Catching her had been way too easy. It had taken a few days of patient scouting and waiting, but her spur of the moment trip in the middle of the night had been as perfect a moment to strike as I could have hoped for and I didn't waste it.

I hadn't expected a good catholic housewife to be trained in hand-to-hand combat, but she was. She was strong, too, and almost six feet tall. It hurt when she threw her elbow into my gut, but not enough for me to lose my grip on her.

I didn't waste any time after that, murmuring a soft spell into her ear that slowly overwhelmed her senses and made her fall asleep. It was the kind of magic that was frowned upon, but not exactly illegal. But I'd take a scowling warden any day over having to resort to choking her out, or using chloroform.

Once she was snoring softly, I pulled her inside the van I'd brought along with me. Cliché, I know, but there's a reason for it. It's just so damn convenient.

A quick check of the surroundings confirmed that nobody had seen me and I drove away at a sedate pace leaving the quiet neighborhood none the wiser.

I'd prepared a safe-house outside of town and the drive went without a hitch. It had been a factory of some description once upon the time and served my purposes just fine. The windows were high, the walls thick. The doors were sturdy and I'd made sure they were all closed, barred and locked.

Parking the car outside, I carried the woman inside in my arms and lay her down on the mattress I'd prepared. She didn't stir and I settled on the ground a few feet away.

I inscribed a circle on the concrete floor with a piece of chalk and brought out a large emerald. I pressed it to my lips and then began to quietly whisper the incantation of a spell.

It took a little while. Wizards have varying areas of talent and whatever Tolkien's said, subtle I ain't.

When two minutes had gone by, I felt the link establish with a snap of magic.

"How fares your quest, my godson?" Purred a feminine voice into my ear. Or rather, I perceived it as though she whispered in my ear. The spell, and the conversation, was done purely inside my mind and the one I'd connected to.

"Very well," I told her. "I have her with me."

"I am most pleased with you," she informed me and the tone of voice, along with the implications of her words, made me shudder with equal parts excitement and fear. "Shall I leave our demands with the husband?"

"Yeah," I said, my voice a bit rough. "Let me know when he says yes."

I could all but hear her predatory grin as she responded. "I shall, my sweetling."

And with another snapping sensation, the link was broken. I broke the circle and looked down at the woman. She was blonde, in her late twenties or early thirties. The baggy jumper she was wearing concealed most of her body, but not her generous curves.

Her face looked softer now that she was asleep and it was a stark contrast to the angry expression I'd seen. She stirred a little as I observed her and then blinked her blue eyes once, before sitting bolt upright.

I'd moved away a little, as much for her peace of mind as to avoid getting assaulted when she woke up dazed and scared.

"Mrs Carpenter," I said, keeping my voice quiet and calm. "Settle down. I'm not going to hurt you."

She glared at me, that kind of glare that would've sent me running before I'd met Lea. Now, though, it just made me smile.

"I'm just helping my friend make an exchange with your husband. When we're done, we'll let you go."

Her brows furrowed in confusion for a second, then the glare returned in full force.

"And what makes you think I'm going to cooperate with that plan?" She spat.

"If you wanna run, go ahead. You're not getting anywhere."

She wasn't. I'd made sure. For a second, she seemed to consider it. Then she relaxed again.

"How old are you?" She asked. There was a faint note of accusation in her tone.

"Old enough," I told her shortly. She did the glare thing again and I relented a little. "I'm nineteen, ma'am."

"Jesus Christ," she said, mostly to herself. "Why are you doing this? Do you have any idea what you're dealing with?"

"I'm pretty sure I'm dealing with Charity Carpenter at the moment," I said with a winning smile that didn't seem to faze her any. "It's a simple exchange, okay? I'm not going to let you get hurt. I swear it to you, on my Power."

She blinked at that, then looked beyond me where my staff and blasting rod lay waiting. She seemed to make the connection and understood the significance of what I'd just done. If you make an oath on your power as a wizard and break it, some of that power goes away and never comes back.

It won't take it all away at once, but a few too many times and you're left with nothing. No wizard wants to risk that. Especially not me, considering the way my life had been so far.

"Very well," she said and her smiled turned friendly for the first time.

Then she tried to kick me in the face. She was fast and she had the element of surprise, but I haven't survived demons and crazy fairies by being slow. I threw myself back and the blow barely caught my shoulder. I got to my feet a second after she did and set out in pursuit.

