Showing Her Claws

Angyl and Orithain

August 2003

Hélène Palardy stood in front of the full length mirror in her dressing room and inspected her outfit carefully before deciding that yes, it would do. Her eyes ran over the tiny silver lame handkerchief halter-top that shifted to show the half-moon tattoo and ring with a star pendant at her navel, the low cut, skintight, black leather micro-miniskirt, and the strappy high heels, and she smiled. Yes, she should be able to find someone interesting tonight. This would be her night to relax and forget about her worries about what she was going to do in a few short months after she both turned eighteen and graduated from high school.

Calling goodnight to her mother and M. St. Onge and letting them know that she would be late and possibly not home at all that night, Hélène headed out to Mirrors, the hot new club that everyone was raving about.

A little while later, having gotten inside without any delays, she was on the dance floor, moving to the music. Dancing was almost as good as shifting.

Alexei Taleniekov looked around the dance club, bored and wondering just why the hell he was here. It was his night away from the job, and he’d decided to lose himself in the beat of music, strobe of lights and gyrations of hundreds of attractive bodies as they writhed on the dance floor.

However, it just wasn’t working for him tonight. Taking another mouthful of his vodka on the rocks, he let his eyes wander over the club, automatically noting security personnel as well as security systems, possible problems, drunks, people high, the ones having sex in the corners, the ones who had the potential to become violent. He noted the shifters in amongst the normals and picked out the criminals and the plainclothes cops.

Glancing down at his own apparel, he had to chuckle. Chances were he’d been picked out as one of the criminals by the cops dressed as he was, with the air of menace that seemed to cling to him permanently now. How amusing it would be if those pathetic excuses knew he was one of the best undercover agents Interpol had.

Of course, the scruffy man dressed in unrelieved black from the leather jacket to the tight black tee and jeans to the black biker boots, sitting in a corner and drinking vodka with a three quarters empty bottle sitting next to his glass was hardly the poster boy for the squeaky clean image that Interpol tried to present through their public relations spin doctors. And he preferred it that way. It kept him safe and alive.

Taking another swallow, Alexei tried to forget about the Russian mafia ring he was currently trying to take down or the fact that there were rumors of a white slavery ring trying to bring illegals, Eastern European women, into France to work in their brothels. There’d been two dead women in the past three weeks, neither having a visa or passport, and no one had an explanation of how they got into the country at all. His gut told him it was the family he was trying to bring down but... One thing at a time, Alexei, he cautioned himself as he was distracted by the glitter of silver on the dance floor.

Enjoying the music, her long hair loose and flowing around her, covering more than her top and shifting aside to reveal tantalizing glimpses of bare flesh, Hélène was drawn out of her reverie when she felt eyes on her. Accustomed as she was to being stared at, this was different, and she looked around until her gaze met that of a man sitting at a table in a corner. He looked very different from her usual socially acceptable dates, and almost without realizing it, Hélène found herself dancing through the crowd toward him.

Raising an eyebrow as the silver sparkle coalesced into a rather luscious young woman who was giving him a thorough going over, Alexei smiled rakishly. A shifter and a wealthy one at that from the look of her clothes and jewelry. A socialite who wanted to play with a bad boy. Typical. But she was a pretty little thing.

However, money and social status could get him in a lot of trouble with the crowd he was currently running with. Tipping his glass at her with a regretful smile, Alex started looking for someone less high profile than the pretty young miss dancing in front of him.

Eyebrows rising at the dismissal, Hélène went from vaguely intrigued to determined to have him in an instant. She slid onto the empty chair at his table, an inviting smile on her lips. "Can I buy you a drink?"

Clinking his glass to the bottle next to him, Alex smirked. "I have mine already, thanks all the same. Do you often offer to buy strange men drinks, little girl?"

"It makes a change from having them buy me one," Hélène shrugged, plucking the glass out of his hand and tossing down the vodka. "Thanks. Do you dance alone as well, or can I interest you in that?"

"Persistent little thing, aren’t you?" Alexei replied, grabbing the glass back from her. "Are you even old enough to drink yet?"

"Do I look under sixteen to you?" Hélène asked, eyebrows arched as she gestured a waitress over and ordered a drink. "I can assure that I’m old enough for anything I choose to do."

"Indeed," Alex had to chuckle. She was a persistent minx, he would give her that. "Assuming you have your partner’s consent as well. And what would you choose to do, I wonder?"

"Whatever appeals. I presume you might have heard of this new thing going around? It’s called having fun," she purred, removing the cherry from her white Russian and slipping it between her lips while she stared at him.

"Never heard of it," Alex quipped, pouring himself another glass of vodka. "But I bet you know all about it, don’t you?" Swallowing about half the glass in one gulp, Alexei leaned over the table and pulled the stem back out of the young woman’s mouth, sticking it in his own and using it like a toothpick.

"And I bet I’m also ruining yours. How come you’re not out there dancing with those pretty little party boys that girls like you tend to prefer?"

"Because maybe I’m not like those ‘girls like me’ you’re lumping me in with. And maybe I prefer an adult man who’s more interesting." Hélène leaned back in her chair, smiling at him challengingly.

"Little girl, you don’t want a man like me. A man like me is not a nice man. Why don’t you go back out on the dance floor and continue playing at being grown up so you don’t get hurt by big bad wolves," Alexei scoffed derisively.

