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Three Can Play

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Elizabeth starts peppering kisses over her chest, but stops when Nadine yelps after she sucks a nipple into her mouth. Elizabeth looks up at her, "Do you need a breather?" 

Nadine is conflicted, but she nods her affirmative. Because her skin feels stretched over tight while her breasts and sex are heavy, tingling with too much sensation. 

Elizabeth smiles and tucks herself into Nadine's side, head resting on her shoulder. "I guess we did work you over pretty hard. I need to taste you again before we're done though, so don't fall asleep."

From her other side, Henry chuckles and finally adjusts himself so he's lying fully on the bed, propped on an elbow. He smiles at the two of them. "She's utterly insatiable when she's in this mood, Nadine. I hope you had a good dinner—you'll need the energy." 

Nadine hums at the confirmation of her earlier thought. Elizabeth is a force of nature, both in and out of the bedroom. Elizabeth doesn't say anything, just pushes further into Nadine, molding herself to her side.

After a few minutes, Elizabeth shifts and stands up. "Well I'm going to go to the bathroom and get a drink of water.” She holds up a finger in warning. “No falling asleep while I'm gone."  

Nadine watches her disappear into the bathroom. 

She feels the beginning of an ache in her thighs and thinks that perhaps Elizabeth needs a taste of her own medicine. Elizabeth needs to be taken apart until she is pleading for release. Nadine turns toward Henry and winces at how stiff her muscles feel. It hardens her resolve to torment Elizabeth this time around. Henry is half-dozing, so she nudges his shoulder. "We should get a little revenge,” she says to him. "She deserves to be teased until she’s begging us .” 

Henry perks up at that, though he’s doubtful. “It’s difficult to get her to beg. If you haven’t noticed, she can be incredibly stubborn.”

Nadine chuckles. “I’m sure with both of us dedicated to the task we can have her promising to put us on the twenty dollar bill.” 

A slow smile spreads across Henry’s face. He glances towards the closed door and speaks in hushed tones. “I might have a few ideas.” His words are rushed and he keeps looking towards the bathroom. “The best thing to do is to avoid touching her clit. Don’t let her touch herself, either. I’ll make sure she doesn’t... She likes to get huffy when I hold her hands down, but it turns her on.” He smiles. Nadine wants to explore that idea more, but he isn’t finished. “And tease her nipples until she's screaming, be careful. If we give her any friction at all to rub against, she'll come just from that." 

Nadine suddenly, desperately wants to see that. Another time , she promises herself. (She doesn't interrogate how she's thinking about a next time.)

"With both of us, we can have her screaming in no time and then..." Henry trails off as the door opens.

 Elizabeth gives them both a wary look. "You two look quite awake. Not conspiring I hope."

Nadine smiles, sliding off the bed. She walks over to her, "Just talking about your many admirable attributes." Elizabeth doesn't look like she believes her, but Nadine leans in and kisses her. She still doesn't believe that she gets to do that. She loses herself for a minute until Henry clears his throat and then pulls back sheepishly. 

She tugs at Elizabeth's hand, guiding her back into bed. She gently pushes her until Elizabeth falls to the bed, then grins down at her from above and winks. "Don't worry. You'll like this conspiracy, I promise."

Henry starts kissing Elizabeth, distracting her long enough that Nadine can slither up to her other side and start licking her nipple. Nadine starts with tiny flicks of her tongue, pausing to press kisses on the pale skin of Elizabeth's breasts. Henry trails his own mouth down his wife's neck and begins his own torment on the other side. 

It doesn't take long for Elizabeth to start gasping, her hands flailing, unsure where to land, briefly tangling in each of their hair. Nadine switches to hard sucks and it looks as if Henry has done the same. Elizabeth's hips start canting upwards. Henry pulls back briefly and Nadine pauses in her ministrations. 

"Use a little bit of teeth,” he suggests. “She likes the extra sensation when she's worked up like this."

Elizabeth starts to say something—probably in protest—but is cut off when they simultaneously move back down and bring her nipples between their teeth. She jolts and arches upward with a loud moan. Nadine smiles, flicking her eyes over to Henry to see him grinning as well.

They both lose themselves for a bit, licking and sucking and biting until Elizabeth is reduced to helpless whimpers. Nadine pulls back only when she hears the startling sound of skin on skin, followed by a harsh No! When she looks up, she sees Henry pinning Elizabeth's hand down against her side. 

"No touching," he admonishes. 

