Gerri stood quietly behind her drink and observed Rhea fall flat on her face, toasting Logan’s dead sister. She scanned the room to see which Roy progeny looked most smug, to give credit where it was due. Siobhan, of course. But Kendall also looked not displeased, and across the room Roman was moving in on Rhea, the expression on his face a familiar one to Gerri - the one he got when he was about to enjoy pressing on somebody else’s bruise. A team effort. She was quite proud of them.
Gerri watched with petty amusement while Roman taunted Rhea. She couldn’t hear them but knew him well enough to enjoy the show without dialogue. And so when Rhea leaned closer and he tilted his chin up and slightly pursed his lips, looking at her through half-lidded eyes, the sting of recognition was like a slap. Gerri knew that face. She knew it because it was usually pointed at her. Instinctively she looked for Tabitha, curious to see if she’d also noticed. But Tabitha was entertaining herself independently, now that her performative lap sitting duties had been ticked off for the day. It was funny how often those two touched each other in public when they were celibate in private. Well. Whatever level of casualness Tabitha was apparently comfortable with, Gerri doubted she’d be thrilled to know Roman had proposed to her that morning.
If that’s what it had actually been. A Not Marriage proposal. And not a business proposal, as he’d already put forward at Argestes. So. Some warped form of romantic commitment? Mutually assured sexual destruction? It was certainly a personal proposition of some kind. And though it had sent her reeling, it had also sent a tingle down her spine. The memory of him standing in her room, slightly too vulnerable to be entirely joking when he looked into her eyes and asked, “..do you find me seductive?”
And she’d wondered afterwards how Roman was reconciling his offer to let Gerri ‘cut his dick off’ with the beautiful statuesque blonde waiting in his room. She’d thought Tabitha was the current complication in their strange entanglement, but now here was Rhea - still leaning in to Roman, she could only see the back of her head but he was listening very carefully to what she was saying, and Gerri recognised that look, too - he was cautiously open to whatever overture was happening. She felt her shoulders tense, and sipped her champagne, ignoring the fluttering in her stomach. No, not her stomach. Lower down. Roman was doing that flick of his head, and Gerri wasn’t a professional lip reader but his “thank you” was obvious even to a dilettante. Her fingers gripped her glass a little tighter. But here was Tom to break up their tête-à-tête, and Rhea’s charm was forced to take a more general focus, trapped by her own campaigning into smiling through the foolishness. Gerri allowed herself a twitch of her lips.
She was about 80% ready, everything done but the dress, when the knock came, a now familiar staccato. Gerri tightened her robe around herself and sighed, padded out to the door and stood behind it as she opened a Roman sized gap, trusting him to have been discreet enough to wait for an empty corridor but still not willing to risk being seen. He glided in and she shut it behind him with an annoyed flick of her wrist.
“What do you want, Roman? Shouldn’t you be with Tabitha right now? It’s almost time to leave.”
He turned to face her and was clearly arrested by the sight of more suggestive attire than he’d ever seen her in before. Pyjamas at Tern Haven having been as undressed as they’d made it thus far. Not that this was a continuum she intended to reach the end of.
“Tabs is doing her hair, that takes forever and she hates when I watch, so.” He walked backwards to the couch, flopped down on it as he undid his jacket. He was already fully dressed and at a loose end, the luxury of men.
“So you thought you’d come and pester me? I’m equally busy meeting expectations, Roman. Tell me whatever you came to say and then go fiddle with your cuff links in the lobby.”
His cheek twitched as his hand dropped from his wrist to the arm of the couch. She’d pinched him a bit, in the way he liked.
“Well, I was talking to Rhea-”
Gerri didn’t want to feel a prickle at the sound of Rhea’s name coming out of Roman’s mouth. And whatever intel he thought he was bringing her was bound to be false, Rhea was too clever to reveal herself to any of the Roy offspring. Not when the flag of CEO successor still fluttered, so tantalising. The flag that currently had Gerri’s name on it, ready to be snatched by a more cunning or elegant hand.
“Yes, I saw. Very cosy,” she cut him off, with slightly more bite than she intended. He looked questioningly into her eyes. Reading her. She could see him replaying her tone on that last remark. Working his way between her words. She was suddenly very aware that there was only a thin layer of silk covering her undergarments. “Anything she said to you was bullshit, you do know that, don’t you, Roman?”
Again he looked pinched. But this time not in the way he liked.
She felt like she should apologise but for what she had no idea. She was correct, why apologise for being correct?
“Yeah Gerri, I’m not a fucking imbecile - I can sort the real shit from the reach arounds.”
