I kick off my shoes and then I stand before him, naked, letting his eyes roam over me. His look of blatant appreciation is the only thing that gives me the confidence to stand before him, on display like I've never been before. He reaches down and unbuttons his pants and releases his zipper, letting his c**k spring free. He strokes himself lazily as he continues to look at me with heated eyes and I can't help it now, I whimper.
Oh. Dear. Heaven.
"Touch yourself, Evie," he says, his voice sounding choked, barely controlled. I'm so turned on, vibrating with need that I don't hesitate to do as he says. I bring my hands to my br**sts, fingering my ni**les and closing my eyes as my head falls back, mouth opening with a moan of pleasure. Then I bring one hand down to my core, slick with arousal. I rub the wetness from my opening up to my clit, moving my finger in slow circles and moaning unabashedly now.
"Fuck! I need to be in you now, baby," he chokes out, grabbing me by the h*ps and bringing me back to straddle him, my knees on the chair next to his hips. He brings me down roughly, spearing me with his hard cock, making me cry out in surprise and in pleasure as he fills me completely.
I pull up until just the tip of his c**k is still in me and then I crash down on him, making him grunt and throw his head back and God, that's so good. I cry out too with the pleasure this position is giving me. Then I repeat the movement I just did, pulling up slowly and crashing down on him again.
Yes, God yes!
I picture what we must look like right now, me na**d and riding him, him fully clothed beneath me and the image in my mind makes me wild with lust.
I start moving up and down on him mindless to anything except the race to orgasm as his mouth comes down on my breast, sucking my nipple into his mouth, almost roughly.
I throw my head back too and ride him enthusiastically as we both pant and groan, his hands on my h*ps now, pushing me down harder and faster until we both cry out together, hot rushes of se**n filling me as the waves of pleasure consume me. For a minute, I think I see stars as my orgasm peaks and then peaks again.
"Christ! Fuck!" Jake grunts out, taking my mouth and kissing me passionately as we both moan through our orgasms.
I kiss Jake fervently as we descend, gripping each other tightly and breathing hard.
We stay still in each other's arms for long minutes as our breathing returns to normal. I lean back and look into his face, grinning.
"What are you doing to me?" I ask, awestruck.
"What are you doing to me?" he grins back.
I laugh. Uh, yeah. I disengage myself from him and stand up, walking to the bathroom to clean myself up.
When I get back, Jake is still sitting in the desk chair. I grab my clothes and pull them on.
We still have an hour or so and I'd like to shower, but it's not like I can return back to work with wet hair so instead we spend our time relaxing on the bed and he tells me about his trip, making me laugh with a story about the overly chatty guy he sat next to on the plane. I giggle and tease him and we just enjoy each other until the clock tells us that I need to get back to work.
I straighten the comforter on the bed and quickly wipe down the chair we used, grinning up at Jake and then I wheel the cart out of the room, Jake kisses me goodbye and I move on to the next room. I use my walkie talkie to update my manager that the penthouse suite is clean. I can't keep the goofy grin off my face for the next hour.
We settle into a little bit of a routine over the next week and a half. I run in the mornings, work and then, most evenings, head over to Jake's condo directly afterwards and we eat dinner together, sharing about our day. It feels natural and comfortable and I've never been happier. I look forward with something very close to giddiness to greeting Jake at the end of the day. He picks me up and holds me close, kissing me and spinning me around as if he hasn't been alive until that very moment.
But I am also restless to know him better. I've been patient and understanding, but I want to know what he isn't telling me. I want to know the things that still clearly haunt him, that give him that faraway look when he thinks I'm not paying attention. There is something that separates us, and until he opens up to me, I fear that I won't ever draw nearer to who he really is.
I'm also afraid that the reason he's not opening up to me is because he doesn't want to get closer to me and this is his way of holding back.
A week later, on Friday night, we make love ardently, as always, and afterwards, Jake wraps me in his arms, whispering intimate words to me as we drift off to sleep. But in the deep of night, I awaken alone and when I get up to seek him out, I find him standing silently on his balcony, drinking from a glass filled with amber liquid.
