CHAPTER EIGHT: Professionals
. . . .
. . .
They had to go to a seminar in San Francisco, which should have been a good thing, a break from the norm if nothing else.
But it was a bad thing, because they couldn't share a room.
It was a worse thing, because Marian Deloro from the Commissioner's Office and Stan Monoghan from the city's public relations department also had to go, so Juliet was paired up with Marian and Carlton with Stan.
Juliet was cranky about the whole thing, which meant Carlton was ten times crankier.
They put on their professional faces for Vick, who while having voiced no objection to their so-far discreet relationship, was unmoved by their unspoken plight. Her opinion, expressed with a frown, was that they should suck it up and spend three nights apart, making nice with the other officials.
The problem was they hadn't spent a night apart in the last ten months, and both liked it that way. They didn't always make love, but they were always together at night, and both liked it that way, too, because it felt as if it should always have been thus.
They couldn't even travel on their own; the city had efficiently arranged for the four of them to fly up late on Sunday afternoon and back again early Wednesday morning—and their seats were on opposite sides of the plane.
By the time they were squeezed into the taxi on the way to the hotel, Juliet was grateful merely to have an excuse to be pressed up against Carlton in the back seat.
His expressive blue eyes told her he was grateful too, and he managed to find and squeeze her hand out of sight of the others, under cover of his briefcase.
She thought, bemused, we made love just this morning, and yet the sensation of his thigh against mine makes me feel like it's been months instead of hours.
That it would be three days before they could be alone again was depressing.
He squeezed her hand again hard, and both of them sighed.
. . . .
. . .
At the hotel, while checking in, Marian insisted they have dinner immediately, as she needed to eat at regular times and they might as well, right?
Yeah, okay. Lassiter figured he could have at least one large drink to take the edge off.
He was seated across from Juliet—he'd rather have been next to her—but the up side was being able to look at her. He considered playing footsie but didn't trust himself quite that much.
Stan was taciturn, which suited Lassiter. He didn't want to make small talk. Marian was talkative enough for two, however, and Juliet, despite being far more polite and generally sociable than he, was clearly tiring of the woman's need to keep the conversation going. And going. And going.
It wasn't until Stan started talking about wood carving that things improved and simultaneously got worse. Marian's interest was in antique furniture, so the two of them waxed rhapsodic about the way wood could be both hard and soft, smooth and firm; their word choices were almost erotic.
Lassiter stopped following the conversation per se; he was hearing words and phrases like Allen head, and finger joint, and two legs joined at a pivot hinge, and cupping, and the hold down clamp, and hollow grinding, and Mission style, and pith as the soft core in the center of a log, and needless to say, tongue and groove just about did him in.
He met Juliet's wide-eyed gaze and knew she was as helplessly aroused as he was.
We have to get out of here.
He sent this psychic message to Juliet via a meaningful stare.
She faked getting a text, faked that it was about a case back home, and faked having to go make a call. Lassiter faked nothing; he pulled out enough money for their share of the tab and handed it to Stan. "Catch up with you later," he said tersely, and followed Juliet.
But where could they go?
Standing in the lobby, Juliet said quietly, "Just ten minutes alone. That's all I need."
It was a twenty-story hotel, and Lassiter tried to think logically despite the lack of oxygen to his brain. "Come on," he said, and led her to the elevator. Pushing 20—their damnably separate rooms were on 6—he checked for an elevator camera before kissing her, and they stayed connected until the doors opened.
"Why this floor?" she asked breathlessly.
He didn't answer; he was looking for the stairwell, and once he found it, he pulled her up the stairs to where they would have had access to the roof if that door wasn't locked. The point was to be somewhere most people wouldn't be, and the top of the stairs in a 20-story building was a great place to find no other people.
Juliet was already smiling, drawing him to her against the wall in the unlit upper landing.
Lassiter kissed her hard, his tongue invading her mouth, one hand sliding under her skirt.
Gasping, she gave as good as she got, and he lifted one of her legs to wrap around his hip, fitting himself so perfectly to her that they might as well not have been dressed at all. They ground together, in this sudden frenzy, and he growled, "You have no idea how much I want you," making her flush with desire.
"Yes I do," she whispered back.
His mouth moved to the collar of her blouse, seeking the bare skin underneath, and one of her hands now came up to slide between the buttons of his shirt, caressing his chest, no doubt feeling his pounding heart.
