The Dryad Ch. 02bymadam_noe©
She had no idea what to expect when she got to work. There was no way in heaven and earth, she told herself, that James had any idea it had been her in his bed the night before. It had been dark, and her mask had held.
She looked down at her mousy suit and hoped he wouldn't recognize anything of her body in it. She'd gone with a light color, cream, and it was double breasted, the skirt long, hitting below her knees. It added a good ten pounds and changed her shape, so if he recognized her she'd be impressed.
On her way in she greeted the security guard, Larry, and when she turned the corner for the back door she greeted Zeke, the German Shepard who roamed the grounds. He'd once been a true guard dog but now he was something of a pampered pet.
"Hey!" He greeted her in what would be a soft yip to other human ears.
"Hey, Zeke," she said with a smile and scratched behind his left ear, in his favorite spot.
"Ah, that's nice. Do it harder, please."
"Sure thing, Zeke. Say, can you tell me something?"
She looked around making sure no one was watching her have a conversation with a dog. She lived in fear that some day it would happen and she'd be dragged off to the nut bin. Super powers were widely known and recognized but the whole Dr. Doolittle thing rarely made the list of recognized powers.
"If James didn't keep something in his bedroom safe, where would he keep it?"
"Oh, god, you do it the best, Rave, I love you nails. Well, there's another safe in his guestroom."
"The green one?"
"Ahh," he sighed and tugged his head away with a doggy smile. "No, the blue one."
"I think so, except the last two digits are his mother's birth day."
"September sixth, so 96?"
"Yeah," he said.
"Well, off to the salt mines."
"See ya, Rave," Zeke barked out.
She tried to calm her heartbeat as she opened the back door but her pulse thudded through her whole body, drowning all other sound out of her ears.
Susan, the housekeeper, had to say hello twice before Rave realized what she'd said. "Good morning," she replied with a trembling smile.
"Want a cinnamon roll? They're fresh baked."
Rave's stomach grumbled. "Please."
Susan plated one dripping with icing and watched Rave set her briefcase down gingerly and tear into the roll with gusto. "Forgot to eat again?"
More like been too upset and nervous. "It's nothing. Is he running on time?"
Susan looked at the kitchen door leading to the hall. "Lord only knows with that one. You know he was supposed to go out last night, but then he tells everyone to take the night off, go home, and says he's staying in. That boy is strange."
Rave chuckled at the "boy," since James was thirty three and scared the pants off of almost everyone, herself included. She winced at the thought, memories tugging at her.
Susan had been his surrogate mom when his own passed away when he was three. She'd spanked him, cleaned his ears, cooked him dinner, and tucked him almost every day and night of his young life. Like most parents, she would forever see him as a boy of eight.
"I can at least thank god he's not chasing after women anymore. Been too busy for that in the last few years, I tell you. If it's your job to see to his personal life, why don't you make sure he gets married and starts getting some little ones running around here?"
Rave choked on her roll and Susan hefted a meaty arm around her and whacked her on the back, shoving a glass of orange juice under her nose and holding it until Rave drank it down.
Suddenly the large green and oak kitchen felt a little too closed-in, a little too warm. "Uh, see that he gets married? That's not what I do. More so I make travel arrangements, help plan his schedule, things like that."
Susan hmpfed and turned back to the recipe card she was making. "Well, hells bells girl, you should marry him then. He'd be a fool to let you get away."
"Who'd be a fool?" James' deep voice called out as he entered the kitchen looking tired and somehow still devastating. Had to be the suit, she told herself, no mortal man could look that bad in a perfectly tailored black suit.
"Nobody," Rave murmured and hoped to heaven she wasn't blushing.
Susan passed him the paper and a cinnamon roll as he sat at the breakfast counter next to her. Rave's palms felt sweaty, and her throat was tight and dry.
"So what's on my schedule today, Rave?"
She pulled out her Blackberry with trembling hands and cleared her throat. "You have to go into the office for a meeting with Iwasaki at nine thirty, that should last an hour, then you have time to go the gym. Lunch at Charlie Trotter's with the east coast investors, and I'll have the plans from New York ready by then. You have the afternoon to schmooze them as you like, and then dinner at Gibsons with them."