“And is that what Rhea gave you?” It was out of her mouth before she really knew she’d even thought it. Her acidic internal monologue made suddenly external.
“What?” he was as confused by her deviation as she was. She slammed her face into neutral, alarmed by this sudden lapse of control.
Roman’s eyes widened, brows raised, and she’d seen this expression on him before - across a diner table. Like she’d slapped him and he’d felt the surprise in his balls. Fuck. She stayed neutral and stared back, if she didn’t react he’d eventually get nervous and look away. But a smirk was settling over his mouth and he began stroking the mustard velvet of the couch, his fingers trailing across the arm in a way that she did not feel on her skin.
“Gerri,” he put on a theatrically shocked tone, all breathy, and casually crossed his legs, ankle resting on his knee, “Are you worried my MILFshake is bringing all the CEO contenders to the yard?”
She needed to regain the upper hand and end this interaction, so she let her sigh convey how tiresome he was, “I don’t have time for whatever adolescent fantasies you’ve decided to project on to this conversation, Roman. The cars will be here soon.”
“The yard is my dick, by the way,” he waggled his eyebrows.
“A whole yard? You forget I’ve seen it now, you should probably convert to metric.”
His eyes flashed and he gripped the arm of the couch with triumph. She’d walked right into his trap. Fuck.
Her stomach lurched at the memory.
Argestes. The sickening smack of Logan’s hand against Roman’s jaw. The flurry of shouting, defending, and placating. Roman’s absence at the roast underlining her decades of complicity while she downed her martini too quickly and tried not to feel the old bastard bristling behind her as the stand-up tanked the Pierce deal in a couple of barbs. Logan’s rage at being thwarted rippling out when he staggered back into the dining room with what she later discovered was a newly fired Rhea at his elbow. Gerri had inferred the Nan half of the disaster and steeled herself for the inevitable summons but he was so incensed with it he’d walked right past her, Rhea close behind. Gerri didn’t look at Marcia, just waited a respectable few minutes before abandoning the table and taking hold of her temporary freedom. There was another Roy she felt indebted to.
She’d found Roman in his chalet, bottle in hand. He hadn’t even locked the door, so she walked right in after tapping a quick warning. He was sprawled on the couch, still in his panel clothes. ATN muted on the television. A single drop of blood crusted on his white t-shirt. He turned his head.
When he saw it was her, he started laughing.
“Wow, General Counsel. You got here fast, it’s been what - 3 hours? Did you run all the way? Have a seat, you must be out of breath.” He gestured to a chair, the sloshing sound of the bottle reminding her that the heat in her face was only about 60% martini.
“I came as soon as was discreet and feasible.”
“What is that, the title of your porno? Doesn’t sound like it’s worth watching.”
And she understands why he’s lashing out at her, but it doesn’t diminish the bite.
“Roman, what do you want me to say? I couldn’t get away until now. I thought you’d be at dinner.”
“Yeah because nothing goes better with a broken tooth and bloody tongue than steak. I could’ve held it up to my jaw like those old cartoons.” his voice cracked and he seemed to deflate some.
“Are you very drunk?”
“No,” he sat up and put the bottle on the table, ran a hand through his hair, “I thought I would be. A year ago I would be, but it just - I didn’t want to go where the booze would have taken me. You know?” he looked up at her with an open plea for understanding. All he ever wanted was to be understood.
Gerri gave him a sad smile, nodded, “I get it.” She walked over and sat down on the couch next to him. Not touching, they didn’t do that. Just, being near. He leaned back and rolled his head towards her.
They sat in silence for a while, Gerri watching the news, Roman watching Gerri.
After a few minutes she heard his breathing change, and when she finally turned to look his eyes were huge, his mouth open, and the front of his pants tented. This, she could give him.
“You broken little pervert, how long have you been sitting in here playing with yourself while the rest of us were out there doing our jobs?”
He gulped air as he scrabbled to unbuckle and shoved a hand into his underwear, began tugging, “Jobs?”
“That’s right,” she continued, “everybody else is making themselves useful, meanwhile you’re in here making a mess - you’re a waste of space, Roman.”
“Yeah, I am, aren’t I” His other hand reached out and gripped the back of the couch behind her, his fingers brushing against her shoulder through her jacket. A jolt of electricity travelled down her limbs, her fingers quivering.
Roman’s eyes flicked to her hands in her lap and then back, Gerri cursing silently, hoping that her face hadn’t betrayed her as well.
“Gerri, are you,” he panted, clearly about to start something,
No such luck, she thought. Desperate measures. Emergency brake?
