I've been thinking about why I haven't felt any desire to get back to my Slave to a Gladiator Story, and I've narrowed it down to two possibilities. One is that I always have this problem at Christmas. I usually get time off at Christmas and I usually don't go anywhere. I recall other Christmases where my usual work routine was disrupted, and the other areas of my life, which are usually held in check by work, swell to take up that suddenly available time. For example, I have friends and family who would like to spend more time with me, but accept that my time is limited due to work. When suddenly there is no work, they feel that they have a right to ask for a little more of me than they usually get. When a lot of people are asking for a little more, it adds up. I was actually happy to go back to work, believe it or not! For one thing, I like my job and my wonderful co-workers and clients, and I missed them. For another, I needed a rest from all the socializing, not to mention all the home-improvement projects that my husband had lined up for me over my two week break.
The second reason I had a problem working up any enthusiasm for returning to Slave and finishing it was something that is probably psychological. Slave is very close to being finished. Chapter 22 is the last chapter, and I'm halfway through it. This is a multiple chapter story that has been going on for years. I noticed a similar thing happened with A New Day. When I got close to the end, I slowed right down. It took me longer to write the last few paragraphs of that story than it did to write whole chapters. I don't actually understand why it's so hard for me to finish my stories. I can't really say that this is a pattern in my life because most of my other responsibilities are external. When you have externally-imposed deadlines, you don't have much of a choice about slacking off. But when I'm writing and posting fanfic chapters, the deadlines are internal. They're up to me. And strangely enough, I slow right down as I get to the finish line, and I don't know why. Are there any any psych majors out there with insights?
Here's Chapter 21, if you'd like to read it. It is absolutely NOT WORKSAFE so don't click it if you're at work or in the same room as people who would be horrified if they knew about some of your private reading preferences.
Slave To A Gladiator
By Brit Columbia
Pairing: Dee and Ryo
Rating: Not worksafe! Yay!
Spoilers: to Volume 7
Disclaimer: Dee, Ryo, Bikky, Diana and Berkeley belong to Sanami Matoh, who created the popular manga, FAKE. Todd the bartender, Niko, Cliff and Boris are my characters. I was not paid in any way for writing this story.
Summary: Sex, sex, glorious soapy man-sex in the shower!
Author's notes: Please read and review.
Thank you to the_ladyfeather, tripple_p and shelley6441 for catching all those mistakes I missed.
Slave To A Gladiator
After dumping Ryo's 'tools' into a sink full of soapy water, Dee hurried to join Ryo in the bathroom. The shower curtain was pulled tightly closed, which didn't surprise him. Ryo was always after him about getting water all over the bathroom when he showered.
Dee closed and locked the bathroom door because, yeah, sure, the brat was allegedly gone overnight, but who knew when he might decide he had to dash home to get a forgotten textbook or computer game? It wasn't like it hadn't ever happened before.
When Dee stepped into the tub, pulling the curtain closed behind him, his eyes went straight to Ryo, who was rinsing shampoo out of his hair. Water and soap suds ran down his chiseled torso, and his hands were up, pushing wet hair back from the exquisite bone structure of his face.
Ryo moved his head out from under the spray and gave Dee's naked body a thorough once over with his eyes. "Where's the collar, Dee?"
"On the bed. In case you wanna play with it later."
Ryo smiled. "I do. And the gold chains, too."
Dee tried to keep his face neutral, but inside he felt apprehensive. He didn't actually like being restrained, even though he and Ryo had occasionally played such games. However, he liked being the one to tie Ryo up. He loved having unlimited access to Ryo's lithe, sexy body, knowing that his lover couldn't push him off or wriggle away.
In addition to the whip which had gotten Dee into the trouble he was in, the slave costume had also come with a set of gold chains and manacles. He had shackled Ryo with them earlier, had whipped him-- lightly of course-- and then had rimmed his sweet, puckered little hole, very much against his partner's wishes. But what could Ryo have done to stop him? Not a lot, since he was chained to the bed at the time. And he had enjoyed it-- eventually. Dee had made sure of that. Ryo enjoyed the good hard fucking that came after it, too.
Now he apparently wanted turnabout. Well, okay. Dee was all for turnabout. He had known for the past hour or two that Ryo was probably going to fuck him, but he had been hoping that his partner had forgotten about the chains. Dee had even taken the precaution of kicking them under the bed when Ryo sent him to the bedroom to wait for him.
