painful word was true. It just killed me to know I was the one who made her say them.
Two sharp whoops of a police siren drew me to the wall of glass. New York City at street level is a churning contrast to the serenity of its soaring heights. A cop was out of his car, jawing through the window of a double-parked van while a bus squeezed past them, an accordion of brake lights coiling behind it.
Ellen had been gone almost a year. It took me three months and half a dozen hookups to realize what I’d done. She wouldn’t see me when I called - wouldn’t risk it, she said. There was someone else now. It might be serious and I was, well... I was a bad habit.
I looked at the guy staring back at me, hair tousled and a day’s worth of stubble on his face. The Black Crowes tee shirt was a gift from Ellen - grey with long red sleeves. I’d taken her to that concert for our first date. She’d had to scrape loose change from her bag to come up with the forty bucks, refusing to let me pitch in.
I dug my hand into my pocket and felt for the smeared scrap of newspaper I’d carried around for a week. I didn’t need to look at it. I’d committed the words to memory, along with the beaming faces. The engagement announcement had been given very respectable placement in the Times.
“Garrigan. What are you doing here?”
A slender figure bisected the rectangle of light beyond my shoulder, but it was the tinny voice that identified my visitor. I squeezed my eyes shut. Perfect, I thought.
“Chen.” I turned around and lifted my chin toward the open door. “This is my office. See? My name's there and everything.”
She looked at the polished brass plate and stepped inside, apparently satisfied that she hadn’t interrupted a break-in.
“Clearly,” she said to no one in particular, taking in the silent mayhem before her. Articles of clothing, back issues of Sports Illustrated
, and random paraphernalia collected in piles and spilled from shelves. Her head turned like a gun turret, scanning the room.
“I’ve never seen you down here on the thirty-first floor, Chen.” I regarded her warily. “Are you lost?”
“Hmm? No, I…”
She drifted around the office, trailing her fingertips across the satin cummerbund draped over the back of a chair, and lifting the blade of a seven iron a few inches before letting it drop back into its bag. Her dark eyes narrowed and examined the black and white photos on the walls, loitering at the image of a young swimmer pulling himself out of a pool, water streaming from his lean core.
“So… is there something…?”
She snapped out of her meditative state. “Oh! Yes.” She faced me and stood at attention. For an instant I thought she was going to sing the National Anthem. “I’m looking for Fernandez. Will you show me to his office?”
“Will I…” I thought about Fernandez’s frantic text begging me to warn him if I saw Chen on the loose. “Okay, two things. First, it’s Memorial Day weekend. The guy has four kids. He’s probably in bumper-to-bumper traffic on his way back from some theme park, singing Wheels on the Bus for the hundredth time. And second…” I extended my hand. “I’m doing very well, Chen. Thanks for asking. It’s good to see you, too.”
Chen took my hand and gave me her best deal-closing shake. She pursed her lips and fixed me with her inscrutable eyes.
Hillary Chen was the firm’s Chief Financial Officer, Director of Risk Management, and General Pain in the Ass. William brought her in after the shitheads down the street made headlines losing six billion dollars trading swaps. She had the pedigree – Imperial College London, two years with the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee, and stretches with banks in Hong Kong and Tokyo. Most significantly, she had played badminton with William’s daughter at boarding school in Switzerland.
She’d terrorized the firm over the eight months she’d been with us, replacing the entire treasury unit and reorganizing the brokerage department. It would be safe to say Chen hadn’t come to New York to play nice. She maintained a cool distance from officers and staff alike, huddling exclusively with William when she wasn’t busy resurrecting the Inquisition.
“You know, I almost didn’t recognize you, Chen.” I’d never neglected to give her a good once over in executive committee meetings or the occasional social gathering at William’s place, and I was sure she’d noticed. “I like what you’re wearing. You look very… liberated.”
At the moment, she could have passed for an undergrad at NYU. She wore faded Levis with a knee worn through to the strings and a loose gauze shirt, with sleeves pushed up to her elbows. Her hair, always in a tight ponytail during business hours, now flipped freely about her shoulders.
“You should take more care in the way you address a superior, Garrigan.”
“HAH!” I sat on the corner of my desk and folded my arms. “You are not
“Have you looked at an organizational chart?”
She had me there.
“I’m a Managing Director, Chen.”
“I review your deals.”
“Y- Is this why you came down here, Chen? To piss me off? Because it’s working.”
“No. I told you I need to see Fernandez. I’ve been out of the office all week.” She buried her hands under her arms. “Fever… chills…” She leaned forward and lowered her voice. “On top of that, my monthly arrived.”
!” I slapped my knees and pushed off the desk. “Let’s see if we can find Fernandez.” Sorry, you’re on your own, dude.
“And diarrhea… two days.” She placed a hand over her abdomen and looked at me with an ashen grimace.
I cocked my head back.
“Are you coming on to me, Chen?”
“May I sit down, Garrigan?”
I sighed. “Make yourself at home… boss.
” I waived in the direction of my seating area. Part of me wanted to toss her little ass out the door. The whole point of sticking around the city was to be alone to enjoy my suffering. Another part of me wondered what her hair smelled like.
She turned around and looked side to side at expensively upholstered furniture buried in financial statements and fast food wrappers.
“Jesus.” I stepped over the baseball bat that leaned against the coffee table and shoved my overflowing duffle bag to one side of a small leather sofa. I removed a basketball from the cushion and palmed it against my hip. “There.”
She pulled the ball away from me and sat with it on her lap, knees pressed together primly. Chen fixed me with an expectant look.
