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Bosie's silver mini screeched to a halt at the curb and the door was flung open. I folded my legs into the cramped front seat and looked over my shoulder.
"What?" Bosie didn't look at me; instead he violently flipped on the indicator and swerved dangerously out into the hectic London traffic. A black cab narrowly missed hitting us and the driver leaned on his horn. "What are you looking for?"
"Our pursuers," I answered back smartly, still checking over my shoulder. "I figure it's got to be the police, MI5, the Mob, someone frightening anyway, to warrant your ridiculous driving!" Bosie laughed a short, unamused bark and then glanced at me quickly.
"Oh good god!" he swore and swerved again to bring us alongside the taxi we had so narrowly missed seconds before.
"What?" Now it was my turn to be perplexed. Bosie was looking at my clothes with a scrutinizing eye. I looked down. "Ah." Now I understood.
"You could have warned me you were going to wear a polo neck jumper." He sounded peeved. I sighed and plucked at the offending article. We were wearing identical black turtle neck sweaters. We looked like gangsters from a British 60's film, or the Beatles, or stage hands.
"What? I have to phone you now and check what you're wearing? What are we? Girlfriends?" I glared at his arched eyebrow daring him to make a smart reply. I should know better than to dare this boy to do anything. Right on form, he replied quickly.
"Ooh if you like old cock!" and slapped me playfully on the arm. He pulled on the handbrake suggestively, giving me a sly look as he handled the lever between us. I rolled my eyes and noticed we were pulled up right next to the black taxi Bosie had cut in front of in his bid to escape from whoever he had decided we were fleeing. In the movie in his head, I reminded myself.
The cab driver was a burly, bald white man. He was watching the lights; his eyes firmly glued forward, studiously avoiding eye contact with Bosie. Bosie bounced in his seat and waved, punching the button which lowered his window and tapping impatiently on the glass of the passenger side of the taxi. The driver slid his eyes sideways and lifted one hand. When the meaty fist was directly in front of Bosie's nose he extended the middle finger slowly.
Bosie grinned in delight.
"Only one darling?" His voice was deliberately camp and biting. I smiled, I knew that Bosie was as manly as anyone I had met, but he could put it on with the best of them when he wanted to. This was clearly one of those times. "Just one?" His sculpted mouth turned down in a sulky pout while his hand quietly lifted off the handbrake and placed itself on the gear stick. "Because I can stretch to much more than one sweetheart!" The last line was delivered just as the lights changed to green and Bosie pulled away, accelerating like a lunatic. I was thrown back in my seat and I glanced back to see the taxi driver, laughing and waving in our wake. Bosie drove on in silence but the broad grin on his face showed his opinion of his success. After a few moments of much more sedate driving he turned to me again.
"At least you're wearing a leather jacket," he observed with a small wiggle of his eyebrows. "I'm more of a blazer man myself." He nodded his head to indicate the black blazer which lay neatly on the back seat. Even from where I was sitting I could see that the upholstery of the mini was covered in silver glitter from the night before.
"I didn't know you were going to wear a turtle neck." I grumbled rummaging in the glove compartment for a mint, which I knew I would find. Bosie always had mints in the glove box. And gloves. He had once told me that one 'never knew when one might need warm hands'.
"A polo neck," he corrected tutting, "I'm going to turn you into an English gent if it kills you." His eyes were on the road but his face wore an amused expression.
"Like you, you mean?" I joked.
"No. I'm a Lord, not a gentleman. Bosie laughed at his own joke and gestured imperiously with his hand towards my knees. I looked at his wild motions, confused. "A mint, man, get me a mint! Good grief you colonials really have no idea of manners do you?" He deftly unwrapped with one hand the mint which I passed to him, popped it into his mouth and sucked appreciatively before handing back to me the sticky wrapper. I looked around for somewhere to put it and then tucked it discreetly into the pocket of the passenger door, smiling out the window at his antics.
I parked the mini in the street and paid the extortionate rate at the meter. Edward looked on in amusement as I patiently fed my card into the machine and punched the numbers. Neither of us had any cash and I was hoping that the pub would be taking cards or else it'd be a short drink.
