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I Saw You

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I saw you.

You entered the shop and looked around and immediately started angling yourself to get the best photo. I couldn’t see at first if you were taking a selfie or a shot of the books.

God I hoped you weren’t taking a selfie. Selfies are obnoxious. They’re a way to display to the world the false reality that people live in.

#mybookstorelife

I moved slightly towards the A-E section and now I could make out that you were taking a normal photo and my estimations of you went higher. Amateur photographer? I tracked how your eyes were looking for the best light, your fingers skipping over the screen to set the focus.

God your fingers are so fucking dainty.

I briefly think what it may be like to lace my hand through yours. I briefly think what it may be like to have your hand run down my chest and hold it there, so small. There’s a protective feeling that flits across my emotions.

I take some of the volumes that sit on the desk ready for sorting and move to F-K. Well I can’t be fucking obvious about it. Some people get funny about personal space. I’m going to let you come to me.

You’re walking backwards, taking in everything and I can see the wonderment and something like a sense of peace in your expression. It’s magical to watch. Alice down the rabbit hole and here is your Wonderland.

You’re in the F-K now and I can see your phone screen out of the corner of my eye. I’m expecting the photo to end up on Instagram with some inane hashtag like #vintage or #mood. What even is a fucking mood anyway and why do you all feel the need to express it to the world? Nobody just feels any more. We have to announce it.

But wait…you’re not uploading it to any social media. You’ve just set it as your lock and home screen. There’s a long exhale as every muscle in your body relaxes and maybe, just maybe you feel comfortable here. Like it’s home.

Then you look up to the books, putting your phone away in your back pocket and now you’re just begging me to follow that motion to your ass. Your jeans hug well and I can see the faint outline of your underwear. Sensible cut, no dimpling to suggest lace. You enjoy your comfort. That speaks to me. You’re not trying too hard.

Your hand reaches up, scanning along the row of books.

Where will you stop?

There’s a brief moment where you hover over Thomas Harris, Red Dragon. You like your thrillers, huh? Maybe you fantasise about a sense of danger, maybe that’s what gets you off. I make a mental note because you’re probably the type of girl who likes the brooding and mysterious man. Possibly a silent-ish protector.

Then you pluck a Robin Hobb book out. A fantasist. You like your fantastical worlds and mythical creatures.

Who hurt you so much that you have to escape into high Fantasy books? I would make them pay. You deserve to be happy. Then again, you could just be whimsical. After all, what girl in this day and age just takes a photo for her own personal viewing?

“Excuse me?” you turn to me, big eyes. Such big innocent eyes. “Do you have The Mad Ship? Maybe I’m going mad myself but I can’t see it.”

Your voice is not what I expected. I expected something lilted, something light, something like a fairy or an elf. It’s so husky, so seductive and it doesn’t suit your face but there’s the smallest part of me that thinks there’s this side to you where your expression changes and you’d become the worst kind of temptress. That maybe you’re absolutely wild and that fucking voice would drive a man to the brink.

“Huh, it should be there,” I frown, pretending to look and knowing full well some ingrate has taken it and shoved it with wild abandon into the Jim Butcher section. “Let me just….”

My hand roves over the entire shelf and then I turn before I spot it and take it out with an ‘a-ha’. The pretence works perfectly and I can see the relief on your face when I hand it to you.

Fuck, those tiny fingers…

“Thank you so much! I didn’t want to have to order it from Amazon.”

“You don’t like multimillion dollar conglomerate despot companies?” I joke and you giggle to yourself.

“Does anyone? I don’t know, I always try to support local bookstores. There’s just something homely about physically visiting one and I don’t want to see any stores go bankrupt because people stop coming.”

“Ah so a philanthropist,” I put one hand in my pocket like a cool guy would and lean against the shelf. All of this creates a debonair attitude and you’re appreciating it, I can tell. “Are you new in the area? I’ve not seen you in here before.”

“Just moved,” you nod and I can see your breasts bounce slightly.

You wanted me to notice them, didn’t you? You could have just said yes but you moved your whole body.

“Then welcome to Mooney’s,” I bow ostentatiously and you laugh even more.

Hmm, maybe brooding is not your type. You like sarcastic.

“Why thank you,” you curtsy back. “And thank you kindly for finding this. Do you have any other recommendations?”

“I would be a terrible bookstore clerk if I didn’t,” I smirk.

God, smirking? Is this what I’m reduced to? I see your big smile though and it’s worth it. This role I have to play is only temporary.

“Well I’m going to assume you’ve burned through the mainstream fantasy but if I’m being a pompous ass just tell me….the Age of Misrule series is a good one to sink your teeth into.”

“Load me up,” you hold out your arms. “I’ve got a free weekend and I intend to not move from my couch as much as possible.”

A free weekend. Should I ask? No, far too soon. I don’t know if you have a boyfriend, although recently moving indicates no but one shouldn’t assume.

I take a few books out, a speckling of high fantasy mixed with fantasy sci-fi. Some are my favourites and I hope you return to tell me what you think of them.

“This is great,” your smile gets even bigger.

Fuck, why are you so cute? If you do have a boyfriend he definitely doesn’t appreciate how beautiful you are when you’re enthusiastic.

“Here, let me. I’ll take them to the counter,” I take all the books like a gentleman. “The ones with dragons may bite you on the way otherwise.”

“Wouldn’t want that at all,” you catch onto the joke, moving with me to the till.

I ring them up, putting them elegantly into the bag and you’re watching. You’re watching my hands working. I wonder why.

You don’t notice that I’m studying your face and I catch the way your teeth lightly rake your lip. Oh you’re just telegraphing now. You’re shouting it from the loudest mountaintop that you’re interested.

Maybe you’re imagining what my hands could do to you. I certainly am.

“That’ll be $34.88,” I tell you.

“Shoot, do you take card?” you pat through your bag.

It’s so disorganised. I can see make-up, sweet wrappers, old receipts. Jesus Christ. It’s a wonder you can find anything in there.

“Yeah we do. We move with the times in some ways,” I quip.

You take your phone out and you’ve got your card in the back of the case. Considering you keep your phone in your back pocket that is a monumentally idiotic place to have it. Any pickpocket could just reach in and your whole financial life would be turned upside down.

You hand your card over and I note the name. It’s ordinary. It doesn’t suit you either, just like your voice. You need something whimsical, something magical.

“I wasn’t expecting your name to be so…”

“Common?” you venture with a tiny smile like you’re shy. “Yeah I know. I’ve never liked it.”

“I see you as more…a Queen of the Fairies. Something mystical, something whimsical but also a hidden strength.”

You’re blushing. God your self esteem must be awful. Who hurt you? I repeat, Who. Hurt. You? Who made you so insecure that a throwaway compliment you cling onto like a lifeline?

“I don’t think they’d let me have a driver’s licence with 'Titania’ on it somehow,” you start playing with your hair.

“It would suit you more,” I press, knowing I’m sealing the deal. Your body just glows with approval.

“And you would be….?” you’re fidgeting on the spot, you’re not used to being so forward. I thoroughly appreciate the effort you’re making for me. It’s a good sign for our relationship.

“Joe, Joe Goldberg,” I extend my hand and you shake it, a nice grip.

“Joe doesn’t suit you either,” you muse. “Such a keeper of imagination and worlds.”

You’re so fucking perfect. You see me. You see me.

There’s a heartbeat where you’re just staring at me and I don’t realise you’re expecting me to do something.

“Well, thank you…Joe,” you take the bag and prepare to leave.

Shit shit shit! You were expecting me to ask for your number, weren’t you? I’ve missed my window and you’re disappointed. You telegraph all your emotions so clearly.

“No problem. I hope you come back to tell me what you think. Some of my favourites are in there.”

Saved it. The emotional angle works. You’re touched that I’d give you my personal favourites.

“Well if I don’t like them I know who to complain to,” you smile, backing up slightly before waving. “Bye.”

“Bye,” I smile and it’s a warm smile. It matches your own because I can’t help it. You pull this feeling to the fore for me.

When you leave, it’s like the entire bookstore dims. You’re gone and you took your light with you and I’m cursing.

I’m cursing the fact you have such a fucking common name because how the hell am I supposed to find you? How am I to know what your thoughts are? Your opinions? What you value? That’s just not fair.

Then I see it. You’ve dropped one of your receipts on the ground and it’s for a grocery store some blocks away. I know a general location of where you live. That’s a start.

I type your name into Facebook anyway because it’s worth a shot. There’s about twenty girls that come up in the immediate area but I scroll through each one until I find you.

Fuck. Privacy. Settings.

I mean, good for you and all being internet smart but this doesn’t help me find anything out about you. I get it, you’re playing hard to get. You want me to work for it.

Don’t worry. I will. That I promise you.

The next time you come into my store, I’ll be ready.

Chapter Text

It had been a week.

Where the fucking hell were you?

I waited around that grocery store, hoping to catch a glimpse but you never came. Maybe it was a store you’d passed by on the way to somewhere else and I was sadly mistaken. Maybe you’d already gotten enough supplies for the week. Either way, you didn’t come back to Mooney’s.

I worked overtime for you. I worked every goddamn day until closing and you didn’t come back.

Did I get it that wrong? Did I imagine you were interested?

You may have just been being polite.

Fuck. Nice guys always finish last, right?

I threw some Dan Brown in mild disgust to the side, a little put out. Back to square one then. I had no idea where you would be, how I could get in contact with you.

You were a ghost as far as the internet was concerned.

I was just about to go for a short break down into the basement to check on the rare books when the bell over the door tinkled. I didn’t look around, I mean…what was the point? Probably just some stuffy university student who’s trying to get a cheap copy of Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem for their course, too miserly to buy it brand new.

“Hey, Joe?”

It was you!

I felt like my whole body seized up. I wasn’t expecting this. Just go with the flow, Joe. Oh fuck, I’m rhyming now…great.

“Hey,” I turn around, my customer service smile ready for you. “It’s you. How are you, stranger?”

“I’m good,” you nod emphatically.

Jesus Christ. You’re wearing a summer dress and I’m instantly enraged that so many men have seen you like this. They don’t deserve to look at the shapeliness of your legs, the curve of your collarbone, the fact your breasts are on prominent fucking display.

You shouldn’t be dressing like this in New York. You should be dressing like this just for me, somewhere private. It should be something only I see. Something to wear in our future house with our theoretical garden and you twirling in the sunshine picking flowers.

“So these books,” you cut into my daydream. “Got any more?”

“So you liked them, huh?” I raise my eyebrow.

“I did!” you beam.

You are indeed Queen of the Fairies. You just radiate summer warmth, evoking feelings of long hot days spent in parks with the sun shining down on emerald grass.

“Well that’s good. I was hoping you enjoyed them. I don’t like getting complaints.”

“You’ll get none from me,” you say cordially.

“Give me one second and I’ll get you some more.”

I don’t expect you to follow me but you did. You trailed after me, watching me pick up books for you and when I bent over to get Anansi Boys you leaned over with me.

I think at this point you’re trying to blatantly seduce me.

I can see right down your dress. The soft swells of your breasts are just so inviting. I imagine it’d be like feeling the sheen of silk if I touched you. Your skin is just perfect.

“How many books have you read?” you ask me conversationally and I have to tear my eyes away because I don’t want you thinking I’m a creep.

“I lost count when I was ten,” I shrug. “I get through about ten to fifteen a week because a man needs to know his craft.”

“That’s why you sell books well,” you nod wisely. “You know you’re going to bankrupt me with these amazing suggestions, right?”

As if I’d ever let you go bankrupt. I’d pay for anything for you. I’d take out loans just to make sure you’re well kept. I’d give you any book for free from this store. Don’t you get that?

“You know what, I’ll give you one on the house,” I smile at you. “Can’t have my best customer going book-less.”

“Best customer, huh?” you wink.

There’s no denying now that you’re into me. How could I ever think you wouldn’t be? You were just playing coy, making me wait.

“Oh of course,” I smirk (and I hate doing this so much but I’ll play the part you want me to). “Come on, I’ll take these to the till.”

Then I’m ringing up the books again, “So, another weekend of reading ahead?”

“I’ve set up a little nest on my couch especially for that.”

Now aren’t you just adorable? I can just imagine you all wrapped up in blankets, book in one hand, a mug of cocoa in the other. I could massage your legs whilst you’re reading, I could feed you tiny chocolates as you relax.

“That sounds like something I need to try,” I joke. “When I get that mythical day off.”

You’re biting your lip like you’re worried and I think I might have said something wrong…or you’re just fidgeting.

“I….I don’t normally do this,” you admit, blushing furiously. “Umm…do you…do you have a girlfriend?”

Wow, I was not expecting you to be forward. What a brave girl you are. I wonder if you’ve ever done anything like this before, whether I’m special or….

The way your body language is just screaming shyness suggests I am.

“No, no I don’t,” I assure you and that seems to ease some of your tension.

“Would you like to come get coffee with me sometime?”

Now here’s the real trick. I don’t want to seem too eager because that’s just off putting; I am not a beta male. However, being nonchalant is out of question, since you made a considerable effort. I would potentially ruin your self esteem and you only seem to have about a teaspoon full of it. So I settle for , “Sure, I’d like that.”

“Good,” you smile. “God, I was so glad that paid off. I would’ve felt like an idiot if you’d said no.”

“What guy says no to a pretty girl who reads?” I grin and you just seem to burn bright with happiness. “Do you have a number I can reach you on?”

“Oh yeah,” you nod your head, balancing your handbag on one bent leg and riffle through it in search for your phone.

Fucking Jesus. From this angle, I can see your underwear peeking out from the bottom of your dress. I follow the line of your calf all the way up your soft thigh and I can see a mix of cotton and lace- lace that just curves around the line of your ass.

How can you parade yourself around like this? Who knows what sort of assholes could be ogling? You could get yourself stalked; you could potentially get yourself attacked.

I’ll just have to compliment you lots on longer dresses it seems… On jeans, trousers-anything to keep outfits like this just for me, because I’m the only one allowed to see. Is that clear?

You manage to find it in that shitfest you call a bag before you drop it and it bounces somewhere under the till desk. I drop quickly, spotting it on my side and thank fuck it’s unlocked.

“Can you see it?” I call, still keeping up the pretence whilst I install a keylogger app linked to my own phone. It would be invisible on your handset.

“No, did it go under?” you retort, and I spot your dainty fingers searching for it.

Complete. Good. Thank god for fast wifi in this place.

“I found it!” I announce coming back up and handing it over; making sure it’s relocked before I do.

“My hero,” you smile before getting your number up and reading it back to me.

Now I have you saved. Now, I also have access to anything- anything you type on that phone, including passwords.

“So I’ll text you?” you finishing paying for the books.

“Text me any time,” I say with a grin. “Even if it’s just to tell me how amazing my book recommendations are.”

