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Jumin's gaze is narrowed at the crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling as if the fixture has done something to personally offend him, which in his eyes, it has. It's at least nine centimeters too far to the right and where there should be luster there's a fine layer of dust. He stares up at the light and lets the corona burn his irises, ash to fossil. His mouth draws into a thin, tight line as he recalls the chandelier in C&R's capital building. He furrows his brow as he tries to remember where it was crafted—perhaps the Philippines?—and thinks about how the light presently stealing his focus would look much better with acanthus leaf and Clear Swarovski elements.

“Jumin,” V says, his voice as pleasant as last night's low tide. He places a hand on the delicate curve of Jumin's shoulder and squeezes gently. “You're spacing out.”

“I am not,” Jumin denies, turning his watery gaze away from the ceiling to look at V. He can see his reflection in the dark cast of V's sunglasses and frowns. “I wish you'd let me buy you a more fashionable pair of glasses. You wear those to every event. You should have at least twenty-four pairs to alternate between.”

“How did you come up with that number?” V asks, huffing a breath of laughter. “You know what? Nevermind. I don't want to know.” V waves a hand to dispel what he knows will be an extensive explanation he doesn't need to hear; he won't understand it anyway. “I'm not interested in making my poor eyesight a fashion statement.”

“It has nothing to do with your eyesight. It's a matter of being well-groomed and presenting an air of elegance: soigné. If you won't let me buy you a tailored suit, the least you can do is let me buy you a pair of sunglasses. What will it be? Bulgari, Cartier, Chopard?” Jumin stares at V sharply, and if it were anyone else, the intensity of his gaze might be enough to waylay any further resistance. With V, however, long used to Jumin's persistent nature, his wiles are not so readily successful.

“You know, for someone who dislikes gold diggers so much, you're sure keen to throw away your money,” V tells him, poking Jumin in the shin with his white cane. Jumin narrows his eyes and V has to bite back a smile when the taller male purses his lips.

“Buying gifts for my friends has no price limit policy. I'm hardly throwing my money away. You know me better than that. You may have lost most of your sight but I know you haven't lost your memories.” Jumin emits a puff of breath and turns his head away from V with an air of haughty impatience.

“That's true. Excuse my carelessness. I shouldn't be so crass when you're trying to use my partial blindness as a reason to sharpen my appearance,” V needles.

Jumin slants his gaze in V's direction and exhales a long-suffering sigh that visibly shifts his ribcage. “I just want what's best for you. If you would only agree to have the surgery,” Jumin begins.

“We've talked about this,” V interjects. “I have my reasons and you have your opinions; we're going to have to agree to disagree. Now let's stop wasting our night on these petty discussions. There's something more pressing I want to talk to you about.”

Jumin looks unconvinced but after a brief moment of debating potential outcomes, he concedes to curiosity. “What is it?”

“There is a woman here who I think could use your company,” V starts, and this time, it's Jumin who interrupts.

“No thank you. I do not need to be subjected to...” Jumin trails off as though what he was about to say is too insensitive. “I have Elizabeth the 3rd. She's all I need.”

“Will you please hear me out? First and foremost, Elizabeth is a pet, not a long-term companion. I have always acknowledged your love for her but she can't fulfill your base needs as a human. You need someone you can talk to,” V recognizes the look on Jumin's face and quickly rectifies his statement. “You need someone who can hold a conversation with a vernacular that doesn't consist of meowing or purring.”

“You seem to be forgetting that I speak to a great number of people every day. When it comes time to bask in my solitude, I like to do so with Elizabeth the 3rd.”

V fights the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose and stands firm. “Must you always be so obstinate?” V asks, a note of capitulation creeping into his voice. “Look, I just think it would do you some good to lower your walls a bit sometimes. I'm not suggesting that you go out with her. I'm only asking you to talk to her. You have some similarities and she could use someone who understands what she's going through right now.”

“It takes one to know one,” Jumin says passively. “You're as headstrong as I am and don't even think about denying it. If you do I'll have a life-size cardboard cutout of Rika made so I can flash it at you anytime you say you're not willful.”

V parts his lips and it's almost comical paired with the angle of his brows. “I think it's safe to say that being amenable is what got me in this position.”

Jumin plucks his phone out of his breast pocket and begins moving his slender fingers across the screen.

“What are you doing?” V asks, brow furrowing into a deep wrinkle.

“Having that cutout printed,” Jumin answers simply.

V utters the sound of a breaking man and reaches out to push at Jumin's hands. “Will you stop? That's quite unnecessary. I already have one.”

Jumin whips his head up and regards V with a look of sheer horror. “You can't be serious.”

“Of course I'm not,” V answers. “I just want you to listen to me.” V pauses for a moment and tilts his head a fraction. “Did you actually believe me?” he asks, voice lilting with disbelief.

“You've done your fair share of questionable things, V. I wouldn't have put it past you. You are a photographer, after all.” Jumin slides his phone back into his pocket and finally gives V his full attention. “I'll make you a deal. I'll speak with this woman if you get the surgery.”

V closes his eyes and runs a hand through his hair. “Jumin Han, you exhaust me.” He catches the bottom line of his mouth between his teeth and worries the tissue to a deep pink.

“I also won't be held accountable for the outcome of my charity. In other words, if speaking to her somehow makes matters worse, I won't be taking the blame.” Jumin holds out his hand and waits for V to shake it.

“You just don't know when to give up, do you?” V exhales a long, slow breath and hangs his head in a show of defeat. “Just try to be sympathetic, at least.” V extends his hand and Jumin is quick to take it, squeezing with all the sureness of a successful executive.

“Now, give me an explanation as to why you think I'm the right man for this job,” Jumin demands, his expression bare-faced and inscrutable.

V nods and clears his throat. “Her name is ____. She's proficient in business and managed to climb the corporate ladder quite quickly despite her age and lack of history with the proprietor. She tends to keep to herself but I guess she was in a relationship with the corporate heir.” V sweeps his tongue across his lips, smearing moisture into the fine cracks that line them. He tries to read Jumin's expression but his face remains impassive. “I don't know how long they were in a relationship but he recently decided to wed a woman who would further guarantee his wealth and uphold his reputation. He wanted ____ to take up the position of his mistress but she refused.”

After a moment's pause, Jumin's features change shape to reveal a look of misgiving and V feels as if he's at a presage of disaster.

“So you want me to speak to this woman because she lost the chance to espouse this heir's interests? Am I supposed to feel remorse for her because she's been replaced?” Jumin looks genuinely confused and V wishes that he could impose even a grain of empathy on him.

“It sounds trivial when you put it that way but she's far from naive. She just happened to get caught up in something beyond the bounds of her control. It could happen to any of us,” V supplies in an attempt to underscore the insinuation. “She's still very upset about it, yet she managed to come here tonight to support the cause. I think that alone warrants a little compassion.”

“I have to disagree,” Jumin admits. “However, I made a deal with you and I'm a man of my word so I will see this through. But if I may ask, how do you know all of this? Did you meet her on one of your trips?”

V looks taken aback for a moment but quickly recovers. “She's a close friend of Jaehee's. They went to college together.”

“Assistant Kang? Why didn't she tell me any of this?” Jumin inquires, nonplussed.

“Why would she have any reason to? You know better than anyone that she tries to keep her personal life to herself when it comes to you. I wouldn't know any of this if not for Zen. While working on the preparations for the party together she shared the details with him. Being a romantic at heart, he came to me in hopes that I might be able to help.”

Jumin looks over to where Zen is standing, his arms wrapped tight around the waist of his girlfriend. He watches him briefly, noting the laughter on his lips that spreads to light in his eyes. It's a new relationship, not even two weeks in, but he looks happier than Jumin has ever seen him. Zen says something that makes Yoosung go red in the face, then he turns his gaze toward Jumin as if tracking the sensation of being watched. Jumin is quick to look away but he can still picture the irritation writing itself out across Zen's face.

“You know, if Zen had any inclination that you were going to pick me for this task, he would never have approached you,” he says to V, and fights a strange sensation that tugs at his chest.

“On the contrary, I think Zen knew exactly how this was going to pan out. You may have your discrepancies but he has other things on his mind now.” V smiles softly. “Would you like me to point her out to you?”

“That would be helpful,” Jumin returns. “But save the pointing for when you're in search of the exit. It's rude.”

