tagMatureThe Christmas Job

The Christmas Job


"You're the best, Alex." She smiled and lifted the champagne flute to her lips.

He could see the right side of her face, the skin there still glowing from the orgasms he'd given her.

They were sipping champagne on the faux-fur rug in front of the fireplace. Virginia lounged between his legs, her back to his chest while he leaned against the sofa. An endless mix of Christmas music piped into the room at low volume.

His lips brushed her thin, white-blonde hair. "You're not so bad yourself."

The chiming clock drew his eyes up to the mantle, which held three stockings. He knew she'd made them herself, one for him, one for her, and one for Killer, her white cat that went into hiding every time he visited. Not that he minded. He hated cats, though he'd never told her.

She'd gone upstairs a little while ago to dress in silk lounge clothes, and he'd thrown his black pants and white shirt on again, finding them near the staircase. Then he'd collected all the clothes that were strewn about from the den to the front door, a smile on his face as he recalled how they got there.

They'd stumbled into the house, kissing and laughing. Their coats and shoes had gone first, then came the frantic rush to tear off each other's clothes. He'd stripped everything from her body except the pearls at her throat. They made it to the den just in time for him to lay her back on the rug before pushing himself inside her.

Now she reached up and back, running her fingers over his forehead, through the receding hairline, the soft brown hair, and down behind his ear before cupping the back of his neck.

Alex leaned forward and kissed her on the side of the face. Starting at her slender wrist, he stroked his hand down the length of her up-stretched arm, slowly, languidly, and by the time the back of his fingers fluttered down to the curve of her breast, her heartbeat and breathing had quickened.

Virginia's hand descended slowly to rest on his, and she sighed. "I couldn't wait to get home for this."

His voice was a murmur against her ear. "I would have had you in the car if you hadn't insisted on giving Mr. Donovan a ride home from the party."

He watched the side of her face pull up in a smile. She tilted her head to give his lips better access to her jaw. "I couldn't refuse poor old Mr. Donovan a ride after his wife left with Brad again."

Alex planted kisses on her. "Well...you were definitely worth the wait."

His eyes didn't miss the stealthy attempt to bring her hand to her side, where she lightly pressed in and out, her fingers softly working to stave off whatever discomfort she felt.

After a moment, he leaned back and set his champagne down. With both hands free, he wrapped them around her neck.

A haunting voice sang "Silent Night" in Gaelic while Alex stroked his fingers at the base of her skull. Virginia relaxed, soft moans and sighs her only sounds as she leaned back against his strong, capable hands.

His thumbs slid under the pearls and gently worked on the muscles there. As always when he massaged her delicate neck, he thought of how fast and easy it would be for him to snap it.

It was a natural thought for him, but now it was also logical and calming. Still, he hoped he wouldn't have to do it.

Alex had killed people that way many times before, and he knew it was quick and merciful. He willed thoughts of her cancer prognosis from his mind, and looked over at the rustic tree.

This particular tree had the natural theme, showcasing Virginia's love of the outdoors. It held pine cones in its boughs, and small resin squirrels and birds perched and played on the limbs. White lights added to the cozy, romantic glow in the den.

It was just one of the many real Christmas trees she had throughout her home. Virginia liked to do most of the decorating herself, though he knew this year she'd had to get a lot of help.

The natural scents of pine and burning wood were new to him, something he'd only known since he met her. He thought of Christmases growing up-he and his siblings huddled around the kitchen stove with the burners on high, trying to stay warm. His mother was either out with a boyfriend doing drugs, or passed out in her bedroom.

But Christmas with Virginia was perfect. The flames in the fireplace crackled, and Elvis crooned "Blue Christmas" softly from the corners of the room. Warm and relaxed, his hands on Virginia's soft skin, Alex's mind drifted back fifteen years.

The first thing he'd seen when he'd walked into the office at Whitney Agency were eyes as blue as a tropical sea. They belonged to the woman on John Whitney's arm-she was his new boss's wife.

Virginia was tiny, with flawless skin unmarred by too much makeup, and straight, pale blonde hair in a sensible, yet elegant bob. A single strand of pearls that he'd come to know as her trademark drew his eyes down to soft curves under an impeccable red suit. Underneath the tailored material was the body he'd come to know so intimately. In her heels, she was second in command at the agency, and out of her heels, she drove him crazy in bed.