Elizabeth lets out what can only be described as a whine. "Then can you touch me?" 

A grin slowly spreads across his face. Nadine has rarely seen him look so devious. "Nadine will touch you," he says. "You don't get to come, though. Not until we decide you can."

 Elizabeth whines. "That's not fair."

Nadine narrows her eyes. In a tone that has made lesser people tremble, she asks, "You can dish it out but you can't take it?" She leans down and sucks hard on a nipple while moving her hand down to rest just on top of Elizabeth's sex. She can feel the radiating heat, and when she just barely presses her fingers down, wetness engulfs them. She sits up again and exchanges a smile with Henry. 

She very much enjoys submitting to these two, being fucked within an inch of her life, but there's something intoxicating about being the one in charge, about being responsible for Elizabeth writhing and begging. Fuck, does she want to hear her beg.

“Is that what this is about?” Elizabeth gasps as she cants her hips into Nadine’s hand. “Retribution?”

“Oh, don’t think of it like that,” Nadine says. She drags one slick finger over Elizabeth’s clit. “Think of it more like—” she grins lasciviously, “—a reward.”

“A reward—”

“For giving me the hardest fuck I’ve had in a long time.” As Nadine says it, she slides two fingers into Elizabeth and curls her fingers until it makes the other woman gasp. Nadine is so caught up in the vision of it that she doesn’t sense Henry behind her until he brushes a hand almost possessively over her hip. 

“Wasn’t just her that gave it to you,” he reminds her in a low growl. 

She turns into him, even as she begins to fuck Elizabeth slowly with her fingers. “Your reward,”  she says, her lips a breath away from his, “is watching your wife beg me.”

Henry engulfs her mouth in a kiss just as Elizabeth gasps, “I don’t beg.”

Nadine breaks away, turning back to Elizabeth with amusement. “Don’t you?” She twists her fingers inside her.

“I don’t— I don’t usually—" she stammers. 

Nadine cuts her off by pressing their lips together and it’s wet, messy, rough. When she adds a third finger, Elizabeth whimpers into her mouth. Nadine pulls away abruptly. “Is it because Henry always gives you exactly what you want?” she wonders, teasing. “I think he spoils you too much.”

“I just like to please,” Henry says in his own defense. 

Nadine smiles meanly. “You won’t be able to say the same of me, Madam President.” This causes both Elizabeth and Henry to let out groans that make Nadine wet. “You’ll beg for me.”

With that, Nadine moves herself down, situating herself between Elizabeth’s thighs. She pulls her fingers out and just stays there, ruffling the short hairs with her breathing, until Elizabeth’s hips twitch. Out of the corner of her eye, Nadine sees one of Elizabeth’s hands start to sneak down her body. Henry quickly pins it to her side and Elizabeth’s hips push up again, helplessly.

Nadine uses both hands to spread her open. She blows a stream of air across Elizabeth’s glistening sex, and watches as the muscles clench, desperately seeking sensation. She makes no further move. 

Henry is watching hungrily. “Give her just one finger, tease her.” 

Elizabeth whimpers as Nadine follows his suggestion. Nadine pushes her finger in and out slowly, then leans forward to quickly lick her clit. The sound Elizabeth lets out has Henry smiling. He goes back to torturing her breasts, trusting that Nadine has things well under control between Elizabeth’s legs.

Nadine continues this pattern, a quick lick every ten seconds or so while she fucks Elizabeth with a single finger. She watches Elizabeth’s reactions closely, reveling in every muscle twitch and muffled moan. When Elizabeth’s hips can’t seem to stay still, pushing up, grinding against the bed, shifting side to side, Nadine hums and adds another finger. She moves faster, curling her fingers up to catch the rough patch of skin on her front wall. The tone of Elizabeth’s moans changes, turning deeper and more desperate, as she slams herself upwards against the sensation.

Henry pulls back. “Be careful, she’s close.” 

Nadine heeds his warning. She slows her pace and stops using her mouth entirely. Elizabeth lets out a high-pitched whine, a noise that Nadine can’t quite believe came from her. Elizabeth’s hips slowly still. 

Nadine continues to fuck her with two fingers so she doesn’t get too far away from arousal, but allows Elizabeth to lay there like that for a few minutes as she comes back down from her almost-orgasm. 

When Elizabeth’s breathing is finally even, Nadine shoots Henry a conspiratorial look. And then she surrounds Elizabeth’s clit with her mouth and starts up a rapid massage with her tongue while increasing the speed of her fingers. 

