Lizzie was well and truly over Tom Keen.
She had the proof now of his infidelity spread across the twin bed in her motel room. The confirmation of his lies had stung, but it was his wasteful use of her feelings that really made her see red. Had anything about their life been real? She doubted that she would ever know now. When she had approached him with her suspicions, Tom had walked out the door without a glance, leaving Hudson stranded on the porch.
Why had it taken her so long to see the truth? And why had it taken her so long to trust Red when he tried to tip her off? You didn’t want to see it. She hadn’t wanted to believe that her marriage was a lie. Confronted with the harsh reality of his depthless duplicity, she had no choice but to accept that Red had been right all along. And, of course, why shouldn’t he be? Liz thought bitterly to herself. He was right about everything else.
If Tom Keen wasn’t real, then her marriage couldn’t be real either. It was like she had been married to a fiction or, better yet, never married at all. When faced with the choice of sifting through the rosy memories of her false life searching for red flags that she should have seen sooner, or casting the entire debacle aside in favor of moving on, she would choose to forget. And why not? No use would come of analyzing the minutia of a life that never really existed. It was better to move on.
She paced the narrow aisle between her bed and the desk, wearing a path into the dingy motel carpet. She was restless and agitated, a jittery excitability skipping through her veins, reminding her distinctly of a very different kind of anticipation. Her mind surged to Reddington. A familiar thrill of pleasure trilled through her veins. She had spent so much of their time together avoiding his advances, ignoring his thinly veiled overtures, convinced that giving in to her own desires with him would be treacherous, wanton, wrong. She had wasted so much time. Liz halted her stride, her earlier realizations about her former husband giving life to a plan.
She glanced at the clock on the bedside table; it was just after midnight. Too late for a social call, but she knew Red hardly slept. Besides, for what she had in mind, she was certain he wouldn’t mind being kept awake.
There would be no turning back from this, Liz knew. She steeled herself with a breath, steadying her hand against the heavy paneled door, stroking the dark mahogany, her knuckles curling into her palm. She held her breath, trying to calm the storm inside her. Her chest was tight, whether with apprehension or expectation she did not know. If she did this, there would be no undoing it. Anticipation coiled in her abdomen, enticing her to act on the desire that had driven her to his door. She wanted to dive into this. She wanted him and everything that went with that choice. She raised her eyes to her hand, still settled against the wood, lifted her chin boldly and then, fearlessly, she knocked.
The door swung open on a surprised Red in a white dress shirt, still crisp as it had been when she first saw him this morning, dove grey slacks, and a charcoal vest.
“Lizzie!” he smiled. He seemed pleased to find her on his doorstep. “Whatever are you doing out at this hour? Do come in!” he gestured for her to enter.
At the sight of him, her mouth went dry. She had no idea what she was going to say to him. She was suddenly unsure of her plan. It hit her abruptly, the magnitude of what she was doing and she hesitated, immobile, her foot poised to take that first step into his domain, knowing that this step was much more significant that simply crossing Red’s threshold. If she did this, she would be crossing into his world.
Red cocked his head to the side, studying her quizzically, as if both questioning and somehow secretly understanding her resistance.
Fortifying herself with another deep breath, she stepped inside.
“So….what brings you ‘round to my door this evening?” Red asked convivialy , closing the door behind her and reaching to take her coat.
“Oh,.....I, uh….well, actually…..” Lizzie stammered, unbuttoning her coat. This was going to be harder than she thought. In her motel room, when she had made this plan, it had seemed simple and fool-proof. She would show up at his current safe house, tell him that she was in love with him, and throw herself into his arms. But now that she was actually standing in front of him, she was unsure how to start. With all the culture and sophistication streaming from his every pore, she felt inexorably small, vulnerable, and a little bit foolish.
Red stepped up behind her, hands on her shoulders, lingering just a fraction of an instant longer than necessary, peeling the lightweight jacket from her arms. His face near her ear, he drawled softly, “Come now, my dear, it can’t be all that awful. Couldn’t you sleep all alone in that dreadful motel bed?”
Lizzie shivered at his subtle implication, turning her face toward him, eyes gazing softly over her shoulder. “Actually, no, I couldn’t,” she breathed, seizing the excuse he provided.
“Hmmm,” he hummed thoughtfully, though it sounded for all the world to her like he was purring in her ear. “Well, we’ll have to see what we can do about that,” he murmured next to her ear, before withdrawing to hang her coat on the banister behind him in the foyer.
He turned back to her, flashing an inviting smile, as if totally unaware of the effect he was having on her. “Drink?” he offered brightly.
Lizzie cleared her throat unsteadily, “Um, yes, thank you. A drink would be perfect.”
He led the way into a sitting room, fingertips gently guiding her elbow. “Please, sit,” he invited, gesturing toward any of the furniture in the opulent room. She chose instead to pace closer to the mantle, feigning interest in the small art pieces situated there as he poured their drinks; a glass of wine for her and a Scotch for himself.
She waited until he turned around, drinks in hand, to comment on the statuette she had been pretending to admire. “This piece is…..evocative,” she offered.
Red crossed to her, extending her the glass of wine, which she took gracefully from his outstretched hand. “That?” he queried. “A worthless bit of quartz!”
“Really?” Lizzie looked surprised. She turned in a slow circle, scanning her extravagant surroundings. “Then, why….?” she inquired, wondering why the owner of such an ostentatious home would decorate it with insignificant art.
“Ah, well, not all of my temporary dwellings are on loan from generous friends with good taste and the acumen to recognize quality. This estate is owned by a foolish dilettante, currently under an IRS investigation. He fled the country eight weeks ago and his holdings were suddenly available for rent. The man spends an absurd amount of money to surround himself with useless trinkets to appear more worldly.” Red settled himself on the sofa facing the fireplace.
“That piece is most definitely a fake, but the story behind the actual sculpture is quite entrancing, if tragic.” Red paused to sip his Scotch, knowing he had her on the hook for the rest of the story.
