NOTE: The sex in this chapter is unprotected. In reality, engaging in an unprotected sexual act with a stranger is both irresponsible and dangerous. I don't condone it, but will be incorporating it into the story to illustrate a certain degree of impetuousness and volatility.

You should always expect a potentially non-monogamous partner to use protection.

NOTE: Due to popular demand, the names have been changed back. If it doesn't bother you, it doesn't bother me. I thought the new approach might read more smoothly. Apparently not.
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6117 Park Avenue Apartment 2000 New York City November 5, 2004 2:24 a.m.

The pair of rain-drenched near-strangers stumbled from the elevator onto the polished hardwood of the Park Avenue Penthouse apartment. They leaned against one another to take the edge off their spinning heads.

Maybe that 6th Singapore Sling should have been the last, he considered. He'd known 7 was too many. Either way, the thought was suspended by his sudden realization of the grandeur and extravagance of the room he'd just stepped into.

"Wow…" he breathed under his breath, stopping dead in his tracks to gawk at the apartment, mouth opened, like a child in Disney Land. Lucinda could only smile behind her soaked hair, secretly thrilled and proud that he was obviously impressed. With all those shots in her, though, and her subsequent loss of inhibition and reason, she was almost giggling at the notion.

"You're leaking," was all she managed to say, still half giggling, pointing to where water from his dripping jacket was pooling in a puddle on the floor at his feet.

"Well, look at that! You know, I AM leaking," he explicated, the liquor causing him to react and gesture a little more wildly than he normally would. His speech was also a little slurred. He removed the tuxedo jacket and she watched. She was standing a few yards away in the kitchen, leaning unintentionally seductively against the island in the middle, her dress clinging to her wet body like Paper Mache. She watched as he peeled the coat away from himself, revealing the soaked-through dress shirt he'd been wearing underneath. The sleeves were still rolled up like they'd been at the bar, but the unhooked bowtie had been lost somewhere during the evening's activities, and now the collar was slightly popped on one side. His hair was disheveled and he was sporting the beginnings of a 5-o'clock shadow and part of his shirttail was hanging out in the front and his pants were a little loose, but God help her was he attractive. She couldn't take her eyes off him. She'd blamed it on the liquor at first, but that excuse was now seeming less and less plausible. No, her attraction to him was something more…

Something dangerous.

She watched him shuffle around the entryway for a few seconds before spotting the coat rack in the corner and hanging up his jacket. His shirt was see-through from the dampness, so she had no trouble making out the contracting and stretching of his back muscles as he reached for the top hook on the stand. There's something about him, she thought. He somehow seemed simultaneously vulnerable and in control— like he knew and experienced more than he'd ever let on. He was almost…tortured. She was skeptical but curious about him. He electrified her— awakened her— and she wasn't sure why. She wanted to find out.

When he was done hanging up his jacket, he joined her in the kitchen, standing to face her on the opposite side of the island. It was his turn to size her up, and she let him, standing still as stone, neither speaking. She watched him watch her, tracked his eyes as they raked their way up and down her body, inquisitive but almost nervous. She thought his hands might be shaking, but she couldn't really tell. He gulped noticeably as his gaze fell on the curve of her hip, rounding out so seamlessly from the small of her waist. He watched the drops of water slide over her tanned skin, gliding down her chest and into the valley between her breasts, eventually disappearing underneath the black fabric of her dress. When his eyes finally returned to hers, holding her gaze, they both remained speechless, their breathing a little more strained than before.

"So…" he began, drumming his fingers against the counter, trying to ease some of the tension eradiating from the steamy moment.

"So," she echoed, her voice small and almost bashful, her hair falling into her eyes as she turned her head down slightly. He thought he saw her holding back a smile.

"This is a nice place," he complimented, looking around and nodding in confirmation of his assessment. At this, she let out a small chuckle. "What?" he enquired, confused.

