Artist: kanarek13 Art Post
Fandom: White Collar
Characters/Pairings: Neal/Peter, Neal/Jones/OFC, Neal/Jones, Elizabeth/Jones
Word Count: 30,188 - Part Three: 8259
Beta Credit: Beta credit goes to the lovely elrhiarhodan, miri_thompson, and embroiderama.
Warnings: Dub Con, BDSM and dark themes
Summary: Author Peter Burke can't seem to get a handle on his latest gothic horror novel--until he meets Neal Caffrey. There's something about this charming, sophisticated club owner that strikes a chord with Peter. But is Neal all that he appears to be? Or is Peter entering a world of darkness that he may not be able to come back from?
Peter had already been in his office for four hours when Elizabeth arrived.
He’d woken up groggy and disoriented, his body aching like he’d been running a marathon and his mind whirling with half remembered dreams of unknown people, slick bodies and glowing eyes.
After attempting to fall back to sleep, he gave up and got ready for work. Coffee mug in hand, he trolled the internet for ideas to spark the Muse.
Elizabeth breezed in with the daily pastry order and a look on her face that told him he was in for a round of interrogation that would rival the FBI.
He was going to play it cool and hope that she would go easy on him about last night’s evening with Neal.
Peter was not that lucky.
“So I want details.” Elizabeth plopped herself down on the edge of the desk and waved the bag of pastries in his direction.
“‘Good morning, Peter. How are you, Peter? How is your morning going, Peter?’” He sat back and took a drink of his coffee.
She sighed. “Good morning, Peter. How are you? How’s your morning been?”
“I am fine, thank you for asking.” He grinned at her. “And my morning has been very productive.”
“That’s good to hear.” Elizabeth kicked him lightly with her shoe. “Still want details.”
“If you give me my apple fritter, I'll consider sharing the details."
“You are an evil man.” Sliding off the desk, she tossed him the bag and sat in her chair. “Evil.”
“And you are impatient and nosy.” Taking a bite of his pastry, he grinned at her.
“Can you blame me? I want to hear everything.” She stirred Splenda into her coffee. “So spill.”
Peter considered what to tell her. For the first time in their relationship, he was hesitant to share details of something.
Elizabeth seemed to pick up on that in the preternatural way she had. “What happened, Peter?” Her voice was concerned.
“Nothing…nothing.” A wave of annoyance flooded over him. He loved Elizabeth dearly but he still needed to work out what happened last night in his mind before he told her anything.
Plus there were parts that were too raw – too private – to share with anyone.
He looked over to see her waiting, a curious expression on her face.
He needed to tell her something or she would nag him all day. “It was an interesting evening.”
Peter told her about Neal’s suit and the meal. He didn’t tell her about Neal’s cat and mouse game. He told her about the car and the shirt. He didn’t tell her about the out-of-control arousal and the abject terror he felt throughout the evening. He told her about the drive home.
He didn’t tell her about Neal’s kiss.
“Sounds like you had a good time.” She smiled and wriggled in her seat. “So when’s your next date?”
Next date? Peter hadn’t even recovered from the first one. “Um…not sure.”
“You didn’t make plans?”
“No, not really.” Unless you could call Neal’s statement of ‘I will see you again’, plans, Peter thought.
“Peter, why not?”
“It just didn’t come up.” Peter was feeling trapped. Last night, he was certain of his decision not to see Neal again, but today...
He needed to change the subject. “Look, last night was fun, but I need to work on a plot for the new book. That’s got to be my focus.” Getting up from his desk, he paced the room. “I did some web surfing this morning and got some good ideas but nothing that said ‘write me.’”
“Okay, I won’t dig anymore.” Elizabeth sipped her coffee. “But if Neal calls you for another date, you need to say yes.”
Peter rolled his eyes. “I’ll think about it. Now can we work on book ideas, please?”
“Sure. What did you come up with this morning?” Elizabeth pulled out a pen and legal pad.
“It’s more like what I decided I didn’t want. No werewolves, possessions, or crazy people locked up in attics.” Peter ticked those items off on his fingers.
“Got it. No crazy people.” Elizabeth jotted down notes.
“Yes I am, thank you for noticing.” She winked at him before becoming serious. “Peter, we’ve gone over this stuff for two days and nothing’s made you happy. What are you looking for?”
“That’s just it. I don’t know.” Peter blew out a frustrated breath. “I just can’t put my finger on it.”
“Okay.” Elizabeth put her pen down. “Let’s do this. Close your eyes and tell me what your perfect book would be.”
Peter did as she instructed. “It would start out simply. Maybe a chance meeting between two people…”
Peter heard scribbling. “One would have a dark secret that would be tempting to the other when they found out…”
“Would it frighten them…turn them on...?” The cadence in Elizabeth’s voice was hypnotic.
“Both.” Peter whispered the word.
“What would the secret be?”
Peter didn’t know. And that was the problem. He opened his eyes to find himself facing his shelf of Gothic fiction.
He scanned the titles. The Turn of the Screw, Frankenstein, The Castle of Otranto. Classics of the genre. Each with their own twists and turns.
His eyes fell to the end of the shelf. Tucked together was his dog eared copy of Dracula and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Fragments of his dream from the other night coalesced into an idea.
“I’ve got it!” Peter whirled around to face Elizabeth. “Listen to this.”
He told her the story of a young man who painted a portrait that gave him immortality, but in order to keep being immortal, he needed to drink human blood.