The Globe was not exactly my local, it was at least half an hour by tube or car to get here from my place, but it was a favourite haunt. Its bottle green tiles and stained glass windows were original and not part of the standard decor in the chain of bars which these days passed for an English pub in the city. Despite the bright sunshine outside, the interior was quite dark, green glass lamps lit up the leather booths along the walls and the bottles and chrome of the bar glinted invitingly. Damn, I was driving.
"Earl Grey, Stefan." The tall barman nodded once and turned to flick on the kettle which was sitting next to the till. As he produced a teapot from under the bar and fished a tea bag from an old oriental tea caddy he looked up at Cullen.
"A pint of..." Cullen's eyes scanned the labels on the taps which punctuated the wooden bench of the bar. "Lancaster Bomber," he read aloud and pointed to a label showing a WWII style plane flying over a red rose. "Is it any good?" he mumbled to me as Stefan poured the ale into the pint glass, angling the rim so the beer frothed up into a half inch head.
I nodded in reply. I enjoyed a pint of real ale and I was annoyed that I had volunteered to chauffeur Cullen when the Globe had a new selection on tap. Just my luck I thought as I watched Stefan hand the drink over to Cullen who sniffed it suspiciously before taking a long draft of the brew and smacking his lips appreciatively, the froth still on his upper lip. Stefan placed the tea pot next to a cup and saucer and smiled sympathetically at my evident envy.
"Six twenty." He held his hand out for the money. I looked at Cullen who shrugged and took another swig of his pint. "The bastard,"I thought and sighed aloud.
"On the card Stefan." I passed over the gold card and Stefan nodded and put it behind the bar, under the small statue of Shakespeare which resided next to the till.
Cullen was already making for the booth at the back of the pub where I could see Rose sitting, nursing a glass of rose wine and looking around curiously. She waved and half stood up until she saw that Cullen had spotted her. Her expression was relieved when we sat down.
The Globe was exactly as I had pictured an English pub to be. The decor was made up of deep woods, jewelled toned stained glass and an indefinable air of authenticity. I'd arrived early, I knew. I'd finished my initial tour of the plant much faster than I'd anticipated. Everything I'd requested prior to leaving the States had, uncharacteristically, been done. The facility here in London was not all that different from the one I all but lived in back home, so familiarizing myself with the layout had been quite easy. I couldn't wait until Monday arrived, when I would have a chance to meet the engineering team that had been assembled to help me oversee the production line that I would be handling for the next four weeks.
I sipped my wine as I tried to inconspicuously listen to the conversations in the surrounding booths. I had known prior to actually coming to England that there were several different accents within the country. But after a single day here, I could actually distinguish between a few of them. I was enjoying myself immensely as I listened to two older gentlemen at the table across from me; one having a very clipped precise accent and the other with a softer, more rounded tone to it. They were complaining loudly about the overcrowding on the Tube with more passion than some of the political debates I had seen during the elections back home.
I was so wrapped up in my eaves dropping, that I didn't immediately see Edward and Bosie arrive. They were half way across the room and heading straight for me before they had my full attention. I sighed, relieved that my company had arrived. Edward slid into the seat next to me, a large glass of nearly black beer in his hand while Bosie slid into the plush leather seat directly across from me. As soon as he'd situated himself, Edward leaned over and kissed the very corner of my lip, lingering as he had since my arrival.
"How was work Rose? Were the horrid Brits nice to you?" he teased, his eyes fixed on the man across from us.
"It was wonderful, thank you. The site is nearly operational and we should be right on schedule for production to begin." I knew that his question was more polite than an actual search for information but my work triggered a passion in me, no matter how mundane it may sound to others.
"My darling Rose," Bosie said with a flourish as he grabbed my hand and placed a kiss on top. He looked at me from under his dark lashes and flicked his tongue against my skin for just a moment before releasing it. "I don't envy the bloke that must take orders from one such as yourself. Truly, it would be unfathomably hard to despise your boss when your boss is as lovely as you."
"Laying it on a bit thick are we?" Edward said as he raised his glass to his lips again. The thick froth from his glass clung to his lips as he swallowed deeply. The motion of his throat coupled with the swipe of his tongue over his top lip awoke memories of our previous night and I hastily took a long sip of my wine.
"Not at all my dear Cullen. Simply stating the obvious."
