Authors: Jennifer Crusie
“And call advertising and find out where they borrowed the rubies for the photo shoot. We’re buying them.”
“I hope he loves you a lot,” Jane said on her way out. “I have a mortgage.”
* * *
for lunch, so Emily took Jane to the Celestial.
“You know, maybe you’re going about this the wrong way,” Jane said to her over the garlic chicken.
Emily thought about it. “I’m being patient.”
“That’s your problem.” Jane stabbed her fork at her. “You’ve got to jar him awake so he can see what he’s doing.”
“He is trying,” Emily began, but Jane shook her head.
“You’ve got to show him how frustrating it is to have no control, to have his demands ignored.”
“Well, I’m doing that with the rubies and the movie.”
“Not business.” Jane shook her head. “He’ll just assume you’re going behind his back to get your way.”
“Where’s the one place he treats you as an equal?”
Emily thought about it. Jane, as usual, was right. No matter how autocratic Richard was with her in other aspects, he treated her like a goddess in their private life. The times he hadn’t listened to her were due to his being overwhelmed by passion, not by indifference to her feelings.
“You’re right,” she admitted. “So?”
“So that’s the place to make your point.”
“No.” Emily looked at Jane, appalled. “I’m not going to withhold sex to make him agree with me. That’s cheap.”
“You’re not listening.” Jane grinned at her. “You’re spending too much time with Richard. It’s catching.”
“All right.” Emily put down her fork and listened. “Explain.”
“Well, Ben and I were experimenting one night—”
“Oh, Lord, Jane.” Emily picked up her fork again. “Kinky sex is not going to change his mind.”
“This isn’t kinky.” Jane thought about it. “Well, not very. And it will change his mind. Eat your salad. We have some shopping to do.”
“What kind of shopping?”
“Strawberries. Candles. And you’re going to buy some of that wicked pink lace stuff I bought.”
“I have a bad feeling about this,” Emily said.
“Trust me,” Jane said. “This will work. I guarantee you, this time, he’ll listen.”
sat in her office, staring at the shopping bag on the floor next to her. It held the basics of Jane’s game plan.
I can’t do this,
I’ll feel like a fool, and Richard will laugh at me. In the nicest possible way, of course. With a great deal of affection. And then he’ll never take me seriously again.
Jane knocked on the door. “I’m leaving.”
“Thanks for everything, Jane,” Emily said, “but—”
“But you’re not going to do it,” Jane finished for her.
“It’s too far out for me.”
“This from the woman who talked to her boss on the phone while her lover was under her desk?”
“That was not my idea.”
“Yeah. But this would be.” Emily shook her head again, and Jane sighed and shrugged.
“Keep all that stuff, anyway. Eat the strawberries, but put the rest of it away. Someday you may change your mind.”
“I doubt it.” Emily’s eyes widened as she looked beyond Jane. “Shut up. Here he comes.”
Richard paused in the doorway.
“Hi, Jane.” He leaned around her to talk to Emily. “Something’s come up. Can I pick you up later, say, eight?”
“What’s going on?”
“Meeting with George and Henry. It’s money talk. I told them you wouldn’t be interested. You can relax, and then we’ll have a late dinner after the meeting.”
“Did it occur to you,” Emily asked carefully, “that I might want to go to this meeting?”
“No.” Richard frowned at her. “Why would you want to come to a money meeting?”
Emily clenched her hands in front of her. “It’s my project.”
“I’ll fill you in later. Why should you waste your time?”
“If you’d asked me first, I probably would have agreed with you.” Emily drew a deep breath. “You didn’t ask.”
“I’m sorry,” Richard said impatiently, “but since you wouldn’t have gone, anyway, I don’t see why we’re having this conversation.” He looked down at Jane. “Don’t you have something to do?” he asked pointedly.
“Yes.” She crossed to Emily’s desk, picked up the shopping bag and dropped it in front of Emily. “Don’t forget this.”
Emily looked at her and nodded. “You’re right. I won’t.”
“What’s in the bag?” Richard asked.
“Surprises.” Emily smiled at him tightly. “Don’t pick me up. I’ll come to your place. Chill some champagne.”
Richard glanced at Jane, who smiled back at him serenely.
“All right. Eight o’clock.” He looked uncertainly from Jane to Emily, shook his head and left.
“I can do this,” Emily said.
“Absolutely,” Jane said.
Emily put her head down on the desk and moaned, and Jane patted her on the back.
* * *
doorbell at Richard’s apartment, trying to balance the shopping bag and a silver bowl of strawberries without losing her purse. Richard opened the door wearing a thick velour robe, a smile and obviously not much else. His smile faded at the sight of her. She was still in her business suit, her hair pinned up and her reading glasses on.