“And the littlest waste of space is in your hand right now, isn’t it?”
He gasped. His hand movement fell off rhythm for a second. She’d never directly mentioned his dick before.
“Yes,” it was more whimper than word.
“How little is it?” Gerri turned more of her body towards him, was startled when she felt his other hand on her shoulder again, this time gripping her sleeve.
“It’s very small,” he ground the words out in between tugs.
“I don’t believe you - nobody would when you’re just a series of worthless grunts. Show me.”
Roman’s eyes got impossibly wide, and his hand stilled
“You want” he sucked in a breath, Gerri stared him down, “You want to see it?”
“You want to show it to me. Don’t you? You nasty little piglet.”
He looked wary, but his hand was moving again now, slowly, “Yes. Gerri, please?”
“Well go on, get it out. The roast wasn’t particularly funny and I could do with a laugh.”
Roman let go of her sleeve, and with hands only slightly shakier than his breath, he pulled his pants down just enough. Held his erection in his palm like he was offering it up for her inspection.
Gerri deliberately narrowed her eyes as she let her gaze travel over him, his continuing arousal evident in the wet puff of his breaths, and the glistening tip of his completely average cock.
She made a tsk sound, brought her gaze back to his face, he was watching so closely, she’d never seen him so still. She looked deep into his hazel eyes and dropped her voice to a husky whisper,
“Roman. So much trouble for so little reward,”
and without thinking she reached out and brushed over the dried blood on his chest, feeling the guilt and sadness fold in with her own arousal.
Roman snatched at her hand before she could pull it back, a guttural sound forcing its way out of his mouth as his eyes closed and his come shot over the front of his pants, his fingers, and a little bit on her leg. He looked at her with a wildness in his eyes.
“Sorry. Gerri. I’m sorry.” His face was scrunching up and he was squeezing her fingers hard, she reached out to touch his shoulder with her other hand, to calm him,
“Rome, stop. There’s nothing for you to be sorry over.” His grip loosened, self conscious now. She slid her hand out from his and tapped the back of it in what she hoped was a reassuring way before bringing both her hands back to her lap. Trying not to be obvious about avoiding the spot of ejaculate she was already weighing up whether it was worth the embarrassment of solving at the dry cleaners.
She scanned his face, made sure he was back with her. He nodded, breathed out, and quickly tucked himself back in his pants. His face was still red on one side where Logan had hit him.
“It’s other people who should be sorry,” she declared through gritted teeth, and half reached out to touch his face. They both froze, and she aborted the movement.
“It’s fine, Gerri. It’s whatever. Money will fix it.”
“It’s not fine, Roman - you do know that? None of that is fine.”
“Making it kind of hard to enjoy the afterglow, Ger.”
“I’m sorry,” she replied, “Would you like me to sit for a while?”
He seemed simultaneously startled and relieved by the offer.
“I would, yeah.” he smiled quick, “I’ll just go and,” he gestured to his clothes.
“I’ll be here,” she smiled softly back.
Roman was still looking gleeful as he bounced up from the couch and practically swaggered towards her.
“So you’ve memorised the dimensions of my little dick, huh, Gerri?” he was right in front of her now, swaying in and out of her personal space. His voice dropped to a cocky whisper, “I guess you do find me seductive after all.”
She wished she’d resisted the obvious bait, she blamed her sartorial vulnerability for being off her game. He was greedily casting his eye over where her robe failed to conceal her. Challenging her. The little shit. Might as well go nuclear.
“Roman if you’re going to be in here at least be useful,” she marched back into the bedroom, stepped behind the door and quickly swapped her robe for her dress before emerging again, “Here. Zip this up.” She turned her back.
He couldn’t disguise his panicked intake of oxygen, and there was a taut few seconds where she thought she’d misjudged it, but then his fingers were briefly fumbling near her lower back before she heard him exhale, and then the smooth slide of the zipper closing. She turned to face him again. His eyes were glassy, and he was obviously halfway to being hard.
“Gerri, I really think Rhea might be a problem.”
“I know, Rome. I’ve been paying attention.”
“She said I had good instincts, really got her lube up my asshole.”
“I know that, too,” Gerri raised a disapproving brow at him and buttoned his jacket, smirked at the way his breath stuttered as her fingers almost made contact.
“Yeah, she offered me a team-up, pretty wild, right?”
“Rhea doesn’t have to be wrong to be a problem, Rome.” She smiled at him, and he openly basked in the glow of her approval. It made her feel warm in her gut, and lower down. “Are you disappointed you’ve already hitched your wagon to The Mole Woman, Rockstar? Not too late to get under Rhea’s…wing,” she narrowed her eyes and brushed his lapel, making him gasp softly again.
