How strange was it that there was already an “us.”

I put on a new shirt, lay down on the bed. Instead of trying to sleep, I let my mind wander, let it imagine what it would be like to just…let go. To give in totally to what he wanted. Something told me it would be pretty damned amazing.

Just take it one day at a time. That was what I told myself. One day, one experience at a time.

I was aching all over. Needing him to finish what he’d started, refusing to do so myself.

Eventually, as the sliver of darkness between the drawn curtains began to turn gray, I fell asleep. I dreamed of big hands touching me softly. I dreamed of those hands tugging the blankets up closer to my chin, of a tall silhouette in the corner of my room.

When I awoke to a gleam of late morning sunlight, I swore I caught a whiff of his cologne in my room.



I was left to my own devices most of that next day. I found an astonishing assortment of my favorite yogurt stocked in the secondary kitchen refrigerator. I took that to the breakfast nook, which was kind of a mistake, since all I could think of was what had happened there hours earlier.

I spent most of the day in the library, drifting from shelf to shelf, rolling the ladders around with my hand outstretched, pretending I was Belle, reading a bit of this, a bit of that, curling in the deep chairs like a cat. I mean, if you had a gargantuan library all to yourself, and that library had rolling ladders, wouldn’t you do the same? It was an irresistible temptation. I hadn’t had a day to do anything and nothing since being a teenager, and it was glorious. I might or might not have just sat on the couch in my room for something like two hours, basking in the sun, watching the city shift and move through the windows. I had a lazy lunch in the breakfast nook once again, and then set out to explore on my own. I had a pretty good idea of the layout of the place from Eliza’s tour, but it was a mammoth apartment, and I still had a tendency to get a little lost going from the library to the kitchen, and from the foyer to my room. After a couple circuits of the hallways, I knew my way around. I’d saved the little hallway leading to Roth’s rooms for last, and in the late afternoon I found myself standing outside that doorway, staring at it, wondering what was beyond it. What was he doing? Was he even here? Maybe he’d been whisked away in a helicopter to some business meeting across the city. Or maybe he was sitting at a mahogany battleship of a desk, scribbling with a fountain pen on fine white stationery. I didn’t see him doing anything so mundane as checking email or making phone calls, although I knew he must do those things. I was lost in those musings when the doorknob twisted, and the door began to slide open.

Immediately, I spun in place, facing away. The speed and alacrity with which I’d turned away stunned me. I knew why I’d done it, though. I’d committed to the game, and I wanted him to reveal himself to me in his own time. Sneaking a glimpse felt like cheating. I was never the kind of kid to go looking for my birthday or Christmas presents. The largest part of the fun, for me, was the surprise, the not knowing what I’d find when I tore into the wrapping paper Christmas morning.


“Kyrie.” I heard the surprise in his voice. “What were you doing?”

“Honestly, just wondering what you were doing in there. Wondering what your rooms look like.” I heard a soft step behind me, the click of the door closing, and then his hand on my waist. “I wasn’t going to try to go in. I was just wandering around, and I ended up here.”

“You couldn’t get in if you tried, actually. The door has a lock coded to my thumbprint.”

“Oh. You really take your privacy seriously, don’t you?”

He chuckled. “You have no idea. The entire building is reinforced to withstand a direct missile attack. There is no way into the parking garage without a thumbprint and a retinal scan. The elevator that led you up here also requires a thumbprint, and is one of only two access points to this floor. I have my own private elevator and garage, of course. Access to and from the room is also secured via coded doors. The only people who have access to the garage and this apartment, as I said when we first met, are Eliza and Harris, both of whom you’ve met, and Robert, whom you have not met, and likely will not any time soon. He doesn’t come here often.”

“That’s…a little crazy, honestly.”

I could almost hear the shrug. “I suppose so. I have my reasons for taking such precautions. It is not merely idle paranoia.”

“You have enemies, then?”

“None that need concern you.” His tone clearly dismissed the subject. “Have you ever been to the opera?”

“I…the opera? No. Why?”

“Would you care to accompany me?”


“Yes, of course.”

“Seems strange, but sure. Why not?”

“Very good. You should get ready, then. I have a dress for you to wear. Eliza will bring it to you and help you get ready. Shall we say one hour?”

“I can be ready in an hour.”

“Excellent. Goodbye for now, Kyrie.” I heard an electronic beep, and the door opened, closed, and he was gone.

I went back to my room, stripped, and got in the shower. And, let me just say, holy shit. It wasn’t just a shower. It was a f**king car wash for a human. Aside from the giant rainfall showerhead directly above, there were eight adjustable nozzles set into the wall, as well as a wand for those hard-to-reach places. It was the single most glorious shower of my life. I didn’t want to get out. Every last shred of tension left me as I stood in the scalding, battering spray, letting the heat soak my muscles. Eventually, though, I had to wash up and get out, which I did with reluctance. I could see a lot of showers in my future.

I was toweling off when Eliza appeared, a gown bag draped over her arm. “Pardon me, miss. I was just bringing you your gown.” She set the bag on the bed and unzipped it.

“My name is Kyrie,” I told her, uncomfortable with having someone treat me with any kind of deference. It was odd, and I didn’t like it.

“Certainly,” she said. “Would you like my assistance?”

“Sure?” I wrapped the towel around my torso and watched as Eliza delicately withdrew the gown. I wanted to see what it looked like so I could choose appropriate undergarments.

I almost snorted as I realized what my thoughts sounded like. Appropriate undergarments. Roth’s—and Eliza’s—formal speech was rubbing off on me. Normally, I would’ve just thought “the right underwear.”