“You got it, Joe,” you swivel on your heels and if I couldn’t get a good look before…I can definitely see your whole underwear now. Just a flash of it but it’s orange, a kind of burnt sunny orange. Unusual, but quite fitting for you in a way. You are a girl of summer after all.

“Bye.”

“Bye” I wave you off.

“Did you just….” Ethan comes out from the back room.

Poor, oblivious Ethan, still waiting for his dream girl to come; wasting his life away in this store with me. Well, my dream girl has come already. Sorry buddy.

“Get a date? Yeah.”

“How the hell do you do that?” Ethan marvels. “Man, I need to up my game.”

I feel something buzz in my pocket- my phone, and I make my excuses, going down to the basement for some privacy. Once there, I sit in the office chair, legs crooked up on the table. I stare at the keylogger app and you’re already writing something.

Fuck, your Facebook password is ‘reddragon’? I mentally kick myself because I should have been able to guess something so easy. I saw you hover over it after all. Then you’re typing something to a person named Jane.

 

You: Omg, just asked out the bookstore guy :o

Jane: Wtf?! You asked someone out? I’m screaming! Did he say yes?

You: Yeah he did. Got his number.

Jane: What about the guy in the old candy shop?

 

Yeah, what about the guy in the candy shop? What the fuck? What is this fresh hell?

 

You: I’m not sure about him. He’s a bit suffocating.

Jane: And bookstore guy is…..?

You: He’s kinda suave, kinda sarcastic. I think he’s a better fit.

 

You’re damn right I’m a better fit. Fuck this candy shop guy. He doesn’t know what makes you tick. He wouldn’t even have the balls to make the effort that I make for you.

 

Jane: So are you gonna keep them both going? ;) a bit of sweet and a bit of suave?

 

This is totally out of left field. I had no idea you were courting someone else as well. Maybe I mistook your shyness. Maybe you’re actually more of a temptress like your voice suggests and the innocent face is just that…a face. But I’m totally snared by you and I’ll be fucked if some candy shop moron thinks he can compete with me.

 

You: Jake can take a back seat. I wanna see how Joe is outside the book shop.

 

Jake. Excellent. Now I know his first name. Candy shops aren’t that common around here. It’ll be relatively simple to find him.

I’m glad you’ve chosen me though. I’m the clear choice here. We have so much in common after all. This Jake doesn’t have a hope in hell’s chance of making you happy. You don’t sound particularly impressed by him by the way you’re writing anyway.

Just you wait until our date. I’ll make sure I impress you so much you’ll never look at another man again. I’ll make sure of it….

Chapter Text

Jesus fucking Christ….you have so many apps.

I wonder how you’re able to give each one the attention that you do because you cycle through them quite often. You mustn’t have a very thrilling job.

Not that I can find out what your job is because you never talk about it.

I watched you through the keylogger app as you went through Facebook, then Instagram, then Twitter, then Tumblr, then Pinterest, then Tinder (excuse me, what the fuck?), then some app called Wish where you bookmarked the most outrageous clothing but never bought anything. I was exhausted just seeing it.

How do you keep up such an active social media life but your reality seems so…..shy?

You’ve not arranged to go out with anyone, you’ve got no events saved…maybe you’re insular. Maybe you’re an introvert.

I can respect that. I’m not a fan of women who just drink until the early hours. Women like that are a fucking mess and you’re not a fucking mess. You’re damn perfect…

Except for the Tinder thing which we’re going to have to talk about.

You didn’t mention Jake again to your friend so at least that was one person out of the running.

I visited him, you know. I went to his shop and I have to say your tastes are….well, you don’t like guys that are good for you. He was far too beta, too eager to help, too smiley. It was off putting. I bought about 1kg worth of sweets just to shut him up. I’m going to get cavities for you.

You can’t seriously like guys like this? He’s exactly as you described him…suffocating.

I guess this is why you bit the bullet and asked for my number. You knew you’d never get anyone you actually liked unless you were brave. I bet you don’t get asked out often.

Then I get a chime.

I’ve got a separate phone, just so I can log into your accounts with more ease. I ended up going to your apartment building and using the local Wi-Fi just so Google didn’t give away the IP address as somewhere other than your home. I’m not stupid.

Thank god you bought something recently and typed your address in, huh? Otherwise this would’ve never worked.

Another chime brings me out of my thoughts and I look at the second phone. It’s a Tinder notification.

How many men are you talking to?!

There must be about twelve conversations you’re having right now and I’m actually furious. The way you’re speaking to these guys….

I open up the newest message from someone named ‘Hunter’ (seriously dude?)

 

Hunter: If you wanna continue this in real life, HMU.

 

Desperately I scroll back through the conversation which starts:

 

Hunter: You’re new here, huh?

You: Did you guess that from the 'just recently moved’?

 

My my, you’re a sassy girl when you’re online.

 

Hunter: Yeah, I’m a genius at working things out. What are you looking for on here?

You: Not sure yet. Maybe to just see how things go.

Hunter: I get it. Like what you see of me?

You: Could certainly bounce a quarter off those abs.

 

I’m looking down at my own stomach which is most definitely not ripped. You’re making a guy self conscious here, do you know that? How can I compete with Mr Protein Shake here in looks? Intellect I can run rings around him.

 

Hunter: Like muscly guys? I can lift you up sometime maybe.

You: Good luck with that. I’m heavier than I seem.

 

As if. You’re far too harsh on yourself. This isn’t even a humble brag, you genuinely think this. I’ve seen you search for diet pills yesterday.

 

Hunter: I’d lift you up and keep you there…maybe against a wall

You: Doing?

Hunter: Whatever you want me to.

You: If you’ve got enough stamina for that, I’ll be impressed.

 

Stamina. Right, you value stamina. That’s good to know. When we have sex, I won’t be one of those two pump chumps who just disappoints girls.

Then the messages end.

Well it’s not exactly setting up another date but it’s flirting nonetheless. Can’t say I’m too happy about it but you haven’t even set up our date yet so either I have to make the first move and prompt you or I may lose you to this steroided asshole.

I’m flicking quickly through your Pinterests and seeing what you tend to make for your boards. There’s a lot of vintage things: old bookstores, old diners, sweet shops, museums.

Hmm, there’s an ice cream parlour which is a little quirky and might suit your tastes. You know, the type of place to have flavours like Chorizo Caramel, Black Chocolate Stout and Vanilla Quince….pretentious flavours.

I head outside, going to seek the shop before I take a picture of the awning and the menu, framing it in as artsy a way as I can before sending it to you, with a date invitation just as you’re typing a reply to the meathead.

I watch as you started typing ’Maybe, we’ll see if you keep my intere-’, then you must have got my message and you deleted your text before rewriting ’I’ve got a potential thing going on right now but if it doesn’t work out then yeah, I’ll hit you up’.

Score 1: Joe – Hunter: 0

Take that you quinoa eating shit.

Then my own phone chimes.

 

You: That sounds really nice actually. How about tomorrow? I have the day off. Say 1pm? Dinner date?

 

I wait an appropriate amount of time so I don’t seem too eager before writing back.

 

Joe: It’s a date.

 

God, this was exhausting. You really do demand a lot of attention, don’t you? If I don’t lavish you with some regularly, your eyes start wandering to someone else.

Guess I’ll have to step up my game.

 

**

 

It’s the day of our date and I’ve gone for a nice smart shirt, chinos and a leather jacket (just to add a hint of bad boy).

I’m walking up to Oddfellows, the ice cream parlour and I’m actually surprised to see you standing outside already. I’m early at ten minutes to one so I wonder how long you’ve been here.

Punctuality is fucking sexy in a girl.

“Hey!” I wave over, announcing my presence.

“Hi Joe,” you smile at me and instantly I feel that rush of a summer breeze.

Yes, yes you’ll do nicely, thank you.

“Not been waiting too long I hope?” I ask cordially.

“Oh not long. I just like to see menus first. I read this one changes daily,” you nod to the giant chalkboard outside. “Bergamot ice cream sounds funky.”

Funky? Did we time warp back to the 70s? But knowing your phone habits and such, this is just par for the course with you. You want to be in any other timeline apart from the one you’re in now. You pine for decades you’ve never even lived in.

I get it. So do I sometimes. I’d love a simpler life where the internet wasn’t a thing any more and people still knew their neighbours. This is why I refuse to get a kindle still.

“Funky indeed,” I laugh. “How about this one, cream cheese and carrot ice cream?”

“Definitely out there,” you giggle and god does it sound like the sweetest bells chiming. “Shall we go in?”

I open the door, “After you.”

I am still playing the snarky asshole you seem to like me being but I’m not going to compromise my chivalry for it. You’ll just have to make do.

We’re in a booth and I went for a plate of tasters whilst you played it relatively safe with concoctions of only one ingredient.

“What is…that one?” you point with your spoon to a mottled brown sphere.

I try it and thank god it’s something relatively normal, “Coffee and almonds. The staple of any hipster diet.”

And you’re laughing.

I keep this up with the rest of them and you’re almost in tears, you’re giggling so hard.

I would say this date was going extremely well. Girls like guys who make them laugh right? Well call me Joe the comedian. I have you hook, line and sinker.

Then you get a text tone and you’re frowning at it before you excuse yourself to the bathroom.

Frowning, uh oh. That’s not good.

I look at my second phone and see you have a message from Jake, the candy shop clerk.

 

Jake: Please give me a second chance. I really really like you and this is the best thing I’ve ever had. Don’t take that away from me or I’ll have nothing.

 

Jesus, this guy has extreme issues. I hope you don’t fall for this crap. It’s blatant manipulation.

 

You: I’m sorry. I think you need to seek some help if three dates is the best thing you’ve ever had. This is too much pressure.

 

Atta girl. You tell him straight. This is some bullshit attempt to get you to feel sorry for him and then nurse him hand and foot for the rest of your life.

 

Jake: I’m sorry I bothered you. Goodbye forever.

 

Dramatic much? Guys like this make me sick, preying on your good nature. I bet this asshole will be completely fine and probably just listening to Morrissey in a dark room.

 

You: Where are you?

 

Oh shit! You’re buying it! No no NO! He is not ruining our date! I will not be outplayed by some twirled moustached idiot with fake depression!

 

Jake: Our last date spot. Don’t worry about me. I’m not your problem any more.

 

I’ll give him credit. The douchebag is good at what he does.

Not ten seconds after, you’re coming out and apologising but there’s an emergency and you have to go.

“Do you need any help?” I offer, secretly thinking I can help Jake by pushing him off a building.

“No no,” you shake your head, seeming a bit frazzled. “Look I’m sorry about this. Mind if we reschedule?”

“Not at all,” I say graciously.

“Thank you for being understanding,” you kiss me on the cheek. “I feel awful about this, I’ll arrange a date with you soon.”

“It’s alright, emergencies happen,” I assure you.

Then you’re gone.

I can still feel the warmth from your lips on my skin. God it was glorious, like being kissed by the sun.

I moseyed back to Mooney’s, restarting my shift and excusing myself in the biographies aisle under the pretence of sorting some volumes out that had gotten mixed up.

You’re typing a Facebook message to Jane.

 

You: Jake just interrupted my date with Joe saying he’s going to commit suicide.

Jane: Are you shitting me? That’s so abusive! All because you blew him off?

 

I like Jane. Jane speaks sense. She’s a good friend. Keep her.

 

You: I think so. I just can’t take the risk that he might actually do it.

Jane: Are you going to be safe? Do you need back up?

You: I’ll call if he gets too weird.

Jane: Alright then. How was Joe?

 

And I’m waiting with baited breath.

 

You: Joe makes me laugh. He’s got kinda that Danny Zuko vibe. Talks a tough game but a secret softie, I can tell.

 

Danny Zuko…I can live with that. A suave John Travolta in his prime is nothing to be ashamed about.

 

Jane: Keep Joe around then. Text me if Jake does anything and I’ll be there with a baseball bat.

 

Seriously….KEEP. JANE.

So now I’m in a precarious position. I don’t want to leave you alone with said manipulative little shit but I also don’t want to impose my presence because it’s not technically my business.

I open your Snapchat and use the Snapmaps Geolocator to track you across New York and leave the store following at a decent pace, managing to catch up by basically sprinting at some points.

You’re heading for a tenement block and I’m wondering what the fuck kind of date you had in a tenement block. Does he live here?

I watch as you enter and use the elevator and see it’s destined for the floor underneath the roof. Naturally I can’t follow you because that’ll just put me squarely in your path like, ‘oh hello, I was just seeing if you needed assistance with your psycho ex, not that I’m not psycho in following you for a few blocks or anything.’

Get it together Joe. Think.

I spot the fire escape and jump up to get the ladder, recoiling at the feel of something slimy as I grip the rung. I hate these things. They’re left to rust and gather pigeon shit all day. Do you see the effort I’m making for you?

I quietly ascend all the way to the top and fuck, I’m outta shape. I’m desperately trying not to huff and puff and give the fucking game away. It’s not easy you know. Bookstore manager doesn’t really have a cardio role applied to it.

I hear voices as I get to the top and I duck down, peeking over the edge and see you both there.

You don’t look impressed at all.

“This is fucking bullshit,” you hiss. “Don’t lay this on me. It’s not fair.”

“Don’t go,” he whines, taking a threatening step backwards towards the ledge. “Please, I love you.”

“We’ve been on three dates, Jake!” you seem exasperated. “How can you love someone after three dates?!”

Yeah Jake, how can you? Especially when you know nothing about you. I, on the other hand, have done my research.

“Just give me one more chance. I’ll give you the best night of your life.”

Doubtful. I’ve seen your Tinder profile and it doesn’t look like you’re packing much down there. Also I imagine you’re a bit of a crier.

“No. Enough. This is manipulative and scary,” you fold your arms. “I came here to see if you’re okay but clearly this is just a cry for help. You need to see a therapist.”

“I’ll do it, I’ll jump.”

JUST FUCKING JUMP ALREADY!

“No you won’t,” you shake your head, heading for the door to the top floor. “Don’t ever contact me again or I’ll get the cops involved.”

I’ve never been prouder of you. That was brave, so so brave. You called someone out on their bullshit despite a horrible situation.

You’ve gone now, slamming the door behind you and making a clear signal in doing so. Don’t follow me.

Jake’s crocodile tears dry up real quick and now he’s muttering some shit that’s just dark and it makes my skin crawl.

“I’ll fucking show you. Fucking cockteasing slut. You’ll wish you’d agreed. This is a big fucking mistake.”

Now I can’t be having that. I can’t have anyone threatening my girl.

He’s looking the other way on the ledge opposite me, furiously typing on his phone and I hope you never sent him any naked pictures because he’s definitely the type to be spreading them across 4chan by now.

Silently I hop up onto the roof, stalking him, carefully making my way until I’m just a hair’s breadth away and then….

He sails out of sight as I push him off. He never saw it coming. Never had time to prepare. He flailed before gravity did its work.

I quickly ran back, haring down the fire escape, jumping the final level until I hit the ground in a heap and then I started hearing screaming. Jake must have hit the deck by now.