“It’s a fusion of sorts of Dracula and Dorian Gray.” Peter was excited. He hurried over to the white board and jotted down thoughts as they came. “How does this sound? His family has a chronic illness - a hemophilia-like syndrome, maybe - and he's grasping at straws to stay alive.”
“Ohh, I like that!” Elizabeth’s eyes were practically glowing with excitement.
“Yeah. It works.” Peter felt his pulse race. His gut was telling him that this was it – the story he’d been looking for. “Wait, wait! How about this? Set the prologue in 1890 when Dorian Gray was published. The guy, let’s call him Nicholas, has no hope, he'll do anything to stay alive. He walks past a bookstore and sees the book. He’d know what the book was about because it had been a sensation when it was serialized.”
“Go on.” Elizabeth was writing furiously, trying to keep up with his inspiration.
“So he buys the book, reads it, and decides that he needs to try what Dorian Gray did – make a pact with the Devil.” Peter felt the ideas flowing. “But the Devil twists it so he has to drink human blood to keep the immortality.”
“I like that.” Elizabeth read her notes. “Here’s an idea. What if, to gain the immortality, Nicholas has to paint the portrait with his blood?”
“Yes!” Peter added that to the list. “He mixes it in the paint. And he has to touch it up occasionally or he’ll die.” He clapped his hands in delight at how easily it was coming together.
“Peter, this is fantastic!” Elizabeth jumped up and hugged him. “I have a really good feeling about this book.”
For the next several hours they brainstormed – discussing ideas, discarding the ones that didn’t work, saving the ones that did.
“Okay, I need some coffee.” Peter ran his hand through his hair. “Want anything?”
“I could use some water.” Elizabeth was transcribing their notes onto the computer.
“Great.” Peter headed into the kitchen. Opening up the cupboard, he took down a mug. He set up the Keurig up for a cup of Caribou Obsidian and, as he did every time, he sent a thank you to the editor who’d bought him the machine after discovering that Peter couldn’t brew a cup of decent coffee to save his life. Opening up the refrigerator door to get a bottle of water for Elizabeth, he decided he was hungry. Soon all the fixings for a roast beef and cheese sandwich were spread out over the counter.
While he was preparing his food, he heard his cell phone ring.
“Can you answer that?” he called to Elizabeth. Quickly making two sandwiches and fixing his coffee, he picked up the water and returned to the office.
“Friday at 7 p.m.? No, there’s nothing on his calendar.” Elizabeth had his Outlook up.
“Who is it?” he mouthed, handing her the water bottle.
Elizabeth put her hand over the mouthpiece. “Neal Caffrey.”
Neal. Shit. Peter sat down behind his desk. “What’s he want?”
“Um, another date.”
“Tell him I’m busy.” Peter didn’t want to have to deal with this right now. Or ever.
“I, uh, already told him you were free Friday night.” Elizabeth had the grace to look embarrassed.
“Great. Give me the phone.” Taking the phone, he put a smile in his voice. “Neal, how are you?”
”I’m fine, Peter.” Neal’s voice was amused. Peter had the sneaking suspicion that somehow Neal had heard their exchange.
“Good, good.” Peter wasn’t sure what to say next.
“So, I was asking Elizabeth whether you were free Friday night.”
“Yeah, I heard that.” Peter didn’t know how to get out of seeing Neal on Friday. Maybe he could beg off in a day or two. That would work.
“Would you be interested in spending the evening together?”
Peter shivered. Neal’s words sounded totally innocent but carried an echo of seduction.
“Sure. Why don’t you come over for dinner,” Peter couldn’t believe what he’d just said. How the hell was he supposed to cancel if he invited Neal to his house?
“That sounds fantastic. Should I bring anything?”
“Nope. Is pot roast okay?” God, he was digging himself in deeper.
“Pot roast sounds delicious. See you Friday at seven.” Neal disconnected the call.
Peter put the phone down on the desk.
“Well?” Elizabeth looked expectantly at him.
“Neal’s coming over for pot roast Friday at seven.”
“That’s great! I’ll make my Tiramusu for dessert.” He felt her eyes on him. “Peter, you’re frowning. Don’t you want to see Neal again?”
He thought about his reaction to Neal – the way the pendulum of his emotions swung back and forth. In the daylight it all seemed so silly. Neal was a gorgeous man that was interested in him. That was all.
“Yeah, I do.” If he repeated it to himself enough times, he just might believe it.
For the next two days, Peter waffled between keeping his date with Neal and cancelling, citing some kind of made up emergency. It got so bad that Elizabeth refused to speak to him for most of Thursday, telling him that she was going shoe shopping and he’d better get over himself by the time she got back.
Staring at his computer, Peter realized that she was right. He was winding himself up for no apparent reason. It was just a date.
He really needed to stop worrying and work on his book. The basic idea was set – now he just needed to work on characterization, scene selection and create his road map of the story.
Pulling up a blank document, Peter set his timer for thirty minutes in preparation for outlining Nicholas, his main character. Pressing the start button, he immersed himself in creating his protagonist.
A half hour later, Peter was staring at the words on the page. Nicholas had come to life – frighteningly so.
Nicholas Halden, 35, oldest of three brothers. Heir to the Halden railroad fortune. Family has what would now be known as Von Willebrands Disease. (Type 3). Brothers and mother have died of it.
