tagBDSMDwelling in Desire Ch. 09

Dwelling in Desire Ch. 09

byjoodle©

Notes from the author:

Nope, no sex. Not even J&K sex. All plot. Trust me people when I say that I want Curt and Beth to hook up. Very. Badly. But the story's gonna go how it's gonna go. Nothing worse than a rushed fucking story. I won't be a party to it. LOL. Much love from your favorite stubborn fucked-up-erotica author.

--J

******************************

Chapter 9

The past evening had been hell. Torturing myself over our new "truce" and what it meant about how forward I'd been. How stupid and reckless. But there was also Bethany's mind-blowing admission that she felt the same. She felt the same.

I understood her point about keeping things professional of course, but I couldn't help feeling the urge to make my case rather than run away like a dog with its tail between its legs.

I wanted to try and convince Bethany to let down her guard. I wanted to do what she had accused me of, and seduce her. I wanted to do it properly, and fully.

But it wouldn't do. She'd obviously made her decision, and our business transaction was more important to her. I respected her for it, even if my cock didn't give a rat's ass about respect.

I sat alone in my office, all the documents before me blurring into nothingness. I cared nothing for my work. I smirked at the brief notion that maybe I should retire. It's not as if I couldn't afford it, but it was early. Too early to fold.

I was shaken from my trance when Joe came storming into my office.

"Joe, what the hell?" I barked, annoyed by his interruption of my well-deserved brooding time.

He said nothing, but plopped himself into a chair before me, his expression puzzling. His hair was mussed and his tie was loose.

"Joe?" I prompted. Something was up.

"Kate's pregnant."

My jaw went slack, "Holy shit."

"Yeah," he sighed.

Several moments passed before I could figure out something to say.

"Well, are you happy about it?" I asked.

"Conflicted," he muttered. "For the most part, I'm thrilled. But a part of me is terrified."

"Terrified?"

"Yeah," he sighed again. "I need to protect them. Her, and the baby. It's no longer just about me."

"You have Randall," I offered.

"Yeah, but as big as Randall is, and as qualified, I'm still concerned for her safety."

"I get you," I nodded. "I guess when it's just us, safety is somewhat of a 'who gives a shit' level issue."

"Yeah."

"So," I prompted. "What's the plan?"

Releasing a deep breath, Joe answered, "We're getting married. Don't know when exactly. Soon. But I'm thinking I'll take her up to meet my parents after the case is done."

"Jesus Joe I never thought you'd settle down," I grinned, shaking my head in amusement.

"Makes two of us," he chuckled.

"And look, I'm sorry about what I said the other day. I was out of line. If Kate truly loves you, then I'm thrilled for you, and I hope things work out. You deserve to be happy."

"Thanks man," Joe smiled. "And don't worry about the other day. I figured you just had a bug up your ass."

And then, the look. Again. Fuck.

"Speaking of which," Joe chided.

"Joe, leave it alone," I warned.

"Who is Bethany?"

Fuck.

"How did you know her name?" I growled.

"Oscar of course."

Our P.I. Of course.

"So you ran her plates," I shook my head. "I should have known better than to have her come to the office. I wasn't thinking."

"Yes, apparently," Joe smirked. "So, tell me. Who is she, this woman who so easily clouds your judgment?"

"She happens to be my decorator, wise ass. I was meeting her yesterday to look at couches. She's doing my whole house. Margot referred her to me when she saw what a shit hole I'm living in."

"I see," Joe mused. "So your erratic behavior as of late has nothing to do with, oh, a major infatuation with this girl? She's a good twenty years your junior as I understand."

"You're one to talk," I retorted.

"Touché," Joe smirked. "Hell, more power to you if you like her and can manage to charm her."

I didn't know what to say. I wanted to tell the truth. I wanted to get it off my chest how fucking smitten I was with Bethany—how much I wanted and desired her. How much I envied Joe his relationship with Kate. And while I refused to give it too much thought, I envied him for another reason now.

One far more troubling.

Kate was pregnant. Joe was going to be a father.

Why did I feel envy of all things?

"Did I say I liked her?" I laughed dismissively. "Well I guess I do. She's a great girl. Very talented and dedicated, and extremely professional. But no Joe, not in the way you're thinking. She's my decorator. And she's not my type."

"Your type?"

"She's far too young. Inexperienced, and so forth. Doesn't look like she could take more than a single lash before using her safe word, assuming she enjoys pain at all, which is doubtful."

"So you've clearly given it thought then," Joe smirked.

