Despite her efforts to control her cries, the word slipped from her lips as easily as the breeze. With that, she suddenly understood exactly how the darkness co-existed with the ice in his eyes, because every barrier separating the two had finally snapped.
“Fuck me, Daddy.”
It was the ice blue eyes, that was where it had all started. Electricity flowed through the vibrant irises of her new boss who happened to be constantly staring at her through the glass windows of his office.
He was mystery in a dark suit. Even in the high saturation of his prying eyes was a hidden darkness. If she had long enough to stare into them, she was certain she'd find whatever that darkness meant. But the moments were fleeting and she was always the first to deflect her view away.
Forty five days into working at Stabler Enterprises and she wasn't aware of who was staring back at her in the mirror in the mornings anymore. The lipstick became darker, the dresses shorter, the heels higher. Every morning became a fight to find just whatever it would be that would make his stares linger a little longer.
With his attention came adrenaline, and skydiving from Mt. Everest would never thrill her to the bone, not quite like he could. Every vein in her body would constrict under the frigid temperatures of his stares. If the opportunity came about, she would sell her soul to know what he was thinking while his eyes were on her.
Her hands smooth over the black skirt that fell barely beneath her fingertips. "Oh, Olivia. What have you gotten yourself into?" she whispers in the mirror before departing from her bathroom.
"Is it show and tell day at work? Because those hips are a showin' and a tellin'." the voice of her roommate caught her off guard as she slipped into the black pumps she kept by the door. Monique was sitting on a stool at the kitchen island, organizing her portfolio as she chugged her coffee.
Olivia smirked, chuckling under her breath as she grabbed her jacket and her purse. "I'm late." she said as she swiped an apple from the counter, taking a careful bite into its bright red skin.
"Stabler isn't gonna get any work done with you there anyway, not in that skirt. Not that I can blame him." Monique giggled, rolling her eyes as Olivia shut the door on her way out.
Forty five days at Stabler Enterprises. Forty five… breathtaking days. The Olivia who had started her job over a month ago was no longer who occupied the body that wore the Fendi dresses and the Tiffany jewels. The thrill had taken over, the need. It was urgent inside of her, something unawoken before she'd laid eyes on him.
He created a change in her. At first it was little and unnoticeable, and then all at once.
With two fingers lazily thrown in the air, she hailed the nearest cab that had been rolling down the streets of Manhattan.
At first, the change felt pressured by the people around her. Girls in Dior and Chanel, counting how many almonds they'd have for breakfast with their triple skinny soy no-foam lattes. The first few days, she'd developed a chronic headache from the amount of times she rolled her eyes. Then, almost overnight, she'd yearned to be one of those girls. Not to fit in, not to feel better, but because he had stared at her.
One look and she was weak in the knees. Then, the chase ensued, and she'd purchased her first pair of Valentinos.
And an entire closet's worth from La Perla… just in case.
She could see him undressing her with his eyes as she'd walk in every morning looking better than the last. Normally, she'd destroy herself internally for changing an inch of herself for a man, but it was different. It wasn't just for him. Even though she no longer recognized her reflection, she liked it.
'Normally' wasn't normal anymore.
Before the cab had even parked completely, she was running up the street in her stilettos, gunning towards the Starbucks next to the Stabler Enterprises building. She knew how late she was, and she prayed an unlikely prayer that the line wasn't out the door.
But she liked the rush.
Like fucking foreplay to the main event.
"I know! I know, I'm late!" Olivia yelped as she shuffled into the office. Casey, the primary assistant rushed over to her, helping to relieve the load of coffee and dry cleaning from her arms.
"You're lucky Stabler likes you so much. The first time I was late I thought he was gonna take my head off." she rushed around, helping to settle her in as the rest of the office rushed around. "Ex-wife number #3 called while you were gone. God, I hate that bitch. Apparently he's dodging her texts about negotiating the alimony settlement. Can't blame him. Uh, what else..." Casey stopped, scrambling to find her notes at her desk across the room from Olivia's.
"Ex-wife #3 is Dani, right? The blonde?" Olivia asked, quickly shuffling through the mail left for him on her desk.
"They're all blonde." Casey rolled her eyes. "Yeah, that's the one."
"Alright." she exhaled, grabbing his cup of coffee and rushing in to set it on his desk. "He has lunch with Munch and Tutuola at noon, I'll remind him when he gets in. He also has the meeting with the board at 3:30. He won't be thrilled about that, especially not with Tucker riding his ass about funding. I'll handle that if you can call his attorney and get ex-wife #3 on the phone. Paxton is the only one who can deal with her. Trust me, he'll go easier on you for handling this than he will about the board."