I nodded my head in appreciation toward him. He caught my gaze with a wicked smile. Last night I had not fully realized just how beautiful a man Bosie was. Underneath the silver and glitter and wings, Bosie was every bit as stunning as Edward. The features of his face seemed somehow too pretty to be male. But there was no mistaking the raw sexuality that simply oozed from him. His full lips, his dark lashes and the eyes that bored into you made for a truly stunning specimen. An air of confidence, which I assumed came from an upbringing of wealth and privilege, surrounded him. He seemed as though it never occurred to him that things might not go according to his wishes. It was a childlike and endearing quality. I suspected that there was no one, male or female, that could resist his charms once he set his sights on them.
It was as I was pondering his innate beauty that I realized he and Edward were dressed almost identically. The dark turtleneck sweaters offset the shocking bronze and light tinged brown of their hair in almost the same way. The only difference, as far as I could see, was that Edward wore his trademark leather coat while Bosie was sporting a dark blazer that was flawlessly tailored to fit his frame. Oh, and the glitter that clung to the shoulder of said blazer.
I couldn't help but laugh. And once I started, I was nearly powerless to stop, even though I knew I was being not only rude but slightly absurd.
"Did you two buy your sweaters together while having your nails done?" I asked in the most composed tone I could manage.
Edward scowled at me while Bosie joined me in my laughter.
"She's bloody brilliant, this one. So cheeky. Eddie, I love her. Can we keep her?"
Edward just shook his head, as if he were the parent to a pair of naughty children before he finally relented and smiled. He wrapped his arm around my shoulder and pulled me to him. With a quick kiss on my forehead he released me and returned his attention to his glass. Just as he turned the glass up, Bosie spoke again.
"So, Eddie, how's yer arse this morning?"
In a split second, Edward spewed the entire mouthful of beer across the table. His eyes were wide and wild as he stared at Bosie, who was thoroughly distracted with trying to wipe his blazer down and stem the flow of beer across the table. I, on the other hand, was once again seized with uncontrollable laughter.
"Good god, man. Have you gone completely mad?" Bosie said disgustedly as he threw the napkin on the table with a huff. He looked at me, cackling like mad, and seemed genuinely unaware of what was so funny. Edward composed himself and then glared at Bosie.
"Have you no tact whatsoever? And my ass is fine, thanks so much for asking."
"Bloody hell; is that what your eruption was about? Did I embarrass you Eddie?" Bosie had obviously caught on to what I had found so hysterically funny and with an impish grin, joined me. The two of us laughed so loudly, that the men whose conversation I had been listening to previously stopped talking and both turned to face us. With tears streaming down my face, I smiled at them, hoping to lessen their annoyance somewhat. "Really," Bosie said between his own fits of laughter, "if we can't talk about it among ourselves, who can we talk to? I was simply trying to make conversation Cullen."
"You might have gone about it a little differently," Edward said, finally cracking a smile and relaxing his defensive posture. "But I guess you're right. Sorry about that."
"Not a bother, Cullen. I'm sure I can find a way for you to make it up to me."
I was still struggling to get control of myself as Bosie took a sip from his tea cup. He held the small porcelain cup delicately in his long fingers for a moment too long before he turned his gaze back to me. I was positive that my face was flushed and blotched from my laughter but I knew it didn't matter. I knew that moment that he cocked his perfectly arched brow that it was my turn on his hot seat, a not all together unpleasant thought.
"I understand that you had a late night visitor, my beautiful Yank. Care to share with a country gentleman?"
"I thought you said you weren't a gentleman," Edward smirked as his hand found its way to my leg. Bosie noticed his movement and craned his neck to peer at us.
"Neither are you from the looks of it," Bosie said in his best proper Englishman's accent.
"Yes, we had a visitor and I enjoyed myself very much, thank you," I said with an innocent smile.
"Now, you see there Cullen? That is how you answer a question. Not cover your mate with ale." He took another sip of his tea but stopped his movements with a scrunch of his nose. "What is that horrid smell?"
"Governor Takin, I thought I recognized your foul stench the moment I was brought on board," I muttered under my breath as I tucked my hands into my lap, I was sure that now was not the time to show what a huge Star Wars geek I was. Bosie continued to pull faces of disgust.