He sounded slightly out of breath, “Worried she’s going to take your toys, Gerri? Did you want to piss a circle around me before this party?”
She stared him down with a moue of disgust and scoffed, “Unlikely, especially because you’d probably enjoy it, you deviant.”
“Going to think fondly of your robe tonight, I could always swing by later to help you back out of that dress,” his fingers twitched towards her skirt.
She looked at his hand, thought of Tabitha waiting for him in their room, and it annoyed her. “I think one proposal from you per day is enough,”
“And I’m sure Tabitha could use a hand with her zipper, if you can reach.”
He was taken aback, shifted gears with her anyway. “Yeah okay. I’ll just go fuck myself in the lobby.”
She reached for the door handle, “Try to keep it off their upholstery.” And she swept the door open, tension not leaving her until he’d passed through.
Audacious little prick, somehow collecting a carousel of women he couldn’t fuck. Gerri thought of his face falling as she’d dismissed him, and sighed. Felt the guilt curling around the edges of her desire. Because she had to admit that’s what it was. Fuck. The business stuff between them was so easy to box up, but the rest. She went to put her shoes on.
The cruises stuff was getting sticky, Gerri pulled Siobhan in to the impromptu caucus, and they agreed to let it play out for a few more hours. Shiv obviously had a plan, and considering how effective she’d been against Rhea earlier, Gerri quietly decided to see where it went.
Kendall made a fool of himself. El to the Oh Gee. Logan announced Rhea. Roman stayed glued to Tabitha for the duration. Good. She didn’t have time to entertain him when the shit was aimed squarely at the fan.
But she did notice him touching Tabitha, comfortably encircling her wrist, wrapping his arm around her slim waist, and thought of his fingers twitching towards her in her room just hours earlier, of his blurted proposal and his dick getting hard when he zipped her up - It was distracting.
She couldn’t afford to be distracted.
Slipping her sore feet out of her heels, Gerri stood by the bar in her room and poured herself some lukewarm vodka. She drifted around the place as she sipped, running her hand along the back of the couch, remembering Roman doing the same. And then he’d fucked with the flower arrangement. She smiled to herself. Picked out the rose he’d left behind, and held it up to her nose.
Fuck. This was lovestruck schoolgirl nonsense. Meanwhile he was probably helping Tabitha get undressed right now. The thought had…potential. Gerri finished her drink and reclined on the couch, tucked the flower into her neckline so the perfume wafted upwards, before idly running her fingertips along it. She closed her eyes and moved her hand featherlight over the curve of her breasts, so light it almost didn’t feel like her own hand. She bent her knees, the rustle of her skirt loud in the room as it slid up her thighs with her other hand. She rubbed two fingers against herself, but the thick shapewear she’d stuffed herself into made the sensation too remote. With a frustrated huff she wriggled out of it, her underpants coming off too, and she made sure her dress was underneath her, thinking of the upholstery and smirking.
Eyes closed again, Gerri gently circled her newly bare clit with a finger. Roman. Sliding Tabitha’s zipper down, kissing her exquisite spine as he went. Hands steady on her hips. Gerri added a finger, bracketed her clit and began to rub. Roman. Twitching his smirky little face at Rhea, getting off on her praise. Lifting her delicate frame up on to a boardroom table and pressing his tongue into her. Gerri moved her hand faster, the coil tightening. Roman. Fumbling with Gerri’s dress, fingers twitching as his cock swelled against his pants. Gerri kept speed, added pressure. Roman. Grinding himself against her robe covered ass as she lay on the hotel bed, his brow sweaty against her back, those familiar whines escaping him with every thrust, his hand clutching at her breast as he begged and begged for her to make him come. Roman. His cock in her hand, hot and hard as she swept her thumb over the wet tip until he made a choking sound. Roman, licking into her cunt, her thighs squeezing around him, his face covered in her, disgusting little slime puppy.
The orgasm punched through her fantasies and Gerri opened her eyes as she crested, the smell of the rose filling her nostrils, her exhale sounding dangerously like a whispered, “Rome” as she followed the aftershocks down. She enjoyed the limpness of her body as she breathed hard, plucked the flower from her neckline and threw it on the table with her empty glass. Roman couldn’t know, of course. As far as he was concerned the sex needed to flow in one direction only. So long as she compartmentalised appropriately it shouldn’t be a problem to occasionally indulge. Just to ward off any distractions. After a minute Gerri got up, smoothed her dress down, collected her underwear and pushed the rose back into the flower arrangement.
Everything in its place.