9: In Which She Wears Black [Part I]
“Stella told me you were in here,” I said, leaning against the doorjamb.
Stephen turned to look at me, wielding a kitchen knife. “I specifically told her not to tell anyone.”
“I think she’s afraid of me. I might have gone mental on her a while back,” I admitted sheepishly, stepping into the kitchen. “What are you making?”
“A snack,” he mumbled, returning to chopping what I discovered was salami. “I think my accountant’s a fúcking skunk so I have a feeling I’m going to be here going through the books for aeons. What are you doing here?”
I ignored his menacing tone. “Someone told me this place has the best burgers but... I’ve never had one.”
“Then I don’t know what you’re doing back here. The restaurant’s up front.”
“Stephen, don’t be like this,” I said softly, setting my bag on a lone stool.
“Like what, Janelle?” He turned to face me, brandishing the knife in his hand like a sword, his eyes blazing. “Like I don’t give a shít? What are we even doing? Having fun? A dysfunctional relationship? Playing let’s-pretend like in book club? What?”
My eyes became slits. “Don’t raise your voice at me like I’m a child.”
“Well, you sure act like one,” he grunted out.
My hand flew out and slapped him, the sound resonating in the empty kitchen. “You’re behaving like one right now, throwing a tantrum over nothing.”
He snorted, slamming the knife onto the counter. “A tantrum?”
I shoved him. “I don’t know what we’re doing, OK? I don’t.”
Stephen grabbed my wrists. “Don’t play with fire. You’re beginning to piss me off. I was quietly making a fúcking sandwich and then you just –”
“Then make your stupid sandwich.” I tried to free my arms. “Stephen, let me go.”
“Will you fúck off if I do?”
“I don’t like you very much.”
He pulled me towards him. “Don’t lie.” Releasing my arms, he backed me up against the counter with his body.
I felt the familiar pull in my abdomen whenever I was around Stephen Ritter. I tried to do everything in my power to fight it. By hitting him. Again. And again. The feeling of my fist making contact with his chest did little to express the anger I felt at him for saying that he loved me. Saying it and then taking it back.
“Go away,” I growled at him.
“You go away. This is my kitchen.”
“Then let me!”
Instead, he slammed his mouth against mine and snaked his arms around my waist. Everything in me said that I should push him away and run but I didn’t. Instead, I found myself running my hands up his shirt and clawing at his back like a yowling cat. I pushed him against a wall and unzipped him, panting like a dog. His hands hiked up the hem of my dress, cupping my bare buttocks.
“No underwear, Janelle?”
I moaned when his fingers parted my pússylips and slid inside me. “Isn’t it better this way?” I countered, leaning into his hand and nibbling on his bottom lip.
He groaned, moving his fingers about and pressing his thumb flat against my clítoris.
Why was I mad again? What did I come here for?
With no preamble, Stephen picked me up and impaled me on the hard length of his c0ck, ramming into me with such force I let out a scream of both pain and pleasure. I relished it, revelled in it.
“I’m still annoyed with you,” he grunted into my mouth, beginning the quick tempo of his slide and retreat into me. My back was slammed into the wall repeatedly and the impact took my breath away
Threading my hands in his hair, I felt myself reach the edge of a backbreaking orgasm. It was so soon; so soon and so perfect. “Yes,” I cried out, grabbing a clump of his thick, messy hair. “Be mad at me!”
The thought of one of Stephen’s employees – or anyone, for that matter – walking in only intensified my arousal. In fact, I yearned for someone to walk in and find the owner of the restaurant with his díck buried inside me. The image of it forced an immense eruption from me, and I arched my back away from the cold wall, wailing like a banshee. Stephen spurted inside me seconds later, biting into my exposed shoulder. The pain was both sweet and welcome.
In that moment, I felt absolutely adored. He worshipped my body and, if I let him, he would worship me. Something like genuine joy floated in my chest.
Just as I was about to say something he would regret, the door was pushed open with so much force that it banged against the wall. Stephen lazily pulled out of me, setting me onto the ground.
“What the hell are you doing here?” I snarled between pants and gasps, staring in disbelief at the last person I’d ever expected to be standing in the doorway.
“I could ask him the same question,” Stephen muttered, zipping up.
“While I find this extremely sexy, you two, I’ve got bad news,” Prince said softly after a long moment of awkward silence elapsed. He met my eyes. “Janelle,” he continued, approaching me, “Erin’s dead.”