“I do hope you're enjoying yourself at the expense of a nearly-blind man,” V deadpans in contempt of the censored laughter shaking apart in his throat.

“If I didn't make light of the situation, you'd constantly be in the dark,” Jumin says, this time unintentionally satirizing V's condition. “Nonetheless, it will be remedied soon.”

V looks exceptionally polite as he waits for Jumin to finish, then: “I will remember this day, Jumin.” He pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose and turns slightly to offer Jumin a wider view of the room. “She's over in that corner. The woman in the white dress and the red heels.”

Jumin lets his eyes rove over the crowd in search of the aforementioned woman. When his eyes settle on their target, he feels the strange sensation from a moment ago return to his chest.

“Are you certain?” Jumin asks needlessly. He doesn't need to look at V to know that he's staring at him behind the dark shade of his glasses, wooden and wholly unimpressed. “Of course you are,” he mutters. “She just doesn't look like I imagined her to.”

V issues a light breath of laughter that rings like understanding. “I see that you and I still share similar thoughts.” V falls into silence for a fleeting moment, the idle chatter punctuating the backdrop of the room filling the void. “He must be a fool if he can trade her beauty for something as inimical as wealth. Not to mention, if she's friends with Jaehee, she must have a good personality. Moreover, she would make for beautiful pictures...” V trails off, lost in thought.

And, without explanation, it's a thought Jumin doesn't want parading V's mind.

“The hour is only getting later so I think I'll take my presence elsewhere. V, it was good seeing you. I hope that the next time you disappear you're not gone for so long. It would also be helpful if you were easier to get a hold of,” Jumin inserts shrewdly. He straightens his tie, absentmindedly placing the silk fabric in the center of the stripes that line his winged collard dress shirt. He says nothing more to V and pays no mind to the party's other attendees as he makes his way across the room to where you're standing.

“I don't believe I've had the pleasure,” Jumin says, presenting his hand to you in a gesture of greeting. “I'm Jumin.”

You recognize the name as something familiar but your brain is slightly addled by the amount of champagne you've had to drink. Regardless of the alarm bells ringing in the back of your head, you graciously accept his hand and shiver when he presses his lips to your skin. The kiss is chaste, but warm, and lingers for several seconds after he draws away.

“I'm ____,” you tell him, voice slipping into the quiet recess of reluctance. “It's nice to meet you.”

“Likewise,” Jumin says, a tilted smile assuming the shape of his mouth. “I was wondering if you'd only be so kind as to join me for a drink?”

Your initial reaction is to tell him that you've already had too much to drink and that you should really be getting home, but there's something pressing in his dark gaze that makes you leap forward with headlong precipitation into the shadows of his request.

“I'd be delighted,” you answer, laughing inwardly at the level of comeliness you're adopting in the presence of this man.

Jumin nods his head sagely and leads you into the adjacent room. There are a fair number of people occupying the area but the bulk of the crowd has thinned considerably since you first arrived. You ignore the buzz of blather and chitchat, letting the voices within earshot fade into soft static. You've long since completed what you set out to do here tonight; now the only thing that matters is unraveling Jumin's primary intentions.

You open your mouth to speak but Jumin is frowning at the bar, almost as if he's been insulted in some way. You alter the words situated against your lips and gently rest your fingers on the bend of his elbow. “Is something the matter?”

Jumin looks down at where you're making contact with his suit and you immediately retract your hand. You wonder if you've done something wrong but Jumin makes quick to remedy the situation. “I see that my request for Chateau Margaux 1787 was ignored. I'll have to report this to Assistant Kang tomorrow.”

A woman cackles loudly behind you, covering up the end fragments of Jumin's statement. You glance at the woman involuntarily, comforted by the fact that you're by far the only one who's spent the night in tipsy revel. When you turn your attention back to Jumin, he's staring at you as a wolf gazes at the moon. There's a certain fondness nestled behind the long, dark lines of his lashes but there's something else—something almost sinister. It sends a chill down your spine that spreads to electricity somewhere between your knees.

“This may sound a bit imprudent on my behalf but I would much rather speak to you without these borders of distraction.” Jumin slants his gaze toward the aforesaid woman, who is now laughing hysterically between near-deafening hiccups. “Would you like to join me for a drink at my residence? I vow to treat you with the formality of a gentleman. I can even write up a contract if you so desire.”

You search Jumin's face for any indication that he's joking but it's as clear as the crystalline flutes lined up on the bar that he's being serious. You consider his offer for a moment, weighing your options and parsing the possibility that something could go dreadfully wrong should you accept. Your heart is still in tatters—a shameful excuse for your current state of inebriation—and the shelter you've built has no need for strangers. However, your soul is whispering things to you that your mind can't untangle and the bones of your reckless desire are screaming for you to indulge in one night of unprincipled freedom.

“I'd like that,” you tell him with a charming smile. “Though, I don't think a contract will be necessary. I'd like to believe that I can take care of myself.”

Jumin's expression shifts and you can't read whether it's confusion or interest on his face. Whatever it is, it's gone as soon as it comes.

“Please come with me then. Driver Kim is waiting outside.” Jumin steps forward and begins weaving his way through the lingering guests without pause. It's obvious that he's accustomed to being around large crowds. You follow in tow, albeit with slightly more difficulty than the well-dressed man ahead of you.

You feel a sense of relief when you reach the exit and tumble out into the night. You hadn't realized how stuffy it was inside the venue but the evening breeze lends you a feeling of respite. The crisp air that enters your lungs calms the rush of blood in your veins and cools the fine sheen of sweat on your skin. You tilt your head back and gaze at the stars, finding solace in their twinkling light.

“____, are you ready?” Jumin asks, standing several feet away from you.

You turn to look at him directly and notice a sleek black limo parked between the two sloping buildings enveloping you in their shadows. You don't know how you missed it before but you pay little mind to your lack of focus and walk toward Jumin instead. Your heels click against the pavement and the sound is unusually loud against the scrim of the city.

Once inside the limo, your heart begins to race and you start to question what you're doing. You can think of a thousand reasons to forgo the entire exchange compared to only a handful of end results that might not result in disaster. Your hand begs to reach for the door handle but you curl your fingers into a fist and close the last egress of your resolve. If the seasons don't fear the reaper, you're surely not going to shun a chance at happiness, even if only for a brief time.

On the way to Jumin's residence you talk about simple things, the kinds of things that people talk about when interested in getting to know each other. You don't know what it is about him, if it's the elegant way he speaks or his honeyed tone or perhaps the way he holds himself, but he imbues you with the desire to want to know more—more about his job, his family, his friends, his hobbies... It's been a long time since you felt this way, in fact, you haven't felt this way since...

You shut down your thoughts and turn your attention to the city passing you by. The last thing you want is to think about your previous relationship, especially when you're on your way to the home of a different man. You've come to terms with the fact that you want to escape but forasmuch as it hurts, you don't want to forget. Forgetting leads to losing your grip and you're already down to a single thread.

The limo pulls up to a stately superstructure and you think you've misheard Jumin when he says he owns the entire building. It's not for his wealth but for the fact that you very obviously have a type despite your indifference to opulence. You don't know how you didn't see it before with his state of dress, private staff, and penchant for fine wine. However, the condition of his status is neither here nor there, so you swallow the observation and accept his offered hand when you exit the limo and step onto the well-lit pavement.

You inhale a deep breath of oxygen before working through the tremble in your knees. Then you take a step forward and think to yourself: here goes nothing.

The night rolls on like the aged Cheval Blanc staining your lips red. It begins as something complex and straightforward, rising in its intensity, but as the clock on the wall ticks on, it recedes into something smoother and more comfortable.

You've settled into a relaxed position on the settee, your knees bent and legs folded in against your body, and Jumin has finally plucked apart the edges of his tie, letting the fabric hang loosely around his neck. You can hear the trill of your laughter as Jumin tells another joke that doesn't quite make sense. You think the alcohol is to blame for your girlish reply and the titillating joy that's sparking heat in the low of your abdomen. Be that as it may, you can see that Jumin is unfamiliar with such a response and it makes warmth spread through you. If encouraging his strange sense of humor can contribute to his happiness, you have no problems conceding–especially if it means you can see the rare smile that lit up his face once more.

“Would you like some more wine?” Jumin asks you, his eyes hazy with heat and cast in darkness.

“I don't think that's the best idea,” you answer truthfully, giggling reflexively.