“Uhhh… can I get you something? A Coke?”
“Do you have any green tea?”
“Whatever type of tea you have, then.”
“I have Coke.” I cast a nod toward the half empty twelve pack of red and white cans on the floor.
She looked up at me without expression. “Fine.”
I admit that she’d gotten my attention when she first arrived. She didn’t seem to mind William’s roving hands when he introduced her to the management team. I could swear her eyes remained locked on mine as she stood in silence at the head of the boardroom table while her resume and accomplishments were recounted in glowing detail. Impressive, I thought. Then I wondered what she might look like spinning around on my dick.
Draped in black Armani and Dior, she stalked around the executive suites kicking ass and taking names. Nothing she wore - not even the austere tunic that scared the living shit out of the accounting department - could disguise her killer body. She was an assassin in a size two, with smoldering eyes and an icy stare.
Chen accepted the drink and placed it on a side table without taking a sip. She looked at the surrounding mess, drumming her fingers on the tight, textured skin of the ball. For some reason, I couldn’t take my eyes from the movement of her long digits.
I pushed aside a sleeve of tennis balls and sat on the coffee table a few feet in front of her. I leaned forward, forearms resting on my thighs and a Coke can in my hands. The top popped open with a fizz.
“Cheers,” I said.
Something caught her attention in the duffle bag next to her. She reached inside and extracted a flimsy garment constructed of elastic fabric and two large loops. Knitting her thick brows, she held it up for inspection.
“What is this, Garrigan?”
I counted the holes in the ceiling tiles over her head. “It’s a jockstrap, Chen.”
“An athletic supporter?”
She looked at me blankly for a second, before her eyes widened in recognition. She drew a breath. “Ohhhhh
“Yeah, so how ‘bout you put that back where you found it.”
Chen curled her fingers to form a petite fist and pushed it into the ribbed cotton pouch. “So this is where your…”
“YES.” I leaned forward, snatching the stretchy material out of her grasp. “For Christ’s sake, Chen, give me that.” Balling it up in my hand, I stuffed it as best I could into my back pocket, part of one leg loop dangling loosely. “Are you from, like, fucking Mars?”
“I was born in Shanghai but my parents moved to England when I was twelve.”
Was that…? No. Couldn’t be. That wasn’t humor was it?
A twitch whispered past the corners of her mouth. Chen looked at the ball in her lap and traced her finger along the seams. I wondered what the hell was going on. This little visit was completely out of character for her. While this was painfully awkward by any reasonable standard, she did seem to be making an effort. But at what?
Her gaze sliced up at me without warning. Her eyes had somehow changed. They were softer, glossier… and something else. I felt my heart lurch inside my chest. We stared at each other for a long second or two before she broke away.
“Well, thank you for the Coca Cola.” Chen stood and let the ball roll off her fingertips, dropping it into my hands. Whatever I had seen had disappeared. “I suppose you’re right about Fernandez. He’s not here.”
I had no idea what had just happened. All I knew was that my heart was thudding in my chest. That, and the thermostat in my office needed adjustment. I thought maybe I wouldn’t mind too much if she wanted to stick around to finish her Coke.
Chen stood in the doorway, her pulse visible beneath the tender skin of her neck. I hadn’t noticed that before. And the hollow at the base of her throat, that little notch…
She cleared her throat. “Well.” Shit.
“Yeah, um… good talk, Chen. Thanks for dropping by.”
“Enjoy the holiday, Garrigan.”
I watched the tight seat of her jeans glide toward the elevators. God
. The words were out of my mouth before I could catch them.
“Hey, Chen.” She turned as the chime sounded. “Any plans for the weekend? Just, you know… curious.” What the hell was I doing? This is Chen, I thought. I - don’t - care what she does with her free time.
Her face remained impassive except for the nearly imperceptible tweak of her eyebrows.
“I’m driving to William’s house in Southhampton tonight. I’ve been invited to spend the long weekend with his family. Julie left her car for me.” She took a breath and swallowed. “She’ll be there with her husband.”
“Right. Your old pal,” I said. “That was some wedding. Had to be, what? Four hundred guests?”
I remembered checking out the maid of honor sitting at the dais, never imagining that in less than two years she would spend every waking hour finding ways to bust my balls. She gave possibly the worst wedding toast in history, quoting Ayn Rand and Oliver Cromwell. Even so, I admired the way she blasted away up there, hopelessly tone deaf, but also brave and genuine, looking so determined and so positively edible in the slanting light of late afternoon.
Chen straightened her back and lifted her chin. “Yes, it was a lovely wedding.” She caught the closing elevator door in her hand. “I should go, Garrigan… traffic.”
I couldn’t get Garrigan out of my head. Why did he have to look at me like that? With those eyes. Those soft, brown… terrible eyes. I was much happier when I knew that I annoyed him, or thought I did. This - this was something new. I didn’t come to New York to find a replacement for Nick. And I wasn’t about to have a fling, despite Julie’s urging. I don’t know what I was thinking when I wandered into that disgraceful excuse of an office.
The squeal of brakes and the blast of a horn echoed off the cement walls as I steered Julie’s Mercedes up the circular ramp. I detested driving in New York. Everything’s on the wrong side, isn’t it? And climbing to the surface from the underground car park was like an ascent from the gates of Hell. Fetid yellow walls were scored with deep gouges and ugly black smears, while suspicious looking liquid ran along the curb. The turns were so tight and the lighting so dim, I would surely scrape the front bumper right off the car if I went any faster. To make matters worse, an idiot in a Smart Car was practically in my boot, flashing his headlights at me.