I have long legs, so it took me a few steps to gather speed. Once I had, though, the rest of the chase was merely a formality. When I caught up, Charity skipped to a halt on the floor and kicked at my knee. With the speed I'd gathered, I couldn't just stop. I managed to slow down and avoid more than a grazing blow, but I still had enough momentum to carry both of us into the wall a few feet beyond.

I needed both hands to catch my weight before I slammed myself and Charity into the wall, and that left her hands free to go at my kidneys. Which she did – hard. Ouch. I managed to get my arm in the way of her second blow and pinned her to the wall with the full weight of my body before she could put a knee into my groin.

We stood there panting for a few seconds and she struggled, which I would like to say I didn't enjoy when it meant her body grinding up against mine, but I did. There was no time to be embarrassed or calm down. Hell, there was no point. The way I was pressed up against her, there was no way she wouldn't notice.

"Are you done?" I asked, mostly at her neck. I didn't dare to keep my face in front of hers because then she'd probably head-butt me or try to bite.

She shivered as I spoke and nodded jerkily. I moved back and for just a second, she followed, keeping her body pressed to mine. Was she breathing a little bit sharper than the brief chase warranted? I shook my head. It had to be fear. She was afraid and pressed herself against me because she wanted to get away.

Don't get any ideas into your head, Dresden. This isn't the time. Unfortunately, I had plenty of ideas in my head. Ever since Lea had found me when I was thirteen, I'd had a very thorough introduction to the world of sensual pleasures and depravities. I really hadn't had a choice in the matter.

And yeah, she sure as hell had put lots of ideas into my head since then. Some good, some not so much.

"Are you hurt?" I asked her.

"No," she said. "Are you?"

I grinned at her. "Nah. You've got a wicked left hook, but I've had way worse."

She bared her teeth in something that wasn't quite a smile and followed me back. She was a fighter and I could appreciate that. Hell, I thought it really hot. Unfortunately, it meant she was going to try to get away soon. Only this time, she'd pick her moment better. I already looked forward to it.

An hour went by and during it; Charity and I shared a meal. Protein bars and water is terrible, but it's the kind of stuff that won't go bad during a lengthy stake-out.

Lea 'called' shortly thereafter to let me know that the exchange had been agreed upon and that she just needed to confirm that it was the real deal once the item had been procured. That was when Charity made her move. It was testament to that she knew how wizards operated. To a point where I was beginning to suspect that she'd either dealt with my kind a lot before, or that she might've had talent of her own once.

When a wizard's working a spell, it usually takes a while to untangle your mind from the process. Unfortunately for Charity, I was ready for her and the spell was simple enough that getting out of it only took a second.

I caught the arm wielding my blasting-rod at my head mid-swing and overbore her down onto the mattress she'd previously been resting on. The fact that I refused to hit a woman, or hurt one for that matter, was a disadvantage, but not enough of one. I still had more than fifty pounds on her and had her on her back in a few seconds, straddling her.

It would've been over a lot quicker, but having her body writhing under mine turned out to be really distracting and pleasurable, especially when she bucked her hips against mine. An attempt to get away, of course, but the part of my anatomy that she pressed her warm body against didn't make that distinction.

"You are enjoying this too much," she panted as she once more tried to get me off – her.

"Hey, you're the one who started it," I shot back. "All you had to do was sit tight for a few hours. I think you're the one enjoying this."

It was a pretty feeble comeback, as such things went, but turned her face away from mine. Damn, maybe I had been right.

"I guess your husband's not into you hitting him?"

"Unlike you, he does not deserve to get struck," Charity said.

"Deserves got nothin' to do with it," I said in my best Clint Eastwood impression. I leaned in, pressing my cheek against hers as I whispered into her ear. "I can take a hit, you know and I clearly deserve it, don't I?"

I stayed there for a few seconds, her warm cheek against mine, listening to her breathing pick up with excitement at my suggestion.

"You do most certainly do," she agreed. There was definitely heat in her voice now and it made me throb with desire. I straightened a bit, my eyes drawn to the way her chest rose and fell with her breathing.

"Then hit me with your best shot," I said.

I let her hands go and letting my hands dip under her shirt, up a softly rounded belly, and to her breasts. The blow caught me on the cheek when I'd pushed her bra aside to give one of her nipples a soft pinch. It was open-handed and hurt, sure, but I'd had way way worse.