He cupped her breast, then impatiently pulled the fabric of her blouse and bra aside so he could put his tongue to her nipple. She was hard up against the wall and next thing he knew both her legs were up off the floor, completely wrapped around him, and he was grinding against her, and this was a kind of utter madness that seemed unstoppable.
Yet he stopped it. He knew they couldn't do this here.
Juliet moaned, "Carlton, please. I need more."
"Juliet, we can't…"
"We have to. I'll die."
He laughed, but it wasn't funny, because he felt a bit as if he might die, too. "We have a problem."
"It's not a problem," she argued, her breath warm against his neck, and then the tip of her tongue tracing his earlobe made him forget the rest.
"Honey…" Yet he wasn't releasing her, was he? He wasn't disentangling their bodies.
Juliet sighed with frustration. "You are making love to me, Carlton. Now." She worked one persistent hand between them, down to his zipper, down to the unmistakable hardness there, and once she touched him he was helpless.
He'd been helpless anyway, of course, but knowing she wanted it as much as he did was the final push over the edge.
Skirt up, pants down, connected; Lassiter kissed her hard to muffle their sounds of pleasure and if he hadn't still been wearing his shirt and jacket she'd have left marks as she clutched at him in her ecstasy.
It was always this good, always this intense, always this perfect. Not always this rushed, but that worked too.
He was surprised he didn't leave marks of his own where his hands pushed against the concrete wall during the final incredible moments before they imploded together.
Juliet's legs were shaking; he could feel the vibrations across his hips. "Oh my God," she whispered.
Lassiter gathered her closer, kissing and kissing her, and she undulated against him in post-orgasmic bliss.
"Best stairwell sex ever," he muttered, and she laughed.
"New for us." She rested her head against the wall, her legs still trembling a little. "We've had walls before but stairwells in public places—not our usual thing."
"Nothing is usual about us." He put his hands under her thighs. "You ready to stand?"
He didn't mind; being pressed up tight to her (still inside her) was fine by him, though the cool air on his bare backside was becoming more noticeable.
Juliet kissed him, her lips sweet and soft. "I guess we didn't do so good. Didn't even make it twelve hours."
"It's going to be a long few days."
Reluctantly, and very slowly, she released him, standing carefully as if she hadn't walked in a long time, and he sort of felt like that, too, weak and unsteady and slightly giddy.
They re-dressed, and sat on the steps for a few minutes to recover.
"I love you," she said softly.
"You're crazy," he countered, "but I love you too. Strumpet."
Juliet laughed. "Lothario."
"Yours," he said, and kissed her into silent agreement.
. . . .
. . .
Juliet was hard-pressed to make conversation with Marian when she got back to the room. She was just grateful that her near-sighted companion had temporarily misplaced her spectacles so she couldn't see exactly how disheveled Juliet was.
She quickly grabbed up what she needed and surveyed her appearance while waiting for the shower to warm up: she did look ravished. Carlton had left his mark on her, but fortunately not on her neck where it could be seen by anyone else.
God, he was a fantastic lover. She could never resist him, at all, and everything about their sex life was amazing to her.
They'd talked about this trip and how it ought to be simple enough to not share a room, to not sleep side by side (or draped across each other), because they were both adults and this was no big deal.
Of course it wasn't a big deal. It was just three nights apart, and they'd see each other during the day. But something about knowing they couldn't be together, couldn't touch, couldn't just roll over into each other's arms—it was incredibly difficult.
He was only two doors down and she already missed him like crazy.
It didn't help at all to find he'd left her several inappropriate texts (featuring tongue-and-groove) by the time she was ready to slide into bed—exhausted and not at all sated—to which she of course had to respond equally inappropriately.
Marian, watching the news, asked her what she was laughing about so quietly over there in her bed, and Juliet told her a friend was making silly remarks.
But they weren't silly.
And sleep was a long time coming.
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. . .
Lassiter didn't like people much. Sometimes he didn't mind them, but since he invariably found a way to alienate them without trying, he knew they didn't like him, so it saved time to start out not liking them first.
Juliet had always been the exception.
He liked her. He enjoyed her company. And this was separate from being completely in love with her from head to toe.
At home, he was okay with the routine separations of the work day, of the morning jog, of appointments and court appearances and interrogations—all the usual reasons they couldn't be in each other's faces, as it were. Even before they got together, and he missed her at night, he still knew she'd be there come morning.