Tall, slender, dark hair, blue eyes. Moustache and goatee – handsome. Attractive to women and men. Well-educated, boarding school as a youth – Harvard education…
The outline continued, but Peter was trapped by the description. Tall, dark, blue-eyed.
Peter pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to stave off his burgeoning headache. His obsession with Neal was bleeding over into his work.
Dragging the keyboard onto his lap, Peter changed the hair color to blond and the eyes to green. The hair to auburn and the eyes to brown. Then to black hair and grey eyes.
Nothing felt right.
Sighing, he returned to his original description. No matter what he did, Neal was in his mind as to how Nicholas would look, speak and act.
Maybe the date Friday night wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all. He could observe Neal and use his mannerisms for Nicholas.
Feeling like he finally had a handle on things, Peter put his keyboard back on the desk and started typing.
Elizabeth made sure his house was clean for his date. While he appreciated her effort, he drew the line at changing the sheets on his bed.
“El, I’m not going to sleep with him.” He stood in the doorway to his bedroom.
“You don’t know that.” She picked up a pillow and began to remove the case.
“El, stop.” Peter walked over to her, took the pillow from her hands and slipped it back into the fabric. “I DO know that. I don’t know him well enough to take that step.”
He tossed the pillow on the bed and hugged her. “I know you mean well and you want me to have someone in my life, other than you –.”
She grinned at his comment.
“- but I need to do it on my terms.” He kissed her on the forehead. “Now help me fix my bed, woman!” Slapping her on her ass, he straightened the comforter.
“Smart ass. And I’m only doing this because I love you.” Elizabeth tucked the sheet under the pillows.
“I know you do. And I know you worry.” Peter smiled at her. “I promise I won't turn into a cranky old man who sits in front of the television with my hand down my pants.”
“Pinky swear?” She held out her hand.
“Yes, silly, pinky swear.” He linked their fingers.
“Good.” She checked her watch. “Crap. I need to start working on the tirimasu. And you need to start on your world-famous pot roast.”
Working in the kitchen with Elizabeth was always a treat, Peter thought. There was music and wine and laughter as they prepared the dinner.
Now that he had a fixed idea of where to put Neal in his mind, Peter was allowing himself to enjoy the anticipation of seeing him again.
He even indulged in a bit of fantasy as he sliced the vegetables. He and Neal out to dinner, discussing current events. Attending a book release party. Making out on his couch.
The last one had him blushing and laughing at himself. Laughing because that was such an old-fashioned thought, making out. Blushing because he knew that they would be doing more than just making out.
“Do I want to know what you’re thinking?” Elizabeth finished stirring the rum into the mascarpone cheese.
“No, not really.” Peter tossed the onions into the olive oil to sauté them. “Wouldn’t want to offend your delicate sensibilities.”
“Must be about sex then.” Elizabeth stole a piece of carrot.
“Is everything about sex with you?” Peter leaned in to taste the tiramisu mixture. “Yum.”
“Pretty much. And stop stealing.” Elizabeth whacked him on the knuckles with the spoon. “Go finish your roast.”
“Ow.” Peter rubbed his hand. Turning back to his onions, he rescued them before they burned.
Soon the house smelled delicious. Peter put together a quick salad and stored it in the fridge before they headed to the office to do a bit more work.
He got several more character outlines done before Elizabeth shooed him upstairs to shower and change.
“Neal’s going to be here in about forty-five minutes. I’ll set the table and check the roast,” she said, pushing him towards the stairs. “Besides, I still have to whip the crème and shave the chocolate for the top.”
“You sure I can’t help with anything?”
“I’m sure – go get ready. Wear your black slacks and the black Ralph Lauren. Open collar,” she called as he headed up the stairs.
Peter quickly showered and dressed, making sure he used the cologne he’d worn when he went out with Neal the evening before. Because he liked it. Not because it turned Neal on.
He rooted around in his valet box but could only locate one of the cufflinks he wanted to wear. Figuring Elizabeth could find it, he hurried down the stairs.
“El, have you seen my…Neal…” He stopped short.
Neal was in the kitchen with Elizabeth. He was wearing slim grey trousers, tailored to hug the curve of his ass. His black silk shirt, the sleeves rolled up to show his forearms, accentuated the deep blue of his silk brocade vest.
Sex on legs.
The thought filled Peter’s mind as his mouth dried up and his cock got hard. The little voice that seemed to appear every time Peter was with Neal gleefully exclaimed, and you could have that.
“Neal..you’re…” Peter managed to get out.
“Early, I know.” Neal grinned sheepishly. “I wasn’t sure what the traffic would be like and I didn’t want to keep you waiting.”
“Okay.” Peter was at a loss for words.
“What were you looking for?” Elizabeth was adding a bit of rum and sugar to the whipping crème.
“My silver and black cufflink.”
“Actually, if I could suggest?” Neal motioned for Peter to come closer. Taking his sleeve, Neal folded it up. “There – I like that better.” He did the same for Peter’s other sleeve. Leaning in, Neal whispered, “and ‘your Neal’? Absolutely.”
It took a moment for Peter to bring his brain back online after Neal’s comment.
He took the safe road – “So, I see you’ve met Elizabeth.”
“Yes, she graciously invited me in.” Neal smiled at Elizabeth and Peter felt something cold squeeze his chest. That was his smile. He didn’t want Neal sharing that with Elizabeth.