"Nothing," she whispered, looking down again, shaking her head. God, he thought, staring at her. She was so unbelievably adorable. She probably didn't even know it. Maybe now was his chance to get a little closer…

"No, what is it," he pressed, walking around the counter to stand beside her. He was inches away from her, and though her head was slanted down, she knew he was right there. She felt his presence like an intense weight pressing down on her, withering under his gaze. Goosebumps chilled her skin. She looked up at him, hugging herself and rubbing her arms absentmindedly. Her eyes narrowed, sizing him up, rolling something over inside her head.

"Who are you, Ross?" she asked, enigmatically. He cocked an eyebrow at her and shifted his weight nervously, a little confused by the question. He crossed his arms over his chest, a small attempt at self-preservation.

"I'm not sure what you mean."

"I mean...I don't know," she admitted, probably too tipsy to carry on a conversation this heavy or articulate herself. She tried a different approach, still holding his gaze intensely. "Why did you give me that card?"

"Because I wanted to see you again," he answered honestly.

"Why?" she pressed, tilting her head to the side in curiosity. She wasn't trying to play games with him. She really wanted to know. If she were being honest with herself, she wasn't really sure why she'd approached him at the ball. She'd been inextricably drawn to him. She couldn't explain it. Maybe he could…

"Because you're beautiful," he stated simply, not dropping her gaze or cracking a smile, his face as stoic and unreadable as it'd been the first time they'd talked.

"A lot of things are beautiful," she reasoned, blushing a little and smiling, rubbing her arms again, but more from self-consciousness now than chilliness. He felt himself being physically drawn to her. Bracing one arm against the counter, he leaned into her, his mouth mere centimeters from her ear. He felt her tremble when his breath tickled her neck.

"Not to me," he whispered, his lips just barely grazing her earlobe, so faintly that it may have been unintentional. She sensed the bittersweet smell of alcohol on his breath, mixed with the muskiness of his cologne. It intoxicated her. She didn't dare move.

"Are you going to kiss me?" she asked, and he'd have actually laughed aloud at the endearing forthrightness of the question if the moment weren't so serious. Instead, he smiled quietly to himself at her aptitude for charm.

"I don't even know you," he pointed out. She slowly but steadily raised her head to meet his gaze, her eyes the brightest shade of blue he'd ever seen, glossy with seriousness. She swallowed deeply.

"Do you want to kiss me?" she rephrased. She was now standing with her back to the counter, bracing herself against it with her hands behind her. His hands were on either side of her, also braced on the counter, trapping her in the makeshift cage of his arms.

"I probably shouldn't," he pointed out, knowing she had no idea how true that really was. She didn't know the half of it. If his boss knew what he was doing…

"That's not what I asked," she deadpanned, and he felt her push her hips slightly forward, brushing against his crotch, and it was all over.

His lips were on hers before either of them even knew it was happening, assaulting them with a bruising pressure. His hands cupped her cheeks and he moved his mouth over hers, his teeth grazing and biting her lips. She moaned into his mouth as her hands busied themselves in his damp hair, her fingernails scratching at his scalp. He pressed his body into hers, pinning her hard against the counter.

She moved her hands from his hair to his chest, smoothing them down the front of his shirt until they reached his sternum, where they moved around to grip his back. Somehow, his shirt was now completely untucked, the top few buttons having been ripped off in the commotion. Without breaking the kiss, she began unbuttoning the remaining buttons, sliding the dress shirt off his shoulders and letting it flutter to the floor, working next on the undershirt until it, too, was discarded and he was standing shirtless in her kitchen. She grazed her fingernails over the bare flesh of his back, causing him to shutter with the simultaneous pleasure and pain of it. When he pressed his crotch more firmly into her hip, letting her feel how hard she'd made him, the intensity and neediness of the encounter hastened. Both began tearing at one another's remaining garments until her kitchen looked like a graveyard of discarded dress clothes, leaving him in only his boxers and her in a matching black bra and panties set. For the first time since all of this began, they broke the kiss, panting and gasping for breath.