"I hate this."
Since he wasn't meeting her eyes and it was an old argument, it was easy for her to relax. "You don't have to like it, but we can't risk our own capital in Atlantic City. We need these men and their money."
"I never should have listened to my dad and gone into the family business. I should have been a rock star."
Susan laughed at that. "You couldn't carry a tune in a bucket."
"I bet I could learn guitar. What do you think, Rave?"
At last his eyes swung towards her and she looked away, too nervous. "I think we'd better get moving, traffic is slow heading uptown." There, no-nonsense. Everything was going to be fine.
Then he smiled like a cat sighting a small bird and her heart flipped over.
Dryad had to be resurrected. She couldn't get within ten feet of the safe without someone barging in, or her cell phone ringing. It was almost like James had a sixth sense of when to interrupt her with requests to ferry things all over town, get tickets to a show for the investors, have champagne sent to his box at Soldier Field.
At long last she'd had to call in a favor. It had cost her a good steak but Zeke would distract everyone at eleven, and this time she knew for sure James was going to be out of the house. She had verbally confirmed it on the phone and in person.
She'd left the window open in the blue bedroom and she flew by low and slow. She'd set up another distraction for Gryphon but after last night she wasn't so sure he could be fooled. He was too smart and too experienced not to smell a trap, so she'd have to work fast.
Zeke had the guard and Susan tied up on the other side of the house but she was still quiet and careful as she lifted the window. She floated in and found the little banker's lamp on the desk was on, just as she left it.
No one was around as she tiptoed on the soft carpet to the painting. It was a soft landscape of the shoreline and felt like it weighed a metric ton. She unhooked it and stumbled back under the weight, setting it down against the wall.
The safe was small and digital, top of the line. She had memorized the code backwards and forwards and punched it in with baited breath. The safe dinged and the lock clicked open. She pressed the lever and the door swung open to reveal a key.
She pulled it out and set it on the nightstand, closing the safe and carefully replacing the painting, making sure it hung straight. When she was satisfied Rave took the key to the lamp and crouched down to stare at it.
It was the cause of her downfall, and yet there was nothing special about it that she could discern.
It was a safe deposit box key, unmarked as they all were. The McBride family only used the Chase branch downtown, from the days it had been First Chicago 'til preset they had boxes there. She'd just have to turn the key over that night to her father and under her alter ego discover the box number in the day.
She peered out the window but the coast was clear, so she flew out, floated there and closed it. Suddenly she was grabbed from behind and instinct made her drop the key into the rosebushes.
There was no need to demand an explanation. There were four superheroes in the city, but only one of them could fly without a special suit that made a racket up close.
"Gryphon," she said, her voice low.
"In the flesh. Finally got you, Dryad. I've been meaning to ask what you're doing in town, especially since Master Bloodless killed you ten years ago."
She smiled as he pressed her back to his front, and she felt her body surrounded by warm, hard muscle. "I should thank you, then, for killing him eight years ago."
"I didn't do it for you, or should I say for your predecessor. I killed him when he turned his back on good and started to pick up where your thieving predecessor left off."
"I wasn't stealing anything, Gryphon. Frisk me if you want, but it's not like I can teleport anything."
He leaned close until his deep voice was right in her ear. "I don't know anything about you except you can fly and you're wearing the suit of a woman who died as the most famous supervillain in the city's history. Maybe I should frisk you."
He kept one arm around her waist like a steel band and the other moved slowly over her curves. Her breath caught in shock as guilt edged for a moment while James' face floated, and then his voice filled her ear again.
"If you didn't come here to steal, why are you here?"
She didn't dare trust him with the truth and her brain was fogged with the feel of his body, his hands. Until last night she'd kept her distance from men perfectly over the last few years, and now she was discovering she was starved for touch.
"Maybe trying to flush you out."
He stopped at that and for a moment her breath was held as her mind reeled, both of them surprised at what she had said. Then he laughed and she felt herself relax. "Why on earth would you want to do that?"
"If it hadn't been for your interference ten years ago, the first Dryad wouldn't have been killed. Perhaps it's payback."