He bows his head in a half-nod and lowers one hand to the bend of your knee. You start at the contact, heat spreading through your veins like wildfire. If Jumin notices your reaction he doesn't show it and you're glad he doesn't because you don't want him to rescind his touch. Instead, he drags the pad of his thumb over the curve of the joint as he takes another sip of his wine.

“This wine is gorgeous in all facets.” Jumin observes the liquid left in his wine glass and slides his tongue out across his lips. “The seamless layers of fruit and the alluring hints of incense and black tea shine in this particular style. Not to mention, the tobacco-fueled finish. It's quite a seductive wine, don't you think?”

You don't realize that Jumin's staring at you until he clears his throat and his grip goes tighter on your knee. It shakes you from your reverie and directs your gaze away from his lips. “I would agree,” you answer, only half-aware of your response. “I think anything can be seductive if given the right platform.”

“Is that so?” is Jumin's response, faraway but contemplative. “I suppose there's some truth in that statement.” He turns on the settee to face you, still poker-faced but less severe-looking than hours ago. “It may be malapropos for me to admit this aloud, and I assume it's safe to say the wine is partly to blame, but you're quite beautiful.” Jumin's hand slips beneath the flimsy hem of your dress and you can feel the gentle friction of his palm stop at the top of your thigh. “It's unusual for me to feel the forbidden effects of lechery but ever since I laid eyes on you, I've been feeling extraordinarily unlike myself.”

You feel heat creep into your cheeks and spill down the smooth column of your throat. There's a level of sincerity in Jumin's admission that makes you believe that you're not just another potential tryst in a long line of affairs. You swallow in an attempt to put moisture back into your dry aperture and fight to frame your lips on the words you want to speak.

“Thank you, Jumin. That's nice of you to say.” You rub your hand over the back of your neck absentmindedly and suck the bottom line of your mouth between the edges of your teeth.

Jumin's eyes track the motion and his fingers flex against your thigh. He shifts but the movement is so slight that you don't feel it in the plush cushion supporting your weight. You wish that you could maintain the same level of composure Jumin's exhibiting but you feel like the binds of your control are moments from coming undone.

“Your skin is softer than I even imagined,” Jumin says, his voice slipping into the deep waters of temptation. He angles his body just enough to set his wine glass down, then he returns to you with a glint of devilry in his eyes. He lifts his newly freed hand to your face and cups your cheek. You close your eyes unthinkingly and feel his thumb glance the plush swell of your bitten bottom lip. He draws the delicate tissue free of your teeth and smooths his warm digit over its center.

“What exactly were you imagining?” you finally ask, your voice barely scratching above a whisper.

Jumin's lashes flutter as he drags his gaze up to meet your own, lips parted for breath. “I think that's a conversation for another time. It would be indelicate of me to speak such vulgarity this early on.” His eyes shift to your mouth and as if ignoring his better discretion, he slides his thumb over your lip and into your aperture.

You watch as he visibly shudders and you can't keep yourself from utilizing this moment for personal gain. You keep your eyes trained on his face and close your lips around the salt-warmth of his digit. Jumin's eyes darken and his pupils dilate, his shoulders draw tight and his breathing quickens. You throw aside every grain of rationale you have left and take his thumb fully into your mouth, tongue dancing over the lines of his fingerprint.

“This is a terrible idea,” Jumin manages, his fingers leaving your thigh to tug his tie away from his neck. He moves his long digits over the topmost buttons of his shirt, expertly sliding each catch through its respected slit. “I promised myself I wouldn't slip. I swore that I wouldn't fall prey to desire...” he mutters.

You slide your mouth off of Jumin's thumb with practiced ease, looking up at him under the fall of your lashes. “I promised myself the same,” you confess, not recognizing your own inflection. “Would you like me to leave?” The question escapes your mouth out of deference but your mind is racing, every thought swirling around in your head ready to go up in flames should he say yes.

“If you want me to be honest, I'd like you to take off that dress and put your heels back on,” he tells you, his tone low and scraping raw against the back of his throat.

You turn the request over in your mind but it's hardly a debate at all, and you're rising from the settee almost as soon as Jumin's voice bleeds into the tranquility of the room. You gently grasp the hem of your dress, lifting the fabric only an inch before Jumin leans forward to close his fingers around your wrist. His touch forces you to stillness and you're left to stare down at him with a look of trepidation.

“Are you fully aware of what this means? If we proceed, there won't be any way to take it back.” Jumin slides his thumb over the thrum of your pulse. “I'm not very good at expressing myself but I think it's only fair that I tell you this before we begin—I have no interest in conventional intimacy.”

You furrow your brow and tilt your head in a show of confusion. “What exactly do you” –Jumin drags the manicured edges of his fingernails over your palm and you shudder– “mean by that?” you finish, words shaking apart on your trembling lips.

“I suppose I'm asking for your consent to do as I please—to explore the boundaries of my depravity.” Jumin releases your wrist to take your hips in his hands instead, fingers bunching the bottom of your dress. He draws you closer to where he's sitting, knees open wide enough to accommodate your legs. “I want to bind you in my finest ropes, lay you over my lap and flog you until your skin is the color of strawberry wine. I want you to crawl to me or get down on your knees if I ask it of you. I want your submission.” His hands tighten on your hips and he tilts his chin up to look at you with a seriousness suited to the magnitude of his interests. “Above all else, I want you to call me Sir.”

You blink and the thoughtless action seems delayed as if set to slow motion. While, to the contrary, your heart is hammering in your chest and your pulse is seemingly trying to outpace the rush of blood going to your head. You're dizzy with heat, drunk on the alcohol swimming through your bloodstream and the flagrant frames of Jumin's salacious petition. You close your fingers on his hands for something to hold on to, legs quivering with the threat of collapse.

“I need to...” you begin breathlessly.

“Think things over,” Jumin finishes, unable to disguise the modulation of his disappointment.

You release your grip and step back away from him, fingers returning to the hem of your dress to draw it up and over your head. You let the fabric flutter to the floor and take pride in the way Jumin's marveling at your body.

“I was going to say, I need to go grab my heels.” With that said, you turn and walk over to where your shoes have been neatly placed by the front door. “It's not very nice to make assumptions, Sir,” you tease, slipping your feet into your glossy heels one after the next.

“My apologies,” Jumin rasps, his throat in apparent need of moisture.

You let the wine boost the confidence surging through you like a summer storm and walk back to where Jumin's sitting. “What would you like me to do now?” you ask, bending at the waist to slide your hands up his thighs. “Sir?”

Jumin clears his throat and the action seems to sweep away the webs of his momentary quandary. He looks you straight in the eye and speaks clearly when he says: “I want you to take down your hair.”

You drag your polished nails down the luxurious stitches of Jumin's trousers as you pull the curvature of your spine into proper alignment. “Yes, Sir.”

Jumin watches you with rapt attention as you free your hair from the loose chignon resting against the nape of your neck. You shake your hair out and comb through the soft tresses with your fingers. For the first time this evening, you're grateful for your choice of lingerie. While preparing for the party you certainly hadn't planned on anyone seeing your undergarments, much less be put on display. But Jumin's gaze is dragging warmth down your spine and the intense wealth of heat is turning to slick between your thighs. It's appreciation and admiration in every sense of worship and it makes gooseflesh join the static clinging to your skin.

“So beautiful,” Jumin whispers, eyes drifting over every inch of your skin like he's drinking you in. His undying focus makes you the cynosure of his eyes and you can feel him caressing the curves of your hips and the soft bend of your waist. Just the thought of his hands on your skin – the direct contact – makes your breath quicken and your nipples draw tight. You close your eyes and pin your focus on the tension running through your breasts, desperate to reach up and cup them in your hands.

“You would look exquisite on camera. Unfortunately, I've been told I'm terrible at taking pictures.” You open your eyes and return the smile you find on Jumin's lips. “I'd like you to indulge me for a moment. I want you to touch your body.”

The allowance takes you by surprise, less the permission than the way Jumin is stripping you down enough to see into your mind. Nonetheless, you're thankful for his concession as you drag your hands up your flushed frame. The friction hardly pacifies your need but it takes some of the edge off. You slide your palm across your stomach and along the arch of your ribs before finally bringing your hands up to cradle the weight of your breasts.