Most importantly, though it seemed to touch something in Charity. Her eyes were intent on me and thought I'd stopped actively touching her, my hands were still of her breasts, a good place to note her eager breathing. Not to mention the fact that the tips of her breasts had tightened into hard little nubs that poked out against my palms.

"Do you want me to stop?" I asked, giving the nipple another pinch. She whimpered and her hips brushed up against mine again, but didn't answer.

Well, I needed to know. I unbuttoned her jeans and the second strike, this one weaker and from her left hand, caught my cheek. I stopped again and met her eyes, which were all but daring me to proceed.

My hand dipped down inside the jeans and found her panties damp.

"I guess that answers it, then," I said, pressing down a little and drawing a whimper.

I reached for the blasting rod she'd tried to clobber me earlier and guided it between her legs.

"Forzare," I whispered, sending the softest possible trickle of power down the length of wood, containing it inside. The foci began to vibrate and buzz as a result of the stored energy and I pressed it carefully against her sex.

"Neat, huh?" I asked, moving it around a little and keeping the contact light. "Figured this one out about a year ago. Lea really loves it."

A strangled groan escaped Charity's lips, clearly despite her efforts to stifle it.

"So, catholic sex is boring, I take it?"

"No," she said from between gritted teeth. "It is not."

I grinned, idly rubbing her with the vibrating blasting rod in slow little circles.

"But I'm guessing he doesn't know you get off on slapping around younger men?" I teased.

She directed a glare at me that'd rival the Death Star's lasers and then she slugged me. Not hard, it wasn't really possible from where she lay on her back, but I sure as hell felt it.

I leaned down and kissed her hungrily and her moans spilled into my mouth, hot and needy, as the blasting rod ended up stuck between my knee and her sex.

For a while, I considered teasing her, to bring her to the edge of release and then keep her there until she was begging for it… But Charity did not strike me as the begging type.

I adjusted the positioning of the buzzing rod and it wasn't long until Charity came. She kept stubbornly quiet, but I was close enough to feel the tremors wracking her body, to see the sweet agony on her face.

"Did you enjoy that, Mrs Carpenter?" I asked her gently, punctuating the emphasis on her name by leaning in and pressing the bulge in my jeans against her soaked panties. She whimpered, a low sound at the back of her throat and then quietly said, her voice a bit raspy:


I grinned at her and swigged some water, then offered her the bottle. She took it and drank too. Her eyes roamed over me as she settled the bottle down, lingering on the bulge in my jeans for a few seconds while she buttoned up her own.

She reached out slowly and put her hand against it, rubbing her palm up and down the straining denim. Then she winked at me and gave my chest a shove while I was distracted. There was no real force in it and if I hadn't been so damn distracted, it wouldn't even have rocked me. As it was, I lost my balance for maybe a second.

So that was the way she wanted to play it, then? Fine by me. I set off in pursuit.

I didn't hurry. She'd gone into a dead end. The corridor led first to a little office and then further down, to a couple of bathrooms. The office seemed like the better bet, for multiple reasons.

Besides, the little room had a large window facing out towards the corridor I was currently standing in. If Charity was in fact hiding in the bathroom, she'd have no way to get past me and I'd catch her eventually.

I looked to the left as I stepped into the room and let my shield-spell cover the right. Charity came at me from the right. An office chair smashed into my shield and rocked me off balance. I stumbled backwards and dropped the shield as she went for me again. At the last second, I sent a gentle effort of will through the blasting rod.

It wasn't more than a light shove, but with the speed and the clumsy and heavy weapon in her hands, Charity lost her balance. She went past me and I caught her from behind. Her body stiffened when she felt me press my body flush against hers and my hands on her wrists were enough encouragement to drop the chair.

"You didn't have to hit me that hard," I chided her as my hands sought their way under her sweater again search of warm ample curves. I found them and squeezed, earning a pleased sound and a wiggle of Charity's bum against the front of my jeans.

"Of course I did," she said. "What did you expect?"

She met the movement of my hips against her delightfully rounded posterior in a moment of delicious friction.

"Nothing less," I said, and began to work on the buttons of her jeans again. She made a noise and her hands covered mine. For a moment, I thought she was stopping me, but then she undid the buttons herself and got out of the pants and underwear, kicking both items of clothing aside.