I dust myself off, quickly grabbing some papers out of my satchel that were meant to be the stocklist for tomorrow and walk nonchalantly out of the alleyway, back to the normal street before rounding the corner.

You’ve just come out of the entrance and spotted what’s happened and oh please don’t look so guilty. I bet you were secretly wishing he’d just jump and end his pathetic existence.

Time to play the hero, Joe.

“Hey, what are you-” I begin, but trail off seeing the mess of Jake on the sidewalk. “Oh my god.”

“Joe?!” you’re crying and you look pretty even when tears are streaming down your face…none of the ugly redness that some people get. “I didn’t mean…I think….I think this is my fault.”

Good, you’re so traumatised you’re not questioning why I’m here.

“What?” I tear my eyes away, looking at you in confusion. “Why?”

“He’s the emergency. He was this guy I went on a few dates with and he said he’d kill himself if I didn’t agree to another but I never expected him to actually do it. Oh my god, I’m a fucking monster.”

“Hey,” I’m bundling you in my arms, pressing your head into my chest so you don’t have to look at pureed Jake. “It’s not your fault. He was clearly in need of help.”

“But I drove him to this! I called him out and said he was just manipulating me.”

You’re dissolving into heavy sobs now and I can feel your body vibrating against me. God you feel so fucking perfect in my arms, like the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle that’s slotted into place.

“Look at me,” I say firmly and you cast your baleful eyes upwards. “You didn’t do this. If it wasn’t you, it would’ve been some other girl. Clearly he was looking for someone to fill a void in his life rather than address the actual problem.”

“I just feel so guilty,” you bury your head back into my chest, clutching at the lapels of my coat. “Please…please get me out of here.”

“Come on, I’m taking you back to the bookstore,” I start leading you away.

I take one last look at the red stained paving stones and if my inner thoughts had a face, it’d be smirking right about now.

Score 1: Joe  - Jake: 0

____

Chapter Text

The waterworks were getting boring now.

You'd been crying in the back of Mooney's, still convinced you were the reason Jake had gone off the rooftop. I'd indulged you for about ten minutes but now I was getting sick of hearing the damn name.

Really you should be thanking me, you should be on your knees in front of me with those big eyes staring up and that rosebud mouth so eager to show your gratitude. Instead, I'm forced to hear about your date and the quaint picnic he'd set up so you could see the skyline at night whilst eating candy.

Yawn fucking city.

“Look, why don't I take you home so you can get some rest?” I chime in, interrupting your general rambling. “This has been an awful day and you probably don't want to be out in public.”

“You're right,” you nod, wiping your tears away. “Yes. Yes please, I'd like that.”

So I do the gentlemanly thing and extend my arm, letting you lead the way back to your apartment. Of course I made sure I got a few things first...mainly putty and soap but you didn't need to know that or what they were for.

We got to your place and you seem a little shy about opening the door. You're hesitating in turning the key.

“I'm...I'm sorry about the mess. I wasn't expecting...”

“It's fine. I'm sure it's not as bad as you're making out,” I say kindly. “I'm not here to judge.”

“Okay,” you nod more to yourself then to me.

When you open the door, I'm expecting a bomb site. Girls are often surprising in how messy they really are. I often think it's a myth, the 1950s suburban housewife with the immaculate home.

What I don't expect is a complete spotless apartment with a couple of letters and a cup loosely put on the coffee table. How house-proud are you that you consider this to be untidy?!

“If this is your idea of mess, you can clean Mooney's any time,” I joke and you actually manage to crack a smile.

Good. Progress. A smile suits you much better than the grieving widow vibe.

“Well, thank you for walking me home and all you've done today. I'll message you?”

No no no! You're shutting me out and I need to do something quick.

“Sure. Am I okay to use your bathroom first before I head back?”

“Oh, of course.”

Thank fuck you have manners. I'm directed to a bathroom and whilst you're clearing away the mug, I grab your keys from the fruit bowl you've thrown them in, holding them tightly to stop them jingling.

I'm in your bathroom now, noting how perfectly gleaming it is, even your make up (which you don't need), is neatly stacked in the medicine cabinet.

You need to fucking marry me right now. I can't let you get away. This orderliness is super fucking attractive.

I find the key I watched you use, a silver one with filigree on the end, and press it into the cake of soap after warming the soap under the hot tap. The impression is made and I cover the indent with the putty. It's old school, it's a bit Prison Break but it gets the job done.

I hide it in my jacket before coming back out and I'm surprised that you're standing by the door, holding a box.

“It's just to say thank you. Don't open it until you get back,” you give it to me.

“Thank you,” I genuinely smile.

What a refreshing thing it is for a young girl to be this neat, to be such a perfect host. I'll forgive all your earlier tears, you've certainly made it up to me and shown your appreciation.

“Goodbye Joe, when I'm a bit more myself I'll text you.”

I don't go in for a kiss. You'd find it insensitive. Instead I just politely nod and leave your apartment, swirling too quickly deliberately and knocking the fruit bowl, surreptitiously dropping the keys back before going out. Smooth. You didn't even notice.

I'm itching to open the brightly coloured box but I did promise I wouldn't until I got back. So here I am, hurrying home like an excited toddler.

I bypass Ethan, heading straight downstairs into my little basement before my trembling fingers pull open the tiny side flaps and open it.

Well aren't you just adorable?

You've made cupcakes with antique white icing and little fondant books decorating the top. Clearly you made these with me in mind. You little temptress. You were planning to take me back to yours after our date, weren't you? You wanted to show me these all along.

I'm winning after all. You do want me.

 

**

 

I'm watching you on Snapmaps, moving to work (now I know that you work for a newspaper). This gives me ample opportunity to go to your apartment and use the spare key I had had moulded and created.

There's a second where it sticks in your lock and I'm shitting myself that I've done it wrong but it does eventually turn and now I have access to everything that is you.

Again I'm marvelling at your cleanliness before I move through into your bedroom. Your bedroom is the most intimate place and the place I can expect to find out who the real you is.

I lie down on your sheets, drinking in your scent and that slight citrusy perfume. I can't wait until this is our bed, until I'm seeing you completely come undone in it every night. I can just imagine those dainty, tiny fucking hands gripping the headboard as I work magic between your legs.

Oh, there's a set of drawers next to the bed. Don't mind if I do....

I'm opening them and seeing a raft of condoms, vibrators and bondage items. I knew you were a filthy girl underneath all of that innocence. This just proves it.

But let me just say you won't need your vibrators when I'm with you. I'll work all night if I have to, to make sure you cum for me.

I'm just imagining you in cuffs with a blindfold on, me keeping you on the edge and you begging me in that husky voice that now suddenly seems to suit you after all. Fuck, I need to get off right now. The way my cock is just swollen with thoughts of you saying my name like a prayer...

My hand delves into your underwear drawer, finding a pair of lace panties that don't seem to match any others so I'm sure you won't miss them. Then I'm wrapping them around my cock, reclining on your bed and just losing myself in everything that is you until I'm finished.

After I regather myself, I straighten everything up, pocketing the underwear before continuing my exploration. Now my lust has cleared, I can appreciate you have all the books I recommended to you stacked on the nightstand and it seems you've been digesting them at a rapid pace.

Then I'm into the kitchen, seeing the bakeware, the old pots and pans that've been passed down through generations. You're a homebody and family is important to you. You value old traditions and more and more you're just my perfect woman.....but fuck, your diet is atrocious.

I look in your cupboards and it's just chocolate and candy and chips. There's pizzas in the freezer and tubs of different ice creams. You won't have to worry about eating such crap with me around. I'll home cook meals every day for you. I'll make sure you're healthy and well fed, enough to maintain that perfect figure and maybe make it a little better in the process.

I hit the motherload when I'm in your living room. Your laptop.

Your place can tell me who you present yourself to be on the surface but your laptop could tell me exactly who you are when nobody's looking. Unfortunately, it's password protected.

I try your usual favourites but none seem to work until I try variations with other numbers. Valiant effort that you had a password but bad form that you're so predictable with them. Word of advice...adding 123 after a well used password doesn't make it more secure.

Your background is a scene I don't recognise, some woodland vista. It was obviously taken by you because it's not exactly going to be on the cover of National Geographic. The composition is a little poor but you tried.

It's not your background that I'm interested in though, nor is it any of your social media platforms because I can already access those. It's your pictures and your internet history. What to start with first?

I look at your browser, noting you tend to ping between Facebook, various free reading sites and porn sites. The type of porn is a bit of a surprise. You really get off on the dirty talk, don't you? You love a bit of humiliation, a bit of domination. I never would've guessed and you hid that very well.

I'm wondering if there have been times when I've exhibited these behaviours and maybe you were squirming a little, maybe you were soaking through those little lace panties. Of course you were.

Alright, focus Joe. You just jacked off already. Don't get hard again.

I decide to go through the gallery and your videos, seeing your taste in movies as quite broad and your music, very eclectic. Your pictures, however.....there's normal ones, selfies that are filtered to shit because obviously you can't trust that you're beautiful already and then there's the lingerie shots....

Some of them, according to the metadata, have been taken within the last month. So my question is....who the fuck got to see these instead of me? Who deserved to see your elegant skin so bare and so inviting? The way you were posing in these photos tells me you're experienced at it. You know how to drive men wild.

You're a wolf in sheep's clothing. A goddess in the kitchen, a whore in the bedroom.

The second phone beeps and I'm checking your Snapmap, noting you're coming back after sending a message to Jane that you forgot to bring the cookies in for work.

Shit, I need to get out. Now!

I hurriedly put everything back, trying to make it as spotless as I can before grabbing one of your scarves on the coat rack, wrapping it around my neck to keep your scent as close to me as possible before leaving at a fast pace.

I didn't get time to transfer your photos to my phone but I'll do that tomorrow. I still have your panties if the mood strikes later.

And knowing what I know now...it probably will.

 

**

 

After six days, three hours and twenty seven minutes, you texted me. Not like I'd been waiting or anything...

 

You: Hey, I'm sorry for being MIA. I've had a lot of stuff on my mind. How about dinner on Friday? My treat.

Joe: Don't worry. I understand. Sounds good.

You: Do you like spicy food?

 

I don't but I'll brave it for you.

 

Joe: I'm willing to give anything a try.

You: I'll see you at 7 then :)

 

Thank god I didn't have to prompt you this time. Shows you're thinking of me and you even sent me a smiling emoji. Life is good.

I'm staring at the pictures of you in your underwear that I retrieved from your apartment a couple of days ago. I wonder which set you'll wear for me? I'm hoping it's the dark green one. It really shows off your complexion. Then again, I do love your bright ones, your yellows, your oranges. My summer girl.

Maybe you'll surprise me and wear something different entirely.

Whatever you wear, I can't wait to see you.

I'm counting down the days and this time, there will be no interruptions.

Chapter Text

 

Friday is not coming quick enough. I feel like I'm on edge waiting all the time. I'm pacing when I'm at work and during the evenings I'm willing them to go away so the new day can start.

You're texting me now and then but not as often as I'd like. I can see you're doing other things on your phone, things that aren't starting conversations with me.

You have a core group of friends it seems, one for outside of work and one in. Jane is your work friend but you have two others that appear to be long time buddies from before you moved. One is a girl called Hannah, the other is a guy named Nate.

I don't like Nate. Nate presumes a lot about you. Nate has in jokes with you. Nate is a buff nerd and that shouldn't be allowed. Stay to your designated clique, pal.

Nate also leaves his social media open for anyone to look at. Stupid Nate.

One quick scan tells me you've been friends since college. There's nothing to say you may have dated at any point which is bad for me because if there's some sexual tension there, it's unresolved.

Fuck, I feel like I'm on an episode of The Bachelorette. How many potential guys are there vying for your attention?!

I'm sure he'd probably protest and say you're just 'friends' but no guy, unless he's not sexually interested in girls, can just be 'friends' with a girl. Trust me. What man wouldn't want to be something more with you? You're absolutely perfect.

Although Jesus, quit it with the daily porn already! You watch it sometimes during work hours and I'm ninety nine percent certain you're getting yourself off in the restroom. It's a hot thought but wow your libido is a little intimidating.

I'm up for the challenge though.

Maybe you've never had a man who can satisfy you fully, maybe you've never had a man who can fuck you so hard you're exhausted well into the next day.  Well hello, your knight in shining chinos is here.

You're writing to both Hannah and Nate now.

 

You: Wanna meet up tonight? I feel the need to drink. Tough day.

Hannah: Hell yeah, any good bars up by your place?

You: There's a 20s speakeasy?

Nate: Do I need to dress up?

Hannah: Duh

Nate: Sold. I'll bring my spats.

You: Seven okay? I'll text you the address.

Hannah & Nate: See you then

 

Now...I could just be happy you're out with friends but this is also the perfect opportunity for me. I get to see what you're like when you let loose. I get to see what you're like around male friends. Maybe I'll see what you're like when you're drunk.

I hope you're faithful.

It does piss me off a little that you're going drinking the day before we're meeting up though, gotta say. Don't you want to be at your very best for me? Am I just the back up plan?

A million paranoid thoughts start racing through my head and by the end of the work day, I've decided I'm going to attend this bar. I have to know what your intentions are. I have to know how hard I have to work for you.

I'm willing to put in the graft. You have no idea how much I'm willing.

Guess it's time to pay a visit to the thrift shop to blend in.

 

**

 

I'm in this new bar called Fitzgerald's.

It's absolutely perfect and I wish you would've suggested here for our first date. This is so us. All the vintage glamour and the music that actually has a fucking melody. Everyone's made an effort to dress up as well and I don't feel like a dick sitting here in my suit and fedora.

Hat indoors? Yeah, kind of a douchebag move but it hides my face for when you come in. Wouldn't want you to think I'm tailing you.

I wait and I wait...

It's now seven thirty and there's no sign of you or your friends. What is it about modern life that everyone has to be late? I find it rude. Everyone has watches and everyone has cell phones these days. There's no excuse for not knowing the time.

“I told you it was here!” I hear your voice and you sound exasperated.

“Google Maps took me the wrong way!” a male voice says in protest.

“Just get me to the damn bar,” a female voice, a lot lighter and a lot more vapid.

I sneak a look your way and...

My fucking God.

You're a vision. You're in this tasselled flapper dress of deep green, the tassels swishing as you walk. Your hair is flowing with this jewelled flower neatly sweeping one side back.

Every other woman in this place just fades into the background. You're radiant.

But you're also clinging onto the arm of muscly Nate, who's in a very ill fitting suit. Hannah is doing the same but Hannah is single, she can do what she wants. You have a guy. You have a guy you've already blown off other guys for. Stop draping yourself over him.

You're at the bar area now and I have to turn away so you don't spot my face. It's hard when all I wanna do is stare at your beauty but I manage it.

“You are such an idiot, Nate,” you're chiding him.