"Can't sleep?" I murmur, putting my arms around him from behind.
"Yeah," he sighs, "Thought a night cap would help. Go back to bed, baby, I'll join you in a minute." I notice that his face looks strained.
"Okay," I agree, sleepily, squeezing him and then letting go, walking back to bed alone and a little troubled.
In the morning, he tells me he has a surprise. It's my day off and he's arranged a spa day for me. I'm excited because I've never, ever been to a spa before. I'm getting better at letting Jake treat me, even though it's still a struggle for me. He grins at my excitement and says it's all arranged. He scoots me into the shower and says a car will be here within the hour.
"Enjoy yourself, babe. I'm looking forward to meeting your friends tonight." It sounds nice but he looks nervous and preoccupied and I don't know what to say to draw him out. Maybe he has a lot going on at work. I'll get the spa works today and then I'll do what I can to relax him tonight. I've become pretty adept at that.
"Why are you so good to me?" I ask, bringing my arms up around his neck.
"I love to spoil you. Making you happy makes me happy," he smiles, looking deeply into my eyes.
I shower quickly and then dress in dark gray yoga pants, a white tank and light blue hoodie. I pull my sneakers on and Jake and I eat a quick breakfast of cereal with fruit as I look over the brochure for the spa down the street.
I kiss Jake when the buzzer goes off in his condo and rush down to the waiting car.
I spend an amazing morning and afternoon at the luxurious spa a couple blocks down from his condo, getting the works, facial, manicure, pedicure haircut and highlights and a massage. I love everyone who works with me and I spend the day not only relaxing and being treated, but chatting easily with the people who provide services there.
As I'm walking out of the massage room, getting ready to sign out at the front desk, a blond coming down the hallway almost runs right into me. "Oh, excuse me!" I say, embarrassed.
"No problem," she mutters, stopping abruptly.
Oh my God, it's Gwen. Holy shit! Well, it was a nice day.
"Oh!" she says surprised, "Evie, right?" The look on her face tells me that she's just about as happy to see me this time as she was the last and the temperature in the spa seems to dip several degrees.
"Right. Hi, Gwen. Nice to see you." I try to make my way around her, but she sidesteps in front of me, blocking my escape.
"Funny running into you here. I'm assuming Jake sent you?" she says as if she knows very well that I could never afford to come here on my own dime.
I pull myself up straight. If she's going to make a cat fight out of this, I'm not going to slink away like I have something to be ashamed of. "He did," I say, smiling a fake smile, "He likes to pamper me."
"Right," she says back, smirking. "I'll bet. Listen, Evie, I'm going to be a friend to you here and lay it on you straight. I know you probably think you don't have a lot of reason to trust me considering the last time we met I… exaggerated a few things between Jake and me. But I feel like it might be in your best interest to realize a few things."
I stare at her speechless which I guess she takes as her cue to continue.
"I've known Jake a long time. In all states of… sobriety. He doesn't even know some of the things that he's divulged to me when he was drunk or high off his ass. But, sober or not, it always comes down to the same thing. He'll never love anyone except her. If you think you love him, you should know that he's just trying to turn you into her. I've seen him do it again and again. - he takes a poor little mouse, uses her, gives her nice things, makes her think he has real feelings for her and then throws her away when it becomes obvious that she's not her. You'll never be enough for him, Evie. It's not you he really wants."
At her words, I die a thousand deaths. It's my greatest fear. I'll never be enough for anyone. Not ever. No one ever wants to keep me. Not when it comes down to it. In my life, I've been thrown away again and again by those that I thought loved me. I can't live through it again. I can't.
I push past her, trying desperately to get away from her words, cutting me to the bone.
"He has her picture on his back," she calls after me. "Surely you've seen it?"
I look back at her with wide eyes, mouth open in question and she just laughs. "He hasn't let you see. Typical. Run while you can, honey."
