Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight, though any original storylines are mine.
A/N: A big Thank-You to LightStarDusting and ms-ambrosia for their Beta work on this story for several months now, and just for being great human beings. Thanks also to mpg and MissWinkles for pre-reading, even after I put them through months of WCs in which they were forced to read teasers. Somehow, they're still my friends.
Warning: This story contains subject matter which may be offensive or upsetting for some readers. I will post a warning before each chapter if it contains those mature themes and advise you in advance. Themes explored in this story include prostitution, violence, sometimes graphic or unromantic sex, some drugs and self-harm triggers. Please PM me for more information, I'm happy to answer any questions.
She does that thing with her hand like it's nothing; that flipping of hair, all from the wrist.
Like it costs her nothing.
He resents it because it costs him everything.
It costs him unparalleled restraint not to ruin the whole thing and just do her now, right now.
Right. The. Fuck. Now.
He could just go over there and make it happen, but she's not alone and the experience would be sullied. It's not the act itself that he craves; it's the control and the ownership that are instrumental, like air-filled lungs.
He won't be able to have those things if he doesn't wait for the designated time. He can't wait to see her when there are no more impulsive movements, when he himself finally controls everything. His every breath and every heartbeat count down to this moment, just like hers, though she might not know it.
She runs her palm across her cheekbone and covers his mark like she's ashamed of it. His whole body shudders with the need to get to her and do it, do it, DO IT... but no. He will have his perfection. He will wait until the time.
He has watched the ripening bruise over the course of several days and thinks the dark blue suited her. It's a shame that it's almost all yellows and greens now. He wonders if he can hold out, maybe see if there are more marks he can put on her before the deadline. As much as this thought makes his heart sing, he knows it probably won't work; it has been a monumental effort to hold out even this long. He doesn't have much patience left in him. Thankfully, it won't be long now.
He feels his mouth stretching into a grim smile. His hand travels slowly to his face to test this expression under his fingertips; sure enough, his lips are pulled to either side and his teeth are exposed. He wonders what his face would look like to other people, to her, while it's distorted into this grimace.
Perhaps he could test the boundary of his restraint just a little more. Maybe he could see her just one more time before the deadline and prepare her skin with more shadowy marks while testing the effect of this smile on her. He has been watching her meet this kid for the last couple of days and he likes it less and less. Perhaps it's time to put a stop to it. His hand travels to his pocket and he retrieves his cell.
"Midnight in Seattle, how may I assist you?" It's the same smooth voice, as always.
He can put a red-headed, shrewish face to this voice now, which somehow makes it more thrilling, especially as she's oblivious to that fact. He had a wonderful time just a few days ago, watching her while she stepped out for lunch, emerging all powersuit and heels from the lobby of the building that discreetly houses the escort agency. He devoured every nuance and expression on her face as she spoke into her phone about whatever inane bullshit women fucking talk about. He wasn't close enough to hear anything, but he's sure he didn't miss anything of interest.
"Hello, I'd like to request Marie for 9pm tonight." His voice is quiet and calm, the opposite of the way he feels right now. Looking at Marie sitting in the café across the road from him is very exciting, even if she is with that kid again. Is he a client? He licks his lips.
"Hello Sir, nice to hear your voice again. Thank you for trusting us to provide a memorable evening," the redhead simpers.
He grunts in response, thinking that this tone of voice doesn't mesh with the hard, angular face of the skinny woman he saw lunching with Marie just last week while the latter was moving into her new apartment across town. It's all wrong and he knows that she's putting it on for him: the client. He realizes that she's still speaking and focuses on her voice again.
"...not available at this time. Perhaps I can suggest Heidi or Chelsea? Both come with excellent recommendations and pictures are, of course, available on our website. Would you like to consider these choices, Sir?"
Not available at this time. But he can see her, clear as day, sitting in the café and tugging on a lock of hair, her mouth moving like she's speaking. Of course she's available.
"There must be some mistake, of course she's available." His mouth spews out the thought before he can check it. It takes a huge effort to stop himself from saying something really stupid, like 'I'm looking at her right now.' There is a slight pause at the other end of the line, and unpleasant heat winds its way through his stomach as he wonders if he's said something he shouldn't have after all.
