Chapter Ten

He rolled onto his back and ran his hand from the top of his forehead through his hair. He let out a deep sigh in an attempt to empty the emotional weariness from his mind. ‘It’s like I go through this mini heartbreak every weekend and then get to fall for you all over again on Monday,’ said Malcolm, not as a complaint, but in reluctant acceptance.

She retrieved her clothes from the floor and began getting dressed. ‘I know,’ she replied sounding sincere, ‘it’s complicated. I feel the same way.’ She finished dressing and looked at him lying on the bed. ‘Are you going to walk me to my car?’

He nodded and hauled himself out of the bed and started dressing. ‘What happens if one day I don’t recover from a heartbreak,’ he asked rhetorically. 

She answered him anyway, ‘Well I make you fall for me again and again.’ She walked up to him and threw her arms around his neck. He stared deep into her eyes and knew she wasn’t lying. He lifted her chin and kissed her gently at first and then intensely knowing this kiss  would have to sustain them for the next few days.

Preparing pitch documents to present to pharmaceutical companies would normally take a few months, but the accelerated demand for the covid vaccine compressed this time frame to just two. If they were successful then this would put Arcania on the map, and overnight turn the company fortunes, and that of Malcolm’s, around. They would go from a funded research entity to a sizeable profitable company, As Head of Group sales it was down to Malcolm and his team to land this big one. And, if timescales weren’t already tight enough, then there was the extra complexity of covid working bubbles. His sales team were based in various locations across Europe and in the US, and travel restrictions and isolating meant that they had to meet and collaborate mainly using Zoom video conferencing. While not impossible, there was a drag factor as meetings had to be formalised and arranged, and impromptu sharing of ideas and information seldomly occurred.

Fortunately, the UK based sales team which was leading the pitch included Malcolm and two other business development executives. One was Josh, a quietly spoken thirty-four-year-old, who was expecting his first child. The other was Ally, a head strong thirty-eight-year-old woman whose pragmatism was matched by her beauty.

The looming deadline meant that the team had to work numerous evenings particularly as the time difference between the UK and California meant there was a small overlap of reasonable working hours. Josh would stay on for a few evenings, but his heavily pregnant wife needed his assistance.

Thankfully Ally was the consummate professional, she understood the importance of the pitch to the company and never complained when she was required to work into the evenings. Consequently, she and Malcolm would spend a lot of time in each other’s presence.

‘I’m really sorry,’ Malcolm apologised for the third time that afternoon, ‘your boyfriend must be pissed with us making you work all these evenings.’

‘It’s ok, he understands plus he starts his job early in the morning and so goes to bed early,’ she said matter of factly, ‘we don’t normally spend that much time together until the weekend.’

‘Still, it must have an impact. I tell you what, this weekend why don’t you get that new Thai takeaway and charge it to the company?’ Malcolm offered.

‘Thanks for the offer but he doesn’t really like spicy food,’ she politely declined.

‘Oh…,’ Malcolm vocalised, ‘have something you both like then and charge it to the firm. Do you like spicy food?’

She nodded, ‘I don’t mind it, I can take a little heat.’

Malcolm smiled his asymmetrical smile and said, ‘Well I make an awesome Asian Italian fusion spaghetti prawn dish.’

‘That sounds nice, when are you going to make it for me then?’ she enquired her green-blue eyes piercing his.

Malcolm paused for a moment, weighing up his response. ‘Well, I’m staying down tomorrow night,’ he said making it sound like an off-the-cuff remark. Malcolm’s journey home was a long commute by train, which due to Covid meant that on regular occasions there would be disruption to his train line. So much so that in the past he had missed important meetings.

He agreed with his wife that he would stay at a rentable apartment when he had late evening meetings or early morning starts. To keep costs manageable, it was a small studio room with the most basic of kitchens and a small dining table for two. There was a double bed and couch in the room and a small but practical shower and toilet washroom,

‘We can also ask Josh to come for dinner too at my town apartment,’ Malcolm hastily added.

‘If you want,’ Ally added, ‘but I think he has a NCT meeting with his wife tomorrow night.’

‘Ok well, we can wait till Josh is free I guess?’ Malcolm offered.

