Warning, sexually explicit content
He’d wanted her the minute he first laid eyes on her. The most beautiful thing he’d ever seen, he wanted to wrap her around his throat like a tie, wear her body like a fine cashmere jacket, and feel her lips on his cock every moment of every day. He wanted to cage her close to him, always with him, so he could have her whenever the whim struck.
He wanted to own her.
For Halloween night, she hid her perfect features behind a black feather mask shot through with threads of red. Eyes the rich shade of aged cognac glittered in the eyeholes, mocking him with arrogance, desire and power. Another of her fantasies lay in wait for him tonight. His cock jumped to life.
The black velvet cocktail dress skimmed her thighs, barely covering the beckoning delight of her plump, hot snatch. She’d draped her arms in long, black satin, above-the-elbow gloves that he needed to feel on his skin. Black stockings and black suede fuck-me pumps completed the ensemble. Her sable hair curled down the center of her back.
He loved her hair, loved running his hands through it, fisting his fingers in it when she sucked him off.
“Hold out your hands, palms up.”
She did as she was told. He fisted both hands above hers. “Pick one.”
In his right, she’d find a tennis bracelet, sapphires set in gold. In his left, she’d find the key to a newly furnished condo. Whichever she picked, he’d give her the bracelet as an appetizer and the key as dessert after he came on her face. Or inside her.
She dropped her hands. Something indefinable flickered in her eyes behind the mask. “No.”
All his carefully laid plans went up in smoke. For now, he hid his anger beneath his own golden mask, the one she’d given him, cajoled him to wear. “Why?”
“I don’t like surprises.”
“You love them. What about the time I finger-fucked you while the bartender served your drink? You loved that surprise.”
“Sex is never a surprise.”
Her deep, silky voice melted his anger. He put his hands in his jacket pockets and let the gifts fall from his fingers into the depths. He’d blown it. But there would be another time, another place. He’d give her the presents then, force her take them if he had to.
Drawing his hands out, he cupped the front of his pants, giving her the universal gesture. “How about this for a present?”
She smiled, her teeth even and pearly white, thousands of dollars of dental perfection. He wanted her mouth on him.
“That’s more like it,” she purred, like a cat. Turning, she swept a hand across the desktop. Pencils, pens, holder, letter opener, post-it pads went flying to the carpet. She hopped on the polished mahogany and spread her legs.
She wasn’t wearing panties. She didn’t believe in them. They hampered her job, she’d told him once. Lace edged the tops of her thigh-high stockings. God, to sink himself inside her was a dying man’s fantasy.
“Do me,” she whispered.
“I’ll turn out the lights.”
He glanced out the windows of the high-rise. They were on the twenty-second floor. Lights still blazed in the twin building across Market Street, and there was movement behind the glass.
“You’re wearing a mask, and this isn’t your office,” she coaxed.
Her voice seduced him. She was right. No one would know. The office belonged to his wife.
He started to unzip his pants.
She put her arm out, hand fisted, the black of her satin gloves glistening against her creamy flesh. “Hold out your hand.”
For the second time that night, she cut him off. He didn’t like the little power play. She still had a lot to learn about him. “No.”
She tipped her head to the side, her mask’s feathers brushing her shoulders. Her eyes glittered. Her lips smiled. “You wanna fuck me?”
Yes, she needed a lesson. But he had months ahead to teach her, years. For now ... he held out his hand as she instructed.
She dropped the gold-wrapped condom onto his palm. He made quick work of it, then slipped between her thighs. She fell back against the wood desktop and moaned. Her pussy glistened, beckoning. The lights of the San Francisco high-rises burned across her body as he entered her, then rocked against her, intensity and speed building. Suddenly he liked the sensation of an audience, liked the idea that a beautiful woman might be sitting alone in her office. Watching. Lifting her skirt. Putting her hand between her legs. Fucking herself with her fingers. Coming in a hot, creamy flow.
He shot his wad in an explosion of color. He might have screamed. She certainly did. She was the best he’d ever had, ever would have.
She was worth every penny he’d paid for her.
“Now blow, Max. Really hard.”
Max gave Witt the evil eye. He grinned. A shit-eating grin.
“DeWitt, behave yourself,” Ladybird Long admonished her son.