“The carving is called ‘The Kiss’. It was created by the French sculptor, Auguste Rodin. It displays a woman, Francesca, in the embrace of her husband’s younger brother, Paolo, with whom she fell in love while reading the story of Lancelot and Guinevere. As the story goes, the couple was murdered by Francesca’s jealous husband when he learned of their secret love.”
Lizzie turned to stare at Red and found him gazing past her, at the statuette.
“I’ve always found it sad…...From your perspective, they appear to be embracing, but if you look at it from another angle, you’ll see that Rodin carved them with their lips not quite touching. He captured them, frozen, as they were discovered and destroyed.” Red’s tongue was working at the inside of his mouth now, his jaw twitching as he focused on the story. “They died without ever tasting the others’ breath.” He shook himself from his reverie, expressions sliding across his face like waves upon the shore.
Lizzie walked toward him, choosing a seat on the heavily brocaded sofa a few inches from him. “That is a tragic tale,” she agreed, taking a sip of her wine.
“Why do you think Francesca gave in to her lust for Paolo?” she asked, reclining against the plush pillows behind her back.
Red peered into his glass, “Probably she was unhappy in her current marriage. Perhaps her husband couldn’t….fulfill her desires,” he finished, turning hot eyes to her.
Her breath caught in her throat. It felt like they were having a conversation that meant so much more than the words they were actually saying. How could he know exactly what she wanted? Nervously, she drained her glass with an unladylike gulp. How had this conversation gotten so far away from her? She had had a plan.
She didn’t notice him move, but suddenly, he had closed the distance between them, his hand reaching out for her now-empty wine glass, his index finger softly stroking hers where it rested on the stem of the glass.
“Is that why you’re here, Lizzie?” he growled, his voice like a panther in his chest. “Is Tom unable to fulfill your…..desires?”
She sucked in a breath, paralyzed by the gentle pressure of his fingertips and the hypnotic quality of his voice. She was spiraling out of control. Her brain felt foggy and there was a nagging sensation that she had forgotten something important. She felt frozen until, of its own volition, her body leaned into him, her lips parting slightly for him. His eyes trailed down to her perfect lips, and she felt his gaze like a caress. Her breaths came in shallow pants as she waited for him. He swayed closer, drawn like a magnet to her mouth, his lips stopping just a hairsbreadth away from hers, unconsciously mirroring the statue on the mantle. Her eyes drifted closed, head angling slightly towards the right, breathing in the scent of him, so very close.
“You need a refill,” he stated matter-of-factly. Swiftly he retreated to the sidebar with her glass in hand.
She was jarred back to being, her eyes snapping open. She blinked, confused. What just happened?
When his back was turned to her, as he prepared their drinks, he momentarily closed his eyes. What was she doing to him? He knew why she was here. Dembe had delivered the photos of her husband and Jolene Parker in the hotel room at the Orlando conference to Lizzie’s motel and left them under her door this afternoon. The photos were the damning proof she’d needed to see that bastard, Tom Keen, for the lying, adulterous traitor that he was. She was here tonight for answers. Because she was lonely. Because she wanted revenge on Tom. She was here to feel like she had some control. But he couldn’t help her with any of those things. She would hate him if he let her have what she wanted and he desperately wanted to stave off her inevitable contempt for just a little longer. She would regret it later and he couldn’t bear to be the cause of that kind of hurt. She would blame him. And he was selfish. He knew he couldn’t have her once and then give her up; and she would definitely never be his to keep.
He shook his head to himself, trying to forget the ache in his groin; better not to sample her at all if he couldn’t ever taste her again.
Blowing out a silent breath, he spun around only to find her in his path.
“I don’t want more wine,” she spoke, her voice a sultry undulation across his skin.
He licked his lips. “What is it that you do want?” he asked, not certain he was going to like her answer.
“You.” She stepped into him, her hands going to his face, cupping his jaw gently, and softly pressed her lips to his.
Red growled deeply into her mouth, overcome by his own desire for her. He knew he should pull away from her, should stop this, but he couldn’t let her go. He let the glasses fall from his hands, unsympathetic to the amber and crimson libations staining the carpet beneath their feet.
His arms wound around her, fingertips digging into her hips, dragging her to him. She gasped as she felt his erection against her stomach. Lizzie curled her arms around his neck, arching into his kiss. As much as he wanted this, she knew he would pull away from her and she wasn’t going to let him deny either of them.
Lizzie parted her lips at Red’s insistence. There was an urgency in his touch that she matched. Her blood was singing in her veins; his tongue swept her mouth, claiming every last piece of her and she willingly offered herself up to his conquest.
With a moan tearing from his chest, he pushed himself away from her. He stepped back, the warning in his eyes held her at bay. “Lizzie,” he panted. “We can’t.”
“Why not, Red?” she advanced, he retreated.
“You don’t want this. You don’t want me.”
“Oh, but I do,” she breathed, taking another step closer to him, backing him up against the sideboard, her hands on the cool marble on either side of his hips, trapping him with her body. She raised onto her tiptoes, nipping lightly at his jaw.
Red fought for control of his body, of his sanity. He remained motionless beneath her ministrations, though his eyes closed and he breathed out raggedly. He would have to hurt her, he knew, to save her.
“You’re upset about Tom” he stated matter-of-factly, expecting her to stop.
“Oh, Red,” she said calmly, as if talking to a child. “I don’t give a damn about Tom! There was no Tom, not really. He didn’t exist; he was a myth,” she explained. “He….he didn’t love me. I don’t know why he was in my life, but I know it wasn’t because he loved me. He’s gone.”
“Lizzie,” he began, “there is something you should know.” He couldn’t let her continue without telling her truth about his part in this.
“Tom is in your life because I put him there.”
Lizzie stared blankly at Red’s most recent revelation.
“I hired him,” Red stated simply, “to watch you and to report to me. I had to protect you and at the time, it seemed the best plan to keep you close.”
She had stepped back from him slightly, but she did not speak. He continued.
“He was never supposed to take things this far. You weren’t supposed to fall in love with him. He overstepped and by the time I knew how serious you were about him, it was too late for me to remove him from your life.”