‘Well to be honest he’s not that keen on coming into the office anymore, he’s worried that if he catches Covid he’ll pass it on to his wife. So, if you ask him to come, he may just feel pressured into saying yes,’ she informed Malcolm.

‘I didn’t realise he felt that way, I’ll speak to him tomorrow about working from home more. Well, if you’re still up for dinner than I’ll meet you at my apartment after my last meeting.’

Ally struggled to contain her smile, ‘Would you like me to bring anything?’

‘No, I think I have it covered, I’ll send you the address and apartment number later. There’s a car park under the building you can use,’ he said. She nodded and Malcolm watched her return to her desk, her hips swinging like a pendulum. When he was sure she wasn’t watching he blew out his cheeks and wiped the bead of sweat off his forehead.

‘I’m in the car park,’ the WhatsApp message notification flashed up on his phone. He checked his appearance in the full-length mirror before leaving the apartment for the elevator down to the car park.

Ally was wearing her white puffer jacket over her black jumper and tulle skirt. She wore black heels matching her rucksack which was laden with her laptop and other paraphernalia. The car park was dimly lit, with a fluorescent tube blinking in the distance, there was the sound of air rushing down ventilation shafts and out to the street above.

‘Are you sure you brought me here for dinner or to murder me?’ she quipped as he approached. He loved her dry sense of humour, over the months that they had been working closely together, it was something he looked forward to when at work.

‘Well now you mention it,’ he joked back with a smile that spread across his face. He leaned in to greet her with a kiss on the cheeks and was enveloped by her recently sprayed perfume. Subtle notes of persimmon and pomegranate, blended with lotus blossom and orchid played rapaciously on his olfactory receptors.

‘Did she linger there when we greeted?’ he thought to himself. ‘This way m’lady,’ he said as he placed his hand on her lower back and led her towards the elevator lobby.

The lift carriage had harsh task lighting but even in this poorly illuminated space she was beautiful. Her hair had blond streaks lightened by the sun, and her large blue-green eyes sat on fine cheekbones and lightly tanned skin. Malcolm felt a stirring in his body, which he tried to ignore as he pressed the button for the 6th floor. He grinned awkwardly at her. He wondered if she noticed what he felt. The elevator bell pinged as they reached their floor and Malcolm led them down the narrow internal hall.

He turned to face her as he continued walking down the corridor. ‘Ok don’t expect too much from this apartment, it’s a studio and it’s not that expensive to rent.’

‘Don’t worry, I’m here for the food not to judge the interior decorations,’ she laughed at him.

‘I didn’t realise I was on Masterchef,’ he responded as they arrived at the door to his apartment. He tapped his key card against the lock and held out his hand to guide her in. Her hand was cool to the touch. He noticed her long elegant fingers with finely manicured fingernails painted in fuscia pink.

She walked through the threshold and into the apartment still holding his hand. It was brighter than she imagined, opposite the door there was a glazed wall that overlooked the courtyard. To her right was a queen size bed still fully made up with Egyptian cotton sheets and numerous pillows. Bed lamps were affixed to the wall on either side of the wooden headboard. Beyond the bed was a grey fabric couch with a deep seat and square back cushions. On the left of the room was the bathroom, with a shower cubicle surrounded on three sides with dark tiles. A modern white toilet, and a basin sunk into a vanity unit above which was a large mirror completed the bathroom.

Past the bathroom door was the kitchen which comprised a line of base units, a hidden fridge, an oven and hob, the kitchen sink, and a dishwasher. Wall cabinets and the extractor fan were installed above the base units.

A small Formica table and two chairs stood by the side of the glazed window and at the end of the kitchen. A water jug filled with yellow roses decorated the table alongside a jar illuminati by small led lights.

Ally took a seat on the couch, while Malcolm went to the kitchen and fetched a bottle of Prosecco that had been chilling in the fridge.

‘Can I offer you a glass or two,’ he asked displaying the label towards her.

‘Mr Ford are you trying to get me drunk?’ she teased.

‘Maybe,’ was his comeback. They grinned at each other; it was her favourite riposte to a multitude of questions.