“Fuck, yes,” Elizabeth shrieks. “More. More, more, more.”

Nadine doesn’t need a warning this time—she can feel Elizabeth pulsing around her mouth and fingers, so close to coming. All at once Nadine pulls back, removing all sensation. 

There’s a scream, and then Nadine watches as a small flood of wetness pulses out of Elizabeth. 

She knows Elizabeth didn’t come, because Elizabeth immediately starts pleading. “Nadine, oh fuck,” Nadine feels her own sex pulse at the sound of her name in Elizabeth’s mouth,  “please, please, please, oh god, please.” Elizabeth’s eyes are closed, her head thrown back. 

“Hmm.” Nadine taps her finger on her chin, considering. Henry is pinching Elizabeth’s nipples between his fingers, his pupils blown black with arousal. 

Elizabeth’s eyes open and meet Nadine’s. “Please,” she says again.

Nadine shakes her head. “No, I don’t think so.” With that, she leans forward and starts lapping at the wetness in front of her. She keeps the pressure light and unpredictable and Elizabeth writhes all over the bed. Henry eventually resorts to pinning her down, a large arm banding across her stomach. 

“Keep begging,” he tells her in a gravelly voice, “and maybe Nadine will be nice.”

But Elizabeth tries to hold on. Nadine is about ready to see if she needs to change up her methods when a hiss finally escapes Elizabeth. “Please let me come,” she gasps. “Please, please, oh god.” 

Nadine rewards her with a harder suck. 

“Please make me come, fuck , I need to come. I’ll do anything. I’ll do anything you want… Yes, yes, yes! ” Her words devolve into howls as Nadine forms a ring of suction around Elizabeth’s clit and lashes it with her tongue, and then pushes three fingers inside her roughly. Nadine is pretty sure Elizabeth is about two seconds away from coming when she suddenly shoves Nadine’s head and says, “No.” 

Nadine pulls back, confused. 

Henry also looks baffled. “You don’t want to come?” he asks tentatively.

Elizabeth shakes her head, her eyes wild. “No, I mean yes, I mean, I want, I want,” she pants, she locks eyes with Nadine, “Turn around.” 

Nadine cocks her head, not understanding. 

Elizabeth repeats, lifting up a finger and spinning it around, “Want you to turn around.” 

Henry seems to get it before Nadine does, because he gasps. And then in a burst of arousal, Nadine suddenly understands what she wants. 

“I want to taste you,” Elizabeth says. 

“But I just, I mean I’m not…” Nadine tries to protest. Because even though she wants that more than anything, she feels she should remind Elizabeth that the woman’s husband had come inside of her not that long ago. 

Elizabeth closes her eyes, seeming to gather the energy she needs to speak. “I know. I want to taste you. Both of you.” 

Nadine clenches around nothing. “Okay,” she breathes out. Henry falls back onto the mound of pillows next to them, clearly overcome himself. 

Nadine maneuvers herself as gracefully as she can. Once she’s within reach, Elizabeth wraps her arms around her thighs and tugs her down and Nadine has to bite her lip to keep from screaming. 

Elizabeth doesn’t hold back. Immediately, she starts to lick Nadine’s clit in hard, consistent strokes. When she briefly shifts down to lap at Nadine’s opening, fucking her with her tongue, Nadine is driven to distraction. 

When Elizabeth’s hips twitch into her face, Nadine remembers that she has a task. She dips down to resume her earlier pattern, doing her best to split her focus between her own building orgasm and bringing Elizabeth to hers. 

It doesn’t take long. Elizabeth was already on the edge from being teased for so long, and Nadine isn’t much better. Elizabeth’s tongue starts getting sloppy, and then her hips start bucking up into Nadine’s face. And then she’s shaking, screaming into Nadine’s pussy, and the vibrations are enough to send Nadine spinning out, too.

They both bring each other down with gentle licks. Nadine rests her head on Elizabeth’s thigh as she sighs in contentment.  

After a moment, she moves to get off of Elizabeth. But the second she shifts, Elizabeth suddenly tightens her hold on Nadine’s hips and pulls her down, opening her mouth and burying her tongue against her again. 

Nadine squirms in her grip. trying fruitlessly to create some distance between herself and Elizabeth’s mouth. She rolls onto her side and into Henry, but Elizabeth simply rolls with her and continues her assault. “Wait, I, I—” Nadine gasps, “I can’t.” 