"That, my dearest Bosie, is motor oil. A smell you would recognize if you drove a vehicle that would actually reach decent speeds," the bell tone voice said loudly from directly in front of our table. I looked up and into the exquisite face of none other than Lady Laura. She was smiling down at Bosie, who had obviously seen her a second before either Edward or I had. She turned her gaze to me and the butterflies I'd felt last night returned in full force. "And that was Star Wars, Episode VI. Well, well," she said as she slid into the seat next to Bosie, not bothering to wait for him to move over.
"Laura," Edward said with a smile and a nod.
"Laura, it's wonderful to see you again," I said, trying my hardest not to avert my eyes.
"Tell me Rose, what type of car do you drive back in America?"
"Um, an Audi TT," I said slightly hesitantly.
"An engineer for BMW drives an Audi? And why is that?" she asked with a wicked glint in her eye.
"The TT has a better suspension and a tighter turn radius than the Z4. Although the Z4 has more horsepower, the difference in gas mileage was substantial enough that it made more sense for me when I bought it."
"It's the ship that did the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs," she retorted much to my delight. The pure shock and joy must have been evident because Edward let out a low whistle at the exchange.
"Now that is my kind of woman," she said as she clapped her hands together exuberantly. "A sports car aficionado who doesn't mind getting her hands a little dirty as well as a Star Wars fan. Cullen, I might have to duel you for her."
At the rate we were going, there would be no duel necessary. I was absolutely spell bound by the enigmatic woman across from me.
Lady Laura Ashton's POV
I was never a tomboy when I was a child. I had always loved sparkles and pink and dolls and clothes and all the other things little girls were supposed to enjoy but I had also loved some things that were not...traditional for little girls. I was obsessed with cars from a young age; I collected all the Top Trump cards and challenged all my male cousins and my uncles to contest with me at any family gathering. I was obsessed with James Bond and spent many afternoons spying on the groundsman at Ashton Hall and jumping from the rooftops of the stables into piles of hay in order to 'escape the Russians'. I loved American superhero comic books, Batman was my favourite, as I could imagine myself more as the rich playboy come vigilante than I could any of the other brightly clad heroes who swung into battle with arch villains. Maybe I liked his cape too? Even at a young age, I demonstrated a sizable dark side to my personality. It was this dark side which led me to my next 'Grande Passione'.
I was a young girl when my grandfather had taken me to the cinema to see the first Star Wars film. I remember very clearly sitting in the dark, the popcorn warm against my lap, as I was sucked into space and completely engulfed by the magical world of Princess Leia and Han Solo and the other brave heroes. But it was Darth Vader's entrance onto the screen which captured my young imagination. His masterful stride and the fear which he elicited in his minions captivated me utterly. My friends had grown weary of being 'interrogated' and 'captured' as Rebel spies and Bosie had been subjected to many a late night showing of my favourite films.
And now this woman was sitting there, telling my why she loved an Audi TT more than a BMW Z4 and quoting 'Star Wars' to me. I was in heaven.
"I was just asking Cullen here how his arse was this morning!" quipped Bosie, his eyes glinting with mischief. He looked at Edward, whose expression was grim. "Try not to spit your drink on Laura, old cock. She won't like it either."
"How is it then? The arse?" I asked Edward just to tease really. He laughed again and nodded his head once before sipping his pint.
"It's been worse." He grinned over the empty glass.
"But not better eh?" I picked up the empties on the table. "Drinks?" Rose passed me her glass and her fingers lightly grazed mine. I nearly dropped the glass in shock; the current of physicality between us had not been dimmed by the banality of our surroundings. She must have felt it too because she swallowed before answering.
"What would you recommend L..." she hesitated, obviously unsure about the title. It happens a lot and sometimes I use it to my advantage but right at that moment I wanted this woman to feel at ease with me, to know we were equals and friends.
"Laura," even to me my voice sounded low, intimate. "Please Rose, call me Laura." Her answering smile was dazzling.
"What's good Laura?"
"Gin and tonic. Bombay Blue Sapphire Gin?" she nodded. "Bosie? Tea?" I wrinkled my nose but then realised he was driving. "Earl Grey?" he nodded, grimacing slightly at his inability to share a drink with us. "Edward? Bomber?" Edward nodded too looking slightly surprised that I knew what he was drinking.