Granted, Garrigan was handsome, in a rugged sort of way, and all outward appearances to the contrary, he had brains, lots of them. And, yes, muscles - those too. He liked to strut around the office with his shirtsleeves rolled up and tie pulled away from his unbuttoned collar near the end of the day. That was - that was nice.
And judging from snippets I’d heard in the Ladies, Garrigan was almost single-handedly responsible for the record number of female sign-ups when he decided to join the company’s Wednesday night tennis league. Word was that someone had broken his heart. Estrogen production was on the rise.
But we didn’t get along and that’s how I liked it. That’s how it was supposed to be. He was arrogant, stubborn, and coarse. So why did the tips of my ears heat up and my stomach start to flutter when he asked me about my weekend plans?
My pursuer’s high beams pierced the rear windscreen and flooded my eyes. I pressed down on the accelerator. A ghastly screech echoed off the walls when my front tire scraped the curb. Are all New Yorkers homicidal or just those armed with automobiles?
Garrigan didn’t act like other men I’d worked with. He wasn’t intimidated by me, for one thing. I secretly enjoyed his biting commentary and subtle insults when he wanted to be difficult. Even his habitual vulgarity was strangely disarming. I should have been appalled by his locker room language, but it was refreshing to be around a man who didn’t treat me like a porcelain doll.
William had warned me about him. He had given Garrigan unprecedented freedom to run his unit, and knew that he would bristle at any interference from me. Still, I had a job to do; did I not? I told William he was making a big mistake; that Garrigan and his team, while uncommonly profitable, took risks with without any oversight. They would have to be reeled in and that’s all there was to it. William just chuckled. Together, you two are going to make me a very, very rich man.
The sharp report of a horn jerked me from my thoughts. My eyes flashed to the rearview mirror just as the driveway finally straightened toward the exit. The driver was gesturing obscenely. Maniac!
I shifted my attention forward, just in time to see a dark figure crossing my line of sight. Shit!
My clavicle slammed painfully against the shoulder harness just as a pedestrian landed on my bonnet with a sickening thud. The figure spun around, slid across the high gloss paint, and disappeared to my right.
The Smart Car peeled around me and flew off as I flung open the door, the driver yelling something unintelligible. I ran around the front of the car, dreading what I would find.
He was sitting upright with his back to me and feet planted on the ground. He appeared to be checking the contents of a satchel briefcase. My heart sank and stomach twisted. Oh, good God, no. It can’t be.
“Garrigan? Are you all right?”
His head jerked upward.
“Chen.” He chuckled, not needing to turn around. “Of course
it’s you. Who else would it be?” He planted a hand on the pavement, spun himself to his feet, and faced me. “You’re a regular guardian angel, aren’t you?”
I looked in horror at the tear in his jeans and the bloody scrape visible through the shredded sleeve of his shirt.
“We must get you to a doctor immediately. Get in the car. I’ll take you to the emergency room.”
“I’m fine, Chen, don’t worry about it.” He picked particles of dirt from his oozing arm.
“Garrigan, I insist. You’re injured.”
“Do you even know where the nearest hospital is?”
“It’s settled then. I’m going home. See-ya next week, Chen.” He picked up the leather satchel and hooked it on his shoulder. “Have a good one.”
“I’ll drive you.” I couldn’t let him leave like that, bleeding and in tatters.
He gave the car a sideways glance. “Yeaaah, no. I don’t think so, Chen. I’ll take the subway. It’s a short hop.”
“You’re being stubborn. At least let me clean that wound properly. I happen to be certified in first aid.”
“So you thought you’d drum up a little business.” He broke into a one-sided smile, a trace of satisfaction in his voice.
People rushed around the little island formed by the car, barely giving us a glance, much less a second look. Why was he being so glib? Couldn’t he see that I was trying to make it up to him? That I was upset? Out of nowhere, I felt my lips start to quiver and eyes well with water. I struggled to keep the muscles in my face from scrunching up. Don’t - do - this, I told myself.
“Please,” I croaked.
The mockery in Garrigan’s eyes melted away and his expression softened. His lips separated as if he wanted to say something. He… he cared? Something moved inside my chest and my knees began to tingle. Inexplicably, I felt the urge to wrap my arms around him and rest my cheek on his broad shoulder.
“Tell you what.” Garrigan’s voice was different now. It was low and velvety. A big hand surrounded my arm. It was a very nice hand. “You can take me home, okay?” He opened the passenger door and guided me inside. “But I’ll do the driving. Maybe even get you that cup of tea. How’s that sound?”
It sounded so perfectly lovely that I felt a subtle tugging sensation deep inside my pelvis.
Garrigan yanked the car onto the blacktop and zigzagged through narrow downtown streets. I began to calm down, kicking myself for the ridiculous display of emotion. I supposed that nearly killing a colleague had knocked me off my feet momentarily. Perfectly understandable, I assured myself.
“What part of Manhattan do you live in, Garrigan? Upper East Side? Gramercy Park?”
The fortress-like tower of an ancient suspension bridge rose above us.
“Brook- but that’s not… Brooklyn?”
It wasn’t that I’d never heard of Brooklyn. I’d seen Saturday Night Fever
, for God’s sake, and GoodFellas
. It’s just that I’d never expected to actually have to go
“Garrigan, isn’t it supposed to be somewhat… untamed?”
“It’s a borough, Chen, not a penal colony.”