He chuckled against her.

"What?" she asked, a laugh in her voice.

"I was just thinking back to the first day I saw you. I'd already been told that although John ran the company, you ran John. And I could see it for myself as plain as day."

She giggled her acquiescence, but when she spoke, her voice was wistful. "The good ol' days. Do I still turn you on like I did back then?"

"Even more," he said without hesitation. "You look exactly the same to me as you did fifteen years ago. I saw beauty wrapped around such power and wisdom."

She sighed, either from the memory, or the way his hands were reducing the muscles in her shoulders to goo. "When I saw you," she said, "I looked into your hard, blue eyes and I knew you'd be dangerous, more dangerous than anyone I'd ever met. And I've been letting you in all these years. I don't know how wise that makes me."

"I'm glad you're unwise where I'm concerned." His voice softened in her ear. "Though you know you couldn't keep me out if you tried."

He let one hand slide over her shoulder to caress her upper chest, and felt her shiver in response.

"I just worry I can't keep up with you now. I tire so easily." She leaned forward, her hand on her side again.

Alex relieved her other trembling hand of the champagne glass. "That's probably enough drinking for you tonight, honey. You wore yourself out at the party."

"It was just one slow dance with you."

Alex turned her gently in his arms. She'd closed her eyes and balled one hand into a fist, tapping it gently against tight lips. Then her eyes opened, and he saw the hint of pain there.

Keeping watch on those eyes, he grabbed her glass of water and held it out to her. She tried to take it herself, but he kept his hand around it, the other on the back of her neck.

He let her hands wrap around his to guide the glass to her lips, and drink her fill. When she pushed the glass away, he set it down and held her shoulders. "Are you OK? Do you need me to get you something? Medication?"

Virginia shook her head, but he could see her body trembling. After a few long moments, she let out a rush of breath, straightened up, and gave him a weak smile. "I'm turning into a frail old woman."

Alex pulled her small frame to his chest, wanting to crush her against him, though he knew he couldn't. She felt so thin, so fragile.

Her arms went around him, and he felt and heard the deep sigh that shuddered through her. She seemed to melt against him.

"I need your strength," she whispered so softly he almost didn't hear it.

"Virginia, you're the strongest person I've ever known. In every way."

She pulled back. Her expression was brighter, and the color returning to her cheeks was encouraging.

"I appreciate you saying that, Alex."

"I know you gave Barbara some time off. Do you think she should come in after I leave?"

She shook her head. "I've done so well lately, and I wanted her to spend time with her little boy...not have to work and nurse an old woman on Christmas."

"Stop saying you're old, Virginia. You're not. You're a hot woman."

She tittered, and he enjoyed the blush in her cheeks. "I do try to take care of myself, you know."

"Oh, I know," he said, sliding his hand down her chest and brushing against one of her small breasts, clothed in silk. "You're firm where you need to be...soft where you need to be..." His caress elicited a moan from her, which hardened his cock. "Honey, you'll always be beautiful to me."

She gave a short laugh. "Alex Kohler, you flatterer. I'm 50 years old, and you have your pick of girls."

His hand paused on her chest. "I'm only seven years younger than you."

"Nobody would ever know that, and you're lucky." Virginia reached up and gently squeezed his cheeks. "You've got the kind of fresh-faced, boyish look that makes girls just want to fawn over you."

Her fingers moved down to his mouth, tracing his full lips that always turned up slightly at the corners. She said it was his default expression, and that it made him look perpetually pleasant...sweet. It was a bonus for him that looks were deceiving.

"I don't want girls, I want a woman..." He stared straight into her eyes.

"Alex, I never understood this thing you have for older women."

"Just you, Virginia. I just have a thing for you." His voice became teasing. "A rather big thing, but I'm sure you can feel that."

Her tinkling laughter made him smile. Her face had no lines except when she smiled or laughed, and then it crinkled up in the most interesting places. He liked to study her face when she was happy.

"You might just be after my money," she said.

He leaned down and drug his lips across hers, then swept them down to nibble at her jaw. "Nope...I'm just after your body."

