Emma pulled off her high heels and tossed them onto the futon. "I was brilliant!" She twirled in the middle of the apartment. "Wasn't I? You can't deny it! Three business cards, I got! Lookee, three!" She stopped spinning and waved her three fingers at Russ. "They all want to talk to me about a job!"
"You were amazing," Russ said.
Emma heard something in his voice and a frown pulled between her brows. "You okay?"
He sighed, and Emma felt a twinge of apprehension as he sat on the futon, moving her shoes to the floor and patting the space beside him in invitation. "We need to talk."
Emmas heart dropped into her stomach. They were not the words that anyone in a relationship wanted to hear. "About what?" she asked, wary, not moving any closer to the futon, as if staying away from it could prevent him from saying what he was about to.
He patted the space next to him again. "It's not bad. Come, sit down."
After looking him over with a suspicious eye, Emma sat down gingerly on the edge of the futon. "What is it?"
He took her hand between his own, and for a moment Emma's heart fluttered. Was he going to propose?
He sighed again, and rubbed the back of her hand. Emma's fluttering thoughts landed back on the ground. Proposals didn't start with heavy sighs.
She wrapped her fingers around his and squeezed. "What is it, Russ?" she asked more softly.
"Emma, these past weeks have been some of the most surprising and memorable of my life. They've been an utter delight, and I don't just mean the sexual aspect."
"But?" she filled in.
"But your life is moving on now. You're soon going to have the job you've been seeking for so long, and when that time comes, I think you should focus on it entirely. I think we'll need to end our arrangement."
A dark coldness spread in her chest. She'd thought the same thing, but hearing it from his own lips made it real, and that reality hurt.
"You said that you didn't have anything bad to say," she said. "You lied."
He wrapped his arm around her and pulled her against him, leaning back until they were snuggled together on the futon. His hand stroked her back. "Oh, Emma. Change is never easy, nor in this case is it bad. You're achieving your dreams, you're stepping into the life you've planned for years. How can that be bad?"
She felt tears tighten her throat. It was on the tip of her tongue to say, "Because I've fallen in love with you." But if he felt as she did, then he would have to say the words first. "Do you know, when I first blathered to you about thinking it would be great to be a man's mistress, I didn't really mean it. I didn't think it was something I would ever have the nerve to do."
His hand on her back stopped its stroking. "Then why did you agree?"
She laughed softly, the sound thick with unshed tears. "Because I was horny and you're cute and I kind of liked you, even though I didn't think you were at all my type. I was shocked when you asked me, you know. I really hadn't figured you for that type of guy."
A laugh rumbled in his chest, and he squeezed her. "What a pair. It's a miracle this ever happened. That day that we agreed to this arrangement, I wasn't even asking you to be my mistress. I'd meant to ask you to be my cook. The conversation was almost over before I realized you'd misunderstood me."
Emma pushed away from him so she could see his face. "You're kidding."
He shook his head.
Emma felt nothing but surprise, and then a trickle of embarrassment started, turning quickly to a flood of humiliation. She covered her face with her hands. "Oh God! Oh God, oh God." A thought struck her, and she dropped her hands, glaring at him. "Why did you agree to it, once you figured out what I'd been thinking?"
"I didn't want to embarrass you. I was going to pretend I'd changed my mind and call it off."
"But you didn't. Why not?"
"Because you'd already agreed, and I couldn't resist the temptation. I found you… intensely attractive, and I liked you, even while thinking you were completely not my type."
"So when you asked for something big on Fridays to carry you through the weekend-"
"I meant a casserole."
Emma slowly closed her eyes. She had sold herself to him for money, when that had never been his intention. And in so doing, she had sold away her chance to have a normal relationship with him.
She hadn't cared about that at the time. But now, looking into the future, she saw what a vast distance lay between where she was now and where she might have been if she hadn't jumped to conclusions, and if Russ had been clearer in his word choice. He might have seen her as a potential partner for life, if she hadn't insisted he see her as paid sexual entertainment.
She opened her eyes and tried to smile. "I want to be mad at you, but I know I have myself to blame."
"I shouldn't have told you."
She shook her head. "It's a lesson I won't forget."
"Emma, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have gone through with it. I never would have, if I'd suspected you would feel this way! But you seemed so eager."
Emma looked down at her hands. She had been eager, and up until this moment she hadn't regretted it. If she'd been his cook instead of his mistress, she likely wouldn't have gotten to know him as well as she had. She might not have fallen for him, and it was doubtful he would have made a move on her. They would never have slept together and she would never have discovered as much about herself as she had. Without Russ, she wouldn't have broken free of her own limits and come up with the train station plan.