She remained silent before him, listening, hearing him out. Suddenly, he didn’t want to hurt her anymore, he wanted to apologize; he wanted to explain.
He continued in a rush, aware of this unanticipated opportunity to unburden himself of this mistake. “You’ve been in danger since you were a child; that’s partly my fault. I did what I could to protect you and keep you hidden from the people who sought information that you didn’t even know you possessed. Sam had kept you safe for as long as he could, but you had grown up and you were in need of a new protector. The time wasn’t right yet for it to be me, but please, Lizzie, believe me when I say that I have always done whatever I thought necessary to keep you safe.”
He was dying to know what she was thinking, but he plunged on with his explanation.
“I know you have questions about your past, about Sam, about your parents; questions that I have refused to answer for your own safety--”
“I don’t care about that anymore,” she broke in, staring intently into his eyes.
“I’m so sorry….”
“I don’t want to live in regret. I want to move on. With you.” she finished firmly.
“Lizzie, you don’t know what you’re saying,” Red tried to persuade her.
“Listen to what I’m saying, Red. I don’t care anymore about what you know or what you did. You say you did it to protect me; I believe you. You say there are things you can’t tell me because you’re still trying to protect me. I’m tired of fighting with you; can’t you just let me accept what you’re saying? I’m ready you let you protect me. All this time I have been arguing with you and begging for answers about my past. I don’t care about it anymore! Holding on to the past is what is keeping me from having a future. With you,” she ended forcefully. She pressed the length of her body against his again, placing the palm of her hand over his heart. “Tom is gone,” she said softly, pinning him with her gaze, “and I can finally see what was right in front of me the whole time.”
She settled her lips gently on his, opening herself to him and waiting for him to decide.
Red leaned his upper body forward, resting his forehead against hers, exhausted by his fight to resist her, exhilarated by her declaration.
He reached up to smooth her hair away from the sides of her face, taking a steadying breath before he spoke. “You have to be sure,” he said. “Because I can’t give you up.”
He grabbed her around her waist, lifting her and spinning her around swiftly, pinning her against the credenza, eliciting a surprised yelp from her. He wrapped her legs around his waist, running his scorching touch down her legs and grasping her ankles firmly, twining them around him. He ground himself against her, forcing a gasp from between her lips at his sudden change in behavior.
“I.Will.Not.Give.You.Up.” he growled, timing each word to his thrusts, his gravelly voice cascading over her. “I won’t have you for only a night. If you want this, I am going to ruin you for every other man,” he assured her.
Lizzie threw her head back and moaned at the images his voice painted in her mind. She wanted this.
She wrapped her legs tighter around Red’s middle, pulling her in closer to him. Her hands were on the back of his neck, digging into his flesh. He trailed hot kisses down her neck, teeth dragging across her collarbone, dipping his tongue into the hollow of her throat.
It wasn’t enough. He wanted to feel her moving against him. Swiftly, he lifted her, carrying her from the room, up the stairs, and navigating down the dark hallway to his bedroom, his lips never leaving hers.
Red laid her back on the bed, standing over her, silently appraising her delicious form with his eyes. She reached for him, wanting him close to her again. She dragged his lips down to hers, opening for him until he was nestled between her legs, his tongue plundering her mouth, her hands scratching the back of his head.
Liz desperately clawed at the buttons on his vest and shirt, pulling them from his shoulders. He stilled above her as she laid her hands over the scars marring his back. She pulled her head back, staring up at him in wonder, open-mouthed, her eyes filling with tears, instantly knowing, instantly understanding. He balanced himself on his his arms, hands on either side of her body, holding himself off of her. He was impossibly still above her, pausing for her to choose whether or not to continue.
“Oh, Red,” she gasped, pulling him to her, fiercely. Her lips met his and he tasted salt on her damp skin. Her hands stroked the destroyed skin of his back, soothing an ache that had disappeared decades ago. Now she knew. She knew, and she did not care. She trailed kisses down his neck, burying her face against his shoulder to place delicate kisses against the ravaged flesh of his shoulder. This was for me, she thought. She had known instantly, what those scars meant. It had been Red and not her father who had saved her the night of the fire, carrying her through the flames. And suddenly, she loved him even more.
The feel of his cock throbbing against her brought her swiftly back to reality and she quickly ceased her tender caresses to the heat in his hands as he reached between them, quickly shedding the rest of his tailored garments. She watched his hands move across his body, his eyes dark and careful, never left her face.
He grabbed her ankles, dragging her to the edge of the bed. She let out a startled cry when her blouse parted with a tear under his hungry hands. He devoured her with his eyes as he divested her of her clothing, roughly dragging her jeans from her legs in one smooth motion. How could one encounter feel to tender and yet so passionate all at once?
He leaned back, his gaze greedily sweeping over her. “You are so beautiful, Lizzie,” he murmured. He wanted to stare at her all night, adoring her with his attention, but Lizzie had other ideas.
“Come here,” she commanded softly, open arms beckoning his return.
He lowered himself into her arms, burying his head in her hair, inhaling her scent deeply. She was so lovely and he so unworthy of her. He wanted to worship her body, to show her how deeply his devotion to her ran.
Red kissed the slope of her neck, advancing a blazing path with his tongue down to her collarbone and across the rounded tops of her bust. He whispered her name as he caressed the side of her breast, his lips tugging gently at her nipple. She let out a strangled moan, her head falling back against the mattress. His free hand was tracing patterns across her smooth skin, already dewy with the heat his mouth was creating, skimming across her lower abdomen, evoking a shiver from her as they skated further south. He cupped her, gently, running a finger over her clit, gradually increasing his pressure, discovering what she liked. She bit down on his bottom lip, moaning her pleasure for him. Emboldened, he dipped one finger into her sheath, then a second, finding her already wet for him. He thrust his deeper fingers into her, curling them forward as he withdrew them, loving the sounds she was making in the back of her throat. Lizzie thrust her hips into his hand, begging with her body, and he obliged, thrusting his fingers knuckle-deep into her warm recesses, coating them with her juices before withdrawing them and drawing them slickly up her body. He pressed his fingers into her clit, spreading her moisture across her most sensitive flesh.