“I couldn’t just leave him standing on the stoop.” Elizabeth smoothed the whipped crème onto the tiramisu. “That would be rude.”
“So I sort of came in and made myself at home.” Another smile, this time aimed at Peter. “I did bring wine though.” He gestured to a bottle of Barolo on the counter.
“And I’ll be out of your way as soon as I put this up.” Elizabeth put the dessert in the fridge. “There’s a bit of crème left, Peter. Want a taste?”
“I think I’ll wait for after dinner.”
“Neal?” Elizabeth swiped through the crème with her finger and held it up.
Peter watched as Neal cupped her hand with his. He opened his mouth and licked the whipped crème off before sucking her finger between his lips.
He was staring at Peter, their eyes locked, Neal promising things with his gaze, his actions.
Peter broke first, looking away and straightening the silverware on the table.
“Mmmm, Elizabeth, that’s delicious.” Neal let go of her hand.
“Thank you, Neal.” Elizabeth put the bowl in the sink. “Peter, I’ve got a couple things to run past you before I leave.” She motioned to the office.
Peter knew that there was nothing they needed to discuss – Elizabeth wanted to talk to him privately.
“Why don’t I open the wine and let it breathe while you two finish up.” Neal picked up the bottle. “Just show me where the opener and the glasses are.”
“Let me get them for you.” Peter handed Neal the wine opener and got down two glasses from the cupboard. “We’ll be right back.”
They entered the office and Peter closed the door. “Okay, what’s on your mind?”
“Oh my god, Peter, he’s stunning!” Elizabeth whirled around as soon as they were alone. “I can’t believe you were questioning a second date.”
“Yeah, well looks aren’t everything.” Peter thought back to Neal’s intensity and his own potential lack of control.
“They can’t hurt. Wow.” Elizabeth fanned herself with her hand. “Just the thought of what’s under that black silk shirt is making me -.”
“El!” Peter didn’t want to know what was going on in her mind. “Can I go have my date now?”
“Yes, dear.” She hugged him. Stepping back, she dropped her humor. “I think he’ll be good for you, Peter. Give him a chance.”
“He got a second date, El. That’s more than most get.”
“True. Now go have fun. I’ll let myself out.” She picked up her coat and left the room, calling a ‘goodbye, Neal’ as she closed the front door behind her.
Peter returned to the kitchen to find that Neal had taken the pot roast out and arranged it on a platter with the vegetables.
“The timer went off and I didn’t want it to get dry,” he explained.
“Oh, thanks.” Peter had to chuckle at how Neal managed to make himself perfectly at home. Like he’d been coming over to Peter’s house for ages. “Sorry about having to take care of stuff in the office.”
“It’s okay, Peter. Elizabeth had to let you know what she thought about me.” Neal smiled as he opened the refrigerator door and took out the salad.
“Yeah, well…” Peter took the salad from Neal and placed it on the table. Moving around the other man, he grabbed salad dressing from the door. “She can be a bit of a mother hen.”
“It’s understandable. She cares about you and wants to see you happy.” Sliding past Peter, Neal brought the pot roast to the table.
That simple movement brought Peter up short. There they were, in his kitchen, moving around each other as if they had been doing it all their lives. It unnerved him.
“So, what was her opinion of me?” Neal leaned against the counter and smiled at him.
“She thought you were hot, and couldn’t understand why I was hesitant to go out with you again.” Peter needed to say that – to put a bit of distance between them.
“And what do you think, Peter?” Neal pealed himself off the counter and walked over to Peter, subtly invading his space. “Is that your opinion, too?”
“More than you know.” Peter’s throat was dry and his comment came out as a whisper.
Neal’s breath was on his neck and Peter could feel the heat from his body radiating off him.
“We should eat. The roast is getting cold.” Then the heat was gone.
Peter blinked, turning to find Neal sitting at the table, wine glass in hand.
Peter took a seat. Mentally, he shook himself. This was his house and his meal. He was going to stay in control if it killed him.
“May I?” He gestured to the roast.
“Absolutely.” Neal passed his plate and Peter placed some meat and vegetables on it.
Peter served himself. “Let me know what you think.”
“Peter, this is delicious.” Neal’s eyes were closed in delight. “I don’t think I’ve ever tasted roast this good.”
“Thank you.” Peter smiled, strangely glad that Neal liked the dinner.
They talked about baseball – Neal impressing Peter with his knowledge of the Yankees and their history - the new Chagall exhibit at the Channing that they both wanted to see, and various other nonspecific items of interest to the two of them.
Peter made sure that he wouldn’t say anything that would give Neal an opportunity to slide into innuendo, but throughout the meal he caught Neal smiling at him like he knew what Peter was doing.
“Let me clean up and then we can head to the living room.” Peter collected the dishes and took them to the counter.
“I can help.” Neal picked up the salad and the tiramisu. “Where’s your plastic wrap?”
“Drawer by the fridge.” Peter stacked the dishes in the dishwasher, trying to shake the feeling he’d had earlier about how good, how right this felt. He’d known Neal for less than a week – he shouldn’t be this comfortable with him, especially considering Neal’s game of cat and mouse.
“Okay, anything else I can do?” Neal had put the salad and the tiramisu away.
“Nope, just go make yourself comfortable in the living room.” Peter wrapped up the roast. “I’ll be in there shortly.”
He watched Neal walk into the other room, their wineglasses in hand, and couldn’t help but appreciate the view. Dinner was one thing, but the rest of the evening was going to be interesting because he had no idea how things were going to unfold.
