It had started more as a hobby than anything else. Being a landlord required little work, and his pawnshop was more of a place to store antiquities he liked than a profitable business with clientele. He had time to waste, and a law degree gathering dust but no real desire to get back into the profession. When a former colleague had told him about a local Boston station looking for someone to host a show regarding law and finances he'd looked into it with mild curiosity. The Fine Point had become quite a successful show, surprisingly, though it attracted all sorts of people, from those with real concerns and questions regarding the law and the economy to utter idiots who seemed interested only in wasting his time. He was brutal to them, sarcastic and scathing and borderline abusing. The station, far from curtailing his sadistic side, encouraged it, as it made ratings rise like magic. He had found that he liked the experience, and when he'd been approached to do another show three times a week at night he'd agreed, provided he could choose the format and content. The Golden Hour was a mixture of current events, literature, history and the occasional foray into the world of music. It was a more laid-back show and he enjoyed it immensely, even if he was forced every now and then to talk to some twit who called. He wasn't allowed to hang up on them but his producer, Dove, usually turned a blind eye when his finger slipped and an obnoxious caller got disconnected. It became a bit of a running gag.
Unwillingly he got to know some of the other radio personalities. David Nolan, who came before him, had a sports program he found insipid, though he was apparently very charismatic and had quite a large female fan base. He was a nice man, though a bit simple-minded and was dating his producer, a mousy young thing called Mary Margaret that, the moment she got in front of the controls, turned into a no-nonsense, bossy woman David loved to submit to, body and soul. It was almost unsettling to see.
After him came Archie Hopper, a stuttering psychologist that acquired the ability to talk smoothly the moment he was in front of a mike He was followed by Whale, an MD that spent more time flirting with callers than answering health-related questions. At night he saw a scantily-clad girl who hosted some sort of "lonely hearts" dating advice show. Her producer was her matter-of-fact grandmother, who usually had more reasonable advice to give.
The manager of the station was an impractical fellow, Jefferson Madden, with a ridiculous penchant for top hats and absolutely no idea of what he was doing. He tried to avoid him whenever he could, and was successful enough in his endeavours. Apparently he spent quite a lot of time trying to get arrested, for some reason that escaped him.
Though he was familiar with those people, and he got roped every now and then into speaking two words to them, he tried not to get too involved, choosing instead to painstakingly construct a fearsome reputation that earned him the nickname of "Beast". Apparently it was a tradition to give everyone who worked at WAND 98.2 a fairytale nickname. Word around was that they'd almost decided to call him "Rumplestiltskin" for his uncanny knowledge of the art of deal-making but his beastly personality had won out in the end. His demeanour, coupled with Dove's frightful looks, kept most of his co-workers blissfully at bay.
He loved business law above all and tended to be very thorough when answering questions regarding it so no one was surprised when, out of a handful of calls remaining for the last ten minutes of a show, Dove chose one from a bookstore owner having problems with a relational contract. Gold perked up at this, being relational contract theory a forte of his, and greeted the called with more enthusiasm than usual. She was surprisingly young, with a faint Australian accent and a rather charming disposition that almost made him reign in his usual abrasiveness. He delved into the question with gusto, making a concerted effort to "dumb it down" for the sake of the caller. She, however, politely interrupted him to indicate that, indeed, she was aware of the general idea behind a relational contract and was more interested in a judicial rulings that could be counted as precedent regarding the fulfilment of implicit terms by one of the parties. The question caught him off-guard, not because he didn't know the answer- he could cite three cases off the top of his head- but because he had assumed the caller was law-illiterate like everyone else who phoned in.
He composed himself quickly, rattling off the names of the cases before probing more into the problem, exhilarated about the prospect of a caller with some idea of what they were talking about. He almost got offended when Mary Margaret took over the control room, shoving her watch into Dove's impassive face, but quickly wrapped up the show, reluctantly giving up his seat to Nolan.