Henry adjusts his position so that he can hold Nadine in place against his chest, anchoring her top leg against his hip. “You can,” he says encouragingly. 

Nadine bucks involuntarily. “Oh my god.” She feels the arousal flash hot and fast in her lower belly. 

Elizabeth closes her lips in a firm seal around her clit and sucks hard as she strokes with the very tip of her tongue, relentless. It doesn’t take much longer for Nadine to reach her peak; she shudders almost soundlessly against the solid wall of Henry’s chest, barely able to gather the breath she’d need to cry out. 

“You two are going to kill me,” she pants, once she’s able to locate her voice again. 

Elizabeth smiles in satisfaction. She re-positions herself so that they’re face to face, with Nadine sandwiched between her and Henry, and kisses her sweetly. She murmurs, “How else would we inspire you to return to us again?”

Nadine goes still. “Again?” She keeps her tone neutral, but she’s wary. She wants to, but hadn’t dared consider that Elizabeth and Henry might want that, too.

“Again,” Elizabeth confirms. She runs a hand over Nadine’s side, from thigh to hip to waist and back down again. “But maybe you need more convincing,” she says, and turns to Henry. “Babe, you want to give it a go?”

Nadine moans, but this time it’s more anguish than desire. She thinks that a part of her might actually die if either of them try to pull another orgasm out of her tonight. “No more convincing, I’m convinced.”

“Oh, is that all it took?” Henry says. His eyes are dancing. “I have a lot more tricks in my arsenal, you know. I thought you’d be a harder sell.”

Nadine rolls onto her side to face him. “Maybe I should be trying to sell myself to you ,” she says. She extends an arm to brush the backs of her fingers over his cock, which is already half-hard again. He twitches under her touch, so she wraps her entire hand around him.

“I wouldn’t say no to that,” Henry grunts, pushing into her hand. 

“Don’t you think,” Nadine says softly, turning her head slightly to address Elizabeth, “that I should do something nice for your husband, Madam President?” In her hand, Henry hardens further.

Elizabeth suddenly digs her nails into Nadine’s hip, making the other woman hiss in pain. “What did I say about calling me that?”

“Your husband liked it,” Nadine gasps. 

“That’s part of the problem ,” Elizabeth says in exasperation. She presses her body against Nadine, her hips pressed flush against Nadine’s ass, and shoves her hand between Nadine’s legs. She presses fingers between wet folds until the other woman is squirming. “I’ll stop if you promise not to say it anymore,” she tells her.

Nadine is pinned between their bodies. She doesn’t want to give in, but she can’t move and she really is too tender for any more contact—something that Elizabeth seems to be counting on. “I promise!” Nadine says. “I promise, I promise. I’m sorry.”

Elizabeth eases off. “Apology accepted,” she says smugly. She returns her hand to its resting place on Nadine’s hip, and her gaze shifts. She looks pointedly at Henry’s cock (now standing at full attention under Nadine’s ministrations), and then she looks at Henry’s face. “Don’t get any ideas,” she warns him. “I’m willing to do much worse to you than I am to her.”

He grins widely, and Nadine can just tell that he’s biting back a Yes, Madam President. He opts instead to pull Elizabeth down for a long, deep kiss. Nadine moves out of their way, gives them space to get closer. She resettles herself lower down, and as he and Elizabeth continue to kiss each other, Nadine leans forward and gives Henry a long lick from root to tip. Above her, he groans into Elizabeth’s mouth, and his hips rock lightly into the sensation.

This time, Nadine can taste traces of herself on his cock as she runs her tongue along the length of him. She focuses her attention on different spots, paying attention to what makes him moan, what makes his muscles tense, what makes him squirm. He isn’t hard to please, but Nadine doesn’t think that’s a reason for her to short-change his pleasure.

She swirls her tongue around the tip of his cock and laps him up, then wraps her lips around him with a good hard suck. He mumbles something she can’t make out and cards his fingers through her hair. She bobs up and down on his cock, sloppy and wet, and then she slides her mouth all the way down until she’s practically swallowing him. Above her, she hears Elizabeth and Henry break apart from their kiss. She looks up to see both of them with their eyes on her, wearing matching expressions of arousal.

She smirks—or she would if her mouth wasn’t full—and continues. She settles into an easy rhythm that Henry seems to be enjoying, if the noises he’s making are anything to go by.

“Imagine how good she’d look kneeling under your desk like that,” Elizabeth says, sighing dreamily. She reaches down and runs her own fingers through Nadine’s hair, brushing it back so they can have a better view.