“Strawberries?” she said.
“Thank you.” He took them and stood back to let her in. There was champagne in a bucket and two silver-rimmed glasses, chilled and waiting.
Emily took a deep breath. “Why don’t we take this into the bedroom?”
“Fine,” Richard said, slightly puzzled by her tension.
He followed her into his bedroom and watched her put the champagne and glasses on the bedside table.
“Have you got the strawberries?” she asked, and took the bowl from him, putting it on the table with the champagne. “Got any matches?” she asked, and began to unpack the fat white candles from her shopping bag.
“Yes.” Richard took her arm. “What are you doing?”
“I thought we’d try something a little different tonight. Matches?”
He watched while she placed the candles around the room. Dozens of them.
“Good thing I have fire insurance,” he said as Emily lit them all, and then turned out the lights.
The room glowed from the flames, almost as light as daylight but much softer. He moved toward her.
“We have to talk,” Emily said.
“Let’s talk later.” Richard reached for her.
“No.” Emily folded her arms across her chest. “Now.”
He looked at her stern stubborn face and sighed. “All right.” He sat on the edge of the bed. “What?”
She moistened her lips. “I love you, and I intend to marry you, but not until you recognize me as a partner.”
He looked shocked. “I do.”
“No. You decide what’s important and what isn’t. You don’t listen.” He started to protest and she held up her hand. “Did you look at the budget and try to find money for the rubies and the product placement?”
“Emily, it isn’t there.”
to find it?”
The look on his face told her he hadn’t.
“You didn’t try because you decided before I even talked to you that it wasn’t possible.” Emily hesitated and then went determinedly on. “You don’t listen to me. And as much as I love you, I can’t live with a man who doesn’t treat me seriously.”
“I treat you seriously,” Richard said, appalled. “You’re the most important person in my world.”
She knew it was true. She also knew he wasn’t listening to her—again.
She tried one more time. “I don’t think you
realize how much you assume the right to make decisions for me. I can’t let you do that. But if I have to fight you on this, all we’ll do is waste time and money for the company.”
“Emily, we’ve talked about this before.”
“It’s not just the company.” She took a deep breath. “I want more control here, with you, too.”
“You can have it.” He held out his hand. “Now come here.”
“That’s exactly what I mean.” She took a step backward. “You say, ‘Come here,’ and I’m supposed to jump.”
“Okay.” He stood up. “I’ll come there.”
“No, that’s not what I want.”
“Well, what do you want?” He was getting exasperated.
Emily swallowed. “I want one night where you promise to do anything I tell you to.”
Richard looked uneasy. “Define ‘anything.’”
“No.” Emily looked at him. “If you want me tonight, you’ll have to trust me. And promise me you’ll do exactly what I say.”
“All right,” he said finally.
“Word of honor.”
“What the hell are you going to do?”
“Word of honor.”
“Word of honor.” He shook his head. “I don’t like this.”
“That’s the point,” Emily said. “I don’t like it, either, but you treat me this way every day.”
“So this is to teach me a lesson?”
“No. It’s to demonstrate my point. Since you won’t listen, maybe you’ll see instead.”
“All right.” He didn’t look happy but he nodded. “What do you want me to do?”
She took a deep breath. “Take off your robe and lie down on the bed.”
He dropped the robe and lay down naked on the bed, watching her warily. He looked great naked.
I’d be so embarrassed to do that,
Why is it that guys never are? Must be all those locker rooms.
“Okay. The first rule is you can’t touch me until I tell you to.”
“What?” He sat up.
“You swore, word of honor,” she reminded him.
“I really don’t like this,” he said, but he lay back down again and poured himself a glass of champagne.
Emily turned and stood at the foot of the bed with her back to him, looking at herself in the large mirror over the bureau.
She looked sexless, a bug-eyed robot in a severe charcoal suit.
There’s a great body under this suit,
and Richard loves it.
She took her glasses off and put them on the bureau.
She turned around and met Richard’s eyes. He looked bored and a little chilly, but he was drinking his champagne. She slowly unbuttoned her suit jacket and dropped it on the bureau.
“Take it all off,” he suggested, grinning at her and toasting her with his glass.
She walked to the side of the bed and put her foot up on the edge. She was wearing black spike heels with open toes.
“New shoes?” he asked, trying not to laugh.
Laugh at this.
She moved her foot across to the other side of him so that her leg was arched across his stomach and buried the spiked heel in the comforter by his hip.
He winced. “Watch that heel.”