Lizzie bucked against him, eager for more contact. Raising his head from the attention at her breast, he grabbed her hand and dragged it down between them, curling her fingers around his shaft. He hissed through his teeth at the firm pressure of her delicate hand on his swollen member. She stroked him, learning the rhythm he craved, marveling at the size of him. Over and over again, she swept her thumb across his velvety tip while his fingers continued to plunge in and out of her until they were both breathing hard.
Soon he tensed, reaching for her wrist. He dragged her lovely hands from his body, causing her to look askance at his face. “You’ll have to stop that now or I’m going to come,” he explained, quirking an eyebrow at her, “and the first time I do that, I want to be buried inside you.”
“Yes,” she breathed. She was ready for him, aching to feel that hot length of him slide inside her, filling her completely. But Red had other ideas first.
Abruptly, he slid himself down her body, until he was cradled between her legs. He placed quick, hot kisses along her inner thigh, creeping along until he reached his destination. His tongue darted out to touch her clit briefly, causing her to jump. He lapped at her petals, alternating between long, sensuous strokes, and quick, light touches until her body began to tremble and her moans heaped one on top of the other, building until he could not distinguish where her acclamations began and ended.
Her hands were gripping the back of his head, nails digging into his scalp. He could feel she was close. Red added two fingers deeply inside her, caressing her from the inside. That was all it took for her to shatter around him. He increased his pace as her climax grew, concentrating his efforts on the tiny nub of bliss pulsing against his tongue. Her thighs tightened around his head as she sobbed her orgasm for him. He drank in her cries, immersing himself in her pleasure as she exploded.
Finally, Red stilled his thrusting fingers, withdrawing them gently from her body as she quaked with aftershocks beneath him. He leaned his head back slightly and blew gently on her clit, causing her to convulse again. Lizzie groped for his hand, desperately as she came down off her high. She was reeling. He smiled into the kiss he pressed into her skin as he rested his head against her thigh.
After a moment, he crawled up her body and gathered her in his arms. She buried her face in his chest, sighing his name. She clutched at him, decomposing in his arms. She didn’t think she’d ever been so thoroughly sated.
He ran his hands down the sides of her legs,tracing over her knees, reaching behind him to grab her ankles. He bent her legs at the knee, pushing her legs forward and then straightening them in front of him. Red crossed her legs at the ankle and leaned forward, tucking her delicate feet beneath his chin. Reaching down, he guided his shaft to her entrance and with one swift thrust, he slammed inside her impossibly tight core. He stilled above her, breathing hard, as her muscled clutched at him. Her position afforded him an uninhibited view of her, and his eyes roved over her perfect body before slowly, achingly, beginning to move.
Lizzie felt a fullness like she’d never experienced before. He was hitting all the right spots, stroking every inch of her from the inside out. She moved against him, whimpering, and it was all the encouragement he needed to increase his pace and move the way his body was begging him to. He plunged into her relentlessly, until he felt his staff begin to stiffen and he surged forward, spilling his seed inside her warmth, her name falling from his lips like rain.
They writhed together in the throngs of passion until both of them lay spent and quivering in each other’s arms. Regretfully, he withdrew from her body, disappearing into the adjoining bathroom and returning moments later with a warm, damp hand-towel. Gently he cleansed his seed from between her legs. drawing the cloth reverently down her thighs, his eyes never leaving her face.
His task finished, he drew her into his arms, tight against his chest, hands stroking over her back, and soothed her to sleep. Just before her eyes closed, he thought he heard her whisper, “Raymond, I love you.” His heart clenched and he pulled her to him even tighter.
How could she love him, he wondered? He was so undeserving of her in every way and yet, the feel of her in his arms was a balm to his soul that his heart craved desperately. He knew he shouldn’t keep her simply because she healed him; it was wrong, selfish. But he also knew that there was no way on earth he could ever let her go now.
Hours later, he woke her, brushing his lips across her body, lingering on the back of her neck. He kissed her everywhere, soft hands following scorching lips as he pursued her pleasure. There was no part of her left untouched. He kissed the hollows of her knee, the dip in her collarbone, the soft edge of her waist. He caressed the tiny cleft of her ankle, the inside of her elbow, the rise of her breast. He drew his tongue along her instep, biting gently on the underside of her arch. She moaned, quickening from his ministrations, her core clenching as he magnified her pleasure. He worshipped her like she was something holy; like her body was the shrine to which he prayed his adulations.
When she was strung so tight that she thought she would break apart, he rolled her on top of him, hands on her hips, positioning her over his thick manhood, whispering, “Ride me, Lizzie,” into the dark.
She sank down onto his shaft with a cry of wonder, stretching to take every into him into her core. After she was pressed as tightly to him as possible, she ground her hips even deeper into him, forcing a groan from his mouth. He gasped as she started to move, rocking back on her heels to control her movement. She placed her hands on his chest and stretched over him, teasing his lips with her own, deepening the kiss when she felt him stiffen inside her. Her tongue toyed with his as her fingers tangled in the smattering of grey across his broad chest.
Growling , he raised himself up off the bed until she was sitting on his lap, wrapping his arms around her back. Her knees bent on either side of his waist, he held her astride his cock, pulling her down into him. He reached between them with one hand to stroke her clit, amplifying the sensations building deep within her. Lizzie dropped her head onto his shoulder, the puckered skin rough beneath her cheek. She turned her face into his neck and sank her teeth into his flesh.
“Ah!” he cried out, grasping her hips forcefully, controlling the movements of her thrusts to his intensity.
With his hand moving over her, he felt her tighten around his cock, setting off his own orgazm. Lizzie exclaimed her pleasure to the quiet of the night as Red exploded inside her.
They fell back onto the bed, twined together, mouths and hands exploring everywhere in the aftermath. God, would he never get enough of her?
