Turning of the Stars Ch. 05byPanthem©
Anna lay comfortably reclined, her head resting on Grant's firm thigh and her feet propped up on the arm of the black leather sofa. They were both staring at his laptop as he scrolled through his inventory records and Anna explained how to get the program to generate a series of graphs to track the ordering patterns of the various kinds of alcohol over the last several months.
"Why didn't you tell me you were a computer genius? I'd have asked for your help a long time ago."
Anna snorted in amusement. "Far from it, I just happened to have done a project comparing inventory software for my business management class last semester and I remembered that one had lots of fancy features. Once you know a program can do something figuring out how to do it is usually not that hard."
"Yeah well, I've been using this program since I opened the restaurant and never figured out how to do this so you still count as a computer genius in my book. I actually tried to do something similar by hand a few weeks ago. It was a total pain in the ass and the results weren't nearly as easy to read. This is perfect, if I'd been doing this on a regular basis the thefts never would have gone on as long as they did without me picking up on it."
"Hindsight's twenty-twenty." Anna shrugged and looked up to watch his face as he studied the screen. After a few minutes he felt her eyes on him and looked down at her, leaning back and resting one hand on her belly. "If I'd known you were having problems I might have thought to suggest it sooner."
"I know, but until this week we barely had time to talk about anything, let alone my work issues." He smiled mischievously down at her and moved his hand to her thigh, sliding the hem of her dress steadily higher. "Plus I have a hard time remembering I even have work issues when you're around."
"Do I need to leave?" Anna grinned back, her heart beating a little faster as his fingertips moved toward the inside of her thigh. "I'd hate to cause problems now that my semester is over and I have nothing better to do than hang around and distract you from all the very important things you need to do."
"I've got something very important I need to do right here."
Her laugh faded suddenly as his fingers found their way under the elastic of her panties and traced the length of her slit. Anna's hand came down over his as she glanced over to the door to make sure it was locked. Her fingers tightened on his wrist as one finger dipped inside to tease her opening, capturing the seeping moisture and spreading it upward to coat her clit.
"Mmm, we shouldn't do this now." Anna's body sent a different message as her back arched up and she pulled his hand tighter against her body.
"No?" he asked, maintaining a light touch as his fingers continued to tease her. "Should I stop?" His finger froze in place, which happened to be resting right on top of her clit. The corner of his mouth twitched up in a smile as Anna slid her hand down until it was covering his through her panties. She used her fingers to guide his, pressing them more firmly into her, sliding up down over her sensitive bud.
"Yes, you should. You're supposed to be working." She pushed his hand further down and pressed against his knuckle with her middle finger, a jolt shooting through her as she felt his finger disappear inside her.
"This seems to be working pretty well." His taut tendons moved rhythmically under her palm as he began stroking in and out. When he added a second finger Anna rolled the top half of her body toward him, burying her face in his plaid button up and moaning into the tight muscles of his stomach as he worked his fingers into her hair and held her in place.
She could feel the throbbing deep inside and knew he was hitting that spot again. The one that always made her come so hard and fast. The rational part of her brain sent up one last hope that no one would knock on the door because at this point she wasn't willing to let go of Grant's hand no matter who was standing outside listening. Then his thumb found her clit and the rational part disintegrated altogether as it was battered by the waves of pleasure that overtook her.
"I love to watch you come."
She let loose a muffled wail and pressed her forehead tight against his body.
"I love to hear the noises you make and feel your pussy tighten around my fingers."
She dragged his name out in a long groan as the climax slowly faded and she relaxed against him, still clasping his hand.
"God you're gorgeous," he whispered, brushing her hair back from her cheek and tracing her flushed cheek with his fingers. His hand slipped from between her legs, eliciting a tiny moan of displeasure, and she glanced up at his face a little self-consciously. He stared into her eyes as he lifted his hand to his mouth and closed his lips around his two middle fingers, sucking the glistening juices off.