He moved his lips to her neck, sucking and nipping at the sensitive flesh there, eliciting a throaty moan from her as she wrapped her arms around his back and tilted her head to give him better access. He slid his hands underneath her ass and lifted her up in one swift motion, setting her down on the counter and insinuating himself between her thighs as he moved his mouth down to her shoulder. Through slit eyelids, she looked down between them to see him straining against his boxers.

She leaned back with her arms on the counter behind her and opened her thighs more, and he took what she gave him. Moving his mouth down to her shoulder, he braced his left hand on her thigh and placed the right one at the vertex of her legs, sliding a single graceful middle finger into her, feeling her muscles tighten around him as he pushed as far as possible. She writhed and bucked her hips beneath his ministrations, hissing and groaning as he slid another one in, curving them up and in, rubbing against that place that made her muscles involuntarily contract.

For a moment, he stopped kissing her shoulder long enough to look at her face, watching her pupils dilate and her teeth bite down hard on her lip to stop her from screaming. She was so fucking hot. For a second, her eyes locked with his. It only lasted a moment before she had to squeeze them tightly shut against the blinding pleasure, but it was enough to sustain him. And provoke him.

He lowered himself to his knees and removed his fingers to replace them with his mouth, working his tongue and lips over her, sucking and licking and biting until she could no longer hold it in and was quite literally screaming.

"UghhhhhGodrightthere," she blabbered unintelligibly, not entirely sure what she was saying but not caring, her hips involuntarily thrusting forward into his face. She grabbed handfuls of his hair to steady herself, feeling the waves of pleasure building inside her, knowing she was seconds away from falling over the edge. "Oh GOD!" she screamed out when it was over, and he rose from his knees just in time to catch her as her weight buckled and she fell against him.

Not wanting to waste any time, he lifted her from the counter, his arms hooked under her legs that were straddling him, and ran towards the bedroom, his lips pinned to hers the whole time. Little did he know, he'd just given her something she though she'd never have again.

She landed on her back on the bed with a "thud", the springs giving beneath her weight, and he was on top of her in no time, throwing her thighs roughly apart so he could settle between them. The hard, hot length of him pressed into her stomach and she moaned into his mouth in anticipation. She closed her eyes and concentrated on the feeling of him removing her bra and underwear, wincing with pleasure when his mouth closed around her right nipple.

"Fuck me," she demanded between pants and gasps, wrapping her legs tightly around his waist and rubbing her crotch hard against his. He groaned at the heat of the words, sucking harder at her skin, clawing at her ass and grinding back against her. He tore his boxers from his hips in one motion and thrust himself inside her.

"Ahhh fuck," he gasped, hissing as he slid deep inside her, her inner muscles clenching around him, choking him. It was all he could do to hold on…to not lose it just yet.

She clenched her thighs even more tightly against his sides and folded her arms around his back, tangling her fingers in his hair as he pumped in and out of her. She moved her hands down to his ass and dug her fingernails in to urge him on, scraping them over the tight skin there. After nor much longer, she could feel herself beginning to come again, and she bit into his shoulder to let him know.

"Oh Godddd," she groaned, dragging out the word as she plummeted over the edge of coherency, his release quickly trailing hers. Her body relaxed like dead weight against the mattress, his frame pinning her down.

After a few seconds, he rolled off of her and collapsed on his back beside her, both of them coated in sweat and panting heavily. She turned her head to look at him, at an utter loss for words. What was that? Where had it come from? And, most perplexingly, why had this near stranger given her more pleasure than all the boyfriends she could ever remember?

"Thank you," she whispered feebly, feeling like he should know the true magnitude of what he'd just done for her. He was obviously a little confused.

"For what?" he replied, having turned his head to meet her gaze, his lips turning up slightly in a faint smile. She didn't really know how to reply tactfully, though she wanted him to know. She wasn't sure why. She just did.

"I, um…I haven't…it's been a while since I've been able to…" she blabbered, becoming increasingly embarrassed with each word. Luckily, judging by the mixture of surprise and pride painted across his face, he understood.