"The gold chains?" he repeated. "Well, uh, yeah, if that's what you want. Not sure where they are, though..." He stepped around Ryo and into the path of the shower and winced slightly when he felt hot droplets of water hit the tender skin of his rear.
Ryo gave him a shrewd look. "I'm sure you know exactly where they are. And I'll tell you right now that you're not going to get anything you want tonight unless you're wearing them."
"Yes, Master." Dee bowed his head, accepting his fate, and found himself staring right at Ryo's cock. It was half-hard, and suddenly all of his other thoughts were swept away by the desire to get his mouth on it. "Master? Should I wash you?"
"No," said Ryo. "Wash yourself. Use lots of soap." His eyes twinkled at Dee. "Inside and out."
"Yes, sir." Dee grinned back at him, his teeth very white in contrast with his heat-flushed skin and the fall of his gleaming wet, black hair.
Ryo handed him the soap, aware that Dee's physical attractiveness was a kind of weapon that his partner wielded like a pro. He shamelessly used his looks to get his way, to get out of trouble, to get out of performing unpleasant tasks, to get fed, and, naturally, to get laid, as often as he could. He used his charm as well, and no one knew better than Ryo how charming Dee could be. It didn't necessarily work on everyone, but it sure worked on him. However, just because he was aware of Dee's tricks, didn't mean he had thus far been able to build up much resistance against them. He wondered how many years it would take him before he was able to withstand the puppy-dog eyes.
Ryo watched Dee start to soap himself with slow, sensual strokes and he felt his penis filling, lengthening and rising in front of him in response to the sight. Dee's sexy eyes went slyly from Ryo's face to his cock and back again. Oh yes, Dee obviously knew the effect he was having, the power he wielded. Sometimes this bothered Ryo, but not tonight. That wily smirk of Dee's would be gone later when Ryo buried himself to the balls in his partner's body. Maybe even sooner than that.
Ryo reached up and took down the shower brush that normally hung from the shower caddy. "Hmmm," he said, turning it this way and that. A quick glance at Dee confirmed for him that the smirk was indeed gone.
"Hey, wait a second here!" Dee protested. "You said the spanking was finished!"
"And so it is," said Ryo. "Turn around, Slave."
"What-- what are you gonna do?" Dee turned around with extreme reluctance, looking anxiously over his shoulder.
"I'm just going to scrub your back for you, that's all," replied Ryo, trying to look as innocent as possible.
"Uhh, well, okay." Dee sounded relieved. "You're the boss."
"Give me the soap, please." Ryo rubbed the bar of soap against the business end of the scrubbing brush, and gently applied its bristles to Dee's back. Dee visibly relaxed.
"Mmm, baby, if you're trying to get me into the mood, that's definitely the way to do it."
Ryo's mouth set in a hard line and he glared at the back of Dee's head. A moment later, he moved the brush lower and suddenly Dee's sensitive buttocks were receiving a vigorous scrubbing.
"Yikes!" Dee's whole body went rigid and he tried to get away from Ryo. Unfortunately for him, in the confined space of the shower stall, there was nowhere to go. "Ryo, cut it out!" He squirmed and struggled, pressing himself back against Ryo in an effort to close the distance between them, and neutralize Ryo's ability to wield that horrible brush.
Dee's skin was soapy and slippery, and Ryo enjoyed the feeling of his partner's sexy, hard body sliding frantically against his. A moment later, Dee had managed to slither past him and press his sore butt defensively into a corner of the shower stall. He stared at Ryo nervously, aware that he had pissed off his master in some way.
Ryo stepped very close to him and took Dee's jaw firmly in his hand so that he could look sternly into his misbehaving slave's alarmed eyes.
"Let's get something straight, shall we?" Ryo's eyes flickered appreciatively over Dee's features. There was a droplet of water at the corner of Dee's upper lip, and he fought back an urge to dab at it with his tongue. "I'm not trying to get you 'in the mood'. I'm going to have my way with you whether you're in the mood or not. Is that clear?"
"Yes, sir. But you can pretty much bank on me being in the mood, sir."
"I know. You're highly predictable in that respect." Ryo almost smiled, but managed to stop himself in time and pull his eyebrows together into a disapproving frown instead. "Another thing. Like you said, Dee, I'm the boss. Not you. So quit trying to take control in sneaky ways."