Jumin exhales a breath that would be easily missed if not for the quiet of the room. He shifts slightly on the sumptuous cushion you shared earlier and you can't keep your eyes from sliding down to the center of his trousers. The faintest hint of a bulge is beginning to show, rewarding you with a strong sense of achievement. You come to the sudden notion that you deign to please this man and immediately brush your thumbs over your turgid nipples. After five ticks of the clock, you switch tactics and begin to tug at the sensitive nubs, wishing for further closeness but still appreciating what you have.

Jumin's eyes have darkened, almost coal-like in their appearance. You hide a smile and decide to present yourself further. You sway your hips in a proverbial slow dance and drag your hands over your breasts one final time before letting your fingers drift lower. Each drag of movement causes Jumin's breath to quicken and your skin to rise in temperature. You suck your bottom lip into your mouth and toy with the elastic bands hugging your hips.

The teasing gesture seems to shatter Jumin's pivotal stability because he's moving one hand to the fabric stretching taut over his growing hardness. He spreads his fingers into the shape of a v and rubs each side of his length with practiced patience. He's electric and you can feel his spark, the light you've been searching for. It endangers the framework of your self-control, makes matching his rhythm an arduous challenge.

Your brain erupts with obscene imagines: Jumin making love to you under the moon on some distant shore, fucking you in the badlands on the desert sand, fondling you under the scorching heat of the summer sun in a back alley. Each scenario tugs at the strings of your patience and when you slip your hand in sideways between the insides of your thighs, you emit a guttural groan.

“Have you had enough?” Jumin purrs, not a hitch in his breath despite the hard jut of his cock pressing against his fingers.

“Yes, Sir,” you manage, and desperately fight the urge to yank aside your panties and touch your throbbing cunt.

“Then follow me,” he orders, rising from the settee and striding in the direction of what you assume to be the bedroom.

Once at the threshold of his room he holds up a hand to stop you from walking any further. He immediately begins working free the remaining buttons on his shirt while turning to face you. “Are you familiar with the art of Shibari?” he asks, his shirt falling open to reveal a flawless layer of skin stretched over the hard lines of his stomach.

You tug your gaze away from his defined abdomen and nod once. Jumin's lips quirk into a crooked smile and when he closes the distance between you, you can make out a single, tiny freckle on his upper lip. “That would be yes, Sir,” he tells you, reaching out to grip your chin between his thumb and forefinger. Then he caresses your cheek and leans forward just enough to brush his lips against your own. You whimper plaintively when he draws away, making his smile go wider. “I'm going to bind you using several different techniques. If you feel uncomfortable at any time, I want you to tell me. This is simply for pleasure. I have no reason to punish you and I want this to be a positive experience for you. Do you have any questions?”

“No, Sir,” is your answer, warm and shot-through with honey.

“Good. I ask that you stay here until I'm ready,” he says, practicing a level of restraint you've never seen on anyone before.

“Yes, Sir.” You watch him walk to the other side of the room, anticipation and desire swathing you in a blanket of heat that matches the fire in your belly.

Jumin keeps his back to you for several moments as he carefully selects a handful of items from a drawer. You take a moment to observe the large space, eyes stopping on the floor-to-ceiling aquarium in the corner of the room. You watch the fish inside dart around the tank in an artless dance until Jumin's voice calls for your immediate attention.

“Take off your lingerie but keep your heels on,” he commands, ambling over to the edge of his bed. He sets down a collection of jute and hemp ropes comprised of different textures and colors. Seeing them laid out on the white duvet boasting resplendent thread-count makes your clit ache for the delicious friction they promise.

You strip out of your lingerie as hastily as you dare, wanting to impress tonight's master in every way possible. Once the silk and lace material has been removed from your skin, you place your hands behind your back and wait for further instruction.

“Are you familiar with this dynamic? It would appear that you're acquainted with the concepts of submission.” Jumin begins unfastening the buckle of his belt, making it difficult to focus on the intricacies of response.

“No, Sir. I just want to do what I can to please you,” you confess, cheeks blossoming into color.

“I do hope you understand that my power works in varying degrees but will never be used in a way meant to abuse you. If I cause you pain, it will be for the return of your pleasure. If I use my voice to humiliate you, it will never be in the malicious vein of degradation. My sole purpose is to lead and guide you while balancing the scales of pleasure, pain, obedience, dominance, and most importantly, trust and protection.”Jumin slides his belt free of its confines, works it into a tight coil, and places it on a table beside his bed. “My reward is your submission. Therefore, should you behave obediently, I will repay you with sexual gratification beyond the bounds of your previous experiences. This is the last time I will give you the chance to leave. Speak up now if you wish to do so.”

“I want to stay, Sir,” is your answer, and somehow you're more sure of this than you are the color of your own eyes.

Jumin looks relieved but the mien of comfort is fleeting, already slipping back to an expression that mimics professionalism. It shouldn't turn you on as much as it does, something so simple it's elementary, but everything from his countenance to his timbre leaves you weak in the knees.

“I must admit that beauty is best when in its most natural state,” Jumin says, shamelessly ogling your naked body. “Crawl to me, ____.”

You don't expect the order when he gives it, but you promptly drop to your knees and press your palms flat against the floor. You inhale a slow, deep breath and begin crawling, one hand, one knee in front of the other until you reach Jumin's sock-clad feet.

“Good girl,” he praises, combing his fingers through your hair, nails gently scraping the line of your scalp. “Tell me, are you currently aroused?”

You duck your head, chin close to your chest and nod, knowing that it won't be enough. “Yes, Sir,” you serve as a confession, standing at the crossroads of stimulation and self-effacement.

“Stand up,” Jumin instructs, and it takes every grain of your control to keep from rubbing your face against the stony hardness of his cock. You force yourself away from the floor, drawn upright by the invisible strings of anticipation. “Good,” he says, and grabs your hands, running his fingers over your skin and turning them over several times before letting you go. You knit your brows together and Jumin must read the curiosity on your face because he answers the unspoken question before continuing. “I'm checking the baseline color and temperature of your hands in case they change color or grow cold after I tie you up.”

“Oh,” is all you manage because the amount of care and patience Jumin is executing for what you would have considered a fairly average kink is surprising to you. Especially considering the fact that neither of you are exactly sober. Though, Jumin appears to be recovering from his fling with wine rather rapidly.

“Raise your arms for me, darling,” Jumin says, turning to grab the red rope from the bed. You lift your arms and Jumin immediately sets to the task of binding you. He positions the bight at the center of your back and wraps the rope around you once, just below your chest. The rope is snug but comfortable and you find that you quite like the sensation of being bound. Jumin brings the working ends of the jute back around the front of your body, this time in the opposite direction. You close your eyes and focus on the glancing touch of Jumin's knuckles against your skin and the building art he's fitting you in.

Jumin reverses direction again and this time, you can feel the rope catch above your chest. His breath is hot against the curve of your shoulder and you can't help but start when he speaks, lost to the precision of his task.

“Are you okay?” he asks you, and makes several more adjustments, ending at your back. He slides a hand up your waist and to the outer swell of your left breast, awaiting your response.

“Yes, Sir,” you say, and crack open your eyes to look at him.

Jumin checks your face for any hint that you're not being completely honest with him and when he feels that it's safe to continue, he returns to his craft. He takes the working ends of the rope and brings them over your shoulder to your front. Next, he brings the ends over the top ropes in front, then under the bottom ropes. You watch his face as he works, expecting concentration but finding relaxation and calm instead. After a moment, he turns to the bed and retrieves a white rope. The entire process seems complicated to you but Jumin's fingers are moving with the familiarity of jotting a note. He extends the rope and forms a new knot, red bleeding into white like blood in the snow.

“Is this comfortable?” he inquires, tugging at the new knot he's just made.

“Yes, Sir,” you reply, words shrouded in more breath than the last time you answered him.

Jumin brings the working ends over your other shoulder and around to your back. You can feel him working the ropes into position, his knuckles occasionally glancing the line of your spine. He tugs on the makeshift harness from time to time but the entire exchange feels as though it's over in a matter of minutes. Jumin steps back to observe his work and you can see the cogs of his rumination turning behind the shadows swamping his vision.

“I think this is enough for one evening. I planned to do more but with this being your first time, I'm not comfortable pushing your limits.” Jumin's gaze dances from one breast to the other, then lower, and each place his scrutiny touches warms as if physically touched. “I'll confess, I haven't been with a woman in quite some time.” He lifts one hand and drags the backs of his fingers over the hard points of your nipples, one right after the next. You gasp and shudder, knees threatening to buckle under the weight of unexpected contact. “You're too tempting.”