Garrigan turned onto a ramp that carried us to a span high above the sluggish waters of a wide river. Blue-black clouds edged in pink drifted in formation beyond the cables draped above our heads. They seemed indifferent to the unending throb of human passions below them.
My thoughts picked through the rubble of the emotional landslide that had brought me here. Nick loved me, he swore, and I still believed that was true. But there was something missing, he said. In me, he meant. There was something missing in me
. He wouldn’t say it, but it was clear. I would never make him happy.
I had difficulty connecting with people; it was true. I would never dazzle effortlessly in social settings or display the graceful prowess of a power wife. I wished I could be that person for Nick. I tried. I truly did. But it was no good. I thought he understood me; that it took time for me to open up - that my feelings ran deep. But it didn’t matter. We would not marry after all. I wasn’t what he wanted.
A tire slammed into a deep pothole and rattled me back to the present.
“Here we are, Chen. Brooklyn. Soak it up.” Garrigan turned to face me, his devastating smile sucking the air from my lungs.
If I didn’t know better, I’d think he was happy I was with him.
Chen gave my shirt a tug. “You’ll need to take this off.”
She hadn’t said much since we’d left Manhattan, which was fine by me. All I wanted was to let her do her Florence Nightingale impression so she would finally leave me alone. Then I would point her hood ornament toward the highway and she’d be on her way to William’s twenty-room midlife crisis on the south shore of Long Island. I’d be free to enjoy my orgy of self-pity for the rest of the holiday weekend.
Chen had recovered from the guilt or shock or whatever it was that had nearly made her cry. I never expected that
from the ice princess. The closest thing to an emotion she’d ever shown at work was impatience. But that look of vulnerability gave me a glimpse of what she was hiding behind her carefully constructed walls.
Even more surprising was my own reaction. Something about her helpless expression and that one, shuddering intake of breath had gotten to me. Crazy, I know, but I felt a connection. It was all I could do not to take her face in my hands and kiss her trembling lips. Thank God I shook it off. This was Chen the Impaler we were talking about.
Now here she was in my loft - about the last place I would’ve ever expected to see her. It was just an empty expanse of concrete walls with views of the river when I’d bought the place. Ellen had drawn up the floor plan and hired all the contractors - one of the advantages of having an architect-girlfriend. She’d even won a design award and had some pictures published in a trade journal. I wrote the checks. No awards for that.
It seemed empty now that Ellen was gone. She’d never moved in, not officially - more evidence of my hollow devotion, you might argue - but her presence had been unmistakable.
I tried to look at the place through Chen’s eyes - weathered grains, straight lines, comfortable utility. She seemed to take everything in with an expression that was a cross between between curiosity and cold calculation. She looked exactly the way she did when she wandered through my office. It was kind of cute actually, making me wonder what went on inside her head beyond quarterly revenue projections and SEC filings.
“Garrigan,” she said. “Your shirt. I can’t work on your arm this way.”
She stood next to my bathroom sink. The sad collection of first aid supplies I’d pulled from cabinets and drawers were laid out on the granite vanity as neatly as a surgical tray in an operating room.
“Uh, yeah, Chen. Sure.”
Right, the tee shirt. Leave it to Chen to destroy my last tangible connection to Ellen. I sighed. Just as well, I thought, under the circumstances.
As I grabbed the back of my collar, her eyes flicked away and played nervously over the articles strewn across the vanity. A can of shaving cream and a safety razor spared her from the uncomfortable intimacy of clothing removal. That was twice, now, that I’d seen a rift in the surface of her composure.
“You don’t have to do this, Chen.” Her gaze lifted to meet mine in the mirror. “I mean, if you really think about it, we barely know each other. This is probably making you feel…”
Her head snapped around and she gave me a look that was as close to a glare as I’d ever seen from those guarded eyes.
“I’m not feeling anything, Garrigan.” Her pupils rocked back and forth over my bare shoulders, chest, and stomach.
“OKAY! Jee-zus fuck, Chen. Don’t get your panties in a twist.”
“My underwear is no concern of yours.”
I couldn’t help it. I felt my mouth stretch in the direction of my ears. “You’re a piece of work - you know that?” I shook my head. “Have you always been this literal?”
Her eyes narrowed to mere slits and her nostrils flared. “You’re being an arse.” She reached for the taps and the sink began to fill. After a moment of contemplating the drain, she turned and stuck a finger in my chest. “And don’t laugh at me.”
Chen soaked a clean towel with warm water and began to dab and stroke my damaged arm. Tiny brown billows twisted in the white basin as she worked. I soon became mesmerized by the confident touch of her hands and the look of concentration on her face, her eyes flashing up at me before returning to their task. A shiny lock of hair dangled in front of her face. She looked… beautiful. Uh-oh
I looked away to break the spell. It was a very bad
spell, I told myself. At the far end of the bathroom was an open-style shower with multiple heads, marble walls, and a raised stone slab. I tried to concentrate on how much that motherfucker had cost me. But instead, there was Chen. She was naked, her black hair clinging to her skin under the steamy spray. Her perfect little ass called to me. Then, as if I’d spoken her name, she turned her shoulders and formed a kiss with her lips, soapy lather sliding seductively over one upturned breast. I’m screwed.
Heat spread across the exposed skin of my half-naked body and a familiar pressure began to build between my legs. I stood next to Chen and tried to ignore the gaps that formed between the buttons of her shirt as she dried my arm with a fresh towel.