"I usually play with cats, not wolves," Hélène pointed out, smirking. "And I’m not playing at anything, cheri. It’ll take a lot more than you to scare me." She laughed almost bitterly, thinking of her father’s temper. Though he’d never raised a hand to her, he was a champion at emotional brutality. For a moment the bright colors and glitter of the dance floor faded into a distant blur, but then she focused on her companion again.

"My name, by the way, is Hélène. And you are?"

"Little girl, you have no idea just how wrong you are in that regard," Alexei replied seriously. "Girls like you should really stay away from men like me; we’re not the sort of people you take home to meet mother. But if you must know, my name is Alexei. Now if you will excuse me..."

"No, I don’t think I will," Hélène replied, not moving. "I want to know why you’re trying so hard to scare me off, and I’d like to dance with you. I know I’m not a troll, so there must be some other reason why you’re acting like I’m a leper."

"You really want to know?" Smiling wolfishly, Alexei leaned across the table. "I buy and sell little girls like you on a daily basis; you just caught me on my day off. You’d fetch a pretty price in Russia and some other countries. A pretty little shifter spitfire would be the star of some rich man’s harem, for sure. Or maybe I’ll just keep you for myself."

"First, there isn’t anyone else like me," Hélène laughed, "and second, you couldn’t afford me. Not to mention that no matter what I think of my father, he would move heaven and earth to negate the insult of someone kidnapping his daughter. I don’t think you really want to deal with Etienne Palardy, do you?" She laughed again at the expression of recognition that crossed his face. "So if you’re quite finished trying to scare me—unsuccessfully, I might add—how about that dance?"

Etienne Palardy’s daughter? Well shit, as if life couldn’t get any more complicated. A high profile shifter family to be sure, especially now that they had thrown their lot in with the St. Onges thanks to not one but two siblings’ involvements with the aristocratic family.

"People with more important families than yours have been made to disappear without a trace, lady, so don’t think that because you’re a Palardy you’re protected," Alex warned seriously. "And just so we’re clear, I don’t dance. Ever."

"How very sad for you. Dancing is one of life’s pleasures and one of the few without cost.

"And while I’ll grant you that I could be taken, I can guarantee you that I would be impossible to keep... even without the inevitable descent of my entire family and probably two full packs upon the one fool enough to try." Hélène shrugged easily, sipping at her drink.

"So tell me, Alexei, what exactly do you do to relax?"

The child was a menace to herself and the world in general. She was so sure of her safety and her family connections that she had no fear of what could be a real possibility, especially if his newest associates were to catch sight of the minx.

"I find a pretty piece of ass, female or male, and fuck myself into relaxation," he answered crudely. "Is that what you wanted to know?"

"Mmm, sounds lovely. And I’ll even admit that it’s better than dancing. Care to try that instead?"

Alex tried not to choke on his vodka but couldn’t stop the watering of his eyes. "Child, have you no sense of self preservation at all?" he ground out, standing and slithering into his leather jacket before grabbing her arm and tugging her along behind him, leading them both outside.

Turning down an uninhabited alleyway, he pushed her into the wall and bracketed her head with his hands. "Haven’t you been told that you never make such an offer to a man of dubious background? Are you trying to get yourself grabbed or, worse yet, raped and murdered? This isn’t a nice area of Paris, minx; look around you. I’ve seen at least twenty drug pushers, half a dozen pimps, five times that many prostitutes and quite a few other people who are even less desirable than that, a number of them associates of mine. You court danger in a way I’ve never seen before, and you’re going to get that pretty little ass of yours in such troub..."

"{What a pretty little piece you’ve caught tonight, Alexei. Is she for sale?}" a cold Russian voice chuckled from the opening of the alleyway.

"Damnit!" he muttered near silently.

Squeezing Hélène’s arm hard enough to bruise, he hissed in her ear low enough that only another shifter could hear him, "If you value your pretty little hide, keep your mouth shut no matter what, do you understand me?"

"{You like what you see, Yuri?}" Alex grinned, tugging Hélène’s chin around so that his ‘friend’ could see her clearly.

She wanted to knock his hand away, but she chose to trust Alexei’s advice, at least for a little longer. Gritting her teeth, she remained still, waiting to see how Alex would handle this.

Taking the bait, Yuri weaved into the alleyway, stinking of too much alcohol and stale cigarettes. "{I spotted her when she walked in; the boss likes pretty, high class girls like her. I messed up a job earlier and thought to make it right with a present before she decided to cut off my balls. Are you giving her to me? I’ll give you part of the credit,}" Yuri wheedled.

"Eh, she’s just a little French tramp, have her," Alex replied in French, releasing Hélène’s arm before walking to the mouth of the alleyway and surreptitiously looking around to make sure that no other gang members or shifters were in sight. Thank God for small mercies, and this might actually help him get in good with the ‘boss’ when Alexei presented the pig’s head on a platter. Of course, his superiors at Interpol would be less than pleased, but he was between a rock and a hard place, and there was a civilian involved now.

"{Pretty little girl, we’re gonna have such fun with...}" Yuri didn’t even hear Alex come up behind him. With a swift motion Yuri’s neck was snapped, and his lifeless body fell to the ground.

"Damn fool, you nearly got yourself handed over to the head of the Russian mafia in France. Is that what you want for yourself?" he growled, grabbing her hand. "Not a word, not one word until I tell you to speak, do you hear me?" he snarled as he dragged her out of the alley and ‘helped’ her into his car, a black Peugeot, before climbing in.

Gaping at the dead man, Hélène was too shocked to protest when Alexei hauled her to his car and stuffed her inside, wide eyes remaining fixed on him.

