"Yea, I took that badly," he admitted.
"But you rescued me today," I said. I put my hand over his and we stirred the eggs together with a wooden spoon. Highly inefficient, but so nice.
"I wish I could have found you sooner. I would have liked to spare you the interrogation," he said as his lips moved closer to mine. I ran my hand up his arm and behind his neck and pulled him closer. I wanted to let the eggs burn and let the intimacy continue. Every moment of our joined lips increased his passion. I heard the spoon fall free as he wrapped me in his arms.
"We are going to starve to death at this rate," he whispered into my mouth. I could feel his lips curving against mine. Starvation wouldn't be so bad, but the loss of stamina might slow us down. I pulled myself away. Not far away - still touching. I didn't want to lose the closeness.
"Food first," I said, struggling to lessen my smile. I told my body to put the tingle that was growing on hold. I saw a shiver run down Peter's spine. He was feeling what I was. There was more in sync than cooking. "Are you going to work tonight," Oliver asked.
"Without sleep," I said, shaking my head no, "I have some time off I can use." Olly's smile grew and he stirred the eggs more vigorously.
"I was thinking of taking the night off as well," he said. His eyes weren't looking at me, almost if he were afraid of his salacious thoughts.
"Are you planning to take advantage of an exhausted woman?" I teased.
"Well, now that your resistance is down, I thought I would lull you into a false sense of security with a backrub."
"Then...once your muscles become lazy and useless, I figured I would lead the first dance," Oliver smiled as he stirred. The eggs were beginning to clump. "A slow dance to start. Something that requires very little movement on your part. I was planning on having my way with you." He smiled, "I have never seduced an international spy before."
"You intend to learn all my secrets?" The tingle wasn't listening to my brain anymore. I knew I should eat something, but the thought of food was becoming less important.
"Every one of them," Oliver teased, "hopefully, even ones you don't know about." The idea of naked exploration blossomed in my mind. It should have scared me. With Oliver, it sounded so wonderful. My trust was his for the taking.
"Those eggs done yet?" I asked too quickly. "Almost," he replied, "what about the bacon?" I had forgotten all about it. We scooted our feet back and I pulled the oven door down and peeked inside. The four pieces were sizzling well as the smell of bacon filled the room. They were still on the rubbery side of done. "Oven mitts?" I asked. He pointed to a drawer where I found two fat red mittens. I pulled the pan out and flipped the bacon. I replaced the pan in the oven while he was moving the eggs to plates.
"Bacon has a few more minutes," I complained.
"Ahh, the smell of bacon and a beautiful woman," Olly quipped, "I do believe I have found heaven." I had to laugh. I tried not to, but he seemed so proud of his silly humor. How could a beautiful woman not laugh?
Oliver was true to his word. The massage was wonderfully slow and turned my muscles into wet noodles. He leaned down every once in awhile to tease my ears with his lips, whispering tender things to make sure I was awake. His fingers were firm, yet gentle as they glided around my back. Sometimes he would find a knot and spent extra care to rub it out always followed by a loving kiss. I could barely form words and mostly moaned my encouragement. I rolled over and tried to rise to thank him properly when it was over. He pushed my lazy body back to the bed. It wasn't over. He lightly kissed my lips then trailed off to the side of my neck. Soft wet kisses trailed down my neck, climbed my breasts and concentrated on my nipples. His tongue tickled, mixing a chuckle into my moans. His kisses continued down my tummy. I closed my eyes as he slowly made his way between my legs. There are certain pleasures in life that defy description. The senses mash the feelings, sights and sounds together into a ball of lovely luxury that defies recall.
He found all my secrets. Had I been a spy, I would have betrayed all. His sweet tongue teased little strings of bliss tied to my core. My hips rose off the bed when the pleasure could no longer be contained. My entire body stiffened as pure joy invaded every crevice of my being. I was half laughing, half crying when reality slowly crawled back. Little bursts of pleasure exploded, fighting the return of normalcy. Then, as if a switch was thrown, pleasure became a ticklish torture. Laughing I tried to squirm away from Oliver's tongue. I could hear his soft laugh as he continued the torment.
"Stop," I cried, laughing so hard the word barely came out. He did. His face rose with a grin that was both proud and happy. I reached down and pulled him up my quivering body. "Such a lovely man," I complimented. If this was life with Oliver, I wanted more. I reached between us when we kissed. His excitement was strong. I spread my legs and guided him into me. I exhaled as my parts found their perfect match. Oliver's smile faded to a dreamy expression that said more than any words ever could.
"I'm yours," He whispered.