“You were right, Garrigan. It’s not bad at all,” she said coolly. She nodded toward the wooden chair she’d had me carry in from the kitchen. “Sit down now so I can apply the dressing.”
Chen flicked through the lifesaving tools on hand - Band-Aids, antiseptic wipes, anti-fungal foot powder, and calamine lotion. She seemed tense - even more so than usual.
“Everything okay, Chen?”
“Hold out your arm, Garrigan.” She moved over me, holding a tube of antibacterial ointment, and straddled my knee. “This will help prevent infection.”
Chen was all business now, her head down and eyebrows knitted. I figured I must have really pissed her off somehow. There’s a shocker. She worked efficiently, treating each scrape with a piece of sterile pad, which she cut up with a pair of nose hair clippers.
“I shouldn’t be using my bare fingers, but there aren’t any surgical gloves available,” she informed my elbow. “You really ought to get a proper first aid kit.”
“It’s okay, Chen. I trust you.”
Her eyes flew to mine. There was that soft, glossy, take me
look again. Her lower lip fell, plump and inviting. I felt a warm release in my belly and a surge inside my jeans.
“I…” She cleared her throat. “I did my best to wrap your arm with this roll of gauze. It’s somewhat adhesive, so it should…” She paused. “Garrigan? What are you doing?”
Good question. My free hand had acted on its own initiative, tripping its way up her arm to her shoulder and squeezing the little cluster of muscle. I could feel the warmth of her skin through the thin blouse.
“Nothing. Why?” I stroked her cheek with the curled backs of my fingers and feathered my thumb back and forth across her lips.
“It doesn’t feel like nothing.” Warm breath on my hand.
My heart was doing half gainers now, and a warm current buzzed down through my stomach and into my balls. “Tell me what it does feel like,” I half whispered.
She closed her eyes. “Garrigan, stop. We can’t.”
I wrapped my hands around her forearms and drew her closer. “Sit. Let’s talk.”
I slid forward and she lowered her weight onto my thigh, the separation of her soft buns settling over my thick muscle. I braced her back with my hands, feeling the strong, steady beat of her heart. She seemed almost in a daze, eyes practically slits, and breath issuing raggedly from her mouth. My cock was swelling and beginning to struggle for space.
“What, um… Garrigan,” she started weakly, her eyelids fluttering. “What do you have to say to me?”
I kissed her. Chen. Chen!
When I touched those soft lips for the first time I felt a rumbling moan deep inside my chest. God, she tasted good. My hands moved over her back, one pulling her against me, the other sliding through her cool, silky hair. She stiffened for an instant and then relaxed, her body melting against me. She breathed a sweet sigh into my mouth as she parted her lips.
We stayed like this for, honestly, I don’t know how long. Our mouths moved together and tongues wrestled as the intensity climbed. We were in a fog - a wet, hot, breathy fog. Her hands flew over my neck and shoulders. She raked my back and drove her fingers through my hair.
I slid a hand between our squirming chests to massage her breast and explore her nipple with my fingertips. Chen released a tortured groan and sucked my tongue as I drove it deep into her mouth.
I loved her unexpected noisiness. Moans and slurps filled my ears as she shifted onto my lap and ground against the stiff cock straining for escape, heat pouring through layers of denim. She reached back and yanked the bottom of her shirt free while I wrapped her hair in my fist and tilted her head for access to her throat.
This is Chen, I thought - the clueless pain in the ass who’d driven me to distraction on a daily basis - and for some crazy reason I couldn’t begin to fathom, that made it so much better. I slipped a hand under her shirt and found the clasp of her bra.
“Mmmmgh! Wuh-wait.” Chen had disentangled our tongues and her chest was heaving. “Please. I need to stop.”
“You wanna stop,” I panted.
“Because we work together. It’s improper.”
“No - yes, that too.” For the first time, she smiled. A big, beautiful smile I never saw coming - one I never knew possible. “I have to pee. Now get out of the loo.”
Insanity. That was the only way to explain it. Straightforward lunacy. Garrigan?
I stared at my flushed face in the mirror and then at my hands. I was trembling. Insanity and near terminal horniness; that was it. I hadn’t had sex in… I thought for a moment. No. Had it been that long? My birthday was a month away. Had I really spent the last year of my twenties celibate
I looked to my right and swallowed. He was waiting for me outside that door. I pinched my lips between my teeth to keep from giggling. I could do it, I thought. It might be scary at first, but it would be so easy to let him hold me down and fuck me. God, it’s what I need, isn’t it? I’ll bet he has a big one, too. I imagine guys like him always do. So easy going, and confident. At least it felt
big when I rubbed my pussy against it. I rubbed my pussy against it!
I clapped both hands over my mouth, not wanting him to hear me shriek. I didn’t know what had gotten into me. Why was I so giddy? I’m never
giddy. It was time to get serious. I had a major problem to contend with on the other side of that door. This wasn’t going to happen. Not with Garrigan. Not ever.
Still… that kiss. I’d never been kissed like that - never gotten carried away like that. The man definitely knew what he was doing. He knew what he wanted
. I felt it all the way down to my uterus. My undies were getting moist again just thinking about it. God, he was delicious, and not just his mouth. It was a big mistake to have him strip down to his waist. Did I really need to see those corded muscles in his shoulders and arms? Or his taut chest? Or…
I pressed my hands on the cold, grey stone and tried to regulate my breathing. I was in deep trouble.