‘In that case, I would love a glass,’ she laughed. ‘Did they put the flowers there,’ she said pointing at the makeshift vase and yellow roses.

‘No,’ Malcolm responded, ‘I did. I thought the apartment needed a little colour and you know what they say, you eat with your eyes first.’

The cork popped into his hand and the carbonated vapours whispered out of the bottle. It was opened expertly with no spillage. He walked over to where she was sitting, carrying two glass flutes and the bottle of Prosecco. She was sitting comfortably with her elbow on the back of the couch and her legs tucked under her. She had already removed her heels and placed them next to her bag.

He presented her with an empty flute, which she held up expectantly as he poured from the bottle. As the bubbles threatened to spill over, she dunked her little finger into the glass which stemmed the rising fizz. After filling his glass, he placed the bottle on the dining table behind him.

‘Cheers,’ he announced holding his glass to hers. They clinked glasses and looked each other in the eyes for a length that would be awkward for strangers, but they had always felt at ease around each other.

He took a seat next to her on the couch. ‘So, what do you think?’ he referred to the apartment.

‘It’s nicer than I thought, bigger too,’ she answered. He continued to explain how he came across the apartment as they sipped on their drinks.

‘You know I’ve never cooked in this place before. I wasn’t even sure what cooking utensils they had, so I had to do a bit of food prep at home,’ he boasted.

‘Well, you are full of surprises. Are there any more surprises this evening?’ she said. Malcolm felt the energy shift between them, that familiar feeling but at the same time the elusive question that hung in the air between them.

He looked at her left eye, then at her lips, then at her right eye. She mirrored his subtle gestures and remained silent. He was fighting an internal battle with himself, and almost audibly said ‘just do it.’

He leaned in tilting his head as he approached her lips, the smell of her perfume now intoxicating as his senses peaked. He could feel the pulse in his neck pounding as he drew near. She didn’t flinch away which he took as a good sign. His lips landed on hers, velvet moist cushions greeted his, they melted into each other for a moment but no further. Until she pulled her head away from his, and then it was over.

Did he miscalculate? Did he misread the signs? After all, it’s been a long time since he was in this position. This could be awkward. ‘Let me top you up there,’ was the best he could muster. He got up from the couch and took her glass which was still in her hands. He walked away deliberately not looking back, his mind was racing. What now? He heard her stand and walk towards him. He placed the glasses on the table and turned to face the consequences.

She stood a mere half a foot away from him, her eyes shining brightly staring at his lips. He hadn’t misread the moment, she just needed time to process what had just happened. He placed his right hand on the side of her face and his other round her waist and drew her into him. Their lips crushed together, her resistance dissolved, and their mouths widen allowing their tongues to explore each other. Their tongues entwined, at first gently, the tips dancing cautiously around, then more urgently massaging and enveloping each other’s tongue. His musky smell filled her nostrils while her hands kneaded his broad back.

He took a deep breath, placed his other hand on the back of her head, and boldly pulled her even closer, their mouths gaped, and he thrust his tongue deeper into her welcoming cavity. He kissed her with an overwhelming urge to consume her heart and soul, and she in turn wanted to surrender fully to him.

After what seemed like minutes, they withdrew back from their deep kiss and stared wordlessly at each other. She then scanned his face for clues, trying to decipher his immediate thoughts but his face remained stoic not revealing the emotional ride he was going through.

He felt the fire in his loins swell up to his solar plexus and radiate through his heart. Unable to contain his desire anymore he bore his weight against her, pushing her back firmly against the wall. She gasped taken off guard by his forcefulness and the coldness of the wall that she felt through her jumper.  The shock lasted only a fraction as his body heat and searing lips enclosed hers once again. They continued their embrace until she pushed herself off the wall and with their lips and tongue bound to to each other they seemingly waltzed to the edge of the queen-sized bed.

