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That Is All

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Rightly or wrongly, Finlay stood by her boss.

“Your coffee, Ms. Eird.”

It was not for loyalty to the company, as in truth she knew little of what they did there. She had been promoted from her internship prematurely, and in place of knowledge of the inner workings or business, she had gained knowledge of the woman she now worked directly under.

“My coffee?”

Malenia Eird was a quiet woman.

“No sugar, steamed milk, no foam, scalding” Finlay recited, passing the cup across to her.

“You know it.” Never questions, not from her. Statements and absolutes were all she dealt in. In her gloved hand, she held the cup, seeming to take a moment, before she told her, “It is appreciated.”

Not the stern and ruthless woman many would paint her as in broad strokes, nor the incompetent girl thrust to power for a move many considered reckless. She was merely quiet, isolated in thought, prone to silence that did often seem cold. When she spoke, which was an occasion on its own uncommon, it was with certainty. The power she held - in name and her own being - edged at every word, leaving no room for counter.

It was not only in her words she wielded such force, as in stance she stood taller than most men. Her mannerisms were restrained, seeming stiff at first, and yet, as she had come to know all of her, Finlay had come to find her graceful, if understated at first look. It was for that knowing that Finlay saw through the cold veneer.

For that, she was valued not only as an assistant, but as an asset.

“You will be attending tonight in my place,” Malenia told her, sliding across the desk an invitation. A gala, and Finlay slid the thick card off the desk and into her hand with two fingers.

“You don’t want to go?” Finlay asked, half rhetorical as she flipped the invitation over in her hand.

“Unwise, when we are approaching the end of the quarter,” said Malenia, assured, unwavering.

Finlay swallowed, nodding, before she stopped and shook her head once, telling her, “I think it would be good if you went.”

“I disagree.”

It was not only for knowing her that Finlay was regarded above others and so quickly promoted.

“You shouldn’t, because I’m right.”

Nobody but she ever questioned Malenia.

Eyes fixed on Finlay, hands folded, gloved fingers contrasting against her fair skin, Malenia said, “Tell me why I should, Finlay.”

To hear her name spoken in that rich and gentle voice only made her certain, and Finlay suggested, with a fluttering smile, “It would be nice, if you could come with me, and...”

“And?” Malenia prompted, leaning her chin on her hands as she looked up at her.

“And I hear you’re a wonderful dancer.”

Though she spoke with Malenia’s personal interests in mind, she was ever prone to crossing that most unseen yet vital line.

Sitting straight in her chair, Malenia placed her hands palm down on her desk and turned her eyes from Finlay. She took a breath, and in a voice so subtly different none but her assistant may have noticed, she instructed, “Your dress will be waiting for you on your desk, do arrive on time.”

“Yes, Ms. Eird.”

Finlay stood, as if waiting for anything more. When she did not move, a hand was waved in her direction, and Malenia said, with no room for question, “That is all.”


“Staying late?”

Malenia looked up from the monitors, and in that singular moment, she was vulnerable. If it was for the start of someone breaking the silence she had fallen into, it was present only a moment. Only a moment, yet it was a precious one, where her hand stilled, glove off and prosthetic joints visible, and her breath seemed caught in her throat.

Before she could reach for her glove and collect herself, Finlay was closing the door, asking, more gently, “Why are you still here?”

“There is work that needs doing.”

“That could be done tomorrow,” Finlay said. She was standing across the desk from her, arms folded.

“You were done work hours ago,” Malenia offered, a diversion from the topic to hand. Her fingers were shaking visibly as she slid the glove back on.

“I’m only done when you are,” reminded Finlay. She felt her cheeks warming when Malenia looked up at her, and with that hopeless adoration a year in the making, she added, “The gala was lovely.”

“I am glad.”

“Lonely though,” Finlay added, if only to see her reaction.

None that was visible or audible, and Malenia only said, “You may take a guest next time.”

“What if I want to take you?”

It was then she saw what so few did.

Heat and colour rose in Malenia’s cheeks. Were she to blush more deeply her face may have gone so red as to match her hair. In the privacy of her office, her back to the wall of windows behind her, eyes upon only Finlay’s face, she came as undone as a woman like her ever could. It was sweet, and sad, to see a woman like her brought to flustered confusion by a question so simple.