“Look, I'll buy you a drink if you stop bellyaching,” he huffs.

“Oh and me!” Hannah joins in, leaning her breasts on the counter like a cheap dive bar whore, willing the attention of the bartender via her assets.

“Oh that's not fair!” Nate says but he has no chance against two women.

Drinks bought, and I look quickly to see you favour spirits rather than cocktails, you all settle on a table near the big gramophone. Momentarily I'm distracted watching the vinyl spin round but I snap right back to reality when Hannah starts chatting inanely. There's a sentence that grabs my attention.

“Soooo how is the love life going apart from...you know.”

“Jake? It's okay you can say the name,” you fidget a little.

“Yeah that was crazy,” Nate widens his eyes. “You always pick such lunatic guys, fuck.”

“Yeah like that one that who took pictures of your feet when you were asleep!” Hannah chimes in.

“We only dated for a month, guys!” you start blushing with embarrassment.

“Or Travis?” Nate adds. “I mean that's why you're here right?”

“Shut up about Travis,” you frown. “Everyone makes mistakes. Your romances have been fucking awful too.”

“Not arguing that,” Nate snorts. “Bunny boilers galore.”

“I'm fine,” Hannah shrugs.

“Only because they keep buying you stuff,” you smirk.

“Well if they will insist,” Hannah flicks her hair, showcasing some monstrous diamond earrings.

God I can't believe I'm saying this but I actually prefer Nate more than Hannah. I can see now he hasn't got an interest in you. Maybe you're not his type or more likely you're too far out of his league that he thinks it's useless to try.

“So how are you doing?” Nate brings the conversation back.

“I'm doing good. I'm meeting someone tomorrow and we'll see how that goes.”

“And which guy is this?” Hannah leans forward. “You've talked about a few in the last month.”

Umm....what?

I know you may have talked about Jake but 'few' implies more than me and him. Who else have you been talking to? Must have been before we met for the second time because I haven't seen you talk to anyone else since I installed the keylogger apart from Tinder guy.

Now it makes sense why there were underwear pictures on your laptop that were recent. So where are my pictures, huh?

Now now, Joe. Think about it. If you've sent pictures to people you barely know, you're obviously considering them as a hook up. The fact you've sent none to me indicates you think this is a bit more serious, a bit more long term.

Still....I'd love the idea of a personal picture, just for me.

“Joe, the bookstore manager,” you answer.

“Now that sounds more your thing,” Nate points. “A nice nerd guy who's not a psycho.”

“It's way more classic rom com territory,” Hannah nods. “Meeting over books, in a dimly lit store, a hunky guy with a smile....god why can I never find a guy like that?”

“Because you only spread your legs if they can fit their gold card in your slot,” Nate says dryly.

I almost spit my drink out. Really changed my mind. Nate is alright.

You're laughing too and it's so nice to hear the sound. I hope I can hear it every day sometime.

“You asshole!” Hannah cries, hitting him with a coaster. “I mean you're right but you're an asshole. So...spill about Joe!”

Yeah, spill about me.

“Welllll,” you say shyly, tucking your hair behind your ear. “He's tall, he's got this incredible jawline, he's sarcastic in a witty way. He's also really kind. He took amazing care of me when Jake...”

“He sounds like a good one this time,” Nate nods.

I feel like a bird of paradise now, preening myself. I've never been told I have a great jawline before. I'm also super happy you value my kindness because honestly, the sarcastic gig is exhausting and I'd love to start slowly dropping it soon.

“I hope so,” you shrug. “We'll see if he passes the test tomorrow.”

A test huh? That conjures all sorts of bad images in my head, mainly where you're wearing a sexy librarian get up. Hey, I can be cliché if I want to be sometimes.

“Well while we're waiting, get the drinks in,” Nate wiggles his empty glass.

Now you're coming my way and I have to duck my head down. I've brought a notepad with me to jot down some things. People don't tend to look at those who are working.

The ruse is definitely successful because you look straight ahead towards the bartender, waiting for  him to become free.

“Hey beautiful,” says a guy on your left in a shirt, suspenders and pinstripe trousers.

Hey beautiful? What a dull pick up line. Be more imaginative, shithead.

“Hi,” you quickly glance and then away.

“Are you here with someone?”

“Yeah, my friends.”

“Not here with a guy?”

“No.”

Stop answering him like this. You're making him think he has a chance. Guys need definitive statements.

“How about I buy those drinks for you?” he leans closer to you.

“Oh I don't think-”

“I insist.”

“Okay then, thank you.”

God you're stunning but you're so socially inept. He just railroaded you into conversing with him more and you didn't even realise. At least you tried to refuse in the first instance though.

He lays down his wallet so you can see all the bills in there and what a giant dick. Flashing money like that'll sway you from me.

“I've seen you in here once before,” he starts, handing the drinks over. “Couldn't get the courage to ask you out then but the second time is a sign, right?”

“What?” you blurt out. “You wanna ask me out?”

“Yeah sweetheart, I like you. You're pretty,” the guy grins. “What do you say? Let's down these drinks and head outta here.”

“I'm with my friends,” you say, a little more firmly.

“They'll understand,” he winks. “I don't live far.”

What an asshole. For starters, guys who encourage girls to ditch their friends need to jump into a fire. Second, buying a drink does not entitle you to ask for a sexual hook up.

“No thank you,” you say, turning with the glasses in your hand to walk back to the table.

“Hey, I bought you drinks, don't be a bitch,” he grabs your arm, pulling it so the liquid spills out onto the floor.

I'm on my feet and off the bar stool so quickly. I didn't even think about my cover.  

I see the guy shoot me a quick look before letting go of you and you don't even glance back as you bustle over to the table before sitting down, the glasses shaking a little as you set them in place.

“You'd better leave now,” I say to the guy who just gives me such a dirty glare before storming out.

I'm sorry that had to happen to you. Some guys don't know when no means no. I would never do that to you.

The rest of your evening passes uneventfully and I'm really pleasantly surprised how normal you are. After Beck....after Beck I thought all girls were as disloyal as her but you seem to be actively giving a shit about our blossoming romance.

I can see now how bad for me she was and how amazing you are. You'll help me heal.

It's closing up time and your catch up is over. You walk out to the street with Nate and Hannah, saying your goodbyes before turning to walk the opposite way alone.

I wait a good minute or so before following because I'm heading the same way anyway. May as well keep an eye on you. New York can get dangerous sometimes at night.

It's not five streets away when I suddenly see you getting pulled into a side street and I can hear your muffled shouts. My heart nearly stops before it suddenly kicks back in, booming in my chest as I'm racing towards you.

Fuck the pretence. You're in danger.

As I round the corner, I see the bar guy from earlier, pinning you against a grimy wall and trying to force your legs apart. You're trying to plead around his hand covering your mouth but he's not listening.

I charge him, tackling him to the floor and my fedora gets lost behind a dumpster as I wrestle with him on the ground. I would hope you're being smart and running but it seems you're frozen in place, just watching the exchange.

Great, so now I have to be a tough guy too. I ham up my abilities, punching hard until the guy stops trying to rip my clothes apart with his flailing hands. Maybe he was just a coward in reality because he kind of crumples in on himself, his arms coming to cover his face as I hammer blows.

Yeah, just a cheap nasty coward who forces himself on women.

“Fuck off, and if I see you again, I won't be so kind,” I snarl at him and the chicken shit runs away as though I'm some big tough gang member rather than a lean bookstore manager.

“Joe?!”

Oh fuck. You've noticed it's me. Guess it couldn't last forever. Time to play the anti-hero card.

I turn to you, striding up to you and cupping your face like I have much more confidence than I do, “Are you alright? God, why is it whenever I'm out walking I find you in dangerous situations?”

The right mix of concern and asshole-ishness. Suave, Joe. Suave.

“He just...he bought me a drink and expected...”

“You're safe now,” I'm cradling you and I love when this happens. You feel so good in my arms. “I've got you. I'm not gonna let anything happen to you.”

“Are you sure you work in a bookstore and you're not my guardian angel instead?” you half cry, half laugh. “You're always saving me or taking care of me and I barely know you.”

“I feel I know you,” and wait for this because this is a fucking good line. “We can always know a person by the books they love.”

You smile and I'm mentally patting myself on the back. That was great. I'm really good at this.

“Then judging by the books you recommended you're some hopeless romantic who loves a simpler life,” you look up at me with those big eyes of yours.

“Guilty,” I grin. “Are you sure you're okay?”

“No,” you admit, looking at your feet. “Could you take me home again please? That really shook me up.”

“Of course,” I nod, making sure you're leading the way and not me. You don't need to know I've memorised most of the routes to your place.

Now I'm in your apartment again and you've not asked me to leave as soon as you got there. I follow you in and stand near you as you seem to collect yourself.

“Do you want a drink?” you ask.

Fuck you're so cute. A near rape experience and you're still trying to play a good host. I wish it wasn't highly inappropriate for me to throw myself at you right now.

“Tell you what, you tell me where stuff is and I'll make us drinks,” I offer. “You sit down. You've been through enough tonight.”

“Oh okay, thank you,” you seem to collapse on your couch. “Mugs are in the far left cabinet and drink stuff is in the far right. Cocoa would be lovely.”

“Coming up,” I divest myself of my jacket and hang it neatly on your coat rack before taking my shoes off.

“You really are old fashioned,” you remark, watching me.

“Manners don't cost anything,” I smile at you and if I'm not mistaken, you melt a little at that.

I'm making cocoa for us both and adding extra things in because I know you'll like them. I can see you've flipped on your TV and you're watching Rear Window, a Hitchcock classic. My estimations of you go even higher and I didn't think that was possible.

A girl who loves old movies. A girl whose comfort choice is old movies.

We're meant to be together and I'll get rid of anyone who tries to get in our way.

I bring the cocoa back and set it down, sitting a respectable distance away.

“Thank you,” you take the mug. “You don't need to be so far away. I'm not a leper.”

“I just didn't want to crowd you,” I smile at your joke, scooting a bit nearer.

“Do you like old films?”

“Rear Window is one of my favourites,” I nod.

“I knew I liked you for a reason,” you quip.

Oh sweetheart, music to my fucking ears.

“Hey Joe?”

“Yeah?”

“Nice suit.”

“Nice dress,” I retort.

“You would've liked the place I went to tonight with my friends,” you muse. “A 20s bar. We should go sometime.”

You're already speaking like we're a unit. A done deal. I just want to leap around the room and yell my lungs out that I'm so happy.

“I'd like that. How was your night before the idiot appeared?”

“Nice,” you turn to me. “I've not seen my friends in a while since I moved. Hannah is still the same gold digger she always is and Nate is just well....Nate.”

“As in he doesn't do well for himself?”

“Not that, he's just always happy to coast through life. The only thing he loves to death is Warhammer. I'm always so surprised he gets the girls he does.”

“Muscles will do that,” I say wisely.

“Muscles?”

Oh shit! OH SHIT! I've just blurted out something I shouldn't have known without realising. I got too comfortable. Fuck! Oh fuck, oh fuck!

“Guys called Nate are always gym rats,” I play it off. “I've yet to meet a skinny Nate, unless he's the exception?”

“Good instincts,” you seem impressed. “Yeah he is always in the gym. Huh, maybe you should be a profiler rather than running a bookstore.”

“Guess I have a career change heading my way.”

“Joe? Can I ask you something?”

God I hope it's not why I'm always in the perfect place to save you.

“Sure.”

“Can I lean against you? I know it's forward and you're old fashioned but I just...I don't want to be alone right now.”

“I'm really not a traditionalist about everything,” I remark. “Of course, no need to ask and I'm not going to take it as an invitation.”

“You really are a good guy.”

And just like that, I loop my arm around you and you're cuddled into my side. It's like you should've always been here. It's a perfect fit, a match. I can smell your hair and the slight scent of coconut only reinforces my notion of you as a goddess of summer.

“I try to be. God knows the world needs decent people.”

Then we fall into a silence and I'm not worried. It's comfortable. We're watching the movie and I can feel you press further and further into me, like you're testing the boundary of what I'm okay with.

When the movie ends, there's this moment where you look up at me and your lips part. Normally I would take that as a sign to kiss you but it's not good to do that right now. Not after what happened. I can't tell if you want me to though or not and it's driving me crazy looking at those perfect plump little lips and thinking of how much I want them all over my body.

Before I know it, you've made the first move and I'm stunned. I actually don't respond at first, my brain has shut off.

“I'm sorry,” you babble, pulling back and I can see in your face that wasn't the reaction you wanted.

“Hey, come back here,” I say gently. “You just caught me off guard.”

I still make sure my movements are slow and deliberate so you can stop me if you need to but you don't. You willingly accept it when my mouth finds yours and oh sweet Jesus this is better than I ever dreamed of.

Kissing you is so soft but there's an undertone of aggression the longer it goes on. I'm getting hard just feeling it and I awkwardly shift to conceal the damn thing so you don't get freaked out. The things you do to me. You bad bad girl.

“You must think I'm really messed up to do this after what happened,” you pull away, suddenly unsure of yourself.

No no no! Come back here and kiss me, damn it! Stop being insecure! I don't care if you think it's wrong when you clearly want it. Just listen to your instincts!

“Not at all. I think you're just trying to find something safe so you can move past it.”

“And a psychiatrist too,” you laugh. “Didn't I find a multiskilled guy, huh?”

“I can show you more if you like.”

That. Fucking. Lip. Bite.

That's a lip bite that says you want to be thrown on the bed, ass in the air and fucked until you're screaming hard. That's a lip bite that says you wanna be spanked until you're begging me to stop and let you cum.

Fuck, Joe. You're gonna explode if you keep thinking that way. Slow down.

Then we're kissing hard and I'm pushing a bit more with having my hands wander to your sides but you're not flinching away. You're moving into my touch and it feels like I'm inspiring this great wave of lust in you. It's addictive.

“Joe.”

Finally.

Finally I get to hear what my name sounds like with want. The husky voice is fucking perfect now. It suits you. It suits this wild side of you.

I'm this close to pushing you down on the couch and dragging your dress up so I can please you into the small hours of the morning when your goddamn phone starts ringing.

“I'm sorry,” you wince before looking at the screen. “It's my mom. I need to answer this, she's not been well.”

“Don't worry about it.”

I can't really complain when it's your mom and she's sick but I'm cursing the timing.

Your expression goes from want to concern to worry and I know it's not good.

“Alright, I'm coming,” you say, hanging up before turning to me. “I need to see her. She's in a bit of a state right now. I really am sorry.”

“Stop apologising,” I lean over, kissing your forehead. “Family comes first.”

“This really was nice though. Are we still on for tomorrow?”

“Can't wait,” I grin. “Can I walk you outside if you're getting a cab?”

“Thank you.”

And so here I am, waving you off as you go to your mom's house, desperately willing this erection to calm down because it's fucking obvious in these suit trousers.