He turned her rapidly until she was facing him, pressed so close she could tell he dressed to the right and he was happy to see her. Gryphon was tall, taller than even James, built broad shouldered and heavily muscled. He was a blonde, his eyes a startling green, a complete stranger and yet something about him had always seemed oddly familiar. Since she'd first seen him she'd found herself searching crowds for him, but in ten years she'd never met anyone who came close, except James, and that was only in the machismo department.
Just when her brain seemed to find something he smiled and her IQ went to pot again. "Poor choice of revenge. You're not even armed and definitely not half as strong."
"There are all kinds of revenge, Gryphon, more than you think."
His mask covered everything but his sardonic smile and his jungle cat eyes, but somehow she knew he had raised one eyebrow at that. "I didn't want Dryad to die. I respected her, and in a way you'll never know, I understood her. And she was right, after all, Master Bloodless turned out to be a far worse thief than she ever was. I've asked myself time and again what I could have done that night and the answer is nothing. I was young and inexperienced, and it wasn't my battle to fight. Even Dryad would tell you that."
She knew that. After all, Rave had been there, a terrified eighteen year old watching a man in a silver suit kill her aunt after Gryphon had foiled her plot. He'd been too far away to do anything, and Rave had been hiding in the shadows so he couldn't see her.
She didn't want to remember that night and she didn't want him to ask any questions about the house or her reason for being there. She let instinct be her guide and raised a hand, tracing a fingertip over the lines of muscle in his suit. She circled a nipple and stopped when she reached his face, cupping his jaw.
"Well you're older, and I bet you're far more experienced."
His eyes darkened very much like an animal, and again she wondered why he'd chosen the name Gryphon. Had he known he truly resembled a majestic predatory cat, even when he soared in the sky?
"You're new, but even you must know we shouldn't mix."
"So sure I'm a bad girl?"
His hands trailed down to cup her butt and lifted her higher, almost grinding her into him. "Oh, I know it. What do I call you?"
"Call me Dryad."
He stopped the movements and peered closer at her. "Who was she to you?"
She gave an honest answer. "Everything." And then she leaned up to kiss him.
He hesitated for a moment and then he took total and complete possession of her mouth. He tasted wild and dark, and she felt invaded and filled by tongue alone. Within seconds they were both eager and breathing thickly until he pulled back.
"Not here," he said and turned her back around and shot off.
The feeling was exuberant and disorienting, he could fly far faster than she could. If Rave had been forced, she couldn't explain flying. She floated like a butterfly, like the Grecian fairy for which she was named, and he flew like a powerful beast, like an eagle.
To her it was as natural as breathing, but in his arms it felt like an adventure as the skyline zoomed past them and they flew north. The wind was cold on her face but his body warmed her back, and she felt exhilarated.
Hey stopped at another high rise and landed on a balcony.
"Don't get too excited, I don't live here," he said and let her go, though he stayed close as if to make sure she didn't escape.
She stepped inside the door he opened and found it was one large room and a kitchenette. One wall was covered with a large desk and more computers and monitors than she could believe. The other side had a bed that was pristine as if never slept in.
"Interesting," she said when he finally closed the door, locking it ominously. Her chest tightened at the click of the lock and her heartbeat sped up as he stepped closer.
He was a huge man, all muscle and height, his skin a deep tan, his hair sun light, and those wild eyes of his making him look more shape shifter than human.
"If I'm to be the victim of vengeance, at least I can be comfortable." He crossed his arms and came to a stop close enough that he could touch her, though he refrained from doing so.
"Victim?" She licked her lips and backed up a step. He advanced one in equal measure and just gave her the look she knew meant one eyebrow was cocked. "Perhaps I'm just curious about the do-gooder that saw something in my a- in Dryad, something that made him let her go. Something Master Bloodless just couldn't see."
He didn't move a muscle and still somehow gave the impression of softening. "I did. Some kid she was looking after. I take it that was you?"
"Kid?" She snorted and he leaned out to brush her hair over her shoulder.
"All grown up now," he said softly. "Come here." He'd wrapped her hair around his fist and pulled her roughly against him.
She opened her mouth to protest and was met with his lips. This kiss was hard and commanding, and he used her hair to keep her head tipped back until he'd plundered it completely, Then he moved to her face, spacing soft kisses with sharp little bites that had her moaning and gasping.
