Undone volume 2, p.10

Undone, Volume 2, page 10

 part  #2 of  Undone Series

 

Undone, Volume 2
 


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  She smacked her head back into the wall with a muffled groan of desire and I went back to slow, long strokes, taking it back a notch. Kissing along her inner thighs, finding a drop of juice there to swirl on my tongue. She was literally dripping for me, my sweet Ana, and I couldn’t get enough.

  Finally, she could barely stand on her leg even though I was supporting almost all of her weight with my hands and shoulder. I didn’t want to stop. I wanted to keep licking her like a lion, eating and tasting and savoring every last drop, but she needed to come. My woman needed her orgasm. Her entire body shuddered and roiled and seethed with building tension, aching to consume every inch of her. Who was I to deny that?

  With a ferocious suck and a bite right down where she needed it most, my teeth right on her most sensitive nub, I growled into her pussy and she came, violently in my mouth. Her hands fisted and she nearly ripped my hair out at the roots. I loved the pain, loved the proof of how intensely she felt all this. I licked and licked, loving her back down to the ground as she quietly, so quietly melted into me after the fierceness of her orgasm.

  Holding her securely in my arms, I made my way up her body, kissing her through her clothes, her stomach, her breasts, her shoulders. She buried her head in the crook of my neck, her arms thrown around me as if holding on for dear life. Like she’d been shipwrecked and I was her life raft. That worked just fine for me.

  “Are you trying to kill me?” she asked, softly.

  “Yes,” I agreed, chuckling.

  “You’re doing a good job of it.”

  I held her, thinking she was doing a pretty good job of it, too. And not in the way Lola had spoken of, earlier. I didn’t like thinking about that side of it, the fake façade on all of this. I wanted to stay right there in the dark with her, where I knew it was real. And where I didn’t have to think about the inevitable end to all of this, when Ana would brutally stomp on my heart and leave me forever. Had I thought that sounded like a great idea a week ago? One of us was crazy, either that Ash or this Ash, standing and holding Ana like my life depended on it. Either way, only one of us could make it out of this mess. I didn’t know which one it would be.

  CHAPTER 7

  Ana

  Ash and I were back on the grid, big time. Following Lola’s tightly scripted itinerary (smile under the clock on the corner! Ana take Ash’s arm crossing the street!), we were definitely not in that supply closet any more. But boy did I still feel the heat.

  The way he talked to me! OK, I hadn’t exactly had a lot of experience with men, but I had some experience. Most of it with Stan. Well, all of the sex had been with Stan. I didn’t think he’d ever talked to me once during any of it. There was really no lead-up, maybe a “You wanna?” Or even sexier, “You got your period?” as in, is it safe to touch you or are you contaminated?

  I’d never had a man talk dirty to me, telling me what he wanted to do to me, making me tell him what I wanted. Now, as we walked along the sunny, snowy streets of New York City, smiling pretty for the cameras, it wasn’t just my mittens keeping me warm. The memory of his nasty words, telling me he was going to fuck me hard, getting me to beg for it. Holy hell, my knees felt weak at the thought of it.

  “Care for a skate?” Ash asked me with a devilish grin.

  I knew it was all staged. What romantic movie didn’t feature the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center? It was such a cliché. I should be rolling my eyes.

  But it was my stomach that was flipping over when Ash took my hand in his own and swept me on to the ice. I stumbled a little and caught my balance on his shoulder.

  “Can you skate?” he asked with concern, steadying me.

  “I can,” I protested. “I’m Russian.”

  “Yeah, but it’s not like you grew up in the heart of Moscow.”

  “My parents did,” I explained. “And if you don’t ice skate, your Russian ethnicity is revoked.”

  He nodded. I loved how joking around with him came so easily. Half the time I teased Stan he thought I meant it and got offended. “It’s like an official thing?” Ash asked, gravely serious.

  “Yes, it’s a huge disgrace to the family.”

  “Well, we can’t have that. Let’s see your Russian moves.” Together we set off on the ice. Ash could skate as well. But I couldn’t resist, I had to hop around and skate in front of him backwards.