As soon as the girls were off quoting 'Star Wars' I knew we were in for fireworks. Laura loves 'Star Wars', she's a complete geek about it and I've often wondered how she'd ever meet anyone who'd share ALL her passions. I mean, how many BDSM freaks can there be who can tell you all about the Force? But, it seemed like Rose was just that kind of girl. And there was serious chemistry between them too; you could just see it hovering in the air between them like.... the Force I suppose. See? Now I was doing it, I shrugged to myself.
I watched Laura at the bar. She was wearing her knee high biker boots, tight dark blue jeans, a black t shirt and no coat, just a thick purple cardigan which showed the darkness of her hair which she wore in a loose knot at the back of her head. Casual but careful, I thought to myself. She'd obviously dressed very deliberately to look informal. I looked at Rose who was also looking in the same direction, a dreamy look in her eyes. Well well, I chuckled into the last dregs of my tea. Laura wants to impress someone and I think that someone is impressed.
She came back from the bar with all the drinks balanced in her hands bar mine. Stefan stepped behind her and put the new tea pot down on the table. Laura steadied the three glasses with her fingers splayed and placed them on the table, careful not to spill a drop. I'd seen her do it loads of times but I knew she was just showing off now. The recipient of said showing off was grinning broadly at Laura as though she'd just conjured the drink from her cleavage. It was obvious they were equally taken with each other. I exchanged an amused look with Edward who raised his pint to me and winked.
"I hope you don't think this is too... presumptuous," Laura began more hesitantly than was her wont, "but I hope we can play together again?" She looked at Edward first but it was obvious to us all that the question was directed to Rose. Edward nodded and then he looked at Rose. We were all looking at Rose, who was grinning like an idiot.
"Yes, I'd love to er...." she fumbled in her handbag and produced a piece of paper.
"I've brought a list..." Laura and Rose said together as Laura produced a piece of paper from her jacket pocket at the same time. Edward began laughing, I joined in and soon all four of us were giggling, the two girls slightly pink with embarrassment.
"Right, give those to me!" I snatched both lists and lay them down together on the table, carefully avoiding where Edward's pint had left a sticky patch. Edward passed me a pen from his pocket. I dramatically began to tick off things from each list. "Spanking? Check! Name calling? Check! Penetration?" I wiggled an eyebrow at my audience who rewarded me with gales of laughter. "Check! Rose, you haven't stipulated where you'd like to be penetrated!!" I chided, more laughter, Rose clutching Edward's arm. "Laura, you have darling!" Now Laura was wheezing and wiping her eyes. "Blindfolds, gags and bondage? Check!" Two old men behind Rose got up from their table and left, leaving their unfinished pints behind. Rose looked worried and Laura snorted through her nose. Everyone laughed more, Stefan looked from behind the bar and I shrugged as though I had no idea what they were laughing at. Edward banged the table with his hand.
"Bosie, for god's sake stop, you're killing us." He giggled. I smiled and went back to my lists.
"Wax? Check! Ice? Check! Ahhhh!" I paused for effect, all six eyebrows raised in question. "Breath play? Our good fried Lady Asphyxia Philia? Check!"
Dear God in heaven, this conversation could not have been any more ridiculous if we'd possibly tried. The fact that Bosie was quite boisterously reading off the fetish checklists of the ladies at our table was, quite literally, enough to clear the room. Add to it that we were all laughing as if we were watching some sort of comedy sketch and the entire moment took on a surreal quality.
But the sly glimmer in his eye told me that Bosie's antics were a thinly masked attempt at hiding his own intrigue with the subject. The thought of Laura and Rose playing together was damn near more than my libido could take and still be expected to maintain the necessary public decency. Laura in her Mistress Lola attire was enough to bring anyone to their knees, with her thick eyeliner giving her a menacing stare and her ruby red lips barking out the filthiest words. And Rose kneeling, arms bound behind her back in thick leather shackles and her corn silk hair grasped tightly in the hands of Lola? Mere mortals wouldn't be able to withstand such a sight.