Technically this three-day trip should have been no exception. They were in the same place at the same time and they could see each other and brush up against each other and God knows they'd had a wild encounter in the stairwell last night… but still.
It was if, knowing he couldn't be with her, he instantly found her a hundred times more desirable.
Never mind how she toyed with her breakfast sausage before finally eating it this morning.
Never mind how she slowly licked strawberry jam off her fingertip.
Never mind how she looked at him when he bit into a creampuff while looking directly at her.
Never mind how he managed to drop his napkin on the floor, reached down for it, and somehow found reason to trail his hand up the inside of her calf before returning to a normal seated position, seeing her blue-gray eyes huge and a little angry but lit with a clear desire for him.
So it was a long day.
They had two sessions in the morning, Marian and Stan close at hand.
They had to attend a large luncheon with a keynote speaker who ran over, so there was no time for even a moment together before the afternoon sessions started.
Marian and Stan, however, went to a different afternoon session than the one they chose, and Lassiter thought, by God, I am going to sit by my woman if I have to kill someone to do it.
. . . .
. . .
The first session alone together. Juliet was relieved. She'd been dying for a moment or two with Carlton.
The hotel's ornate auditorium was large and long, and she paused on her way in only to claim a soda from the table at the door, then made her way directly to the very back corner seat against the wall, knowing her man would follow.
Carlton came to sit beside her. He smelled nice, and he looked good in his dark blue shirt, and she wanted to take it off of him immediately. "Finally," he said with a smile.
A large, sleepy-looking man came down their row and stopped five seats away, and he took up enough aisle space that Juliet was certain no one was going to try to get past him. The seats directly in front of them were empty—most responsible session-goers were closer to the front (or closer to the exits)—and she relaxed, because even this much solitude with Carlton was a blessing.
They both glanced up front, where it appeared there was going to be some sort of film. "I don't suppose it'll be a comedy," Carlton said dryly, and she agreed it was doubtful.
When everyone was seated, the speaker made a short speech about the films they were going to see, which would address statewide policies on law enforcement-related sexual harassment and grievance procedures.
Carlton whispered, "I should pay close attention to that first one."
Juliet smiled. "Me, too." She'd certainly initiated workplace mauling more than once.
The lights went out. Juliet bent to put her half-empty soda on the floor against the wall, and when she sat up again, Carlton's arm was across the back of her chair. She turned her head and murmured, "Smooth."
He smiled, lit by the flickering lights from up front. "I'm trying to be a playa."
"Uh-huh." But she didn't make him move it, and after a minute, when it was nicely dark all the way back in their corner, that arm curved around her, his hand gentle on her shoulder.
She sighed, breathing him in. This was what she'd been missing.
Carlton scooted his chair closer. The man five seats down seemed to be already asleep, and everyone in front of them was dutifully watching the film.
Juliet was already trembling.
"Tell me to leave you alone," he whispered, "and I will."
She couldn't, because she didn't really want him to.
"Tell me," he said again, lower.
"I can't," she whispered.
He smiled, and for a while they sat like that, his arm around her, his hand stroking her shoulder. But she honestly had no idea what was going on up on the screen, because she could only hear her heart, and feel his nearness, and smell his hair and his skin, and when he murmured, so low that no one on earth could have heard it but her, "Turn your head," she obeyed without question. He kissed her, so softly, so sensuously, his other hand coming up to cup her face as he sought her mouth.
It was wildly inappropriate, and wildly delicious.
Something happened in the film to make everyone laugh. Carlton pulled back, and she let out a huge, shaky sigh.
But it wasn't over; he kissed her ear, and her temple, and the hand which had cupped her face slipped between two buttons of her blouse, touching her bra, slipping under the cup to touch her skin, and Juliet shifted in her chair, aroused beyond all expectations.
He noted that, of course, and moved his hand down to her thighs, parting them while she tried hard not to moan out loud. His hand moved up between her legs, and she was perversely grateful she had worn slacks instead of a skirt, or there'd be some serious trouble coming up. His tongue traced her ear, while his hand stroked her thighs through the slacks, and she was trembling, trembling, about to burst with desire.
Juliet put her hand on his leg, squeezing.
Carlton slowed his pace.
She slid her hand up toward his crotch, and he stopped breathing.