I guess I shouldn't be too pissed off considering I wasn't expecting to get into your apartment at all tonight, let alone kiss you.  In a way, it's a good sign for tomorrow. Tomorrow I imagine you'll invite me back and I can really show you how keen I am.

Tomorrow I'll have you on that bed crying my name out as you cum for me.

Chapter Text

 

It’s the day of our official first date and I’m so excited that I’m literally psyching myself out.

What if it doesn’t go well? What if I mess it up? What if I can’t perform?

I’ve closed up Mooney’s for the day and I’m at my apartment, harshly scrubbing myself in the shower because I want to be nice for you. I’m taking extra care to keep downstairs clean as well because with how you were yesterday, I’m almost guaranteed to get lucky tonight and a well groomed man is an appreciated man.

I’m not model smooth but girls don’t actually like that. They like manly men with chest hair who look like they could do handiwork before throwing you on a bed. I mean, in all the great books, the fair lady has an explosive love affair with the help after all. It’s genetic to want a partner who’s manually skilled and independent.

I’m stood in front of my mirror now, debating on what to wear. Fuck, how do girls do this sort of shit all the time? I don’t want to come off too casual and I don’t want to go too formal.

A text from you puts my fashion nightmare at ease though.

You: Hey, change of plan if you’re cool with it. I’ll cook at my place?

Joe: Sounds really nice. I’ll be round at 7.

You: Okay, see you soon  x

Oh. my. God.

An ‘x’!

That’s practically screaming that you’re mine now. You’re giving me kisses on the end of texts and you’re inviting me over and cooking for me.

If ever there was a clearer sign that you want me, this is it.

Joe, you’re getting lucky tonight son and you’re getting the girl of your dreams to boot.

Casual, I think. Casual is the way to go here. I settle for dark jeans but a button down shirt. It’s classy but not try hard.

I need to maintain this illusion that I’m more cool than I actually am after all.

 

**

 

I turn up at your apartment at six forty-five sharp. I like being early. Being early is polite and shows good character.

I bought some roses on the way over here and some expensive champagne because you deserve everything that I can give you. I even found some Belgian chocolates that are supposed to be the best around.

See the effort I make for you?

I knock smartly on the door and you open it and my cock twitches at the sight of you in that same summer dress that’s featured in my fantasies so many times. You’ve swept your hair back neatly in an elegant chignon to keep it away whilst cooking but honestly, you look extremely classy and I could just as easily be taking you to an upscale restaurant.

“Are those for me?” you seem shocked at the items in my hands.

“Of course they are,” I grin. “I like seeing you smile.”

You blush so hard and it’s fucking adorable. I just want to have you in my arms again.

“You really are old-fashioned, huh?” you take the flowers, seeking out a vase and arranging them neatly. “That’s really nice to see.”

Obviously Jake gave you nothing on your last dates because you seem super humbled by my gesture. Wow, your self esteem must be low to be impressed by this. It’s just basic chivalry right? Is it really so out of style that it’s a surprise now?

“I think it’s sad that guys don’t make an effort any more,” I place the chocolates and champagne neatly on your coffee table. “Says something about this generation, right?”

“That we’re all a bunch of phone obsessed zombies who forget how to interact?” you laugh as you move back to the kitchen and continue your cooking. “That’s why I said come to my place so we don’t have people Instagramming food around us.”

Fuck. Me. Just marry me, you amazing woman! You’re so like me it’s unreal. How the fuck could I ever think Beck was perfect when you’re just everything I ever wanted and you even have the same opinions…and you’re not a cheater.

I was pleased to say that your phone conversations with your friends were all very positive about us last night. You even ended up messaging Hannah asking if it was bad you wished it had gone further. No, no it is not bad at all but I understand why you had to go.

“I hope you like Italian. I’m making arancini balls right now,” you busy yourself.

“It smells wonderful,” I assure you, and it does.

Honestly, if your food tastes as good as it smells, I’m getting a ring on your finger within a year. Six months is not considered the done thing any more.

“Do you need any help?” I offer.

“Uh, could you set up the table please?” you ask. “Glasses are in the top unit.”

“Sure.”

I’m glad you mentioned where they were because I didn’t need to make another mistake of somehow mysteriously knowing where things in your place were. I’m flustering myself by double checking every sentence I say now.

Once the table is set, you serve the food and Jesus fucking Christ is it good.

I’m just imagining our future life. Me running the bookstore, you having a small part time job before cooking our family meals and I’ll make any bit of furniture you want me to and do all the chores. It’ll be bliss.

I’ll even buy you more sundresses and tea dresses because you look so beautiful in them.

“Earth to Joe?” you laugh, waving your hand near my face.

Shit. I zoned out daydreaming.

“I’m sorry,” I’m a little embarrassed. “It’s just so good. Would it be totally inappropriate to propose right now?”

You took it in good humour and giggled a little.

“Buy a girl a drink first.”

I get up and grab the champagne, presenting it in an overdramatic way.

“Oh well, grab a veil and let’s go to Vegas,” you smile. “I’ll get the flutes, shall I?”

You called them champagne flutes. I can really see us in high society now and you’re not a bit like Peach. You have none of her arrogant bullshit.

I pop the cork and pour us two glasses and you must have been nervous because you drained it quickly. Maybe you’re trying to work up the courage to do something.

“Wow, that’s really nice,” you remark. “You didn’t have to spend so much money.”

“It’s nothing.”

It was $200.

“Thank you.”

“Here, have some more. I think you need it,” I smile.

“That obvious, huh?” you say sheepishly. “I’m sorry. I’m usually more confident than this. I’ve just not had a guy round in a long time.”

“It’s fine,” I put a soothing hand on your arm. “You don’t need to pressure yourself and I assure you I’m not after one thing.”

“I never thought you were. You don’t seem the type. That’s why I asked for your number.”

“Well, I was incredibly flattered,” I give my best charming grin.

“Shit, excuse me, I need to do this again so I stop feeling like a shy idiot,” you suddenly move forward and before I have a chance to say anything again, you’re kissing me.

The flutes get discarded on the table and I run my fingers through your hair and god is it soft. My brave summer girl. You’re really pushing yourself with me, aren’t you? You don’t need to try so hard to prove you like me.

“Better?” I ask when you pull away.

“Yeah,” you physically relax. “Much better. I think I just hype myself up in my own mind too much.”

“I get what that’s like.”

“Really? You always seem so composed?”

“Oh it’s an act, trust me,” I snort. “I’m a mess inside.”

“Good to know,” you wink. “Someone being too perfect is dull.”

You’re right actually. I’ve already noted some of your flaws but I don’t care about them. They make up who you are.

If there is anything that Beck has taught me it’s not to idolise someone and believe they are faultless because only disappointment awaits. With you, I’ve already looked out for warning signs but so far you’ve given off none. You’re just a little insecure but hey, who isn’t these days right? Society tells you you have to be thin or muscular or curvy or flawless in your skin but fuck that.

“Joe, there’s something I’m going to blurt out now and I hope you don’t think it’s forward.”

Now I’m definitely listening.

“I really liked last night and-”

I cut you off by giving you exactly what you want. Thank god you already talked to your friends about it.

I’m kissing you, pulling you firmly into me, a slightly aggressive move but I saw the porn you watched this morning. You like guys taking what they want from you so that’s what I’m going to do.

You’re melting in my arms, just letting me take charge and I can tell you love this. You’re pressing against me, those perfect breasts crushed against my chest.

I move back and you follow the movement. At that point I know you definitely want me so I squat down and pick you up to a little squeal of delight as I carry you through to the bedroom and place you reverently on the mattress.

I climb on top of you, waiting for your response because after all, I’m not about to be that kind of asshole who assumes they have permission even if I’m playing at being dominant.

“Joe, get down here,” you grab me by the shirt collar, yanking me down until I’m fully lying on top of you.

That’s all the consent I need.

I finally get to touch you everywhere and your skin feels like it’s on fire. You’re so warm and I just want to lose myself in you. It’s heady drinking in the scent of your perfume, your shampoo, the slight tang of arousal I’m just starting to catch.

Oh my god you’re wearing those orange panties. It’s like you’re trying to remind me of that time you asked me out. You’ve put just as much effort back into this, haven’t you?

“Tease,” you hiss as my hands skip over your breasts, my thumbs lingering over your hardened nipples.

“Let me show you teasing.”

Fuck. That lip bite. Calm the fuck down, Joe. You don’t want to blow your load. That would be embarrassing.

I pull you up, unzipping your dress and getting you out of it where I can clearly see you have a matching bra. I’m kissing a line up your stomach and there’s this soft little whimper that you do and I’m desperately trying to keep it together.

You must have gotten impatient or maybe just bold because you took the bra off hastily before cupping my face and kissing me hard.

I’ve never been kissed like this in my life! It’s all passion and heat and no expectation to fake anything. You just want me, pure and simple.

I break off, being a bit rough with your neck and you’re openly moaning now. Thank god I researched what you enjoy watching because it sure is coming in handy right now.

When I reach your breast and use my tongue on your nipple, you’re all but tugging at my hair and arching your back. It’s intoxicating having this power over you. Beck was nothing like this. She was slightly dead in the eyes when we fucked, going through the motions of what she thought sex should be but your eyes are practically sparkling with life and raw lust.

Shit, shit! Calm down!

I can feel that telltale swell and I’m so damn close to cumming just from how you’re acting. This is not good. I can’t give another minute performance in my life. Why do you have to be so alluring?!

Concentrate on you. That’s the key.

I tug your panties off, opening your legs and I had no idea a woman could be this turned on for me. You were so wet and I couldn’t help myself but cup your thighs and lap a long line up your folds because I just needed to taste you.

“Fuck, Joe!” you mewl, your head lolling back.

You taste so fucking good that I’m dipping my tongue in you to get more before reminding myself that your pleasure was priority here. I move back up to your perfect clit, using all my techniques learned from videos to swirl, to lick, to suck and you’re making the most obscene noises.

I’m starting to lose a bit of confidence a few minutes in because you’re not cumming. Am I doing something wrong? Fuck my jaw is starting to ache but you’re still making noises and I don’t think they’re fake. Do I just power through?

“Please don’t stop,” you groan, your hands gripping the bedframe tightly. “It feels so good.”

Well there is my answer. Maybe you’re just one of those girls who takes a while. I can feel you’re tensing your legs and there’s such a build up that perhaps you take a while and you just cum really hard as a result?

Thank God you taste so good or this would be a chore.

“I’m gonna cum,” you whisper breathlessly and I’m internally thanking that you’re so vocal.

I decide to slip two fingers into you because I wanna feel how hard you’ll orgasm. That seems to properly tip you over the edge because you’re half screaming, your pussy clenching around my fingers with an iron grip and my hand is getting coated in your juices.

Well shit. I’ve fucking cum in pants because Jesus that was so hot. Man oh man do you cum fucking hard and I feel like a stud that I’m the reason but also highly mortified about my own situation.

What the fuck do I do? Maybe I’ll have to steal another page from your viewing habits again to give myself time to recover.

“Think you can cum again for me, sweetheart?” I try and suavely say, hiding my groin from view.

“Oh my god Joe, there’s no need,” you pant. “That was incredible.”

“I wanna see you cum again,” I press. “Let me?”

“I don’t if I can.”

“I’ll happily try.”

And here I am again, lapping up everything you have to give me and it’s just so fucking sexy watching you devolve into this primal lust ridden mess. I put aside the slight ache in my tongue and I power through, I power through for you because now I know the baseline.

Fifteen minutes later you’re screaming again but this time you’re screaming my name and shaking so hard in the aftershocks. I’m getting hard again now so it’s a good sign. Time to see how good you feel around me.

I’m getting rid of my shirt and trousers, crawling back up your body and you kiss me hard as I slightly grind against you, feeling you soak my boxer shorts.

I’m so ready to consummate our relationship.

“Protection?” I ask and you turn over to open the bedside drawer, pulling out a condom.

Then the worst thing ever happens. Your phone rings.

I can see it from here and the words 'Mom’ flash up.

Fuck!

“Oh god, oh no, I’m sorry,” you start babbling. “I need to take this. I’m so sorry.”

“Honestly, it’s fine,” I reassure you. “Take it.”

You grab the phone, moving into the bathroom so you can speak with privacy and I’m just here on your bed with your cum still on my tongue and a painfully fucking hard cock. What a fucking nightmare. I hope she doesn’t need anything.

I’m straining my ears to listen but I can’t catch any snippets of your conversation until you come back in the room and you look upset.

“She’s had a fall and she’s in the hospital,” you say anxiously. “I’m so sorry to do this to you again.”

“I get it, don’t worry. I’m not a dick,” I stand up, gathering my clothes and putting them back on. “Do you need any company?”

“That would be really nice, thank you,” you hurriedly redress.

“Not scared about introducing me to your mom?”

That made you stop in your tracks as you processed the words, “I just…I’m sorry. You’re right, that is a big step. I-”

I’m up and hugging you before you can get yourself in a twist, “It’s fine. I’m not intimidated.”

“You’re wonderful, you know that?”

“You can tell me more often if you like,” I smirk. “Come on, let’s go.”

I just hope my erection goes away soon.

 

**

 

At the hospital, we go to the ward where your mom is and I instantly see how frail she looks.

“Hi sweetie,” she smiles with effort. “You didn’t have to come.”

“Don’t be idiotic,” you chide. “Of course I would.”

“Who is this?”

“Uh this…this is my….boyfriend, Joe,” you cast me a quick glance like you’re afraid I’ll react badly to the official term.

“Pleasure to meet you,” I use my best charming smile and I’m genuinely so happy because you called me your boyfriend without any prompting or discussion.

We’re a done deal.

“Nice to meet you too, son,” your mom says before coughing so violently it turns into a hack.

Instantly I know that the situation is not going to get better any time soon. Your mom is severely ill and possibly terminal from how pallid her skin looks, how sunken her eyes are.

She will be a constant worry for you and a constant nag. She’ll take up so much of your time and just pull you into a depressive state and I’ll barely get to see you like this. You won’t have any time for us.

I’m sorry, babe but….your mom’s gotta go.

Chapter Text

It’s like I suspected.

We’ve been a ‘thing’ for four weeks now and not once have we had sex. There’s always an emergency with your mom at the most inconvenient times.

I mean…you’ve not even changed your Facebook status in all that time. How secure is that meant to make me feel? Am I not good enough? Are you hiding me from the world?

I can feel you withdrawing from me and it’s driving me crazy. You keep apologising all the damn time saying I came into your life at a bad point but I’m here to stay. Don’t you realise?

I went with you on the last visit to see your mom and she looks so frail. This situation is doing neither of you any good. Your mom is suffering and you can’t start moving on with your life.

She’s going to die but maybe I can provide a mercy for her. I think that’s the kindest thing to do, right? She’d be okay with me helping you like this?

“I’m going to the store. Do you need anything?” I ask one late night.

“No thanks,” you blankly stare at the book you had, not even taking it in.