He kept the faint memory of that ten-minute conversation in the back of his mind, a flicker of excitement in an otherwise dull week. About two weeks later he heard the same voice on the phone, this time asking about the possibility to request an audit reconsideration after failing to initially appeal an audit decision. Gold smirked, privately enjoying the cadence of the caller's voice. The accent was disarming and the voice just low enough to be pleasant instead of annoying.
"My, my, miss, your little bookshop keeps you quite busy, I see."
He didn't expect her to laugh, nor did he expect to find the sound pleasing.
"It's not me. My dad has a problem remembering to pay his taxes so he has quite a spotty relationship with the IRS, even though he only owns a modest flower shop. And it's Belle, by the way. Short for Isabelle."
He filed the information away carefully before launching into a detailed description of what she ought to do next. The bureaucracy of the IRS usually tended to make people quit before accomplishing anything so he was meticulous in his explanation, surprised when he realized it ended up eating away all his time on the air. Over the next few days the memory of Belle flickered in and out of his mind, a passing thought that made him smile for no apparent reason. He had no expectation of ever talking to her again, but it was still difficult not to dwell on her charming accent or her cultured mind.
As fun as The Fine Point was he became more relaxed at night, during The Golden Hour. He shed his suit jacket and vest and talked about whatever struck his fancy. Though he accepted callers he rarely spoke long with them, preferring to dictate himself the direction each program took. He chose, as a topic for the night, Gothic fiction, his literary genre of choice. He was dissecting the merits behind pulp fiction, which he considered the only worthwhile legacy of post-Victorian Gothic fiction, when a caller interrupted his musings. A little peeved he allowed Dove to patch the meddlesome intruder through. At first he thought he was imagining the lilting accent and the throaty voice, but one look at Dove's Cheshire-cat grin let him know that, indeed, he was talking to Miss Belle French.
And, apparently, she was berating him.
"Though I must admit pulp fiction has its merits you're completely disregarding new Gothic romance. You should be ashamed of yourself." The tone was teasing but there was and underlying challenge to the words. "I mean, Algernon Blackwood is all well and good but you can't talk about Victorian and post Victorian Gothic without mentioning Victoria Holt or Phyllis Whitney. Shame on you, Mr Gold."
Gold would've never thought he'd enjoy getting scolded but he felt himself smile as he leaned into the mike
"You don't mean to tell me you rank silly romances on par with The Willows and The Wendigo. Let's be real here, dearie."
His voice sounded much more teasing than mocking, and he was rewarded with a fake snort of derision.
"Time of the Hunter's Moon and Mistress of Mellyn can give dear old Algernon a run for his money. They're not some silly little romances. Holt's heroines were always women of little means constricted by the society of their time who struggled to decide their own fate in spite of their circumstances. They weren't described as particularly pretty, nor was love the culmination of their ultimate goal. I grew up shaped by those books and I don't care to hear then belittled on the radio."
"Change the station then, sweetheart."
His producer raised a "Manners!" sign and waved it in front of the glass partition, but Gold shrugged him off. For a second he got scared that he might have driven the caller away and cursed his natural prickliness. Snarking had become so second nature that he didn't know how to properly talk with intelligent, polite young ladies any...
"I would, but I rather like your accent. Lulls me to sleep."
Dove, safely ensconced in the control room, dropped his sign in surprise, eyes going wide. Gold was doing no better, his mouth opening but no words rushing out. It felt as if his entire brain had short-circuited and he couldn't remember how to string letters together anymore. Finally Dove banged on the glass, a new sign sporting the word "SPEAK" underlined three times held between his hands.
"Yes, well... Flattery won't get me to change my opinion of new Gothic romance," he finally managed to stutter, thrilled when she sighed softly on the other end of the line. He could picture her shaking her head, and his mind came up with brown tumbling locks and perfect lips.
"Well, you can't say I didn't try. Goodnight, Mr Gold."
"Actually, dearie, it's Rumford."