Without a word being said it was easy to read his thoughts and she complied without an utterance, lifting her arms so he could lift her jumper over her head. She amply filled her turquoise bra with her pendulous breasts, her skin lightly tanned with small freckles from being kissed by the sun. He laid her down on the bed and leaned over her so he could gently run his hand down from the base of her throat, down between her breasts, and to her navel. She shivered at his touch as his fingers traced their path down her body. He kissed her gently, allowing his hands to explore her body and as she arched her back, overwhelmed by his touch, he slipped his hand under seeking her bra clasp. In a single swift motion with his fingers, the clasp relented its hold and the bands of the bra relaxed. He kissed her shoulders as he teased the bra straps down and passed them over her hands. The bra now free from any impediments lay on her breasts, like icing atop a cake, at his whim. He paused, taking in this moment, he had often wondered about the shape and nature of her breasts as she carried herself around the office, occasionally grazing him when they passed close to one another. His manhood twitched in his pants, impatient for progress. He placed both hands on either side of the bra cups and lifted with care, like a maitre d lifting silver dome plate covers. Et voila, c’est magnifique. She looked at him anxiously now at her new level of vulnerability, but she didn’t need to worry, his face beamed with delight.

He kissed her reassuringly, then tilted her head exposing her neck. Feather light kisses tip toed down from her nape to her shoulder, sending shivers to the top of her head. He then ran the tip of his tongue back up her neck to her earlobe gently sucking on them. She giggled involuntarily, before he repeated the slow kisses down her neck. He didn’t stop at her shoulder but continued south past her collar bone to start of the valley between her breasts. He cupped her right breast lifting it to his eager mouth. She felt his warm breath on her nipple before feeling his tongue circle it. The action made her ache between her legs, and when his mouth fully engulfed her nipple, sucking and playful teasing on it, she felt herself moistening further.

He was attentive to both breast in equal measure, but he greedily wanted more. He kissed her lips and used his hands to bring her into a sitting position. She lifted the bottom of his long sleeve t-shirt and slipped her cool hands underneath and onto his body, returning the favour by skilfully playing with his nipples. He pulled the t-shirt over his head revealing his toned torso and well defined chest. It was her turn to admire what was in front of her, but it was short lived as he urged her to stand. He inserted a finger between the top of her skirt and hip, circling the perimeter of the waistband until he located the zip. He peeled the skirt down over her hips, kissing the outside of her milky coloured thighs. She placed her hands on his shoulders for balance as she stepped out of her skirt. She stood before him, a single turquoise thong the last vestige of clothing. ‘Beautiful,’ he whispered to her, admiring her almost nakedness.

‘No I’m not,’ she admonished him.

He gave a haughty laugh, it was her self-deprecating reaction to any form of compliment about her looks. 

His smile vanished and replaced by a stern look.  ‘Don’t do that,’ he commanded, ‘don’t you believe that for moment.’ 

He picked her up and laid her on the bed. His fingers tucked some stray hair behind her ear and then he kissed her deeply. She melted into him, pulling him half on to her. His thigh moved between her legs, the heat from her crotch permeated through his trousers.

She felt his thigh apply more pressure as he began to slowly rock back and forth, all the while their mouths remained interlocked. The slow rhythm ignited  small pleasurable muscle contractions in her groin. As the pleasure intensified their kissing stalled and her breathing deepened, losing herself in the developing sensation. She began moving her hips in time with his motion, her eyes firmly shut, her face a picture of concentration. His lips moved off hers and onto her neck making her groan aloud, as she quickened her gyrations. As sensual as this was, this only flamed her desires, eyes now open she brought his face to hers. She held eye contact with him, hoping he would understand her needs. He smiled his asymmetrical smile and intuitively commenced down her throat caressing her with his lips, through the valley between her breasts and skimmed over her stomach to her navel. She watched him descend down her body and nodded consensually when he paused and looked up at her.

She closed her eyes in anticipation as he reached the top of thong. He nibbled on her right hip bone and then trailed his tongue down one side of the thong and onto the inside of her thigh. She could feel the blood rushing round her body, her heartbeat and breath quickened.

He massaged her inner thigh with his hands and lips until he sensed her leg open a little further revealing the small depression between the top of her inner thigh and genitalia. He licked her deeply there, millimetres away from her outer labia. Hot breath passed over her vagina, sending electricity coursing through her nerves, before the licking began on her left inner thigh. He retraced his tongues journey on this side up to her left hip. 