"What? I never tried--" Dee's indignant protest was cut off by Ryo's fingers pressing against his lips. Their eyes met once more and Dee's widened slightly at what he saw in Ryo's.
"No more bullshit, Slave. Behave yourself, because if you don't, you're going to find yourself blindfolded and gagged. It'll be very hard for you to make puppy-dog eyes and con me into doing what you want if you can't see or talk."
Dee was silent. He couldn't think of anything to say that wouldn't get him into trouble, and he definitely didn't want to be blindfolded and gagged later when he was... chained to the bed.
Ryo relented a little and moved his fingers from Dee's mouth to his cheek. "You wouldn't like that, would you? It's going to be hard enough for you when I restrain your arms. Isn't it?"
Dee nodded and tried not to let his nervousness show. Did Ryo know? He sure hadn't told him, and shit, he could normally count on Ryo to be pretty clueless. "Yes, Master."
Dee saw Ryo's eyes go to where his pulse was jumping in his throat, and he felt weak as Ryo slid his fingertips down to that point. Lower down, he could feel Ryo's hard penis bumping against his own. Ryo ground against him for a few seconds with his eyes closed, and after a moment's pause, Dee tentatively started grinding back.
"What do you want me to do?" whispered Dee. "I want to please you."
Ryo opened his eyes and reluctantly pushed back from Dee. "I know you do," he said. "This is what I want: I want to watch you... um, put two soapy fingers inside yourself. Make yourself ready for me."
"Master, just so you know, I brought the Astroglide into the bathroom."
Ryo tried not to smile. "We'll use it in the bedroom. Right now I want it to be soap. Soap stings and I think it would be educational for you to feel a little sting in that sensitive place."
"Aw, Ryo, don't tell me you're still mad about that time when I---"
"Yes, Master, I'm on it. As soon as I find the soap."
"It's down there. Pick it up." Ryo pointed to the floor of the tub. "And no stupid jokes, please."
Dee sighed and picked up the soap. "I thought you liked my stupid jokes."
Ryo didn't deign to answer. He folded his arms and waited.
Dee straightened and gave him one long smoldering look before turning around and propping one foot up on the edge of the tub. "Take a good look, Master," he said. "I've never done this for anyone else before."
Ryo could feel the heat rising in his body at the sight of Dee's soapy fingers working up a lather as he pushed them in and out of his own ass. His balls hung down under his perfect buttocks, a trail of white soap suds dripping down them. He couldn't see Dee's penis, but he knew it was hard.
"How's that?" Dee's voice was tense. "I think I'm pretty stretched and ready for you now. And this friggin' soap is stinging like lemon juice on a paper cut."
"Quit exaggerating," ordered Ryo heartlessly. "Keep... ah, doing what you're doing. Actually, I'd like to see you, um, add a third finger."
"Yes, sir," whispered Dee, and did as he was told with a little hiss of pain. Or was it excitement? Maybe it was both. Ryo stroked his own penis, unable to tear his eyes away from Dee's buttocks and what he was doing with his soapy fingers.
Ryo had been intending to wait until they got to the bedroom, but he suddenly realized that his own excitement was too great. He needed to have Dee now, without further delay. The only question that remained was exactly how he was going to have him.
"Master? May I suck you while I'm getting my ass ready for you?"
"Later," said Ryo, who had made up his mind. "Get your fingers out of the way and get ready for something bigger."
Dee looked back at him, eyes half-closed with arousal. "Yes sir!" He pulled his fingers out of his anus, and used that hand to hold one of his buttocks to one side while bracing himself against the shower tiles with his other hand. His heart began to beat faster as he felt Ryo move in close behind him. When he felt the blunt head of Ryo's dick nudging up against his soapy entrance, he trembled with excitement. It was going to sting and ache and burn, he knew that. He would have to fight his own nature to stand still and take it, to let Ryo work his thick cock inside him. The first few strokes would be difficult. But after that, he would start to relax and it would start to feel good. Better than good. It would feel fucking awesome.
Ryo's left hand was parting his other buttock, and Dee knew his partner's right hand was wrapped around his cock, bracing it to breach that tight, rebellious ring of muscle that guarded the entrance to the most private part of Dee's body.
Dee struggled to relax as he felt Ryo line up and push.
"Open for your master, Slave," demanded Ryo in a low voice close to Dee's ear.
"I'm t-trying--aghhh!" Dee's body tensed up as he felt the head of Ryo's dick force its way past his defenses.
