Authors: Ava Lore
I don't know how many times I came, or how many times he came,
only that eventually I fell asleep, cradled against him, my thighs slick with
our coupling. The last thing I thought of was how much I wanted to bang him on
the terrace outside of the living room, and then I passed out.
Sex is a powerful drug. I slept hard and soundly until the sky
was darkening with the coming evening, and when I awoke I found myself reaching
for my bedside table again. This time, however, I remembered where I was and
Malcolm was still wiped out. He slept like a baby, deep and
serene, and when I realized I was watching him sleep I had to shake myself out
of it. What was I, some mooning teenager? Slipping out of bed, I peeked in the
closet and found a huge fluffy white robe. Wrapping it around myself, I padded
back down the hallway to the main part of the house. I didn't look at our work
of art. I wanted to imagine it a little while longer.
Stepping into the dining room, I winced as my stomach rumbled. I
hadn't had anything to eat in... forever, it seemed. I moved to the
refrigerator and opened it, but was disappointed to find only a few fine bottles
of white wine.
, I thought,
it's probably after five, right?
I drew one out, located a corkscrew in the drawers, and opened it. The tang of
alcohol tickled my nose and made my mouth water. I smiled as I pulled down a
glass from one of the cabinets. I was pretty sure Europe was all about the
wine, so when in Dubrovnik, do as... well, whatever. I was going to be in big
trouble with just wine in my stomach, but I couldn't really bring myself to
care. I poured a glass and moved to the windows, staring out at the quiet city
and the iron-gray winter sea. I sipped wine, then gulped it. I've never been
known for my moderation. I poured another glass and started on that one.
A ringing bell caught my attention. A phone.
Frowning, I turned around, scanning the room before I spied a
pile of luggage—Jesus, was all that ours?—with Malcolm's jacket folded neatly
across it. The sound was coming from it. Already tipsy as hell I tottered
across the living room and spent precious seconds hunting through Malcolm's pockets
before I located his phone just as the person on the other end of the line hung
, I thought. But then the phone lit up again almost
immediately, the ringtone loud in the quiet of the penthouse. In bold letters
on the screen, the name Don Cardall shone out. It meant nothing to me.
I wavered and after a few rings the call went to voicemail. I
had no problem with that, as I wasn't ever a fan of people answering my own
phone--safely tucked away in my purse at the base of the tower of luggage, thank
god--but when the home screen popped up I saw that Malcolm had seventy-eight
I thought. This might be kind of important.
For a second I stood in the living room, trying to decide what
to do. On the one hand, I wasn't Malcolm's personal secretary or anything like
that, and we'd only known each other for a few days. I should, technically, go
wake him up so he could field whatever emergency had popped up back home. On
the other hand, I really wanted to stay here and just fuck the next few days
away. Maybe drink some good liquor, eat some good food. Bone some more.
Especially on that terrace... Perhaps I should just answer and see who was
calling and what sort of fire Malcolm had to put out before bothering him. He
looked exhausted. I didn't really want to disturb the first good sleep I was
betting he'd had since we met. I didn't think he'd slept on the plane, and
since he'd been forgetting to eat I didn't exactly trust him to take care of
himself in my absence. I took another gulp of wine and pondered, and then the
decision was made for me when the phone lit up again. Don Cardall once more. He
was very persistent. I was willing to bet he was at least half of those missed
I hit answer.
"Malcolm Ward's phone," I said, very cool and
sophisticated. "May I ask who's calling?"
"Fuck you, this is a fucking emergency!" Don Cardall
spat at the other end of the line. "Where the
One and a half glasses of wine on a very empty stomach did not
make me the most delicate of people. "He's in a sex coma," I snapped,
all my good sex vibes falling away and my typical crankiness reasserting
itself. "Who is this?"
"No, you tell me who the hell
are and you put
Mr. Ward on the phone right goddamn now."
