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Title: If I Had to Choose...

Author: Tinnean

Fandom: Laura

Pairing: Mark McPherson/Shelby Carpenter

Rating: NC-17

Disclaimers: Not mine, never were, never will be. They belong,
first and foremost to Vera Caspary. And secondly to the fantastic
screenwriters of 20th Century Fox. And if I was making money from
this, do you honestly think I wouldn't tell you all?

Summary: The dour Scot discovers he might be willing to spend
money on the dapper Southerner. However, suppose Shelby wants

Series/Sequel: No, but there's a connection with That Sunday,
That Summer

Warning: m/m, language, minor spoiler for the movie

Note: if you read the book or saw the movie, you know what the
story is; if you didn't, then I guess you'll have no clue what's
going on. Read it as PWP

If I Had to Choose... 

He heard the key in the lock. I know he did. When I pushed the door open, he was sitting in that overstuffed easy chair he had persuaded me to buy for him, his legs crossed at the knee. A couple of inches of black silk sock were exposed, and I felt my mouth go dry. 

How was it that the sight of his bony ankle was enough to get me hard? I wanted to rub myself against him, shameless as a cat in heat. Instead, I turned to shut the door and toss my hat on the coat tree that stood nearby. I didn't watch to see if it caught on the hook: I never missed. 

He was wearing a smoking jacket. The only time I had ever seen them was in the movies, and I thought they were an effeminate affectation. Until I saw him in one. 

Cradled in the palm of his right hand was the pipe I had left behind the last time I was at his apartment. His chin rested on the fingers of his other hand, those long, slender, elegant fingers that worked such magic against my skin. 

A large volume lay opened upon his knee. 

The son-of-a-bitch was posing! 

He knew I was there. Why didn't he look up to acknowledge me? 

And when he did, and frowned, I knew why. I was supposed to be at Laura Hunt's apartment, tying up the loose ends, waiting for the coroner's office to send over a meat wagon to pick up Waldo Lydecker's body.

He wasn't expecting it to be me. 

He set the book down on an end table, casually placing the pipe beside it and rose to his feet, lithe and graceful. 

"Mark. I wasn't expecting you." He confirmed my fears with casual disregard. 

"Obviously." I stalked toward him, furious that he was reverting back to his tomcatting ways. He had *promised* me! "Who were you expecting, Shelby?" 

"Don't take that tone of voice with me, McPherson! I'm not some doll you can buy a fox fur for and then disappear for days at a time!" 

"Well, I'm the guy who can make you come so hard you think the top of your head exploded!" I grabbed his arm and jerked him close to me. "I'm not some sugar daddy who's going to keep you in style!" We were standing chest to chest, and I let him feel how aroused I was getting. 

His blue eyes, darker than my own pale ones, turned hot, and he leaned into me. "Mark!" he whispered hoarsely, and then I took his lips and he couldn't do anything else but moan as my tongue fucked his mouth.

My fingers were massaging his scalp, the thick weight of his hair filling my hands, sliding through them. I bit at his lips, then slid my mouth down over his throat, needing to mark him in some way as mine, needing him to know he belonged to me. 

Desire was building in me, and I was becoming almost frantic with it, to be inside him, to have him inside me. 

I began walking him backwards toward his bedroom. 

Suddenly he pulled savagely away from me, and I froze. I opened my mouth, but I had no clue what would have come out. 

"Someone's at the door!" he hissed before I could say something regrettable. 

"Get rid of him!" I snarled. 

He scowled back at me and jerked his head toward the bedroom door, indicating he wanted me out of sight. Then he straightened his smoking jacket and smoothed his hair and went to answer the door. 

That was the problem with these Suth'n aristocrats. They thought their word was law. 

Well, Shelby Carpenter didn't know me very well. I was from Brooklyn. I ate fancy college boys like him for breakfast! 

That thought made me feel better. I settled myself in the chair he had recently vacated and picked up my pipe. The bowl was cold. Of course. He was just trying to make an impression! 


He much preferred smoking Sweet Capperals, which was probably an old family tradition, handed down from father to son, world without end, amen. I found an old news vendor, who knew someone who knew someone, and he got a supply for me. 

I thought Shelby would weep like a baby the night I handed him the carton. Watching him light the cigarette was an experience in itself. He inhaled a lungful of that smoke and I thought he was going to come in his handsewn, silk pajamas. 