Neal, in his house, sitting on his couch, waiting for him. A quote from Oscar Wilde flashed through Peter’s mind. “The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.”
And Neal was oh, so tempting.
Peter finished cleaning up and dried his hands. A deep breath later, he headed into the living room.
Neal was pressing buttons on the audio system. Moments later, the sounds of The House Is A Rockin’ by Stevie Ray Vaughn filled the room.
Neal pushed the coffee table out of the way then held his hand out to Peter. “Dance with me.”
“What?” Dance? Was Neal crazy?
“You heard me. C’mon, Peter. Dance with me.”
“I – I don’t dance.” Peter shook his head and took a step back.
“Sure you do. Just follow me.” Neal took Peter’s hands, placing one on Neal’s shoulder and holding the other. Peter felt Neal’s hand caress his waist as he pulled Peter closer. “It’s simple.” He guided Peter to the middle of the space.
“Like this.” Neal rocked them side to side. “Relax and watch my feet.”
Peter watched as Neal stepped sideways, then back, then rocked away from Peter as he tapped his foot behind his heel.
“No, I can’t.” Peter shook his head.
“Please, for me?” Looking into Neal’s eyes, Peter couldn’t say no.
“Okay.” Peter mimicked Neal’s steps and found that it was easier than he thought. Laughing out loud, he felt Neal speed up the tempo to match the music.
Chests pressed together then apart, Neal spun him out until their arms were stretched, then pulled him in, wrapping his arms around Peter. Shimmying behind him, Peter felt Neal’s cock rub against his ass as he moved Peter forward, then spun him out again.
Another spin and Peter twirled under his arm, Neal completely in control as he moved them around the room, his hands touching Peter’s hips, his shoulders, his waist, guiding Peter where he wanted to him to go.
It was exhilarating. Peter felt like he was flying.
Neal pulled him tight against his chest and slid his hand down to Peter’s ass, locking them tight. He shimmied, rubbing against Peter’s thigh, gazing into his eyes with a smirk, then spinning him out again.
Peter was dizzy – from the dancing or Neal being so close, he couldn’t tell.
The song ended and they fell on the couch laughing.
“That was fun.” Peter grinned and looked over at Neal.
Neal's regarded him with a tilt of his head. “You don't do fun very often do you?”
“I do.” He protested. "I go to ball games, movies. El and I have lots of fun."
“But nothing spur of the moment - impulsive?”
Peter considered Neal’s words and realized that he really didn't do anything impulsive. “No,” he confessed sheepishly. “I guess not.”
“Why?” Neal was watching him.
Peter thought about it. “I think because of the way I grew up. My dad was in construction. We were comfortable but we never really had extra, you know? Everything had to be planned out.”
He leaned forward to take a drink of his wine.
“Then I had to supplement my school loans and financial aid with a job so I could stay at NYU. If I wanted to go out I had to plan for it to make sure I had enough money.”
“I'm sorry.” Neal's voice was soft.
“Don't be. It's what I had to do to get where I wanted to be.”
Peter felt Neal shift closer, his body instinctively turning towards the other man.
“It's just that everyone should do impulsive at least once in their lives.” Neal's breath washed over Peter's neck and he shivered. “If you could do one impulsive thing, Peter Burke, what would it be?”
Peter froze. Kneel and suck your cock… his hindbrain screamed. He touched Neal’s thigh before pulling his hand back like it was scalded. He needed step away, get some space.
“I...I think I need to wrap up the evening...” His voice trailed off.
Neal sat back, a small smile on his face. “I understand. It is getting late.” He rose gracefully from the couch and extended his hand to help Peter. Dazedly, Peter walked him to the door.
His hand on the doorknob, Neal gazed at Peter. Peter was trapped in the deep blue of Neal's eyes and he never wanted to leave. He had no idea how long he stood there until the touch of Neal’s hand on his face jolted him back to awareness.
"Peter, you never have to hesitate about being with me.” Neal’s voice was low. “I may push the envelope with you, but you will always be the one who's in control.”
A hard kiss and Neal was gone, leaving Peter staring at the door, questioning Neal’s definition of the word.
Mozzie should have known better than to agree to one of Neal's little missions. They always ended up with him naked somewhere. At least this time, he was in a pretty woman's bedroom.
Getting in wasn't all that hard. His target had foolishly left her bedroom window open, and he was a cat, after all. He climbed the ancient tree in the tiny back yard, scampered down the branch and jumped onto the fire escape.
Looking at Elizabeth Mitchell in an oversized tee shirt hiked up just enough to give him a glimpse of her perfect ass made this little jaunt worthwhile. That and the wild Atlantic salmon waiting for him when he got back to Neal’s place.
Mentally cataloguing Elizabeth’s image for use later, he picked his way across the carpet at a very delicate pace, curled around the doorjamb and transformed into his human form. He silently thanked Elizabeth for turning the heat up. He hated being naked under any circumstances, but it was worse when he was cold and certain sensitive bits of his anatomy got all tight and wrinkly.
His first stop was the bathroom to see if she had any latex gloves. Not only were they good for covering his prints, but he didn’t want to pick up any germs while rifling through her office. One never knew where people put their hands these days. Finding a box, his luck held out that they were size small. Pulling on a pair, he took a towel from the laundry basket before he crept through the darkened space until he found her home office.
