She was feeling a little reckless tonight.
Maybe it was the Christmas spirit? Maybe it was the end of another year?
The beat of the music had worked its way through her body until she could feel her pulse pounding in rhythm with it. Sweat trickled down her spine, long hair stuck to her neck, and she knew her makeup had melted off hours ago. She didn’t give a shit. Nobody knew her here. Nobody cared if the normally calm and sedate Natasha Harper was letting loose, wearing clothes a little too tight, a top cut a little too low. Here, she fitted right in. These people were her tribe, even if she was an anonymous member of it.
She was never more aware of her body than when she danced. Every swing of her hips, every turn of her shoulder, every lift of her arms brought her pleasure. She closed her eyes and felt the music permeate her skin and move into her muscles. Her hips moved, every bounce on the beat, as she felt her shoulders and back, roll and flex.
God! It felt good. Powerfully good.
Her every sense was alive and it was almost too much.
Once a month she left her life at the nightclub door and dived into the sound, the energy, and she forgot for a short time what people expected of her. She forgot about everything she couldn’t have.
And every time he was here.
Opening her eyes to that thought her hungry gaze sought him out.
Dressed in a dark t-shirt and jeans, he was completely still in an ocean of moving bodies. A couple of fingers held the long neck of the beer bottle nonchalantly by his side.
Dampening her lips, Natasha waited for him to take a drink. She loved to watch his head go back, his throat muscles move as he swallowed. She wanted to taste him there, salt and cologne, as she ran her tongue over his skin. She might even take a bite.
The bottle lowered, but his eyes didn’t. She wanted him to watch and that’s what he did. His heated gaze stayed locked on her as she turned around. She knew he would follow her hips as they swayed and rocked. His own personal metronome, beating out an untouchable rhythm.
Closing her eyes, she raised her arms in the air and felt her body stretch and undulate, reaching for and holding every beat of the music, before she let it go and took hold of the next one.
She danced for herself, she danced for him. And it was enough.
It had to be enough. Anything else would mean breaking every rule she’d set herself when she decided to come here for the first time. Arrive alone. Leave alone. No strangers could know who she was outside of here.
Natasha turned to face him, needing to see him. Knowing he was watching seemed… insubstantial tonight – she had to see his eyes. Continuing to dance, she found herself closer than she’d realised. Somebody bumped into her back, pushing her forward a little more until she was less than a couple of metres away from him. She watched his eyes widen a little, watched as he turned and placed his beer bottle on a table beside him. Waiting.
As he faced her once again, she could see the hard line of his lips and the dark freckle on his cheekbone, just above the shadow of his stubble, leading to his neat ears and the curls that peeked out behind them.
Her stillness could have been a warning or an invitation. All she knew was that she couldn’t look away. She couldn’t not look at him. She didn’t want to blink. Her body, that had felt so fluid while she danced, now felt tense and ready for flight.
He wouldn’t come to her. She knew that. They had never been this close before while she danced, still, she knew that he would wait for her to make the final move. For how long, she didn’t know, but this game they played seemed to live without an expiration date. She only knew that one day he wouldn’t be here. Only then would she know it was over, that he couldn’t wait for her anymore.
A sense of panic flashed through her body, her chest a clenched fist. The reality of her life, of what she’d allowed herself to become, threatened to suffocate her.
In this place, there was no room for the fears and anxieties of her real life. Here, the dark lights and the music set her free. Here, she could be everything she wanted to be.
So she walked towards him. She saw the question in his eyes but she chose to ignore it. She didn’t want words, she wanted him to touch her, with his mouth on hers and she wanted to taste his skin. She needed to know what it would feel like to have his big hands on her body. She ached to know what it would feel like to be held in his arms.
Now the floodgates had opened, her desires drowned out the rational part of her brain, half-hearted arguments swept away in its reckless, rushing flow.
Standing before him, the music beating in her blood, she lifted her hand and cupped his beautiful face. Her thumb traced lightly over his cheekbone, coming to rest on the freckle that she’d fallen in love with the first time she’d seen it.
His eyes were so intent on her, they looked so deeply inside her that she imagined he knew her every thought, her every fantasy. How she’d danced wanting to feel his hand on her hip, his lips on her neck. How every flex and move had been for him, leading to this moment.
When his fingers closed over her hand on his cheek her heart jolted. Did he not want her to touch him? Was this the cruel rejection she had always been terrified of?
He did lower their hands, but his grip remained firm as he turned and pulled her towards the back of the club. Her heart stumbled into another unsteady rhythm as she wobbled slightly on her heels, desperate to stay with him. The crowd that had seemed such a comforting presence only minutes before now seemed to stand in her way. He pulled her close until her hand came to rest on his back. The supple movement of his lean muscles under her touch sending the heat of arousal flooding to her cheeks.
