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Authors: Laila Blake

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Erotica, #Bdsm, #Romantic Erotica

Trading Tides

BOOK: Trading Tides
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Contents

Copyright

Now

Then

I

II

III

IV

V

VI

VII

VIII

IX

X

XI

XII

Now

Epilogue

About the author

Other books by Laila Blake

About A Hotter State

LAILA BLAKE

TRADING TIDES

An erotic novella

Copyright © Laila Blake 2014

Cover picture © Depositphotos / ikostudio

Published by A Hotter State

ISBN 978-988-12899-3-3

All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorised duplication is prohibited.

Warning: This title contains graphic language and is suitable for
adults only
.

www.ahotterstate.com

NOW

The night sky is dark and starless, steeped in the feeling of approaching dawn. It's in the sound of water rushing from showers all around my flat, and in the hum of the first tube. It's in the off-black color of the sky, that mud grave charcoal where the night is laid to rest. It's in my stomach, too, in the aching hollow that isn't hunger.

I stretch, roll my shoulders back one by one, savor the little ache as I pull my elbow towards my chin. I've had too much wine and my head feels heavy, but I can't go to bed.

My first alarm will go off in twenty minutes. It is sitting there across the room on the ornate driftwood nightstand Paul made for me. I count down the minutes until it will ring and make me jump.

I think my body has been asleep for an hour or so, but my mind is still spinning up a slow, rainy storm.
 

I think about having a shower. There’s something about hot water and a confined space, about the lower oxygen content in the water vapor that seems to heal most things. I’m cold, too. But it’s that time of morning and chances are there won’t be any hot water to speak of. One day, I’ll be promoted to staff writer, or I'll sell one of those screenplays that populate my head, and maybe then I can move—somewhere with proper heating and water system; somewhere without walls so thin, I hear the couple next door fucking every night.
 

I try to find some sense of justice in the fact that, surely, I paid them back tonight, both in noise and duration—but the memory just makes me come up short and wrap my arms around my body so tight.

I think I screwed up. Big time.
 

And still, I can't believe he didn't come back.

I force myself to get up, to stop clicking on random links, on trailers and kitten videos. They make me want to buy a pet, and I'd be a terrible pet owner. I close the browser, and turn off the screen so that the computer can switch itself to standby.

I pull my shirt off over my head; my hair crackles with static. As if my body recognizes the motion, it moves into a stretch, a yawn so wide it feels like my jaw is trying to escape its shackles. I take a pint glass into the bathroom, fill it with water and gulp it all down with an aspirin. When it’s empty, I’m out of breath, swaying on the spot. The act of brushing my teeth feels beyond me, but I fumble for paste and brush anyway.

I watch myself in the mirror cabinet, watch the way the toothbrush distorts my mouth. My hair’s a mess; there’s a bite-mark on the swell of my breast. I can still feel his teeth when I run my fingers over the spot. My eyes are red and puffy and my lips look huge, like they’re leaking color into the adjacent skin.
 

My hand goes still; so does the toothbrush. I feel the plastic against my teeth.

Why did I have to say it?

Somewhere, there’s a need to cry. But I’m not letting it happen yet. Not yet. Not that easily. I clear my throat, brush until I bleed. Then I spit pink bubbles into the sink and watch them run down the drain.
 

I’m washing my face when I hear the doorbell. It’s loud enough to make me jump, and for a second, I confuse it for the alarm. It's too short, though, too loud. It’s 4:40 in the morning—but I know who it is. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, maybe it's a deep expectation that finally pans out, the last note to complete the melody, the final twist on the screen that turns two hours worth of suffering into a happy ending—but I know. I can feel it in my stomach—I can feel him. Paul’s back.

THEN

I

I was in a meeting when my phone hummed, vibrating on the table and sending a jolt of anticipation down my spine. One of the senior editors, George Lyle, was droning on about the quarterly sales and the future of print in the digital age; he gave me the stink-eye and I snapped the phone off the table, muffled the vibration against my thigh.
 

He was fifty-eight, a paper man through and through; the Internet was enemy territory, purveyor of pornography and home to bullies, pedophiles and other lonely assholes who enjoyed superficial reporting. Someone once told him what clickbaiting was, and he'd been proudly appalled by its effect on journalism for weeks, like an old dog with a very stinky bone. And I was the millennial with my smart phone and the magazine's twitter account who represented all of it.

I waited another minute or so, until his attention was fully back on his topic, before I switched my phone on under the table and unlocked the screen. I closed my eyes, just for a moment, and breathed in deeply, tuning out the rest of the room, savoring the anticipation.
 

The table disappeared, then the people, the voices—and I was back by the sea. I could almost taste the salt.

Paul:
Pet, please find tonight's instructions down at reception.

When I came up for air and the room rematerialized around me, I was biting my lip. My face felt flushed and heated, but nobody had taken any notice of the distances I'd crossed in my mind. The intern across from me was still staring at the table trying to keep his eyes from falling shut; the guy next to me was rubbing his nails until they sparkled in the artificial light.
 

Before the text, I had been in my element—bored and frustrated maybe, but focused. Now I would have given anything for Lyle to run out of righteous indignation already, so I could leave.
 

I read the text again, and again—but the effect came with diminishing returns and the tingling heat between my legs faded just like its power to transform the room around me.

There was an arousal that came with a certain amount of panic, Paul taught me that. I thought about whatever was waiting for me at the reception desk. In my head it reached ridiculous proportions: a scroll wrapped around a dildo, or a long thin package that couldn't be anything but a whip of some description.

