Authors: S.E. Chardou
The feeling hit me as if he punched me in the stomach. So that was why he’d asked me about my employment at Vogue—he owned the goddamn casino for Christ’s sake!
I cleared my throat and never wanted a cigarette so badly in my life though I’d managed to quit and hadn’t had one in over six months with the exception of my slip-up the night I found out my sister had died. I stood and smoothed down the black body-conscious vicuña sweater I wore over a pair of indigo skinny jeans. The outfit had been a recent present from Rory who never tired of buying me anything I wanted. It was nice but I could have gotten the same items from Grayson so it had nothing to do with why I’d chosen Rory over my former fiancé. I walked to the window and looked out at all the buildings and a clear view of Central Park.
“How well do you know Astrid Schmidt?” I finally wondered out loud after a vast moment of silence between the two of us.
“Why are you suddenly so interested in Astrid? She has nothing to do with what we are talking about,” Severin shot back in a defensive manner.
I turned to face him since I didn’t trust having my back to him. “She was the Human Resource manager at Vogue Casino and apparently, she purchased Rory’s Park Avenue penthouse. Don’t you find that the least bit strange?”
His aquamarine eyes were bright though cold as ice. “She’s our cousin and her relationship with Rory has always been a close one. They met up today for lunch which is how I knew he wouldn’t be here.”
“He called her a ‘fucking bitch’ when he found out she had visited his penthouse that night after we left the precinct. Why was he so angry with her?”
“Probably because he found it highly distasteful she would view his apartment the same day Trésor’s body was removed. He probably found the whole situation a bit insensitive on her part as if his lover dying meant nothing to her. Or at least it didn’t register enough for her to wait until the following day to schedule a viewing. Where are you going with all of this?”
“No where to be honest…he doesn’t discuss your family very much and I would like to get to know who you all are and how I factor into the equation. I would hate for everyone to think I am just some fraud who wants to take over my sister’s place in his life. This wasn’t supposed to happen at all but it did and there is no turning back.”
Severin stood and strode over to me. “When you’re ready to leave, let me know and I’ll be happy to help you pack.”
The double doors closed and I had never been so happy to see Rory in my life. I walked over and embraced him warmly before I whispered in his ear, “He’s been here for about twenty minutes and he’s quickly becoming a major pain in my ass.”
Rory stared at me and smiled before he kissed my lips and slipped an arm around my waist. “What are you doing here? Isn’t this a bit out of the way for you since you’re out in Tribeca? Why didn’t you join Astrid and I for lunch?”
“No particular reason. I just wanted to come by to see your new love. She seems happy and healthy…are you trying to replace her so you don’t have to remember Trésor?”
“We both know this has nothing to do with Aurélie.”
Severin walked towards us, murmuring in German and what ever he said wasn’t exactly pleasant. I could tell by his tone of voice alone. He spoke quickly, his words clipped and the only name I caught in their conversation was “Mathilde.”
Rory’s fingers dug into my side as if he was afraid I might try to flee. “Listen, I don’t want to talk about this right now. We can discuss it another time when we are both more levelheaded. The way I’m feeling at this particular moment, I want to fucking kill you for your insinuations alone. Neither Trésor nor Mathilde have
to do with this and for you to suggest otherwise is sheer lunacy. Are you listening to yourself?”
“Yes, brother, live in your dream world with your fantasy whore but if you think you can just walk away into the sunset and live a vanilla life with this bitch you are sadly mistaken. She will break your heart as sure as the sun rises. She cannot be trusted because she doesn’t understand you and we both know what happens when her type freaks out because we’ve been down this road before.”
Severin strode to us until he and Rory were separated by mere inches. It was too scary and eerie. He placed a hand on his brother’s jaw and said, “She’s not right for you and you know it so why are you doing this to yourself yet again? I am tired of saving and protecting you. The next time you get yourself into trouble, I will make you dig the grave. I have my limits you know and I’m
of being your keeper.”