Oh boy, I have some serious work to do. You’re not your cheery, brave self. You’re a summer girl trapped in winter and I need to free you.

So I slip out, walking towards the hospital in thrift store clothes, a cap pulled down over my face. I know where most of the cameras are, I’ve already spotted them on my last visit so when I slip into one of the back rooms, it’s undetected.

I put on discarded scrubs, mentally throwing up at what could possibly be on them but I have a job and I can’t deviate. This is important.

Moving through the wards, this is frightening easily. I really expected a little more security but every nurse and doctor is just nodding at me as I go past. Shit, I hope there isn’t an emergency and they drag me in to help.

I pick up the pace, desperate to get to your mom’s room and fling myself in, quietly closing the door behind me.

She’s asleep and now I’m a little apprehensive. I mean, sure this seemed like a solid plan at the time but this is still murder. Candy shop douchebag deserved it but your mom….

Then she draws a great rattling breath in her sleep and I know this is doing her a kindness. This is saving everyone. She can be at peace soon.

I mute the ECG machine and pull the life support system, making it look like the wires slipped out rather than been tampered with. Your mom convulses and I need to make my escape.

I know there’s a storage cupboard down the hallway so I make my way there, climbing up the shelving units and hiding the filthy scrubs in the ceiling before wiping myself down and trying to look presentable.

When I come out, I see no one is rushing to the door so muting the machine worked. Hey, maybe you can even sue the hospital for 'medical negligence’! I mean cash won’t help your grief initially but in the long run, I’m setting you up for life here.

My mission is done and I need to get outta here so I slink off back towards your place, stopping at the grocery store to maintain my cover and then finally come back.

“You were gone a while,” you say when I come back in.

“Yeah, went for a walk too. Fresh air,” I smile, putting down the items.

“Is that really true?”

Shit. Are you onto me?! How is that possible?!

“Yeah?” I say hesitantly. “Why wouldn’t it be?”

“If you’d rather see other people because I’m too much work right now, I’d get it,” you bite your lip. “I know what 'going to the grocery store’ means in today’s language.”

Wait…..WHAT?!

You think I might be cheating on you?! Is that why you look so worried? I can’t help it. I start laughing hard.

“There’s no need for that,” you’re embarrassed now.

“I’m sorry, babe. I’m not laughing at you. I just think you’re cute. I’m not with another person if that’s what you think. I’m invested in us.”

And it’s true. I mean I’ve racked up a body count of two so far. I think that qualifies me for being the most committed boyfriend ever.

You just groan and put your head in your hands, “God, I’m sorry. I don’t know why I said that. That wasn’t okay at all.”

“Hey, you’re under stress. I get it,” I sit down next to you, pulling you into a cuddle. “Things like this do no one’s mental state any good.”

“I really don’t deserve you,” you start crying and I kiss your tears away like this is some sort of Fabio romance novel.

I’m the one that hit the jackpot here,” I smile. “Honestly, it’s fine. You need to stop worrying. I’m not going anywhere.”

I didn’t expect you to launch yourself at me but here we are. You’ve pushed me back into the couch and almost straddled my lap, holding back a little in case I don’t want it. What a considerate girl you are. I most definitely do want it though.

You’re kissing me with such vigour and passion that I can’t help but instantly get hard. God, you’re even grinding against me now. All I wanna do is….fuck, you’re doing it for me! You’re stripping your clothes off faster than I can comprehend and you’re naked on my lap before you’re tugging my belt open and pulling my pants down over my hips.

“Wait wait,” I can’t believe I’m doing this but I need to maintain some level of chivalry here. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah I’m sure,” you nod, your chest heaving hard. “I think you’ve waited long enough.”

Damn right I have.

You properly straddle me now and I take off my sweater because fuck, I love feeling your skin against mine. You’re so warm and you’re so soft.

Then I feel you take my cock, which twitches in appreciation before lining it up with your soaked pussy and Jesus the heat coming off of you. I don’t have long to wait until you lower yourself down and I’m so in love with how you feel around me. The last piece of a puzzle. You’re so warm and wet and you make this soft little gasp when you fully seat yourself on top of me that I’ll never forget hearing.

I can feel you clench and I think that’s a sign that you love being filled up by me. I’ve never been one of those men who obsesses over cock size but I’ve always known I’m thicker than average. I’ve read that girls tend to like that over length and given how tight you feel gripping me as you get used to the sensation, oh I think you really love it.

“Fuck, Joe,” you steady yourself, your hands on my shoulders.

I can’t go straight into what I know you like from your porn habits. This has to be entirely you. If I push this too hard in the first instance, you’ll stop. All I can do is sit back and enjoy the show.

You start rocking on top of me and I think I see heaven. Fuck, you feel so good.

I’m watching every inch of you, documenting in my head. You’ve got this flush that starts in your cheeks and creeps down to your chest. Your lips take on this darker glow and look so inviting. Your undulating body makes your breasts bounce ever so slightly and I am mesmerised.

You are truly beautiful.

Now, I want you to have fun as well since you’re doing all the work so I get my hand in between us and use my fingers on your slick clit to trace little circles. It’s worth the uncomfortable position just to see your eyes roll back and have you grip my shoulders tighter.

“You like that sweetheart?”

Shit, the porn research is creeping in. Fuck. Control yourself better, Joe!

“Yeah,” you say in the huskiest voice that’s bordering on a growl and you’re savaging your bottom lip.

You know what? Fuck it, I’m gonna keep going.

“Baby, I can’t hear you.”

“Yes!” your voice cracks as it rises.

You’re getting wetter, the fluid motion of you grinding getting easier and god is it hard to not blow my load so quickly but you just seem to be hitting all the right spots.

Then you cum and fuck you squeeze me so hard, your head falling into the crook of my shoulder as you whine in this way that makes me want to fuck you so deep but hold you protectively at the same time.

“Are you ready for me?” I whisper in your ear. “Let me take over.”

“Mhm,” is all you can manage.

I take hold of your hips and begin thrusting up hard. You just wrap yourself around me and hold on for the ride and I love it when your fingers coast through into my hair. This is so carnal but so intimate at the same time. It’s everything I ever wanted.

“Where do you want me to finish?” I ask, because it’s not a given that I can cum anywhere.

I am proper like that, you know.

“Keep going,” you urge. “I’m protected.”

See, always so prepared. I pull you down as flush against me as I can get you, driving my hips up so I’m buried up to the hilt and finally, fucking finally, I claim what’s mine. The sensation of completely filling you up is unreal and fuck me, I have clearly been waiting a long time because I look down, pushing you backwards slightly and I can see my own cum leaking out of you and running back down over my cock.

Fuck that is a sight that will stay with me forever.

“That was unexpected,” I smile at you.

“Was it okay?”

God you are adorably shy and yet such a sexual creature. I can’t get enough of you.

“Would I have cum if it wasn’t?” I laugh softly. “You’re really good at that.”

You tuck a piece of hair behind your ear nervously, “You know your way around a woman.”

Well I have spent many a night researching it. You see, I’m no James Dean so I decided to bump up my other skills to compensate. Looks like they paid off.

“I don’t get off unless you get off,” I rest my forehead against yours.

“As awkward as this sounds now I’ve kinda jumped on you on the couch….do you wanna cuddle in the bed?”

“God yes. You read my mind,” I put my hands under your ass and pick you straight up like that.

You squeal a little, wrapping your legs around me as I lead you to the bedroom and just bundle you in my arms. I can feel the fluttering of your heartbeat as my hand rests on your chest, the other encircled around your back. You have your head resting on my shoulder and right now everything is perfect. You’re perfect.

The words are bursting forth and I’m not sure whether I can contain them any longer. I think a month is okay to say them though, right? Not too soon?

“Sweetheart?”

“Hmm?”

I never get to say it.

Your phone starts ringing and I instantly know what it is. Shit. I didn’t expect it to happen this quickly.

“Sorry, Joe. I’ll be as quick as I can.”

No no no! This moment was perfect! I should’ve waited until tomorrow! Fuck!

“Okay,” I smile like nothing is wrong and kiss you quickly on the top of your head.

You get the phone, sitting up on the end of the bed and I just watch your posture crumple in on yourself. You’re shaking and just making odd noises to whoever was giving you the news. Then you finally clicked off.

“Everything okay?” I sit up, acting my part as the concerned boyfriend.

“No,” your face screws up like you’re trying hard not to completely collapse.

“Talk to me,” I say softly, rubbing your back.

“Mom. She’s….that was the police.”

Police?! What?!

“Police?” I hope my voice is somewhat normal now.

“Uh,” you take a big gulp. “Someone purposefully tampered with her support system and she died.”

“Tampered? Are you saying someone killed her?”

“Mmm,” you confirm, slapping your hand over your mouth and taking a shuddering breath. “Joe, they say someone tried to cover it up and make it look accidental. Who would do that?”

“I don’t know,” I hold you tight. “God, I’m so sorry. Would you like to go to the hospital?”

“The police want to see me at the station,” you continue your almost silent sobbing. “Can you take me there please?”

“Of course. Let’s get you cleaned up and we’ll go.”

Then I’m escorting you to the police station and I’m truly shitting it now. I thought I did a good job but something must have given me away.

How am I gonna lie my way outta this one? Smooth, Joe. Actions have consequences, you dumb fuck.

Shit…

Chapter Text

I have never been so scared in my life.

What a shitty impulse decision I made, just to make sure you were going to have a smoother grief period. Your Mom didn’t have long to go. I could’ve waited it out. I could’ve tried to be more understanding rather than taking it upon myself to be the angel of mercy.

Shit.

Now I might get jailed and I don’t think you’re the kind of woman to forgive something like this. I highly doubt you’ll be visiting me in prison.

Joe Goldberg: Boyfriend of the year, killer of mothers.

I’m sure that’ll go down well in the media.

So far you just seem to be taking my nerves for worry about you, which I’m fine with but I can feel my stress levels hit the roof and I’m trying my best not to snap at you for fumbling with your damn ID so the lady at the police precinct counter can verify you.

“Right this way,” she leads us into a room.

At least I’m allowed to go in with you. That way I can see what the lay of the land is.

“Can I get you a coffee?” the detective asks but both of us shake our heads in sync.

Fuck, even now we’re so in tune with each other. I really hope this isn’t the end.

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this but your mom’s life support was deliberately tampered with,” he starts. “Now…I have to ask this and it’s an awkward question but was this an attempt at euthanasia?”

“What?” you blink, horrified. “No! Of course not! I know she was in pain but it wasn’t my right to take her life. Of course I didn’t want her to suffer but Jesus!”

“Just a question, Ma'am but I have to ask your partner the same one too.”

Here comes my Oscar moment, “No, sir but I’d really like to know who did that to her because….I’m sorry I shouldn’t say stuff like this out loud.”

“It’s understandable,” the detective carries on.

What? Did I just get away with that?! I think I managed to come off as the protective boyfriend there and everyone bought it!

“Is there anything to go on?” I ask. “Any description in case she knows someone like that?”

“Sir, let me do my job, please,” the detective dismissively waves at me, believing I’m getting ahead of myself and probably spend all day watching CSI or some bullshit. “Did your Mom have anyone who’d either want to harm her or do this as a mercy?”

“No,” you start crying. “I can’t think of anyone.”

I just lean back in my chair, a comforting arm around you. It’s going to be a long few hours.

 

*

 

Finally we get out and we’re back in your apartment. I’m now playing nurse maid, fetching you tissues, cups of coffee and chocolate.

A proper gentleman.

I’m just beaming inside because from what the police said, they have no idea who the figure on the CCTV was because my cap was too far down over my face, my frame was bulkier than normal with the thrift shop clothing and the footage itself was pretty grainy. I think I’m in the clear!

So I don’t mind being your little errand boy for now because I’m too happy. I got to make you mine and I got away with a mercy killing.

Our future is brighter.

“Joe, I’m so sorry about dragging you into all this. This must be so heavy for a new relationship,” you sniffle and I kiss your forehead.

“You think I’m gonna be an asshole and ditch you because you lost your Mom? I hope that’s not what you think of me,” I murmur softly. “I told you, I’m not here for just intimacy, I’m here for the whole package and that includes whatever you’re going through.”

I am one smooooooth guy and you’re eating outta the palm of my hand.

I really have to contain myself though because you practically fling yourself on me on the couch and you’re this ball of unbridled emotion just pouring out all over me, kissing me furiously. No matter the fact that my cock is rock hard and ready to go, I have to be your continual gentleman.

“Stop,” I press you back gently. “You don’t need to do this. If you just wanna cry on me all night, that’s fine. Please don’t push yourself into doing something you might regret. I wouldn’t want that.”

“Joe,” your eyes brim with tears. “Why the hell are you so perfect? Why am I such a fuck up? I just wanted a distraction. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. I get it. We can talk about whatever you’d like to to help and if this really is the distraction you need, I’ll continue with you but don’t force yourself, okay?”

“Can we just talk about something controversial? I think a heated discussion would be good to get my mind off it.”

“Sure thing,” I smile. “So, Kindles are for people too jaded to appreciate literature, right?”

I got to see your eyes light up for the first time since I’d made love to you. Here we go. I got it right. Go me!

Thankfully I was able to keep you relatively on topic for the rest of the night and I fell asleep with you cradled in my arms, your hand curled on my chest.

That was a good feeling.

 

**

 

I’ve been dating you for three months now.

Our relationship has gone from strength to strength and after the grieving period for your Mom, you have trusted me more and more. You’ve flourished under my care, more confident than the slightly cheeky but slightly shy girl who came into my store all that time ago.

Frankly you’re beautiful in every sense.

I wake up and your angelic face is next to me, sleeping serenely on the pillow…okay sometimes not so serenely but you’re still perfect to me. You’re the last thing I see at night too, flushed from sex, bare and vulnerable to me.

My god, life is great right now.

Well….I thought it was anyway.

You switched jobs two weeks ago, moving to a different newspaper, some tabloid thing rather than the educational journal. It apparently paid more and you had a lot more freedom for writing whatever you wanted. Not that you were a particularly gossip driven person but you did indulge now and then. Mainly you’d started a column regarding ‘Past vs Present’ in a warring fashion about what was better in technology, society etc. Seemed to be a hit by all accounts.

Now, all of that I’m happy for you and such. The rub is your new co-workers.

Whereas before they were the type of doddering ex-professors or up and coming researchers, now they’re young and glitzy. One in particular concerns me.

His name is Patrick. No I’m serious, Patrick.  Patrick is the type of guy who has a new girl on his arm every week because he usually can’t have the one he actually wants.  Patrick is the smooth fucker with the flash car and the expensive suit with suspenders (fucking suspenders?!) that has hair that effortlessly slicks back.

Patrick is also the guy who left a business card in your jacket pocket. Should I be monologuing about the tasteful thickness?

That was an American Psycho joke, by the way. Henceforth, I’ll refer to Patrick as Bateman.