“Does this mean that you're not going to flog me, Sir?” you ask, hoping that the question is within the rights of this moment.

“Let us see how the night unfolds,” Jumin answers, breath hitching ever-so-slightly. You glance down and find that he's rubbing his cock through his trousers. You part your lips and exhale a shaky breath. The ropes around your breasts shift just enough to remind you that they're there when you take your next breath. You slide your tongue across the seam of your lips and swear you can taste his arousal through the overheated air.

“What is it that you want?” Jumin asks, though you're certain he already knows the answer. He gingerly pinches the tip of his cock through the fabric and you emit a high-pitched whine when you catch sight of a faint dark spot on the material.

“I would like you to take out your cock, Sir.” You barely manage to speak the sentence because a shiver is wrapping so tight around your spine you can feel it down in your toes.

Jumin smiles a wicked grin that sends electricity sparking through the slick pooling between your legs. He opens his trousers, eyes never leaving your face, and withdraws his stiff cock. He strokes over himself slowly and exhales a sigh of relief, the resistance of his touch lending the remedy he seeks. You watch as a bead of precome forms in the narrow slit of his cock, glistening against the flushed tip. It slips free and rolls down the ridge but Jumin is quick to catch it on his fingers.

“Would you like a sample before we start?” Jumin presents his fingers, now slick with the visible effects of his arousal.

You open your mouth, hoping that the gesture is adequate because you don't trust yourself to form a verbal response. A whine breaks in the dark of your throat and it seems satisfactory enough because Jumin is pushing his fingers into your mouth. Salt and heat and something heady flow over your tongue and you throw all shades of disinclination to the wind as you hungrily suck his skin clean.

“Get on your knees and spread your legs,” Jumin orders and draws his fingers free of your mouth. A trail of saliva catches on your bottom lip, breaking only when you heed his command and kneel against the hard resistance of the floor. You press your lips together and smear the moisture into your skin, savoring the taste of Jumin on your tongue.

“Cross your wrists behind your back but keep your spine straight. I want your breasts on full display.” Jumin releases his cock and reaches out to tug firmly on your erect nipples. You nearly lose sight of his command but quickly fold your hands behind your back. You part your knees and acutely wait for further direction.

“Very good,” Jumin compliments. He delicately drags his fingertips over your temple and tucks a stray section of hair behind your ear. Then he returns his hand to his cock, the gilded light of the room painting his pale skin with a luster similar to that of gold dust. He stands between your spread knees and you open your mouth in compliant invitation. You relax your throat in preparation and look up at him under the thick, dark lines of your lashes. Jumin exhales a breath that sounds dangerously close to blaspheme and slides the weight of his cock past your lips and into your mouth.

You close your eyes and give yourself over to the dark. You let it flow through you like an intoxicant and relish the dangerous waters you're treading. You run your tongue over the head of his cock and gently probe its slit. Jumin keeps one hand held firmly on the base while using his free hand to wrap your hair in a knot at the crown of your head. You open your mouth wider and moan when the ropes shift against your skin. The vibration makes Jumin recreate the sound and his hand goes tighter against your skull. He guides your head forward and pushes himself deeper in tandem. You inhale a calculative breath and focus on the full length of his cock sinking deep into the shadow of your throat.

“You're quite good at this,” Jumin manages, his fingers flexing and tugging your hair tighter in his fist. It's pushing you to the threshold of discomfort but before you can address the issue, Jumin is sliding his cock free of your mouth.

“Is something wrong?” you ask, lips damp with saliva and precome.

“The opposite actually.” Jumin hooks his fingers around the rope at your shoulder and guides you to your feet. “I don't want to come in such short order.”

“Wow,” you blurt, wishing you could call back your astonishment when Jumin's forehead crinkles with concern. “It's just unusual,” you affix.

“What is?” He slides his fingers down the length of your arm and you can feel where he's been even after he's gone.

“I've never been with a man whose primary goal isn't coming.” You cough quietly, the minor scratch of Jumin's previous intrusion tickling the back of your throat.

“A decent man knows how to give and receive in equal parts. By all means, climaxing is the capstone of a good session, hence its name, but I would rather spend quality time with my partner than submit to the intemperate eagerness of haste.” Jumin takes you by the hand and places an open-mouthed kiss on the heart of your palm. “You deserve to be treated better than you have with your previous companions.” He guides you to the bed and gestures for you to sit down.

“I bet you're quite the womanizer,” you taunt playfully. “It's not easy to come by men such as yourself.”

“In truth, I tend to keep my distance from women. I've had one too many...unpalatable experiences.” Jumin gathers your hair in a makeshift ponytail and caresses the line of your neck to the shiver in your throat. “But for some reason, I suspected that you would be different.” He frowns and shifts his gaze to your eyes. “That's not a slight against you. It's simply a matter of history.”

“Would you like to talk about it?” you ask him, slipping out of the velvet binds of obedience and into the trenches of consideration.

Jumin smiles softly and shakes his head. “Thank you for offering, but what I'd really like to do is taste you. We can save those details for another time.”

Your heart seems to skip a beat at the sudden change of direction and the pulse thrumming through your sex careens into overdrive. You moisten your lips and scoot back on the duvet, eyes half-lidded and vision hazy with lust. “How do you want me, Sir?”

“On your back, legs as close to your chest as possible. I want a clear view of your pussy.” The sound of something so unpolished and crude coming from Jumin's mouth is startling and takes you by surprise. It's safe to say that the man doesn't miss a beat, so when he addresses your astonishment, you're unruffled. “It pleases me that you think so highly of my decorum but in the bedroom, I like to loosen the chains of my propriety. I believe that honesty is imperative when being intimate and if it means being unchaste, so be it.”

“I can't imagine you talking dirty about anything but your laundry,” you admit with a smile.

“Then I'll have to put your imagination to rest,” Jumin purrs, an edge of arrogance sharpening his tone. “Now, do as I said. I'm not used to waiting and I'm growing impatient.”

You lower yourself down against the bed covers and hook your arms around the backs of your knees. It's audacity at its finest, putting yourself on display in such a way that you can feel the room's temperature kissing every damp inch of your flesh.

Jumin presses his knee against the edge of the bed and finally shrugs out of his dress shirt. He lies the fabric on the duvet with care and you deem it likely that he has an array of compulsive behaviors. You bite back a smile but it becomes unnecessary because Jumin is dragging his fingers over the bareness of your sex. You jolt in response to the touch, mouth falling slack, and Jumin huffs a quiet breath of laughter.

“You're beautiful everywhere,” he declares. “So beautiful and so responsive.” He draws his fingers up your slick folds and to your aching clit. “You like being on display like this. I could smell your desire when you lied down on the bed but your arousal has grown stronger since you opened yourself up to me. What's more, is how wet you've gotten for me.” Jumin slips a single digit into your tight heat. “Can you feel that?”

You feel like your body has come alive under the heat of a thousand suns. Sweat prickles your skin and you would bet your bottom dollar that your complexion has turned three shades darker. You bite your bottom lip and fight for some semblance of control. “Yes, Sir,” you tell him, voice splintering in your throat.

Jumin crooks his finger and you arch your back away from the bed, breasts thrust out toward the ceiling. “Oh,” you whisper, legs trembling in your firm grip.

“Tell me, ____. How do you satisfy yourself when you're alone?” Jumin slides his finger deeper, then back out with a slowness that tugs at every chord in your chest. “Do you play with toys? Do you watch pornography? Do you have a favorite position?” He drags his thumb down your slit and carefully adds a second digit alongside the first, working both fingers into your slick heat in tandem. “Forgive my meddling. I simply find myself wanting to know more about you.”

Jumin drapes himself over the edge of the bed without a single hitch in motion. You let your head fall back against the support of the bed and close your eyes against the twinkle of light dancing in front of your vision. In some distant corner of your mind, you marvel at the levelheaded calm in which Jumin speaks to you while manipulating your body. The thought is quickly expunged, however, when you feel the wet drag of Jumin's tongue between your labia.