She woke to find him propped on one arm on his side, watching her, sunlight streaming through the high windows across the room.
She stretched and yawned, reaching out a hand to touch his chest.
“Hi,” he spoke carefully.
“Hi,” she smiled softly, reassuringly. “How long have you been awake?” she asked, rolling onto her side to face him.
“A while,” he shrugged one shoulder, “I never really sleep, you know. Although…..last night was exhausting.”
She beamed at him, tracing patterns in his chest hair. “I would like to exhaust you all over again,” she proposed suggestively, running the edge of her foot up his leg beneath the sheet.
Red cocked an eyebrow at her, catching her knee and drawing it up to his waist, hooking her leg over his body and thrusting his hips forward so she could feel just how much he liked her offer.
Lizzie bit her lip and let out a tiny squeal of excitement, her fingers scratching at his chest as she pulled herself closer.
He dropped his forehead to hers, eyes drifting closed as he held her against him, “We should talk.”
Not to be diverted, Lizzie rotated her hips, undulating in small circles against his erection, “You sure about that?” she asked.
He groaned, the sound pulsating deep in her groin, encouraging her to move faster against him, seeking release.
“Please, Lizzie…..” he panted, “I can’t think when you’re doing that.”
“Mmmmm, I know,” she sighed. “That’s kind of the point.” She ran her fingers down his belly, combing through the fine hairs until she could wrap her hand around his stiff length. “I don’t want you to think.”
“Don’t you think……” he gasped, struggling to piece together words to form a sentence with her hot hand gripping him tightly. “…… we should talk about this…..about us? About what this means?”
She stroked her hand up and down the length of his cock, root to crown, her palm smoothing over the tip of him again and again as she came to the top.
He was losing control. He desperately clung to the edges of his sanity, attempting to sway her unsuccessfully into a conversation that he knew needed to happen.
She slid down beneath the sheet, her hot breath on his thigh. Her tongue darted out to lick the tip of him, swirling around the head once before sucking him deep into her mouth.
“Sweetheart, this could be disastrous for you…...for your career……”
Her hand cupped his sack, squeezing gently, massaging with her fingers, as her mouth worked tortuously on his cock.
When she slid so far down on him that he felt his tip touch the back of her throat, Red gave up on trying to talk to her and began to focus instead on remembering how to breathe. She swallowed him down again and again, her mouth a hot, tight sheath; she took away all his control. His hands were on the back of her head, tangling in her dark hair, gently keeping her in place.
Lizzie’s free hand crept down to fondle her clit while she went down on him. She could feel the moistness slicking her folds and her own desire spurred her passion to make him come. She moaned against him, the vibrations shooting like electricity through his body. The glorious sounds he was making above her urged her on, her fingers rubbing furiously against her clit.
When she felt him tense and she knew he was about to come, she stopped abruptly, pulling her mouth wetly from his body. He made a strangled sound in the back of his throat.
Swiftly she dropped her lower body off the edge of the bed, laying herself out across the vast expanse. She grabbed his hand, tugging her towards her side. “Fuck me, Raymond” she demanded.
Red wasted no time in vaulting over her, feet landing on the floor, turning swiftly to admire the masterpiece spread out in front of him. He parted her legs slightly and covered her body with his, sinking into her from behind.
Lizzie pressed her face into the mattress, stifling her own screams of pleasure as he swiftly began to move inside her, impossibly tight, unimaginably fast.
He gripped her hips tightly, dragging her back against him again and again, forcing cries from her lips.
He thrust into her deeply, setting a punishing rhythm with his hips, almost hurting, so deep each time that it was almost painful but she didn’t want him to stop. She matched him, thrust for thrust until she felt him stiffen, plunging into her one finally time before spilling his seed deep within her womb. She smiled against the linens when he cried out her name, rasping the syllables over her skin, sending shivers skittering across her flesh.
Red was trembling above her. He raked his nails down her spine, kneading the tight muscles that had stiffened during his grueling assault on her body. Lizzie arched her back like a cat, tendrils of pleasure cascading over her.
When she had all but melted beneath him, he withdrew from her, leaning further over her body, taking a handful of her hair in his grip and pulling her back toward him, admiring the shapely slope of her arched neck. “Come here,” he growled in her ear.
He would not take his pleasure from her and leave her wanting.
Lizzie rolled over beneath him. He slid down between her legs, releasing his hold on her hair, burying his tongue in her wet folds, giving her no time to brace for his invasion. He tasted himself on her body and had to close his eyes at what it did to him. There would never be another for him. She was it; she was the only one he wanted this way. But, he had to wonder, how long could he keep her?
He had to shut out the demons that threatened in his head then and focused instead on the delightful task of making her come.
Lizzie writhed beneath his lips, her back arching off the bed as he sucked her into his mouth, his tongue thrusting as deeply into her core as he was able, licking his own seed from deep within her body. He placed his hands beneath her bottom, holding her up to his mouth, one thumb perfectly poised to plunder her slick entrance when he turned the attention of his tongue to her tiny kernel of pleasure. She was moaning now, his name falling endlessly from her lips like a prayer, her hands clutching his head to keep him in place where she wanted him, where she needed him. He trilled his tongue against the delicate cluster of nerves, forcing a keening cry from her throat.
She was begging. The words had ceased to matter, her beseeching tone the only thing that registered in his ears. Smiling against her flesh, he put all his effort into driving her towards that joyous rapture. He pulled her clit into his mouth and hummed, sending her sailing over the edge of the abyss.
“Oh, my god, Raymond!”
She screamed his name to the heavens, her body coming apart beneath him, seizing off the bed with the force of her orgasm. She continued to pulse uncontrollably, long after he had released her body from the imprisonment of his lips.
Lizzie felt like she was flying, her mind floating above her body as she slowly settled down to earth. She was still trembling with the potency of her orgasm and her own loss of control when she surfaced enough to look at him, the intensity of his stare causing her to burn again even as she smoldered from the embers of his touch.