Witt behave? He wouldn’t be the bane of Max’s existence if he behaved. He also wouldn’t be half as interesting or anywhere near as sexy.
With one deep breath, Max Starr blew out all thirty-three candles on her birthday cake.
“Oh my, oh my. What strong lungs you have. Now you have to cut your cake.” Ladybird held the biggest knife Max had ever seen.
“And don’t forget, I like mine big, Max, very big.” DeWitt Quentin Long, homicide detective, and Max’s sort-of boyfriend, smiled. Scrumptious in his black suit, charcoal shirt, and red tie, he made her tingle. She loved red and black, especially on him. She’d even come to love the blond hair and dimple in his chin.
Ladybird slugged him in the arm. Thank goodness she didn’t use the hand that still held the knife. “DeWitt, I know that was some kind of sexual innuendo. Control yourself. You’re embarrassing Max. And get out of your father’s chair.”
Witt, despite being a foot taller than his mother, vacated his seat at the head of the table. Ladybird had cleared five chairs of the stacks of grocery store flyers, advertisements, and magazines she refused to throw out due to a slightly irrational fear of dumpster divers. She was afraid someone would get her address labels. What was frightening about that, especially since a lot of them were addressed to “Resident,” Max had yet to figure out.
So, seat number four was Horace’s. But what about the fifth?
Max had two things in common with Ladybird. First was the fact they both talked to the spirits of their dead husbands, the only difference being that Ladybird’s Horace had been dead for fifteen years and Cameron only two. Finding out you aren’t the only person living with a ghost had been a real bonding experience. Then, of course, there was a fondness for that big brute of a son. Ladybird adored her son. Max didn’t quite adore, but did at least like him most of the time.
“If you want her to cut, Mom, you better give her the knife.”
Max took the proffered blade and pulled out the burned candles. This was her first birthday party in over two years, even if it was only Witt and his mother. She hadn’t been a social creature since Cameron died, but damn if she wasn’t beginning to like these little get-togethers with the Long family, deceased members included. If she didn’t watch out, she might even start depending on them. Scary thought.
She cut through layers of whipped cream ... and whipped cream ... and more whipped cream, finally hitting chocolate pay dirt somewhere near the cake plate. It was a wonder the candles hadn’t sunk into the middle of all the white goo.
Ladybird clapped her hands as Max lifted out the first piece, a big piece, whipped cream dripping all over. The creation was definitely the most bizarre thing Max had ever seen.
“It’s a bowl cake,” Ladybird said proudly.
“A bowl cake?” Witt echoed, staring at the half-inch layer of chocolate cake amidst all that white sweetness.
“Well, I have to admit it was the first cake I’ve baked from scratch in over twenty years. I don’t know what I did wrong, but the middle fell when I took it out of the oven. I didn’t want to waste it, so I filled it with whipped cream.” She flapped a hand. Thank God she didn’t have the knife anymore. “The girls at the church will love the leftovers.”
Ladybird’s blue hair sparkled in the light of the small dining room’s chandelier. She was a tiny woman. Max had always found it hard to believe she could have produced a giant like Witt. The only thing he’d inherited from his mother was a pair of brilliant blue eyes.
Max finished dishing out three plates of the bowl cake and set the knife down at the edge of the serving dish.
“Oh my dear, you must have more than that.”
Max looked down at the tiny slice she’d given herself.
“You’re such a slip of a thing,” Ladybird added. Cameron, less polite, would have called her anorexic at five-foot six-inches and a bit over one hundred pounds.
Max dutifully added another scoop—slice wasn’t really the right word—to her plate, then handed the desserts around.
“What?” Max looked to make sure she hadn’t dropped gobs of whipped cream on the tablecloth.
“You forgot Horace and Cameron.”
Ah, the fifth chair was for Cameron. It was one thing for Max to talk with her late lamented husband. It was quite another to invite him to a dinner party with Witt present.
Max turned to Witt for guidance. Busy shoveling whipped cream and minuscule bits of chocolate cake into his mouth, he gave her that cool blue stare of his, the one that said you’re on your own, babe.
“Horace loved cake,” Ladybird went on. “I always cut him a piece so he doesn’t feel left out. Don’t you feel the same about Cameron?”
Max smiled and picked up the knife to cut two more pieces.