Asking for it, p.21
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       Asking for It, p.21

         Part #1 of Asking for It series by Lilah Pace
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  It’s easier to pretend he’s forcing me when he fucks me from behind, so I ask for that a lot. Jonah seems to love it. Even when he’s on top of me, though, I can close my eyes and lose myself in yet another fantasy.

  No harm done, I think, until our last night in Scotland.

  “C’mere,” Jonah murmurs in the middle of foreplay, pulling me atop him. “Haven’t had you like this yet. ”

  “I thought you didn’t like woman-on-top,” I say, which is not exactly true but at least believable.

  Jonah grins. “I like you any and every way I can have you. Come on. I want to watch your beautiful body move. ”

  It feels good to straddle him, better to lower myself onto his rigid cock. And it’s amazing to look down and see him sliding in and out of me—to feel his hands massaging my breasts as I move—and to watch Jonah’s face, his openmouthed smile of desire and wonder. I control the pace; I have the power.

  Which is what makes it impossible to sink into the fantasy again.

  I keep going, riding him hard. My breasts bounce with every move, and Jonah’s fingers find my clit. It’s not enough. Why can’t it just once be enough?

  “Come for me,” Jonah whispers.

  I should fake it. What’s one more lie, after the others I’ve told this week? But my unspoken fantasies were only lies of omission. Faking it for him is a kind of dishonesty I won’t stoop to, not with Jonah. “I can’t—like this—”

  “What do you need?” He grips me more tightly around the waist. “Whatever you need, it’s yours. Just say the word. ”

  He means it. I know he does. Maybe I can at least trust him enough to take him at his word. “Push me down. Take me hard. Like in our games. ”

  Jonah stops moving. His gray eyes search mine, and I have no idea what he finds. All I know is that the warmth of his expression fades. Once again he becomes the forbidding, controlling figure of my darkest fantasies.

  He flips me over so fast I gasp in surprise. Jonah pulls out, rolls me over, gets behind me, pulls my hips up to meet him. One of his hands closes over my mouth as he thrusts inside me again.

  Oh, God, yes. Jonah takes me hard—so hard he brings me to the edge of pain—and the grip of his fingers around my face completes the illusion. I imagine him breaking into my house again, gripping me like this, telling me I have no choice but to take it. My cunt tightens around him; I know he can feel it. I know he can tell how close he’s brought me already.

  Jonah’s the only one who knows me like this. The only man who’s ever fucked me the way I wanted to get fucked.

  Each stroke gets better, and better, until I come, groaning against his palm. Even as I swoon from the dizzy pleasure of it, Jonah slams into me harder, determined to live the fantasy through to the end.

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  He’s silent when he comes, this time. I only know he’s finished from the way he tenses and goes still. After a moment, Jonah slides out of me, and I feel warm wetness slicking my thighs. Now that we’re past using condoms, sex with Jonah is a lot messier. Hotter, too. “That was perfect,” I murmur as I collapse onto the bed.

  “Was it?”

  Jonah sounds so . . . cool. I look over at him, but he’s already closed his eyes. After a moment he rolls over onto his side, away from me.

  It’s almost as if he’s angry with me for wanting the fantasy. But that’s absurd. Jonah never judged me for wanting it before, and besides, he loves it too.

  Maybe the man’s just tired. He just fucked you six ways from Sunday. Eventually he was bound to fall asleep immediately after.

  Makes sense. I’m tired too. And I refuse to think about it any further than that.

  But this is the only night in Scotland that he doesn’t hold me as I go to sleep.

  •   •   •

  “And you haven’t spent time with Jonah since returning to the States,” Doreen says the next Monday, as I sit on her sofa, fighting to stay awake despite jet lag.

  “I wouldn’t have expected to,” I say. “It’s going to take me days to get through the Category Five storm that is my inbox, and I’m sure Jonah is at least as slammed as I am, if not more. ”

  Doreen simply nods, her hands folded in her lap. “Has he called you on the phone? Have you texted?”