A betrayal of her certainty, her restraint, as she managed to insist, weakly, “That would be inappropriate.”


“Your feelings for me, obvious as they are, have never been an issue before,” Malenia said, biting and sharp as she stood up suddenly, palms flat on her desk. She did not look at her as she all but commanded, “Do not allow them to become so now.”

“Could they?”

Malenia did not speak with uncertainty, she did not ask questions, and yet, “What?”

“Could they be an issue for you?” Finlay asked. She could see her chance, and she would take it, before with that impeccable grace Malenia could dodge her.

“It is inappropriate.” An answer in its own unwillingness to answer.

Hands on the desk, Finlay leaned across, eye to eye with her as she said, “I don’t think my feelings are the issue.”

“That is not your place.”

“You wanted me as your assistant because I could see through you, because I knew you and would never act in the interest of anyone but you,” Finlay said with a confidence earned only through her time with Malenia. She leaned forward, reminding her, “And because I was never afraid to tell you when I knew you were wrong.”

“I disagree,” Malenia whispered, a breath from Finlay and not withdrawing.

“Do you?”

Finlay could see her softening, still for a single moment, before with all the power she possessed Malenia admitted, “It was for far more selfish interest.”

Finlay had to lean in to meet her, and Malenia had to bend. Their hands did not leave the desk, even as their mouths met across it, a years worth of sexual tension dispelled in that singular and graceful motion.

When Finlay placed her hand atop the gloved fingers, Malenia did not pull away from the kiss, but cast aside restraint to reach across and pull her closer.


A year as her assistant had taught her the particulars of Malenia’s routine.

She woke at dawn, the red sky of early morning there to greet her. Her alarm was always a minute behind her, stopped before it could make a sound. The first thing she put on was her hand, and then coffee. If Finlay was not there to greet her with her usual order, she would drink her coffee black until she got to the office. She did not eat breakfast, packed her gym bag, and left her apartment five minutes before she needed to.

That morning, the alarm was not set, and it was to the sun risen and a hand upon her hip that Malenia would wake.

She did not slide from the sheets in practiced precision, she did not button her shirt one handed while picking out a suit jacket, she did not worry over her hair and the wild red mess it was spread across her pillow.

Finlay would not let her.

“Morning,” she breathed, nose against Malenia’s shoulder and hands still holding onto her.

Legs tucking up, body stretching strangely, Malenia took a moment, before responding with an almost husky, “Good morning.”

Whether it had not settled, or had already, Finlay could not tell. She had told herself twice since waking up that it would not matter, as she had got a night with her, an admission of lust and desire spoken not only aloud but spread across her skin, between her breasts, her inner thighs, her jaw, her mouth. She had promised herself that one night would be enough, but in Malenia’s bed, she found herself hopeful with greed.

She stopped herself, before such greed could come spilling from her mouth, when she saw Malenia’s eyes open.

Her loyalty was absolute, unshakeable, and though she wanted nothing more than to roll atop her and have her again, to spend the whole day entangled together in sheets, she knew as well that if Malenia wished it, she would be gone from her bed and her side in an instant.

When Malenia stretched, she draped one arm over Finlay, hand dangling at her lower back, and the other she tucked up against her, residual limb nestled near her jaw. She whispered, voice warm, rough with sleep, “That was...”

“Inappropriate?” Finlay offered reflexively.

“Breathtaking,” corrected Malenia, with that quiet grace few beyond Finlay had ever heard.

Though with every part of herself she did believe it, body thrumming with elation, Finlay asked, “You mean that?”

“I never speak dishonestly,” Malenia told her, that certainty returned to her yet still purring in her throat, “and if I do, I trust you to tell me so.”

“I would,” Finlay promised her.

“Then I take it you have no complaints.”

Shaking her head, Finlay turned her head and kissed just above the end of the residual limb, up to her elbow, before whispering, “Just one.”

“One?” Her voice faltered in question.

“I have to get up eventually,” teased Finlay.

When she looked up, mouth against her but eyes flicking to see how Malenia would react to such bold words, she found those thin and sharp lips pulled into a rare smile. When Malenia spoke, it was audible, “Not for some time yet.”