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"I've been thinking," Margo says, raising her eyebrows as if expecting him to finish her sentence. Which is teasing already; he doesn't know what she's thinking. He never does. Except that from the very first, she told him. If she ever stopped, she'd be more inscrutable to him than the Shadow is to others.

He contents himself with a raised eyebrow in reply and an invitation. "Oh?"

"I want you to tell me what you want to do with me."

She's wearing some kind of slip with high spaghetti straps and with sides slashed all the way down to her thighs, skin visible both above and below a thin girdle. It's outrageous. He imagines his thumb running over her hip, along the edges of the fabric, touch gliding half on cloth and half on skin, until she shakes with impatience and the fabric washes over his fingers like a wave over sand.

"No," she says, smiling appreciatively at the image but not meaning the no any less, "I want you to tell me."

"I want to touch you," Lamont says, a little gruff already.

"Yes?" she says gently, and doesn't move any closer.

He wants to make her forget the room they're in. He wants to forget the day and year - and all the years that came before, to lay the calendar aside entirely. He wants to make her purr. None of that is what she's asking.

"I want to hold you," he suggests, which isn't really what he means, but is a valid move according to the terms of her game. She rises from her chair and holds her hands out towards him, and laces her fingers through hers, as though they're about to dance.

"Like this?" she asks.

"No," he admits, and she smiles at him brilliantly, as if that no is a gem, or at least rock chipped away from around a crystal vein.

"Then what?"

"I want," he tries again, and he can think of a dry remark but that won't gain him an inch, and he can think of dirty, dazzling images but he knows she'll respond precisely as she likes to them. The Shadow doesn't need eloquence when he has other forms of persuasion. But Margo demands it, and generally, he is rewarded when he follows her demands.

"Shall I tell you what I want?"

"Please," he manages, with more sincerity than suavity.

"I want to kiss you - once - lightly on the lips. And I want your left hand here at my hip. And I want your right hand at my throat. And I want you close to me..."

He's moving at once. She keeps up a low murmur, and he's drawn in so close he doesn't even shake his head at the words, as she moves on to naming her breasts, her cunt, his cock without hesitation or amusement. He simply follows. It isn't exactly what he imagines, it isn't exactly what he would want if she would let him show her without words, but hearing her words is a threat and a thrill all on its own.

He can't hope to match her in this.

Except that he can.