“Or yours ,” Henry grunts, his grip tightening in Nadine’s hair. “Don’t act like you haven’t fantasized about it during work hours.” 

Nadine hollows her cheeks on a long pull, making him curse, and then releases him with a pop . She uses her hand to keep him going as she looks up at them with a glint in her eye. “Is that what you daydream about when you’re all alone in the Oval Office?”

“When am I ever alone,” Elizabeth grumbles.

“All you’d have to do is say the word,” Nadine says. She swipes her thumb over the sensitive head of Henry’s cock. “I’d clear the room for you. I’d do whatever you wanted to you.” She dips down to work her lips and tongue along the side of Henry’s shaft.

“Is that right,” Elizabeth says, breathy. “And if I told you to go down to the East Wing on your break and suck Henry off while I’m in meeting after meeting—”

“It would only be a shame that you couldn’t be there to watch me do it,” Nadine says. She wraps her lips around Henry’s cock again.

As she begins to blow him in earnest, Henry picks up the threads of their fantasy. “How could you focus knowing she was in my office with my cock in her mouth?” he asks Elizabeth. He reaches for her, brushes his fingers over her skin wherever he makes contact, his touch light enough to make her shiver. “You’d be so keyed up by the end of the day…” He has to pause for a second, eyes sliding shut as Nadine begins to suck him off and pump him with her hand at the same time. “You’d be dripping wet,” he finishes on a groan. “Soaked right through your panties.”

“Someone would have to take care of that immediately,” Elizabeth agrees. “You know I don’t like to be left high and dry.”

Henry wraps his hand around one of Elizabeth’s thighs, squeezing every time Nadine bobs on his cock. His head falls back, and he abandons their little fantasy altogether.  “Shit,” he says through gritted teeth. “That’s it. Nadine, Jesus—”

“I could watch this all day,” Elizabeth sighs. She leans her head into Henry’s shoulder, even as he shifts and squirms under Nadine’s ministrations.

Nadine can tell that he’s getting close, so she redoubles her efforts. She uses firm, wet suction and twists her wrist on every upstroke, until he’s holding her head in place and his hips are surging up to meet her in a faltering rhythm. Nadine allows him to fuck her face just like that, and he thrusts four or five more times before he’s spilling into her mouth and down her throat. She takes it all and then brings him down gently. When she finally pulls away, she can’t keep the grin off her face as she wipes her mouth and works her jaw around, loosening the ache. She flops onto her back and splays out in a catlike stretch, arching her back and undoing the kinks. 

“You look satisfied,” Henry says affectionately. He sounds drowsy now.

“So do you.”

Elizabeth reaches for her, landing a hand on Nadine’s thigh. Nadine rearranges herself so she’s laying against Elizabeth, her head resting lightly on her shoulder. Henry pushes himself into Nadine’s other side. For a moment, they all just lay there like that, giving their bodies a chance to recover. 

Suddenly, Elizabeth jolts upright. Nadine gives her a disgruntled look. Elizabeth looks down at her, at the both of them, eyes wide. “Oh, god. What did I just have us fantasizing about? That was… I just…”

“Got carried away?” Henry murmurs. 

Elizabeth must really be concerned, because she just nods her head in placid agreement. She searches for Nadine’s hand, squeezing it gently. “I’m so sorry. That was inappropriate.”

Nadine lets out a full-throated laugh, leaning into Henry’s side. “Inappropriate? Yes, but I don’t think anything we did tonight would fall into the realm of appropriate. And I was a full participant in all of it.”

Elizabeth looks pained. “But that was another level of inappropriate. Nadine, I don’t want you to think we see you as some kind of… some kind of sex toy. My mouth ran ahead of my brain.” 

It’s Henry who chuckles now. “When she’s horny, she says things that could make a pornstar blush. That’s what got this whole thing started.” 

Elizabeth only looks a little affronted. 

Nadine stops any further protests by holding up her hand. “I understand that some fantasies, unlike this one,” she spins her finger around to indicate the three of them, “are meant to remain fantasies.”

Elizabeth slides back down, looking relieved. “I want you to know that we really care about you. We don’t want to treat you like you don’t matter or… or make you feel like you’re disposable. You’re neither of those things.”

Nadine ignores the twinge in her heart. 

“I want us to be friends,” Elizabeth continues on. “Friends who maybe just occasionally have sex.” 