"My sincere apologies, Sir, Marie is away at this time. She's taking a short break. If you could talk me through your exact requirements, perhaps I can assist you with making an alternative choice. Let's start with an easy one: blonde or brunette?" She's being overly accommodating, her voice dripping with so much false charm that it makes him want to puke.
He realizes that she's serious. Marie is sitting right there, just beyond his reach, just across the road from him, and he can't have her. It's infuriating.
He watches as she speaks to the kid, her eyes a shape he's never seen before; they're soft and beautiful, entirely different from the wary, hard eyes she shows him. Why isn't she working? He doesn't like deviations from the plan; they can lead to unforeseen hurdles and this won't do. He needs to study this in detail and work out if this affects the timeline.
He snaps the phone shut without answering, he knows there is nothing to be gained by harassing the redhead. She's not the driving force behind this change, Marie is.
He turns away from his vigil and swiftly makes his way to Marie's apartment. His fingers close over the key in his pocket and he starts running, not knowing how much time he has before she goes home. It takes only minutes to get there and he slows down to a trot on approach, catching his breath.
He takes the stairs three at a time and twists the little key to open the door with a soft pop; he knows to put his shoulder into it, it's a little sticky. If Marie hadn't just moved here, he might have had time to work on fixing this in order to make his entries and exits silent and undetectable.
The first major hiccup in the timeline had happened when she inexplicably up and moved into this place just a few days ago. He was lucky to have been watching, or he might have missed the whole episode and never found her in time to make their fast approaching deadline. He wondered if he'd pushed her too far with his preparations, and had to back off while people came and went from both of her apartments, the old and the new. He watched carefully, and decided that it was good she had moved, it showed she had fight in her, after all. A survival instinct. It would be so much better in the long run.
Although this kind of improvisation had never happened before, he took it in stride and hit the ground running, rewriting the plan to suit this new location. Nothing has really been affected. He has kept up his side of the exchange, and so far, she is sticking to hers. He wonders if she is aware of their agreement on the same level that he is; does she hurtle towards the deadline resigned to her fate, or will she fight at the last?
He's not sure which he hopes for more.
He steps inside Marie's apartment and leans his back against the door, closing it behind him. His steps are sure as he walks to her bedroom and slides open the wardrobe doors. He inspects her clothes, sliding his palm between the folds of dresses and inhaling the lovely scent of her.
His eyes pan down to find what he wants: the black knee-high leather boots. He removes them from the wardrobe and places them neatly beside her nightstand where she can't miss them. He briefly contemplates placing her trench coat on her bed as well, but doesn't want to spoil the subtle effect. He understands that sometimes, less is more. The boots are perfect, standing upright against the wall like they're full of her legs.
A flash of inspiration bursts in his mind and he wants her to wear the boots when he finally owns her, when she's perfectly still and just so right and complete and his.
Maybe he'll take them away with him when the time is up.
Satisfied with his contribution to making the plan a reality, he shuffles through her apartment, touching her things, lifting them to his face for a sniff or a closer look and putting them down again. She has hardly touched her possessions, most of the still-sealed cartons are in the same place as the last couple of times he was here since she moved in.
He can see no traces of anyone else having been here. The dishwasher is empty and only one glass and small plate sit atop the kitchen counter. He checks her laundry hamper and sees no evidence of anyone else's things. He hooks a pair of panties on his index finger and checks the gusset. He can find no indication of fluids, hers or otherwise. Most importantly, he can find no evidence of the kid. Everything appears on track.
Satisfied, he takes one final sweep of the apartment, and that's when he notices the book.
She has unpacked at least one carton of books, and a thick tome lays on the couch where she left it. He picks it up and reads the blurb. Something about monks. He flicks it open to Marie's bookmark and finds nothing of interest. Thumbing through once more to another pre-creased section, his eyes are immediately drawn to a small paragraph of text and he sucks in a breath.
'…Once again I was tempted to follow her; once again William, grim, restrained me. "Be still, fool," he said. "The girl is lost; she is burnt flesh.'
His pale eyes read the line over and over until he is satisfied that it's not a fluke. There is no such thing as coincidence.
He drops the book, having seen what he needed. Everything is definitely on track.
Silently, he lets himself out of the apartment.
A/N: Thanks for taking the time to read my story!