"Vanka, this is my friend, Khalid. Khalid, this is Vanka."
Though Khalid's existence-not to even mention his presence in Galen's room-was a complete surprise to Vanka, Galen had said "this is Vanka" as if she'd been much discussed by the two men. Khalid smiled without baring his teeth, and his eyes locked on hers the entire time, took her hand as if he'd shake it, but instead pressed the back of it with his other hand, and held it in the firm, warm embrace of his two smooth palms.
While Khalid kept her hand imprisoned, Galen moved in close behind her, molding the font of his body to the back of hers, cuffing her upper arms in the circles of his hands, and put his lips to her ear.
"What do you say, Vanka? Do you like my friend Khalid?"
Khalid was, Vanka had decided almost the moment she'd seen him, the loveliest man she'd ever met. Even at a glance, in the dim light, and despite the folds of the robe--or was it a smoking jacket?--he was wearing, his body was long, lithe, lean. The eyes locked on her were the color of caramel lit from behind by sunlight, and they almost seemed to glow, to shine on her from a perfectly sculpted face with fine cheekbones, smooth skin, and full lips of delicate contours.
Her stomach lurched, as if she'd just missed a step on a staircase.
"Galen. What's going on?"
"I invited Khalid here tonight because I'd like you to let him fuck you. While I watch."
She felt weak. Soft. Like all her bones had melted.
"And," she tried to smooth her bumpy voice, "what if I say 'no'?"
The delicately arched lips inches from her face parted, revealing perfectly white, straight teeth.
"My dear Vanka, I shan't touch so much as a tress of your hair, if you don't want me."
"Galen?" She fought hard to keep the sob in her throat out of her voice. "Am I free to go?"
His fingers remained firmly locked around her arms.
"Yes. Of course."
The moment Galen's grip softened Vanka yanked her hand from between Khalid's palms. Her body brushed against both of theirs as she slipped from between them. Hyperventilating, giddy with panic, she charged down the hall, away from the bedroom, away from Galen and the other man. As the front door came into sight she sped up, terrified she was about to be grabbed from behind, dragged back to the bedroom or simply thrown to the floor, held down, forced by both of them. Her panic tripled as her hand grasped and twisted the doorknob, but the door stood firm as she yanked back. The deadbolt. Fuck. She twisted it with her left hand, never letting go of the doorknob clutched in her right fist. Ready to scream when she felt Galen's inevitable touch, she hurled the door wide open.
There was nothing. No one behind her. Pursuing her. She was alone in the doorway, a breeze cooling her flushed face. Galen was really letting her go. The terror drained right out of her. It wasn't a rape. It was something else.
She went cold. Colder than the breeze that had cooled her hot skin. Galen. She'd thought ... It would have been different, before tonight. But after the evening they'd spent together, she'd thought....
It hurt. The disjuncture between expectation and this ugly reality. Galen and his fucking head games.
She took a step and slammed the door. Rebolted it. And walked, slowly, coolly, back to Galen's room.
When she entered, the two men stopped their low mumblings and turned toward the door. She'd surprised them. They'd thought she'd left.
She didn't so much as glance at Galen. She locked eyes with the other--Khalid, she reminded herself--and, by force of will, moved slowly toward him, until their faces were only an inch or so apart and their bodies were almost touching. She thought he'd smirk. Look smug. Or lascivious. But his face was serene. His eyes calm.
"This is what you want, Vanka?"
He had an accent. Maybe French. She hadn't noticed before.
She knew she was shaking. That if she said more than that small word, she might start to cry. In the periphery she glimpsed Galen moving toward the corner of the room and sinking into the chair Khalid had been sitting in when she'd first seen him.
Khalid lifted both hands to her face, and she flinched involuntarily as he ran his fingers over her hair so lightly she barely felt it. Her response registered in his eyes, but he didn't pull back. Instead he bent and kissed her mouth, fitting his lips, soft, soft over her bottom lip. Then he drew away and looked at her, and she was sure he could see her chin quivering, her eyes watering. He kissed her again, coming back to her, she thought, not like a man who didn't care that she was afraid, horrified by what was happening, but like a man of great patience and a will to change her mind, with a lingering kiss that slowly grew warmer. Deeper. Soon he was cradling her head and taking her mouth in a kiss that was at once incredibly sweet and gentle, and also the most intense, consuming kiss she'd ever experienced. She actually felt a little ... drugged.