She was so beautiful. Her body shimmering with the dew of their lovemaking in the early-morning sunlight, her glassy eyes, shielded by long lashes, peering at him adoringly, her soft whimpers and her panting breaths. He would never get enough of this, of her, of watching her come apart below him, of making her surrender up her control to his body and forcing her to accept his pleasure in the only way her body was designed to accept it. He craved her in a way that was at once possessive and abdication, yielding control of his heart to her even as he sought dominance over her body. He would readily submit to her authority, he would gladly acquiesce to her control if only he could keep her beside him. He couldn’t take his eyes off her.
Lizzie watched him from the hazy aftermath of her climax. He watched her so seriously; she wondered at the intensity in his gaze. He had been trying to talk to her before. Surely he wasn’t having second thoughts about them now?
With effort, she reached a hand out to him, gently sweeping her palm over his head where it rested against her thigh, his eyes softening as she pulled him out of his reverie. “You ok?” She asked softly.
“I honestly can’t remember a time when I was better,” he smiled at her.
“You look worried,” she pressed, her fingertips gently massaging the tender space behind his ear.
“That feels divine,” he murmured, nuzzling her thigh like a contented cat. “Keep that up and I won’t be able to worry about anything.”
Lizzie chuckled at the illusion he allowed her that suggested she had the ability to distract him from his purpose. She had never met a man with such single-minded determination to a task.
“So,” she ventured, “you were saying something earlier about my career?”
“Hmmm? Oh, yes,” he reluctantly rejoined the conversation. “I don’t think this diversion, however pleasurable, is going to be looked on favorably by your superiors at the FBI.”
Her fingers stilled on his head. “Is that what you think this is?” she countered, her tone heated, “A pleasant distraction from reality?”
“Well, I wouldn’t want to presume…...I mean, you can’t seriously be considering making this a regular recurrence?” he replied incredulously. “Amazing as this is, how do you think your co-workers would respond?”
“When did our private relationship become the business of the FBI?” she withdrew her fingers from his ear entirely, pushing herself up into a sitting position. He kept his head on her leg, avoiding her eyes.
“I’m only thinking of your career, Lizzie. I’m trying to protect you.”
She pushed him from her, climbing off the bed, reaching for his silk bathrobe and drawing it around her so she could pace around the room, her frustration seeking an outlet.
“I don’t need you to protect me!” she exclaimed, exasperated.
Red rolled to one side, watching her carefully. “I think you do,” he volleyed back pointedly.
“What I need is a partner! What I need is for you to trust me, trust my judgement. Trust me when I say that this,” she gestured between them, “isn’t about the FBI or the Blacklist, it isn’t about Tom leaving me.” She stepped closer the the bed. “This is about you and me. This is about us finally having a chance to figure out what we are together, what we could be,” she told him emphatically; her eyes shining, she choked on her words.
She climbed back onto the bed; she couldn’t stay away from him. She needed to touch him like she needed to breathe, he was vital to her survival in the universe. He was her gravity, grounding her, a touchstone.
Lizzie took his hands, drawing him up so that he was sitting, facing her, his hands wrapped around hers.
“This is about us,” she whispered passionately, her face close to his, tears slipping down her cheeks. “Don’t we deserve a chance?” She waited, her gaze pinning him, his impassive “That is, unless you don’t want me?” she held her breath, afraid to even consider that alternative.
He crushed her to him then, appalled at himself that he could even let her think that.
“You must know that’s not true,” he whispered into her hair. He was torn; he had never wanted to endanger her. He had coveted her, but only ever in the most abstract way; he had never in his wildest dreams believed she would come to him, that she would want him, that he could have her.
He held her slender body as her tears slipped down his neck, quieting her, and thought to himself that he would have to find a way to make this relationship work for them. Because he knew he would die before letting her go.
“Don’t we deserve a chance?” She waited, her gaze pinning him, his impassive “That is, unless you don’t want me?” she held her breath, afraid to even consider that alternative.
He crushed her to him then, appalled at himself that he could even let her think that.
“You must know that’s not true,” he whispered into her hair. He knew he would die before letting her go.
They were going to start with dinner.
Both Lizzie and Red had agreed that it would be a safe place to begin. For all the undercover operations, all the time spent on his jet, all the conversations in busy coffee shops, the had never actually sat down and completed a meal together. For Lizzie’s part, she had usually been too keyed up about their assignment, too anxious to relax enough to enjoy a meal with him. And as for Red, well, he had already spent a fair amount of time trying to convince her to sit and eat, enjoy a cocktail, try the baklava, eat the pecan pie.
She hadn’t been able to decide on something fancy enough for wherever he was taking her, so she had eventually decided on something that would be passable for most occasions, a navy shift dress and a charcoal wrap paired with stilettos and a delicate silver chain with a small teardrop diamond that had been a graduation gift from Sam; wearing it always reminded her of his steady presence, calming her. She definitely needed calming tonight, she thought to herself.
Lizzie was acutely aware of his closeness on the seat next to her, of the rich scent of his cologne enveloping her like a warm breeze. She wanted to reach out and touch him, but she resisted; he looked so pensive as he stared out the window of the town car in his suit.
Red peered out the window, desperately fighting the urge to rest his palm on the bare skin of her thigh, exposed by the lift of her dress when she had slid onto the seat next to him. It had taken him over an hour to choose his clothing for the evening, he was so nervous about their dinner. He wanted this with her, wanted it with every cell in his body. An equally powerful and opposing urge to run away strangled him, as it had every moment since they had concluded their passionate coupling. Everything about their situation screamed out at him “Danger!” He knew continuing this relationship would expose her to the perils of his life and he needed to protect her. The warring emotions battled in his head, vying for conquest.
“Red?” her uncertain voice pulled him from his musings.
He turned his head to look at her.
“Are you…...is everything ok?” she asked hesitantly.
“Certainly, my dear. Everything is fine.” He smiled at her.
“You seem,” she paused, dropping her gaze to her lap where her fingers were twisting together nervously, “If this is too much for you, if you don’t want to….we don’t have to do this,” she finished finally, eyes still on her hands.