  “You remember we’re being filmed,” he teased me. Oh shoot, I’d almost forgotten. I hopped back into place by his side, much less risk of falling on my ass facing forward. I could see the headlines now, “Fat Cow Falls Hard!” with a big picture of me grimacing in front of Ash. Come to think of it, that would probably still be the headline. They didn’t even need a real photo of me, did they? They could just photoshop my head onto someone else’s body and create any version of reality that they wanted.

  But that night, as I sat in my bed back in my own tiny apartment, I couldn’t find anything bad online. Everything I found looked like it came straight out of a romantic storybook. The press were buying our romance hook, line and sinker. The problem was, so was I.

  There we were under a clock on a corner, smiling at each other. Arm-in-arm at the ice skating rink, cheerful with red mittens and rosy cheeks. An impromptu snowball fight as we strolled through the park.

  That video I couldn’t resist playing over and over. Someone had captured it perfectly, 45 seconds of glee, my catching Ash unawares with a snowball square in his back, him turning on me and nailing me with one right on the shoulder. But I got him good one more time on the thigh until he ran up and caught me, spinning me around in his arms, and then letting me down right in front of him. It was the look in his eyes that got me. Right then, I paused it. When he rested me there, my feet touching his, and he brought a hand up to the back of my neck. Right before he kissed me. He looked at me like he couldn’t believe what a jewel he’d found in me, the most beautiful woman in the world.

  That was some look in his eyes. A woman could go her whole life hoping for a look like that from a man, never mind if that man happened to be a tall, built, gorgeous famous rock star. Who happened to sing some of her favorite songs in a gritty, sexy voice. And also happened to give her orgasms so intense they made her forget her name.

  All for show, I had to keep reminding myself. All fake. But like a cheesy Hallmark movie you found yourself sucked into watching anyway, I couldn’t turn the channel. You knew it was fake, scripted, every second of it. You knew this story and exactly what would happen next, how it would end. But you still got sucked into it, still felt your heart skip a beat when he finally took her hand in his and admitted how he really felt.

  Only the Ash and Ana story wouldn’t have a happy ending. That was guaranteed. I had to remember that, no matter how easy it was to forget.

  Liv burst into my room, her now-purple hair all aglow. “I have 10,000 new followers on Twitter!”

  “What?” I sat up, unused to Liv exuding unbridled glee. Sarcasm, brooding, these I recognized in her. But now she practically jumped up and down with excitement.

  “Ash! His photo!”

  “From the art installation?” I asked, realizing what she was talking about.

  “It’s crazy! You have to thank him for me!” With a joyful squeal—another surprise from Liv—she closed my bedroom door.

  My life wasn’t the only one getting changed by Ash Black. Here he was, getting intertwined with the other people close to me. That thought made me wince. My parents had heard about all of this. I knew they would, at some point. My mother had called me yesterday having a serious fit. I’d managed to get off the phone with a good excuse—I’d had to get to work, and I wasn’t making that up. I was squeezing in a few shifts in-between L.A., S.F. and what was that other place? Oh yeah, Paris. Ash was taking me to Paris.

  Ash was taking me to Paris! I’d always wanted to go. Who didn’t? The amazing food and fashion, the architecture and the history and museums. I couldn’t believe we were headed there, the two of us, off-road
ing, fully departing from Lola’s script. I was sure she’d hit the roof, but Ash assured me that she’d come around. We’d make sure the trip fit both of our agendas, he and I having some fun and her getting some great romantic pics.

  I’d started sensing a shift in his perspective, as if it were me and him aligned against Lola and his agent. I liked it. But I couldn’t trust it.

  He was at the heart of this, the whole reason I’d gotten hired. Because that’s what this was, a contract job.

  And the next couple of days were going to be hard. It was one thing to put on a show for the general public, the nameless, faceless fans of Ash Black. It was another thing entirely to lie to family. First, Ash’s lovely grandmother was having us to tea tomorrow afternoon. She seemed especially sharp and insightful. I couldn’t imagine that she wouldn’t see right through us to the truth of the matter in an instant.