Damn, this dude was rude to someone he'd never met. “I'm Sadie
MacElroy,” I said. Then, because I thought I could perhaps parlay it into some
sort of social currency: “Mrs. Anton Waters' personal assistant."
At the other end of the line, Don was quiet for a moment,
clearly reassessing the situation.
I thought. Finally that stupid
job came in handy for something other than boring shit like keeping food on the
table and a roof over my head.
"I apologize, Miss MacElroy," Don finally said, his
voice now stiff and formal, "but I am Mr. Ward's secretary. I hope you
will understand that this is an emergency and put Mr. Ward on the line."
Ah. The secretary to whom Malcolm had given over the reins of
the company. I could sympathize. I really could. It was always a frantic day
when something big had gone down and you couldn't contact your boss. I know
this because it happened frequently when Felicia and Anton decided to go on a
sex retreat, although now that I came to think of it I was obviously not any
better, seeing as how I had skipped work--and town--to screw some virtual
stranger's brains out. And I didn't even have the excuse of being in a
relationship with him.
Still. I didn't really want to wake Malcolm up. It was probably
midnight in New York now. I'd been missing from my job for a whole day at this
point. I probably had a million messages, too. Ugh.
I wavered for another moment, then gave in. "All right,
just a second," I said. "I'll go see if I can wake him up."
"Thank you," Don said. I hit the hold button and
tottered back to the bedroom. That wine was really hitting me hard.
Malcolm lay on the bed in the same position I'd left him in. I
hated to wake him up. But this was probably really important. I hoped he hadn't
skipped out on some kind of life or death deal to bone me in Croatia. I mean,
that's flattering and all, but I understand priorities, too. Reaching out, I
put my hand on Malcolm's shoulder.
"Malcolm?" I whispered.
He slept on.
I gave him a little shake.
He continued to sleep. He was out.
"Malcolm," I said a little louder, but he might as
well have been a lump of clay for all the response I got from him. I shook him
harder, then moved over to my side of the bed and began to jump up and down on
it. "Wake up!" I commanded him.
He snorted, stirred, then turned over and slipped back down into
Jesus. He was completely exhausted. I turned the phone back on.
"I'm sorry," I said. "He is completely passed
"I did. I even jumped on the bed and kind of yelled at him.
He won't wake up."
In New York, I could hear Don pondering this as he felt the icy
hand of termination creeping up on him. "Did you check to see if he's
All right, forget the rudeness. No one treats me like an idiot.
"Oh gosh, no," I said, "I'm just a dumb girl and I can't tell
the difference between a living body and corpse. Asshole."
"Fine," he snapped. "You tell him I called the
second he wakes up. This is an emergency, and he needs to be in New York as
soon as possible. Wait, where is he, anyway?"
"You're his secretary," I said. "Didn't he tell
I knew that would rankle him. "Tell me where he is!"
"Sheepfuckistan," I said, and hung up.
It was the wine. I swear.
Not knowing what else to do, I walked out of the bedroom and
back to the living room, putting Malcolm's phone on top of his coat before
pouring myself another glass of wine and glancing around. A TV sat against the
, I thought. I located the remote and settled down with my
bottle of wine.
I was good and drunk by the time Malcolm stumbled out into the
living room, wearing only a pair of silk pajama bottoms. His sex-messed hair
and evening wood had me thinking dirty, drunken thoughts, and when he kissed me
good evening I leaned into his lips and it felt like falling.
“I see you've located the wine,” he said. He took the bottle
from my hand—now only a third full—and wandered into the kitchen, grabbing a
glass for himself. “I thought we'd go out to dinner. Do you like seafood?”
“I love seafood,” I said. “
Love. Love, love,
He took a sip of wine and raised his eyebrows at me. “You speak
Croatian?” he asked.
