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The Fine Print

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She’d been in plenty of town cars with Roman Roy: across all manners of Manhattan with the occasional jaunt to a startup in Brooklyn, bustling to-and-from luxe hotels and grimy international airports. But this, watching as his foot tapped fervently, feeling the jostle of every turn and traffic stop while they made the short journey to her townhouse - this was new.

It was a plot on his part, that much she knew. “This could be my first major pull since everything went down. I really think these techie fucks might be worth wining and dining,” he’d said. “And this is the only vegan Italian place in the city where the fake cheese doesn’t taste like newspaper soaked in cat piss.” He had seemed genuinely excited about the potential acquisition, had an RFP drawn up, put in a modicum of effort. It was only when the check came that he introduced the idea while whipping out the company card. “Want to debrief while it’s still fresh. Traffic back to the office will be a nightmare right now. We’re just a few blocks from your place, right? Cool, cool.”

He spent most of the short drive glued to his phone, as conversation would just be an opening for him to raise suspicion, she assumed. When they slowed to a crawl, the driver looking for a place to let them off, he finally spoke.

“What awaits me in the Gerri Kellman inner sanctum? ” He was visibly giddy, his incessant foot-tapping echoing the excitement now evident in his whole body. “Sex swing? Spigot the fridge that dispenses the blood of your enemies?”

“I’m sure it’s not up to Roman Roy standards of industrial, minimalist grandeur, but it’s a place to sleep, when I can.” When they came to a full stop, Roman moved quickly out the driver’s side door, but hung back, allowing her to lead the way down the tree-lined sidewalk the short distance to her front steps.

She was anticipating a joke about someone carrying the other across the threshold as they drew closer to her door, but it never came. Whatever his intentions, he had to know this was an all-important boundary to breach. “After you,” she said, motioning for him to enter.

Her entire life was more or less contained on the first floor; the top two had been designated for offices and bedrooms before the girls left and Baird passed. It just became too hard, one in a space built for two and three and four - you bust your asses to make a salary that can afford a place with a sizable master and a double vanity, and then one day, there’s only one person left to use it. She took over the back lounge downstairs, making it her bedroom, and the formal dining room became a de-facto office as she didn’t have much use for guests; when the girls did come back to the city for the holidays, she would clear off her piles of papers and make sure the cleaning service dusted the cobwebs out of their rooms.

It was certainly top-shelf real estate, but she couldn’t pretend as if her heart was in the look or feel of the place anymore. And even if it had been staged to the nines, it could never be the 18-foot ceilings and penthouse views Roman was accustomed to. It was a good thing she didn’t particularly care about impressing him.

“Wow, this is so...normal. Like, 2013 normal, too. God, what a thrill!” Even as he needled, she could tell he was taking it all in, absorbing every detail of her space into his addled memory.

“I’m not here enough to really give a shit. You Roys keep me busy.” It was late, and even as the lights flickered on in her foyer, she could feel the stagnant energy of the place being disrupted by Roman’s manic excitement, his eyes darting from wall to wall with childlike glee. And while she poured them both a whiskey in the kitchen, he gave himself a tour of Gerri Kellman’s Living Room as if it were the Louvre.

“Try not to break anything,” she shouted back in his direction. His eyes raked over her expensive vases, framed family portraits, candles she never got around to burning, stacks of books that seemed to follow wherever she made her nest; even the most unsentimental person accumulates a fair amount of stuff after living in the same house for over twenty years.

Most accomplishment-centric items, accolades and degrees, were displayed in the official office upstairs. But a few awards, photos with reputable politicians, were dotted around the house. When she went to hand-off his drink, she found him clutching a silver trophy from the National Bar, reflecting the glint in his eye.

“‘40 Under 40?’ Geez, Gerri, I didn’t realize you were an antique collector.” He laughed to himself. “This must be fucking ancient.”

She knew that he only brought up her age out of panic, more than a bit ashamed of his attraction to her, what it could mean about him. As per usual, his prodding began at about a third-grade level of negging the girl you like on the playground. At least until he got hard. Then, ironically enough, he was putty in her hands.

He wasn't the only one who can be ashamed and aroused by whatever was happening between them all at once.

“I don’t care about being young, Roman; I care about being powerful.” She paused to take a sip of her whiskey. “Don’t be dumb enough to think those are one and the same.” He smirked, eager for his dressing-down, and stared into his glass.

“Besides,” she continued, “I’m a woman living alone in New York City. It’s good to keep heavy, blunt objects within reach, just in case any strange men get ideas about intruding.”

His eyes, moving up to meet hers, were overtaken by that dark sheen, the one that meant he was ready to tear off every inch of his clothing and risk it all just for a whisper of her. “I bet you can hold your own.”