Taking out two phones Alex dialed the first, a secure phone line to his Interpol contact. "It’s me. I’ve had to take out one of Irina’s goons. He caught me on my night off when one of Etienne Palardy’s daughters tried to pick me up... yeah, that Etienne Palardy. It seems the goon had screwed up one of Irina’s hits, and he was trying to make nice with a present.

"The body’s in an alley near Mirrors. Have one our people make the discovery if you can. Thanks. I’m with Ms. Palardy now. I’m not sure if I am, I couldn’t let the pig get his hands on her. If Irina finds out, I’m as good as dead, so I’m gonna try damage control first. Talk to you when I can."

Disconnecting the first phone, Alex put the car into drive and eased out of his parking spot, heading towards his loft, not the apartment that Alexei the mafia man used, and quickly dialed another number.

"{It’s Alexei, tell Irina that Yuri is dead. Yeah, I did it. He was at the club I was at tonight and came to me as I left, confessing how he’d screwed up the job she’d given him. He wanted me to talk to Irina, plead his case, so I snapped his neck. I need to lie low for a couple of days to make sure that the cops don’t figure it out, but I’ll have my phone with me. I’ll be in touch.}"

"Now, you and I need to have a little talk, Ms. Palardy," Alex said grimly as he pulled into the underground parking lot of his loft.

"Oh, I agree," Hélène replied emphatically. "I think you have a great deal of explaining to do before we get back to what we were discussing earlier."

"I don’t think we’ll be getting back to that any time soon," Alex growled, getting out of the car. "And no discussion until we get into my place. Now move."

Hélène got out as well, then regarded him with raised eyebrows. "Seeing as I don’t know where we’re going, I can hardly go any farther unless you do." She made no comment regarding his emphatic negation of the idea of returning to their previous discussion, but she was determined to get to know this contradictory man.

"Damned female logic," Alexei muttered, leading the young woman over to a private elevator and punching in the security code. Motioning her to go in when the doors opened, Alexei stood, tense, as the elevator rose swiftly up to the top floor of the Parisian warehouse that was owned by Alexei’s family for their business interests, the top floor having been converted into Alex’s loft.

"Sit." He motioned to one of leather sofas in the living room area of the loft after he’d let them into the loft itself. "I need a drink; do you want something?"

You, she thought but simply said, "Whatever you’re having is fine." Rather than sitting down, she wandered around the large open area, looking around with interest. "Your home is beautiful."

Alexei sighed. Where to begin? Pouring two glasses of vodka, he sat down in an oversized wingback chair and buried his face in his hands. Could life get any more complicated? He was afraid of the answer.

"I’m an undercover operative for Interpol. I’ve spent the past year infiltrating a Russian mafia ring that sends women, drugs and guns to France. The women think they are getting jobs as au pairs or nannies but come here and have their passports taken then are raped and forced to work as prostitutes in order to pay their kidnappers back for the cost of getting them to France. Most of the women, even when liberated, refuse to name their attackers because their families have been threatened. Interpol’s been trying to break the ring up for the past three years.

"And you, Mlle. Palardy, nearly ended up the play toy of the woman in charge of the French half of the operation. Yuri spotted you earlier tonight and was stalking you. He wanted you for Irina."

Hélène blinked at him, opened her mouth to say something, closed it again, and tossed back the vodka before wordlessly holding the glass out for a refill. "Yes, well," she finally said. "You seem to think I’m not willing to shift on the spot and rip the throat out of someone who threatens me. I am. I can deal with the fallout better than being kidnapped, raped or dead. I may only be a golden cat, but I assure you I can and will protect myself. Not to mention the gun in my purse." She shrugged.

"Be that as it may, I’m grateful for your protection tonight. I definitely prefer not to experience any of that. However, I’m still interested in you." She sat back and waited for his reaction.

"You have a one track mind, don’t you?" Alex groaned. "I’m not safe to be around, little girl. I associate with very bad people who’d do very bad things to you. Why don’t you use the brain that I know must be under all that hair and think logically about this?"

"I’m not planning to offer myself to the criminal element," Hélène shrugged, "nor do I intend to accompany you when you’re working. I’m not a fool... nor do I have big hair," she snapped. "We are perfectly safe at the moment so far as I can tell, so what better time to enjoy ourselves? Or are you going to try to tell me that you’re celibate when working?" she scoffed, eyeing him.

"Would you believe me if I said I was?" Alexei asked, already knowing the answer. The bitch of it was that he admired the girl’s spunk. She was a feisty little thing in a gorgeous and available package. Who was he to say no if she really wanted it? However, he couldn’t lie to her either.

"I can’t promise anything beyond tonight. Hell, I don’t know if I’ll be alive beyond tonight; it’s the way of my job. I certainly can’t promise to be there or even to be faithful. I’m gonna do what I have to to stay alive and bring these bastards down. And if this does happen, there are going to be ground rules, and they will not be broken under any circumstances. More than just your life will be depending on it. Do we understand one another?"

Hélène shrugged. "I’m neither hard of hearing nor mentally impaired. Though I must say that it’s fortunate for you that we have a natural immunity to STDs." She smiled coolly. "Now is there anything else you wish to talk to death, or could we actually manage something as radical as a kiss?"

"After that little dig, cherie? You certainly have an exalted opinion of your desirability, don’t you?" Alexei retorted. "Although if one could keep you from trying to slice and dice someone with that tongue of yours, you might actually be attractive," he continued blandly, giving her a thorough and almost insolent once-over.