Nadine lays her head back on Elizabeth’s shoulder, unable to come up with an appropriate response. Instead she allows the moment to hang there. 

But the second she feels herself beginning to doze off, Nadine forces herself to sit up. Henry and Elizabeth open their eyes. They watch her slip out of bed with a quiet groan, raking a hand through her mussed curls. 

Damn , Nadine thinks. She’s going to feel this acutely tomorrow. And for the rest of the week. 

Once she starts to pick up her clothes off the floor, Elizabeth speaks up again. “Stay?” she asks.

“Now that is definitely not a good idea,” Nadine says, and she will absolutely put her foot down on this one. She needs to go home, she needs a shower, and she needs to not be seen walking out of the Presidential Bedroom tomorrow morning while wearing yesterday’s clothes. She smiles at both of them though, and begins pulling on her clothes. 

“You could shower up here. I can lend you something to wear,” Elizabeth offers. 

Nadine shakes her head, gives Elizabeth a look. “I can’t. As your advisor , I really can’t allow you to increase the possibility of a scandal.” 

Elizabeth flinches at the pointed reminder that Nadine is technically her employee. 

Nadine buttons her pants and slips into her shoes. She straightens her back and meets Elizabeth’s eyes. “I’ll see you at the morning briefing, Madam President. Don’t forget, you have an early call with the German Chancellor.” Without waiting for a response, she turns and slips quietly out the door, closing it behind her with a small snick. 

In the morning, Nadine has a planned early meeting with Mike in her office. His current title is Chief of Staff, but he’s trying his damndest to get out of the role. It’s unclear whether or not Nadine’s presence in the White House is a contributing reason for his attempts at escape.

There’s a knock on the door.

She adjusts her clothes self-consciously, wincing a little as she shifts in her seat. God, she’s sore. When Elizabeth had said I don’t want her to be able to walk tomorrow, Henry had really taken the directive to heart. Nadine can barely even sit straight. “Come in,” she calls out. 

She’d left the door cracked, so Mike simply pushes it open with his shoulder. He’s carrying two paper cups from the coffee shop around the block: one no doubt containing his triple shot coffee, the other probably containing the green tea blend that she likes. He sets it down on her desk and she wraps her hands around it immediately. He leaves his on the corner of her desk and takes a seat.

“Thank you,” she says gratefully. Too hot to drink still, but in half an hour she’ll be glad she has it. “You wanted to go over the speech?” She hands him the hard copy she’d marked up the night before, the margins littered with her comments.

He takes it and begins to leaf through it. “You and Elizabeth took no issue with the language?”

Well, she’d been a little too distracted to focus on the language. The speech could say that they were selling Puerto Rico to the Russians and Nadine probably wouldn’t remember it. She nods in spite of this. “It needs a final pass, but there’s nothing objectionable.”

He takes a minute to skim her annotations. Once he’s done, he flips back to a specific page and says, “The only thing I think needs adjusting is in this paragraph, where she says that we need to—” He looks up at her, and then stops abruptly. 

Nadine blinks. “We need to what?”

He’s staring at something near her shoulder with a funny look on his face. He sets the speech aside and gets up slowly, walking around to her side of the desk.

“Mike?” she prompts, bewildered.

He reaches out and pushes the collar of her shirt to the side, revealing the dark little imprints of teeth high on her shoulder, in the shape of a bite mark. Too small to be a man’s mouth.

He sighs deeply, already drawing his own conclusions. And his assumptions are probably right, because they often are. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” he mutters. 

Nadine flounders. She opens her mouth, but nothing comes out.

“Tell me that’s not from… who I think it’s from.” He pinches the bridge of his nose, eyes squeezed shut. 

“Okay,” she agrees in a strangulated voice. “I won’t.”

He looks at her in exasperation. “ Again ?”

“I don’t want to have this discussion with you.”

“Let me just ask you one question,” he says. She crosses her arms and waits, making defiant eye contact. He studies her earnestly. “Do you know what you’re doing?”

“I…” Does she? She knows what she should be doing. The two are not the same. “I know that I can make my own decisions without your input,” she says finally. “Do you trust me to do that?”

“Yes.” His expression is grim. “Just remember that we all make sacrifices to work in this building. So perhaps you need to think long and hard about what yours should be.”

Like a kick to the ribs. It’s hard not to flinch.

“Noted,” she says quietly. 

And though she wishes they wouldn’t, his words echo in her head for the rest of the day. 

She should have stayed in California.