Le Pacte

by blithers

He pushes open the double doors to his office for her, laughing.

"Addison, I swear..."

"You swear what, Maddie? That you've never had this much fun before? That you wish you'd been in a food fight before now, that you can't wait to thank me, your devilishly handsome host, for another evening of new and unforgettable experiences?"

She tugs half-heartedly on the black satin fabric currently and optimistically functioning as her skirt and succeeds only in rucking the other side up the same few inches. "I swear this is shortest skirt I've ever worn."

He eyes her up. "Now I'm not sure I believe that. You must have worn scanty little things for modeling. Tell me all about it, Maddie." He spins in his chair and stops to face her, earnestly, elbows on the desk and two fists propping up his chin. There's a smudge of pie high on his left cheekbone and frosting smeared in the shadow of his jawline. His hair sticks up, and the disarray causes her to wonder with dismay what her own looks like.

"David," she says, proud of the calm, listen-to-me-I'm-the-boss voice she manages to produce.

He arches an eyebrow. "Ms. Hayes."

"Mr. Addison," she replies, warningly.

"Madolyn," he says, and his voice seems to get stuck on the extra syllable of her name, sinking the registry and coming out more husky than he has a right to ever say her name.

"Da.." she starts to say, and cuts herself off. "Why don't we call you Dave?"

"Huh?"

"I said, why doesn't anybody call you Dave? Don't you ever get tired of being David? It's so... formal."

"What, and I'm not a formal kind of guy?"

"You know what I mean."

He shrugs, and circles the desk, trailing his fingers on the edge of the wood. "Some people call me Dave. You," he gazes at her directly, puts on his best Lothario for her benefit, "you could call me anything you want to."

"Can I call you first into the office in the morning?"

"Only if you help me get to bed early at night."

She tries to keep a straight face. "I don't think that me helping you get to bed early would work like you think it would."

He grins at her, squints his eyes and tilts his head. "Is that a promise?"

She cracks, smiles back at him. "No." She sits down on his sofa and gives herself permission to sprawl back, feeling she's earned the respite from good posture.

Predictably, he sits down next to her. He loosens his bowtie and snakes the ends out from around his neck, then loosens the top button of his shirt. She lets herself sink further back into the couch cushions. He runs the silk of the bowtie in a loop through his fingers, absent-mindedly. They sit for a few minutes, companionably silent.

"We did good today," she says, finally.

"We did," he says slowly, "didn't we?"

She reaches over to touch his knee. "I think we're getting better at this. Don't you think we're getting better at this?"

He pauses in his contemplation of his tie to look at her hand, sitting on his knee, and then over at her.

"Yeah," he says, and he hesitates, like he has more to say, but looks away from her, staring out the windows. The buildings of Los Angeles are dark, sprinkled with starry windows and backlit by the glow of the city. She takes her hand off David's knee and leans back again in the cushions. She wishes for a glass of wine.

"Hey, you know, you've got something on your face," he reaches out a hand slowly for her, the back of his finger aimed for her cheek, and she actually stops breathing for a moment. "Right here." He flaps his hand generally around in front of her face and upper chest, grinning broadly at her.

"Ha ha."

"I'll be here all week."

She leans forward, into him, and notes with some satisfaction that the man, for all his bravado, goes still, watching her. "You've got something," she says, teasingly, and reaches up a finger to touch the edge of his chin, "right here." She swipes the dollop of frosting with the pad of her finger.

His breath catches, and she realizes belatedly that she has just gone too far. Her hand is outstretched between them, wavering, with that ridiculous blotch of frosting on her index finger. He's starting at her, his eyes intent. She pulls her hand back.

"I think it's time for me to go home." She stands up, a little too quickly, and looks around for something to wipe her hand off on.

"Maddie," he says, his voice low.

"It's late," she says, by way of iron-proof explanation. "And I'm filthy and tired and I'm wearing a French maid's outfit."

He stands up. "Maddie."

"Stop saying my name."

"What, Maddie?"

"Yes."

"Maddie, Maddie, Maddie."

"David," she hisses.

His gaze wanders up, and he says, softly, "You're still wearing that ridiculous thing on your head." His fingers walk their way toward her ears.

"What are you doing?"

"You know what I'm doing." He touches behind the tips of her ears. "I'm going to take this silly French maid's thing off. What is this thing even called, anyway? And why do French maid's outfits always have a silly little lace bit acting like a hat?"