Anna couldn't help lifting herself up and pressing her lips to his, sliding her tongue into his welcoming mouth. There was something about tasting herself on his lips that not only got her hot, but made her feel like they were physically connected in an intimate way. Sometimes she wondered if other people could smell her on his breath and for some reason she like the idea. It felt like a form of possession; like she was marking her territory. Grant groaned as she clasped her hands around his neck and deepened the kiss, her nipples hard against his chest. Finally she pulled away and gave him a satisfied smile.
"Thank you for your prompt payment; please let me know if there is any further business consulting I can do for you."
His face broke into a wide grin and his chest shook under her as he chuckled. "I will be sure to do that."
"How late are you gonna be tonight?"
"A couple more hours, do you want to wait? I can call you a cab if you don't."
"No, I'll hang out. This place is kind of growing on me."
"It has that effect on people," he said with a proud smile. "Let me see if Corie wants to take her break early and then maybe I can get out of here sooner rather than later."
"Sounds good." With a final kiss she moved so he could get up. After he left she spent some time looking over the graphs trying to come up with an easy way to compare the employee schedule with the fluctuations in purchasing in attempt to get some kind of clue about who might be responsible. After a while her brain felt fried and she stretched and decided to go sit at the bar and people watch.
It was still early, so it wasn't crowded yet, but that was her favorite time to be here; when there were just enough people to be entertaining, but not enough to be overwhelming. Anna sat down at the end of the bar and scanned the room, but her gaze was naturally drawn right back to Grant. She loved to watch him bartending; his friendly nature and ingrained flirtatiousness made him a natural. At the moment he was chatting up a couple of tipsy ladies as he mixed them colorful drinks. He winked at them as they dropped a wad of cash in the tip jar and she couldn't hold back a giggle.
He looked up in time to catch her amusement and gave her a slow secretive smile that sent shivers down her spine and told her without a doubt that he was thinking about what he planned to do later when he had her alone. She found herself mildly jealous of the towel he was wiping his hands on as he walked over to where she was sitting.
"Hey gorgeous," he said, leaning forward to rest his folded arms on the bar in front of her.
"You want something?"
"Oh I definitely do," she said in a quiet voice with an innocent smile on her face. "But for now I'll settle for some water."
He chuckled and turned to get her drink. Anna's perusal of Grant's ass as he reached for a water glass was interrupted by Corie's arrival. As she walked behind the bar she nodded and said hi to Anna; it was the extent of their communication but it was miles ahead of where it had been a month ago so Anna considered it progress. Grant slid the water across the bar to her and spoke to Corie for a moment before walking around to stand next to her, surreptitiously poking her in the ribs.
"I've got to run over to the restaurant for a bit, do you want to come?"
"I'll wait here," Anna said, squirming away from his fingers and trying to keep a straight face. She may have been getting comfortable at the club, but the restaurant's upscale atmosphere still made her feel out of place and she preferred not to go there unless they were eating. "I'm not hungry and you need to stop using me as an excuse to slack off." She batted his hand away and gave him a sharp look.
"Ouch. Fine, no need to get abusive I'm going, I'm going." He grinned and winked, but as he turned to walk away he ran into a tall woman standing right behind him, nearly knocking them both off their feet. He reached out to steady her and Anna noticed his back stiffen.
"Grant, darling, hello!" the woman exclaimed, grinning widely and wrapping her arms around his shoulders and kissing him on the cheek. "I knew you had to be around here somewhere. I almost didn't recognize you with all this...hair." She gestured toward his beard with a distasteful look on her face.
She was slightly taller than him, probably because of the heels she wore, and extremely beautiful. Her red hair was short and elegantly coiffed and she wore what Anna assumed must be a designer dress the way it fit her slender body so perfectly.
"Celia, what a surprise," Grant said with a distinct lack of enthusiasm.
"Yes, I know. I just happened to be in town and I thought I'd come by and see you. It's been so long and I've missed you." She gave him a pout that should have looked ridiculous on a woman her age, but somehow she had just enough of a teasing smile mixed in that it came off sexy.
"Yeah, it's been a while. How's Brad?"
"Oh you know him, just lazing his way through life living off his father. It's a pity some of your ambition didn't rub off on him." She put a hand on his arm and winked when she said the word 'rub,' which set off alarm bells in Anna's brain. It was a bit of a relief when Grant stepped back and rested his arm across her shoulders.