Bateman sent you several texts under the pretence of welcoming you to the team but there’s a flirtatious edge to the words that I don’t like.

Yeah, I know I know. I shouldn’t be snooping any more. We’re happy, right? I just got this bad feeling when you came over to mine and you were smiling more than usual at your phone.

Now I’m monitoring Bateman like my life depends on it. He’s suave, he’s charming and he’s more attractive than me.

The last text he sent was inviting you on a 'work night out’ but I know that’s code for getting you alone at some point in the night to try his luck. You’ve said you’ll think about it but you’ve not outright said no.

Guess I have some research to do.

This yuppie piece of shit is not gonna steal you away from me. Nobody is. We’re in this together, forever.

Chapter Text

I can’t believe you said yes to going to the office party. You’re actually giving Bateman the time of day.

Am I just a stooge here? Am I a stopgap whilst you find something better?

I’m just gazing at you sleeping, wondering where the fuck I went wrong. This can’t be it, right? You must just be being polite.

But then…

The text messages you’ve been sending have been bordering on flirtatious. I can’t tell whether there’s intent behind it or you’re just that starved for attention that you’ll take it from anywhere. Do I not give you enough?

It must be something I’m doing wrong but I can’t figure out what.

You’re stirring now, your eyes opening and I quickly shut mine. Girls don’t tend to like it when you’re full on staring at them in their sleep, no matter how romantic Hollywood makes it out to be.

“I know you’re awake, Joe,” you seem amused. “You’re a bad liar.”

Actually I’m really good at it but I’m not gonna tell you that.

“Busted,” I smile, opening my eyes again. “You’re just too pretty for me to tear my eyes away from.”

You blush furiously and some part of me acknowledges that maybe you’ll always take attention from other men because you’re that shy deep down inside, that insecure. Then again, I should be enough for you.

“Shut up,” you laugh and you reach for me, nuzzling yourself against my body.

It’s moments like this where I could be frozen forever, eternally trapped in that feeling of utter love. If only it could last, if only I could keep you here all to myself. Maybe I could if I worded it right.

“Never,” I kiss your head. “Morning, beautiful.”

“Morning handsome,” you trace your fingers on my chest. “I should probably get ready for work before I’m late.”

“Do you have to go?” I fake whine…even though I’m actually whining.

Don’t fucking go.

“I don’t want to but I need a living,” you pout. “I’d much rather stay in bed all day with you.”

Well that gives me a little bit of hope. Also, we really must do that sometime. Working shop hours means we rarely get the same day off. I should take Saturday off this week.

“That’s a plan,” I slowly caress your waist. “I like it.”

“Joe,” you giggle and your whole naked body just undulates against me for a second.

Shit, I’m always hard around you. You do so many bad things to me, do you realise?

“Oh!” you seem to realise I’m getting aroused, feeling my cock press against your stomach. “Oh you naughty boy, huh? You’re not making this easier, you know?”

I want to pin you down and fuck you until you’re screaming right now but you don’t have time. You never have time this week. ‘Too much work’.

Yeah I’m sure….

To my amazement though, you roll onto your back and tug me on top of you, “Think you can be quick?”

“I’ll try,” I smirk.

“I want you.”

God I feel like I’ve been waiting ages. I waste no time sliding into you and your legs wrap around my back, encouraging me on.

I love the feel of you. Warm velvet, so eager, so tight. Honestly it’s nice to be told don’t hold back because I really go for it. Your neighbours are gonna hate us today because the bed is smacking against the wall with some force.

I don’t think you’re expecting me to fuck this brutally because your fingers are digging into my back and the noises you’re making are so loud they’re echoing in the bedroom. I do feel like a bit of a stud.

Time is of the essence though and I know you have a job to get to so I finish but I make sure I kiss the fuck out of you before I get off your body.

“I needed that,” you smile in a slight daze. “Listen I’m sorry I’ve been so everywhere lately but this new job is killer.”

“I know,” I play the part of the understanding boyfriend. “Listen, I’ll switch shifts around and get Saturday off and we can do something nice together. How does that sound?”

“Sounds great,” you’re pulling on your clothes. “When I get back from the office thingy later let’s sort something out.”

“Sure thing.”

“Bye Joe,” you kiss me before you go.

Even though what just happened should really assuage my fears, two things stick out to me.

One: You’ve still not said that you love me and three months in, I’m starting to worry. It’s getting hard for me to not blurt it out myself and scare you off.

Two: The clothes you put on as you left….my favourite little sundress.

Who are you trying to impress exactly? Bateman?

Well now I have to see what’s going on. Time to do some reconnaissance later.

 

**

 

Your work has no security.

I just strolled right in here with a badge I made in my store. I’ve made myself an intern and nobody is looking at me twice. The key to this is, carry a flask of coffee, paperwork and look harried. Act like you belong and no one will ever question it.

I’m now on the third floor, looking into your office where I see you typing away furiously at your laptop, pen speared through the ponytail you have. It’s actually quite beautiful to see you like this. You’re obviously a hard worker.

Then a paper ball bounces off your head and I follow the arc back to see Bateman across on the other side, grinning that stupid smile that probably cost him a fair few dollars in dental bills. Far from good natured office play, you actually seem to be pretty pissed.

“I’ve got a deadline, Patrick. Quit horsing around,” you grumble.

Yeah Patrick, stop being a child. You’re on the wrong end of thirty. It’s embarrassing.

“Lighten up, sweetheart,” he chuckles. “Just tryna get you in the party mood for later.”

Ugh. Sweetheart? Really? This guy sounds more like a sleaze in person than I could’ve imagined.

“Deadlines first,” you say firmly.

“Live a little,” he whines playfully. “Geez you must not be getting a lot at home lately.”

Oh man, it’s taking everything I have not to charge in and beat the shit out of this arrogant asshole. Why is the first thing guys tease girls about sex? It’s such a personal subject and shitheads like this turn in it into a baiting competition. He literally just wants you to either say you’re getting loads and then he knows you’re up for a good time or that you’re not getting any and that he could potentially offer his services.

I think if you rolled your eyes harder they would go back into your head. Then you look at the ceiling in despair before your eyes catch a brief sight of me on the way down.

Shit.

SHIT.

I need a reason why I’m here.

I duck backwards quickly, looking around for how to get out of this. I spot my salvation on an abandoned desk.

I grab the flowers on it, hoping I don’t get caught out before you come around the corner.

“Joe?!” you seem very confused.

“Surprise,” I hold the flowers out. “Popped by on my break. Sorry, I got spooked when you looked up so suddenly.”

“You brought me flowers?” your grin makes me wish I actually had.

Fucking stupid, Joe. This would’ve been the perfect thing to do in the first place!

“Anything for my girl,” I return the smile.

“I’m keeping you,” you laugh before reaching up to kiss me. “Would you like to come in?”

“Can’t stay,” I shake my head. “Ethan implodes if I’m away for too long. Just to say I’ll miss you tonight and hurry back home.”

“Definitely,” you widen your eyes. “Parties aren’t my thing.”

Can’t we just hide away from the world then? A hermit life with books and old movies sounds like heaven to me.

“Bye beautiful,” I steal a kiss before making my way back down the corridor.

I just catch the snippet of a conversation as you go back into the office.

“Got an admirer?” Bateman asks.

“My boyfriend just surprised me on his break.”

You sound absolutely smitten and that’s exactly what I want.

Jesus fucking Christ, Joe. You should definitely go more traditional romance. You obviously love it.

“What’s he sucking up for or is he apologising for something?” Bateman continues.

“Shut up, Patrick,” you huff. “He’s just being chivalrous.”

“Or he wants some.”

My god, Bateman. You’re a monster! You’re a sexual harassment claim waiting to happen. I sincerely hope for your sake you don’t try anything because I’ve done worse things to people for less in the last couple of years and you’re much more worth that effort than Beck was.

Nevertheless, I leave to go back to work. I can’t try that trick again of just showing up without an excuse so I’ll have to go back to traditional methods of keeping an eye on his behaviour….

Mainly gatecrashing this work party somehow.

 

**

 

At this point, I should just have a closet for these kind of disguises.

I’m in something very unlike me. It’s extremely James Dean but I know it won’t draw much attention at the bar that’s hosting the party.

Getting in is no problem, some people still think I’m the intern from this morning so I’m waved by. Did I mention your place has a serious security problem?

What I see assuages all of my fears so far.

You’re sat in the corner like a complete wallflower, a waste of a pretty dress as you sit there reading  a book whilst everyone around you gets wasted. You’re a lot different in this situation to how I remember you when you went out with your friends.

Speaking of, Nate and I are really good friends now through you. Thanks for that by the way.

“Come on, sweetheart. Dance with me,” Bateman stands by you, slicking his greased up hair back. “You’ve not got up all night.”

“I’m just tired,” you try and feign.

“No excuses newbie, come on,” he grabs your hand, yanking you up so the book falls onto the table in the booth and pulls you out on the dancefloor.

Fucking asshole. You didn’t say yes and he’s dragging you into some awkward jive whilst The Rat Pack plays.

I’m so memorised by how bad his moves are, I’m not even doing anything about him touching you.

“I wanna sit down,” I hear you yell over the music.

“You’ve barely got up, babe,” he takes your waist and I see you grimace before reaching back towards the table and downing whatever drink you had.

Oh my sweet summer girl, you don’t have to feel pressured into this.

I’m trying to reach you, cover be damned, but there’s a throng of the researchers blocking my path. The dancefloor is just too packed.

Slowly I’m watching as you try to match Bateman’s movements and he’s being intentionally silly to make you laugh. It’s like watching a horror show I can do nothing about.

Gradually you’re warming up to it, or maybe you’re drunker than you were, and now you’re a little more spirited. That’s making Bateman cocky.

His hand has lowered a couple of inches on your waist, almost coming to your ass and he’s pressed himself against you like you were a long term couple.

“Oh it’s awful,” one of the women in my way was saying as she looked over at the spectacle. “She’ll be another one on his list.”

“Hopefully she won’t be too afraid to file a harassment suit like the last one,” another pipes up.

“Does this often, huh?” I join in. “I’m the intern.”

“Hey sweetie,” an older woman pats me on the shoulder, squeezing it more firmly than I’d like. “Yeah Patrick is a dog. He gets away with a lot of flirtatious behaviour with young women.”

“Wow, it’s not the 1980s, huh?” I joke and they all titter like clucking hens.

I’m absolutely shocked when I look back and Bateman blatantly bends down and plants his lips on yours. You seem to flounder for a second before pushing him back.

“What the hell are you doing?!” you cry.

“I thought we were bonding?” Patrick shrugs.

“I have a boyfriend!”

“And? So do most of the women in this place but what their guys don’t know won’t hurt them.”

“I’m outta here,” you grab your things and storm out, thankfully not seeing me.

Time for this dick to get his just desserts.

“Hey man, sorry about the strike out,” I try and fake sympathise, even though I’m fucking boiling inside.

“Happens,” he says nonchalantly. “It’s fifty-fifty with the new girls. That one was just more old fashioned than I thought. I’ll crack her in the end though.”

“I’m Jake, the intern,” I hold out my hand and he shakes it. “I can give you a tip if you like? She seems to like books. I know this antique bookstore. Get her something from there and she’ll probably bite.”

“Jake, huh?” Bateman assesses me. “You’re a good wingman. This place still open? I better do some buttering up before she goes to HR.”

“Yeah it’s open. Follow me,” I gesture.

That’s right, you asshole. Follow the Pied Piper.

 

**

 

You think I’d be used to lugging unconscious bodies down the stairs of Mooney’s by now but no.

I cracked Bateman over the head with the bat I keep hidden by the door and deposited him in the special container for rare books. I’m still not one hundred percent about what to do with him though.

I’m leaning more towards scaring him so bad that he moves town. I don’t get the sense he’ll go to the cops because he’s already got enough possible criminal activity hanging over him to draw attention to himself.

Yeah, that’s what I’ll do.

I get a text from you at that point asking where I am and I quickly message to say I’m out getting dinner and do you want some.

Now I look very considerate and I’ve removed your problem for you.

It’ll look tomorrow like he’s afraid of being disciplined at work so that gives me a few days leeway to work on him.

Best get on with grabbing food before you get suspicious. Gotta look after my girl.

I’ll always look after you, no matter what I have to do.

Chapter Text

You’d think hiding a person in the basement of my workplace would be a cinch now right?

I’ve done this two times already and yet I always feel like I have no fucking clue what I’m doing. It’s too complicated looking after a fully grown adult like this as well as attending to someone else’s needs.

That’s not to say I don’t look at the spot every day where Beck….well we don’t need to go on about that.

I hope you don’t turn out like her. I’m tired of giving everything to women who just throw it back in my face.

“Come on, man!” Bateman bangs on the glass. “Let me out! I promise I’ll just fucking disappear!”

He’s made the same plea for the last sixteen days. It’s getting irritating now.

“I can’t trust you yet,” I shrug simply.

“Please!”

He’s desperate, he’s dirty and he’s beginning to stink up the books left in there. I’m going to have to do something with him soon but what?

A knock at the door startles me but I have Bateman well trained not to call out by now after I tasered him in the balls last time.

“Joe, your girlfriend is here,” Ethan calls through the wood.

“Be right up,” I call back.

For Bateman’s silence, I give him a candy bar. Honestly, it’s like owning a dog. A big stupid perverted dog.

When I slip out and lock all the doors, I nearly shit myself when you put your hands over my eyes. I’m not expecting you to be this close and I’m praying that dick downstairs makes no noise.

“Hey stranger,” you nip at my ear. “What are you up to?”

“Stock count,” I try to look as beleaguered as possible. “Had to do it or else no one would’ve. Someone has to watch the register.”

“Are you coming home soon?” you let your fingers wander down my shoulders and massage my back slightly.

God it feels like the best thing in the world.

“Yeah, I’m all done for the day,” I smile, turning around. “How about we grab random books and go read in the park?”

“You grab one, I grab one then we give them to each other,” you nod, playfully bouncing on the balls of your feet.

Now I can openly ogle the way your breasts bounce. I have that privilege. You even know I’m staring because you wink at me.

“I’ll give you something alright,” I grab your waist, pulling you flush to me.

“Who knew book store clerks were so dirty, huh?” you laugh.

Let’s just say……I made Ethan take his break and shut the blinds for while.

I hope the noises you made reached Bateman, especially when I made you scream my name. You’ll never get that chance Bateman.

You’re mine.

 

**

 

It’s week three and I’m still not sure what to do with him.

For the most part he’s placid, docile even. I think faced with the prospect of a real alpha male, he’s backed down quite a lot.

I’m trying to read him Don Quixote to keep his mind active but it’s slow going. He keeps asking what the words mean.

All the while, I’m spending too much time here and I can tell you’re feeling a little rejected. You’re not as independent as Beck. You’re clingy.