Insanity. That was the only way to explain it. I put the saucepan on the grate and watched blue flame circle the burner with a whoosh. Insanity and… what? Loneliness, possibly. Since Ellen, no one had even come close to holding my interest. Even the procession of cheerful barflies to my bed had begun to lose its charm. But, Hillary Chen
? No. I couldn’t even have a conversation with that chick.
God, she made me hot, though. I squeezed my fingers inside the elastic of my boxer briefs and curled them around my dick, angling it toward the point of my hip. Better. The thing felt like it was about to burst through its skin. The lump was pretty obvious, but after all that grinding, Chen wouldn’t have much reason to be shocked. At any rate, I knew from experience my condition wasn’t going to change until I did something about it, one way or another.
A sliver of darkness skittered across the surface of a textured steel cabinet.
“Garrigan. What are you doing?” I turned to find Chen standing in the kitchen doorway. She seemed different somehow, younger. Her hands were jammed in her back pockets and she sort of rocked back on her heels.
“How many times you gonna ask me that question tonight, Chen?”
She moved towards me, her eyes scanning, of course, registering the industrial fixtures and the polished black stone beneath her feet. I noticed that she’d put herself back together and brushed her hair.
She stopped next to me and stared at the simmering liquid on the stove. “You’re boiling water.”
“I just can’t slip anything past you, can I?
“To make tea?” Her dark irises repeated the question, looking big and wet enough to dive into.
“Yeah, well, I think there have to be some tea bags left around here somewhere.” I scanned the cabinet doors surrounding us, wondering what was behind half of them. “The tea kettle seems to have disappeared, too.” I shrugged. “I’m a paper cup coffee drinker.”
“Garrigan, are you making tea for me?” Her chest rose and fell heavily.
“I’m pretty sure we established that.”
Chen reached in front of me and turned off the gas. I could see the infinitesimal flare of her nostrils as she drew deeply into her lungs. She looked at my bandaged arm for a moment and caressed its length from shoulder to wrist. Then without a word, she closed a delicate fist around my index finger. I felt my stomach tighten and my cock lurch when she peered into my eyes with that universal, meaningful look that needs no interpretation.
I clung to Garrigan as he stalked through his apartment, arms clamped tightly around his neck and ankles crossed over his buttocks. Something grazed my thigh and I heard a crash. I didn’t know if he could see where he was going and I didn’t care. All I could think about were his demanding, sensual lips and the tingling sensations coursing through my body. We were fused together in a haze of lust, mouths sliding and sucking, each of us trying desperately to consume the other.
My hastily crafted exit speech was forgotten. All it took was the sight of him standing over that stove, looking lost and utterly irresistible in his attempt to make me a simple cup of tea. At that moment I stopped thinking, and started listening to what my body had been screaming since I saw him gazing out his office window.
I rolled my shoulders and rubbed against him, absorbing the heat of his bare skin and stimulating my nipples against his hard chest. I dragged my mouth over the stubble on his cheek and buried my face in his neck, nibbling his earlobe and inhaling his warm, male scent. His masculinity rushed at me like a locomotive, nearly overwhelming me.
I felt a surge of adrenaline as Garrigan carried me to his bed. There was something primal and wild in the way he’d grunted and swept me off the floor so effortlessly. I knew that in moments I would be naked and that he would see the most intimate parts of my body. I shuddered from nervousness and excitement. Sex with Nick had been affectionate and satisfying, but I’d never experienced a thrill like this.
I felt a nudge at my back and suddenly I was in a large, semi-darkened room with deep, velvety grey walls. Two spotlights illuminated a huge, red tapestry to my right, while a jeweled skyline sparkled through the wall of glass to my left.
Garrigan set me on my feet and I fell against him, suddenly feeling weak at the knees. He sunk his fingers in my hair and tilted my face upward. For the first time, I noticed how long and nearly blonde his lashes were and how they softened his dark, intelligent eyes.
“You okay?” It was that voice again, even more bedroomy this time. Just two words, and I felt a pulling sensation, low and deep. How did he do that?
My mouth opened, and then closed. I nodded. “Mmm-hmm.”
A wide, crooked smile broke across his face. “Good. That’s good, Chen.” Something warm and happy began to glow inside me at the sound of amusement in his voice.
Without even knowing it, my hands had begun to glide over his skin, mapping his contours and finding the deep groove of his back. The stored power of his body flowed through my fingertips and I could feel my undies sticking to the damp heat of my sex.
“It’s okay. You don’t have to talk.” My God
. The rumble of his voice vibrated in my chest cavity. “I don’t get it either. Us, I mean. We just…” His thumbs caressed my temples. “We can figure this out later.”
Later. There would be a later? And did he say… us
I slid my hands lower and explored Garrigan’s buttocks as his fingers descended my spine. I couldn’t believe I had the courage to touch him that way, but desire was taking control of me. I gripped the solid globes of muscle and probed the warm crevice between them.
My arms flexed as I pulled my body against him, needing to be closer. Ohhhhh.
There it was - the dense mass of his erection. I formed an image in my mind of its shape and size, causing my stomach to tighten almost painfully.
Garrigan’s hands floated beneath my shirt, electrifying my skin. He pressed his lips to mine. “Lift your arms.” I felt his words in my mouth and melted. A white cloud surrounded me as he peeled my shirt upward, snagging it on my face and ears. With a tug, a button scraped my nose as the garment flew over my head.
“That blouse has buttons, Garrigan.” I shook the hair away from my face and contorted my lips to suppress a smile. “They’re put there for a reason.”
Goose bumps erupted over my skin as I stood in full view of him, wearing a bra that was nothing more than a formality. I felt my nipples stiffen and poke against the delicate lace.