Then she turns and saunters down the hall while my heart shatters into a million pieces. I feel brittle, breakable, like I might crumble right there in the hall of the luxury spa. I walk to the counter, numb, and sign the paperwork. The girl behind the counter tells me that all cost, including tip has been taken care of and that they look forward to seeing me again soon. I smile what feels like a broken smile and walk woodenly out the door.
Jake told me to text him when I was almost done and he'd send a car for me but I don't call him. Instead I walk the five or so blocks to his condo, my head swimming. I arrive at the front door, not even remembering the walk there. I ring the bell and the deskman opens it for me. His smile freezes on his face when he sees me but he doesn't ask me what's wrong. He just buzzes Jake's condo and talks into the phone in quiet tones.
"Mr. Madsen will meet you outside the elevator," he says, guiding me inside and pressing in the code.
It takes a million years for the elevator to get to Jake's floor and when it opens, Jake is standing there, a perplexed look on his face. He takes one look at me and pales. "Evie, baby, what's wrong?" he says as he puts his arms around me and leads me into his condo. I let him, not knowing what to do.
He closes the door behind us and he turns me towards him, taking my face in his hands and looking in my eyes. "Evie, talk to me, love, what's wrong?"
"Take off your shirt, Jake," I say expressionless.
A look of confusion crosses his features. "What? Baby, I don't understand."
"Let me see your back, Jake," I say, gazing into his eyes, begging him to laugh and tell me I'm being ridiculous.
Instead, a look of dawning crosses his expression and he closes his eyes. When he opens them, he looks pained. "Evie, who did you talk to? Baby, let me explain first."
"No!" I scream, suddenly irate, voice shaking. "Show me your back, Jake!"
He closes his eyes again and drops his head and then he looks me in the eyes, as he reaches down and takes the hem of his shirt, lifting it up and over his head. For a second he just stands there, bare chested and staring into my eyes. Then, he slowly turns away from me, giving me his full na**d back and dropping his head.
My eyes lift and I let out a gasp. For stretched across the entirety of the top half of his back is a tattoo and as I study it, a strangled cry comes to my lips and I stumble backwards.
The artwork is done in shades of black, with beautiful scrolls around the edges. It is the inside of a circus arena. In the middle background is the master of ceremonies, his face turned sideways, lost in shadow. There is a little pale haired girl walking a tightrope in the far right corner and several clowns, male and female, in the far right background. But when I look closely, their faces are not silly or funny, but ghastly, evil, sharp teeth dripping blood and eyes bloodshot and crazed.
And in the middle of the arena, the central art, there is a creature, half man and half lion with the man side facing slightly away so that his features are unclear and the lion side fully exposed, vicious and roaring, up on his hind paws, lunging towards a girl holding a fiery ring.
My eyes move slowly, as if in a trance to the girl and my breath hitches in my throat. Her face is serene, calm, a slight smile on her lips and she is looking directly at the man-lion, no fear in her expression at all. She is young but I recognize her immediately. She is me.
And she is a lion tamer.
Oh my God. Oh God, Oh God.
The moment slams into sharp focus, and I let out a quiet, strangled cry.
At the sound, Jake jolts, but he remains standing with his head hung, facing away from me. I walk around him and take his chin in my hand, lifting it so his tortured eyes meet mine. My hand is shaking, my heart is beating wildly but I don't hear any expression in my voice as I look into his eyes and ask, "Why are you looking at me?"
His eyes search mine for several long seconds before he holds contact and whispers, "Because I like your face."
I stumble backwards, crying out, and then turn and run. I fling his front door open and run to the elevator, pushing the button desperately. The elevator opens immediately. It never left his floor. I fling myself inside and push the lobby button. As the doors close, Jake appears in his doorway, a look of desperation on his face. "Evie," he chokes out just as the doors close.
I stumble out the front door of his building and I run.
I run until my lungs are burning and the tears running down my face have stopped falling. And then I walk, but I don't stop moving.