As he talks, his fingers skim through her hair, searching for the knot in the band. His hand graze the back of her neck and she shivers.

"Just push it off," she mutters.

"Your wish is my command." His fingers comb back through her hair, dragging at the scalp to catch the fabric, and the contraption falls to the ground behind her.

He's staring intently at her, his fingers still caught up in her hair, and she thinks, this is it. The man is going to kiss me. This is actually it. She feels like an insect caught in amber, powerless to move. She tries not to let her gaze drop to his mouth. She badly wants to lick her lips.

But instead, his fingers drop from her hair and go to her throat. She can feel the roughness of the whorls of his fingertips on the skin near her collarbone. They are tracing the path of the bone underneath.

"Next," he says, under his breath, "that absurd ribbon around your neck."

Her mouth is dry; she swallows, and his touch moves to the bow in the thin black ribbon. He takes an end and pulls the fabric out slowly, letting the tips of his fingers brush over the top of her chest before dropping the ribbon to the floor.

She steps forward and puts a hand to the back of his head to pull him down a little toward her.

She can tell that he expects her to kiss him. His gaze is becoming unfocused, and he is breathing fast and light. His hands come up to rest on her waist.

Instead she licks the high, flat part of his cheekbone. She tastes whipped cream and lemon and salt, and she can smell the remnants of aftershave and what must be a hint of cologne. His hands tighten on her waist, almost painfully. "Maddie..."

"Help me out, David," she says, bringing her other hand up, the whipped cream still on her fingertip, and it takes him a minute to realize what she's asking. One hand leaves her waist to circle the bones of her wrist.

His mouth is shockingly warm. His teeth are smooth and bite into the skin past the joint, and his tongue is pulling the cream off her finger. After a moment, when there's nothing more, she pulls the finger out and over his lower lip, brushing it length-wise.

He bends his head and licks her beneath her breastbone, by the ruffles of the ridiculous top she's wearing. He says, into her skin, a dazed tone to his voice, "You taste like cream."

He bites, lightly, and reaches up a hand to brush the back of her neck, and her knees nearly buckle.

He pauses, and looks up at her, with something of the David Addison gleam in his eyes. A corner of his mouth twists up. "Like that, do you?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," she says, and he grabs the back of her neck and rubs his thumb, once, right along the skin beneath her hair, and she's somewhat horrified to hear her breath catch and moan.

She clears her throat. "Still don't know."

He grins at her, takes a step closer, and whispers in her ear. "I know."

She angles her head into his neck, puts her mouth to the corner of his jawline, and starts to work her way down, biting gently. He groans, and blindly starts to walk her backward, his hands on the bones of her hips. He is kissing the hollow where her neck meets collarbone.

Her thighs hit the armrest of the battered leather couch, and she stumbles, throwing them both off balance. He scoops his arms under her ass without breaking contact. She wraps her legs around his hips.

He takes a few unsteady steps forward, and her back hits the wood paneled wall of his office, and the contact is unmistakable and overwhelming. His body is pressed fully into hers - she can feel the heat from him soaking through the thin black satin. His hand is rubbing circles on the upper part of her thigh, under her skirt, tickling the skin there.

She grabs him by his ears and maneuvers his face up in front of hers. His eyes look dark in the shadows. His intensity unnerves her a little; she searches his eyes, looking for the man she knows.

His hands move horizontally over her stomach until his thumbs touch, then back out to the contours of her waist. "God, Maddie." His mouth drops to her neck again, and her breath turns into a low hum.

She moves her hand to his waist and replaces her fingers with teeth, grabbing the edge of his ear carefully. He starts to push rhythmically into the wall, and she arches her back.

She freezes. "David?"

"Yeah, baby?" His mouth is muffled in her collarbone.

"Do you hear that?" she whispers.

He stills against her skin, his breath lifting the ruffles framing her chest. "No," he says softly. "I don't think so."

She inches her hand up through the hair at the back of his neck, grasping his skull, holding him still. She hears it again, a rattling noise outside the office double doors. "That."

"Fuck," David says, and jumps back. Her legs hit the ground, unsteady. His hair is mussed and his shirt is half-untucked on the left side.

She whispers, "David, your shirt."

He looks down, and turns away from her as he tucks in the offending flap. She smooths a hand down over her hips, then snatches the remnants of her costume from the ground, awkwardly.

David is watching her, and as he opens his mouth to say something, anything, she doesn't know what - she panics and throws open the doors of the office, walking out into the main office as quickly as she still feels looks professional.