“Can we cut the shit, Roman?” There was a point in her tone that cut through his haze. “You had no intention of seriously considering that proposal. You only concocted a plan that would get us out with a potential sale and put us near my house.”

He scoffed. “Come on, that was just coincidence! I’m telling you, that fake cheese is gonna make a huge difference.”

“You just wanted an excuse to get us back here, to invade my space. And then what, Roman?

“I...I don’t….nothing that you didn’t want to happen, obviously...I…”

“This is different, Roman. You’ve never made such a blatant attempt to corner me before. And not a hotel room or a guest house, my home.” She scoffed. “The thought of a reprobate like you knowing where I live isn’t exactly soothing.”

“You’re making me sound like some kind of creep…”

“Isn’t that what you are, Roman?”

He paused, clearly shaken by her agitation. “I know this all seems very insidious and pervy, but the truth is that I…”

“What, Roman? That you can’t keep your flaccid little dick quiet for one night while we try to salvage the fucking pile of pick-up sticks that is this company?!”

“...You know me, Gerri, my brain doesn’t work that far ahead. Neither does my dick. They make a very bad strategizing committee.” He laughed, she didn’t.

“What did you think was going to happen here, Roman?”

“...You’d put my balls in a french press?”

“If only you were so lucky.”

She’d thought up an outline of a plan to counteract his on their drive over, but she would have to improvise on the finer details. There was always a delicate balance to punishing him; he was truly in the wrong this time, but she could still use that wrong to her advantage. Really, he was already here, so she might as well.

“Move that coffee table, if your flimsy little arms are strong enough.” He looked a bit perplexed, but did as she said. “And when you’re finished, take off your clothes.”

The shit-eating grin that would gleam like a neon sign whenever he was about to say something incorrigible began to materialize. So she cut him off before he was able to speak.

“I don’t want to hear it, Roman. Shut the fuck up, strip, and get on your knees.”

While unbuttoning his shirt, his face became consumed by unrestrained joy as he zeroed in on the junction between her legs, still completely contained by her skirt.

“Oh, no. No, no. You think you get to go down on me? After the shit you’ve pulled tonight? I wouldn’t let you eat my pussy if you were dying and there was oxygen in my clit.” Somewhat dejected, he nonetheless continued to obey her commands.

“This is a punishment, and I don’t intend to let you enjoy it.” It wasn’t entirely true; he very well might enjoy it, but only in spite of what she would deprive him of. And at this point, he should have known better than to complain.

“Now turn around and face the wall. If I have to see your dopey smile, I might just lose that dinner you just paid for.”

“Gerri...if you don’t want me to see you...just know that I think you’ fucking hot, dude. Like, total smokeshow city, population of one supercunt legal eagle.”

“That’s not the issue, Roman,” she scowled, taking another sip of her drink. “As usual, the problem is you and your inability to keep your dick calm for even a second.”

Some people might look at them and wonder, what does he see in her? Fuck those people. But. She spent more time that she would willingly admit pondering a similar question: what do I see in him?

She knew he was objectively handsome, if not a little short and squirrely. Sometimes he looked like he still needed to grow into his own body, but it was beginning to suit him more, appear less greasy on the whole. Perhaps it was her influence. But he was so fucking annoying, and childish, and full of himself. How much of that was real and how much was performance, a defense built up since childhood, she was still sussing out.

On paper, they didn’t make any sense, and on paper was where she did her best work, lived most of her life. She could crack this, make sense of her unwanted desires, if she just spent enough hours combing through every detail; she just needed to look as closely as possible, examine the fine print. That’s where she would find what made this whole thing tick. Starting tonight.

“Don’t move.”

“Is this one of those things where you just, like, fuck off to go play doubles for a few hours and come back to find me in a puddle of my own piss?”

“It might be if you can’t keep quiet.” As if she would ever give him the chance to ruin her floors.

As she walked toward her bedroom, even further away from his view, she magicked her bra out from under her shirt in the way only an exceptionally pragmatic woman could. Shimmying off her underwear while keeping on her skirt and sensible heels required a bit more finesse. The stage was set, but one more button on the top of her blouse came undone, purely for her comfort and range of motion, of course.

It didn’t require much rummaging to find what she needed in her bedside table; it had been a mainstay in her top drawer for years, but in these past few months, its use had been far more frequent. She, needless to say, possessed the most high-powered and efficient vibrator money was able to buy - expensive, yes, but in no way needlessly ostentatious. It got the job done, quickly, and could hold a strong charge even when she forgot to plug it in after a few rounds.