I don’t mean that in bad way, god no. I love it. It’s just who you are when you’re with someone.

I come back home and it’s gone 8pm. You greet me but it’s a little stilted and I know I’m fucking up right now.

Stupid stupid Joe! You should’ve just killed him already!

We go to bed very early and I’m lying there wondering how to fix this quickly. I can feel you pulling away from me and it sucks.

When I wake up, the alarm reads 03:37 and you’re not in the bed with me.

I’m groping in the dark and I just hit cold mattress. You’ve been gone a while then.

I get up, sneaking towards the door because I don’t know what’s going on. I can see dull blue light through the crack and I gingerly push it open, trying not to make a sound.

You’re on the couch, scrolling through your phone.

My first thought is, nothing good comes out of someone scrolling at this time in the morning. Secret conversations tend to happen.

My second thought is you’re hunched very far over, almost like you’re trying to conceal the action should you hear me getting up.

Are you…..talking to someone? Is there someone else?

I flip on the light and you swear loudly, dropping the phone on the coffee table.

“Shit, Joe!”

Only….that’s not your phone. It’s mine.

My normal phone that is, not the one I use to track your activities.

“What are you doing and why do you have my phone?” I ask, feeling immensely puzzled by this turn of events.

“Oh my god,” you hide your face. “I just….wow this is not okay what I just did. I’m so sorry Joe. It’s  just…the late nights, the dashing off, the phone glancing…”

I glance at my phone a lot because I have a CCTV camera monitoring Bateman but not that I’m gonna tell you that.

“What are you saying?” I press.

“I thought you might be…I thought…” you’re clearly embarrassed. “Maybe there was something else.”

“You thought I was cheating?” I blink. “I already told you the last time, I’m not interested in anyone else.”

“I know,” you groan, hiding your face again. “I know that and I should know that but it was like this fucking compulsion to really know, you know? I’m saying know too much. Fuck. It’s just…I didn’t want to lose you and I didn’t understand why you were being distant.”

“It’s just work, baby,” I come to sit next to you, pulling you into my chest and stroking your hair because I know that calms you down. “It’s a busy time.”

“I’m sorry,” you mumble. “I’m such an asshole.”

No, actually you’re really sweet. You care that much about keeping me that you did something rash about it. I can appreciate that. We’re kindred spirits, you and I.

“It’s fine. Everyone gets anxiety trouble now and then,” I shush you. “Just trust me, okay?”

“I’ll never do it again,” you swear.

I wouldn’t mind if you did, just as long as you don’t find the other phone.

“I know,” I kiss your head.

“I only did it because….I love you,” you blurt out so quickly I almost miss it.

“I love you,” I say back, smiling like an idiot.

FUCKING FINALLY! Oh my god, it’s been months and I was considering the fact you may not be that into me. Thank fuck you realised it eventually. We’re meant to be together.

Instead of the discussion ending with a hearty cuddle, it ends with me stripping you naked on the couch and fucking you so hard you end up scratching the leather clinging onto the arm rest.

I love our little life.

 

**

 

It’s morning and I’m heading out to the store.

I wanna pick some things up for a romantic breakfast in bed and I left you sleeping because I’m such a gentleman like that.

I dawdle for a while around the streets, taking in how great the morning sun looks dappling on the skyscrapers.

God life is amazing with you in it.

I’ve been about an hour so far because I’m trying to pick out a nice new sundress for you. I’ve got the perfect one that has little lemons and oranges on it. It’s perfect for my summer girl.

I feel pretty pleased with myself as I head to the grocery store finally and decide to check my phone for the CCTV feed.

Guess who got the heart attack of their fucking life?

I end up running, running like I’ve never done before because your life is in danger.

You’re on the damn feed. You got into the basement somehow, probably assuming I went into work. I can see a crumpled coffee cup and liquid over the floor so you must have picked me something up on the way.

What I also see is Bateman strangling you inside the glass box where you must have opened it up to free him.

I whip out my ear phones as I run, plugging them into the audiojack and his voice comes through, demented and high pitched.

“Stop fucking struggling you slut bitch! This is your damn fault! You shouldn’t have dressed like a whore and maybe I wouldn’t have come onto you and I wouldn’t be here with your fucking psycho boyfriend keeping me like an animal! Guess who’s laughing now, huh?! I’m gonna take away what he loves the most.”

My blood is boiling. How dare he fucking touch you. How dare he!

I’m about two streets away when I run across the road, getting clipped by the bumper of a cab which spins me out. I’m collapsing on the sidewalk and I don’t have time for this.

“Oh my god, are you okay?!” the driver gets out.

“Fine, don’t worry about it,” I grimace, scrambling up, grabbing my cell and running again.

“Fucking die!” I hear in my ears and there’s the choked sounds of you gasping for breath.

I need to move faster! FASTER!

I can’t fucking believe I’m listening to you being murdered right now and my goddamn fucking legs aren’t going quick enough!

I hit the door of Mooney’s, bursting through and Ethan seems oblivious to what’s going on downstairs because he has earphones on whilst sorting books at the register. Normally I would be really angry about this work ethic but I’ve no time to get all boss mode.

“The sprinklers,” I say as I rush past and throw myself through the basement door, trying not to arouse suspicion.

What the hell am I going to find? Am I too late? Oh god, this is all my fault.

I should have killed him. I should’ve killed him straight away.

Don’t you dare be fucking dead.

Chapter Text

When I reach the point where I can see into the basement, Bateman is straddling you. He has both his hands around your neck and your face is turning purple.

I have no time to shout out, I just grab the chair next to the desk and smash it over the back of his head. In his shock, he lets go of you, crashing to the side.

I hear you take a deep painful breath and I thank whatever deity I need to that you’re still alive. Problem is, now Bateman is coming for me. I get socked in the face so hard I’m on my ass within seconds and he’s pushed you away when you tried to get up. I’m being pinned against the floor, blows raining down on my head.

“Get off him!” you shout, your voice hoarse and damaged.

You attempt to jump on his back, trying to pull him off balance but he just stands up with you clinging on and runs backwards towards the wall, slamming you against it. I hear the wind being knocked out of you and you slide pathetically to the ground.

I take up the chair again, hitting him hard, hitting him over and over again. I’m clobbered in the testicles by his ham handed fist though and as any man would tell you, that is game over. I’m pitching onto the ground, clutching my groin for dear life.

Then he’s trying to strangle me now and I’m too dazed to fight back properly. I’m like a weak kitten trying to bat him off.

Is this it? This is how I die?

“Fuck you!” I hear you snarl before there’s a ‘thunk’ noise and Bateman is on the ground too, crushing my stomach a little with his dead weight before rolling off me.

I open my eyes to see you standing over him with a paperweight from my desk and before I can tell you to stop, you bring it down over his head because he tried to lunge for you. I can see blood spraying as you arc your arm back, ready for another swing.

That look on your face. I’ve never seen it before. It’s frightening and beautiful at the same time.

Maybe my summer girl has more of a warrior in her after all because you just keep hitting him before he can attack you. More blood splatters over the ground until you give a final whack that has the bone of his skull dent in and he lies still on the floor.

You drop the paperweight immediately, your legs crumpling from underneath you as tears start pouring down your face.

“Oh my god, oh my god,” you kept chanting like a prayer.

“It’s okay, it’s okay,” I groan, getting up and feeling that dull ache between my legs.

“I killed him. I fucking killed him. Shit!” you’re raking your hair almost to the point of tearing it out.

“Stop, it’s alright,” I grab for you, pulling you into my chest where you’re shaking so violently I think you’re about to throw up. “He tried to kill you. It was self defence.”

“He did. He did try to kill me,” you’re trying to rationalise it. “Fucker, he tried to kill me!”

“You’re safe now.”

“Wait, he said you kept him like an animal. What did that mean?”

Shit. I was hoping you would’ve forgotten about that.

“I didn’t want to have to tell you this….”

You look up at me suspicious yet wide eyed, “What did you do, Joe?”

Time to tell you the truth and hope you don’t pick up that paperweight again. I’m still looking at it warily.

“He came here three weeks ago saying he was going to steal you from me and when I told him to get lost he attacked me. Said he’d take you whether you said no or not. I locked him in the rare books box and I haven’t known what to do with him since. I should’ve turned him into the police but I was scared if they set him loose that he’d come looking for you. This is all my fault.”

“You….you kept him locked up for three weeks?!” you pull away slightly.

And here it comes. Here comes the revulsion. This is exactly how it went with Beck. God I really hoped it wouldn’t end up this way.

“I panicked. I knew when he was there for one day that he’d go straight to the cops if I let him out. I didn’t know what to do.”

“That’s why you were so distant,” realisation hits you. “That’s why you were checking your phone all the time.”

“Yeah, yeah it was. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. I was just afraid. I wanted to keep you safe.”

“You did that for me?”

“Of course I did. I love you. I’m not letting some asshole in suspenders think you’re his personal sex puppet.”

Please, please say you understand. I really don’t wanna have to lock you up like I did with Beck. I’m coiling myself, getting ready for it.

“You wouldn’t have killed him, would you?” you ask tentatively.

“No, I didn’t know what I was gonna do with him,” I shake my head and it’s the truth at least. “I didn’t think that far ahead.”

“I don’t know why I’m getting antsy about this when I’m the one who killed him anyway. Fuck…I think I’m gonna throw up.”

You retch a little but nothing comes up. I empty out the wastepaper basket and hand it to you. You turn a little green but you keep your stomach in check.

“Joe, what the hell am I gonna do?” you start crying. “I’m going to jail.”

“No you’re not. You’re gonna go home, you’re gonna call some people to make an alibi and I’m gonna take care of this. This is my mess.”

“I can’t ask you to do that,” you bite your lip. “I can’t ask you to-”

“Just go home,” I say more forcefully. “And put some ice on your neck. It looks sore.”

It does. It looks horrendous and if you hadn’t of killed Bateman, I would’ve for doing that to you. There is ugly black and yellow bruising in a band around your throat and you were still speaking hoarsely. I’m still fuming just looking at you.

“I’ve got blood on me,” you whisper.

“Sit tight, I have some clothes you can borrow.”

I get up, grabbing one of my disguises from a shelf and help you undress, throwing your stained clothing in a bag. You’re still shaking but we manage it.

“Now go home,” I hold your face. “Please. I’ll take care of everything.”

It took more persuading but you finally complied. You kept glancing back as you went up the stairs.

Now it was time to use some old tricks to get rid of this guy.

 

**

 

It took me about five hours before I was able to dispose of him properly.

Do you know how hard it is to get rid of a body in broad daylight? Very. That’s the answer.

Am I going to go into more detail about it? No. It was traumatising enough.

See, you may think I’m used to this shit by now but I’m not. I’m not a natural killer and I’m not good with dead things. It creeps me out.

By the time I get back to the apartment, it’s dark. When I come in, you’re standing behind the door holding a frying pan like a weapon.

“Oh god, Joe,” you relax instantly. “Shit, I thought you were….I didn’t know what to think. Was I going to smack a cop with a frying pan? What the fuck am I doing?”

“You’re just on edge,” I take the weapon out of your hand and set it on the entrance table. “It’s alright. It’s done. I’ve got his phone so I’ll keep posting like I’m him for a while.”

“That’s smart,” you nod fervently.

I’m so glad you’re not questioning why I would know to do that. I think you’re too afraid to process right now.

“Are you okay?” I ask.

“No,” you say honestly. “I killed someone, Joe. How can you even stand to look at me any more?”

“Easily,” I frown. “You were defending yourself. You were saving me. I’m not leaving you.”

“Really?”

I mean, technically you should be running from me because I locked a guy up in my work’s basement for nearly a month but hey, at least you didn’t find out about the other stuff I did.  That would definitely have you running from me.

“Really,” I nod firmly.

You throw yourself at me, kissing me more wildly than you ever have done before and I just let you. I selfishly let you work out your trauma through me. It feels too good to tell you to stop.

Instead, I just help you strip out of your clothes because you seem to be clumsily trying to remove them yourself. Then I shed mine.

“Joe.”

There’s so much emotion in that word and I’m just captivated by it. I can hear relief, sadness, tension, arousal, guilt and need.

I pick you up, you wrapping your legs around me and pin you to the wall. After some awkward positioning, I’m able to slide you on my cock before rutting into you with the kind of ferocity I’ve not felt in a while.

I guess near death experiences are good aphrodisiacs. Who knew?

You’re clutching onto me for dear life and I feel so fucking powerful driving into you, hearing noises that are definitely going to annoy the neighbours. You’re so damn responsive and I love it.

“Fuck I love you,” I say as I feel you twitch around me, those little movements that let me know I’m getting you close.

This is the most confusing mix of emotions I’ve ever seen on your face. You’re crying but you’re making the dirtiest noises. I’m not really put off. It’s beautiful watching you so raw.

“God, Joe!”

Then I feel you pulse around my cock and you’re squeezing me so tight it’s almost hard to fuck you but I keep going, chasing my own release. It’s not far behind but it’s not embarrassingly quick after yours.

The waterworks really start then and you’re sobbing in my arms. I think you’re just happy to be alive.

I carry you into the bedroom, still clinging to me where I lay us both on the bed and I just hold you until you’re all cried out.

“Thank you,” you whisper over and over again.

I mean, it’s my fault completely that you were in that situation but I’ve somehow come out of this as the hero.

I’ll take that.

 

**

 

Three Months Later

 

I’m taking you on a perfect boating trip towards the Statue of Liberty.

I’ve timed it just right so the sunset is just starting. It’s casting a rippling orange glow on the water making it look like it’s on fire.

I glance at you, seeing the red hue dance in your hair and I’m captivated all over again.

Sure it’s taken a while to get to terms with what happened but I think we’re good now. You’ve stopped breaking down and stopped overanalysing things.

“It’s so pretty!” you chime up.

“You’re prettier,” I say smoothly and you blush.

“Thanks for bringing me here. I needed to get away for a while.”

“I know. I think we both did.”

“Baby, there’s something I wanna ask you. I feel like it’s the right moment.”

Here it goes. I take the ring out of my jacket pocket and get on one knee.

“Will you marry me?”

Amazing how much you can read a person’s stream of consciousness in such a short space of time. There’s surprise, fear and uncertainty. This is probably too soon for you, much too soon but there’s the horror of saying no in a place filled with people. Nobody wants to be that person.

I’ve also got another advantage. We share a secret. I’ll always be that person that disposed of a body for you. You’ll be far too afraid I’ll turn you in if you let me go.

Then there’s that smile you put on when you’re steeling yourself. You’re making the decision to choose me, to choose our future.

“Yes,” you say, holding your hand out.

There’s whoops and cheers around us as I stand up and slip the ring on before pulling you in for a kiss.

I can feel the apprehension in your body but you keep a good face on for everyone around us.

I know you’re scared. I know but I also know you love me. You’ll come around soon.

“You make me so happy,” I grin and it’s so genuine.

You can never leave me.

I win.