Most likely it would be a letter again, but there was no stopping my imagination now. Paul liked putting instructions down in his own handwriting. He'd write me long emails about his day and the fish he’d caught or the thoughts he'd had, but when it came to the weekend and our Skype sessions, there'd always be a small envelope waiting for me in my letterbox. He had a beautiful, meticulous handwriting, and he'd list items or instructions after long elegant dashes. It made me feel as though I was dating someone from a different century.

I sneaked a glance at the clock on the wall. If the meeting went according to schedule, we would wrap it up in fifteen minutes. Something like an eternity.

I missed him, that was what I wanted to write back. The same thing every day, every hour. It was also the thing I almost never put in writing. I missed his voice and his hands, and the way his eyes crinkled when he smiled. We don't often think of wrinkles that way, as a feature to enhance someone's looks, but that's what they were in Paul's face. They showed a man who smiled from within, a man who smiled not because it was expected but, because it came out of him unfiltered and without guile.

I asked him for a picture once, but like the ones from his press releases, it didn't really depict him—not the Paul I knew. It depicted Paul Archer, recluse and eccentric: a fictional character he made up. And Paul Archer didn't smile that way, he glowered intensely even when the corners of his mouth curled upward.

I feigned frustration; secretly I loved him for it. Loved that the Paul I knew was exclusive, intimate, that he didn't belong to the whole world the way Paul Archer did. And I loved that it condemned me to hours of trying to recall the features of my Paul, the smile, the depth, the sweetness.
 

It passed the time.

***

I was first out of the room when Lyle adjourned the meeting, jumping up almost before he'd finished the sentence. I didn't care anymore, as I clutched my phone and squared my shoulders in determination. What could he see but a hungry young journalist, eager to get back to work?

“Miss Ellis?” I turned around, trying to make out the speaker amid the throng of colleagues leaving the conference room. George Lyle waved his hand once over their heads. I sighed inwardly, tracing the sharp outlines of the buttons along the edge of my phone. “Do you have another minute?”

When I trotted back inside, he was at the head of the table again. I didn’t slink back into my chair. I held my head high as I approached, leaned my hip against the table.

“How can I help you?”

“I was wondering when I can expect your first presentation. It’s been more than two weeks.”

I nodded, stopped myself from running my fingers through my hair, from thinking about the package at reception, about Paul and the fact that it was Friday.

“Yeah, I thought I’d emailed you. Next week should be good. The team has another session planned before we go home later and that should do it for now.”

He nodded; I tried not to narrow my eyes at him. He could just have answered my email, but I suppose that would have been too simple.

“Monday, then. I’ll get two other members of the senior staff to sit in if you don’t mind?”

Shaking my head, I clicked my thumbnail against the metal casing of my phone. My pocket muffled the sound. If he was trying to intimidate me, he wasn’t doing a great job, glowering and hoping I’d crumble under the public speaking hurdle. I know, I look like that would get to me, but I don’t mind it, really. Leading this project had been the challenge, presenting our results would be a relief more than anything. The following week, I'd be back to writing full time, with far fewer company politics and old men's egos to navigate. I would be able to put in for a few days off—even spontaneous ones. I could write from anywhere, after all.
 

I breathed against the inappropriate smile trying to sneak onto my features. “If that’s all…” I gestured back to the door, “I have a mountain of work before the weekend.”

***

It had been sweet of Paul to assume we occupied a whole building and that I'd have to walk down into some elaborately decorated entrance hall. The reality of our magazine came closer to half a floor in a run-down office park. A short trip down grey cubicle walls led me straight to reception. The desk stood by the elevators, and the staff constantly complained about the drafts and the noise.

"Hi, Stace." I waved nervously, and put on my brightest smile.
 
"Anything in the mail for me by any chance?"

She looked at me just a second too long, and my face turned pink. I stepped from one foot to the other and while she tilted her head, I raised my brows in a pleading expression. Please don't say anything. I swear it's not my dildo.

"A pretty heavy something," she said, eyeing me suspiciously. "I already put it on your desk."

I mumbled my gratitude and turned away.

"You know you're not supposed to get personal deliveries here?"
 

Was there a greater than normal stress on personal? I was in the kind of mindset that could have made anything she said sound like I'd received a fucking machine wrapped in nothing but a bow. My mouth was dry and so I nodded, cleared my throat and tried to smile.

"I know... it's research, actually."

I didn't think she believed me. When it came to lying I was usually better, but anything even vaguely connected to Paul turned me into such a damn ingénue. I think that was part of his appeal, but it felt jarring when my work personality clashed with his pet.

I smiled at the receptionist; she rolled her eyes and I scampered off. I'd buy her coffee on Monday and she'd forgive me. Maybe a large one, with sprinkles and cream. It felt warranted when I reached my desk and saw the package. Easily three cubic feet in size, it dwarfed my little cubicle. My keyboard had been pushed as far back as it would go, but when I moved my mouse, I still found 15 pages of lower case b in the document I was working on.

I hefted the package onto my chair and looked around. Almost everybody was back at work, catching up on the emails that had filled their inboxes during the enforced break of the meeting. I took a deep breath, found a box cutter and slid it across the tape at the side so I might spy in. My fingers were shaking and Paul's handwriting on the address label was smiling up at me.

BOOK: Trading Tides
6.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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