"I've not much experience with breath play but I am quite willing to explore it," Laura said through streaming eyes and the remnants of her laughter dying in her throat. "Cullen, you'd be willing to participate in that one, right old boy?"
"Of course," I answered, shifting in my seat to try and hide the raging hard on that I was now sporting. "I'd love to."
"Now," Bosie continued with a wild flourish of his pen. "You two differ on masks and hoods." He raised his eyebrows at the two beautiful women, who had both begun to eye each other with hungry expressions.
"Really?" I asked Rose, who was paying my hand on her thigh absolutely no attention. "When did that change?" I had intended the question to be light but the immediate shift in her facial expression told me I had just shifted the mood.
"A while ago," she replied in a tone that was completely foreign for my Rose. Her posture had tensed and even Bosie seemed unable to make light of what was obviously a difficult thing for Rose to remember.
"Beauty," Laura said in a soft voice as she stretched her hand across the table and wrapped her fingers around Rose's as they fluttered around the stem of her wine glass. "This is about having fun and exploring. Just because I'm okay with it doesn't mean that you are. It's called a compromise. I would never ask you, or anyone for that matter, to do something you were truly uncomfortable with."
Rose released the glass and threaded her fingers through Laura's very slowly. I watched as they locked their gazes again and seemed to speak without uttering a sound. A part of me was thrilled that they had such an obvious connection. But another smaller part was slightly jealous. I would never admit it aloud but I was used to being the object of the heated gazes that I saw coming from each woman and it was a little unsettling to watch such fire pass between the two of them.
But all thoughts of benevolence or petty jealousy flew directly out the stained glass window when Rose lifted Laura's hand to her lips. My dick did a fucking happy dance as I watched her very deliberately lick her middle finger from the blood red nail to the very center of her hand. With a quiet, "thank you Mistress" she placed a small kiss on the back of her hand and then lowered their hands to the table. It escaped neither my attention nor Bosie's that neither one of them made any attempt to release the other.
"So Beauty, what are your plans for the evening," Laura purred as Bosie stared open mouthed at her.
"Ahem," he very conspicuously tried to avert her attention. "Laura, I do believe that there is a certain matter that you need to attend to this evening. At least prior to making any other arrangements."
"And what would that be darling?"
He didn't speak but nudged her under that table, earning himself a nasty glare. He was trying to tell her something he felt was of great import but failing miserably. After several tense seconds, she finally lost her patience.
"Oh for the love of God, will you just spit it out man!"
"Fine milady," he said with a very self satisfied grin. "Veronica."
Lady Laura Ashton's POV
I stared at Bosie, my eyes wide and my mouth closed. I had completely forgotten about Veronica. Forgotten about her intrusion and her sudden exit. Forgotten that Boise had been phoning her all morning but getting no reply. Forgotten that anyone else existed but Rosalie Hale. After a moment or two I became aware of the silence at the table as Edward and Rose looked at me with concern.
"Good point Bosie, good point." I sipped my G&T and closed my eyes so that I could think. I didn't think I'd done anything wrong, Veronica and I didn't have an exclusive relationship. She'd never minded when I'd played with Cullen, in fact she'd been quite keen but I had to admit that the issue of another woman had never come up before. I put down my drink, the decision made. She wasn't answering her phone so I'd just have to go round to her place and talk it all out. I grimaced at the idea, I could deal with confrontation if I had to but it wasn't something I'd relish. "Right, I'd better go then." I slid out from the booth and finished my drink in a gulp.
Rose was looking worried, her perfect eyebrows wrinkled together as her concern showed in her expression. I could see that Edward was holding her hand tightly on the table top. Her other was tapping nervously on the table. I took her fingers in my own and bent to kiss them gently. I looked into those blue, dazzling eyes.
"I'm going to speak to Veronica. I'm not sure I'll be able to meet you tonight after all, but I will call you later, if that's OK with you?" I ended hopefully. Rose's brow smoothed as she smiled but her eyes were still troubled.
"Please call," she said quietly. "Good luck." Bless her, I could tell from her expression that she had no idea with what she was wishing me luck but she did it all the same. Clapping Bosie on the shoulder like WWI fighter pilot out to make another bombing run I gave Cullen a smile which I was sure did nothing to hide my resignation and left the pub.