He swung her into an alcove behind a dark velvet curtain. She had no idea how he’d known it was there. Her nipples brushed against his chest, tightening into hard points as she moved past him. Until her back pressed against the wall in this small cocoon, the music’s beat muffled but still singing in her blood.
She watched the hard line of his lips open a little. There was a softness there now, a willingness to surrender to whatever this was. Her eyes moved up to his, her head fell back as she was pinned to the wall by the hunger in his gaze. This risk that she took didn’t magically disappear with the heat of his body against hers. There was anxiety snaking through her desire for him, but she recognised it for what it was – fear to take what she wanted – fear that she didn’t deserve it.
A silent but powerful “fuck you” rang out in her brain and heart, strong enough this time to push the little shitty doubts back into their box and turn the key.
Tonight, she was going to be reckless. Tonight, she was going to take what she wanted.
She watched her hand curl around the back of his neck. She felt an initial resistance, a final hesitation before he gave in to the pressure she exerted. His hand landed on the wall beside her head, the other came to rest in a burning rush of heat on her hip. Then his lips were on hers, soft and light. A break to pull back, to check. Always so cautious, before, she pulled him back in and took his mouth how she’d longed to for so long.
It was her hunger that drove her. The primal need for contact, to touch and be touched, to lick and taste, to feel that need returned. Her skin was electricity. Sparks of initial discomfort where he touched her starved body, morphed into heated sensation that rapidly became addictive. She couldn’t get close enough, kiss him hard enough.
She felt him say her name against her lips before he nudged her face to the side so he could move to devour her neck. Eyes closed, her knees nearly gave out when he hit a spot halfway down. Her fingers gripped his hair. She didn’t know if she wanted to push him away or hold him against her forever. Her nerve endings sang with agonising delight. It was too much and not enough. She wanted more but never wanted to leave this exact place or this exact moment.
His lips moved to the shell of her ear, his breath a warm caress.
“Tell me you want this.”
Turning her head, relishing the weight of him against her body, her lips rested against his ear.
“Yes.” There was no hesitation. No going back, not now that she had had this first touch.
“I’m taking you home.”
“Yes.” God, yes, please!
His breath warm on her skin.
“To my bed.”
Her tongue licked into the shell of his ear before she whispered, “Please.” His growl of approval vibrated through his hard chest into her heart that beat so strongly against his.
He drew back to look at her. “Natasha, you know I have to resign.”
She jerked a little as real-life slapped her around the face. It was a statement rather than a question. She’d hoped they could have this night before he brought it up. No matter how prepared she was, the thought of him no longer being her bodyguard hurt her in ways she didn’t know how to deal with. Regret attempted to seep into her mind, but she tried to hold it at bay.
“I know you do,” she replied, really hoping he didn’t notice the way her voice trembled, or that she was struggling to meet his eyes now. Fear was such a bitch. It took all your pleasure, your happiness, your certainty and turned it into cold, grey ash.
“Look at me, Tasha.” Fingers of one hand pushed into her hair, the other cupped her face as her reluctant gaze met his. “I’m not going anywhere. Do you understand? Nothing in this world could keep me from being by your side – if that’s where you want me to be.”
The honesty and pure emotion with which he said those words swept through her mind and body leaving only warmth and light in its wake.
It had taken three years, but she couldn’t regret any of the doubt or loneliness. Not when this was her reward. Not when she finally had the freedom to tell him everything. All the little things: how she loved that his eyes danced with laughter over a shared joke, even when he had to keep a straight face in public. Or the big things like how he always made her feel welcome in his space, like by being there she made his world better, brighter. And how that meant everything.
His eyes smiled into hers. “I need to make up for all the times we denied ourselves. I want to move aside your blouse and kiss your collarbone while you’re writing, wrap my arms around you whenever you look sad, eat breakfast together, drink decaf coffee before bed, hold you close as you fall asleep each night.” His thumb ran across her lips. “I want to watch you come undone for me, Tasha. I want to see what happens when we don’t have to hold back anymore.”
She shivered with anticipation, suddenly unable to wait another second.
“Take me home, Jack.”
His mouth tipped up in a smile of satisfaction that mirrored her own as he took her hand and pulled her out of the alcove towards the exit.
Sometimes being a little reckless paid off and sometimes it was good to kick out the old and welcome in the new. It was a feeling of hope that carried her so swiftly through the crowd this time. Their hands locked together, their lives entwined as they moved into the cold, starlit, winter night.
Happy holidays, everyone!