"I'm in, Dee. Try to unlock your muscles. You've got me in a death grip down there."
Dee's breath came out unevenly and he nodded his head. "Sorry, babe. Just gimme a sec. It's pretty... it's pretty intense, y'know?"
Ryo's arm went around him and stroked Dee's belly and chest before dropping to encircle his shaft. "I think this will take your mind off your troubles," he said as he started to jerk Dee's erect cock. "Don't tell me this is more difficult than being spanked."
"Mmmmm." Dee tilted his head back. "Feels good, Ryo-- I mean, Master. Please don't stop pulling on my dick. I-I think I'm almost ready to let you in further..." He took a couple of deep breaths and then leaned forward a little as he felt some inner relaxation taking place.
Ryo stayed with him, leaning forward against Dee's bent back. He was only partially sheathed inside Dee, and didn't want to lose his position. He became aware that there was a slight unclamping of Dee's sphincter muscles around his penis. "Ready for a little more?" he asked.
"Yeah. Gimme another couple of inches," said Dee and then couldn't hold back his gasp when Ryo did as he asked. Damn soap! It stung and burned even worse than he had imagined.
"Does it hurt?" There was concern in Ryo's voice, which gave Dee some comfort. All he had to say was yes, and Ryo would pull out and take care of him. His partner would be loving and gentle. He would probably feel guilty. Dee didn't want him to feel bad. He wanted him to feel pleasure and passion. He certainly wasn't going to say that it hurt, even though it kind of did. He was going to give his lover full access to his ass because that was what they both needed.
"Ryo," grunted Dee. "Fuck me. Come on, babe, go for it."
Ryo's response was to moan softly and thrust into him a little further. "Oh my God, Dee, you're so hot inside..."
Dee forced himself to grin. "Your-- your slave is one hot fuck, Master!"
Ryo wanted to laugh, but couldn't because ninety percent of his focus was on the slick, tight grip that Dee's body was exerting on his penis. If felt amazing, the way his muscles were squeezing him. They seemed to be trying to drag him in deeper. He pulled out halfway and thrust back in gently, going almost all the way in this time. He could feel Dee's legs trembling.
"Yes, baby," lied Dee, gritting his teeth against the burning that had yet to subside. "I wanna feel you deeper. C'mon, you know you want it too."
"Yeah, I do," breathed Ryo, pulling out slowly and with care, until only the head of his penis was still inside. When he pushed in again, he went slowly, and angled his member so that its head brushed against Dee's prostate. This action produced a fluttering feeling as Dee's sphincter spasmed delicately around his invading shaft. Dee moaned and Ryo felt his partner's dick get harder in his hand.
Ryo slid in to the balls and paused a moment to grind in a little before pulling out again, moving a little faster this time. He thrust back in, and once again Dee's channel accepted his entire length. It felt so incredibly tight and slippery in there, the blazing heat of him so amazingly sexy. He could feel his penis starting to throb and he knew it wouldn't be long before he shot. He tried to fuck Dee with slow, measured strokes so that he could hold on to his load just a little longer. He didn't want to come right away. Now if Dee would just stay still...
But Dee didn't stay still. Dee started moving against him. Whenever Ryo was fully sheathed, Dee would squeeze Ryo's penis rhythmically with his strong pelvic muscles. He tugged with those muscles, trying to clamp down and prevent Ryo from withdrawing. He moved his ass in a circular motion and swayed his hips tightly from side to side.
Ryo felt a familiar, acute pressure building up in his penis. His balls tightened and drew up close to his body, and the muscles of his thighs and midsection started to tense.
"S-slave! Stop moving," Ryo said, and then gritted his teeth and held his breath while the desperate need to come subsided slightly. He had to let go of Dee's penis, because just touching it was contributing significantly to his overexcited state.
"Is there a problem, Master?" Dee asked innocently.
"Yes. You're too damn sexy." Ryo was trembling all over with the effort to get himself back under control. "Whew, that was close." He tried to keep his mind on the hot water that was still raining down on his back from the shower, as well as the hard feel of the enameled tub floor beneath his feet. He gazed at the black and white pattern of tiles on the tub surround and breathed in the humid air of the shower. He counted to twenty in his mind. At twelve, Dee fidgeted slightly, and the feelings came rushing back. "Dee! Stay still!" he commanded.
