Finally! We find out if Mina and Kenneth make it to their own party. I'm taking bets :P

Seduction: Part #4 - Party Favor

She turned away from her reflection hurriedly, smoothing one hand over the pale chiffon that fell from her hips. The other hand held a cloud of blonde hair just above the nape of her neck, where she'd just daubed a bit of Fracas. Little wisps escaped from her fingers, and she blew at them in frustration, feeling her face and throat beginning to flush with the shower steam still present.

"Shoes, shoes," Mina muttered distractedly to no one in particular, pulling open a closet door to reveal a thousand glittery pairs. She was so late to her own party that it hardly mattered what she chose; by the time Mina went downstairs, her guests would probably be too drunk to know she had feet. Thank God the housekeeper was capably managing the crowd already in her living room, enjoying some very bloody expensive foam-topped canapés.

Ugh. Kenneth was right – I don't know why I threw this thing. So my agent could suck up to a bunch of moneybags producers? I wish the girls were here – where are they, anyway? I told them this was important!

Mina grabbed a winking silvered sandal at random, dropped its mate, and knelt to pick it up with her other hand, immediately releasing her hair from the intricate knot she'd failed to secure with pins. Feeling her work come undone, her eyes closed in defeat as a pale river of gold tumbled into her lap. She exhaled a shuddering breath, eyes still shut. There was absolutely no curse vile enough to express how she felt at this precise instant, and so without further ado, Mina drew back her arm and pitched one hapless sandal vaguely at the wall to her left, childishly hoping to hear the satisfying thud that would make this night better.

The sound never came.

Kenneth moved silently up the staircase, not wanting to attract the attention of their party guests below, particularly when he was clad in just his swim trunks. He'd thought to get in a quick workout before Mina's ridiculous party started, but it had taken longer than expected, and he'd had to sneak through the kitchen to avoid any odd looks at his attire. Wet spots bloomed on the carpet in his wake, chlorinated water dripping from his body still.

Jesus, he hated the sight of all these…theatre people in his home. So far it was just faux-method actors and the like, but the deep pockets would come later. His wife really didn't need to try to impress anyone – everyone out there loved Mina. I wonder why, Kenneth's thoughts turned thunderous, remembering the way some of "the puppies", as she dismissively christened them, gaped at her.

Good thing I'll be busy in my office, not watching a bunch of boys and old libertines leer at my wife…

odd that I don't hear her voice down there.

Noting all the lamps lit in their bedroom, Kenneth paused in the doorway to take her in. Honeyed skin glistened, slightly damp from the shower still. Moisture pulled the nude chiffon tight under her breasts, fabric clinging languorously to her thighs. As he watched, Mina's hair escaped her grip and rippled over her shoulders, releasing a lush breath of heady tuberose. Kenneth's steely eyes remained inscrutable, but he found himself inhaling deeply, enjoying the memory that came with it.

"You don't like it?" his date faltered, putting the bottle back on the dressing table. Mina never faltered, not at anyone or anything, not even the man she was bringing back to her apartment for the first time. "It's my favorite perfume. I saved up my modeling money in college and bought at least six bottles at once…"

"Take off your coat."

She did, brow furrowed slightly in confusion.

Kenneth had pounded two very dry martinis while she'd been in the ladies' room. He sincerely hoped those martinis weren't doing the talking now.

"Your dress."

Her sudden grin couldn't be described as anything but Cheshire cat-like, but before she could say a word he had Mina up against the dressing table, one arm easing her onto its glassy surface as the other knocked the bottle aside. Mina bit her lip, hard, as Kenneth's hands dragged up her short skirt, palms smoothing over skin he felt but could not see. Yet.

Much later, he murmured into her hair, "I do like it. I like it best when it's the only thing you're wearing."

She giggled, shifting suggestively against him. "I certainly wouldn't be the first blonde to go to sleep in nothing but perfume."

His eyes darkened. "Who said anything about sleeping?"

His wife's sudden movement jerked Kenneth from his reverie, and he automatically raised a hand to catch the spindly silver thing hurtling toward his face. He mentally gave thanks for all those years of high school and college football, before stepping into the bedroom. Mina was rising to her feet, baby blues wide with surprise, then suddenly wary. She was gearing up for yet another argument about this party, palpable stress holding her spine rigid, and in that moment Kenneth made a swift decision.