Laying the towel on the leather office chair, he settled himself and got to work.
An hour later Mozzie had hacked into her computer and set up a back door so he could download her files when he returned home. Sneaking a glance at her online calendar, he saw the typical items – book signings for Peter, meetings with his publisher and editor, as well as appointments for nails, hair and massages for her.
Mozzie flipped though her mail and found the usual bills and advertisements. A search of her desk drawers revealed nothing out of the ordinary. Elizabeth was a member of the local health club, AAA, and wine of the month club. He sighed – she was almost shamefully plebian.
Her bookcase didn’t reveal any deep secrets either. Several writer’s reference manuals, foreign language dictionaries, and research notebooks from Peter’s past novels took up most of the room on the shelves.
Photos of the two of them at various award banquets and casual events filled up some of the empty spaces.
Mozzie examined the photos, looking to see if there was any glimmer of an relationship. Their poses, hands at the waist, heads tilted away from each other, had him satisfied that they were just friends. Which would make things easier for Neal.
Mozzie shook his head. He wasn’t comfortable with Neal’s choice this time. Peter Burke was not just some random person – he was a well-known figure and his disappearance would raise questions. However, there was nothing he could do to stop the inevitable. Neal had decided that he was going to have Peter no matter what.
Mozzie was about to wrap up his snooping when he noticed a black tote bag tucked away in a corner. Unzipping it, he found a large, black moleskine notebook inside.
Taking it out, Mozzie brought it over to the monitor so he could see it more clearly. Reading the notes, he started to sweat.
“No, no, no...” Muttering to himself, he flipped through the pages, faster and faster. “Oh sweet Edgar Allan Poe…this is not good!”
His eye caught a notation at the bottom of one of the pages and his stomach clenched. “Meeting at 3 p.m. with -.”
He stilled at a sound from another room. Elizabeth was up. Putting the notebook back in the bag, he quickly turned off the monitor and stripped off the gloves. Morphing back into a cat, he hid himself in a patch of darkness.
A shadow crossed the doorframe as Elizabeth walked into the kitchen. Mozzie heard the refrigerator door open and watched the light spill out, silhouetting Elizabeth’s outline as she removed a bottle of water.
He stifled a hiss as she headed back into her bedroom. He was stuck until she fell back to sleep. He needed to get to Neal and tell him what he’d found.
But maybe not everything. The person that Elizabeth had an appointment with was not someone Mozzie wanted to cross. How she knew them and why they were meeting was something he needed to discreetly find out before he shared that information with Neal. He settled in to wait, running probabilities in his head.
Forty-five minutes later, he took the chance that it was safe to leave. Shifting back to his human form, he grabbed the towel and the gloves and quietly left the office. Burying the gloves in the wastebasket and putting the towel in the laundry basket, he slipped back into his feline persona and stealthily snuck out the window.
Moz didn’t see, but moments later, Elizabeth rolled over and opened her eyes. Rising, she walked over to the window and closed it, surveying the slight swaying of the tree. Touching the glass, a small smile crossed her face as she returned to bed.
“Neal!” Mozzie transformed as he ran up the outer stairs so the sound started off as a ‘meow’ and ended with ‘-eal’.
“Neal, where are you?” Mozzie looked frantically around until he spotted Neal slouched in a chair on the shadowed balcony, legs spread, nursing a glass of whiskey. His friend was staring into space, a dark look on his face. He was still dressed in the outfit he’d worn to Peter’s, the buttons at his throat undone, sleeves rolled up.
“Neal, we’ve got trouble. Elizabeth - .” He stopped short as Neal held up a hand.
“Moz, you know I can’t talk to you when you’re naked.” Neal closed his eyes. “There are some things you just can’t unsee.”
“Oh, sorry.” Mozzie grabbed a pillow and covered himself. Locating his clothes, he dressed quickly. “We have a big problem.”
“What did you find?” Neal sipped his liquor, his only movement.
“They know about you.” Sitting down on the chaise next to him, Mozzie related the details of his break in. “She had a notebook, Neal, full of your story.” He knew he was vibrating, but he couldn’t help it. “It had practically everything – the painting, your deal with the Devil, the fact that you have to drink blood. Neal, how could this happen!”
“Calm down, Moz.” Neal leaned in, his face betraying no emotion. “How much was there?”
“I told you - everything! That you had some kind of blood disease, that you don’t age….” Mozzie started to hyperventilate. “God, Neal. How did Peter figure it out? You didn’t tell him anything, did you?”
“Relax.” Neal’s voice was cold. Mozzie hadn’t heard that tone since 1910 when he balked at helping Neal woo perfume heiress Dorothy Arnold. “And no, I haven’t said a word about my history.”
“Then how did he know?”
“He’s a writer, Moz. It’s called imagination.” Neal drained his glass. “Now breathe.”
Inhaling deeply, he did as Neal asked. “Okay, I’m calm. But what are we going to do? No one’s supposed to know about this, Neal. That was the agreement, remember?”
“I remember, Moz. Every day.”
The wheels in Neal’s brain were turning – Mozzie could see him considering and discarding ideas. Neal finally looked at him – a look that reminded Mozzie of just who owned Neal's soul. He shivered.
“Call June in the morning and have her hand deliver the club invitation to Ms. Mitchell. Do you know where she’s going to be tomorrow?” Neal’s eyes drilled into his.