  Then, I had to spend Christmas with my family. I usually loved this time of year, sharing presents I’d devoted time to picking out and wrapping, seeing friends at church, sharing an hours-long meal with extended family and still more friends. I loved it, all of it, from my mother’s elaborate decorations to the special desserts we made together. And this year I’d have to do it all under a cloak of duplicity, somehow finding the right way to talk about it where I didn’t exactly lie to them but didn’t exactly tell the truth. That meant lying, I knew. But I’d never really lied to my parents, especially not over something this big.

  The only thing to do was to play it down. Tell them I’d recently met him and it wasn’t a big deal, the press was simply making more of it than they should. Spreading rumors. Who knew, in a week they might even claim we’d gotten engaged? You couldn’t believe everything you read in the tabloids. It probably wouldn’t last long. This would all be over in a heartbeat.

  That last part, at least, was the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This would all be over in about two weeks. I had to remember that.

  §

  “One lump or two?” Ash’s grandmother sat straight as an arrow, literally offering me sugar lumps for my tea in her proper British accent. I felt as if I’d been clubbed over the head and awakened on the set of Downton Abbey. Even her mailed invitation had seemed delivered straight out of the past century, with heavily embossed stationary inviting me to tea with Baroness Kavanaugh of Warwick. A servant stood by the wall in starched white and black, unobtrusive yet ever at the ready.

  “One?” It came out as more of a question than I’d intended.

  Ash put a reassuring hand on my thigh, only succeeding in making me more agitated. His touch didn’t exactly relax me.

  “Anika Ivanov. I do like your name.” The Baroness, Ash’s grandmother, was all politeness as she offered me a small, square cut of a cucumber sandwich.

  “Thank you,” I squeaked.

  “And how long have you lived in Manhattan, Anika?”

  “Oh, no, I live in Brooklyn. But I’ve worked here in Manhattan, at a branch down in SoHo, for most of the past year.”

  “That’s where you two met, I believe?” She inclined her head, looking at Ash for confirmation.

  “Yes,” he agreed happily, completely at ease. “I ducked in trying to avoid some guys with cameras.” I wondered if Ash was struggling with the duplicity like me, and if he also relished the few moments when he could say something completely honest. But he sat there looking relaxed, as if he were truly enjoying introducing his girlfriend to his grandmother. He couldn’t really be, could he?

  At the mention of paparazzi, his grandmother tsked in disapproval. She reminded me so much of the British actress Maggie Smith I almost had to pinch myself.

  “So you're a baroness?” I asked, slightly timidly. I wanted to be a good guest, making polite conversation, but I wasn’t at all sure where to find common ground for a nice chat.

  “Yes,” she confirmed. “Well, technically a dowager baroness.”

  “Oh, quite so.” What was I saying? I never said quite so in all my life. She was going to think I was making fun of her!

  “But you mustn’t be put off by all that,” she continued, unfazed. Leaning in with a slightly conspiratorial air, she added, “You know, if you go back far enough, we’re actually Irish.” She said the word “Irish” as if revealing a dark secret, a skeleton in the closet. I nodded, wondering if I should act scandalized but not feeling that way in the least. “And really,” she continued, “I’m sure we all have royalty somewhere in our lineage if we dig far enough back.”

  I didn’t know about that. I was pretty sure if you went back in my family history you’d find a long line of peasants descending from a long line of peasants, toiling, starving, drinking. That was the Russian way. I’d heard about it enough from my parents, usually accompanied by a lecture on the importance of hard work.

  “At any rate,” the Baroness continued, “no one gives a fig about royals these days. Celebrities are all the rage. Like our Asher here.” She turned her gaze on Ash, or Asher as she called him. So formal. Wait, if she were a baroness, did that mean that he was a baron?

  “What do think of the way Asher dresses?” she asked me, surveying him with a critical tilt to her head.

  “Oh…” Caught between the truth—fucking sexy as hell—and polite agreement, I said nothing.

  “A bit scruffy, isn't it?” she filled in for me.

  “I guess it’s sort of his look,” I offered. I loved his faded t-shirts that fit him just so, hugging his biceps and shoulders in soft cotton. The couple of thin, braided leather necklaces he wore that I constantly itched to reach over and play with. The way his jeans fit on his slim hips and perfect ass. Could I ask the serving staff for a spare fan?