She met his eyes. "I don't regret it. I know we have to stop when I get a job; I know it's time to move on. But I don't regret what we've done together. Somehow, I think it's exactly what I needed."
She shook her head. "Not if we can end on good terms." She meant to say "end as friends," but he might choose to be no more to her than an acquaintance.
The thought almost broke her heart.
She brushed the back of her fingers across his cheek, then stroked the side of his neck. "But I don't have a job yet," she said suggestively, and pulled him to his feet.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
She stood on tiptoe and wrapped her arms around his neck. She brushed her lips against his. "No job at all."
His lips met hers, tenderly. She closed her eyes against his gentleness, so much harder to withstand than brute animal hunger.
"Emma," he whispered against her lips, "What am I going to do without you?"
"Suffer terribly," she said, and kissed him again.
They moved together to her bedroom, stripping the clothes from each other in well-practiced moves. Naked, they slid beneath the sheets and lay on their sides, facing each other.
Emma traced Russ's features with her fingertip, his face expressionless, his eyes watching her every move. When her fingertips trailed away he took the lead, his hand stroking over her body in slow motions, finding the dip of her waist, the hill of her hip, the rise of her breast. She rolled onto her back and he continued his exploration. It was as if they were trying to memorize each other; to form an image that was lodged in the nerves of their fingertips as well as their brains.
Emma closed her eyes when he touched her between her thighs. She parted her legs for him, then felt his mouth move down her torso to replace his hand. He settled between her thighs and lay his warm mouth against her folds, his tongue flicking out to exactly the right spot, in the feather-light touch she'd taught him to use.
There was no embarrassment left in her, no desire to hold back, no guilt over receiving without giving. She gave herself over to the sensations he created, feeling the wetness of his mouth merge with her own flowing warmth.
"Now," she whispered, reaching down and touching his hair. "Now." She was near to climaxing, and wanted him inside when she did.
He moved up her body, poised above her now on his elbows. She reached between them to guide him to her, lifting her hips against him to lodge him in her opening. She moved both hands to his shoulders and met his eyes.
He looked down at her, his expression still inscrutable, and slowly thrust inside her. She raised her knees and hooked her feet behind him, drawing him deeply inside her.
The tension of pleasure tightened his face and he closed his eyes. Emma slid her arms up around his chest and pulled him close, letting him put his weight on her. His thrusts shook the bed, the brass creaking in an unmistakable rhythm.
Emma felt her own sexual excitement plateau as he thrust, his face against the side of her head, his breath hot in her hair. She felt the satisfaction of being beneath him, his thick cock filling her, but it wasn't a pleasure that would bring her to orgasm.
Russ slowed, and lifted himself off her enough to see her face. Still embedded deep inside her, he slowly kissed her. The tip of his tongue traced the line where her lips met, then parted them and sucked on her lower lip.
His hips thrust once, slow and deep.
Emma's eyes closed, her back arching in pleasure.
Russ teased her mouth open, dipping his tongue inside, rubbing against her own. She felt the rough warmth and instinctively sucked on it, just as she would suck on his cock.
His pelvis moved with slow strength, his cock stroking inside her with careful deliberation, as if making certain that each millimeter of her passage knew that he was there and could feel the shape of him.
He thrust his tongue against hers, matching the rhythm to his hips, his movements agonizingly slow and careful. Emma felt her hunger for him grow anew, and she rocked her hips against him and sucked furiously at his tongue.
Russ grasped her hip with one hand and held her still, forcing her to accept the agonizingly slow motions.
Emma could stand only one thrust more, and before he was seated to the hilt she felt herself tip over the edge, orgasm throbbing through her. She could feel him moving back against her G-spot, could feel the clenching muscles at her opening try to grip him, could feel the pull of his movement against the hood of her clitoris.
"Russ," she cried softly, "Russ, I can't stop."
He thrust once more, quickly, and then she heard the moan deep in his throat and felt the pulse of his own orgasm join hers. His body was hard as stone, pinning her in place. As he held motionless inside her she felt her own waves gradually die down, and then he settled upon her, his weight nearly taking the breath from her, his face settling beside hers.
A moment later she heard the soft snort of his snore.
Emma felt tears trickle from the corners of her eyes, seeping down into her hair. They might have sex a time or two more, but in her heart she knew that tonight was the beginning of good-bye.