She giggled, and her hand touched down on his cock. "Patient, boy," she said to it. "We'll play again shortly."

"Don't use the word 'short' around him. You might give him a complex."

Virginia continued patting it, teasing. "Oh, he has nothing to worry about in that department." With a smile, she tilted her head to him, her translucent blue eyes glazed with desire.

He bent down and teased her lips with his own. Then he moved to her ear and nibbled there until she pushed him away.

"It's time for your gift," she said.

"You already gave me my gift." He reached for her silky shirt. "I want to open it again."

She laughed and scooted away, then moved over to the tree and pulled a perfectly wrapped box from beneath it. She joined him again, and held out the box with shaky hands.

He took it from her with a quizzical look. "What's this? We said no gifts."

"Open it, darling."

She snuggled up next to him, and he made no pretense about slowly unwrapping the delicate paper.

When he lifted the lid and shoved aside the tissue, he saw a small, colorful piece of paper-one of her homemade plane tickets-sticking out of a pair of red silk boxers. He picked up the ticket and stared at it for a long moment, then his eyes flashed up to hers. "You're flying me to Israel the day after tomorrow?"

She nodded, and her voice buzzed with excitement. "That cancer treatment I told you about, in Herzliya. We have a place overlooking the Mediterranean. Just you, me, sex and food...and warmer weather."

He looked back down at the ticket in her own perfect handwriting, and slowly said, "You know I can't take time off work."

"Who runs the agency? I do. Robert may be ready to push his old mother out, but I still call the shots. And I say you've earned a vacation, with me. We can call it a business trip if we have to."

He still didn't know what to think. "How long?"

"Two months."

A breath of air escaped his lips. He'd never had two weeks off in fifteen years, let alone two months.

Her expression turned serious, the 'business look', as he thought of it. She cleared her throat. "That gives you a day to take care of things."

He nodded. "The Preston assignment. A day is more than enough time."

"I know, darling. I have every confidence in you, as always."

He put the ticket in his pocket, then held up the boxers.

Virginia giggled. "I cheated a little. That's actually my Christmas present, because I get to see you in them...and out of them." She laughed and her manicured fingers brushed his thigh.

He caught her hand in his much larger one and brought her wrist to his lips. Then he got up, gave a stretch, and walked over to the Christmas tree. As he reached in among the branches, he looked back at her with a mischievous grin.

"My turn," he said.

"But we said no gifts." Her expression was innocent as she watched Alex pull a tiny velvet box from within the branches.

"Merry Christmas, honey." He knelt down in front of her.

"Oh no," Virginia giggled, one hand against her chest. "That's not what I think it is, is it?" She took the box and slowly lifted the lid. Her gaze widened at the perfect diamond flashing out in the fire light.

"Oh, Alex," she said. After a long pause, Virginia looked back up, eyes shining. "It's truly beautiful."

He took her hand and the box. She pulled her knees up closer to her chest and curled her arm around her legs, smiling in anticipation.

"Will you marry me, Virginia Whitney?" He held up the ring that cost him half a year's pay.

She held her expression a few seconds longer, then burst out laughing.

Just like that, he let go of her hand and snapped the box shut.

It had become their little joke, their tradition. Alex proposed every year with that ring. He'd started the Christmas following her husband's death in their swimming pool.

It was something they laughed about, but her refusal always stung him a bit. He really wanted her to say yes. And he was a little surprised she didn't accept the ring this time. Though he wouldn't let it rise to conscious thought, in his gut he knew it was their last Christmas together.

His usual calm expression intact, he carefully set the ring aside and pulled Virginia's legs away from her body, making her slide slowly onto her back between his legs. His mouth was on hers when he unbuttoned her silk shirt with quick, practiced fingers.

He leaned back and stared down at her. His voice was rough. "You're gonna wear that ring, Virginia, if it's the last thing you do."

"Is that a threat?" There was breathy excitement in her voice, as he expected.

"You know I don't make threats." His hand was on the waistband of her flowing pants, ready to yank them off her body. "I always get what I want."

Suddenly, Alex heard a sound outside the window-a small cry, and clanking metal. In the next instant, he was on his feet, gun in hand.

Virginia looked up with wide, blue eyes from where he'd left her on the floor. "What is it?"

