The Masquerade Ch. 05byEskimo_Kiss©
This is obviously a continuation of The Masquerade Chapters 1-4. If you would like to get to know the characters a little more, please read the previous stories!
Sorry for the delay in the posting of Chapter 5. What can I say, it was my birthday!
I hope you enjoy this next chapter. Comments and votes are, as always, welcome.
Alex was sitting with a couple of older men who were playing chess, alternating between arguing over each move and teasing Alex. She was laughing when she heard the door open. She looked and saw John coming into the store, his arms full of bags, books and a box. She stood and hurried to help him, relieving him of the box that contained bagels. John was tall, almost as tall as Mark, but he was stocky, a mop of blond hair that always seemed slightly messy and bright blue eyes that danced with his laughter.
"Good, you got my text." Alex said as she followed him behind the counter and into the room in the back.
"Yep, and here I am with more bagels." John replied, dumping the bags and books on his desk. "Was it a busy morning then?"
"It was. Just to let you know, I opened the store about five to ten minutes late. But I don't think I missed any of the regulars." Alex said. Looking at John, slightly worried that he would be irritated.
"Late? You, Alex? When have you ever been late before? Everything alright?" John looked up from his sorting of bags and books.
"Oh, yeah. Everything's fine, just running late today. Oh. Door!" Alex said and rushed to the front to greet the customer. John pushed things around on his desk for a moment and then wandered behind the counter and watched Alex for a moment. When she finished with the customer, she saw him tilt his head to the office door and she followed him in.
"Really, John. Everything's fine, I just got a late start this morning." Alex paused and then rushed on. "I really am sorry, I won't be late again."
John smiled and said, "Alex, it's okay, it was only five or ten minutes. Just don't make it a habit." Alex shook her head, smiling at John. "You sure you want to keep doing this? I can find another barista for the morning shift. I really appreciate you, I know I can trust you for opening and all that, but I can find someone else if you want."
"No. No, I really do like it here. Gets me up in the morning and on with my day. And I really like the regulars. I won't do this forever, of course, but you still got me for quite awhile." She smiled at him and tilted her head. Then she turned it around. "Door, John. Get yourself organized and come on out when your ready."
"Okay," John followed her to the door leading to behind the counter. "By the way, where's your car?"
"One of the reasons why I was late. I'll tell you about it when you're organized." She said as she headed over to help the next customer.
Alex busied herself, getting new coffee for the people in the shop and helping the walk-ins. She looked at the clock as John walked back, putting on an apron and getting ready to take over for the next shift. Nine-fifteen. Alex smiled as she felt her happiness bubble up inside of her again.
Alex saw John looking at her quizzically. "So, my car's at home."
"Is it broken down?" He interrupted, "Do you need help towing it somewhere?"
"Ah. No. It was working fine last night. But, I wasn't home last night, and I didn't get a chance to get home and drive here." Alex looked at John's raised eyebrow.
"You weren't home last night? And just where were you?" He asked with a somewhat protective tone in his voice.
Alex laughed. "If I tell you that, you are just going to call Louise and gossip as soon as you have a break."
"Of course, and you are going to tell me anyway." John said sternly, but with a twinkle in his eye.
"I already have three brothers, John." Alex laughed, making drinks while he took orders.
"And do any of them know why you were 'running late'?" He asked.
"No, and they won't find out for awhile yet, thank you very much." Alex replied. She glanced at the clock. Nine-twenty-five.
"I'm good here. If you want to take off?" John said. "Of course, before I let you go, I will find out why you were late!" His eyes glinted merrily. Alex sighed. It was obvious he had figured out that it was a guy at any rate.
"Well, my ride isn't here yet, so I have a few minutes, but I am going to clean up a little." Alex said. She stuck her tongue out at John when he chuckled.
"Wanting to be clean for someone in particular?" John laughed when she ignored him and went to the restroom.
Alex took a few minutes, pulled her hair together a little more and washed her face and hands. It was inevitable that she was going to smell like coffee, but at least most people liked that. She walked out of the bathroom. Nine-thirty. Still no Mark. Ah well, he probably was held up. She wandered over to where her two favorite customers, Ralph and Marco, were arguing over something at a chess table.