"Are you okay – I didn't see – "

He cut off her anxious babbling.

"I'm sorry I'm late – I'll be ready in five. Take your time. I'll manage your…colleagues downstairs."

She studied her husband's implacable expression with some confusion, and, Kenneth noted drily, hope anew. "But – I thought – you have work – and you hate – "


He covered the distance between them unhurriedly, tossing the towel around his neck aside and taking her upturned face into his hands. "This is important to you. I'll take care of it."

Mina smiled up at him, anxiety melting from her features. Unbidden, her fingertips grazed his chest, following the droplets' sedate southward path.

She watched her husband out of the corner of her eye as she chatted up an old co-star about a project...or something. Despite the fact that Mina had thrown this holiday party pretty much exclusively to network with others, she was having difficulty focusing on her task.

True to his word, Kenneth had emerged from the bathroom impeccably attired in a matter of minutes, icy blue cashmere molding itself to his massive frame, making his eyes glint like glaciers. She was sure he felt just about that warmly, too – she couldn't imagine what possible conversation a hedge fund manager could try to make with a dramaturg.

Mina felt a touch guilty that he was enduring this party for her, instead of retreating to his files and folders – she couldn't fathom why he'd volunteered to in the first place, but his tall, calmly imposing presence soothed her frayed nerves, reassured her that she could shine among her guests. She was grateful, and each time that Mina couldn't help but glance at Kenneth, she fantasized freely about how she might show him her gratitude.

The room was getting hotter, as more people arrived and the cocktails poured freely. Mina's eyes fell to Kenneth's forearms, where he'd pushed up his sleeves. She skittishly licked the peachy gloss off her lips for the fifth time, remembering.

Mina let out an undignified squeak as he inelegantly propelled their bodies, her back hitting the wall with a thud. Kenneth's palms came slamming down on either side of her head an instant later. Her legs locked instinctively around his damp-shirted back, but she could feel herself sliding down precariously. Her skirt scratchily dragged against the wall, already bunched to her waist. "Kenneth," she gasped, the rhythmic force of him making it difficult to speak " – I'm slipping – "

"Hold onto me."

She gingerly wrapped her hands around his forearms, and was startled by their solidity. They didn't budge at her additional weight, not in the slightest. He gave her little time to marvel. Mina's fingernails sank painfully deep into corded muscle as Kenneth began, with wicked slowness, to move again.


She shook her head minutely and took a too-large gulp of her gin tonic, trying to clear the searing image behind her eyelids. There was another man in front of her, a man she vaguely recognized as a Big Deal. "I – I'm sorry, what was that Michael?"

Her co-star looked at her askance a moment, and Mina proffered a graceful smile, hoping she hadn't completely screwed something up. "Uh, I just wanted to introduce you to Don. He was really impressed by your work in that experimental piece last year, and he's been saying he has something in mind…"

She nodded, eyes sparkling with appropriately coy interest. "I'd love to hear more."

Kenneth excused himself early, feeling the beginnings of a massive migraine when he thought about all the work he hadn't done yet. Pausing as he climbed the stairs to his office, he glanced at his wife, who effortlessly reigned the room. She had them eating out of the palm of her hand – not that he was surprised. It made him wonder, sometimes, how she'd picked him out of a sea of fist-pumping bankers and attorneys at that client's afterparty, how she'd decided he would be the lucky one.

She was still staring at him, and the bartender seemed to have completely forgotten about his beer. Kenneth kept his eyes on the crumpled flyer in his hand, but after having read it five times without the foggiest idea of what it said, he gave up. "Is there a problem?"

The blonde looked slightly taken aback, Cupid's-bow lips falling open. "Oh! – no, I was just, just…" she reached over and flipped the flyer around. Kenneth immediately felt like an unmitigated shit. On the back, her baby blues nearly leaped off the paper, glimmering with unshed tears. Underneath the play's title, a single name was billed prominently – "Mina Agron".

"I just happened to see you with one, so…" she laughed, and Kenneth found himself wanting to hear the silvery sound again.

"Of course – I'm sorry. It's been a long day," he offered, hating the trite excuse.