  “He texted after we got into separate taxis at the airport, to make sure I got home safe. Then earlier this morning I e-mailed to ask him to come to Arturo and Shay’s Halloween party, and he said yes. ”

  “Halloween party?” That makes Doreen smile a bit. “Not that I’ve ever met the man, but Jonah Marks doesn’t seem like the costume-wearing kind. ”

  “I know. ” I have to grin too. “Still, the natural next step is introducing Jonah to my friends. Well—not introducing, they’ve all met him—but having all of us spend time together. Making sure everyone can get along. ”

  “And if they can’t?”

  “They can. ” In all honesty, I’m not sure how Jonah will react to my friends—particularly Geordie—or how they’ll react to him. But Jonah’s default mode is cool courtesy, which means even in the worst-case scenario, everyone will be able to manage. “Hopefully I’ll spend time with Jonah and Rosalind sometime soon. She seems great. ”

  Doreen is too smart to pursue the conversational detour I just offered. As ever, she sticks to the point. “So everything is going well. ”

  “Exactly. ”

  “Then why did you tell me you were feeling uneasy after that last night in Scotland?”

  I sigh. “I shouldn’t even have said anything. ”

  “Vivienne. ” Doreen’s voice is soft. “We’ve made a lot of progress these past couple of years because you’ve learned to be truly open with me. Be a shame to lose that now. ”

  “We aren’t losing it,” I reply—which is maybe not one hundred percent true, if I can’t open up to her about this. “It’s just that so many things about my relationship with Jonah are difficult to put into words. ”

  “He’s proved himself trustworthy. You enjoy spending time with him even in a nonsexual way. Jonah Marks has turned out to be an interesting, intelligent person. ”

  I nod.

  “But you feel that he reacted badly on that final night, when you expressed your wishes during sex. ”

  “I think so. I’m not sure. ” I am, though. Something about the silence between us has been—too empty. “He wouldn’t freak out about that, though. Not when we’ve acted out that fantasy in so many other ways. ”

  “Does that feel like the whole truth to you?”

  With a sigh, I admit, “No. ”

  “What else might be bothering him?” Doreen cocks her head. “I think you have an idea. ”

  She’s right; I do. Really I’ve sensed this all along. “I guess it could be that—when I admitted what I wanted—he realized that I was fantasizing about it every other time we had sex in Scotland. Pretending he was forcing me, even when he wanted us to make love in a more romantic way. ”

  She says, “Why do you think that would disturb him, when it’s a fantasy he shares?”

  Finally I say what I know Doreen’s been getting at the whole time. “Jonah wouldn’t be angry about the fantasy. He’d be angry about the lie, because that’s how he’d see it. As a lie. ”

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  “How do you see it?”

  My rationalizations about “lies of omission” seem flimsy now, and I’m embarrassed to even speak them out loud. “. . . I guess it was a lie. ”

  How do I even start to tell Jonah the truth? How can I find the right parts to tell?

  All I know is that I’m never telling him the whole story. No matter what else might come between Jonah and me, I can’t confess the truth about my rape. I hate even saying the name Anthony.

  And then I would have to discover how Jonah reacts when the rape isn’t only a fantasy. When he has to confront the fact that this dark, twisted scenario that gets him off is some
thing that—in the real world—scars people for life.

  Once he understood that, either Jonah would come to hate his fantasy, or—or he wouldn’t care.

  Either way would mean Jonah and I could never play our games again.

  And I can’t give them up.


  Why did it have to be Halloween?

  As I sit in front of my mirror, braiding my hair, I tell myself that I’d have been nervous about introducing Jonah to my friends at any time. This is the next big get-together. Ergo this is when I take him to hang out with the whole gang.

  But Halloween seems so . . . silly. Like the kind of thing Jonah wouldn’t be into at all.

  Then again, I am into Halloween. The crazier the theme party, the more I like it: That’s the New Orleans in me. Might as well find out if Jonah can deal.

  Just as I finish buckling my Mary Janes, I hear Jonah’s sedan pull up out front. I open the door to greet him, and when I see him step out of his car, I have to grin. “You wore a costume!”

  “That’s the whole idea of a costume party, right?” Jonah pauses, glancing down at the scrubs he’s got on. The pale blue, loose-fitting pants and top don’t disguise the phenomenal physique underneath; he looks just like a doctor. A hot doctor. The surgical cap over his dark hair is the finishing touch.