“Hell no,” I said, “I've just been watching Croatian music
videos. You can figure out some words from pop songs, because pop songs are the
same in every language. All about love and crying and hearts and stuff.” I
gestured drunkenly at the television as it flashed a gorgeous, fresh-faced
Slavic girl at me, her perfect voice caressing the words as they flowed out of
her mouth. I loved it. I love everything when I drink wine. I even loved
Malcolm Ward, although I wasn't
with him. I loved him deeply,
though, because he was a fellow traveler on this road of life and all that
shit. I'm a soppy drunk.
“You're drunk,” Malcolm said.
“Yup,” I replied. “There wasn't any food in the apartment.”
“True.” He seemed amused. “I'm going to make a few calls and see
who wants to give us a private dinner.”
I thought. There was something about calls that I
was supposed to remember, wasn't there? Calls, calls, calls...
I realized. Malcolm's horrible asshole
secretary! He needed to call him back. And I'd answered the phone...
Oh dear. I shouldn't have done that, should I? Well, I was about
to be found out, because he was going to turn on his phone and then he'd see
all those missed calls and the answered one would be in the record and I'd
better confess right now—
But Malcolm wasn't going for his cell phone. He was instead
lifting a handset off the wall and dialing out. Oh my god, a land line! This
the Old Town. I giggled to myself as Malcolm spoke to the
person on the other end of the line, in French. Surprisingly.
After less than a minute's conversation he hung up. “You speak
French?” I said.
He smiled. “But not as well as I speak German
and Japanese. And I certainly don't speak Croatian. I never had the chance to
learn. Luckily for me it seems everyone here is multilingual. Dominic knows
French best, so I speak to him in French, and he, in turn, laughs at my French.
But he will still make the most delectable meal you've ever tasted.”
“He will?” I was dubious. I've had some damn good food in the
last year or two. And New York is lousy with hole-in-the-wall restaurants that
would make a gourmand weep for joy—if you know where to find them.
“Indeed. We should get dressed.”
Getting dressed took a little longer than it normally does
because I was too drunk to match my clothes up, especially because they were
all new and I'd never seen any of them before. In the end, Malcolm dressed me,
pouring my drunk ass into a corset and delicate stockings before wrapping me up
in fine winter clothes and handing me my purse. His hands on me made me happy
and warm, and by the soft kisses he planted on my skin I could tell he felt the
same. Coming with him had been a good decision. I was sure of it.
When we finally wandered out into the streets, the city was
different than it had been this morning. Lamplight filled the stone world, and
the smell of the sea hung sharp and cold in the air. I reveled in it, letting
it sober me up a bit as we walked the cobbled streets. Or stone-paved streets.
They kept changing under my feet, and it wasn't long before I was completely
turned around and lost. All I knew was that we were on a large, main
thoroughfare. It had rained again while we slept, and the streets gleamed
wetly, small puddles reflecting the street lamps, gilding the stone world in
I was very warm from my stifling underthings and the walk
through the streets by the time Malcolm steered me off the road and into a
little cafe. No chairs or tables stood in the street outside it, but inside a
few lights burned, and when we stepped through the door I nearly fainted with
hunger at the delicate smells of fine herbs and sweet shellfish. Traditional music
played, tinny and old-world sounding on an ancient sound system. White
tablecloths shone in the warm yellow light, and I immediately felt at home.
An older man, his face lined so deeply he looked like a raisin,
came out of the kitchen and exclaimed something in French, his arms open wide.
Malcolm returned the greeting and the two hugged and kissed like old friends.
Friends. That was what Malcolm was like. A friend to everyone.
Straightforward. Open. Welcoming. And despite his strange talk and idiosyncrasies,
he seemed to be exactly what he appeared to be. The realization startled me.
I'd known so many men who hid things, who led double lives. But Malcolm was
completely transparent. Everything there was to know about him was floating on
the surface, written in plain words in a language I was learning to decipher.
Malcolm introduced me to Dominic, and the old man embraced and
kissed me as well, his arms surprisingly strong for a raisin. Speaking in rapid
French, he ushered us over to a table in the middle of the room decorated with
fluttering candles. Malcolm helped me into my chair, then seated himself.