Since her...intimate conversations with Roman had begun, she’d attempted to explore what really drew her to him, what she liked so much about their fucked-up dance. She watched porn. And read porn. A lot. Dainty. Genteel. Rough. Rougher. Ball-smacking. Dick-crunching. The weird Czech shit. None of it made her wet like talking to him.

She would bring herself off afterwards; it would often take too long, ultimately tepid and disappointing, other times it was too fast and lacked all rhythm. Sure, either way the nerve endings spasmed, the synapses fired, but she was always left wanting.

Now was her chance to be in the moment, see what he could do for her while they were in the same room, and completely under her control.

Roman had not yet had the privilege of witnessing her desire. And he still wouldn’t. But she would allow him to be closer to it, just far enough away to see if it would break him.

She returned to the living room, her view now of his exposed back; she’d seen him shirtless before, when his father was in the hospital and everyone was absolutely losing their shit, but that Roman might as well have been a different man altogether. Mentally, mostly. But even so, his torso, what she could see of it now, was less wiry than she remembered. Perhaps she was the one who had changed, the intent of her gaze so different than it was all those lifetimes ago.

She felt relatively neutral toward his naked body. That was the difficulty in exploring what drew her to this; it was the actions, the atmosphere between them, not a tangible, sweltering physique to lust over. In her decades of experience, business or pleasure, focusing on the task at hand had never been a problem. But grounding herself in the idea of Roman had proven ineffectual. Now, it wasn’t the bare skin or scant muscles that affected her, but the sheer vulnerability of him in this moment. She could do whatever she wanted to him, and he would ask for more.

But, of course, he would have to be mouthy about it first.

“You gonna fill me in here, Ger?”

Her only response was pressing the power button, the sound of mechanical vibrations filling their small, shared space.

She didn’t need to see his face to know the consternation that would be present in his brow. “Are you fuckin’ serious?!”

“Let me be clear: you don’t deserve to see anything. But I want you to hear this incessant buzzing to remind you that this little motorized contraption is giving me what you would be incapable of, you incompetent chucklefuck.”

“So you’re just gonna, what? Jerk off right next to me? While I’m just sitting here?”

“It sounds quite crass when you say it.”

“Can I at least…” he whined. “Fuck, Gerri, please?”

It hadn’t even occurred to her that he would ask for her permission; hell, she was surprised he’d managed to keep his hands unoccupied while she was in the other room. The truth was always bubbling beneath the surface of decorum, but it was laid bare now: he didn’t just want her mouth or her body, he wanted to be under her control. The thought sent a jolt right through her.

“You can rub your grimy little dick or play dominoes for all I care. I don’t give a shit what you do.”

Of course, she always cared, more than she wanted him to know. Both about him and about them. But she didn’t actually need to see him compromised to get herself off. She didn’t know what she needed to see, but seeing him at all, being there together, was an escalation that was making her wetter by the second.

“If you so much as think about turning your head to get a look, I will throw you out stark naked into the street.” She would never - it would be cruel to heap more PR problems onto Karolina’s plate. But she knew, they both knew, that he wouldn’t make any foolish attempts, not when he was receiving such a gift.

As she sank back into the couch and spread her legs, it was clear that he’d begun to touch himself. With no view of his face or hands, she could only watch the vigor of his shoulder blades, the crouching motion in his spine. The toy was now at her soaked center, her mind racing with a heady combination of arousal and fury. Almost always adept at concentration, Gerri found it nearly impossible to control her thoughts while chasing this particular orgasm. Even so, she held back the moans in her throat, not wanting him to have the satisfaction of hearing them.

“Is this the new thing we’re doing?” he grunted. “Swapping the dirty talk for complete silence?”

“Oh, what?” she choked out, still attempting to maintain her ruthlessness. “I have to do every fucking thing? Can’t even come up with a masturbatory fantasy on your own?”

“Tell me…” he sputtered, not even the slightest veil of cool on display. “Tell me what you’re thinking about.”

“Greg,” she spat, still working the vibrator on her clit. “Fucking cousin Greg. He’s so giant that I’ll bet he has the cock to match. Something you wouldn’t know anything about. Now fucking shut up.”

“Jesus, Gerri. Fuck. Fuck.

Tormenting him, even (or especially) in the throes of passion, was a pleasurable activity in and of itself.

But the vibrator’s cadence had become monotonous, borderline unsatisfying. She was near enough to place one heeled foot in the center of Roman’s back, allowing her to widen her stance, roll her hips with more freedom. She was only slightly worried that the scent of her would drive him genuinely, irretrievably insane.

He let out an incomprehensible groan, any further complaints lost in his frenetic excitations, and pitched forward, his legs growing weaker as his arousal grew more fervid. They moved together; not as one, nothing so poetic, but as interdependent units, passing their pleasure back and forth.