  “Yeah, we’re supposed to dress up. I just didn’t think you’d actually do it. ”

  “Rosalind borrowed these for me from the hospital supply cabinet. ” He says this as if it explains everything. Probably it does. I can hear her telling him you can’t go to a costume party in your everyday clothes without coming across as a total killjoy. “Nothing as elaborate as what you’ve got on. ”

  “Oh, this old thing. ” My getup was sold as “Oktoberfest Fräulein”—short poofy skirt, peasant blouse pulled down off the shoulders, high socks, and faux-Teutonic embroidery around the edges. The pigtails aren’t long enough, or blonde, but I left most of my wigs at my parents’ house, so this will have to do.

  Jonah laughs. “You wear this often?”

  “At least a couple times a year since I bought it my first semester in college. ”

  “You’re not kidding, are you?”

  “If I didn’t already know you’d never lived in New Orleans, this would prove it,” I say as we walk to his car. “Between Halloween, Mardi Gras, and various theme parties, you need a few costumes in case of emergency. A lot of people there have what we call ‘costume closets,’ so you can put together an outfit or help a friend. ”

  “Do you have a costume closet?”

  I shrug. “Just a pith helmet, a couple cloaks, a couple wigs, some go-go boots, and this. ”

  “New Orleans,” he says, as if it’s another planet. He’s not that far wrong, actually. His eyes drift toward the cleavage revealed by the tugged-down peasant top. “You look sexy as hell, by the way. ”

  “Thanks. So do you. ” It’s all I can do to keep from fondling his ass right here in the driveway. I take pity on my neighbors and restrain myself.

  It’s a relief to hear him laugh, and for conversation to flow freely between us. In the days since we got back, Jonah’s coolness has lingered. He only e-mailed twice: once to make sure I had settled in well, and then again to accept my invitation to Arturo and Shay’s party.

  He had a lot to do, I remind myself. Remember how you had to bust ass all week to get back up to speed?

  True. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that something has changed between us, and maybe not for the better.

  Arturo opens the door in his Star Trek redshirt getup. I get a big hug, and Jonah gets a handshake. Not the warm, half-hug, hetero-guy handshake good friends often share—more businesslike—but surely Arturo’s grin makes up for it. “Good to see you again, Jonah. What’s your poison?”

  “I’m driving tonight,” he replies.

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  “Which means I get to have a glass of wine,” I interject.

  Arturo laughs. “Not a beer? It would match your costume better. ”

  “Not unless you’ve got the steins to put it in. ” With that, I lead Jonah into the party.

  Already a large crowd has gathered. Arturo and Shay can’t entertain quite as extravagantly as Carmen does, but their friends trust them to provide a good time. (Plus, to judge by the umpteen six-packs and bottles lying around, it looks like at least half the people here contributed to the refreshments. ) Décor is at a minimum—mostly a couple of white drapes in the windows stained with “bloody” handprints and slash marks. But a few candles burn here and there, and the stereo is thumping with a Latin beat. There’s that creep Mack wearing a neon-green “pimp suit,” complete with zebra-striped lapels. The costume is as repulsive as the guy himself. Carmen, on the other hand, looks radiant—a long skirt, peasant blouse, and embroidered shawl in brilliant colors, her thick black hair braided atop her head and pinned with paper flowers, and for the finishing touch, a penciled-in unibrow to make her a perfect Frida Kahlo. I spy Kip in the corner, one of two guys dressed up as punk rockers. To my delight, the other one turns out to be Ryan the bartender from a few weeks ago. Kip must not have wasted any time after getting Ryan’s number.

  As Arturo leads us toward the bar area, I catch sight of the person I’ve been most nervous about seeing. At least his getup gives me a ready opening line. “That does not count as a costume. ”

  “I beg to differ,” Geordie says. He’s in full Scots regalia: kilt, high socks with ribbon, velvet evening jacket, and even a sporran hanging in front. Like any true Scotsman, he somehow manages to look manlier while wearing a skirt. “Yes, back in Inverness, this would be evening wear appropriate for any wedding or formal function. Here in the U. S. ? It’s a costume. ”

  “If you say so. ” Deep breath. “Geordie, I think you might have met Jonah Marks, from the earth sciences department? Jonah, this is Geordie Hilton. He’s getting his LLM here in Austin. ”

  “Pleasure,” Geordie says, with enough gusto that it passes for sincerity.