She sat down and listened to them as they argued, and told them she was staying out of it when they both tried to get her to side with one of them. John glared at her in humor and crooked his finger at her. She flipped her hair and ignored him, hearing him laugh.
She talked with Ralph and Marco for another few minutes when she heard the door open. She glanced up to see Mark striding through. Her smile lightened up and he grinned at her. She jumped up, saying goodbye to Ralph and Marco, who barely heard her as they started arguing again.
She made her away around the tables to Mark, ignoring the "Hey, Alex!" From John. Mark's eyes twinkled at her as she got close to him. She felt someone behind her and stepped to the side just before she got to Mark. Mark glanced from her to behind her. He looked quizzical for a moment.
"You must be the reason Alex was late," John said as he glanced from Alex to Mark. "Wait, Mark?" John asked incredulously.
"John?" Mark said laughing. The grabbed each other in a hug.
They stepped back. "What are you doing on this side of the country?" John asked
"I'm teaching history at the university. What about you? I thought you were going to work on wall street after college."
"Oh I did, but only for a year or so. I met Louise, my wife, while she was in college at NYU. She wanted to move back here, and I couldn't say no. So, I came here instead. I had already made okay money, so I decided I wanted to open a coffee shop, rather than get bogged down in the financial world. My god, how are you?" John said. Alex flicked her eyes back and forth between them, letting them catch up. They would eventually remember her, she thought with a smile.
"I'm good. I've been here for almost four years. I can't believe we haven't run into each other yet. How long have you been in this area?" Mark asked
"Oh, almost seven years now I think." John replied.
Mark glanced from John and met Alex's eyes. He smiled, "I knew John in college. We were pretty good friends, but lost touch afterwards."
"So you're the reason Alex was late today!" John said again, with a laugh. Alex blushed and pushed John in the side.
"Hey! I thought I recognized something about you! You're in the photo!" Alex said. Mark looked at her quizzically and she looked at John. "The photo you have of you and your friends at graduation."
"That's right! I have a photo with you, Joey, Matt and I at graduation." John said grinning.
"Wow. That was almost ten years ago. Can you believe it?" Mark said.
"What I really can't believe is that you're here, and you're here with Alex! How did that happen?" John asked. Alex glanced at the counter behind them.
"Hey John, customers." Alex said. "I'll call you and Louise later tonight and tell you all about it. You have to get back to work." Alex turned John around and started pushing him towards the counter.
"Yeah, yeah. I got it. If you don't call, I'll call you at midnight and make you tell me everything." John said.
Alex raised her voice to be heard across the room, "You call me at midnight John, your house better be on fire!" Mark laughed and turned towards the door.
"I'll see you soon, mate. We'll have to get caught up."
John waved and Alex and Mark made their way outside.
"I can't believe you know John! This is an incredibly small world." Alex said, as they got settled in Mark's car.
"How did you meet John?"
"Oh, I knew Louise first. She grew up near us in Shelton. We were pretty good friends, and when she moved back to Washington after college, I was already in the city." Alex said.
"This is a small world." Mark interrupted himself with a yawn.
"What time do you got to be back at campus?" Alex asked.
"Not until two. I finished grading this morning, thanks to the latte. Oh, and sorry I was late. I had a few students stay after class and ask some questions." Mark said.
"Oh, that's okay. I figured it was something like that. But I'm glad you showed up when you did, John was hounding me about why I was late."
"He wasn't mad at you, was he?" Mark asked worriedly.
"No, he just wanted gossip." Alex laughed. "He and Louise have been trying to set me up for ages. He figured out I was late because of a guy and he wanted details."
Mark laughed. "What is it about married people always trying to find a date for single people. It's like they are saying, here I am so happy and I pity you so much, you can't find anyone for yourself."
Alex giggled. "You are obviously not as cool as we are. You are a you, and not a we!"
Mark laughed and then interrupted himself with another yawn.
"Since you don't have to be back at campus, want to take a nap?" Alex asked.
"I was hoping you'd say that." Mark said.
"It's the least I can do for making you get up so early."
"I told you, it was no problem." He glanced at her and put his hand on her thigh. "You want to take a nap with me?" He asked.
"Yes! I was kept up way past my bedtime last night. I think a nap would be good before I have to deal with fifteen children this afternoon!" Alex intertwined her fingers in his on her thigh.