I glared at him, annoyed that he drew that much out of me. It was what he did, and what this case was riding on.

"Well that's rather disappointing," Joe sighed. "After your odd performance the other day, and yesterday for that matter, I thought for sure something was out of place. You never did tell me why you went home so early the other day. Care to enlighten me now?"

"No Joe, I would not care for that at all. Sometimes you just need to let things be."

"Curt," Joe sighed. "I always pegged myself the stubborn son of a bitch. The one to go down swingin. The last one in a crowd to show weakness. You, my friend, need to come clean. Not to me though. Come clean to yourself. Come clean to your demons, whatever they be."

"Wow Joe, if that isn't the most poetic horseshit you've ever dished out. Get a grip man. I'm fine. For fuck's sake just drop it."

"Fine," Joe grumbled before assuming his all-business posture.

"So Ruiz will not be testifying, but the case is going to trial."

"Well that's fucking great," I rolled my eyes. "There was no persuading him?"

"Believe me, if I could have. I told him it would only make things look worse if he were to avoid testifying, but Ruiz is holding firm. Says that's why he's paying us."

"Hell," I shook my head. "Well, it's not like the prosecution has any iron clad evidence. At least not that they've disclosed."

"They would disclose it if they had something. If anything, they're working on some sort of exploitation. We can overcome that."

"I know you can," I spared Joe a bit of ego-juice. "I guess we'll just have to see what happens. Work with what we've got. And if we end up burnt to a crisp at the bottom of a ravine when Ruiz finally goes to prison, then I guess that's just how it is."

"You joke. And a month ago I would have laughed. But I have a pregnant fiancée Curt, and don't have that luxury anymore," Joe frowned.

"Yeah, I get it. So what the hell do we do?"

"We bust our asses between now and Monday," Joe groaned.

"Coffee?" I offered.

"What took you so fucking long?"

We exchanged grins, and I remembered back to our college days, goofing off and doing stupid shit, just because we could.

---

Saturday

"Oh my God Beth!" Kate cried, standing from her chair.

"Kate! Oh my God, it's so good to see you!" my eyes filled with tears as I hugged her.

"It's been too long sweetie," she rocked me in her arms. Kate was just as sweet and loving now as she ever was.

It'd been easily six years since we'd seen each other. Five years since we'd talked, at least regularly. She was like a breath of fresh air.

We sat down together at the small table outside her favorite café in downtown.

"So girl, how the heck are you?" Kate laughed. "I'm sorry I couldn't make it last weekend. Did you find someone else to go clubbing with?" she asked, concerned.

"No, I decided not to go through with it," I fibbed.

The story was far too long, and too...bizarre.

"Aww, I'm sorry!" she moaned in sympathy. "Maybe I can talk Joe into letting us go tomorrow night."

"Who's this Joe, and why do you need his permission?" I frowned.

"Ah, well umm. Joe. He's the man I've been seeing," Kate grew uneasy, fidgety.

"And?" I prompted, intrigued.

"It's...gotten serious. Very serious. Well, jeez, about as serious as it can get," she muttered.

"What are you saying Kate?" I scooted closer, clasping her hand in mine when she grew quiet.

"I'm pregnant," Kate whispered.

"Oh my God," I whispered, floored by her words.

She nodded in mutual astonishment.

"It happened so fast, so ridiculously fast. Our relationship I mean. But I love him Beth. I love Joe so much," she grew teary again. "He proposed a few days ago."

"And??" I squeezed her hand, excited.

"I said yes." She could not keep the elation from her face. "Look."

She'd been holding out on me obviously, because she withdrew her left hand from below the table and showed it to me.

"Oh my gosh...wow. Kate it's huge!" I gaped at the stunning diamond on her tiny finger. It was a teardrop shaped solitaire on a platinum band. I took her hand to examine it closer. "It's gorgeous!" I gawked again, for it was truly a remarkable diamond. Easily four carats.

"Yes, I love it. I tried to talk Joe into something smaller, but he refused. Arrogant son of a bitch that he is," Kate smirked.

"Wow, don't you just sound in love," I laughed.

"I know, right?" she giggled in unison.

It warmed my heart to see the blush that overtook her face. She was obviously overcome with joy.

"And the baby? How far along are you?" I asked.

"Just a couple weeks or so," Kate's eyes drifted down to the table.

"Wow," I muttered, unsure of what to say on that front. "Well are you happy?"

She looked up at me with an expression of genuine contentment.

"Yes, completely."