"And I'm yours," I repeated as my eyes watered. He moved slowly like he intended it to last forever. I desired it to last a lifetime. We cemented the 'us' in that coupling. Sex was no longer just sex.
"Can you call my mother?" Oliver asked. We were lying in bed enjoying each other in the peaceful afterglow of our sharing. I reached over and wiped away a drop of sweat that threatened Oliver's eye. We must have burnt off a ton of calories.
"Your mother?" I returned. I wondered if my hair looked as wild as his right now. It was incredible cute the way it exploded off his head in wrong directions. It was even better knowing I was the cause of its calamity. "I promised I would call as soon as you were released," he admitted, "She’ll rip me a new one if I call her now." I smiled. "You would prefer she yell at me?"
"In truth, yes," he smiled back. He reached forward and tucked an errant strand of my hair behind my ear. "But she won't yell at you."
"Are you afraid of your own mother?"
"Terrified," he laughed, "it's that grating tone of disappointment she can put into her words. She mixes it with a blend of I-told-you-so. It can be very emasculating."
"She loves you dearly," I said.
"And that's what makes it so effective." He pulled me closer. He cared little that I was as sweaty as he. "For you, I will make the call," I feigned capitulation. That earned me some loving kisses. I would have gotten them anyways, but it is always sweeter when you earn them. He disappeared into the bathroom when I rang Rebecca. Her tone changed immediately when she realized I was on Oliver's phone. She listened intently as I retold my arrest saga. I left out the peeing part figuring she didn't need to know a weakling was dating her son.
"So it was a horrible day," Rebecca summarized. I had already forgotten the emotions prior to seeing Oliver in the lobby of the SCID building. I smiled thinking of Oliver saving me and discovering all my secrets. He was mine. "Actually," I said slowly, trying to find the right words for a mother, "it was...Olly turned it into one the best days of my life." There. Might as well own up to the truth. There was silence on the other line. I said too much. "Rebecca..." There was a tone that indicated another call on the line. It wasn't my phone, but I found the ignore button quickly enough. 'Gen Rickers,' whoever that was, would just have to wait. "Do you love him?" Rebecca asked. It was asked quietly, almost as if she were afraid to ask. I was now afraid to answer. "Yes," I answered with the same lack of enthusiasm. "That is the most wonderful thing I've heard in a long time," Rebecca stuttered. She was crying. So many tears today and somehow my eyes found more.
"He is kind of wonderful," I slobbered out.
"I've been waiting for someone to figure that out," Rebecca slurred. The conversation deteriorated into words half spoken, but totally understood. If anyone would have been listening, they would have thought us mentally challenged. We ended the call with a promise to talk later, over lunch perhaps. I wiped my eyes for the umpteenth time and promptly pushed the wrong button on Peter's phone. Instead of turning it dark, I initiated the voicemail from the call I ignored. The VCR controls were in a different position from my phone and they took me a moment to locate. My heart fell and I never pushed stop as the words began to resonate.
Peterson, this is Rickers. SCID surveillance has informed me that you have taken an interest in Ella Okoye. That is a breach of our security agreement and we are within our rights to void your contract with armed services. Cease all contact with Ms.Okoye and contact my office immediately. We may yet preserve the contract and prevent a lot of headaches on both sides. The voice was authoritative. 'Gen' was most likely 'General.' I had ruined myself, risked Arun's family and now I was destroying Oliver. I was a curse. I put the phone down with shaking hands. Quietly, I started to dress.
"Going somewhere?" Olly asked. I turned to tell him I had to leave. His eyes wouldn't let me. He was too close. I stopped putting my shoes on. All I could offer was weak tears. He rushed over and folded me in his arms. I pointed at the phone.
"What did my mother say?" he demanded. I shook my head.
"It's the voicemail," I said weakly. I watched his face go ashen as he listened. He slammed the phone down when the message was done. He stood and walked across the room and stood near the door. I could hear him taking deep breaths. When he turned, his face was red and I saw anger in his eyes.
"Those assholes are following you," He said in a deep voice, "I'll not have you spied on." His hand slammed on the dresser for emphasis. Spied upon. Did he not hear the same message I did?
"I'm wrecking your business," I said, "I can't do that to you."
"Fuck the business," he shouted. This was irrational Oliver. The shock of his outburst scared me and I jerked away involuntarily. Oliver's eyes changed and he visibly calmed at my reaction. He slowly moved forward and knelt before the bed I was sitting on. "Fuck the business," he repeated quietly, "I don't want it if it means losing you."
"I can't ruin you," I said. He took my hand in his.