“Yeah. She’s got a salon appointment at Garren New York at ten.”
“Perfect.” Neal picked up the whiskey bottle and walked over to the balcony rail. Mozzie watched as he poured two fingers into the glass. The silence stretched - Neal drinking and Mozzie waiting.
He couldn’t stand it anymore. “What’s the plan, Neal?”
Neal turned to him. “I don’t know, Moz. But we need to keep Peter’s book from being published at any cost.”
Mozzie was scared. He loved Neal like a brother and would do anything for him, but when Neal got this way, nothing Mozzie could do would change his decision. Nevertheless, he had to try.
“Neal…” he began.
“Mozzie, don’t.” Half in shadow, Neal’s expression was a mix of resignation and excitement and it chilled Mozzie to the bone. “You know it has to be this way.”
“But, Neal, I -.”
“No.” The finality in Neal’s voice stopped any of Mozzie’s further protests. “I’m going downstairs. You should leave by the outside entrance.”
The sound of the closing door echoed strangely in the small apartment as Mozzie realized he hadn’t told Neal about Elizabeth’s meeting.
Suddenly the thought of Wild Atlantic Salmon didn’t seem so appealing.
Neal prowled the club looking for distraction. He needed to get Peter Burke out of his head, at least for one evening. A clear mind would help him with whatever plan he needed to devise to neutralize him – or at least, the book he was planning on writing.
He knew that the information Peter had – whether it was gained by imagination or otherwise – was not to his benefit and could be disastrous for his long-term well-being.
Neal chuckled as he remembered the famous notion that an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters and an infinite amount of time could eventually write the works of Shakespeare.
Peter was not a monkey, but he could have easily strung random ideas together to come up with an interesting plot – one that too well mirrored his own life.
If Peter published it, however, there was no telling what the effect would be. Neal knew at the very least, he would be in jeopardy. There was nothing he could say or do to convince those who needed convincing that he hadn’t shared his life story with the author.
And because of that, Peter Burke needed to be dealt with.
Which was a shame, really. Neal had enjoyed slowly unraveling him, watching him step closer and closer to the void. He’d been looking forward to experiencing Peter, tasting him, fucking him, making him his, on his own timetable.
Now things needed to be taken care of sooner than later. Which meant Neal had to come up with a plan – and that needed clear thinking.
Neal knew he needed one of the many distractions at the club offered to clear his head.” Everything seemed to be just this side of vanilla. He sensed the typical spankings, threesomes, foursomes, bondage. Nothing to whet his appetite and help him forget.
Unsatisfied, he headed back up to the third floor and walked to the end of the hall. One of the panels opened at the swipe of his keycard and he slipped in to a darkened room.
Deep mahogany panels graced the walls, with matching furniture offsetting the silver and blue silk bedding.
“I’m surprised to see you here.” A voice came from the shadows. “I assumed you’d spend the night at your plaything’s house.”
Neal turned on a table lamp, casting a low light on the figure seated in the chair in the corner.
“Not tonight.” He removed his vest and began unbuttoning his shirt. “I’ve still been enjoying the chase.”
“And now?” Clinton Jones cradled his whiskey glass between his fingers before taking a drink.
“And now things are different.” He turned to Jones, admiring the red silk robe that clung to his form.
“How so?” Placing the glass next to the bottle of whiskey, Jones stood and glided over to Neal. Moving his hands away, Jones played valet and slid the buttons out of the shirt holes, one by one.
Neal let him, liking the feel of Jones’ submission.
“It seems that somehow Peter Burke has managed to come up with my life story as a plot for his next book.” Neal met his eyes – it was clear that Jones already knew this.
Jones’ hands paused, then resumed their work. “And what do you plan to do about that?”
“I don’t know.” Neal broke away and began pacing. “I thought I had more time.”
“You don’t.” Jones’ voice was flat.
“Don’t you think I know that?” Frustrated, Neal ran a hand through his hair. “I need to come up with something.”
“Neal….” Jones began, but Neal continued talking.
“It can’t look like I broke the agreement, Clinton. I’ll be dead if that happens.”
“Neal.” Jones raised his voice to get Neal’s attention, but Neal ignored him, lost in his thoughts.
“I need a plan…” Neal trailed off, thinking.
“Neal!” Suddenly Neal was shoved against the wall, Jones trapping him against the paneling. “Relax.”
Struggling, Neal tried to free himself, but Jones had him pinned like a butterfly. “Stop fighting.” The cold from Jones’ body began seeping in, stilling him.
“I need...,” he began.
“I know what you need, Neal.” Jones’ voice was hypnotic. “Let me give it to you.” Neal breathed, feeling Jones’ erection pressing against the curve of his ass. Closing his eyes, he felt the fabric of his shirt tear as Jones began stripping him.
Naked, Neal moaned as Jones’ hands touched him everywhere bringing pleasure and pain in equal measure. Nipples pinched until they were blood red, his cock slicked up from the spit in Jones’ palm, fingers rubbing circles at the edge of his hole.
“Get on the bed.” The tone in Jones’ voice did not make that a request. “On your back.”
He let Neal go with a push towards the mattress. Falling on the bed, Neal crawled towards the headboard and turned around. He posed himself and reached for his cock, only to have Jones smack his hand away.
“Did I give you permission to touch yourself?”
Neal was silent.
“No.” Neal’s voice was a whisper.
“I can’t hear you.” Neal knew Jones heard him perfectly.