You desperately want to slide your fingers through the distinctly soft strands that compliment Jumin's pale complexion but you dig your fingernails into the backs of your knees instead. He hasn't given you permission to do so and you don't think you could ask for it if your life depended on it. Jumin's oral manipulation is beyond skilled and with the undeviating motion of his fingers, you're toeing the edge of unconsciousness.

Jumin flicks the tip of his tongue over your clit before drawing the hypersensitive organ into his mouth. The traction draws a mewl up the back of your throat and into resonance, and you might be embarrassed by the sound if not for the state of your position. You pull yourself upright just enough to look down the length of your torso and to where Jumin's idly taking you to pieces. He looks up at you through the shadows dancing on his face and you can feel his lips curve on a smirk when he catches you watching him at play.

When he draws away from your heat, allowing himself just enough room to speak, you can see the slick of your arousal on his mouth and chin. You flush at the sight and Jumin makes a show of licking the moisture from his lips, a dangerous light flicking through the dark of his eyes. “Have you had enough, darling?” he asks you, voice low and raw with desire.

“If I say yes, will you fuck me, Sir?” you ask, straining against the angle of your position and the tension collecting in your shoulders.

Jumin tilts his head and observes the shift of his fingers for a moment before coming to a viable conclusion. “I think you've behaved well enough to receive a reward. Is that what you want? Me to fuck you?”

You bite down on a whimper and nod your head in affirmation.

“Do you understand the difference between fucking and lovemaking?” he asks you, removing his fingers from your wet aperture.

“Yes, S-sir,” you stutter, breath hitching when he slides his fingers over your slippery clit.

“You understand that you're consenting to potential roughness and pain for the sake of pleasure?” Jumin places a single digit on each side of your cunt, spreading you open to thumb your clit in teasing circles.

“Yes, Sir,” you tell him, more insistent this time. “Please.”

“I may leave marks on your body,” Jumin says, trailing off on a subtle lilt.

You release the hold on your knees and press your heels in against the bed. You smack your palms down against the fluffy duvet and tug at the fabric until your hands turn to fists. “If you don't fuck me now, I'm going to explode. I don't care what you do to me. I just want to feel your cock inside of me.” You exhale a huff of air and stare up at the ceiling in an attempt to collect yourself. “Please, Sir,” you add, not wanting to give Jumin a chance to draw things out further.

Jumin chuckles and the sound nearly drives you mad.

“I suppose it's unkind of me to be amused at the expense of your suffering,” he says, absentmindedly rubbing his glossy fingers together. He reaches out and offers you his dry hand. “I'd like you on your hands and knees for this.”

You take his hand with an expression of wary caution and allow him to pull you upright. “This isn't a part of another dastardly plan to tease me more, is it?” you ask him, turning over to heed his request.

Jumin emits a single hum of laughter and you can feel his fingers ghost the protrusion of your ankle bone. “Have I made myself out to be so cruel?” he asks and moves to stand in the gap between your feet. His hands caress the swell of your backside, and you can feel the ends of his hair tickling the low of your back when he nips the flesh gently. “I assume, in that case, it's a bad time to tell you that you have a very tempting bottom. It would look quite exquisite adorned with my handprints.”

You open your mouth to contest the comment, afraid that Jumin's going to prolong his seductive treatment and leave you lying in wait. While the prospect sounds rather tempting, you need to be fucked like the soil needs rain. Jumin, however, shifts, bracing one hand against the curve of your hip, the other likely circling the base of his cock because you can suddenly feel his glans moving against your wet folds. He only teases you for a moment before he lines himself up to your entrance, cock pressing hard against your flesh. You fight the temptation to drop down to your elbows and clutch the duvet, knuckles turning white for the intensity of your grip. Then Jumin rocks forward and buries the length of his cock inside of you.

“Fuck,” he whispers, the word a ghost of unleashed passion on his lips. He fits his free hand between the juncture of your hip and thigh, his fingers pressing into your skin hard enough to bruise. He cants his hips and thrusts into you several times, presumably allowing your body to grow accustomed to his girth before hastening his pace. “You feel incredible,” Jumin compliments, nails catching on your skin.

“Thank you, Sir,” you say shakily, head hung listlessly between your tensed shoulders.

Jumin fucks into you roughly, one hand rising from your hip to caress the curve of your frame. He falls into a fixed rhythm, steady as a heartbeat, his fingers walking up the staircase of your spine. You can feel every inch of his cock moving inside of you, pushing the boundaries of your sex and self-control. Jumin hooks his fingers around the jute decorating your skin and tugs it hard, forcing the design closer to your chest. Your breasts sway with each shake of the bed and the friction of the rope is just this side of pained pleasure.

“You're a good girl, ____. You're making your master proud.” Jumin tugs at the harness a second time while bringing his opposite hand up to the gravity of your breast. He squeezes the tissue in his palm before pinching your nipple roughly, rolling the sensitive nub between his fingers. “You're taking this so well. Perhaps you've been fucked like this before.” He releases your breast and no sooner than the prickling sensation of heat leaves you, he's bringing his hand down against the curve of your ass. You cry out in pleasure and rake your nails over the duvet. “Perhaps you prefer being opened up and fucked like a slut than indulging in the delicacies of lovemaking.” Jumin slams himself home, the sound of skin-on-skin contact like a whip-crack throughout the room. You can feel a bead of sweat roll down the back of your thigh and the tackiness of perspiration on Jumin's skin each time he grinds himself flush against your body.

Jumin drapes himself over your back and hastens his rhythm, his movements coming quicker in exchange for shallower thrusts. “Tell me my little tart, is it true?” Jumin whispers against the shell of your ear, his breath hot and coming fast.

“Yes, Sir,” you breathe, bucking back against Jumin's ministrations in an act of hopeless desperation.

Jumin nips the tip of your ear and thrusts a hand between your thighs. You can feel the electricity on his skin, the hairs on his arm brushing the low of your abdomen. He presses two fingers, or so you think—you're too far gone to care for tiny details—against your clit and works the throbbing organ with a rough approach that explodes through you.

“Do you want to come?” Jumin asks, his manner of speaking accelerated by exertion.

“Yes, Sir,” you whine, body shaking like the leaves in an autumn breeze.

“Ask for my permission.” Jumin somehow manages to work your clit faster, a cruel tactic when expecting your response.

You attempt to steady yourself, the breath in your lungs compromised by the thirst in your veins. You press your nails in against your palms and pin your focus on the pain. “May I come, Sir?”

Jumin is silent for what must be only seconds in actuality but it feels like an eternity, then he finally surrenders and grants you the admission you so desperately need: Yes.

And it takes nothing beyond that simple word to throw you headfirst into the surging waters of your longing. You cry out, the vocal release almost deafening to your ears. Your limbs draw tight and every muscle in your body spasms. You feel like you can't draw enough oxygen into your lungs and when Jumin capitulates moments later, you have to battle a wave of dizziness so vibrant it turns to a kaleidoscope of light behind your eyes.

Lightheaded and fucked to the nines, you collapse against the bed. Jumin pulls himself free of your body's grip and the feeling of being full dissolves into a wash of disappointment. You turn your head and press your cheek against the duvet, breasts still heaving. You wait for the trickle of Jumin's release but it doesn't come and you wonder when he found time to put on a condom. Regardless, the act of responsibility doesn't go unappreciated and you curse yourself for not being more sensible.

“I will let you sleep if it's what you want but I need to untie your binds,” Jumin tells you, his voice soft and slow like syrup. “I'm going to clean myself up. I'll return in just a moment if that's okay...”

You don't register the question at first, surprised that he's now asking for your approval. When you do, you roll over and onto your back, finding it much easier to pull yourself into sitting in this position. “I'll be fine,” you tell him, still finding your way back from the smoke-colored fog and the amaranthine flowers in bloom. “I'll be waiting.”

Jumin smiles in a way you haven't seen before and it melts through you like warm chocolate. You fend off the urge to lower your head and return the smile.

“If you need anything, you can use that system there to alert the staff. I won't be long.” Jumin turns on his heel and steps into an adjoining room you didn't see before. You realize as you watch him disappear from your sight that he must have fucked you with his trousers on. It might make you feel discounted with any other man but with Jumin, it makes your nerves thrum with interest.

You think about touring the room but your legs are still too weak and the bed's promise of comfort is too tempting. You want to lie down and wrap yourself in Jumin's sheets but you wait for him, knowing that if you don't, you'll be fast asleep by the time he returns.