She spread her legs a little and bent over the desk, hands splayed on the wooden surface. I had to pause, just for a second, to take the sight in. Compared to Lea, Charity was inferior in every physical aspect. Then again, there was something different in being with her that I couldn't quite put my finger on.

Charity looked over her shoulder at me where I stood poised and ready to enter her, but unmoving. Her eyes focused below my belly-button and she raised her eyebrows.

"My husband's bigger than you," she said in a casual and mildly mocking voice, the delivery deadpan.

Okay, let's get something clear right away. I know that size doesn't matter. I also know that even if it had mattered; I wouldn't be in any problem on that front. Still, knowing all of that, I still felt sort of inadequate. It's a stupid guy thing and I'm well aware of it.

"If this is your pitch for a threesome, I think I'd better tell you now that I'm not going to be crossing swords with the guy, in any sense of the word."

Charity's chuckle broke off into a throaty sound of pleasure as I slid inside her.

"Then again… If I'm insufficient for you then maybe I should stop?" I pointedly did so, ignoring my body which demanded that I take her, hard and fast and right the hell now. I would, but not quite yet.

She pushed herself against me and I reproved her with a slap to the ass. The gasp that slipped past her lips was part surprise and part… Something else.

I turned the other cheek, in a manner of speaking, and the second strike sent a shiver coursing through Charity's body. Trust me, I was in a very good position to tell. I grinned down at her and began to move again.

"You're full of surprises," I said, gently stroking the flesh recently rendered tender, before landing another firm slap. "I really like that."

"And you are surprisingly patient for such a young man," she said, meeting the slow rhythm of my thrusts. "Are you worried things might end prematurely?"

"Nah," I told her. "My godmother has some pretty strict views on 'ladies first' and I learned quickly."

Speaking of which, I'd better get going before said Godmother interrupted us. I had no idea what she'd do and I'd rather not subject Charity to it. Lea wasn't evil, per say, but she could be cruel in her games. I had the scars to prove it.

I began to pick up the pace, pounding into her harder, faster and deeper, burying my face against her neck, drinking in the scent of her shampoo and sweat, along with the gloriously human warmth.

This time around, Charity wasn't quiet. She cried out as my fingers parted the wet folds of her sex, unashamed and unrestrained in a way that must have been impossible in a house-hold with children. She cursed and bucked against me when my other hand found her breasts under the jumper, twisting and pinching them.

She was getting close.

"What was that you were saying about premature?" I whispered into her ear.

"Go to hell," Charity moaned. It sounded a lot like surrender to me.

"Some day, but not today," I replied with a grin.

She moaned again as she came, something that I think was derogatory and aimed towards me, but I too busy coming with her to give a fuck. We stood there for a while, trembling and sweaty, basking in the afterglow.

I slowly softened inside of her, but felt no motivation to pull out quite yet. We hadn't quite gotten to the guilt and awkwardness when a female voice spoke from the darkest corner of the room.

"If you are quite finished, Godson, we have business to conclude."

I felt Charity tense, but that was all. No scream of terror or running away.

"Yeah," I said croakily. I needed something to drink, and maybe a shower. "Give us a moment I'll make sure the hostage is- Uh- Presentable."

"Acceptable," Lea said, a satisfied smirk on her gorgeous red lips. "I shall wait by the car."

Charity and I got dressed in silence, then headed to the bathroom and got cleaned up as well as the limited facilities allowed. I doubted Charity felt any cleaned than I, but at least we didn't look like we'd just fucked each other silly.

We held the silence until I turned the corner to the block where Charity lived.

"We will never see one another again, Mr Dresden," she said, her voice steady even as she lied to me.

"Probably for the best," I admitted and parked the car by the sidewalk outside the Carpenter's house. A man opened the door and took a few moments to push a blonde girl who was probably around three back inside before closing it behind him.

The deal went off without a hitch and soon, Lea and I were driving off.

"You were successful," Lea murmured. "A feat worthy of recognition."

"Thanks," I said, my grave tone at odds with my wide grin. "What did you want the coin for?"

Lea shrugged, the gesture careless and elegant.

"Nothing," she said calmly. "It is a treacherous and dangerous tool, one I would not risk inflicting upon you, my dear. Mayhap we will find someone willing to barter for it."

I frowned at her, even as her soft hand caressed my cheek.

"It was just a test," I said. "Wasn't it?"

Once more, she grinned, displaying sparkling white teeth and slightly pointy canines.

"Indeed. Would you like to celebrate at the King of Burgers?"