"Well then I'm happy for you sweetie," I grinned.

"Thanks," Kate smiled. "And what about you? You're probably decorating homes for the rich and famous now," she teased.

"Famous no, but rich, yes. I recently started work on a huge house for a bachelor in Glencoe," I admitted shyly.

Describing Curt in such generic terms seemed wrong. But I wasn't ready to get specific. If I went there, I didn't know what would happen.

"How exciting!" Kate leaned forward with interest. "Is he handsome?"

"Does it matter?" I teased. "You're taken, Kate, in the most extreme sense!"

"True, but I was asking more for your benefit, silly!" Kate laughed. "So he's not handsome?"

"Quite the contrary, I'm afraid." It was my turn to stare at the table.

"I'm listening," Kate urged.

I shook my head in resignation. There was no substitute for girl talk. And girl talk with Kate was a whole different level of such. When one spilled, one spilled all.

"Kate, it wouldn't do for me to disrespect my client," I admonished.

"Oh come on," she pressed. "You haven't even said anything and I can see from your face that he's hot. Now dish!"

I sighed, and grudgingly relented.

"He's hot."

"Ha! Nice try. I want details missy. I know there's gotta be something more juicy than that."

"Umm, well he drives a Jag, a pretty one."

"Bo ring," Kate tapped her fingers impatiently.

"He invited me to lunch," I offered.

"Whoa...and?"

"I accepted. He told me we were going to this pizza place, but it turned out to be some super expensive bistro, which to be fair, did serve pizza. And of course he refused to let me pay."

"Ughhh, sounds familiar," Kate rolled her eyes. "And?"

"And what? We talked."

"Somehow sweetie-pie, I sense you're not giving full disclosure."

"We flirted, a little."

"Mmhmm, a little?"

"Ugh Kate, you're such a pain," I shook my head. "I've a right mind to interrogate you about your rather expeditious relationship."

"Later," she purred. "But first, I want to know more about my sweet little Beth flirting with a hot rich bachelor."

"Kate," I warned.

But she got that stubborn look that told me she would not back down.

"Look, he's a client. It wouldn't matter if he was the hottest guy on earth, and it wouldn't matter if he was the sweetest, or the richest. I can't think of him in a non-professional context. It would just get too complicated."

"Well that's disappointing," Kate crossed her arms. "But tell me, if things are so professional and uncomplicated right now, then why are you blushing like crazy?"

"Kate," I beseeched. I was losing it. I'd told no one about Curt, and I needed to get it off my chest. "It's a long story, and I don't want to relay all of it, but," I grimaced in hesitation, "He came on to me a couple times."

"Oh my goodness," Kate breathed. "Did he...touch you, or anything?"

"No, not really. I mean, he took my arm a couple times, and he touched my chin..."

"Your chin?" Kate leaned forward, engrossed in my hesitant confession.

"Yeah, he lifted my chin a couple times to look in his eyes, and he...touched my lips once. Mainly to hush me, but it was just, amazing."

I swallowed in flushed recollection.

"Oh my God," Kate's eyes rolled back and she sank back into her chair.

"What?" I prompted.

"Joe does that. He makes me look him in the eyes. It's completely disarming."

"Yes! Disarming!" I sighed, relieved to put a label on the feelings that had hit me like a freight train.

"And that's it? That's really it?" Kate pressed.

"You can't tell anyone Kate," I said softly, my eyes trained back on the table top.

"Never Beth," she promised.

"He almost kissed me. We were interrupted before he could, but I know he was going to. He had me backed up against a wall, and was leaning in. I could feel his breath on my lips. That's how close he was," I whispered.

"God, are you okay about this?" Kate gushed, suddenly more concerned than titillated.

"It's fine. We talked later, and agreed to avoid situations where we might...be tempted to take things to an unprofessional level."

"Wow," Kate sighed. "Girl, I know nothing has really happened, but I have to say I am totally turned on just from listening to what did happen. It's enticing, and exciting."

"I know," I nodded. "I try not to think about it, but he's just so...handsome, godly, sexy...I can't figure the right word to describe him."

"Whew!" Kate fanned herself in jest.

"Uhuh," I agreed.

Suddenly, a waiter approached to offer Kate a refill on her drink that she'd ordered before my arrival. God, how long had we been talking? I'd almost forgotten we were at a café.

"Can I get you anything to eat, ladies? Have you seen the menu?" he asked.

"Ummm," I stuttered, grabbing a menu quick, "I'll have the club sandwich please, and a lemonade."