“Don’t,” I whispered, shrugging Stephen’s hands off me.
I heard him sigh from behind me. “I’m not the enemy, Janelle.”
“Kindly fúck off.”
He was silent for a moment, taking a seat on the couch beside me. “I’m not too good with grief,” he murmured, tapping his fingers on his lap, “but the service was... amazing.”
I felt tears collect at the corners of my eyes, blurring my vision.
“I met her a few times. Fun girl.”
“Stephen, stop,” I pleaded.
“You haven’t said shit, Janelle. And you need to, that much I know. You need to have a good fúcking cry!”
I jumped to my feet, incensed. “I need to do this? I need to do that? Who the hell do you think you are, huh? Dr. Phil? Oprah?” I choked out. “My best friend since forever killed herself and I don’t know why! What does that make me? A doorpost, that’s what! A dumb fúcking doorpost!”
Stephen stood up and wrapped his arms around me, pulling me into an embrace. “You can’t blame yourself, Janelle.”
The tears came in one wave and wouldn’t go. Sobbing, I held onto Stephen as tightly as I could, images of Erin flashing through my brain like a slideshow. I hadn’t seen her in a week or so and the guilt was eating away at me like a disease. If I had just rung her up… If I had just stepped out of my little Stephen-cocoon for only a little while… She hadn’t come into work and I hadn’t even phoned her! It didn’t matter that she always did things like this, disappear for days with a man. It didn’t matter because now she was dead.
The fact that she was alone in this world – no family, no real friends, no actual boyfriend – hit home and I couldn’t bear to watch her casket get lowered into the ground. Prince was taking care of everything after I’d stormed out of the church and ended up being chased home by Stephen. Erin would’ve been incensed that her least favourite person in the world was overseeing her funeral.
Why? I asked myself. Why did someone as vivacious as Erin commit suicide?
It didn’t make any sense to me. It didn’t make sense to anyone. I hadn’t wanted to hear the coroner’s findings but Prince had let me know that she’d been the one to end her life.
“You’re probably tired,” Stephen whispered into my ear.
I pulled away from him, violently wiping away my tears. “I’ve ruined your suit.”
“That’s OK. Phlegm washes out.”
I let out a laugh, startled.
“Come.” He gave me a small smile, and he led me to the bedroom.
I wasn’t too preoccupied to forget what had happened the last time he’d been in my room. Tears stained my cheeks and blurred my vision. This was a sensory overload.
There are two things that can help with grief.
Or good sex.
I needed both. Stephen wasn’t too happy about the last one.
“Stop pretending that you don’t want it,” I told him, pushing him against the wall.
He groaned. “Janelle, you’re still –”
My hand slipped down the front of his pants, grabbing his stiffness. “Please. I need to forget. Just for a little while.”
“This is unhealthy.” His eyes turned skyward. “You need to…to let this all out.”
“And just what is this, huh?” I snapped, gently stroking him. He was leaning into my hand, wanting more. “My best friend is dead. Boo-fúcking-hoo.”
He took my hand out his pants. “Bed.”
I didn’t resist when he led me there. The copy of Jane Eyre that Erin had loaned me was on the nightstand, dog-eared and forlorn. I looked away from it. It was too painful.
“Close your eyes,” Stephen gently commanded as I lay back on the bed. He pulled my pumps off, discarding them on the carpet. “You can cry in front of me, Janelle. You know that, right?” Delicately, he removed my pantyhose, placing it on the bed. His fingers brushed my bare legs. “I’m sorry about Erin. She seemed like a character.”
I was afraid to laugh in case it turned into a sob. “You don’t know the half of it.” My eyes flashed open when I felt his lips on my toes. “What are you doing?”
“Would you please close your eyes?”
I obliged him. The touch of his lips making their way up my bare legs was like a salve to the red hot ache searing through my body. But was it enough? Would anything ever be enough?
Stephen’s hands began to massage my feet. He knew what he was doing as he worked them. I was momentarily stunned – no guy had ever rubbed my feet – and certainly not in such a situation. I couldn’t help but purr in ecstasy.
And then the tears began.
Erin loved massages, the whore.
Would everything remind me of my best friend? Would I ever stop the waterworks?
I felt a depression beside me as Stephen sank into the mattress, winding his arms around me. “I love you, Nell,” he said soothingly, rubbing my shoulders.
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