She looked into his vivid blue eyes and smiled, and moved her hand a little higher. His eyes closed briefly, and for a few moments he seemed to forget where he was.
But then, in sweet retaliation, he moved the hand that rested between her legs. Juliet arched against the chair, and had to bite her lip to stop from making any noise.
This was nuts. This was insane. They'd had some dangerously near-public sex in the past ten months, but near meant in another room, not in another row.
She stopped moving her hand, and stared at him, out of breath; he stared back, stilling his own motions. "Time out," she whispered. "Please."
"No," he said, and slipped his hand down the inside of her slacks.
Juliet's mouth opened, and he kissed her, and she felt herself melting against his fingers.
So wrong, so risky, so gooooood… his breathing was ragged and she was the one being stroked, and she knew she should tell him stop, not here, not now, or maybe she meant no don't stop, not now, not yet, wait, no, yes, yes, yes, but while her addled mind was struggling to decide, his long warm fingers were bringing her to a quiet, delicious, blinding orgasm, quick and effective and public except for his mouth on hers to keep her relatively quiet, and thank goodness that film was a sort of comedy so the laughter of the audience drowned out her heavy breathing.
She wanted both to kill him and to sit in his lap and do him.
"Bastard," she whispered.
"Yeah," he whispered back.
"I want you," she added, and the color of his eyes changed to that familiar shade of "I'm at your mercy" blue.
Except he wasn't, because this was no 'private' stairwell. This was an auditorium, and what could be done for a horny woman could not so discreetly be done for a horny man.
"Screw this," he growled, and stood up, pulling her along behind him. They worked their way around the sleeping man somehow, and when they were in the main hall, Carlton glanced at his watch and added, "Stan's in the other session for another half hour," before nearly dragging her to the elevator.
Sixth floor, his room (door deadbolted in case Stan did come up), Juliet sitting on the mini-fridge because she couldn't make it as far as Carlton's bed, and they kissed.
It was serious kissing indeed, fired-up kissing, dammit-I-need-you-now kissing. She unzipped his slacks even before his hands went up under her blouse, and in truth her plan was to drop to her knees for as long as she needed to be there, but Carlton had other ideas.
He yanked her pants off, kissing her, and she undid his belt, kissing him; he tugged her closer to his body, kissing her; she locked her thighs around his hips, kissing him. He slipped one hand back inside her panties and basically dispatched her a second time, almost as quickly as he had downstairs, and it was glorious to not have to muffle her moans for a change. While she was still undulating her way through it, he finally stepped out of his pants.
Please don't let anyone interrupt this, she thought, as he pulled her panties off and thrust himself into her, deeply, intently, deliciously. The fridge beneath her was cool but she hardly felt it; she only felt Carlton inside her, and she could only hear his rapid breathing, and everything else was lost but these sensations and these rolling feelings of ecstasy and need.
It didn't take long, but it was excruciatingly good. The look in his eyes, when she could even register anything beyond her own pleasure, was haunting... and magnetic... and skewered her with its intensity.
His mouth settled back on hers as his spasms came to an end, and her remaining shoe fell off, an ironic accompaniment to his utter undoing of everything else about her. Carlton laughed low, his hands back inside her blouse.
"Damn," he breathed, "damn."
He carried her over to his bed and they lay together, blissfully content with this ridiculously unprofessional blowing-off of their responsibilities. The rest of her clothes came off—shocking really—and in a little while they did it all over again, slowly but just as intensely.
"Day two," she mused.
"Improved in the past hour," he agreed.
"I can't imagine how we can top this tomorrow."
"We have to hook Stan and Marian up."
Juliet laughed. "He's married, and she's sixty."
She trailed her fingers through his chest hair. "I have a better idea. Let's just get another room. When Stan and Marian are asleep, we both sneak out and meet up there."
He looked at her, amused. "You know, that could work."
"Except I think the rooms here are $400 a night."
He raised one dark brow. "You're saying I'm not a $400 lay?"
Juliet laughed delightedly. "Well, if we split the cost, you're definitely a $200 lay."
"That's better then." He teased her breast with the tips of his fingers, and she shivered. "Or we could be strong, as Chief Vick intended."
"Don't you worry, Carlton Lassiter," she assured him, and rolled him onto his back. "I will find the money. But right now, I really have to work some wood."
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[A/N: Thanks for the idea, Lawson227.]