  Jonah nods. “Vivienne speaks highly of you. ”

  Geordie smiles in surprise. “Does she, now? Then she’s being too kind. ”

  With his impeccable sense of timing, Arturo appears with a glass of wine in one hand and a can in the other. “This is for you, and can you take the ginger ale to Shay?”

  “We’d love to,” I say, seizing the graceful exit Arturo has provided. “We’ll catch you later, okay, Geordie?”

  Geordie smiles, somewhat stiffly, then turns to start pouring himself more wine.

  In the town house’s living room, Shay holds court from the sofa. She’s lying there comfortably, while different guests come by to say hi or chat for a while. Her face lights up when she sees Jonah and me. Or maybe it’s the ginger ale. “Tell me honestly,” she says as I hand her the can. “Isn’t this the most boring costume ever?”

  “Of course not,” I tell her. “The pregnant nun is a classic. ”

  She sighs as she pushes the black wimple back from her face. “I was going to go in drag as Santa, or maybe Homer Simpson if I could find the mask. But in the end Arturo just had to grab something from the costume shop. And hullo there, Jonah. ”

  “Hi,” he says, and his smile is easier than it’s been the rest of the night—even with me. “We’ve missed you in the department. ”

  “Have you?” Shay’s cheeks pink with pleasure. “Sometimes I think they don’t know what to make of me. ”

  “They talk about hiring you full time, when you’re ready for that,” Jonah says. “Don’t tell them I told you. ”

  “Really?” Shay beams even more when Jonah nods, and finally I relax a bit. At least one of my friends can get along with Jonah just fine.

  I decide to help things along. “Turns out Jonah is a good friend of Dr. Campbell’s. ”

  Her eyes widen. “My doctor?”

  “Don’t worry. Rosalind would never betray a pati
ent’s confidential information. ” Jonah grins, fierce as ever, but at the moment not intimidating at all. “Now, the same rules don’t apply to me. So if you want to hear any embarrassing stories about her—”

  “Spill it!” Shay starts to laugh. “She makes me tell her how I poop. So I need to even the playing field. ”

  Jonah makes a face, but a good-natured one. Then they’re deep in an anecdote about the time Rosalind talked Jonah into going on a hike, then sprained her ankle at a point where he had to carry her piggyback about six miles back to the car.

  Page 84

  Finally I can really relax. I mix and mingle, never losing sight of Jonah for long. Mostly he stays by Shay’s side; after a while, Arturo joins them, and as they talk, Arturo’s smile broadens. He’s winning them over.

  Carmen whispers, “He’s hotter than I remembered. ”

  “Oh yeah,” I say.

  “The sex is great, isn’t it? I can tell just looking at him. ”

  “You have no idea. ”

  Geordie keeps his distance, never straying far from the bar as he flirts with every unaccompanied girl who shows up. I wish he didn’t feel so awkward, but hey. Maybe he’ll find someone, and we can finally complete the last stage of “moving on. ”

  The only dark spot on the evening comes when I see Carmen and Arturo exchange a few sharp words. He frowns, and she hugs herself the way she does when she’s feeling hurt. But I don’t interfere. Sibling relationships can be complicated.

  I think of Chloe and inwardly groan. Can they ever.

  When I cycle back to Jonah, he’s completely at ease—the way he was in Scotland on our best nights. I sit next to him, near Shay’s feet, and drop a kiss on his shoulder. “You seem to be enjoying yourself. ”

  “More or less,” Jonah replies, like he can’t quite believe it. “You have good friends. I’ve always thought that was the best measure of a person. ”

  “Never looked at it that way before—but you’re right. ” How better to judge someone than by the people they choose to have around them, the ones who love them best? “So when do I get to spend time with Rosalind?”

  “Soon. ” Jonah turns to kiss my cheek. His eyes are gentle as he looks at me, and my heart turns over in my chest as he touches my hand. Everything’s all right between us again. Maybe it always was. At any rate, I can stop freaking out.

  I whisper, “Let’s not stay too late. I wouldn’t want to tire Shay out. ” A wicked smile spreads across my face. “I want to tire you out. ”

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