Rory flinched and slapped his hand from his face. “Go home, Severin.”
“With pleasure,” he murmured before he walked past us and slammed his way out of the suite.
I forced a breath from my lungs and failed to realize I hadn’t bothered to breathe the whole time they spoke. There was too much tension in the room and all because of me. I knew I wasn’t the only cause but this time I had certainly been the catalyst and I felt paralyzed and shocked in my own skin.
Rory let me go and I walked back to the window. The view was gorgeous and I needed something to take my mind off the intense conversation I had witnessed between the two brothers. I almost felt like an intruder who had seen something play out I had no right to observe and the feeling drove me mad with frustration.
I could feel my lover’s presence behind me as he pressed a champagne flute in my hand. I looked his way before I sipped Cristal. “Isn’t it a bit early for a drink?”
“What are you talking about? It’s five o’clock somewhere and besides after what just transpired, you’d be lying if you said you didn’t need a drink.”
I turned away from the window yet again and faced Rory but he was a much more pleasant sight than Severin despite them being identical twins. “What was he talking about? Why didn’t you tell me Astrid was your cousin or that you owned Vogue Hotel, Casino and Spa? Hell, why didn’t you tell me you gave up your interests in the clubs? He blamed
for that but you never said a word to me so why am I the receiver of such shitty treatment?”
Rory looked at me with determined blue-green eyes but there was something else behind them. He didn’t want to lie but he didn’t exactly want to tell me the whole truth either.
He held out an arm to guide us back to the sofa and although I was a bit pissed off for not being as informed as I thought I had a right to be, I followed him anyway. After I sat on the sofa beside him, I turned toward him with an accusing glare.
I drained my champagne glass in a couple of swallows and set the flute on the glass coffee table. My arms immediately crossed in front of my breasts, a defensive position that clearly conveyed I was in no mood for bullshit. I wanted the truth even if he didn’t think I deserved to know the dirty details just yet.
“I didn’t give up my controlling interest in the clubs forever, I merely signed them over to Severin for the time being. He’s frustrated and angry about the situation but it isn’t as daunting as he probably made it seem. The clubs run themselves since there are employees and Gabriel oversees the payroll and all the tax shit.
“All my brother has to do is simply put in an appearance when ever he wants. He enjoys hanging out there and for the moment, I would rather not be involved with anything remotely involving the clubs. The pain is still too raw and I don’t want to be reminded of Trésor every time I walk into one of my establishments. Besides, I have you now—I don’t
He cleared his throat before he looked into my eyes again. “I suppose that is what he was going on about in German though you didn’t understand the words or the implications behind them. He said I take
to the extreme and in the game of love, he couldn’t be more right. There are no half-measures with me. Mathilde and I were very passionate but we were also a destructive force of nature. I was madly in love with her but she wasn’t a good influence on me. We were bound to crash and burn. He’s worried it might happen again because I haven’t felt that way about anyone ever . . . until you.”
I laughed out loud then. I couldn’t help myself until I glanced at his face and realized he wasn’t playing along and laughing with me. He was deadly serious and I didn’t know what to say. For once, I was speechless but that didn’t mean I couldn’t dig in the knife and twist.
“Seriously, Rory, that’s very . . . heartfelt and sweet. I know it’s been extremely difficult for you since the death of Trésor but let’s be adults about our present situation. I speak now because I understand you had intense feelings for her even if you weren’t in love but you don’t have to wax poetic about us to make me feel better. I’m thirty-two—not twenty-two—and what
have worked on me then sure as fuck doesn’t work on me now. Call me cynical and old. You need to try those tired old lines on an empty-headed twenty-something that would probably get week-kneed and soak her La Perla thong on command. ”
“This isn’t . . . a joke, Aurélie. I don’t fall in love because it isn’t something I do and you
that. If I could have prevented this, I would have never taken you to Southampton in the first place. It was
to be a bit of fun. I already knew I’d never feel anything for you but pity and disgust after my brother and I had our way with you. That was the plan and it was one I should have stuck to had I been thinking clearly.