She wondered if her heel would leave a mark on his skin; if she were thirty years younger and still torturing herself with stilettos, there would most certainly be blood. The imprint, the thought that she would linger on him for days, didn’t drive her closer to her breaking point; that she had the power to get him on his knees, to open him, to make him the willing object of her torture and desire - that was enough.

In this moment, together and apart, she was no longer protected by the veil of fantasy; no research, careful planning would have kept her steady in the goddamned moment. And despite a resilient need to continue glaring angrily into Roman’s unseeing back, the building pressure in her pelvis meant that she couldn’t keep her eyes open any longer.

Her famous ability to think straight had become a distant memory. She could picture a hazy mirage, a vision of herself grinding his dick into literal dust, using up every ounce of him. Her mind was gone, but she could feel him fall forward, assuredly coming all over himself in a sad pile on the floor. Her floor, just as she’d rendered. With her legs free and spread wide, she thrust into her toy and came, with her eyes closed and her mouth open.

She lay happily deflated for pleasurable seconds, but quickly remembered that there was a guest on the other side of reality. He was as she expected, splayed in front of her, breathing heavily, staring at the wall straight ahead of them both.

It was only when her gaze moved up that wall that her eyes met his in the fuzzy reflection of the chrome trophy he’d asked after earlier.

“You little shit!” she shouted, reflexively grabbing a throw pillow to lob at him.

“Wait!” he yelled. “Stop! Ow!” He scuttled away like a frightened gecko on scorched pavement.

“What did I say, Roman?!” She quickly got up from the couch, smoothing her skirt, trying to maintain an air of plausible deniability against what had just occurred.

“I didn’t turn around! That was the deal!” He flashed his puppy dog eyes and boyish smile, the look that could make her forget what a pest he could be. “Come on, if anyone can appreciate a good loophole, it’s you.”

She didn’t forget this time. “You are a sleazy fucking cockroach, Roman. Go clean yourself up and put your clothes on. I don’t want to look at you.” I don’t want to want to look at you, she chided herself for thinking. He padded across the living room while she quickly shoved the vibrator between the couch cushions. If only he’d accidentally entered her coat closet thinking it was the bathroom, it would have been a farce for the ages.

He returned fully dressed minutes later, giving him time to come down from his orgasm and her time to stew on his antics. “I promise, I barely saw a thing. I mean, I saw enough to give me a reason to live for at least a month or so, but barely anything.” She remained unmoved. “You should really shine that thing.”

“That’s twice tonight you’ve tried to swindle me. What makes you think that I’m interested in putting up with that sort of childish bullshit?”

“Honestly...I don’t know.”

“I deserve better, Roman.”

“Oh, trust me, that I know.” He chuckled while still looking a bit wistful. “I think you deserve exactly what you want. Even if it is a godforsaken speck of pondscum like me to masturbate next to and stab with your shoes.”

“Oh no,” she said, her tone softening. “I am sorry about that. Did I leave a mark?”

“No blood that I could see. Maybe a bruise will show up tomorrow. Or an infection, depending on where your shoes have been.”

He seemed strangely invigorated so soon after his climax; she expected a man, and a spoiled one at that, to be closer to exhaustion, much easier to shove out onto the street. Her body language was clearly directing him back to her door, but he remained oblivious, so she began leading him there herself, like always.

“You know,” he began, “I don’t think we should actually try to acquire those hipsters, but I did pick up on some good idea nuggets that we could poach.”

“It’s fine, Roman,” she said while opening the door, signaling in no uncertain terms that she wanted him gone. “You don’t have to pretend like there was any pretense to...all of this.”

“No, I’m serious. I think we could really do something with the-”

“I’m tired, Roman. Write it down for me and we can talk about it tomorrow.”

“Gerri, wait.”

Fuck, what now? she thought. “Thank you.” “I love you.” “Marry me.” “Roast me like a pig and serve me to your friends and family.” Truly, the possibilities were infinite with him.

“I shouldn’t have tricked you like that. To get back here, I mean.” She could tell he was trying to project his sincerity, that he wanted her to know he meant it. “I promise, I’ll forget the address, never show up here uninvited”

“Okay, Roman.”

“Not that I don’t want to be invited. Just know that—”

“Jesus Christ, just quit while you’re ahead.” She rolled her eyes. “I appreciate the apology, really. Now, are you going to say you’re sorry for sneaking a peek when I explicitly told you not to?”

“No,” he giggled, planting himself on her front step. “I’m pretty proud of that, actually.”

“Goodnight, Roman,” she said as she closed the door with a gentle smile. “And fuck off.”