"Ruin me?" he smiled, "the only way you could do that is to leave me." He kissed the back of my hand softly. "I'm not in this for a minute, an hour, or a day. I want you forever. To hell with the rest of the world."
"The rest of the world could fall into a bottomless pit and it doesn't matter," I whispered back. How I loved his lips. Forgiveness, love and passion seeped from his lips to mine. A hurricane could have swept through and I wouldn't have known.
"What did my mother say?" Oliver asked. With all the problems we were facing, it was my conversation with his mother he was worried about. "She wants to have lunch with me soon," I said, unable to describe the conversation. "See, she won't yell at you," he said with happiness. I think I was just promoted to mother-buffer. "What are we going to do?" I asked, not wanting to break the spell, but desperately hoping he had a plan.
"Well... we aren't going to hide," he said, "we'll face up to what was done and hopefully the truth will override the speculation."
"But your business."
"You are my business," Oliver said, picking up his phone. He hit a few buttons and put it to his ear. He had a sly smile on his face. "You're not doing something stupid?" I asked. He nodded yes, but the way his hand stroked the side of my face I could only smile.
"Evening General." There was a pause while Oliver listened.
"Well that's going to be a problem." another pause.
"It looks like you'll need to go out for another procurement." Oliver's smile grew and he winked at me.
"Sorry General, I love the lady." Now I was smiling. Oliver's eyebrows gave a little bounce. "By the way, I have a line on how the firewall was breached. I'll probably have the only product that can thwart that type of attack. But, rules are rules. Have fun with the new procurement." he was almost giddy when he disconnected.
"Arun told you how," I said.
"Not all of it," he admitted, "but Rickers doesn't know that." I had to laugh. No sleep, roller coaster emotions all day, made the laughter a bit more than it should have been. Peter took in stride and joined. Truly, it was us against the world.
The weeks that followed were wonderfully strange. Jeremaine had put me on indefinite suspension from work. An unpaid vacation of sorts. There were clauses in the employee handbook that applied to personnel that did not present a good moral character. She made sure I understood that my job depended upon the results of the criminal case against me. I would have flat out quit, but the suspension seemed to cause Jeremaine more work. It was petty but pleasing. I no longer desired to wait nine more years. The SCID had a constant tail on me. They were so sure I was working for a foreign government, I couldn't even get my mail without a photo being taken. Oliver and I learned to recognize them. They always travelled in twos. I suspected that was necessary so they could keep each other awake. My life wasn't exactly 007 quality. Being put on my detail was probably a punishment.
Oliver and I started to go out more. We figured a life in bed would warp us in the long run. We found interesting places to eat. The more obscure the better, just to tease our followers. Oliver had fun sending out plates of au dourves to our shadows. In time, we waved and they waved back. We invented names for them as we began to recognize them by face. I wondered how many real criminals were running loose because of the wasted resources.
Rebecca invited me to a luncheon. I thought she intended a one on one but was surprised when I saw two other women sitting at the table. Rebecca had chosen a fancy tea room, The Green Leaf. It was obviously designed to please female senses. There were ten women to every male and most of those males looked uncomfortable.
As I approached the table, I was met by two smiles I recognized. Ruth and Betty were sipping tea. Ruth treating the cup as if it was fragile and Betty like she was drinking from a mug.
"Hello Tasha," Betty said loudly. The teasing in her tone was not lost on me. Ruth scowled at her and smiled at me as she patted the seat next to her.
"Hello, Ruth, Betty," I said as I sat down between Ruth and Rebecca, "thank you for inviting me, Rebecca." I was little nervous knowing I owed these two an apology. "I'm sorry about the dance," I started.
"I'm not," Betty interrupted, "it was the most exciting party we went to all year." Ruth actually laughed. I think it was more for my benefit than Betty's.
"I've brought them both up to date," Rebecca said. "I thought it might be nice to have some friends in case you end up at another of those functions." She said 'in case' but she meant 'when.' It would be one of the requirements for being with Oliver. Not a bad one either.
"So, are they following you now, Ella?" Betty asked leaning forward and dropping her voice so the other tables couldn't hear. Her interest was real. She liked the cloak and dagger stuff. Ruth didn't admonish her, so I suspected she was interested as well.
"Tom and Jerry are parked right outside," I said, "at least that's what Oliver and I have named them. One is short and the other is a bean pole."
"I've never met a SCID agent," Betty continued.
"And were not starting now," Ruth injected. Betty liked to stir the pot.
"What kind of car are they driving?" Betty asked. Ruth rolled her eyes. Rebecca covered her smile with her hand.