"Wow…um…you're welcome," he answered, with just as much honesty and sincerity. To stay in keeping with the poignant moment, he reached out and laced his fingers with hers, smiling comfortingly. Then, he realized something possibly even more poignant, and it both excited and scared him at the same time.

He couldn't remember the last time he'd slept with a woman and hadn't wanted to leave immediately after.

With that thought, he pulled back the covers and slid beneath them, motioning for her to join him. This act answered the million dollar question she'd been secretly wondering since they'd first shed their clothes: Would he spend the night? She wasn't even sure which she'd have preferred…until now.

Underneath the cotton sheets and the fluffy down comforter, he lay on his back and pulled her to nestle in beside him, his arms wrapping protectively around her back and her head falling against his chest. Her hair was in his face and it smelled like cocoanut. She slung her left thigh over his hips and intertwined her legs with his. She closed her eyes and breathed him in.

"Can I ask you something?" he whispered against her ear, his thumb tracing lazy circles over her hip bone.

"Mmhmm," she murmured. She was half asleep, already.

"Why can't you…you know." At this, her eyes fluttered open. She was, needless to say, a little caught off guard, not sure of what to make of his asking.

"Well, obviously, I can," she joked, poking her elbow into his stomach playfully. He chuckled and nodded, but did not relent.

"No, really. I mean, I know it's kind of a personal question, but—"

"Yeah," she interrupted, her voice small but her tone firm. "It is." She didn't want to offend or embarrass him, but she thought that can of worms was probably more 5th date material. Considering what they did tonight didn't even really constitute as a first date, she decided it could wait. He, on the other hand, quickly became quiet, obviously a little ashamed for asking. "Hey," she reassured, patting his hand, "it's okay. Another time." He nodded and dropped it. A few minutes later, it was her turn to ask the question. "What do you do, again?" He would have panicked if it hadn't been for that innocent look in her eyes. It told him that she wasn't pressing or interrogating him. She really wanted to know. She was just as curious about him as he was about her.

"What do you mean? I told you before, didn't I?" he answered, as diplomatically as possible. She shook her head.

"No," she answered simply. Shit. He thought he'd evaded her question suavely enough the first time that she wouldn't actually notice the absence of an answer. He'd apparently underestimated her. He began to feel the nervous tension building inside him, warning him that these were dangerous waters. Then again, he pretty much felt that constantly when he was around her. She made him nervous…but in an oddly good way.

"Well, I um…I deal with the finances involved in importing and exporting," he finally answered, not entirely lying. He did import and export…illegally…at the expense of her company.

"Mmm," she nodded, closing her eyes, lulling her head to the side a little. She was obviously on her way to sleep again. Her head was spinning a little. Whew. Maybe he'd answered well enough this time that she wouldn't ask again.

He waited until he could hear and feel the shallow regularity of her breathing, signifying that she'd fallen asleep, until he even attempted to drift off. Funny, he thought to himself, playing with her hair. He'd always passed out immediately afterwards with Cindy. For some reason, he'd felt inclined to watch her sleep for a while.

When he closed his eyes, his thumb was still stroking her hip.

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On the street outside 6117 Park Avenue New York City November 5, 2004 3:51 a.m.

The man in the black trench coat lowered the binoculars from his eyes, frowning disappointedly. He shook his head in disapproval before turning to spit out the half rolled-down window of the old Buick.

"That's trouble," he grunted to the slightly younger man in the passenger seat with the cigarette to his lips.

"Bill know?" the younger man asked, exhaling smoke through his nose. The older man shook his head, smiling deviously.

"Not yet."

"How'd you find out?"

"Tip-off from that little shit-head Jerry. He might be a pussy, but he knows what's best for him," the older man spat.

"What'd you think Bill's going to do?" the younger man asked, flicking the finished butt of his cigarette out the cracked window and rolling it up. The older man threw the binoculars over his shoulder into the backseat and started the ignition.

"Hell if I know," he shrugged, buckling his seatbelt. "But those kids are in a world of trouble."