She – Mina – didn't blink. "Maybe you can make it up to me, when you haven't had such a long day." The blonde tugged a pen out of her tiny, crystal-skull-headed clutch and scrawled ten digits over her pixelated cheek. She was close enough for him to smell her chewing gum, or lipgloss, or something – warm peaches. A gin tonic and Amstel materialized out of nowhere, and seizing the former, Mina was gone in a swirl of champagne hair and flashing heels.

"Who was that?" Jacen joined him at the bar, swiping Kenneth's Amstel. "Sorry it took so long, I was looking for the trash – oh, ha, you have one too." He poked at Kenneth's flyer.


"Goddamn flyers for some play downtown. They're practically confetti-ing the place with them, and there's maybe one garbage can in the whole building."

Kenneth looked up and around, for the first time that night. Every single person in his visual field carried a drink in one hand and a flyer in the other.

Despite Mina's doubts about her budding theatre career, Kenneth knew from personal experience…what his wife wanted, she got. She was magnetic, as impossibly alluring on stage as she was in the flesh.

Speaking of…

Kenneth gritted his teeth, somewhat in need of a cold shower. He suspected a pile of Excel spreadsheets would do just as well.

Kicking off his shoes as he entered his office, Kenneth stopped behind his desk to peruse the enormous bookshelf. His fingertips brushed the correct file, and he pulled.


Mina immediately noticed her husband's premature absence and escaped the dull conversation on some pretense. Glancing down at the third gin tonic still loosely clasped in her fingers, she shrugged, downed it, and padded upstairs, the chilled glass dangling between her thumb and index finger.

The party could go on without her.

She observed him with pleasure, letting her gaze caress his powerful shoulders, sweep down to his trim hips. Kenneth's fingertips skimmed gently over the titles in the shelf until he found the one he wanted, and Mina couldn't suppress a tremor, wanting those unhurried, excruciatingly thorough fingers on her overheated flesh.

She stepped forward, locking the door behind her.

Kenneth turned toward her leisurely, as though he'd known she was standing there all along, but his eyes came alive with unmistakable hunger, belying his relaxed posture. The forgotten file hung slackly from his fingertips, and he waited for her to continue.

Her voice was soft, but rang with commanding steel.

"Take off your shirt."

The file dropped to the floor with a soft rustle as he pulled the cashmere over his head and faced Mina again, shaggy white-blond strands tickling his preternaturally composed features.

She let her glass fall soundlessly to the carpet, one hand reaching behind her back to tug at the hooks of her dress. Her feet moved forward of their own accord, until only Kenneth's desk waited between them. "Pants," Mina managed, feeling her fingers clumsily unhook the last fastening. Her other hand pulled her bodice down, and she saw how her husband's eyes sharpened like knives.

His gaze locking with hers, Kenneth roughly unbuckled his belt with one hand and slid it out of the loops. He would have tossed it aside, but Mina reached suddenly over his desk and wrapped her hand around the belt's other end, pulling him closer. Their breaths intermingled, hers ragged, his rapid, and their eyes simultaneously fell to the only obstacle between them – the desk. Kenneth made his second swift decision of the night.

Every object, including several heavy paperweights and books, went flying. Mina didn't bat an eye, immediately sliding onto the glossy walnut. Kenneth was suddenly above her, and she dragged his face down to hers, mouth seeking. Mina's skin prickled pleasurably at the feel of cool, lacquered wood against bare flesh; her spine arched off the desk slightly as her husband's lips strayed lower. His hands trailed languidly down her sides, dragging the silk past her hips and tossing it behind them with a casual flick of the wrist.

Kenneth's knowledge of her body was both precise and unerring, and he made devastating use of it. Mina writhed on the increasingly damp surface, trying and failing to drag his silvery head upward, to force his touch where she needed it most, but her husband would have none of her haste. Her teeth sank viciously into her knuckles as Mina smothered the escaping scream – not effectively, as Kenneth heard her muffled cry and slowed his assault, denying her release. She didn't know whether to shriek or surrender. Mina chose the latter.

Her eyes drifted shut, and he watched her lashes tremble on her cheeks with supremely male satisfaction. Outside, their guests drank and laughed and mingled, and enjoyed Kenneth and Mina's excellent hospitality late into the night.