"You’re the one who made a point of telling me that he’d be sleeping around," Hélène pointed out. "If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out." Growing tired of waiting, she got up from her seat and moved to him, settling on her knees straddling his lap. "And if you don’t like what I’m saying, why not shut me up?"

Growling low in his throat, Alexei did just that. Slamming his mouth down on hers, Alexei didn’t ask for permission to kiss her; he simply took what he wanted. Shoving his tongue into her mouth, he scoured it thoroughly, tasting every crevice even as his hand came up to fist in her hair, pulling her head back taut so he could bite his way down her throat.

Hélène moaned softly, her back arching as he found every erogenous spot on her neck, including some she hadn’t been aware of. Her fingers clenched in his shirt, and she lowered herself slightly so her heat was directly over the swelling in his groin, separated only by his pants and the thin silk of her underwear.

"Eager for it, aren’t you?" Alex chuckled against the young woman’s throat. "One would think you hadn’t had any in a while, or are you normally this aggressive when you first meet someone?" he continued casually before taking a portion of Hélène’s throat between his teeth and biting down on it just to the point of pain before he sucked hard on the skin.

"Ahh!" Hélène’s fingers kneaded his shoulders as she arched into the pressure of his mouth. "I’m aggressive when I see something I want," she gasped, rocking against him.

"Mmmm," Alex replied noncommittally, more interested in the taste of Hélène’s skin than answering the young woman. His free hand came up to mound her breast, his fingers plucking at her nipple as he continued to feast on her neck.

She gave up on talking in favor of concentrating on the intense sensations running through her. Her back arched, pressing her breast deeper into his hand, and she reached between them to unfasten his slacks, wanting to feel him.

Purring in approval, Alexei let the hand in her hair trail down her back, and finding the strings that held her top in place, he tugged at them until they came undone. Trailing his tongue downwards, Alex latched on to the nipple he’d been playing with and moved his hand to the other breast to make sure it wasn’t neglected. His hips bucked upwards slightly and began to rub against Hélène’s questing fingers, teasing them both.

Hélène decided to fight fire with fire, and her inquisitive fingers unfastened his shirt and delved inside to find the masculine nipples nestled in the light mat of hair, teasing them until they were as hard as her own. At the same time she rocked against his exposed erection, the soaked silk of her thong now the only thing between them.

"Mmmm, eager little thing, aren’t you?" Alex groaned as he drew back enough to blow against Hélène’s wet nipple, sending a cool draft of air across it and watching it pebble and pucker in reaction. "You’re very wet and very hungry, aren’t you? Maybe you should do something about it."

"If you insist," she murmured, her breath catching in her throat as he pushed against her. She reached down and pulled the sodden fabric aside, then lowered herself onto him, moaning with pleasure as he filled her. "Oh God, you feel good!"

"{Sweet God!}" Alexei hissed in Russian as Hélène impaled herself upon his cock. His hands automatically came up to grasp her waist, holding her tight against his lap for long moments. He enjoyed the way she struggled to move and whimpered when she couldn’t, biting back the moans as her internal muscles pulsated around his cock.

"Petite chatte," he murmured, nipping at her throat before returning his mouth to one of her breasts. At last he let up the pressure to keep her still and slipped one hand between their bodies to tease her clit while the other rested on the curve of her spine, a finger brushing over the dimple just above where her sweet little ass began.

The moment Alexei released his hold on her, Hélène began to move, hips thrusting against his as she slammed back down after rising up. She gasped as his hands followed her, clever fingers never letting up their stimulation of her clit. "Yes, there, harder," she panted, her fingers tangling in his hair as her mouth sought his blindly.

"My, aren’t you demanding," Alexei managed to get out, his hips slamming up off the couch to meet Hélène’s downward thrusts. Leaning forward, the Interpol agent sucked one of her nipples into his mouth and began to worry the distended nubbin while his other hand crept lower on her ass.

Hélène’s back arched, pressing her breast deeper into his mouth, and her own hands clenched in his hair as she moaned before one released its hold to glide down his chest to one of his nipples. She wanted to give him the same pleasure she was feeling, but the sensations were making her awkward, making her body want nothing more than to feel.

His teeth clamping down a little more on the flesh in his mouth, Alex groaned hungrily, feeling the need build within him. Giving in to the demands of his body, he wrapped his hands around her waist again and began to move Hélène up and down on his cock faster and faster, the need to come overwhelming his need to at least attempt to be considerate of his partner.

The added strength of Alexei’s thrusts tipped Hélène over the edge, and she cried out, clenching around him, as she came. Her nails scratched at his aroused nipples and she yanked his head up to kiss him hungrily, her tongue exploring his mouth.

Growling in approval, Alex managed a few more thrusts before his hands tightened convulsively around her hips, his fingers bruising the flesh beneath, as he powered into her. With a snarl Alex thrust up one last time, slamming Hélène down onto him as his orgasm roared through him.

Hélène pressed tightly against him, not wanting him to slip out of her, and she purred her approval. "Mmmm, I knew you’d be like this, hot and savage." She licked at a sweaty shoulder, tasting the salt and tang that was uniquely his.

"Did you now?" Alex chuckled quietly. "You’re not much different than I imagined either. A spoiled, pushy, little vixen who can’t take no for an answer. But I forgive you."

Growling softly, Hélène bit his shoulder. "Forgive me? You should be thanking me. I’m going to keep you from getting any more dark and brooding... unless you really want to impersonate Batman?" she retorted.