He keeps his word and enters the room not long after he abandoned it. He's rid himself of his trousers in favor of a hooded robe. It's dark blue and the breast pocket features an elegant signature to the front, the name of a designer no doubt. You can't make out the script but the cotton terry-cloth looks as soft as the tousled fall of Jumin's hair.

“I see you haven't moved,” he notes, falling to a crouch between your feet. “Are you feeling all right?”

“I'm fine,” is your reply, going soft when he slides a hand down the back of your calf. He finds the decorative buckle keeping your heel in place and loosens it with ease. He removes the shoe with an air of strict caution and exercises the same practice when he sets it down beside the bed. He repeats the action with your opposite foot, and when your heels have been paired, he begins to massage the soles of your feet.

“Thank you for indulging me with your dress. I have a penchant for women in heels.” Jumin presses a gentle kiss to the inside of your knee, then he returns to standing. “Now for this,” he says, fingers brushing over the ropes hugging close to your skin. “I have to admit, I'd love to try you in other types of bondage.” He begins removing the jute with ease, the harness going looser with each section of rope that's stripped away and collected in Jumin's hands.

“Maybe...” you trail off, not wanting to expose yourself to the pitfalls of heartbreak when the feeling is still so raw. You're still feeling the effects of all the wine you consumed earlier but you're getting too close to sober for comfort. You don't want to face the truth of tomorrow until you're miles away from Jumin's touch.

“Maybe?” Jumin parrots, arranging the jute delicately in his hands.

“I'm sorry,” you say, giggling to bury your err. “I'm still a bit tipsy and after...I haven't had sex like that in some time. It seems to have exhausted me.”

Jumin nods but the look on his face reads that he doesn't quite believe you. He doesn't press the issue, however, and returns the ropes to their rightful place. “Would you like to take a bath, or would you rather I help you clean up in here?” Jumin asks, rounding the bed to face you once more.

All things considered, a bath sounds lovely, but you can't bring yourself to endure consciousness longer. You fold your hands in your lap and pretend to mull over your options. “If it's not too much trouble, I'd like to stay here. I'm afraid that I might drown if I take a bath.”

“There's no such thing as too much trouble,” Jumin drags a knuckle down the contour of your cheek. “This part is all about you.” He carries the gentle sensation across your lips and your eyes close without delay. Your heart clenches in your chest and you hate yourself for letting things go this far. What should have been a one-night stand turned into something much more intimate, something personal.

Jumin retires to the bathroom and you wonder if it's the wine making you feel as though he's putting you on a pedestal. He's treating you as though you come from royalty and it's so far from a feeling you're used to that it lives on another planet. He returns not a moment later with a damp cloth and a towel. “If you'd be so kind,” he says, gesturing toward your legs.

“You don't have to,” you say, knees falling open almost as if pulled by invisible strings.

Jumin sets the towel on the bed and begins wiping away the drying slick between your legs with the damp cloth. “It's my job as the dominant to care for you after a session. Are you not familiar with aftercare?” he asks, stilling his hand to look at you directly. There's a mark of alarm gracing his features.

“My previous relationship didn't share the” you let the sentence die in your throat, not wanting to discuss the broken framework of your recent past.

Jumin nods and finishes washing the libertine evidence of the night from your skin. “It's none of my business. I merely hope that you're taking proper measures to protect yourself from those unwilling to perform the art the way it's meant to be practiced.”

He lifts the towel away from the bed and pauses, a thought present right behind his eyes. He slips the soft cotton between your legs and dabs at the last molecules of moisture. Setting both cuts of fabric aside, he draws back the corner of the duvet and accompanying sheet. “Are you comfortable sleeping nude? If not, I could have something brought up from downstairs. You're also welcome to one of my shirts.” He hesitates as you shift up the bed and work your feet under the weight of the material. “I think you would look rather good dressed in my clothes, to be honest.”

You wiggle down under the covers and smile up at him. “I'm fine like this. Thank you.”

Jumin sweeps your hair away from your face and the burden of exhaustion finally outpaces your ability to stay awake. You close your eyes and let the darkness take you by the hand, down to the deep apse of slumber.

“Goodnight, darling,” Jumin whispers, stroking your hair one last time before leaving the room.

Jaehee walks over to the table where you're sitting, two identical Styrofoam cups in her hands. She sets one down in front of you and takes the seat opposite yours. She takes a sip of her steaming beverage without concern for the heat flooding her mouth. Then, she eyes you in a way you've grown far too familiar with over the years.

“I know that look,” you say, frowning.

“And I know that something happened last night,” Jaehee returns, scrutiny showing behind clear lenses. “Out with it,” she adds. “You know you won't feel better until you talk about it.”

You turn the Styrofoam cup in your hands, enjoying the heat that warms your palms. “You have to promise not to judge me.” Head lowered toward the table, you lift your gaze to meet Jaehee's stare, guilt tugging at every corner of your expression.

“I never have. Why would I start now?” Jaehee reaches across the table and places her hand over your own. “You're my best friend. I'm here for you.”

You groan and toss your head back dramatically. “Why do things always have to be so complicated?” You exhale a long breath and feel winded before you even straighten your posture. “Fine. Here goes nothing. So, as you know, I've been looking for a new job.”

Jaehee nods in acknowledgment, encouraging you to continue.

“Well, I've also been looking for a new place to live. As you know, things didn't go so well with,” you cringe and shake your head in lieu of speaking his name. “You know most of the story and I'll save the rest for another day because honestly, I don't think I could go into it now if I wanted to. Not after last night.”

Jaehee smiles behind the rim of her cup and arches an eyebrow. “Is it safe to assume that you had a one-night stand?”

“Ladies, is this an appropriate conversation to be having in a busy coffee shop?”

You turn your head to put a face to the owner of the voice and nearly fall out of your seat.

“Jumin!” you screech. “What are you doing here?”

“Mr. Han,” Jaehee says, her voice drawing his name into the lilt of a question. “Do you two know each other?”

“He...he's” you stammer, tripping over your words and feeling the sting of the fall on your burning cheeks. Then: “This would happen to me,” you grouse.

“Assistant Kang, have you readied the monthly expense report?” Jumin asks unaffectedly.

“Assistant?” You lean forward and gawk at Jaehee. “This is the Jumin? The one that you work with?”

“Yes. Mr. Han is my boss.” Jaehee turns to Jumin then, brows knitting together. “I finished the report last night. It's already on your desk. I used the new paper that you suggested, as well. Now can someone please explain to me what's going on? I don't want to make assumptions but with the way that you're acting...”

“Oh, Jaehee, you already know the answer,” you tell her, stress tangling the web of your words.

Jumin looks at you and smiles, adjusting his tie. He looks better than anyone has a right to and the memory of last night shakes you to your core.

“I was disappointed to find you gone when I woke this morning. I would ask your reason but it seems that you had an important date with Assistant Kang. I was worried that I'd done something to upset you.” Jumin grabs a section of your hair and runs it through his fingers. “I'm pleased to see that you're doing well.”

Jaehee's gaze bounces from you to Jumin then back again. “So it's true. I suppose then I should take my leave. As an assistant, I have no right to meddle in Mr. Han's affairs.” Her voice is even and there's not a stitch of discontent in her tone. You wonder if this is something that happens frequently but you remember the look of surprise on Jaehee's face when she put the pieces together and think otherwise.

“Actually, I'd like you to stay,” Jumin says, reaching out to put a hand on Jaehee's shoulder, stilling her motion. Jaehee sinks back into her seat and flashes Jumin a curious look.

Jumin retrieves a chair from a nearby table and sits down, shoulders squared and hands folded in his lap. “After what took place last night, I was chasing sleep but found I couldn't get drowsy at all. On the contrary, I felt wide awake and animated. It gave me plenty of time to think.” He turns to face you and the rhythm of your heart spreads to the pulse in your throat.

“I have never experienced anything like I did yesterday. You offered me something I both needed and never thought I could acquire without difficulty and hardship. I have closed myself off from my emotions for so long that I forgot what it felt like to truly feel. For that, I thank you.” He moistens his lips and the innocent action turns to a vivid reminder that sparks heat between your thighs. “I'd like to present you with an offer that I think will benefit both of you.”

“Both of us?” Jaehee interjects, as inquisitive as she is surprised.