And that thought almost made me come. 


The sound of my thumbnail striking a match brought him to a jolting halt. He glared at me from over his shoulder. "Mark, get out of here!" 

I didn't smile, but the look on my face arrested him. Mentally, I stripped those tasteful clothes from his tall, slender body, and he could read every movement in my eyes. I leaned back in the chair and stroked the front of my trousers. 

"Want to take care of this for me, Shelby?" I asked softly. 

The tap on the door became more imperious. "Shelby, open this door at once!" 

With an imprecation that would have earned him a trip to the woodshed if it didn't have his Daddy washing his mouth out with soap, Shelby spun around and answered the door. 

The woman who stood there expectantly was in her mid fifties. Her hair was too dark to be natural, and curled so tight I was willing to bet each strand hurt. Her face was carefully, expertly made up to conceal the years of hard living. 


"Shelby! Darling!" She offered him her cheek to kiss. 

Shelby was uncomfortable. After Laura had broken their engagement, he had planned to have an affair with her aunt, maybe get the very wealthy, older woman to marry him. But then something unforeseen had come up. 


He darted a glance at me, extremely uncomfortable, before leaning forward to kiss the air next to her cheek. "You didn't use your key." 

//*She* had a key? Did the whole fucking city of New York have access to his apartment?// 

"Oh." She had seen me. "I didn't realize you had company, darling." She crossed the room easily, her hand held out to me. "Detective McPherson, I won't say it's nice to see you again. Are you still investigating Shelby?" 

I rose to my feet. My mother had beaten manners into me at a very early age. "Mrs. Treadwell. You're looking very well." 

But she was already dismissing me. "Shelby, darling, I just wanted to let you know that I shan't be able to see you for a while. That's why I didn't use the key." She held it out to him. 

"Susan, was it something I said? Something I did?" Dumbly, he accepted the silver key. 

"Of course not, Shelby." She made a great pretense of fiddling with her wrist-length black gloves. "This whole dismal affair with Waldo! So distressing for my dear Laura! She's on the point of a breakdown, you know. I'm taking her out of town." 

"I'm so sorry she's taking this so hard!" 

Mrs. Treadwell glanced at him reproachfully from under her mascara-ed lashes. "Really, Shelby, having someone killed in your apartment is not something one gets over easily! Not to mention the fact that it was the wrong someone, that Waldo actually intended to shoot Laura! I'm surprised at you!" she scolded. 

He blushed and ducked his head. I watched in fascination, determined to wring the details of his 'friendship' with the former Broadway ingenue from him. How was it that she was able to get under his skin? 

And could I learn to do that as well? 

"Well, I just wanted to let you know why I need the key to my duplex back. I'm sure you understand, darling. The whole place will be shut up, and I'm sure there will be no need for you to go there!" 

She held her hand out, calmly waiting for his compliance. Shelby was pale, but he retreated to his bedroom and returned a moment later with the key. "I'll be here in town if you or Laura should have need of me," he said formally, but she was already heading for the door. 

'*I* have need of you!' I wanted to shout at him, but gripped my pipe firmly in my teeth to keep my mouth shut. 

"I sincerely doubt either of us will have any need for you again Shelby, but do wait if that suits you." 

I started after her. Shelby caught my arm and dragged me to a halt, and then the door was closed behind her. I turned my anger on him. "Listen, you cocksucker..." 

Before the rest of the venom that was roiling inside me could spew forth, Shelby grabbed the lapels of my jacket and pulled me sharply against him. His mouth found mine and his teeth ground painfully against my lips. The coppery taste of blood flooded my mouth. 

"Shut your fucking mouth, you stupid, miserable...New Yorker!" It was the worst he could think to call me, and he gave me a shake. "Do you realize what you've done?" 

I stared at him, my mouth hanging open in disbelief. Shelby Carpenter never swore, and now, twice in one night vulgarities had passed his cultured Suth'n lips. I was enchanted, and made the mistake of showing it, letting a smile twist my lips. 

I found myself abruptly hoisted into a fireman's lift, the breath whooshing out of my lungs as my diaphragm hit his shoulder. He might look like a pansy, but under those expensive suits he favored, his body was hard and well muscled. 

He strode into his bedroom and tossed me down onto his bed. 

"Don't say a word, McPherson! Not one, fucking word!" 