"What time is your kid's class?" He asked.
"Four. It goes until five-thirty and then the adult class starts at six." She replied.
"Where's your, what do you call it, dojo?"
"Yeah, my dojo is an old building up on 40th street. It was a church, a community center, a dance hall, and now, it is my dojo." She answered.
"Neat. How late do you teach?" He asked.
"Well the class ends about seven-thirty, but we usually talk until eight or so. I'm usually home by about eight thirty or nine." Alex said, yawning at the end of her sentence.
"You're tired, too." Mark chuckled. "Those are long days. Up to start work at five and then teaching until nine."
"Yeah, but the middle of my day is pretty free. And I don't teach class on Wednesdays." Alex said as they pulled in front of her house. She got out of the car, stepping into Mark's arms.
"Nap time?" She asked as they made their way inside.
"Absolutely. I'm going to use your restroom for a minute." Mark said as they shucked their shoes in her hall closet.
"Remember where it is?" At his nod, she wandered into the kitchen. I'm going to check my messages, and then I'll meet you in the bedroom?"
"I wish I weren't too tired to do something other than nap in the bedroom!" Mark raised his voice to be heard as he wandered down the hall. Alex laughed and made her way into the kitchen.
She threw her wallet into the drawer on the breakfast bar and hit the message button on her answering machine. She deleted the soliciting messages. As she listened to the rest, she got out some cheese and an apple and started cutting up both into bite-sized pieces. She listened to her brother Nate complaining about Matt, and a message from Matt, complaining about Nate. She laughed as they both asked her to call the other and talk sense into him.
The last message was from her neighbor, Shelly. They were both on the neighborhood watch and Shelly said there was a dark green truck that had been seen roaming the street repeatedly, and occasionally revving it's engine past this section of street. Alex made a mental note to keep a look out, and then took the plate of apple and cheese to the bedroom.
Mark was sitting on the edge of her bed, taking off his socks. He glanced up and his eyes lit up to see the snacks. "I hope you are sharing. I just realized I'm hungry!"
"Absolutely." Alex said as she sat on the bed, and then scooted farther in, to sit cross-legged with the plate in between her and Mark. She grabbed an apple piece and popped it into her mouth. "I'm always hungry when I get off work. And I try not to eat the pastries, so I have many apples and cheese for when I get home." She said after she finished her piece.
They made short work of the snack plate. Mark grabbed Alex from behind after she put the plate on the dresser next to the bed, pulling her close. Alex laughed and wiggled away from him. At his sound of disappointment she sat up and turned to him. "I'll sleep better if I change. I'll be right back."
"Then I'm going to get comfortable too." Mark said.
"You better!" Alex found a tank top and shorts in her closet. She slipped out of her clothes and into the pajamas. She came back into the room and saw Mark with his clothes nicely piled next to the bed, and him under the blankets. She smiled. "I could get used to that sight."
"I agree," Mark replied, looking Alex up and down. Alex felt herself blush. She climbed into bed and Mark pulled her close again. They lay with Mark behind her, his arms wrapped around her.
"I set my alarm for twelve-thirty, just in case." Mark rumbled in her ear.
"Good," Alex said sleepily. Within moments they were asleep in each other's arms.
Alex struggled to stay in her dream. She was being caressed at her hips, stomach and breast, and light kisses were raining down her neck. Her world was dark, but so pleasantly focused on the feel of callused fingertips circling her nipple slowly, and sweet nothings whispered in her ear.
She fully awoke when she felt something hard and insistent jumping the small of her back. She sighed and wiggled harder into Mark, smiling at his groan. Alex slipped her hand behind her and grasped his thigh, pulling him against her.
"Awake, Alexandria?" Mark's voice was deeper than usual with the gruffness of sleep and she shuddered against him. She nodded, and then gasped as his callused finger flicked her nipple lightly. He chuckled in her ear as he rolled her nipple between his fingers and groaned when she ground her hips back into his.
"Mmmmm. I couldn't resist such a temptation, darlin'." He said, sliding his hand from her stomach to her behind and squeezing gently. "You feel so good nestled up against me."
Alex moaned softly, pressing her hips back. She arched when he slid his hand around her, his fingers slowly finding her clit and drawing lazy circles. "Mark, please." She whimpered as his fingers circled faster. Her hands dug into the muscle at his thigh and she started pressing her hips back faster against him, squirming as his fingers brought her closer and closer.