“NO.” Louder this time.
“Right.” Jones gaze was dark and hungry. Neal’s cock jumped in answer to his look. “I think you need to learn not to touch.”
“Are you going to tie me up, Clinton?” Neal’s mouth watered at the idea of the leather shackles attached to the sides of the bed.
“No. You’re going to grab the headboard and not let go no matter what I do. Think you can do that?” Jones let out a dirty laugh. “Frankly, I’m not sure you’ve got that much self-control.”
“Try me.” Neal grabbed the wooden carvings. The coldness in his voice had Jones laughing again.
“We’ll see.” The air in the room shifted as Jones untied his robe and let it slip from his shoulders. “Now, where should I start?”
He was on Neal in an instant, caging him within his arms and legs. Neal moaned as Jones licked a stripe up his neck and he tightened his hands on the headboard.
Jones’ body held him pinned to the bed, their cocks rubbing together. Neal arched his back, trying to get more friction.
“My show, Caffrey.” Jones held himself away, laughing roughly at Neal’s whine. “You don’t call the shots here. And if you let go, I’m going to leave you hanging.”
“Fuck you, Jones,” Neal growled, hooking his legs around Jones’ hips, trying to pull him back in.
“Fucking’s part of the plan, don’t worry.” With a shift of his body, Jones showed his strength and broke the hold Neal had on him.
Slithering down, he latched onto Neal’s nipple, sucking and tonguing it hard. Neal hissed in pleasure as Jones bit down. He threw his head back, reveling in the mix of pain and desire thrumming through his body.
This is what he needed.
“Yeah. Right there.” Neal wanted to touch Jones but he knew the other man would keep his promise to leave Neal frustrated.
Jones chuckled knowingly against his skin. “I know you want to let go. Don’t.”
Neal’s hips jerked as Jones wrapped a hand around his cock. “Oh god, yes!” He lost himself in the feel of Jones jacking him slowly, his fingers sliding behind his balls, pressing down as he caressed between Neal’s ass cheeks. It felt glorious but Neal wanted more.
“Need you to suck me.” It was a demand.
“Topping from the bottom again, huh Caffrey?” Jones fondled Neal’s balls, pinching them slightly.
“Jones.” Neal’s eyes glittered.
“Okay.” Jones chuckled. “Anything to indulge the boss.” Leaning down, he swirled his tongue around the head of Neal’s dick before swallowing him.
“Fuck!” Neal arched off the bed as his brain short-circuited. The world narrowed to the motions of Jones’ mouth on his cock. Wet, hot suction, up and down his shaft. The pressure of Jones’ tongue. His teeth grazing Neal’s slit.
“God, yes! Suck me harder.” Neal tried to thrust his hips up, but he was pinned to the bed, helpless, while Jones’ mouth ravished his cock.
Whining, Neal struggled as Jones slid two fingers into his mouth next to Neal’s dick. The pressure of those fingers next to his cock sent an added jolt of arousal throughout Neal’s body, because Neal knew where they were going to end up.
Jones didn’t disappoint.
Pulling his fingers out of his mouth, Jones skated them around Neal’s hole before shoving first one then the other inside him. Stretching him roughly, the burn intense.
“Fuck….” Neal keened as Jones found his prostate, sending sparks up and down his spine. “Now…need you to fuck me.”
Jones pulled his mouth off Neal’s erection. “Ask nicely, Neal.”
“God…please fuck me.” Neal knew he was begging but he didn’t care. He needed Jones’ cock in his ass, needed to feel him pounding him into the mattress.
“Much better.” The next thing Neal knew, Jones was between his thighs, Neal’s legs over his shoulders. Lining himself up, Jones pushed in until he was bottomed out in Neal’s ass.
Neal loved it.
“Move…oh fuck…move.” Writhing on the bed, Neal pleaded with Jones. “Please…need it.”
Jones snapped his hips and Neal screamed. Harder and harder, Jones ground into him, fucking him deep, his balls slapping against Neal’s ass. Taunting him to let go of the headboard. Threatening to pull out and leave him if Neal did.
“C’mon, Caffrey,” Jones panted. “Come for me.”
Through slitted eyes, Neal saw Jones lick his hand and slick it over Neal’s cock. The pressure of that hand around him and the dick inside him sent Neal over the edge.
He erupted in white-hot streams, spurting over his chest, Jones’ hand, their stomachs. Jones fucked him through it, filling Neal with his come before pulling out and dropping to Neal’s side.
Breathing heavily, they lay silent for a moment before Jones got up and headed to the bathroom for towels.
Neal stretched his hands, looking at grooves in them where he’d held on so tightly to the headboard. He winced as his muscles twinged. His ass was sore from Jones’ assault but his mind was clear. Just what he needed
Returning, Jones handed him a warm damp washcloth then went to retrieve the whiskey while Neal cleaned himself up.
Pouring a glass, he offered Neal a drink. The whiskey had a smooth burn as it went down Neal’s throat. Handing the glass back to Jones, Neal pulled him back down to the bed.
“Thank you.” Neal didn’t have to specify for what. He knew Jones was well aware.
“You know what you’re going to do now?” Jones settled himself against the head of the bed.
“Yeah, I do.” Neal drew circles on the bedspread.
“Care to share?” Jones sipped his whiskey.
Neal’s mouth curved into a cold smile. “I think it’s time for Peter Burke to experience l’appel Du Vide.”