She wanted more, no longer satisfied with his teasing, she raised her hips off the bed towards his head. He didn’t miss the overture and was secretly relieved that his efforts were being appreciated. He accepted the invite and positioned his head between her legs. The sparse fabric of her turquoise g-string concealed and cushioned her vaginal lips. He lowered his mouth to the top of her mound and pressed his tongue onto the fabric in a sweeping motion. She moaned as his tongue explored running from the top to the bottom where the fabric and the string met. He sucked on her outer labia and danced around her clitoral hood. He listened intently for changes to her breathing and moans. When she gasped as his tongue wandered, he paused and was attentive to that region, while his fingers slipped under the fabric and massaged her labia. Her body began contorting and he wanted to taste her. He pulled her thong to the side and the additional heat and moisture from his direct contact brought her close to the edge. His finger circled her opening, already moist and accepting. She gyrated her pelvis trying to draw him closer, attempting to get him to plunge his finger deeper into her. He resisted, knowing that making her wait will only serve to increase the intensity of her pleasure. 

He was impeded, one hand held aside the thong, a hand that could be used to provide more stimulation. He grabbed either side of the thong from under her hips and drew them down towards her knees. Ally obliged and lifted her buttocks to facilitate the disrobement. He placed her legs on his shoulders and kissed her toes as he slipped one leg through the thong and then the other.

She lay before him naked, exposed and vulnerable. Glad she had recently groomed and was neatly trimmed and scaped. He couldn’t take his eyes off her, the vision of her lying naked was dreamlike. He laid on his stomach and parted her legs, and from her waist he pulled her towards his waiting mouth. 

She groaned aloud as his tongue was reacquainted with her clitoris. He varied the pressure and pace, while two free hands reached out, circled and pinched her nipples. Her opening dilated and he attended to it with his tongue, this unexpected manoeuvre made her eyes rolls upward. Romantic connotations gave way to primal lust, her concerns about her appearance, their situation, dissipated as the summit of pleasure was tantalisingly close. Instinctively, he placed his fingers at her entrance and his tongue rhythmically stroked her clitoris. Between her short and deepening breaths she let out small squeals. Malcolm grew stiff at hearing her vocalise her pleasure. He applied more pressure and his finger entered her gently. She responded at first by moving her hips to his rhythm, but as the sensation escalated she started to grind on him. Demanding, powerful thighs dictated the cadence, his finger probed deeper massaging her from inside.

‘This woman is incredible,’ he thought to himself, ‘she is so alive to my touch. The professional mask she wore in the office, cast aside to reveal this donna appassionata. A woman whose passion lay dormant beneath the veneer of duty and responsibility. But puncture the veneer and what bubbled underneath could not be contained and needed to be freed.’ He had never wanted her as much as he did at this moment, but he would have to wait, she needed her release.

The pace of movement continued to accelerate, the moaning louder and more frequent. He looked up her. Her head rested on a pillow and she gazed back down at him. Her lips were parted and eyes, while open, were unfocused and a beautiful expression of submission to her bodily desires played across her face.

The sexual tension that had been building within her all night and his ability to play her like a finely tuned instrument was rushing towards its crescendo. The warmth that started in the centre of her body, now amplified with each lick and each beckoning of his finger.

He knew she was close, the sounds, the breathlessness, the concentration on her face. God this woman is beautiful.

The tremors at the start of her orgasm, sent waves of sexual energy coursing through her body. Lighting every cell as it swept by, until the waves stacked one on top of another. Her body spasmed and writhed uncontrollably, her head and face buried into the pillow, her moans of ecstasy reverberated throughout the room. The release was like a sparkle coming into existence, burning so brightly and intensely it illuminated the darkest parts of her being, before dimming and all that is left is the embers smouldering on the stick. 

He continued to please her, eliciting smaller aftershocks of pleasure until she clasped his head around the ears and drew him up to her mouth and kissed him. 

Her nerves and muscles relaxed all at once, like a storm that has passed and all the energy from it used up, and after a quiet peacefulness reigns.

‘What are you doing to me?’ she finally spoke her eyes still shut.

‘I’m setting you free,’ he replied, ‘free to be who you are supposed to be.’ At the time she didn’t understand his inference, but later as their relationship developed it became clear.

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