I couldn't have said anything if my life depended on it. My mouth had gone dry. Shelby stood at the foot of the bed, glaring at me, while his hands ripped off the smoking jacket, tossed the Ascot he wore around his neck to the floor and dropped his hands to the waistband of his lounging pajama slacks. 

"Get your pants off. Don't bother with anything else, you won't have time!" 

I fumbled with my belt, watching him breathlessly as he pulled a tube of lubricant from his nightstand. In spite of his orders, I was able to slip out of my jacket and throw it. I was aiming for the chair in the corner, but somehow, this time, I missed. 

I didn't really care. 

"You want to give me that, Shelby?" I nodded toward the tube. 

"I intend to give it to you, Mark. Just not the way you think!" His erection was already beading with precome, and I licked my lips nervously. My cock twitched in excitement. Was he going to do what I thought he was going to do? 

He squeezed a goodly amount of the lube into the palm of his hand and allowed it to warm before covering his cock with it. 

I just lay there stupidly, unable to tear my eyes from his lower body. 

"I'm not a tramp, McPherson. I do what Ah have to in order to get by, but Ah was truly fond of all the women Ah took to my bed." While he was talking, he was preparing my body. I had never been had by a man before, and I was trembling with nerves. And with desire. He pushed my legs back and apart and found the puckered opening. I gasped as he thrust a finger into me. 

"So you're telling me you're fond of me, Carpenter?" I managed to utter while he finger fucked me. I pulled my legs back to give him better access. 

The look on his face was savage. "No!" he snapped. "Ah am not fond of you, north'n boy! You think you're tough an' cold an' hard! And Ah got bettuh sense than to fall in love with someone like that!" His accent was becoming more and more pronounced and I moaned his name. 

He balanced his weight on my legs and began pushing the broad head of his cock into my ass, stretching me, filling me. 

I had to feel his naked chest on mine. As if he could read my mind, he tore my shirt open, the buttons scattering to the corners of the room. The wiry hair at his groin teased my cock as it was pressed up against him. His hips set up a hard, pounding rhythm that measured his length in me again and again. 

The first time he hit the spot that had me begging for more, I was lost. The second time, and I was his. 

Long fingers captured my face and then his mouth was feeding off mine, his tongue licking, thrusting, fucking my mouth this time. 

With a wild cry, I began coming, covering my chest and his with the hot liquid. And still he fucked me. His hand took my flaccid cock, pulling and squeezing until, unbelievably, I was hard again. 

And then he was pouring himself into me, filling me, scalding me with his heat. I whimpered and shuddered and came once more. 

For long minutes we lay there. Idly he licked a path from my shoulder to my ear and worried the lobe. Finally, carefully, he eased out of my no longer virgin passage, and in spite of his care, I winced. 

"Did I hurt you Mark?" Once again, his accent was just a hint of mint juleps and hot suth'n nights. He rolled to the side of the bed and got up, padding into the bathroom. I felt like something out of a stag reel. He had never taken off those fucking black socks! The light went on and water ran. 

I turned to my side, appalled by what I had done. Not the act, I had played with sex too often to be disturbed by any of its many, varied aspects. I had deliberately fucked with Waldo Lydecker's head until he had no choice but to reveal his murder weapon. 

I knew Shelby Carpenter was hiding something too, and I fucked with him until he revealed it. 

Only it was not what I had anticipated. "Ah got bettuh sense than to fall in love with someone like you!" he had said. So now I knew where I stood. I had no one to blame but myself if I was unhappy with that. 

"Mark?" Shelby sat next to my hip and began cleaning off my chest with a warm washcloth. "Did I hurt you?" he asked again. 

C'mon, McPherson, you're the tough guy, the Silver Tibia. All you have to do is say no, get dressed, and get the fuck out of this place. You don't belong uptown, you never did! 

"No, Shelby", I said quietly. "I'm fine. I...want to thank you for showing me what all the fuss was about." 

"Yeah, it was pretty special, wasn't it, north'n boy? Maybe next time, y'all won't be so reluctant to let me have you." 

I swallowed hard. "Next time?" I asked cautiously. 

"Well, shoot, boy. My gravy train derailed because of you. Ah need me a new sugar daddy! And Ah reckon you've been elected! You gonna get me a fox fur, north'n boy?" 

I know I was grinning like an idiot, but I didn't care. The accent was back, flowing like warm honey. 

I lay back on the bed and stacked my arms under my head. "Yeah, doll, I just might do that! 


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