Jumin nods coolly and adjusts the watch on his wrist. “I would like for ____ to take over half of your work, Ms. Kang. It would lessen your workload and offer ____ C&R's work benefits.” He looks at you wearing the face of a businessman, a countenance completely unlike the one he wore last night. “I didn't mean to eavesdrop but I heard that you're looking for a new residence. We could discuss a payroll advance after a short-term stint in the company.”

“If I might ask, what makes you so sure that I'm qualified for this kind of work?” you ask, trying to ignore the myriad thoughts swimming through your head like schools of tiny fish.

Jumin remains expressionless for a moment but a winning smile takes over the shape of his lips. “A friend of mine may have filled me in on your capabilities.”

Your gaze shoots to Jaehee, who in turn raises her hands in a show of surrender. “It wasn't me! I've been praying for a decrease in work for months. If I had known you were the answer, I would have introduced you to him ages ago.” Jaehee then looks at Jumin. “Who was this friend, by the way?”

Jumin holds his silence for a beat, obviously debating on whether or not he wants to make said person known. “It was V. He heard some things from Zen” –he looks at Jaehee pointedly– “and he felt that we might be a suitable match.” He lowers his head and smiles. “He wasn't wrong.”

Jaehee's cheeks are suddenly tinged with the faintest shade of pink. She takes a long sip of coffee and says nothing more on the topic.

“What do you think, ____? Are you interested in the job?” Jumin inquires without much pause.

It takes you a moment to realize that he's speaking to you. When you do, you exhale a shaky breath and rub your hands together absentmindedly. “I'd be lying if I said I wasn't interested. I think working with someone familiar would be the breath of fresh air that I need.” You worry your bottom lip between the edges of your teeth, anxious to ask the question that's to follow. “What about us? I mean, I understand that we're going to go back to our everyday lives but do you think that it's going to be...awkward, having me as your assistant and you as my superior?”

Jumin furrows his brow and a look of disappointment delineates his sharp features. “Is that what you want?”

You're taken aback by the question, not fully understanding what he's referring to. “I...” you clear your throat and glance down at the table. “I'm not sure I understand what you're asking.” You look to Jaehee for some kind of notion but she's already busying herself with a stack of paperwork.

Jumin brushes a speck of unseen dust off of his shirt front and amends the question. “Do you want to go back to living like we hadn't met?”

You gape at him, mouth slack on the breath you can't seem to catch. “Don't you?” you blurt unthinkingly.

“Of course not. In fact, I was hoping for quite the opposite.” Jumin turns his head to look at Jaehee who is now staring at him. “Ms. Kang, what is it?”

“Are you sure that's a good idea? I know it's not my place to intervene but you've always advised against relationships in the workplace. It might not look good for the heir of the company to succumb to such distractions. I'm not implying that you can't see her but to have such relations with your assistant would be seen as unethical.”

“To be quite honest, Assistant Kang, I don't care. I am fully capable of separating work from pleasure. If the higher-ups have anything to say about it, they can come to me. The only person I need to answer to at C&R is my father and if he so much as bats a lash at me for this, we will be having a very long discussion.” Jumin looks irritated at the thought and you feel like now is as good a time as any to fit yourself back into the conversation.

“I'll take the job,” you announce, palms coming down softly against the table.

Jumin and Jaehee share similar expressions of surprise, almost as if they've overlooked your occupancy.

“I'm happy to hear that,” Jumin supplies, recovering quickly. “I was thinking of ways I could persuade you should you say no. Though, a few of those ideas shouldn't be so easily discarded...” he trails off thoughtfully.

“I think now is a good time for me to head off to work,” Jaehee says, cheeks darkening. “Mr. Han, I'll see you later. ____, I'm looking forward to working with you. I know you'll do a great job.” She grabs her belongings and after a quick bow, she turns around and heads toward the exit.

“You shouldn't have said that,” you tell Jumin, continuing when it's clear that he doesn't share the same sentiment. “It's uncomfortable, feeling like you're trespassing where you don't belong. I'm sure Jaehee doesn't want to know what her boss gets up to in his spare time.”

“Ah,” Jumin says. “I should be more considerate next time. I'll apologize to her later.”

“I'm sure she'll appreciate it,” you note, unsure of what else to say. You pin your focus on your coffee cup and delight in the warm glow of the sun catching on your face.

“I meant what I said,” Jumin declares. “There are many things I realized last night and one of them was that I don't want to go back to living behind the walls I put up years ago. I know that I don't come off as a man who is good at demonstrating his feelings, and perhaps I'm not, but I do have them. I would like to share my feelings with someone I know I can trust and I wholeheartedly believe that person is you.” Jumin lifts his hand as if to allay what you're going to say, notwithstanding your silence. “I know that this is all happening very fast and I understand if you need some time to digest everything. My only hope is that one day, you will share my feelings and want me as badly as I want you.”

“And say I decided to be in a relationship with you, you wouldn't hide me behind closed doors?” you ask, the pain of your previous relationship striking hot against the space beneath your ribcage.

Jumin looks offended at the mere concept. “Why would I do that? You're beautiful and intelligent among many other things—a treasure meant to be put on display. I see no practical reason to keep you a secret.”

Jumin's watch chirps twice and he silences the alarm without bothering to check the time. “I must be going. I have an important meeting with the KG Chem executives and their shareholders. I only hope that the list of stockholders don't read like a list of IP heroes this time,” Jumin gripes. “If you'd like, I could give you a tour of the building after the meeting. It should be close to lunch by then. I don't often go out but I liken today to new beginnings.”

“That sounds nice,” you tell him, rising from your seat. “Should I stop home and change into something a bit more professional?”

“That won't be necessary. I'll have something sent over. Speaking of which, I'd like you to visit my tailor. I'll be needing your measurements.” Jumin slips out of his seat and returns the chair to its original place.

“Why would you need my measurements?” You brush a stray hair out of your eyes and watch Jumin as he adjusts his suit jacket.

“How else will I spoil you?” Jumin asks, looking genuinely confused.

You exhale a huff of laughter and shake your head, wondering when you fell down a rabbit hole and onto the grounds of good fortune.

“And what kind of accouterments should I be expecting, Sir?” you ask, hooking your arm around Jumin's own.

“Anything you want,” he says while holding open the shop's door for you in an act of chivalry.

“What if I just want to cuddle on the couch in pajamas and eat ice cream with you?” You step out into the heat of the sun and feel like you've been swung out of the low.

“That's a bit unusual, isn't it?” Jumin inquires. “But if it's what you truly wanted, I'd be more than happy to oblige your request.”

“Let's just say that I think there's a lot we can learn from each other.” You pat Jumin on the arm and continue down the short path toward the black limo you rode in the night before.

“I think that's for certain.” Jumin stops suddenly and turns to face you, forcing your arm out of his grip and taking you by the hand instead. “I'd like to draw up a contract with you after lunch. Thinking about last night is driving me mad and I want to know more about your interests.”

It dawns on you that he's not referring to a work contract but a sexual one. You involuntarily glance at the people passing you by, questioning who has been privy to your conversation. Realizing that you're the only one who can understand the implications of Jumin's request, you relax.

“I'd also like you to come up with a safe word,” Jumin adds, and you almost laugh because it's obvious that he's not afraid to be heard.

“Maybe we should discuss this in the limo?” you suggest, smiling.

“I was hoping that we could engage in other activities during our transport,” Jumin says, straight-faced and intent.

“Jumin!” you scold and tug your hand out of his grip. “I didn't take you for a man with such an indecent disposition.”

“I wasn't until I met you,” Jumin answers honestly. Then after a brief pause: “Was that a 'no' then?”

“I don't recall saying anything negative.” You walk around him and glance over your shoulder. “Well? Aren't you coming?”

He turns around and you swear you can see the barest outline of arousal behind the dark stitches of his trousers. “That was an attempt at humor but I'm certainly not going to deny your affections.”

“I'm happy to see that you're making good on your word to spoil me, Sir. Otherwise, I might not believe you,” you tease. You spin around in the direction of the limo and feel the hem of your dress rise before you continue walking. A devious smile plays on your lips despite the voice ringing in the back of your mind, telling you to be cautious. You don't know that your heavy heart can bear any more anguish but something tells you that Jumin is different somehow.

Meanwhile, behind you, Jumin is trying not to stare at the backs of your thighs. “What have I gotten myself into—how am I supposed to focus like this?” he mutters, though not quite out of earshot.

You smile. He's definitely unlike the rest.