"I'll have the roast beef," Kate ordered consecutively.

"Very good ladies," he retreated.

The waiter's interruption awoke me to the rest of our surroundings, and I couldn't help but notice a very large black man sitting just one table over. He had sunglasses and was obviously reading on his phone. Or so he would have me believe.

I must have stared for too long, because Kate giggled.

"I see you've noticed Randall," she teased.

"Randall?"

"Yes, he's my escort. Joe insisted I have an escort whenever he's not with me and I have to go out in public."

"Goodness, why?" I gawked.

"Not sure exactly, but Joe asked that I respect his wishes, and I didn't see the harm," she sighed. "Anyway, Randall is super sweet. He looks intimidating, but he's just a big softie. At least with me. But if anyone were to try anything, for whatever reason, you and I will be protected."

"Well that's encouraging at least," I relaxed a bit.

"So your husband-to-be must be someone of note. Anyone I might have heard of?" I teased.

"No, he's just a lawyer. A very busy one at that."

"Yes, lawyers tend to be busy apparently. My client Curt is a lawyer actually."

"Curt?" Kate raised her eyebrows. "Umm, it's not...Curt Donovan, is it?"

What the heck was happening here? There were a million and a half lawyers in Chicago.

"Yes, Curt Donovan. How did you know?" I frowned, not sure I wanted to know the answer.

"My fiancé is Joe Martell, his business partner," Kate explained, a look of intrigue also on her face.

Law Offices of Donovan & Martell

The reserved parking sign flashed through my mind.

I couldn't believe it. The world was small, but not this small. What did this mean? Of what consequence was this connection? Was it of consequence? God didn't do stuff like this for no reason. Did he?

I thought back to the nightclub. How un-freaking believable had my run-in with Curt been? It had seemed like God's work. And now here I was with Kate, my best childhood friend, estranged for years, and she was engaged to none other than Curt's partner.

This was crazy.

"I...don't know what to say to that," I muttered.

"Me either," Kate mused, staring off into the distance.

"Well...it's not like anything is wrong," Kate reasoned. "Curt is your client, and Joe is my fiancé. Nothing is wrong with that. It's just a crazy coincidence."

"Yeah," I laughed it off, though tension still lingered in my gut.

And like another one of God's eerie coincidences, our waiter appeared with two glorious looking sandwiches and fries.

"Oooh, that looks amazing," Kate gushed, all discomfort seemingly forgotten in an instant.

She always did seem to get the most out of a meal. I'd told her a million times she needed to open her own restaurant, or be a food critic or something.

"Mmmm, splendid," she moaned through a mouthful of roast beef.

"Splendid, huh?" I snickered. "Well let's see."

I bit into my club sandwich on croissant, and yeah, it was. I could see why Kate had chosen this café for our little reunion.

We ate in silence for a while, and I smiled when I took a peek back at Randall and saw him sipping an iced tea. An iced green tea no less. It put a bit of a damper on the whole Ving Rhames look he had going.

"Yes, I can see what you mean about Randall," I whispered to Kate.

"Mmhmmm," she mumbled through her last bite of roast beef.

"So, now that you've twisted my arm into telling you about Curt almost kissing me, let's talk about your far more impressive news. Pregnant out of wed-lock," I shook my head in mock disappointment.

Kate knew I loved her no matter what.

"Yes, that is a big deal isn't it?" she laughed. "I'm floored Beth. I just can't believe it. But I'm just so happy. Is it normal to meet a guy, fall in love, and be pregnant in a span of days?"

"No," I answered simply.

"Gee, thanks for the support," Kate rolled her eyes.

"But it doesn't matter," I finished. "It doesn't matter what I think, and it doesn't matter what's normal. There is no normal."

Kate nodded, but remained quiet, as if considering my words.

"Joe told me he doesn't want me to go back to work. At least not where I was anyway. I didn't care for the job, though it paid well enough."

"Well that's good right? You won't have to deal with the stress of a job you don't like."

"Yeah," she sighed. "I've thought about opening up a pastry shop or something. Joe raves about my cooking on a daily basis, and I enjoy it so much. But with all there is to do now, what with the wedding, and the baby, it doesn't seem like the best time to open a business."

"When is the wedding anyway?" I asked.

"Well we haven't set a date, but given the circumstances, we want it to be soon. I'm just a little lost about what to do, and where to go. If Joe'd had his way, we'd have already tied the knot at city hall," she smiled affectionately.

Kate was clearly very much in love.

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