It terrified her to not be in control and that was what made it so seductive. This was a man she knew would take and not ask, who would make sure she enjoyed it, enjoyed him, but the though of giving up control was still scary. Even handcuffed in James' bed she knew if she'd said stop he would. She wasn't so sure about Gryphon.
"I think we should, oh, god, stop."
He chuckled and found the zipper under her arm. "I have super senses, including smell, Dryad. Can't fool me, I know how much you like what I'm doing."
She felt her face flame as her suit parted and he dropped to one knee. Before she could move or struggle he gently bit her nipple through her bra and she gasped. After that she was lost to sensation. Gryphon pushed the lacy cups down and captured her breasts fully, sucking hard on the tips in turn, pinching when his mouth was busy.
Her breasts had always been sensitive and when she feared her nipples might ache he nuzzled them with his face, though it was his smooth leather mask that teased them. All Rave could do was clutch his shoulders and gasp at the sensations washing over her.
When Gryphon decided he'd had enough he stood and backed her towards the bed. When it hit her knees, Rave fell with an "Oof!" and he just pulled off her shoes and peeled her suit down.
The lights were blazing and she could clearly see him. Though his spandex suit left little to the imagination, he was still fully dressed while all she had on was her mask and bra. Her panties had been peeled off with the suit, and all she could do now was blush as he looked his fill.
"Take off your bra," he ordered.
She gulped but slowly did as he asked and saw his eyes darken when her breasts spilled free. "Touch them," he ordered gruffly and all she could do is blink. "Do it," he said with a tone that left no room for argument.
She raised her hands to cup the weight there, feeling cool and shivery and more than glad for her mask. This man had no idea who she was, and that was strangely freeing.
She touched herself the way she liked to be touched, firmly, gently, rolling the nipples between her forefinger and thumb. He stood stock still all the while, watching her movements intently.
"Show me how you really want to be touched."
She paused not in embarrassment but because of tactical issues. The way she touched herself was different than how she liked to be touched, it was often an issue of wrist fatigue.
"Do it," he growled and knelt on the bed between her legs.
She trailed a hand down and stroked herself gently and fleetingly but at the grumble in his chest she stroked her clit with her thumb. The pleasure was there, a faint echo of what she knew was to come, but the feeling of power she had at that moment over him was more than enough.
She stroked lightly and quickly and just when she thought he might touch her she thrust a finger inside. It was nothing like what his would feel like, too thin, too sharp at the tip, but she stared at his fingers and imagined them and the pleasure built quickly.
She was about to come, bit her lip and tensed her leg muscles as it neared, but he grabbed her hand and pulled it away from her body. She whimpered as he sucked her finger deep, their eyes locked all the while.
"On your knees," he ordered.
Trembling in aroused anticipation she scooted back, turned over, and rose to her knees. He stood and then knelt again behind her, and smoothed a hand up her spine. Just when the caress felt soothing he fisted her long hair again and bent her over until she was on hands and knees.
Rave had just enough time to gasp when a meaty finger slid inside. He leaned in down, rubbing the sensitive spot inside and she cried out, a broken sound of frustrated desire.
"God, you're ready. Stay there." He left her, left the bed, and she heard rustling and then the telltale sound of a foil packet. She stayed frozen, aroused and trembling, and then the bed dipped with his weight.
The fist returned and she clawed at the sheets until he pressed his cock against her. He was broad, as broad as James if not bigger. And then he was sliding inside, a tight fight.
Her body was sensitive and hungry, and his was only too happy to oblige. There was no gentleness in his movements, no reserve, instead Gryphon began to thrust in earnest and Rave was caught in a maelstrom of pleasure.
There was no tenderness here, none of the feelings she had for James, and the hollow pleasure was curiously strong. Her body seemed to know better than her heart what she wanted and her muscles tightened as she caught the tail of orgasm between his brutal strokes. Her eyes fluttered closed, her breath fell into quick pants, and suddenly it was there.
To her horror she found herself screaming James' name, the sound muffled by his hoarse shout. She came down to feel him wrapped around her, surprisingly gentle suddenly.