"...and thank you for your thoughts, Mr. Addison. I'll consider your proposal carefully and let you know my thoughts on it as soon as possible. Oh, hello Mrs. Murphy." She smiles benignly at the woman spraying the receptionist counter, who grunts at her greeting and rips a paper towel to wipe down the surface with. The light of the office is artificial, and it hurts her eyes.

He moves into the light cast by the now-open doors and scrubs the back of his hand back over his mouth. "I appreciate your time as well, Ms. Hayes. Are you leaving? Should I walk you to your car?

She smiles brightly. "There's no need, Mr. Addison. I'll be fine."

He hesitates, and Maddie feels like there's no way he could be more obvious. "Are you sure?" he asks, and she can't get out of this situation fast enough now, before he blows it.

"Yes," she says.

She turns around to march out of the door, past the cleaning lady, away from his eyes watching her with a look she can't put her finger on.

She realizes when she gets to her car that she forgot her jacket, purse, and keys in the office. She fishes the spare car key out from behind her rear left wheel well and peels out of the garage, possessed by the sudden premonition that he is going to corner her up against the side of her vehicle. When she gets home, she spends five minutes turning over the large, knobby stones next to her doorstep before finding the steel-plated key to her home, tucked neatly under one such unremarkable specimen.

She lets herself in, turns the lock, and wonders what on earth to do next.

---

The morning sun is indecently bright. She shoves her sunglasses on her face, jams her purse under her left armpit, and makes a line for the elevators just inside the building doors.

He appears suddenly, like he was hiding behind a potted plant, waiting for her arrival. Hell, that's probably what he was actually doing. It fits his style. He is showered and shaved, with a clean suit and his tie knotted up close to his bare throat. She tries not to stare at the tendon defining the left side of his neck, at the skin that covers the angles of his body.

"After you," he says, sweeping his arm out toward the elevator door. She steps past him, silent.

When the door closes with a muffled ding, he turns to her, more seriously, his hand reaching for her waist. "Maddie...."

"David," she says quickly, "what happened last night... it was a mistake."

His hand pauses.

"A mistake," she repeats, trying to sound rational, unaffected. "And I don't think there's anything we need to discuss, either. It happens. We're two people, it's late at night, we're tired, and one thing leads to another. It's not a big deal."

His hand ghosts slowly down over her left hip. "We don't have to talk," he says, not looking at her eyes.

She fights to keep her breath steady. "David... David." She grabs his hand and holds it firmly between her own, keeping her touch friendly and detached. "I think we need to agree that what just happened, it should stay in your office." She squeezes his hand once, and drops it.

He looks at her then. "What?"

"I think it should stay in your office," she repeats. "We should... we should have a pact."

"A pact."

"A pact," she repeats, warming up to her own idea. "A pact that says that what happened was not a big deal. And we don't need to talk about it."

"Oh really." His voice is dangerously flat.

"Yes, really."

He starts to say something, catches himself, and pulls his hand back through his hair as he considers her. She feels suddenly exposed, feels like she is still wearing last night's French maid's outfit instead a beige suit, armored with sunglasses and shoulder pads and pantyhose. His eyes slip down over her legs.

"It would be dishonest," he says, finally.

"It would be adult."

He purses his lips together, and the elevator dings its arrival at their floor. The doors open, and close a few seconds later.

"Leave it in my office," he repeats.

She nods.

He lets out a breath, and turns to hit the button for the doors. As they chime open a second time he walks out, and Maddie follows behind, feeling the inequity of the longer length of his stride as she struggles to keep up. He stops, like hitting a brick wall, at the door to the office, and she nearly runs into his back.

"You're the boss," he says, without looking back at her, and pushes the door to the agency open. There is an undercurrent of meanness to his words, and maybe something tired and bitter as well, and she bristles up.

"Da-"

"Good morning, Ms. Hayes."

She catches herself as Agnes's guileless face beams up at her.

"Good morning, Ms. DiPesto," she responds automatically, then turns. "Dav-"

His office doors slam shut.

She grits her teeth and slams her own office doors, because she can't think of anything better to do.

---

There's a knock at her door, and Agnes angles half of her body through the opening, tentatively winding her finger in the hem of a long tunic shirt.

"Ms. Hayes?"

"Yes, Ms. DiPesto?"

"Mr. Addison said he would like to see you in his office."

She scowls at her desk. "Did he now?"

"Yes," says Agnes, simply.