"Batman?" Alex snorted. "I don’t think so, little girl. Thanking you is another thing that isn’t going to happen. My, aren’t we conceited? And to think I just made you scream like a banshee. I’m already regretting it, I think."

"Silly man. But that’s all right, I’ll be happy to let you try again," Hélène chuckled before licking at his lips. "You’re definitely worth the effort."

"I’m supposed to be dark and brooding, remember? I’m a member of the Russian mafia," Alex groused. "You’re not supposed to be trying to change me."

"You can be dark and brooding when working, but you don’t have to be with me. Someday the case will be over, and you want to remember how to live. I can help with that."

"Rather sure of yourself, aren’t you?" Alexei replied with a roll of his eyes. "And equally sure that you’re staying as well. Tell me, little girl, does anyone ever say no to you, or better yet, do you ever listen to people saying no to you?"

"Of course people say no to me. But I can usually convince them to change their minds. And that can be part of the fun too." She made a soft sound of protest as he slipped out of her, then smiled and shifted. The African golden cat purred at the bemused man, rubbing her head against him till he stroked her, then curled up in his lap, big blue eyes staring up unblinkingly.

"My, aren’t you a tiny little thing," Alex smirked down at the small cat. "Why you’re no bigger than a house cat. And here I thought I was one of the smaller sized cats out there. I bet I’m at least double your size. Guess that means playing in cat form is out.

"What the hell am I saying?" Alex groaned. "And when did I ever say this was gonna be more than just a one night thing?"

Hélène shifted back, still purring and curled up in his lap. "I’m double the size of a housecat, thank you very much! And unless you’re a lion or something equally massive, we’ll find a way. What is your other form anyway?" she asked curiously, unconsciously rocking in his loose embrace and moaning softly as her wetness slid over his thigh. Her body was still tingling from her climax, and she knew it wouldn’t take much to arouse her again.

"That’s for me to know and you to find out... maybe," Alex smirked. "Not that you’ll have much opportunity in the near future. We’re going to be setting down a few ground rules if you still insist upon wanting to keep seeing one another. You are not going to be anywhere near me when I’m working. I’m not a nice man when working, and my ‘co-workers’ are even less friendly than I am. Besides, you’re rather high profile."

Even as he began to lay down the law Alex was unconsciously petting the younger woman, enjoying the feel of her on him, and part of him already knew that he was in a rather large amount of trouble.

Hélène frowned, not liking his rules, but she had to admit that they made sense, not only for her own protection but for his. "All right," she said reluctantly, "just so long as you don’t try to use your work as an excuse to push me away. When it’s real, I won’t like it, but I’ll understand. Anything else though..." She trailed off, leaving the thought unfinished, allowing him to decide for himself what she would be likely to do.

She arched into his stroking hand, murmuring her pleasure, and she began to rock more obviously against him, smearing her juices over his leg. One hand reached down for his soft cock, small fingers curling around it.

"God, woman!" the Interpol agent gasped. "I may not have to worry about Irina’s thugs killing me; you’re doing it just fine all by yourself. Haven’t you ever heard of recovery time?"

"Not something a woman has to worry about," Hélène laughed softly, catching hold of his hand and drawing it to her clit, letting him feel her wetness. "God, yes, there."

"So I’m just to pleasure you whenever you want me to, am I? Perhaps I should just buy you a vibrator and be done with it," Alexei snarked, secretly amused by the young woman’s insistence.

She gave him a dirty look, letting go of his hand as she did. "Don’t worry, I can take care of myself if that’s how you feel." Closing her eyes, Hélène pushed two fingers inside herself, the thumb rubbing her clit, while her other hand rose to pinch and tug a nipple.

"Mmmm," Alex sighed in appreciation. "Now this is worth the price of admission. Would you like to use the bed, perhaps, instead of my lap?" he offered with a solicitous grin, knowing he was pushing to get slapped but unable to resist.

Her eyes opened only to narrow dangerously at him. "I might as well be comfortable," she agreed, sliding off his lap with a shimmy against his rousing cock, and padded into the bedroom to lie down on the bed. "You must have a vibrator around here?" she murmured, knees raised and feet braced to give him a good look at what he was missing. "Something nice and big since I feel so empty."

"The only time I need something that shape and size is when I bring home a hot man who I either want to fuck or be fucked by, so no. I don’t have an artificial one around," Alex purred, his eyes heavy and full of lust.

"You should try it sometime, it’s fun," Hélène said sweetly, even as she pushed her fingers back inside herself, hips rising to meet the pressure. She caught her lower lip between her teeth, her single climax not nearly enough to sate the lust rushing through her veins. "God, I need something in me," she groaned, writhing wantonly against the cotton bedspread.

"Would you like me to go get you a cucumber?"

"Only if you plan to stick it up your own ass," she retorted before ignoring him in favor of the rising tide of pleasure inside her.

Alex burst into laughter. "Someone has attitude tonight," he remarked idly as he sat down in the chair next to the bed and watched her with steepled fingers and hooded eyes. "Bring yourself off. I want to see you come without assistance from anything other than your fingers."

"I always have attitude," Hélène purred, staring challengingly into his eyes as her fingers drove her higher and higher, gasping as she flicked her clit. She was panting now, so close she could taste it.

"Well then, it should be interesting to see how far you can push me before I turn your lily white ass red, won’t it?" Alex replied with gentle menace, his hand kneading his own burgeoning erection. "After all, I’m not the sort to be pushed around by little girls like you," he continued, goading.

"Good thing I’m not a little girl then," Hélène snapped, trying to ignore him as her annoyance pushed her climax back.