Dee obeyed, but grumbled. "What's wrong with coming? I want you to come. When you come, it's a real turn-on for me."
"But... what about you?"
"I don't need to come specifically with your dick in my ass. There are lots of ways I can come. Besides, we're gonna go to the bedroom and do it again, right?"
"Uh..." Ryo hesitated. What Dee was saying made sense. He himself would get annoyed if Dee reached climax too soon when Dee was the top and Ryo was the bottom. Ryo loved the feeling of orgasming with Dee's penis buried inside him, but he tended to forget that Dee was a little more flexible in this regard.
"Come on, sweetheart, just fuck me and let go. Shoot a load up inside me. I'm your slave tonight, remember? Go ahead and do whatever you want to my body, and let me worry about my own orgasm."
Ryo took a deep breath and then looked down at where his extremely hard penis was still buried between Dee's beautiful ass cheeks. He felt his resolve waver and then abruptly break. "Okay," he said, and took firm hold of Dee's thighs as he ground the head of his penis in further. He felt his lover give him an encouraging internal squeeze in response. "Maybe just this once..."
It was at that point he could have sworn that his hips started moving all by themselves, pumping with an ancient rhythm older than mankind. Before he knew what was happening, he was fucking Dee hard and fast, glorying in the pure physicality, the sublime friction, the timeless beauty of this life-affirming act. Freed of all constraints and inhibitions, he took the gift that Dee had given him and rode it out to the only finish possible.
Dee gave himself over entirely to Ryo's greater need. The burning and stinging of the soap inside the sensitive tissues of his rear passage had long since faded, overwhelmed by pleasure and his desire for his partner. In these final few moments of Ryo's ecstasy, Dee existed solely for his partner, offering himself up as a bridge to Paradise. He knew it immediately when Ryo stiffened up behind him, although the noises didn't start until several long seconds had passed. Ryo's fingers were suddenly digging urgently into the hollows of his hips; Dee felt the tremor that ran through Ryo and the further hardening and swelling of the long, thick tool that impaled him. He could feel it throbbing and jerking inside him just before Ryo, with a ragged gasp and a long, low groan, drove it in to the hilt and released a flood of liquid warmth inside him.
Both of them were trembling with effort. Dee slowly sank to his knees, and Ryo followed him down, managing to stay sheathed inside Dee until almost the last moment, when, despite his best efforts, his softening penis slipped out to hang heavily between his legs. He knelt behind Dee, holding him, while the warm water rained down on both of them and his heart rate returned to normal.
"Dee," he said after a few moments. "Turn around, please. I want to kiss you."
"Yes, Master." Dee shifted in the tub until he was facing Ryo. "I want to be kissed." Then he closed his eyes in pleasure as he felt Ryo's hand take hold of his still-hard prick. Ryo's other hand came up behind his head and pulled him in for a slow, sensual, shower-wet kiss that conveyed gratitude and satisfaction. Passion and desire were still there-- a bit tamped down for the moment, but certainly ready to make a comeback. Dee wondered if Ryo would want to fuck him again in the bedroom, or if he had other games in mind.
"Slave," said Ryo softly against his lips. "Would you like to come now or in the bedroom?"
"Master, if possible, and if it's not too much trouble, I'd like to come now AND in the bedroom." Dee flicked the tip of his tongue out at Ryo's upper lip.
Ryo chuckled and smiled at him. "So predictable," he said.
"But in a good way, right?" Dee looked at him in appeal.
"In a very good way."
"And you love me, right?"
"Shut up and come here."
"Berkie, you were magnificent." Diana gave him a sideways hug and slid one hand inside his toga to roam affectionately over his pectoral muscles. "You managed to salvage Niko's pride while making the guys at the 4th sound like responsible cops who are acting on a tip, but aren't going to do anything over the top. You even got a plug in there for the FBI!"
Berkeley stood up a little straighter, and gently disengaged her roving hand from his chest. The cameras were gone, but he needed time to get over lingering feelings of paranoia. "Yes, well, you surely must have noticed by now that cleaning up the mistakes of other LEO agencies in New York City has, rather annoyingly, become my lot in life."
"Hey, it's not the FBI's fault that so much wacky stuff happens in the city, you know! I did my best to minimize this. But it ended up taking on a life of its own." Diana brushed her large, firm breasts casually against his arm. He had always been susceptible to provocative behavior, the bastard, although it went without saying that timing was everything. "But you got me out of a minor jam, Berkie, and more importantly, you got Niko to pay for the ballroom before he got carted off, so I definitely owe you one." She looked up at him coquettishly.