She felt stupid, but it was too late now. She drew her fingertips up her leg, pulling her skirt back over her thigh to reveal her garters, never taking her eyes off Richard. The garters were pink.
Richard began to look more interested.
I can do this.
She reached into her skirt pocket and brought out a bottle of Sizzle. Croswell had fixed the formula, and now she was going to give it its first road test. Or in this case, bed test. She pulled the stopper out of the bottle and drew it along her inner thigh, shuddering a little at the sensation. Her whole body tightened, and she shivered in surprise. She looked down at Richard, and he met her eyes. She licked her tongue across her upper lip, more in reaction to the sensation than to seduce him, but he put down his glass and reached for her.
“No,” she said, and his arms fell.
She stroked the inside of her thigh with her fingertips, feeling them glide across the smoothness of the nylon, closing her eyes, trying to concentrate on the sensation, wondering if any of this was exciting Richard in the slightest. Surprisingly enough, it was beginning to excite
The Sizzle was a gentle tingle, a faint heat. She breathed a little deeper.
When she opened her eyes, Richard was still looking at her.
She unsnapped her garters with one hand.
Richard was definitely interested. She remoistened the stopper with perfume, then leaned forward to draw the perfumed glass along his throat, knowing he would be inches from the open neck of her blouse, and would see the pink lace stretched across her breasts and feel the perfumed warmth of her.
He reached up, and she pulled back.
“No,” she said. He hesitated, then put his hands behind his head.
She put the perfume on the table and slid her fingers under the nylon of her stocking, easing it slowly past her thigh and over her calf, concentrating on the feel of the nylon sliding across her skin and on her own touch. She kicked off her shoe and pulled the stocking off her toes and then dragged the wispy nylon across his chest. He clenched his hands behind his head but didn’t move.
She got up from the bed and stood beside him, kicking off her other shoe, and then she turned her back and wriggled once as she eased the zipper on her skirt down. As it slipped over her hips, she bent over to catch it, knowing that the little black slip she was wearing would ride up over her back, knowing that he would get only tantalizing glimpses of pink lace underneath.
Her skirt fell to the floor.
“This is great,” Richard said and reached for her. “Come here.”
“You promised,” she said, turning back to him. He put his hands behind his head again and smiled at her.
She moved to the bed and straddled him without touching him, dressed now in her blouse and short black slip. He watched her as she slowly moved across him, her weight on one hip, and unsnapped the garters of her remaining stocking. She reached behind and under her slip and unhooked the garter belt, dropping it on the floor.
She picked up the perfume bottle and drew the stopper across her inner thigh, feeling the heat and tingle again—sizzle. Then she dropped the bottle on the bed and stroked the soft skin of her thigh through the stocking, breathing deeper as she stroked because it felt incredibly good.
When Emily looked up, Richard was watching her, aroused and fascinated.
I can make him feel like that without touching him,
she thought. She felt powerful and exciting. She stroked again and forgot exactly what she’d planned to do, concentrating on the heat that was beginning inside her and the desire on Richard’s face, moving her hand higher, until she was stroking herself through the pink lace. She closed her eyes for a moment to savor her own touch, catching her tongue between her lips, and when she opened her eyes, Richard was leaning toward her.
“You are incredible.” He began to take his hands from behind his head, and she stopped instantly.
“All right,” he said, relaxing again, “but hurry.”
She eased the stocking down her leg, lowering her leg across him when she had pulled the stocking off. He moved against her and she felt him hard against her thigh.
“Oh, God, Emily,” he said, and began to bring his hands from behind his head once more.
This is it,
Jane did it; so can I.
Still holding the stocking, she quickly leaned into him so that his face was hidden in her blouse, and while his mouth sought her breast, she wrapped the stocking around his wrists and pulled them back.
“What are you doing?” He tried to jerk his hands away, but she’d already tied the ends of the stocking to the brass bed frame.
“I’m helping you keep your word,” she whispered, and straddled him again, bracing herself across him so that her body wasn’t touching his.
“This isn’t funny, Emily.” He yanked at his bonds. “Let me go.”
“What?” Emily asked, smiling at him gently. “I didn’t hear.” She slowly unbuttoned her blouse, while his eyes followed every move. She felt the silk fall open to expose the pink-and-silver lace that cupped her breasts. When she pulled her shoulders back to let the blouse fall from her shoulders, he suddenly breathed out heavily, moaning a little when the silk fell behind her onto his legs.
She reached up and pulled the pins from her hair, and it tumbled across her shoulders. She bent and trailed it across his stomach, running her fingers through her curls, and then she arched her body so she could feel her hair fall onto her back, swaying with the sheer pleasure of the touch of her curls on her skin.