Authors: Portia Da Costa
Tags: #General Fiction
Fire and Ice
Portia Da Costa
Copyright 2011 Portia Da Costa.
This story is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. With exception of quotes used in reviews, this story may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the author.
Please be aware that this story contains sensual content that is only suitable for adult readers who are comfortable with frank language and descriptions of erotic scenarios
Previously published in print as part of The Mammoth Book of Hot Romance.
*** *** ***
FIRE AND ICE
It's Christmas Eve, and I'm home alone, wrapped in my fleecy throw, and tucked up in front of the television with a lovely bottle of wine. Not for me the purgatory of fractious family shindigs that turn into Armageddon over the mince pies. I'm just happy on my own, doing my own thing, chilling out but toasty.
Of course, there is someone with whom I'd like to spend Christmas. Someone with whom I'd gladly share my blanket and my wine. But if he was here, you could forget about the television.
Innes McKenzie is my boss, my unbelievably gorgeous boss, and the one I can thank for the yummy wine. He's just the sort of guy to remember a casual conversation from months ago, and take note of my favorite tipple for future reference. He's like that, thoughtful and inventive.
The African Queen
is on the box now, another Christmas favorite. I try to imagine Innes on a rackety riverboat covered in grease, like Bogart, but it's a reach. My boss is cool and immaculate and as beautiful as an angel. A very manly angel, naturally, and needless to say, I'm head over heels in love with him.
I can't help but wonder about his Christmas though. I picture his apartment, a place as immaculate and elegant as he is, maybe done out in white with monochrome silver decorations. He and some groomed, smart and sexy woman are eating a gourmet Christmas dinner, and later, they retire to his wide, expensively sheeted bed for some gourmet Christmas sex.
My mouth waters. Mmm, Innes a la carte.
His rich fruity wine is slipping down a treat now, and in my mind it's me in that snowy bed with him. Me, writhing and grappling with my hot, elegant boss. I've never seen Innes with his clothes off, of course, but imagining him is a pastime I indulge in all the time.
Inside my fleecy cocoon, I shimmy and wriggle, pretending that a naked and perfect Innes McKenzie is touching me. Here… there… everywhere. His skin is warm, his blue eyes are as brilliant as lasers, and his rampant cock is as magnificent as the rest of him.
I open my legs, sliding in my hand in lieu of his.
At work, he always moves in a very neat, spare, precise fashion, and I suspect that in bed he's just the same. No action wasted or over-done, everything efficient, full of meaning, accurate and fiery.
I'm wet now, thinking about him and mellowed by the wine. I start to moan, and Bogey and Hepburn are forgotten as my arousal circles around the imaginary totem of Innes McKenzie.
He likes me, I know that. But relationships in the same office are frowned upon at work. For the hundredth time, I consider a transfer, but then in another section, I wouldn't see Innes every day.
"Innes… Innes…" I moan, my pleasure rising as dark desire burns in those blue, imagined eyes. They glitter in my mind and I'm moments from the brink. Almost there, with him, in my dream world.
Then my mobile phone rings and snatches the orgasm from my grasp.
"Bugger, hell and damnation!"
Who can it be? I've told my family I'll visit at New Year, and told everyone else that I'm having quiet, opt-out Christmas. But clearly somebody didn't get the message or thinks I'll change my mind. Maybe it's my Mum, checking up to see if I've finally got the boyfriend she so wants for me?
My phone shrills again and I snatch it up. I wrinkle my nose because my fingers smell of me.
"Cally Hobbes." I try and inject a bit of peace and goodwill to all men into my voice, rather than sound like a young female Scrooge.
"Hello, Cally," croaks a voice I've never heard before.
I say I've never heard it before, but I have actually. Every working day. But I've never heard it sound like this before. It's my Innes, but his vocal chords seem to have been sand blasted.
"Hi, boss. Are you all right? You sound a bit husky." He sounds more than husky. He sounds absolutely terrible.
"I'm okay," he lies, in a gravelly near whisper so unlike his crisp, sexy tones. To me, he still sounds sexy in a backwards about way. "Thanks," he adds, in afterthought. He must be ill. His manners are usually unshakeable. "I was wondering if you could do me a gigantic favor, Cally? As I'm at home, I thought I'd do a bit of work on the Simpson merger, but I don't have my files here. Is there any way you could possibly pick them up and bring them round? You can just slide them into my letter box and I'll come down and get them. I've got a mild lurgi of some kind and I'd hate you to catch it too."
It's no mild lurgi. It's a forty eight hour flu bug that's going round the company. I had it a fortnight ago, while Innes was at an overseas conference.
"It's okay, boss. It sounds like the flu, and I've had it. I'll collect the papers and bring them round. Is there anything I can get you? Aspirin? Cough mixture?"
"Don't worry, I'm fine, Cally. Really I am." I detect a spark of life in his voice. "But are you really sure I'm not keeping you from anything? It is Christmas Eve. Shouldn't you be with your friends or family?" He pauses, and weirdly, it almost seems as if he's tentative, something that's totally unlike my super-confident boss. "Or your boyfriend?"
"Nope, I'm footloose and fancy free at the moment, boss. And I'm visiting my family next week." My turn to pause. "So until then, I'm completely and utterly yours."
"I can't thank you enough, Cally." He breaks off for a coughing fit, while I try to fool myself there are nuances of meaning in his shattered voice that have nothing to do with gratitude. "You're an angel," he gasps when the cataclysm is over, "A true Christmas angel. I don't know what I'd do without you."
And I know what I'd like to do with you, boss man.
When gives me his address and rings off, I leap out of my fleecy burrow, thanking a Fairy Godmother I never knew I had.