"Dee-Dee, I'm so pleased that I can continue to be of use to you," said Berk dryly. "If you do indeed owe me one, then I have a couple of questions I'd like to ask you."
"Sure, babycakes. Oh look, here's Todd. Why don't you have him fetch you another drink? I'll be right back. I see Mimi and Della are getting their coats, so I'll just go over to say good--"
"Stop right there." Berkeley's powerful hand closed around Diana's upper arm, and he jerked her back toward him. "I'd like to ask you those questions right now, if you please."
For a split second Diana's mind automatically ran over what would have been the fate of any other man who dared to lay hands on her like that. A chop to the neck, a knee to the solar plexus-- or perhaps lower if she was feeling particularly pissy-- and right away he would be flopping about on the floor, gasping like a fish out of water. She could do it in about two seconds, and Berk knew that. However, she would never, ever, do that to him, and he knew that, too. She forced herself to turn around and smile winningly at him.
"If you insist, handsome. I'm listening. Have at me."
"Let's have a seat," he said, leading her to a nearby pair of chairs. "My dear, how did you know that Cliff's business had suffered a break in?"
"Todd gave him the news," replied Diana casually. She seated herself gracefully and smoothed her hair back with one hand. "I asked him what it was about, and he told me."
"Todd." The Commissioner looked at the bartender thoughtfully. "Todd, would you please fix me a Power Play, Vegas style, with no ice?"
"Yessir." Todd disappeared.
"Diana, I'm warning you to tell the truth. First, Pamela's hair gets set on fire from candles that were strategically placed by you--"
"Berk, that's not fair. I was on the other side of the room when that happened."
"Yes, I noticed that. That was very clever of you."
"If it was MY fault that Pamela ended up with burnt hair and had to go home, how come no one else in the room managed to set themselves on fire? I think this incident says more about the pea-sized brains of the bimbos you keep company with than any special fire-throwing talents on my behalf."
"Speaking of special talents, Dee-Dee, I'm also a shade suspicious about the break-in at Cliff's store."
"I just can't believe how ridiculously paranoid you're being, Berkie. What do you think I did-- sneak out to trash the place between drinks? His store is in Soho, for crying out loud!"
"Diana, what has been done to his store?"
"How the hell should I know?" She folded her arms and gave him a smug smile. "I heard you talking to him on your phone. I bet you know more about the situation than I do. He told you he'd be back tonight, didn't he? Stick around for a while, why don't you? I'm sure he'll be back in fifteen or twenty minutes." Her smile got a little broader.
Berkeley just looked at her, and at that moment, Todd returned with a drink on a tray. He bowed slightly and presented it with a flourish. "Commissioner, your cocktail, sir."
"Thank you, Todd." Berkeley accepted the drink and took a sip. He raised his eyebrows in appreciation. "I must say, that's very good. You do Vegas style better than Vegas!"
"Thank you, sir." Todd looked pleased.
"How long have you been a bartender, Todd?"
"Almost four years, sir."
"Well, you're an excellent maker of cocktails, I have to allow." Berkeley took another sip, and then placed the drink back on Todd's tray. "But you're also FBI, aren't you?"
Todd's smile vanished and he looked at Diana helplessly.
"Todd," Berkeley continued, "I'm going to ask you a question and I suggest you think carefully before you lie to me. What exactly happened at Cliff's sporting goods shop?"
"N-nothing, sir. I heard that the alarm just went off for, um, for some reason."
"I see. And will Cliff indeed be back here in twenty minutes as Agent Spacey says?"
"I doubt it, sir," mumbled Todd.
"That's enough, Todd. You're dismissed." Diana's voice was brisk. "Thank you for all your hard work tonight." She gave him a meaningful look that said, Get the hell out of here. NOW.
She was touched when he looked anxiously between her and the Commissioner, as if he wanted to stay and help, but she shook her head at him briefly.
He nodded at her and withdrew.
"Dee-Dee, is Cliff in any trouble?"
"Nothing too serious, I'm sure, unless he's been conducting illegal activities on the premises," Diana said airily. "The police are probably there with the security company, conducting a really thorough investigation. I believe it's... ah--" she blinked innocently "- standard procedure when the victim is a good friend of the Commissioner of the NYPD..."