"Don't move." He was already at the window, every muscle in his body tensed. He peered out over the snowy landscape lighted softly by moonlight.

"Alex, come back here," Virginia said, too loud for his taste.

He didn't speak, just listened and looked.

"It's nothing," she sighed. "Just the wind."

The sound came again, and he saw a couple of raccoons several feet from the house. He lowered the gun. "You need to make sure Helena doesn't leave scraps lying around for wild animals."

Virginia sighed. "I started letting the help feed the deer and anything else that comes along. It doesn't hurt anything."

He turned back to the window and cursed, at the same time punching the heavy wooden trim with his fist. Then he leaned his elbow on the wall and rested his forehead against it.

Virginia's voice came through clear and direct. "Alex, I know what's going on with you lately. This isn't about someone or something outside my window at night. It's about the cancer."

He froze in place against the wall while her words cut through him. There was silence for a long while. He slowly turned around.

Alex took in her disheveled form. She was sitting up where he'd left her on the rug, her unbuttoned shirt draped over her small breasts, the outline of her nipples clearly visible under the thin silk. He knew it was the gun in his hand that had turned her on.

He swallowed, ready to say something. But mercifully, Virginia let him off the hook.

"You're worrying about me so much lately, and there's no need. You put my security system in yourself. You're the best. Now get back down here and make love to me."

He walked over, set the gun within reach on the table by the couch, and took a seat. "I wish you didn't live out here by yourself."

She shrugged thin shoulders and looked up at him. "Ed and Helena are around. Barbara is here almost daily. I'm not alone. I'm won't leave the house where I raised my family." Her voice shook on the last word.

Though she rarely talked about it, he knew she was thinking of Amelia, the daughter she'd lost on her son's eighteenth birthday. Amelia had gone with Robert and a large group of his friends to the beach that night. They'd returned without her. Later, her body washed up on the sand.

Softly, he said, "No one's asking you to leave, Virginia."

Virginia struggled to get up and join Alex on the couch, so he leaned down and picked her up easily, then pulled her against him with one strong arm.

"I promised John years ago that I'd take care of you...promised myself I'd take care of you."

"You do, darling."

"It's just that if anything ever happened to you, I'd lose it. Do you understand? I'd tear the world apart."

She rubbed his bicep. "I'm safer with you than anybody in the world."

He couldn't believe that anymore.

He could protect her from anyone, he knew that for sure. But the cancer intimidated him. It was the one thing he couldn't fix by putting a bullet through it. He squeezed her just a little harder against himself.

"You're concern for me means so much, Alex. You really don't know how much. My mother's death, the trouble with Robert, then John's passing...and now my diagnosis. You're my best, in more ways than one. You've made sacrifices for me."

"I guess you're my only weakness." He flashed his most charming grin down on her.

The twinkle in her eyes was the desired reaction. He felt better until she said, "Maybe we'll retire together."

His grin faded away, and he was quiet for a moment. "We both know that retirement is a luxury I'll never have."

"We could find a way to make it happen for you."

His face remained placid as always, belying what he felt inside.

Whitney's operatives could only "retire" if killed on the job or canceled by the agency. It didn't happen often, but it happened. Then, the traitor was hunted down, and Alex was the man John Whitney had always sent to do it.

Alex did everything Whitney asked of him because he understood it was for a greater cause. Secretly, he'd been burned-out for some time, but kept going for Virginia.

"I knew what I was getting into when I signed on."

"Did you really?" Virginia purred.

"I made my commitment to Whitney."

She reached up and stroked his firm jaw. "You were always our best, and John looked on you like family."

Alex knew that John had full knowledge of their love affair, but the old man didn't mind where his younger wife found her pleasures, as long as Alex kept up the good work in the field as well.

Virginia smiled. "We knew if a job needed done, you'd see it through. It got to the point where our closest friends requested you specifically."

She put a small, manicured hand to her forehead and rubbed. "Alex, I hate to talk business tonight, but since we're already on the subject... You know big changes are coming at Whitney, a change of hands soon. If the cancer doesn't go in remission... It's almost time for me to hand the reigns over to Robert."

Alex bristled at that, and he knew Virginia felt it. Her son taking over Whitney was the only thing they'd ever fought about.

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