  “He does have a certain rogue’s quality to him, doesn't he? Fresh in from the hunt.”

  “Yes, I guess you could say that.” I could see her commissioning a portrait of her grandson, Ash all in rock-and-roll black yet up on a steed and surrounded by hounds and foxes.

  “Well, do try to clean it up a bit for this one,” she admonished Ash. “She’s not your usual strumpet.” I nearly spat out my tea at the word. I didn’t know if I’d ever heard anyone use the word ‘strumpet’ in casual conversation. I might love this woman. “Anika is certainly worth your putting forth some effort.” Yes, I did love this woman.

  “I'll do my best, Gram.” Ash took the advice like a champ, smiling at his Gram with affection. A whole other side to Ash, doting grandson. He kept getting better and better the more I got to know him. That wasn’t good.

  “I'm sure you will, my boy.” She smiled back at him warmly.

  Conversation flowed forth, much more easily than I ever would have imagined. Witty, polite, refined, we enjoyed our time in her bright, sunlit morning room, a servant ensuring all provisions remained fully stocked. I’d been in a lot of wealthy Upper East Side homes teaching piano, but a morning room? How many rooms could an apartment in Manhattan have? With a breathtaking view of the city skyline, too.

  If Ash felt at home with all of this, what would he think of my family? I didn’t really need to worry about it, of course. He would never meet them. But I couldn’t help compare the Dowager Baroness Kavanaugh in her pearls and coiffed hair up in a bun, with my mother, always fussing, muttering and superstitious, throwing salt over her shoulder and usually forgetting to take off her apron. My Aunt Irina lived with us, too. She’d never married, just come over from Russia to join us, and all day long the two of them bickered and chatted and laughed and bickered nonstop. With a giant bosom and a penchant for tea cakes, Aunt Irina hadn’t seen her waist since about 1986.

  The Baroness looked trim and sparkling in a cream silk blouse and wool scarlet pants, suede shoes the exact same color. But she wasn’t cold or mean, she was welcoming and kind.

  “I must say, Asher,” she declared, setting down her tea cup on a saucer. “I’m absolutely thrilled to see you with a musician.” I enjoyed the praise, but I had to admit, it made me think about the fact that he’d dated music
ians before. Maybe his grandmother didn’t know that he’d dated Mandy Monroe?

  “A legitimate musician,” she added, as if responding to my unspoken thoughts. “With classical training. It’s about time you paired up with someone who can push you a bit. Keep you on your toes, instead of simply adulating at your feet.”

  She invited me to attend an upcoming concert with her, a private benefit featuring one of the most famous and renowned pianists in the world. No big deal, a typical Thursday night for her. I wanted to leap at the chance, but realized late January was outside of our time frame. Ash and I would already be off on our separate ways, back into our real lives.

  In two short weeks, I’d be ripping out her grandson’s heart in some sort of widely-publicized venue. Hopefully her aversion to all the social media hype would mean she’d never see it. I didn’t like the thought of losing her good opinion. She seemed so genuinely pleased with me, with us.

  Professional distance, I reminded myself. I kept a polite smile on my face. And I tried not to show how much it meant to me when the baroness declared, “Asher, this one’s a keeper.”

  But I’m not sure I was able to keep all of my reaction under wraps when Ash looked at me, serious and satisfied, and said, “I agree.”

  §

  On Christmas Eve, I slept at my parents’ house. My room hadn’t changed at all. Posters of movies I’d liked when I was 15 still hung on the wall. My bookshelves still displayed the collected series of the books I’d loved, from Anne of Green Gables to Twilight to the Hunger Games. I even had a small poster of Ash Black. It was from their very first album seven years ago, back when I’d still bought CDs. Inside, when you unfolded the label you got a photo of Ash. Technically, it was the whole band, The Blacklist, but Ash was out in front, those sultry eyes, that famous pout, arrogant as hell, daring you not to find him sexy. I found him sexy. I think he’d taken my 17-year-old-world and revved it up into hyper-speed, giving me a whole new kind of man to fantasize about. The kind you didn’t want to take home to meet mom and dad.

 
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