"Black SUV. A Pathfinder I think, "I answered. Betty rose and walked over to one of the front windows, ignoring the full table of customers she had to manoeuvre around. "What is she planning?" I asked Ruth.
"Heaven only knows," Ruth said, "she never grew up." Her lips curled, "one of the reasons I love her so." We watched as Betty spotted the car and then promptly left the tea room.
"My, she is in a mood," Rebecca commented.
"So...you and Oliver," Ruth said, ignoring her partner's departure, "Rebecca was telling me that you two fancy each other." Ruth had a way of turning back the clock 100 years. Rebecca became extra attentive. "He is my one," I replied to Ruth, "I am his," I directed to Rebecca. All kinds of happiness appeared on Rebecca's face. She reached for my hand and grasped it. Visions of what it would have been like growing up with my true mother appeared in my mind. The part of my life that was always missing became more pronounced, and yet less empty.
"I told you it was real," Rebecca said to Ruth, "I saw it in Oliver's eyes at the ball. Have you ever seen him on the dance floor before?" She turned back to me, "you have his heart. That means you have mine as well."
"I don't know what to say," I admitted. My smile forcing its way to the surface.
"Oliver has needed someone for a long time," Ruth said, "Somehow, he lost track of what was important and put everything into his business. Too nice of a boy to marry a corporation."
"I'm afraid our relationship is damaging his business, "I added, "the military thinks I am a security risk." Rebecca patted my hand.
"Happiness first, work second," Rebecca said, then a sly smile formed, "and how do you feel about children." I felt my face flush. I hadn't gotten that far in my thought process. I always envisioned one or two. Two if at least one was like Arya.
"We haven't gotten that far," I said, knowing that was a future conversation I needed to have with Oliver. "I'm not holding you to a decision," Rebecca said, "Just asking if you see yourself as a mother." I nodded yes, my face on fire. "Grandchildren!" Rebecca said a little too loud. She acted as if I was pregnant. "I haven't talked with Oliver about that," I whispered, "we haven't talked about the future past my trial."
"It's not leaving this table, dear," Rebecca assured me, "I'm just trying to imagine Oliver as a father. It would change him...for the better."
"He would be a good one, "I smiled.
"The best," Ruth agreed and then her expression changed, "She didn't." We followed her eyes to the front door. Betty was leading Tom and Jerry toward our table. Rebecca chuckled at Ruth's surprised expression.
"May I present agents William Chukwu and Frank Bruno," Betty introduced first the short, then the tall agent.
"Ms. Okoye," William said with a nod followed by Franks nod. Betty introduced Ruth and Rebecca and then asked the waiter to bring two more chairs and place sets to the table.
"I assured them that we would talk scandalously so they could take notes, " Betty said.
"I'm sorry you got stuck following me around," I said.
"It's our job, Ms. Okoye," Frank said in an apologetic tone, "as we told Betty, we've become convinced it's a waste of time." Betty looked so proud of herself. Ruth was trying to decide to smile or scowl. Rebecca was truly amused.
"Ella, please," I said, "I hope I haven't made it too difficult."
"No Ma'am," William said, then his voice dropped to a whisper, "and that Calamari you and Mr. Peterson sent out last night was delicious. Never thought I would like shrimp." I laughed. At least the entire SCID wasn't out to get me.
"Isn't this against the rules?" Rebecca asked.
"We're paying for our own lunch," Frank said, "so it is more of a violation of the flavour of the rules. Technically, we're still conducting surveillance." Ruth gave up and chuckled. Betty spent lunch coaxing out SCID stories from Frank and William. It turns out the job is mostly boring with small bits of excitement mixed in. William had only pulled his gun out of its holster once. Frank once tasered a suspect but never unholstered his weapon. Most of their work was white collar crime, limited to people who would surrender to a badge. They had first thought I would be an exciting case, but that wore off quickly. My life wasn't as exciting as they had hoped. After that lunch, I stopped driving through yellow lights. I was afraid my shadows would lose me or cause an accident trying to make the light. I had no desire to make their life more difficult than it was. Oliver, on the other hand, thought the yellow lights were fun. My court date was approaching quickly. The government had it on the fast track and I instructed my lawyers, against their advice, to not delay. I saw no need in delaying. I wanted it all to end as quickly as possible. I had a new life to build.
Oliver was off at meetings, I assumed trying to repair the business I had damaged. I promised him a home cooked meal. I was exiting an upscale fishery with a couple of fresh sablefish steaks. I heard my name called just as I approached my car. I turned and found Raymond violating my comfort zone. It was then that I realized he had called me Tasha.