"You're a fucking saint. I've been doing this for two years and then you walk in for five minutes and life is already easier." Casey laughed, organizing the files on her desk before pressing the phone between her shoulder.
A deadly silence fell over the office floor as the elevator doors opened. Heads turned, steps halted, and breaths became bated as New York's most sought after CEO stepped onto the marble floors.
She was certain that she could've heard a pin drop from the silence as he strolled down the aisle between the respective work spaces. She watched as each overhead light caught within the blue contrast of his eyes. It wasn't long before she'd lost the internal battle with herself to not bite at her red painted lip.
He strode past her desk and she swore the world had started moving in slow motion around her. His head turned, his eyes burning into hers as his gaze reeled her in. She studied him in the few slow-moving seconds that she had, reacquainting herself with the lines and contours of his face.
"Good morning, Mr. Stabler." she said, her voice just rising above a whisper.
To most, the naked eye wouldn't be able to quite catch the small upward quirk of his lip. But she did. She always did. "Good morning… Miss Benson." he practically purred, his lashes swiping his cheeks as he blinked, never stopping his strides past her.
The sound of his glass doors shutting pulled her back and she forced herself to uncurl her toes from within her heels. As she finally exhaled the breath she had been holding, her grip loosened from the edge of her desk.
Across from her, Casey stared at her with her jaw hanging slightly in shock. "What do you do to that man?" she whispered.
Olivia smirked, taking the end of her pen between her teeth as she leaned back in her chair. Even if she did know, it was her secret to keep.
Against her greater consciousness, she dared to cock her head to the left, peering through the glass entry into his office. Just as she expected, his eyes were back to being entirely glued to hers. A shiver fell from the base of her neck to her tailbone, thrilling her flesh until it raised into goosebumps.
He was wearing the dark blue suit, the one she had made a mental note to worship every time she saw it. It hugged him in every possible positive way. On lucky days when his elbows would press against the slate top of his desk, she could see a whispered outline of his biceps through the sleeves.
She was back to biting her lip a little too hard.
Just before she was ready to turn back to the work at hand, she saw him teasingly raise his brow with a smirk. Her eyes fell closed and she wondered for a moment that if he had seen that too. She was playing a game that revolved around a world of danger,
"Three times this has happened, Stabler. Three times!" the familiar voice of Elliot's lawyer boomed through the glass of his office. Olivia locked eyes with Casey, who quickly rushed over to her side to hide with her in the staff break room.
"Tell me something I don't know!" he screamed back, his pacing footsteps loud enough to be heard through the closed door.
"Apparently you don't know how to listen!" Sonya shouted, slapping her hands down at her hips with an incredulous laugh.
Casey peered over the corner, quickly recoiling as soon as she caught a glimpse of the argument. She looked back at Olivia, trying to stifle a terrified laugh.
"You know what if you're just gonna be a pain in my ass—"
"A pain in your ass?"
"Yeah, a pain in my ASS, if that's what you're gonna be, then leave!"
"Should we do something?" Olivia whispered, earning a vehement head shake from Casey with strict eyes. She could read it in Casey's eyes that interfering would just cause the argument to explode further.
She desperately wanted to see the look on his face, his eyes blazing with anger. She wondered if they would change color like some did. Would they remain as clear as ice or would the flushed redness of his angry skin contrast the color to something darker?
She wanted to see his knuckles turn white as he gripped his desk, roaring from the other side.
Sonya's voice filled the office floor once again. "A prenup, Stabler, it was that fucking simple! I told you to get a prenup and God forbid you ever listen with your ears instead of your dick!"
"I am not paying that woman another dime, Sonya. Four weeks, FOUR WEEKS! We were married for less than four fucking weeks and she wants this much? Get fucked!"
Olivia wondered if his Queens accent always became more prevalent when he was angry. Her breath was coming in shallow puffs instead of deep and steady inhales. She gripped the edge of the doorway, her fingertips digging into the wood as she listened to him yell.
"It's your fault! Wh- you think jetting off to a Vegas wedding was a smart idea? You thought she was gonna be the love of your life? You poor baby. She's a leech!"
"Why the hell are you still standing here if you can't fix it?"
"Shit," Olivia mumbled, looking down at her watch. She turned back to Casey as her stomach tied into anxious knots. "He's got plans in less than fifteen minutes. I gotta go tell him."
"Are you nuts?!" Casey whispered as she winced. "If you go in there right now he'll fire you. I mean it, Olivia, don't do it." she grit the words out through clenched teeth, though Olivia didn't seem phased.