“No!” he replied automatically. “I mean, I do want to have dinner with you. I want to….date you.” He stumbled over the word; it was so pedestrian, far too insubstantial a term for what was between them.
His reassurances calmed her marginally, but she still felt unsure. Her uncertainty must have showed on her face, because he continued, his jaw working nervously between his words as he struggled to give voice to his own doubts.
“Lizzie, you must understand, that for the better part of your life, my primary concern has been your safety. To do something which puts you in peril is a direct contravention of everything I believe. Every fiber of my being is crying out, urging me to walk away from you, to run as far and as fast as I can in the opposite direction because not doing so puts your life in immediate, incontrovertible danger.” His eyes never left hers during his speech, boring into her with the intensity of his words.
“Red, I--” she began.
He stopped her, holding up a hand as he cut her off, his voice insistent, “Do you understand that the people who want me dead will stop at nothing, nothing, to see that a reality? That includes kidnapping, harming, even killing people close to me, even a young, beautiful FBI agent.” His voice faltered and he broke eye contact with her for a moment, returning to stare out his window before he gathered himself and continued, quieter.
“There is nothing I wouldn’t do to protect you, Elizabeth. Except the one thing I should do, which is walk away from you now. And….trying to come to terms with that, with the realization that I cannot do the one thing that would protect you best, because of my own failing, my own lack of self-control, is proving….difficult for me. So, please, just try to bear with me while I reason this out with myself.” He finished his rant, and turned his eyes once again to study the passing scenery in the fading light.
Lizzie sat in stunned silence in the impending darkness, mouth agape, staring at him. In slow motion, she turned her eyes forward. She felt like a weight was pressing down on her chest, like she couldn’t breath. “Stop the car.”
Red turned to her, “Lizzie--”
“I said, stop the car!” she exclaimed.
Their driver pulled over, braking against the curb. Before the car had completely halted, Lizzie had already pulled open the door and bolted out. She stomped quickly away from the car, pulling her wrap tighter around herself protectively.
“Lizzie!” he called after her. She ignored him, her pace increasing as she furiously swiped at the tears threatening to fall from her eyes.
“Lizzie, wait!” he shouted as he grabbed her elbow, spinning her around to face him.
“No!” she screamed at him. “No, Red! I can’t do this right now.” She pushed his arms away and walked away from him.
“I don’t get close to people,” he called after her. She stopped, but didn’t turn around. “I don’t…..have people in my life. Not for years. Not until you.”
She turned around, her face stricken.
“What about Dembe? What about Kate?” she flung at him angrily.
“They can protect themselves.”
“You don’t think I can protect myself?” she shrieked at him incredulously.
“I don’t think you will protect yourself,” he explained. “Can you honestly say that you would do whatever was necessary to save your own life? Would you kill? Would you break the law? Would you give up everything to save yourself?”
“I managed to survive for thirty years without you looking over my shoulder!”
“You gave up your gun, you came back to the King’s auction, you stood by Tom,” he listed her failings. “Your sense of self-preservation is less than absolute, Lizzie, and it can’t be.” He shook his head. “I can’t lose you, don’t you understand that? It’s better for me to see you alone than to lose you.”
“That’s weak, Reddington, and you know it,” she hurled the words at him. “I think we both know the real reason you think this shouldn’t happen. Are you too much of a coward to say it out loud?”
“I don’t deserve you!” He shouted across the night, finally angry enough with her to raise his voice. “I am not good enough, not by half. What we did...It never should have happened. I should never have let it happen,” he corrected himself.
“You deserve so much more than I have to offer, Lizzie, you deserve everything. And I….I’m broken, damaged, evil….wrong. You are the light. But you can’t shine here with me. My darkness eats away all the light it’s near….and I won’t do that to you. I won’t darken you any more than I already have.”
He hung his head, fedora twitching against his leg. There it was, the truth, finally on the table in front of them both.
Liz raised her head to the sky, searching for answers in the stars, searching for….something. With a deep breath, she brought her eyes back to his forlorn figure.
She ran to him, crashing into his body, crushing her lips to his. He made a raw, primitive sound as he opened to her, all of his carefully constructed walls crumbling down around the two of them as he held her in his arms.
The pulled apart infinitesimally, resting their foreheads together, eyes closed, breathing heavy.
“Lizzie,” he whispered.
“Shhhh, don’t,” she said, choking on her tears. “I don’t care. I don’t care,” she repeated furiously. “It doesn’t matter, Red! Can’t you see that? Without you, my whole world is dark anyway.”
His brows knit together, his jaw clenching fiercely as he fought off his own tears. “You--,” he began, but she shut him up by pressing her lips to his again.
He returned her kiss with the same intensity as that first night, arms tightening around her. She backed away from him when she was sure she’d silenced every argument.
He looked at her questioningly. “We’re done talking about this,” she stated with finality. She took his hand in hers. “Now, let’s go. You’re taking me to dinner.”
His resolve shattered, he followed her back to the car.
Their dinner date was less awkward than either of them had anticipated after their legendary fight. Red managed to keep the conversation light and Lizzie let him order for her. They laughed over cocktails and stories of her childhood, expanding on the things Sam had told him, allowing him a deeper look into her memories, fleshing out the meager glimpses he had been afforded throughout her life.
He regaled her with fantastic fables of his travels over a shared appetizer, weaving pictures with his words. She leaned into her hand propped on the table, hanging on his every word as he told story after story of adventure and chaos, mayhem and redemption, falling more in love with him with each far-flung tale.
They discussed their plans for concealing their relationship from the FBI, absorbing one another’s ideas as they consumed their entrees. They both agreed, to Red’s surprise, that no mention should be made of their relationship to Harold Cooper or the taskforce. It would mean the unnecessary end of Lizzie’s career. Red would keep the inner workings of his business from her for the time being, both to provide her with plausible deniability if it was ever required as well as for her protection, but he hoped one day to share with her every facet of his life. She was warmed by the admission that he wanted her to know everything about him; it was more than she had thought he would be able to give.