Alexei merely pursed his lips and blew a kiss at her, enjoying the spitfire temper she displayed. She was an intriguing contradiction of sugar and venom. Just the sort of woman he should be avoiding. She was a complication he couldn’t afford, not with his life on the line, but it seemed that he would have no choice. Already he had killed for her, and here she was, in his bed, in his apartment, not the mafia thug’s one, and she didn’t seem to be leaving anytime soon.

Alex wondered if he was letting a pair of pretty... eyes make him softheaded, but he worried more about what she would do if he tried to keep her away from him. How had his life gone from simple to this complex in the space of a few hours? It was terrifying.

But... she was here, and so was he. The rest could be thought about when he was alone once more. For now there was a gorgeous woman in his bed who wanted him and whom he wanted in return. He could think of consequences tomorrow.

Hélène panted heavily and then cried out as she came again, though the climax left her unsatisfied. Her eyes opened to fix on Alexei, and when she saw his hand on his cock, she rolled to her hands and knees, albeit shakily, and began to move toward him.

"Insatiable," Alex murmured with a shake of his head. "However am I to keep you satisfied when you’ve barely finished one orgasm and you’re stalking another?" he teased but nonetheless got off the chair to join her on the bed, stripping out of his clothes as he did so.

"Well, I was thinking more along the lines of sucking you off, but if you want to fuck me, please feel free," Hélène chuckled throatily, raising her hand to her mouth to begin sensually licking her fingers clean.

"A dangerous woman as well as an insatiable one. You could be the end of me, Hélène Palardy, but it would be an interesting way to die."

"I much prefer you alive, Alexei, so kindly stay that way. Otherwise, I’d just have to hold a séance so I could kick your ass," Hélène replied sweetly, her legs tangling with his.

"And would you dance on my grave as well?" Alex chuckled. "For a woman I met only a few hours ago, you seem rather possessive. Maybe I should be worried that you’re one of those obsessive stalker types... a brunette version of Glenn Close, perhaps?" he continued, eyes glinting. He enjoyed watching her snap and spark far, far too much. "But I thought you were going to do something else first, hmm?"

"After that remark you want my teeth anywhere near you?"

"Good point. Maybe I should just take care of this myself."

"While I watch the show?" Hélène smiled but she was already sliding down his body, eager to taste him. Her long hair brushed his belly and thighs as she settled between his legs once he’d rolled to his back, and she smiled up into his eyes as her lips parted and closed over the very tip of him, just holding him in the moist heat of her mouth for the moment.

"Tease," he growled, thrusting his hips up and burying more of his cock into her mouth. "I will warm your ass for you if you keep it up."

She released him long enough to murmur, "Promises, promises," before swallowing him down again, this time to the very root. She held him in her throat for a long moment then backed off to lick the sensitive head before taking him in again.

"Putaine," he gasped, his head arching back to rest against the headboard while his fingers found their way into her hair. "You think that I wouldn’t? You have a great deal to learn about me then. If I let you."

Hélène’s eyes sparkled up at him over her full mouth, but she didn’t bother replying verbally, instead lightly scraping her teeth over him as she pulled back again, then nibbled along his length.

Alex’s hand came down hard on Hélène’s ass in warning. "If you’re going to be so slow about it, I’ll have to go and find other means of relieving myself. After all, I’ve got a meeting in the morning," he continued with a smirk.

Brown eyes narrowed and she let her teeth press into him harder while her nails dug into his hips.

Alexei growled menacingly. "Try it, little girl, and you will live to regret it, that I promise you. Now either play nice or don’t play at all."

Her mouth still full of him, Hélène laughed, enjoying the way he shuddered as the vibrations transferred to his cock. She slowly pulled back until only the head remained between her lips, her tongue rubbing over the spongy tip and delving inside the slit. Long nails lightly ran over his sac, barely touching him as she teased him.

Alex wasn’t about to let himself be bested by a tiny slip of a girl, so with an exaggerated yawn he lay down on the bed and closed his eyes until they were undetectable slits. "Wake me when you’re done playing, will you?"

Dark eyebrows rose and Hélène pulled back, letting his cock fall from her mouth. "Well, I’d hate to bore you. I guess you’d better take care of this yourself after all."

"Ah, now who doesn’t like to play games?" he chuckled, sitting up again. "It’s all right to tease when you’re in control, but when you’re not, the game becomes boring for you. For shame, Mlle. Palardy, one would think you were a spoiled little princess with an attitude like that," he continued, his eyes dancing with mirth.

Comfortably curled up against the pillows, Hélène laughed at him. "Good try, Alyosha, but I’m not that easy to goad. If you want me, just say so."

"I never denied I wanted you; what I don’t like is cat and mouse games. I play them too often with my life on a day-to-day basis that I don’t need them when I’m away from that world for a few hours. Is that so difficult to understand?"

"Then you shouldn’t have started them," Hélène pointed out gently, reminding him that he’d been the first to pull away from her earlier. "I was simply following your lead. I prefer not to play games in bed. I’d rather have honesty."

"I suppose I must apologize for that," Alex said after a moment. "I sometimes cannot keep my two personas from overlapping. I have been one so long I sometimes forget how to be the other."

"I’d be happy to help with that," Hélène replied, uncoiling and stretching out on top of him, arms curling around his neck. "In any way I can."

"I would not have you endangering your life in such a manner. Besides, I don’t need your brothers coming after me if something were to happen to you. They are rather terrifying en masse."