"Celia this is Anna Webster...my girlfriend," he said with a glance at Anna. It was the first she'd heard about being his girlfriend, but she didn't argue. "Anna, this is Celia Matheson, an old family friend."
Celia's mouth dropped open in a perfect impression of surprised pleasure. "Oh my goodness, you have a girlfriend? Well, I never thought I'd see the day."
"Nice to meet you." Anna held her hand out and Celia extended her arm to clasp Anna's fingers limply.
"Of course," she replied with a condescending smile before turning back to Grant. "And what a beautiful young lady she is!"
Anna raised her eyebrows at Grant and he shot her a quick apologetic look. He glanced at the time on his phone and sighed. "I'm really sorry ladies, but I've got to run over to the restaurant for a few minutes. Celia, if you'd like a drink I'll get Corie to bring you one. It's on the house, of course."
"Well aren't you sweet!" she gushed placing a hand on his chest and leaning into him just a touch too closely. "I'd love a Dewar's on the rocks."
"Coming right up," he said with a tense smile. He leaned in to brush kiss across Anna's cheek and whispered, "I'm sorry, I'll be quick." She smiled up at him to let him know it was alright and he walked away.
Celia smiled brightly at Anna. "My goodness, a girlfriend. You, my dear, are quite a surprise." Corie appeared with a drink and gave Anna a strange look. It was the closest Anna had seen Corie come to being sympathetic and that somehow made her nervous. "Let's grab a table and get to know each other a bit." Celia's tone didn't allow for refusal and Anna was curious to know more about this old family friend so she went along without argument.
They found a booth along the wall and sat down together, chatting politely about the warm weather. Celia seemed nice enough so far, but Anna hadn't been able to shake the nervous feeling especially after Corie shot her another alarmed look when they walked away from the bar. She started to understand when in the middle of her explaining some of the more amusing aspects of how she and Grant met, Celia abruptly changed the subject.
"I tell you what, darling, you've succeeded where dozens have failed. Possibly hundreds," she said with a laugh. "You landed quite a catch with that young man."
"Yeah, I think he's pretty amazing." She was unsure where this was going, but agreed so far.
"I mean he's young, successful...rich."
Anna wasn't sure how to respond to that so she kept her mouth shut and just smiled as Celia looked at her expectantly.
"Not bad to look at either. Especially when he takes his shirt off, am I right?" She laughed and placed her hand on Anna's forearm. "And that ass! Good lord, no man has a right to look that good when he's walking away."
Anna's instinct was to jerk her arm away, but something between the ingrained drive to be courteous and a sick sense of curiosity kept her sitting there, wanting to hear what else the woman was going to say.
"But aside from all that, he's so engaging. He's always been like that, such a charmer." Celia leaned in close and continued in a conspiratorial stage whisper. "You know what I mean, I'm sure. I saw him giving you that look, you know, the one that makes you feel like you're the only woman in the room, like you're someone special. And the way he always seems to know exactly the right thing to say; exactly what you want to hear. It's quite a talent he has."
Anna felt frozen in place and hoped she didn't look as weak as she suddenly felt. Intellectually she knew that this woman was trying to manipulate her, but she'd apparently hit a raw nerve and Anna was struggling to keep a straight face so at least she wouldn't have the satisfaction of knowing she'd succeeded. Celia was still talking, but Anna only tuned in to hear her finish.
"...so obviously any young woman in your position would be lucky to snag him."
"Well, yes." She looked Anna up and down as if evaluating her worth and didn't hide the fact that she found her wanting. "I mean, you said you work in a bookstore?" Her tone was the height of condescension and Anna felt the shock wearing off to be replaced with anger and was trying to figure out a suitably insulting reply. Fortunately Corie chose that moment to appear with a glass of white wine and another whiskey on the rocks.
"I thought you ladies might need a couple of fresh drinks."