When the kiss ended and she opened her heavy lids to look at him, there was a skip. A slip. How was it that she was standing there, being held and kissed by a man who wasn't Galen, looking at a man who wasn't Galen, knowing she was about to fuck him? And, with some part of her, wanting it?
He bent forward again, but this time his mouth went to her ear.
"No matter when, no matter what, if you ask me to stop, I will," he whispered.
He pulled back, looked at her with those warm, caramel-colored eyes. So beautiful. Fringed thick and dark with the same lush ebony that curled in soft waves by his ears and at his neck. His fingers, long and slender, converged at the top button of her blouse, and her chest cramped. Why couldn't one leave breasts out of sex?
"All right?" he whispered.
She nodded her head.
He unbuttoned her blouse and slipped it from her shoulders, and she let it fall to the floor. She watched as he lifted a hand to her hurt breast and, with the tip of his index finger, traced the raised pink curve of scarred skin.
"Your scar is pretty," he sighed, looking intently at the flesh his finger was touching.
It was the only compliment he'd paid her. The first thing he'd touched once he'd removed her blouse. He finished undressing her and, once she was completely naked and his eyes had roamed over every nuance of the front of her body, he told her to get on the bed. She sat down, at the foot, and slid back toward the headboard, watching as he undid the belt at his waist and, literally, disrobed. The champagne-colored silk slipped from his frame, and Khalid stood before her--and Galen--naked. Hard. His skin smooth, luminous in the dim, golden light of the room, his sinuous muscles sleek and defined.
Gazing down at her on Galen's bed, Khalid put one knee on the edge of the mattress, dropped forward, and crawled toward her until he hovered, naked, over her naked body, not touching her at all. Except for the kiss and the scar, he hadn't touched her at all.
She could hear her own erratic breathing. Knew she was looking up at him, her face, her eyes, blatant with fear. Let him. Let Galen smirk as he watched.
"You're afraid," Khalid said softly. She didn't deny it. "You're sure you want this?"
She didn't trust her voice. She nodded.
Not meaning to, she whimpered pathetically as he drew her knee aside and put his knee between her legs. She was quiet, though, as he repeated the motions on the other side, with her right leg and his left. He lowered himself until she felt the warm, taut length of his body pressed to hers, and he worked his hips between her thighs. She was hyperventilating. Gasping for air.
"Sssshhhh, Vanka." He stroked her hair, held her gaze. "Not yet. I only want to be close to you. Feel you open to me."
He kissed her, as tenderly as before, and with the same overwhelming impact. Except, beyond the heat filling and melting her, a heavy melancholy swelled and rose in her belly, because each time she closed her eyes and felt Khalid's kiss and touch, for a tiny moment she'd imagine it was Galen doing that to her.
Khalid rose up, touched her cheek, then said, softly, "Look at Galen, Vanka." Then he turned her head, coaxed her cheek down, onto the pillow, so she was facing Galen in his chair a couple feet from the bed.
He looked aroused and ... masked. Maybe his little game wasn't as fun as he'd imagined. She tried to keep her face stoic as she looked at him. Until she felt Khalid's mouth on her, kissing her breasts, her belly, her sex. While Khalid licked her, making her pant and sigh and twitch, she noticed that Galen was hard. She kept expecting him to whip it out, to beat off, or, at least, to rub his erection over the snug crotch of his pants, but he kept his hands wrapped tight around the corners of the arms of the chair. His only motion was the fitful rise and fall of his chest, and the flickering of his eyes over her face, over their bodies.
Khalid came back to her. Hovered, his face close, their breath mingling. The way he'd been kissing her sex, she'd been on the verge of climax four or five times, and her body was more desperate to be touched, to be filled, than any time in memory. But she was still afraid. Of him. Of Galen. Of what they'd do to her. Of what she was doing. Only by force of will was she able to lay there, under Khalid's hot, naked body, to refrain from trying to push him off of her, leaping up, running out. Vaguely aware she'd balled the sheet or blanket she was laying on into sweaty wads in her fists, she waited.