This has got to be the best Christmas present ever and Cinders shall go to the ball!
*** *** ***
Forty minutes later, my taxi pulls up outside the large old building where Innes has his flat. I managed to catch the security man at work and get in for Innes' papers, and now I'm here with them, plus an emergency care package for my boss.
I've got lemons, honey and whisky to make toddies. I've got all the medicines that I dosed myself with when I had the same bug. I've even got one or two Christmas snacks and treats for when he's feeling better and his appetite returns.
I'm ridiculously excited. I've never been to Innes' home, and I'm dying to see if it's as stylish as I imagine, as stylish as he is. Not that I'm really interested in his furnishings and décor.
As I ring his speakerphone, I'm actually trembling, stupid as it seems, and I have to wait for an answer, until Innes' hoarse voice growls out, "Cally, is that you?" He sounds crabby, but I make allowances. The man is ill.
"Yep, it's me, boss. I've got the papers and some other stuff."
"What other stuff?"
"Oh, nothing much. Can I come up?"
"It might be safer if you didn't. Just shove them in the letterbox and I'll come down in a little while." I can almost hear him despairing of his own manners. "And thanks, Cally, really. You're a star. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas."
But I've come this far, and I'm not going to be fobbed off. It occurs to me for a moment that he might not consider himself presentable – he's so fastidious – but my desire to see him is too strong. I squelch my qualms and prepare to squelch his objections and his masculine pride. "They're too bulky for the letterbox," I lie. I haven't even looked. "I'll just come up for a minute and leave them. I won't linger, if you're feeling ill."
Silence. Then, "Okay. All right."
He sounds grumpy and ungracious. He must be really ill, this curmudgeon just isn't him. He's always composed and civil and friendly. For a boss, he's always on the side of us lesser mortals.
The lock uncouples and I push my way into the hall and make my way up the stairs. It's an old house, but elegantly appointed and at any other time I'd linger to admire it. But today, oh God, it's like an icebox. Bone-chillingly freezing, as cold as outdoors. A horrible thought occurs to me. Are the actual apartments as cold? If so, no wonder Innes sounds so rough. If he's ill and frozen, it's not surprising his temper's frayed.
On the landing, I locate his door. Raising my hand to knock, I pause then try the handle. The door's unlocked and I push it open and step inside – where the meat locker chill hits me in the face. Along with another shock.
I don't know what I was expecting. I've been envisioning the sick Innes as still looking suave and immaculate, as always. I've pictured him in jeans and a beautiful sweater, maybe with a scarf as a concession. Or maybe a sexy, high end robe – thick and deluxe, very masculine, worn over classy sweat pants or something.
But reality, he looks like a deranged wild man shambling through a disaster zone of tissues, abandoned blankets and empty coffee cups and half drunk glasses of Lemsip. There's even a tangle of forlorn, un-hung Christmas decorations on the coffee table.
"Oh my God, boss, you look terrible!"
It's out of my mouth before I can stop it, and Innes scowls as if it's hit home. He does look dreadful, though. For him.
"Well, thanks for that."
To offset the biting cold, he's wrapped himself in the duvet off his bed, and he's padding around in his feet bare, the idiot. His usually immaculately groomed black hair is all mad curls and tufts and his handsome face is frighteningly pale, but with hot flags of a fever flush across his cheekbones. Even so, he somehow still manages to look gorgeous, devastating virus or not.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that. It's just that I've never seen you ill and you look… different."
He hitches up his slithering duvet. Oh God, he's shaking. "Well, come on in and shut the door. Wouldn't want to let the heat out, would we?" he finishes savagely, grabbing me by the arm and hauling me inside.
"But this place is like a deep freeze. What's happened to the heating?" I set down my tote bag in a chair and move aside some cups and newspapers and a bunch of tinsel to put the files he asked for on the coffee table.
Innes throws himself down in another chair, as if he's finding it hard to stay on his feet. "Everyone in the building's gone away for Christmas, including the landlord." He rearranges himself inside his makeshift tent-come-shelter and pulls it up around his ears. "The guy who usually does the central heating has got an emergency job on, and none of the others I've rung will come out until after Christmas."
"But don't you have a gas or electric fire?" I look around. The place as obviously been remodeled from its original configuration and I can't see a fire.
"If I had one, I'd have it on, obviously." His voice sounds really odd, and I realise his teeth are chattering.
Poor thing, he looks so miserable. How awful it must be for a confident, self sufficient man like Innes to be rendered so powerless by illness and circumstance. Innes shrugs in his cocoon and suddenly gives me a shamefaced grin that melts my heart and sends a sensation like warm honey seeping along my veins to pool in certain places.
Dear God, I'm a horrible person! I'm getting the hots for a man who's probably quite seriously ill!
"Sorry I'm being such an ungrateful bastard," he rasps, "Forgive me, Cally. You've been really helpful and I'm being an arse."
Helpful? I suppose so. But I've got other motives. I can't believe my luck that circumstances have brought me here, alone, and put me in this strange position of power over the very man I adore.
"You are a bit, but I'll forgive you because you're poorly." I stride across the room and take him by the arm, "Come on, where's the bedroom? Let's get you to bed."
Wearily he hauls himself up, but for a moment a brighter glimmer flares in his eyes, and they look even bluer than normal. It might be the fever… but it might be something else. He might be ill, but he's still a man. My heart thunders.
"Now that's a very tempting offer." His voice doesn't have its usually strong, decisive ring, but there's a lot more life in it than there was a moment ago, and suddenly he waggles his dark eyebrows at me. "Sorry, Cally. Must be the lurgi talking. Forget I said that."