"My brothers are pussycats, if you’ll pardon the pun," Hélène giggled. "And frankly, who I spend my time with is my concern, not theirs. I think I’d like it to be you. And stop trying to scare me with your bad-boy persona. If that were really you, you’d have left me to fend for myself earlier.

"Now why don’t you stop fighting it, admit that we’re very good together, and make love to me again?"

"I’ve known you barely six hours, Hélène. I am not about to make a snap decision that could jeopardize both our lives just on your say-so. There is too much at stake here. However, I am willing to think about it. That’s the best you’re going to get," Alex replied seriously.

"And has anyone told you you’re greedy?" he continued with a quirk of an eyebrow.

"I don’t think you’ve stopped saying it all night," Hélène retorted. "And are you trying to tell me that you don’t want to do something with this?" She squirmed against his erection, letting it slip between her legs so it pressed against the wet heat of her core.

"Perhaps I just want to lie here and watch you do something with this," Alex replied thrusting his hips upwards. "You seem to be a bright girl. I’m sure you’ll think of something."

"Mmm, I do like a challenge." Hélène sat up, straddling him on her knees, and never looking away from his dark eyes, she raised herself then sank down onto him. She moaned hungrily as he filled her, her eyes darkening again with passion, and she began to rock slowly, loving the sensation of fullness.

"And you rise up to meet it so well," Alex panted, his hands coming up to massage her breasts before moving to her waist.

"I try to please," Hélène replied, licking her lips and arching her back. She moaned as he cupped and kneaded her breasts, making her move a little faster.

Letting one hand slide between Hélène’s spread thighs, Alex began to stroke her clit while watching her face intently, enjoying the emotions that passed over the refined features and the knowledge that he was putting them there.

Hélène cried out, whimpering faintly as she rode him. One trembling hand reached back to slide between Alexei’s thighs, a finger gliding over his balls before it reached his hole and pressed inside him.

The sensation of having his prostate massaged was too much for Alex, and with a bitten off growl he came, his hips slamming upwards and his fingers stroking harder, wanting to feel Hélène convulse around him.

Hélène’s mouth fell open as she felt Alex slam into her, and she shifted to brace her palms on his shoulders as she rode him hard. One of his fingers pushed inside her alongside his cock, and she screamed his name as she came, convulsing around his still throbbing erection.

"Dieu," Alex gasped, slowly catching his breath, "that was... adequate," he smiled, not wanting the young woman to get a swelled head. "And I am exhausted. If I don’t get some sleep, I will be in a very dangerous position tomorrow at this meeting. Are you staying the night, oh lady of the claws?"

"Mmm," she mumbled sleepily, curling herself against his side, head on his shoulder and one leg flung over his hips, already half asleep.

"I’ll take that as a yes," Alex chuckled, pulling the covers up over them and turning out the light.

Hélène awoke slowly, at first confused by the dimness of the room. She always left her curtains open at night, loving the early morning sunshine. Like the cat she was, she enjoyed curling up in a sunbeam and napping. Then she remembered the events of the previous night, and she purred softly as she snuggled closer to the body sharing the bed with her.

Alex woke with a start, his body going from sleeping to being totally alert and tense in the space of a heartbeat, and then relaxed as memories flooded. "I take it it’s morning then," he husked, running a hand down Hélène’s back. "Which means I need to get up soon and get ready for the day."

And his meeting with Irina to explain the events of the night before. Alex only hoped he’d be the more convincing actor and would remain in the mafia head’s good graces so that he could continue his assignment. Otherwise it would take months, if not years, to get another person planted inside the organization.

Hélène murmured a good morning, perfectly content to remain where she was. "Do you have to get up right away? It’s comfortable here." She smiled. "I like your bed." She hesitated for a moment, then continued, "Did I ruin your... cover last night? Is there anything I can do to fix it?"

"I won’t know until I meet with Irina today whether or not I’ve been compromised. And that’s why I have to get up. It doesn’t do to keep a temperamental mafia lady waiting when she wants answers," Alex sighed, sliding out of bed and heading to the bathroom for a shower. "Duty, unfortunately, waits for no man."

Hélène sat up, drawing her knees up and looping her arms around them. "Will I see you again?" she asked quietly, not pleading, but wanting to know where she stood with him.

"I... would like that," Alexei admitted gruffly, "but only if it means you are not endangering yourself. I will not have you further exposed to these people. They are not nice people by any stretch of the imagination."

"Well, despite your apparent opinion, I really am very fond of my own skin and not prone to endangering it. Tell me how we see each other. I know you’re the expert here."

Alex sighed. He didn’t have a clue, not really. There was no way they could be seen in public, not in Paris, and Hélène was young and wanted to enjoy her nights. "This would be the only safe place until the case is solved, and I have no idea how long it will take. It could be months still before we get our break."

"Am I supposed to complain about that? I like the sound of being alone together. I was afraid you were going to say that we could only meet in public places like cafes or something equally horrid."

"Those are places I will never be able to meet you in. It would be far too dangerous," Alex replied before stepping into the bathroom to take his shower and slip into his other persona in order to get ready for the meeting.

Hélène followed him and hesitated in the doorway. "May I join you or do you need me to keep away now?"

Alex looked at the hesitant face and sighed. "You may well be the death of me, woman," he capitulated, letting her into the shower. "But it seems as if I can’t say no to you."

She smiled almost shyly, moving into his arms and resting her head against his shoulder. "I’m glad," she said quietly, holding on to him. "I want to see where this goes, Alexei."