“What is it with you and rules, Chen?” His eyes sparkled and drifted over my breasts as he used his toes to pry his heels out of his tennis shoes. “I hate to be the one to break it to you, but… you’re kind of anal.”
” That was all I needed to hear.
“You know, Garrigan, your casual disregard for established procedure is a sign of a disorganized mind.” I took a step back, his gaze spreading heat across my face and chest. “And your problem with authority…”
“Wait. Are we…?” Two fingers flicked open the snap on his Levis and lowered the zip. With an easy push, blue denim slid to his bare feet. “We’re still talking about buttons, right?”
My eyes locked on the imposing bulge that stretched sideways beneath his black boxer briefs. I felt a hitch in my breathing when he hooked his thumbs inside the white waistband.
“Buttons?” I slid a dry tongue over my parched lips.
It all seemed to unfold in slow motion. Garrigan’s smile faded and the muscles over his ribs twitched as he straightened his arms. Twin ridges of sinew angled downward from the points of his hips to his emerging, dense triangle. His cock swung forward and rose, almost reaching for me, as he eased the elastic fabric over his buttocks and thighs. My stomach disappeared and I felt my pussy clench as I took in its thickness and length, the circumference of its shiny, dark head.
Panic and euphoria lanced through my chest when he took me gently by the wrist and brought my hand to his sex. I watched my fingers fold around his beautiful cock. It felt like chiseled stone beneath its twisting veins and silky casing. Had I
done that? My silly pride was soon replaced by a mixture of craving and apprehension, knowing what he intended for me.
Garrigan groaned when my other hand lifted his heavy ovals and rolled them between my fingers. I couldn’t keep my hands still. I felt the easy glide of his skin and probed the springy flesh of his glans. A string of slippery liquid clung to my finger as I removed it from his slit. His hot pulse throbbed in my palm and I swallowed, realizing that I was now salivating.
“Chen…” His voice was thick and breathy. “You’re killing me.”
I looked up, startled. His eyes were half lidded with lust. “Sorry, I…” I looked back at the stiff sex organ in my hands and breathed a laugh. “I just…”
He spun me around to face a massive, mahogany framed bed. It was so inviting, with its reassuringly unmade comforter and sheets that looked so fresh and white against the deep colors of the room. I had the urge to fall backward on it and feel the weight of his naked body on top of me.
Garrigan released the clasp between my shoulder blades. Featherweight cups fell away as he slid the straps down my arms and past my fingertips. My skin began to glow with heat when the cool air touched my breasts.
I tensed in an effort to keep from trembling when Garrigan slipped a hand around my throat and popped the button on my jeans.
“Just relax.” Pure gravel. “It’s me.”
That did it. He had just ruined an expensive set of underwear.
His hands moved over me, caressing my belly and touching my crotch. They ran up my ribs and lifted my arms, before meeting to lift and squeeze my breasts. A hot current arced all the way down to my pussy when his fingers began to ignite my sensitive nipples.
I turned my head to find his mouth and reached back to stroke his buttocks and thighs. He was relentless - strumming and plucking, until my tips were rigid and standing upright. When I was certain I couldn’t stand any more, his warm breath was in my ear and he was separating the fly of my jeans.
“Time to spread your legs for me, Chen.”
I almost peed.
” Chen pushed her ass in the air as I slipped her panties to her thighs. She turned her head on my sheets and folded her arms around it. “I want to feel you inside me.”
Straddling her legs, I hooked her hips and pulled her cute little tail higher. Crystal droplets clung to the downy fuzz that covered her pussy and trailed off toward her puckered knot. Dipping my head, I inhaled the lure of her sex and grazed my lips over her cheeks. I couldn’t believe this was the same robotic nightmare I’d sparred with for months.
Chen’s feet twisted and toes curled beneath her navy blue knee socks. “Don’t tease me.”
I spread my palms over her ass and pressed my thumbs outside her dark lips. Her pussy flowered open, pink flesh glistening around her little opening. My cock lurched upward as a powerful contraction pulsed somewhere deep beneath its base.
“Be patient, Chen.” I kissed each of her round buns. “I’m just starting to get to know you.”
Her scent became stronger, slamming me right in the chest. I had to taste her. She let out a squeak when I yanked her to her knees and closed my mouth over her pussy. She dropped her shoulders to the mattress and wagged her ass, pushing it into my face as my tongue swept up and down her channel to gather her liquid sex.
I held her hips to control her movements, circling her clit with every downward swipe. She spread her knees wider and arched her back, opening herself completely to me. Flashes of standoffs and arguments flickered across my brain as her intimate moisture clung to my lips.
Chen’s throaty groans, so wonderfully unexpected, drove me to a higher level of arousal. I needed more. She bucked and cursed when I pressed my thumb onto her clit and began to lave her crinkled star with my watering mouth. My free hand stroked the bow of her back as I licked and sucked, losing myself in the intimacy of the moment.
“God, don’t stop.” Chen was shaking. I rubbed her clit back and forth, and dragged my tongue lower to probe the opening of her sweet cunt. “OH!” She threw out her arms and tore at the sheets, bunching them at her head.
“I… I’m going to...” Her body stiffened, my tongue snaking inside her tunnel and thumb manipulating her swollen nub. I could feel waves roll through her pussy as a soft wail drifted across the room.
The tension left her body as she unfolded onto the wrecked sheets with a satisfied purr. I lowered my weight onto her and laced my fingers over her outstretched hands, my cock throbbing in the wet crack of her ass.