"Casey, I'm more likely to lose my job for not telling him," she whispered back, her tone just as urgent as the voices in the next room over.
"Because I'm tired of this shit, Stabler!" Sonya screamed. As Olivia peaked around the corner, she could see the lawyer pinching the bridge of her nose. "All I ever do is clean up your fucking messes! You know what? I'm charging you double for this one."
"I'll pay you triple to get the hell out of my office and fix this!" he whipped his arm around, pointing at the door behind her.
"Liv, don't! No —" Before Casey could stop her, she was taking careful steps away from the break room and towards his office. She gulped, praying it would ease the lump in her throat. She carefully opened the handle on the door, stepping inside with caution. Both Sonya and Elliot looked up to see her sheepishly standing on the opposite side of the room.
"I'm so sorry to interrupt, sir. You have lunch with Fin Tutuola and John Munch in just a few minutes," she mumbled, trying to shrink herself under the blaze of his vision.
Sonya huffed and rolled her eyes, starting to push past her. She spun on her heel to face Olivia. "How the hell do you work with this man?"
"Hey, don't talk to my employees that way! Out!" he barked one last time before Sonya was out of his office and charging towards the elevator. Elliot braced himself against his desk, closing his eyes as he blew a breath out of his mouth.
She stood for a moment, silently watching him decompress. The internal debate to leave him alone was lost and she found herself cautiously walking further into his office and towards the bar. She pulled down the bottle of whiskey that she recognized was his favorite, pouring a small amount into one of the crystal glasses. "Here," she said, turning to hand him the glass as she came up to the side of his desk. "You're gonna want to be calm for lunch, no sense in going when you're all riled up."
He finally looked up at her and she instantly noticed the change in his eyes. They had softened, reverting back to the cool blue tones she saw when he was calm. He grinned, taking a sip of the burning liquid before setting the glass down. "Thank you. I'm sorry you had to see that."
She wondered if it was the whiskey that caused the grain in his voice. She bowed her head, gently smiling as she soaked up the fleeting moment. "It's not a problem, sir."
His eyes latched onto hers for a silence filled second. Even though his fury was beginning to cool down, she could still see the embers of a blazing inferno. The darkness was still there, running rings around the pigment of his stare.
Maybe it was the shadow she's been running from.
Her eyes fell down to his lips and for a split second, she was forced to fight the urge to pull his lips against hers and taste the remnants of the alcohol. If her willpower had dissipated, she would've found herself entirely intoxicated on every last drop.
"You've called for the car already?" he asked, his shoulders finally easing as the calmness began to work over him. She breathed her own sigh of relief as he decompressed. The veins in his neck slowly disappeared as he scrubbed his palm against his face.
"Yes, sir. Skylar should already be downstairs waiting. Unless you would prefer me to cancel the lunch, which I can do." she grinned, folding her hands in front of herself as she took a step back.
"No, it's okay." he flashed her a softening smile, a rare moment of his guard collapsing. "I uh— I feel better. Thanks."
"Can I get you anything else?" she asked quietly. She could still see the anguish in his eyes and she fought back the urge to ask him about his wife… or wives. She'd read the tabloids before she'd started her job, she knew the parts of his history that the outside world knew. He had always seemed stone cold when the paparazzi had snapped photographs of him leaving court. Every article had something different to say about the situation, there was never any saying of which one was more true than the other.
But this Elliot Stabler didn't quite match up to any of those reports.
Even in cool tones, his eyes still scorched when he looked at her. His gaze followed quietly up and down her ensemble, drinking her in as if she weren't even aware. Every inch that his view covered burned while somehow managing to chill her to the bone. "No, thank you, Olivia." he rasped.
When she turned and finally made it to the door handle, something still felt unsettled. She spun on her heel to face him, watching him as he held himself together as best as he could. "For what it's worth, sir… You deserve better than this."
Before he could reply, she had let herself out and grabbed the ringing phone at her desk.
Why the hell heels weren't made to run in, she wasn't sure. All she knew was that she had an entire closet full of useless footwear for when it came to hauling ass. With a stack of files carefully tucked under her arm, she managed to sprint from the 22nd floor to the 45th floor in a matter of minutes. Stabler's meeting with the board of his technology branch had begun when the internet had crashed and since technology was more vanity than functionality, nobody seemed to own a printer that wasn't wireless.
Casey had made quick work of calling IT to resolve the problem, meanwhile, Olivia had run around with the files on a flash drive while searching for a computer that still understood what wires were.
Fifteen minutes was her new personal record in the area of problem-solving. She'd managed to pull herself together just before walking into the conference room, fixing her hair in a nearby window's reflection.