“Yes, he was always part of the arrangement even if I didn’t tell you. I never do anything without him and sharing you was always something we planned to do together. He would degrade you physically and I would break you down psychologically. It’s what we
and how we get our kicks. He kept up his end of the bargain but I haven’t kept up mine because I don’t want to do that to you. Can’t you understand that?”
I wanted to slap him across his carefully constructed face of contrition and walk away but I couldn’t.
I hadn’t followed my own plan either.
No man was ever supposed to touch my heart. Hell, I’d built up a fortress so thick and prickly, no one had ever managed to penetrate my walls . . . until now. How this man managed to crawl his way under my defenses and wrench any emotion out of me was a complete and utter mystery.
He knew my one and only true love had been Renaud. I wouldn’t ever allow myself to feel that naïve or taken advantage like that by anyone ever again. I was too old and always questioned the motivations of
. It was part of what made me so damned good at my occupation.
However, I knew he was deadly serious and what hurt me the most about his ill-timed confession? The fact that he had admitted he and his brother had used me or I felt the same about him but he would never hear those words leave my mouth?
I couldn’t and wouldn’t ever confess dying love to anyone ever again.
But I do love you, Rory, I love you more than I have ever loved a man in a long time and perhaps I am falling in love with you too.
The words never actually left my thoughts but perhaps he could see it in my eyes? It would have to do because to say I loved him at the drop of a hat would never happen. I wasn’t the insta-love type and never would be.
Even now, I blamed our unusual circumstances. Our feelings seemed to form overnight because we both had lost someone who was very special to us. His lover and my sister and over this unique bond we’d come together naturally and found solace in each another.
It was so very easy for us to lose emotional control because we spent so much time together. Our hearts were open and raw—we’d lost someone who meant so much to both of us. Instead of acknowledging the pain, we clung to one another in a highly dysfunctional relationship.
It also didn’t hurt he was a highly accomplished lover that he made me feel alive, free and sexually adventurous. I’d never been so secure in my body or craved sex as much as I did now. He made time feel urgent and important—our lovemaking swept through and blazed a path of fire, want and need through me. My whole body was a live wire twenty-four seven—of course I’d
to feel something for him.
I was very fond of him and enjoyed his friendship, companionship and the sex of course even if it wasn’t what I was completely used to. I’d had a lot more anal sex than I’d ever experienced in my life but he made it feel special and sexy, not dirty and unnatural. There were little rituals I had to do to prepare and over those strange activities, he made me feel sensual, wanton and
Most women would have been quite embarrassed about sharing their personal habits with their lovers but nothing about my body was a mystery to Rory. He knew my bowel habits and when I had my period. He asked me about my diet and what I’d eaten. He instructed me on what I should consume and what I shouldn’t.
We’d attended his personal physician and I’d had my IUD removed. The doctor proceeded to prescribe a low-hormone birth control pill since it would regulate my cycle. Rory could also decide whether or not he wanted to have sex with me during those times.
I wasn’t ashamed to admit I didn’t mind having sex while menstruating with Rory where as I would have balked out loud if it had been any other man. It was the same way when I had to clean myself out for anal intercourse though we both agreed to him wearing condoms regardless. I just didn’t want him to have his cock back there and then inside me. I didn’t care how clean I supposedly was after a ‘cleaning out,’ I still needed time to adjust to this new lifestyle.
“You won’t always feel like that. Eventually, it will become normal,” he’d assured me.
And slowly, over the past three weeks, my life with him felt normal, free and not the least bit unusual.
I could understand how my sister had become so enraptured with him despite our age difference and her being in her impressionable twenties. I felt like I should have known better at my age but for some reason I didn’t want to since I enjoyed everything we did together. The guilt of being with my dead sister’s lover—the way he fucked me, claimed my body, ate my pussy, licked my ass and used his toys on me with
permission—ebbed away with each passing day.