"Please what, honey?" He said, slowing his fingers at her cleft, pumping his hips against her bucking hips and rolling her nipple in his hand.
"Oh god, oh god, oh Mark!" She moaned, arching her breasts into his hands and bring her hand to clasp his wrist. "Please!" She squirmed against his fingers. He chuckled in her ear and circled her clit faster again, pinching her nipple gently.
Alex felt every brush of his fingers over her clit send her higher. She felt lightning all around her,. "I'm so close, oh god, I'm so close!" She whispered. Then she shattered around his fingers, bucking her hips and yelling out. She felt Mark move behind her. Her orgasm was receding when she felt him slide into her from behind. She was still for a second as he hit home and then shattered around him again. She felt him holding her to him with his arms as she shuddered, milking his hard cock into her deeper. She heard him moan.
"Oh god, darlin', you feel so good." He said as her shudders slowed. He started pumping slowly and she could feel him slide out, and the feeling of fullness as he slid in again.
"Oh god, Mark. I'm so full, you feel so good." She whispered. She felt his mouth at her neck. She felt his hand brush her hair out of the way as he kissed and nibbled. His hand slid slowly down her shoulder, her waist, settling at her hip. He held her to him as he pumped faster. Her moans were answered by his groans.
"You're so beautiful, you feel so good," His whispered as he moved his mouth over her neck and shoulder. "I could taste you all day, and never get enough."
"Oh god, Mark." She moaned. His voice was low and sexy, a moan behind his words. It sent shivers down her back. "Your hands feel so good, you fill me so well."
He growled into her neck and pumped quicker. She met his thrusts with her own. She felt him grow bigger inside of her and knew he was close. She thrust back harder as he moved faster. Alex moaned, feeling her orgasm approaching. He growled into her neck again and she felt his hands tighten over her hips. "Oh god, Alex, I'm so close."
"Please, honey." She whispered. He slammed into her one more time, his hands pulling her to him and she shattered around him as he came with a roar. "Ohhhhhh, god, Mark." She panted as her hips rolled against his.
Mark loosened his grip at her hips, but wrapped her in his arms, holding her close. She wrapped her arms over his and luxuriated in the feel of him around her. They stayed silent for a moment and then he loosened his arms and kissed her neck. "I'll be right back, honey." He said. She felt him slip from her and she turned to watch him as he walked out her bedroom door. She heard the bathroom door close and she raised herself onto her elbow, her head in her hand. She slipped the sheet back up to keep the chill out and waited, her dark hair a bit wild, swirling around her face. Alex heard the toilet flush and the sound of her sink before Mark came walking back in. She watched appreciatively as his lazy graceful walk brought him back to the bed.
Alex jumped when his phone alarm went off. Mark chuckled. "It's twelve-thirty." He said as he sat on her bed, tracing a finger down her sheet clad side as he reached for his phone to turn it off.
"I could get used to waking up that way." She said, running her hand down his arm.
"Hmmm. Me too." Mark replied. "You're beautiful." He said, his dark eyes glinting at her.
"Thank you." Alex said as she slipped to her knees next to him. She kissed his nose. "And you're handsome." Alex fingered the hair at his temples. "And sexy." She said as she kissed him quickly and then stood in front of him. "And I'm hungry."
Mark laughed. "Me too. Do you want to grab lunch? I've got an hour or so before I have to be at work again."
"I have makings of a salad and some left over chicken." She said. "It might be enough for the two of us."
"Sounds good." He laughed lowly when she slipped on her panties and bra. "You don't have to wear more than that on my account."
"I wasn't planning on it, honey." Alex replied, wrinkling her nose at him and slipping out of the bedroom door.
"That's my girl," she heard as she walked down the hall. She was getting out the makings for salad as he came out from her hallway in his khakis. She winked at him as she admired his bare chest. Then she pointed at him with a knife and then pointed at the lettuce.
He came to stand next to her, him cutting up the lettuce, chicken, peppers. She brought out plates, forks, and a few dressings. As he finished cutting she organized the salad on their plates, adding some radishes and red onion to the salads, and cutting up some an apple and some cheese as well.