"The paperwork you requested, Mr. Stabler." she spoke quietly as she came up behind him, delicately placing the stack in front of him. "Is there anything else I can get you?"
Elliot had just begun to thank her and excuse her before he was interrupted. "Well, since you were late, there was no coffee." Ed Tucker, the CFO snarked from across the table. "I'll take mine black."
Biting her tongue and swallowing her words, Olivia gracefully nodded. "Of course, sir." She silently thanked God that there was a coffee maker in the corner of the conference room or else a trip to Starbucks would've likely made her quit her job. She recognized every man in the room, already memorizing their coffee orders from previous meetings. Asking would only delay them even more.
She didn't mind listening in on the meetings, hearing them as they pitched ideas back and forth. Most people who found themselves working at Stabler Enterprises were there for some sort of resumé boost or a way to climb the ranks in the company. If it meant having her ear pressed to the wall, she'd do what she could to get to where she wanted, and where she wanted to be was in the exact seat of Ed Tucker.
"We've been offered a partnership with Apple to develop a new series for their smartwatches and an exercise based application to be paired with it." one of the conceptualists broke the silence. "Smart fitness is all the rage these days, and Apple would be a smart investment, they're a staple when it comes to cutting edge merchandise."
Before Olivia could stop herself, she snorted out a laugh. A deathly silence fell over the room as she stilled, squeezing her eyes shut as if she could somehow take back the murderous mistake she had just made. Sheepishly, she turned around to see twelve sets of eyes staring at her.
"Something funny over there?" Tucker asked, venom dripping from each word as he glared at her. Her eyes darted between him and Stabler, who looked more perplexed than angry.
"No, sir." she fought back a smirk.
"Because if you have any great ideas from where you're standing, by all means, waste our time a little longer by sharing them."
The eyes across the room were all turning towards Tucker now, bated breath as they all waited for the next interaction. And in the flames of her job melting in her hands, she had a moment of bliss. A calm falling over her as Stabler's eyes locked with hers, not a single angry strand within his iris. If she could put her finger on it, she'd say he was actually impressed.
"Um, well." Fuck, she might as well bite the bullet. She'd laid awake for many nights wondering what the very first idea she ever pitched would be, though she never expected it to be used as a joke.
Though, the thought dawned on her. It didn't have to be a joke.
She braced the countertop behind herself as she leaned against it, finally letting the smirk breakthrough. "Red Light." she stated simply.
"Excuse me?" Tucker asked with an incredulous expression.
"Red light." she repeated. "An application called Red Light. Pairable to phones and smartwatches. Designed for women in the city to feel safer while walking alone, especially at night. If they feel like someone's following them home or they feel as if they're in danger, they open the app and can send alerts to police as well as on-call female volunteers. If there's a volunteer in the area where they ping the app from, it alerts them of the location so they can come assist with either walking them home or making sure that if something did happen, the proper help can be given."
Stabler grinned and Olivia was certain she was going to pass out from the adrenaline that flooded her system.
"Smart fitness may be popular, but even more so than that, women around the city, the country even, feel unsafe walking around due to the amount of predators who prey on those they view as weak or vulnerable. Women will pay any dime it costs to feel safer, especially knowing that other women, the volunteers, want their safety too. On average, there are over 433,648 women sexually assaulted in the United States alone."
She started to cradle the mug of Tucker's coffee, strutting across the room. Elliot's eyes never left her as she grabbed the attention of everyone in the room. In fact, he was smiling.
"Most women are told to walk home with a friend because an attacker is less likely to pursue them if they risk having a witness. Though, not every woman has the privilege of walking home with someone every night. This would hold the potential to create an entire network of volunteers and resources, not to mention the handful of other conglomerates that would see the success and offer partnerships with us. The app could also host resources on self-defense, self-protection, and information on what to do in cases of an attack."
She stepped closer to his seat, watching him recoil under her glare. "Right now, we are living in the Me Too era, not the smart fitness age. Your coffee... sir." she finished, grinning as she stood nose to nose with Tucker, setting the mug down in front of him.
Eyes glanced at each other throughout the room, nobody quite sure of what to say. She didn't care. She had found the euphoria that she had been in search of. Tearing through them like a tornado, showing mercy to nothing in her path. Elliot's eyes had never left her through her entire pitch, only becoming more entranced with each word that left her lips. He was the first to end the millennium of silence.
"I like it."