Anna looked up in surprise at Corie's falsely cheerful voice, but wasn't quick enough to prevent an entire glass of white wine from falling into her lap when Corie tripped stepping up to their booth. She jumped up and tried to brush it off her skirt while Corie apologized and fussed over her. "Maybe you should just go clean it up in the bathroom," she suggested.
"Oh. Oh, yeah I probably should," she said, finally catching on. Neglecting to excuse herself, it wasn't like she could tell Celia it was a pleasure to meet her because it wasn't, Anna rushed to the bathroom and sat in the stall with a wad of paper towels, blotting absently at her skirt for a while as she came up with all manner of things she should have said to Celia, ranging from clever to scathing. Why did she always come up with these things after the fact? Then again, Celia had clearly been trying to get a rise out of her so maybe it was better not to have said anything at all.
She wasn't even all that upset about Celia's insinuations about her motives, it was the things she said about Grant that hand her hands trembling. Good grief, it seemed like things had just settled into a comfortable place between Grant and her and now this. Was she really so insecure that she let a perfect stranger shake her confidence in their relationship? Unfortunately the answer was yes and that pissed her off. Her instinct was to discount anything Celia said, since she was so clearly a manipulative bitch, but being a manipulative bitch didn't mean she wasn't right. She appeared to know Grant pretty well and Anna couldn't help wondering what kind of relationship they'd had
Finally she decided she'd been hiding long enough. She steeled herself and walked boldly out into the hall. She paused in front of Grant's office door to knock gently, but there was no reply. She suppressed the surge of irritation she felt at Grant abandoning her, it was totally irrational and she knew it. He was working and she knew he couldn't spend the whole night with her. With a deep breath she walked confidently into the bar prepared for battle. Neither Celia nor Grant was readily apparent so she took a seat at the end of the bar, hoping to avoid notice. A moment later Corie approached with a Yeungling, offering it silently.
"She's always a bitch, it's not just you. I think she was pissed you got away, she called me an inept child and said she didn't understand why Grant still kept me around."
"Wow, at least when she insulted me she was pretending to be nice."
"Yeah, she stopped pretending with me a long time ago and we settled comfortably into open hostility. I haven't seen her in ages, but apparently she isn't mellowing with age."
"Well, I appreciate your help." Anna gave her a tentative smile and Corie returned it. "I'll send you the dry cleaning bill."
Corie's grin widened, her piercings glinting in the dim bar light. "I'll pass it along to Grant." They both laughed and Anna began to see why Grant was friends with this girl, but the bar was beginning to fill up and she got called away by people demanding drinks.
Anna downed her beer, paying very little attention to her surroundings as her mind raced around in circles trying to process her conversation with Celia. She was surprised to look up several minutes later and realize how crowded it had gotten. It was pure chance that she happened to see Grant enter the far end of the room. Rather than try to get his attention and wait for him to wade his way through the crowd to her she decided to head toward his office and meet him there.
"Hey babe," he said as he approached. "I'm sorry I had to run off like that."
"You could have warned me."
"Oh god, what did she say?"
"You don't want to know."
He gave her a sympathetic look as he unlocked the door and ushered her inside. As soon as the door was closed behind them he pulled her into his arms. Anna felt herself start to melt as he ran his hands up and down her back and kissed her jaw. Before he made it to her lips and she knew she'd be lost she spoke.
"How do you know her?"
Grant sighed and gave her a kiss on the ear. He let her go and walked over to the fish tank. As he sprinkled food in the top he gave her the short version. "I've known her since I was a teenager, her husband was a friend of my dad's and I went to boarding school with their son, Brad." He looked over at her and Anna nodded, waiting for more.
"She was also one of the original investors in the club. She had just gotten divorced when I was trying to get this place going and she was trying to piss off her ex, figuring he was sure to hear about her throwing his money away on me either from my dad or from Brad. I knew why she was doing it, but an investor is an investor and I wasn't about to turn down her money. I think it was a surprise to her that we did so well with it. She was actively involved for a little while, but it was my plan all along to be the sole owner so I paid her off with interest several years ago, right before I got arrested. I haven't seen her since."
"Did you fuck her?" Anna asked, shocking herself not only with her language, but also the tone of bitter accusation she could hear in her own voice.