"You’re going to be a handful, aren’t you?" Alex shook his head, reaching for the soap. "An eventful handful at that."

Feeling more secure now, she smiled brightly. "I have to make sure you don’t get bored."

"Somehow I doubt that will ever happen with you around."

"You’ll turn my head with compliments like that." She took the soap from him and lathered up her hands, then started washing him.

"I’m quite sure a lovely young brat such as yourself gets more than enough compliments as it is without me adding to them," Alex smirked. "Wouldn’t want you to get too big for your thong, now would we?"

"I’d just have to go bare then," Hélène retorted. "Would you like that, knowing that I was sitting across from you wearing a tiny little skirt and nothing else, hot and wet for you?" she teased, knowing they didn’t have time for anything but still having fun.

"Well, it would make it much easier for me to finger you if I wanted to, now wouldn’t it?" Alex replied, not rising to the bait.

"Mmm, I think I may have to start that." Hélène continued washing him, fingers lingering over scars. "I hate that you were hurt," she whispered. "I want to kill the ones who did this to you."

"Part of my job, part of my life. And many of them are dead, most of the rest locked up for good, but there are a few that got away. It’s normal for me," Alex replied with a shrug. "I don’t even notice them anymore."

Hélène looked up, meeting his gaze. "Be careful," she whispered. "I don’t want to lose you before we see where we can go."

"I’m always careful. It’s the situation that can get out of control," Alex replied, holding her close.

"I’m starting to think you ought to take your new pet cat with you," Hélène muttered, knowing he would never go for it.

"And have them torture and kill my cat just for fun? I don’t fucking think so," Alexei snapped.

"Didn’t think so," Hélène sighed. Finished washing him, she reluctantly let her hands fall away. "Can I see you tonight?"

"I can’t promise but... if I can, I’ll call you," Alex sighed. "I don’t know what I’ll have to do to convince Irina or how long I’ll be. I can’t make any promises beyond the now, Hélène. My time isn’t my own."

She nodded. "I understand. Just... don’t use it as an excuse to push me away, Alyosha." She hugged him tightly, then reached for the soap again to clean herself up.

"I won’t but I won’t say that it’ll be easy. It would have been safer for you if this had been just a casual fuck, but... I can’t do casual, not with you," he admitted grimly, taking the soap from her hand to take over the task.

"I’m glad," Hélène replied softly, watching his hands move over her body. "And I think I owe my brothers an apology. I laughed when they said they knew the moment they met Julien and Solange."

"The timing is all wrong, the situation too dangerous and yet... I can’t seem to help myself even when I know better. You must promise me to be careful, Hélène," Alex asked somberly. "Take no chances, none at all."

"I promise. I know it didn’t look that way last night, but I really am very careful of my own safety." She blushed slightly. "I just... You... Um." She stared down at her feet as if they were suddenly the most fascinating thing on the planet.

"Yes?" Alex asked with a quirk of a brow, curious as to her reaction.

"I felt... safe with you. No matter what you were saying or doing, a part of me knew that you wouldn’t hurt me, wouldn’t let anyone else hurt me. I couldn’t walk away."

"Bloody little idiot," Alex replied with a shake of his head. "You’re damned lucky I’m one of the good guys or you’d be doggy chow by now. Whatever am I going to do with you, Hélène?"

"Keep me with you where it’s safe?" she suggested with a small smile.

"That’s the least safe place you’ll be. I should keep you far away from me; that’s the only way you’ll truly be safe."

She shook her head emphatically. "No, because then I would keep trying to reach you, and you wouldn’t be able to tell me when it was too dangerous and I should keep away."

"Stupid, stupid girl," Alex groaned. "But what can I do? You’ll do as you see fit no matter what. Now. I’m late for my meeting and you need to go home. I’ll drop you at a cafe, and you can take a cab from there."

"All right. I’ll give you my cell number so you can call me. I always have it. Or you can leave a message at the St. Onge home. Maman and I are staying there."

"Not at the Palardy estate?"

Hélène made a face. "My father enjoys the estate in solitary splendor these days. None of us liked his attitude toward Paul when he married a normal, but calling Paul’s children half-breeds! It was too much. Maman left him that night, and none of us have gone back since. M. St. Onge, Grandpere sent someone to pack up our things for us."

"That was rather thoughtful of him, and the St. Onges are a well known and powerful family. You will be safe there, at least. But enough, out of the shower and dress, we must go," Alex ordered, slapping Hélène’s ass as he did so.

She jumped and shot him a look over her shoulder, promising herself to see that he paid when next they were together. "You... could visit me there too," she suggested. "As you say, it is safe, and no one would intrude on our privacy."

"And endanger other people needlessly, cherie, including small children. Do you think that is fair?" Alexei asked quietly.

"But... No," she sighed. "I said I would trust your instincts, and I will. But... someday?" she asked wistfully.

"Someday, Hélène, it will all be over and then we will really see how the other lives, non?"

She smiled at that. She knew it was really too soon for promises, but... it felt right. "I shall look forward to it. And in the meantime," she teased, trying to set him at ease again, "we can set your sheets on fire, oui?"

"I think that can be arranged, brat," Alexei laughed, dressing quickly. "Oh yes, I think that can be arranged."

"Oh good. And I’m sure you’re not too big for my cat," she chuckled, making a face as she reached for her clothes from the night before. "We’ll find a way."

"Impossible brat," Alex replied fondly, watching her dress. "Incorrigible even. Life will never be dull with you around."


  since 02-11-07

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