Berkeley gritted his teeth in irritation. "Dee-Dee, don't tell me you called them and told them that."
"Berkie, come on. I've been a busy-bee hostess this evening. When would I have found the time?" She looked past him to where the three remaining palanquin bearers lay in glorious, snoring heaps of bare-chested muscle. "I suppose you're going to blame ME for the drunken behavior of your gym buddies, too?"
"The fact that they all passed out after one too many extremely strong Caesar cocktails is one piece of mischief I'm absolutely certain you are the author of."
"Really, Berk. Everyone-- well, perhaps not you, but everyone else-- knows that very young men like to party and get far more drunk than is good for them." She smiled sweetly just to give the barb an extra tang of poison before adding, "You ought to find some friends closer to your own age, don't you think?"
Berkeley let that one go. "Diana, all I know is that I came here with six companions this evening, and one by one, they have been disposed of." He gave her a piercing look. "I think you've been a very bad girl, indeed."
"No I haven't," she contradicted him. "All I've been is efficient. But I could be bad later... if you're a very, very good boy." She trailed one dark red lacquered nail down the center of his chest.
"I'll tell you about later. You're a bad girl who's going to have a very, very pink bottom tonight," he said surging to his feet and advancing on her like a tiger. "I think it's been too long since you spent some time over my knee." She squealed in delicious fright, and backed away from him.
Unfortunately, Boris, who had been lurking a short distance away with several adoring women in attendance on him, chose that very moment to make an ill-considered attempt to rescue her. He drew himself up and stepped boldly between Diana and the Commissioner. "Do you speak of beating her?" His voice rang with righteousness. "I cannot allow such a thing!"
The remaining guests pricked up their ears and turned their attention toward this latest in what had been a long line of entertaining conflicts amongst Diana's various friends.
The Commissioner swung his predatory gaze to Boris, and the room fell silent. The bystanders were obviously wondering what would happen next. Would the Commissioner punch Agent Brasov? Was there going to be a fight?
A little murmur of excitement rippled through the crowd when Rose took his glasses off. Even Boris stiffened and clenched his fists in readiness. The residual guests looked disappointed when all the Commissioner did was to polish his glasses with a fold of his toga.
"Agent Brasov," Berkeley said mildly. "How would you like to be transferred to the FBI's Anchorage office? Although I have yet to visit Alaska, myself, I hear it's quite invigoratingly cold there."
"Sir! I do not believe that the FBI falls within your particular jurisdiction!"
Berkeley checked his lenses before putting his glasses back on.
"Try me," he said flatly, and the raw power in his tone was unmistakable.
Boris began to bluster a little. He was starting to realize that it had perhaps been a mistake to challenge the Commissioner, but his pride wouldn't allow him to let it go.
"Diana, you must come with me now! You do not have to accept this behavior from him. I promise that he will not beat you if you allow me to escort you safely to your room."
"Boris, sweetie, he's done it before."
"What?" Boris looked at her with horrified brown eyes.
"It's true. He's not really going to hurt me, of course, but I kind of enjoy it when he's all bossy like this."
"You won't enjoy it this evening, my dear," Berkeley promised softly.
"Diana!" Boris looked almost stricken. "What are you saying? Earlier today, you indicated that tonight, we would... you and me... well..."
"Another time, perhaps," said Berkeley with a grin, stepping neatly around Boris and seizing hold of Diana. In a moment, he had slung her over his shoulder and turned to bid goodnight to the crowd. Diana thrashed and protested at the ignoble treatment.
"What's your room number, Dee-Dee?"
"I'm not telling you anything until you put me down! What are you, a cavema--OW!"
A loud slap rang out and everyone watched as Diana swore and struggled in Berkeley's iron grip. He held her skirt in place over her buttocks, presumably for modesty's sake, and nodded to the remaining party guests.
"Good night, everyone. It was a pleasure to meet each and every one of you. I hope you've all enjoyed Diana's party as much as I have." As he turned away, he said, "Dee-Dee, you'll get more like that all the way to the elevators unless you start talking."
"All right, all right!" Diana's voice could be heard protesting as Berkeley strode through the double doors to the lobby. "I'm in 502! But my room key..." and the rest of her sentence was lost to the distance.
End of Chapter 21
Additional author's notes: Thanks for reading! There's one more chapter after this, and it's pretty much all lemon.