She was breathing deeply, her face hidden behind a mess of black hair. I drew back her locks to uncover an eye.
“That was top work, Garrigan.” Her giggle destroyed me.
Garrigan flipped me onto my back and glared down at me like a big cat over its prey, pupils wide and penetrating. He had me pinned in place with his palms pressed on either side of me. My heart was pounding as I watched the flared muscles of his upper arms flex under his weight, still thinking about what he’d just done to me - and what he was about to do.
He tilted downward and turned his head to place his mouth over mine and suck my lower lip. The flavor of my own secretions on his lips sent an arrow of desire through me. I opened my mouth to accept his tongue and share the savory juices.
a good kisser,” I sighed. I froze. The glint of laughter in his eyes told me I’d said it out loud. “I mean… oh, just shut up, Garrigan.”
I pushed myself up on my elbows as he chuckled and knelt back on his heels, his cock rising above the wispy fur of my mound. His full sac was now drawn up tight beneath his swaying shaft and the plump cheeks of his bulb blushed with arousal. I nearly doubled over from the empty ache inside me.
I splayed my knees wide and lifted my hips, modesty and probity long forgotten. “Fuck me.”
“What’s the magic word?” His large, masculine hand gripped his thick penis and began to pump up and down, a drop of clear liquid clinging to his slit.
.” I was dying. “Fuck me… now
“Better be careful giving orders like that.” Garrigan supported my bottom with one hand and began to spank my wet pussy with his heavy cock. “I’ve been told I have a problem with authority.”
” The splashy contact of our genitals and the ringing in my clit sent shivers through my body. I slammed my head back on the sheets. “Okay… please
. Fuck me, please
“Good girl,” he said, continuing his assault before giving my pussy a final slap with his solid shaft.
He rose from his heels and spread his knees, rubbing the head of his cock up and down my seeping slit. The anticipation and the heat of his flesh separating my folds had me spinning in a swirl of sensation and emotion.
“Okay, just relax.” There was that voice again - rugged, deep, and wonderful.
He lifted my legs and pushed my knees toward my shoulders. Taking his cock in hand, he swept its head between my lips once more, before centering it at my entrance. A faraway look came over his face as he curled his pelvis and the firm flare of his cock opened me up.
I didn’t recognize the sound of my own voice. A growl, a grunt - whatever it was, it was loud. He gripped his cock and moved it in a slow circle just inside my tight little ring. He’s determined to kill me, I thought.
“Feel good?” he asked, arousal choking his words.
“God, yes,” I whispered. Good? He was tearing me to pieces.
Garrigan leaned forward and pushed down on the back of my thighs, holding me firmly in place as he impaled me. His thick shaft stole the breath from my body as he stretched me out with that first long glide.
He withdrew slowly, emptying my hungry pussy before sending shudders through my core, filling me up again, this time harder and all the way to my depth. Again and again, he plunged through me, expanding my walls in all directions. I was reeling from that singular, indescribable feeling of fullness.
“You okay?” His breathing was rhythmic and heavy, the sectioned muscles of his belly contracting with every recoil.
I tried to smile. “Mmm-hmm.”
Garrigan grabbed my feet and clamped them together with one hand, continuing his deep, penetrating assault while his insolent fingers began to play with my clit. I was writhing and whimpering, invisible sparks bouncing over the surface of my skin.
Tendons and muscles thickened his neck and perspiration broke across his shoulders. I felt like his captive as he took control of me. Take me any way you want, I thought; I’ll do anything.
“God, I can’t get enough of you, Hillary.”
Releasing my feet, his chest came to rest on top of me with a thud. My fingers raked through his hair and my thighs squeezed his flanks as our tongues twisted together. We fucked with raw animal need. My nipples rang with sweet agony as they scraped against his chest, and my pussy began to pulse from the delicious friction of his cock and the pressure deep inside.
I tore my mouth from his and pressed it to his ear. “Don’t stop.”
It came over me quickly. I was distantly aware of my nails in his back and my teeth in his shoulder as contractions crashed inside me, taking me apart. All I could do was hang on to him as numbing waves of pleasure rolled through me.
Garrigan’s handsome, suffering face slowly came back into focus. His strokes were more deliberate now and I felt his cock swell. I knew he was close.
I held him tight and put my cheek to his as he tensed his buttocks and began to pulse. “Come for me now.”
“You called me Hillary.”
A face burrowed under my jaw and a warm thigh caressed mine. Darkness had crept into the corners of the room, making our softly lit nest feel like a place apart from the rest of the world. I looked out the window at a deepening, indigo sky. White necklace lights now decorated the bridge that had carried us here, away from the glittering towers across the water.
“You did, Garrigan. You called me by my given name.” She gave the sticky penis in her hand a squeeze. “That was sweet of you.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Chen.”
“I think you might be in love with me.” I felt laughter shudder inside her chest.
“You’re delusional - probably a result of the best sex you ever had.”
I pulled her on top of me and cupped her ass. That amazing ass.
“Anyway, you bit me.”
“That’s true.” She straddled my hips and sat upright. "You deserved it."
“So, uh… Chen. You gonna call William?” I weighed her perky tits with my fingertips. “Let him know you’re not coming?”
She tilted her head and gave me that I-know-what-you-look-like-when-you-come look.
“And why would I do that?” She rolled her hips forward and back.
“Because it’s a three-day weekend and I want you to stay.”
She stopped dead and blinked.
“You have exactly two minutes to get hard.”
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