She sighs and rubs her forehead. She has to face him again at some point. They've been avoiding each other all morning, choreographing their errands into the main office, trading off spheres of influence. This is, she supposes, as good a time as any.

"Tell Mr. Addison I'll be over in a minute."

Agnes smiles at her then, her brilliance turned on as suddenly as a light switch. "Sure thing, Ms. Hayes." She turns to leave, then pauses, biting her lip. "Are you and Mr. Addison... are you doing OK?"

She forces herself to smile. "It's nothing important, Agnes. Just a disagreement over how to handle a client issue."

Agnes hesitates again. "I didn't think we had any clients right now."

"Yes. Well." She forces the words out through a locked grin. "A hypothetical client situation."

"Oh, I see," Agnes says, her tone neatly sandwiched between confusion and politeness.

"Will that be all, Ms. DiPesto?" She cuts the words more sharply than she intends to.

"Yes, Ms. Hayes." Agnes smiles again at her, and closes the door quietly behind her.

---

He swivels slowly around to face her, his fingers steepled together like a supervillain. His tie is loosened now, and he is regarding her carefully. What might be a frown or a small smile oscillates at the corner of his mouth. A small caravan of migrating toy dinosaurs appears to have taken up residence in the far right corner of his desk, on a clockwise exodus around the edge.

She nods. "Mr. Addison."

"Ms. Hayes."

She walks forward a few steps and takes a seat in the client's chair facing his desk, crossing her legs neatly at the ankle.

"I wanted to let you know that I've been thinking about your proposal from this morning."

"Oh?" she replies, cautiously, trying to sound neutral.

"I've decided to accept your terms. As stated," he says, off-handedly formal.

She puts her hand on his desk, and lets go of the breath she hadn't even realized she was holding. "Thank you, David. I want you to know that I understand what this must look like to you. It's hard for me, too. But I really think it's for the best."

He nods, slowly, starting to get up out of his chair, circling the desk toward her. "I do have one condition of my own, though."

"Yes?"

He stops in front of her and leans back onto the desk, his body a straight angle stretched out next to her. "I expect you to abide by these stipulations as well."

She almost laughs. "I don't foresee that being a problem."

"Nothing leaves this office," he repeats.

"I know. And I'm grateful for that, David, I really am."

He nods again, and purses his lips together. There's a long pause before he says, in a different tone, "What if I don't want your gratitude?"

This wasn't how her script went. "What?"

He shrugs, an elegant gesture that resettles the fabric of his suit across his shoulders. She stands up briskly and brushes at a bit of invisible lint on her skirt, trying to ignore the odd, tight feeling starting in her stomach.

Then he kisses her. He catches her hand and pulls her hip into his body, and as his lips touch hers it occurs to her with an odd shock that they had not actually kissed the night before - that it had been all hands and teeth and skin, but not this. How had they not kissed? It seems inconceivable in retrospect.

His breath tastes like lifesaver mints, sweet like drops of snow on her tongue. She kisses him back before she even really thinks about it, just instinctively leans into his mouth and body, feels his leanness against her, and the blood rushes to her head.

He licks his tongue over her lower lip, and she grabs hold of his own lower lip with her teeth, sucking it into her mouth. He groans and kisses her with increasing intensity, drilling through levels of courtship desperately in an attempt to get as far as possible before -

He steps back from her, breathing hard. She touches her lips, disbelieving.

"Wha-," she starts to say, but he raises a finger to his lips.

"Shh."

She flicks her eyes around the office, smoothing her hair back with quick hands, but the door is still closed and they appear to be alone and unobserved. David is edging his way towards the door.

"Remember, Maddie," he says, "nothing leaves this office."

And then he winks at her.

He winks at her.

And shuts the door to the office behind him.

She stands still for a moment, stunned, waiting for the blood in her veins to start cooperating, to bring motion back to her limbs. She can feel herself winding up, feels the precis

ion of the moment, like a pitcher about to throw a perfect curve ball.

She stalks over to the doors, gaining momentum, and throws them open. David is leaning over one of the employee's desk, ostensibly checking some paperwork the woman is holding out for him, with an air of satisfied and infuriating calmness. The doors bounce off the wall and the noise turns the heads of everybody in the office to stare at her.

She clears her throat in the sudden silence, tugs her blazer down at her hips, and marches stiffly across the office.

As she passes by him, she whispers to him, low, "I'm going to get you, David Addison."

"Looking forward to it," he replies, and turns to watch her exit the room, a smile at his lips.




 

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