By the time dessert arrived, they had lapsed into a companionable silence that was fraught with suggestive glances and the gradual caress of Lizzie’s bare foot sliding along the inside of Red’s thigh. He hastily ordered their check without finishing his tiramisu, which prompted a sly chuckle from Liz’s sultry lips.
The mood on ride back to his safe house was electric, sexual tension crackling between them as they sat close together, her hand gripped tightly in his own, resting against his thigh. Occasionally, she stoked his craving by leaning into him and whispering a suggestion, her breath hot against his ear. He was uncomfortably hard by the time they arrived at their destination.
They were no more than two steps inside the front door when Red whirled her around and pressed her into a fiery kiss. Her hands fisted in the fabric of his shirt over his chest, clutching him to her as fervently as he did her. There was an intensity to their passion that transcended time and reason. She ached for his possession in a way that embarrassed her, and yet, he responded to her urgency with a demand that was as fearsome as her own.
Even before their kiss ended, they were hurriedly undressing each other, buttons pinging off of surfaces, garment fragments falling from nimble fingers, the hasty, uncontrolled frustration of desire making them clumsy in their eagerness.
Lizzie succeeded in untying Red’s Half Windsor knot and pulled him along by the ends of his tie, still draped around his neck. She backed up toward the stairs leading to his bedroom, but Red had other ideas.
Swiftly, he lifted her, both hands sliding beneath her derriere, and settled her onto his hips, her legs immediately wrapping around him. He crossed to his desk against the far wall, freeing one hand to sweep the ledgers from its surface. He sat her on the edge, leaning into her kiss and rocking his hips against her. The remainder of their clothing joined the pieces littering the floor around them as they answered a powerful yearning for each other.
He read the insistence in the signals of her body and responded. They were both too impatient for finesse. He spread her legs, stepping between them, filling his hands with her breasts. She gripped his hot length in her hand while she latched her mouth onto his neck, sucking the smooth skin of his scar against her tongue. Red groaned against her mouth, dropping his hand to her fevered flesh, her hips surging up to meet his hand.
He dipped two fingers into her cleft at her invitation, finding her already damp with her arousal. Twisting them inside her, he coated them with her wetness before raising his hand between them and slipping one finger between her lips and the other between his own. Her eyes widened in surprise, then relaxed as she sucked his finger harder into her mouth, tasting herself on his hand.
Red shuddered against her at her willingness to let him lead. She continued to stroke him firmly in her hand. He wanted to feel her smooth, satiny heat enveloping him once more. He pulled his fingers from their mouths, hers letting go with a wet pop. He brought both hands to her hips, letting her position him at her entrance. Without further preparation, he thrust into her, her cry of pleasure echoing in the quiet of the house.
She was tight and already clenching around him as he plunged into her, rocking her back on the smooth surface. Lizzie dug her heels into his buttocks, encouraging him as he worked into her with his powerful thrusts. She kept her hands on his shoulders for balance, her nails digging into his skin, leaving tiny half-moon scratches behind.
He could feel himself stiffening inside her. He reached up to his shoulder, grasping one of her wrists in his hand. He brought her hand down between them, pressing her fingers against her clit. Lizzie stroked herself as Red plunged harder, pinching and rolling the sensitive flesh with her fingertips until she was writhing and panting with him.
“Lizzie…..please,” he gasped.
“Go, baby, let go,” she emboldened him with a whisper and he lost his rhythm, spilling his seed haphazardly inside her.
Her fingers pulsed frantically against the tiny bud, and she followed while he was still pumping into her body, her head dropping onto his shoulder with a scream, closing her teeth over his flesh to contain her cry of pleasure.
The house swallowed the sounds of their frantic breathing while they remained, locked together, chests heaving, sweat cooling on fevered flesh.
Red lowered his head to bury it in the curve of her neck as he caught his breath. He pressed a kiss to her smooth skin after a long minute. He turned his face to the side and whispered against her heated skin, “I’m sorry about earlier.”
“Shhhh,” she quieted him, her cheek resting on the melted surface of his shoulder. She nuzzled him affectionately, “It’s over. It’s ok now; we don’t have to go back there.”
He sighed against her, the weight of their earlier conversation, the rapid evolution of their evening, the frenzied pace of their lovemaking suddenly crashed down on him, overwhelming his senses in a way that was most unfamiliar to his normally controlled self.
Eventually, he wrapped his arms around her again and carried her to his bedroom, tucking them both beneath the blankets. They lay together quietly for a long time before Lizzie spoke.
“Really though, where did all that come from?” she questioned him. “That business about you not being good enough, you know that’s nonsense, right?”
“I see how other men view you, darling. Ressler, Aram….they’re much younger than me, certainly more appropriate for you for any number of reasons,” he answered regretfully.
“Raymond Reddington! Are you…..insecure?” Liz exclaimed in amazement.
“Don’t be ridiculous!” Red bristled. “I am merely stating the obvious fact that you are used to a more robust man, a relationship with fewer complications. You had someone from your own generation, with whom you shared interests and hobbies.”
“I don’t want what I had with Tom. It wasn’t real. I am so tired of the same old thing; it makes me sick to think about all the time I wasted with him on a life that wasn’t even true.” She was impassioned in her denial, sitting up emphatically.
“You could never compare yourself to Tom, because you are a world away from him,” she spoke quieter now, leaning close to his face. “There is no one like you in this world, Red.”
She lowered her lips to his and his arms came up, fingers weaving through the locks of her hair. With a growl, he rolled her beneath him, deepening their kiss, his hand angling her jaw up to meet him.
He pulled back to gaze into her eyes seriously. “You are everything to me, Elizabeth.”
She smiled up at him, her hands stroking the back of his shorn head. “I don’t know what I would do without you, love. I don’t ever want to find out.”
She urged his head down to meet her upturned lips. He poured all the things he felt for her into that kiss, hoping she could sense all that she meant to him. He entwined his limbs with hers, rolling them both onto their sides, holding her in the circle of his embrace. They drifted to sleep, his lips still on hers.