Tucker cut in, leaning forward in his seat. "You can't possibly think this is a good idea, Stabler. We—"
"I said I like it." Elliot growled. "She came in here with an argument and statistics prepared with a solution for every roadblock, meanwhile half of the idiots pitching ideas to me couldn't even tie their shoes properly. Our tech department needs a boost, and so do the, what were the numbers? 433,000 women in the United States?" he asked, turning to look up at Olivia.
"Alright," Elliot clapped his hands together. "Let's give it the old college try, shall we? Raise your hands if you cast your vote to Red Light." he grinned, pointing his finger around the room at the 14 raised hands. "Fifteen to one, Tucker. Looks like you're the odd man out."
Olivia felt a chill run through her spine as the room began to speak in agreement. Through the overlapping conversations, he was silently staring at her. The blaze in his eyes became only more electrifying when paired with his impressed grin.
The elevator doors closed and her breath felt heavy in her lungs. The backlit white walls surrounded them, nearly blinding her as it combined with the invigoration of being barely shoulders apart from him. Every hair on her skin stood at a tension, her body aligning with the rhythm of the atmosphere in their field.
"I liked your pitch today," he stated simply, neither of them taking their eyes off of the door as the elevator whirred.
She took a deep breath and fought against the urge to close her eyes. "I- I'm sorry, sir. I shouldn't have inserted myself into the discussion. I was out of line."
Her job was hanging on an unsteady fault line and she was going to sink into the San Andreas with it.
He reached out, pulling the emergency stop on the control panel. The lighting of the paneled walls flashed from bright white to a deep red, soaking her in the color. "What are you doing?" she asked, wishing her words hadn't sounded so breathless.
"I… would like to ask you something," he stated simply. The crack in his tone caught her attention, his words had always been fluid and eloquent. She could feel his breath just as bated as hers.
For a moment, she thought that the emergency stop in the elevator had been the source of the ringing in her ears, until her exhale came almost just as loudly and she realized that the small space was completely silent. "Ask away."
"Do you do it on purpose?" he grated the words out and the shivers down her spine only grew sharper.
Her brows furrowed with confusion and her eyes finally looked up to meet his. The red lights of the paused elevator bled into his eyes, and she saw a deep shade of magenta staring back. Red and blue make purple, whispered a small voice in her head.
"Um…" she cleared her throat. "Do what? I don't understand what you're asking." Lie. If lying was one of the seven deadly sins, she wondered if she was officially locked in for eternity. Lust was down for the count and she'd never deny it. Maybe even greed since she simply couldn't fathom the idea of another woman's touch on his skin. Or maybe that was envy.
"Stare." he clarified, his Adam's apple bobbing as he gulped. "You stare a lot. I'm just wondering if you do it on purpose?"
If she wasn't a glutton for punishment before, she was now. Four out of seven wasn't so bad. Though, pride was on tailing close to her heels at this point, and five out of seven deadly sins would win the majority.
"I'm sorry if I've made you uncomfortable," she breathed, her eyes training to his lips as soon as he turned to face her.
If she didn't know any better, she'd say that her soul was being bargained with the devil. Maybe by proxy, given that seeing him owning the sin of wrath would send her on a first-class trip to Hell.
He chuckled deeply, the red lights still bleeding into his eyes. "Uncomfortable isn't the word I would use."
"Oh?" she questioned, her words barely audible. She was barreling towards crossing all seven deadly sins off of her list because she was in no hurry to end the moment. That had to qualify as the sin of lacking effort. "What word would you use?"
"Intrigued." he answered boldly. "In fact, I'm certain that I haven't been careful with keeping my eyes to myself either."
She was millimeters away from the lips that she would burn cities if that was what it took to taste. "What are you saying?"
He sucked a breath through his teeth, but his gaze stayed glued to hers. "I am asking you, politely, if you would perhaps be interested in… getting to know each other better. If the answer is 'no' then I will not bring it up again and I will apologize if I've made you uncomfortable. I value consent above all things, Ms. Benson, but I feel as though if I don't ask you, then I am wasting a very valuable opportunity. As I said, you...intrigue me."
His voice ran over her skin like the texture of velvet and the mulberry hue that had now taken up his irises continued to burn into hers. The red light beaming from the walls felt appropriate given that the devil was whispering directly into her ear.
Her teeth gently grazed her bottom lip and she saw something twitch within him. Her eyes followed as his hand carefully raised, his thumb ghosting over the lip that was already growing red from the assault of her teeth. "Careful, you'll hurt yourself doing that." he whispered, coaxing her bottom lip free.
Her eyes crossed as they followed his finger down to her lip. "What are you proposing?" she asked, feeling herself completely melting under his powerful gaze.
"An arrangement, of course."
If this meant she was going to hell, so be it. Heaven was overrated.