It became a bit of a phenomenon after that. It was not unusual for talk show hosts to have regular callers, but for someone as caustic and unpleasant as Gold to have someone, a young lady, openly flirting with him, it seemed to defy logic. Soon enough Belle became a source of station gossip, aided by the fact that Gold seemed to turn into a mumbling, gooey mess at the mere sound of her voice. Usually she called at night, during The Golden Hour, and their bantering back and forth would amuse the listeners to no end. Afterward she usually stayed on the line and they'd talk more, usually till she yawned and he'd usher her into bed. She was incredibly witty, his Belle, and very well read, seeming to be able to tackle any subject he put in front of her. She was also kind, managing to wrap sullen Dove around her finger with a few nice words and a sincere interest in his life. Gold, however, refused to be jealous of his producer.
Sometimes she'd call The Fine Point, her rather useless father providing her with enough legal and financial problems to need him. Usually she stayed on the line after the show as well, Rum providing her with more careful instructions to help. He noticed how worried and overwhelmed she seemed at times by her father's bumbling ways and cursed the man for forcing his daughter to look after him as if he was the child.
Nolan got into the annoying habit of patting him on the back after he finished wrapping up a show that had featured Belle, calling him a "dog" and trying to male-bond in some sort of primitive, unbecoming way while telling him he was "the man". It baffled and pleased him in equal measure. Whale, on the other hand, looked him up and down like he couldn't fathom the situation at all. Hopper took the fact that he was treating one caller politely to mean he was approachable so he tried to smile at him in the hallway one day. Big mistake.
It took him a while to gather the courage to give her his personal number. It was late at night, both of them so immersed in an argument regarding the best Bette Davis movie they barely noticed the time till Belle let out a yawn and he noticed it was way past midnight and he was still at the station.
"You should go to bed, Belle."
"'m already in bed." In her drowsy state her voice got deeper and her choice of words certainly didn't help his sanity. He could imagine her, snuggled into bed and cradling the phone to her ear, the very picture of homely seduction.
"But you're not asleep, so it doesn't count."
"I want to finish our conversation, though. Should I call next show?"
He was rather tired of his very public crush being paraded around so he gathered enough courage to suggest in the most off-handed tone he could manage, that she call his cell-phone. For a long time she said nothing, prompting the butterflies in his stomach to flutter around wildly, threatening to give him an ulcer.
"You wouldn't mind?"
The relief was palpable, Gold sagging into the chair he was sitting on as his entire body relaxed.
"Of course not. You're barking mad if you think I'm going to allow you to keep on thinking that All About Eve is better than Now, Voyager."
She harrumphed, a lovely sound that had him smiling the most idiotic grin possible for a man of his age and demeanour. He gave her his private number then quickly hung up, willing himself not to panic. Still, the idea that he'd made terrible mistake haunted him through the following day, until he arrived home from the shop only to feel his cell-phone vibrate inside his the pocket of his suit jacket. He fished it out immediately, discarding his leather gloves to press the answer button with more force than a touch-screen cell-phone merited.
"Now let me explain to you again the beauty of All about Eve..."
If someone had told Gold months ago that his closest, healthiest, most fulfilling relationship was conducted over the phone he'd scoffed and probably mocked the speaker in some way or the other. Belle had caught him unawares, and he'd been half in love with her before he'd realized he was in too deep. He kept it platonic, figuring some Belle in his life was better than no Belle. She was interesting to talk to, and kind even when he was beastly. It was ridiculous how it took a five-minute conversation with her to turn his fucking day around and so he turned a blind eye to the blatant gossip on the station, as long as no one bothered him. Belle would still call during his show, sometimes, especially when he was being a bit too sadistic with his callers. Dove would patch her through with a grateful look she couldn't appreciate and she'd pretend to have some dire legal problem, her father's actually, that would be a mere excuse to talk him down from his "I've lost faith in the sodding human race" mood.
Though he appreciated and welcomed those calls he very much preferred those he received at home. He was still very wary of calling her, fearing he'd intrude on her time, bother her and ruin the relationship. Belle, blissfully, seemed to have no problem calling him and, gradually, they confided more personal matters on each other. He spoke of his failed marriage and estranged son, who he missed but was afraid to reach out to. In turn she spoke of her own fears and frustrations, about her hopeless father and how difficult it'd been to put herself through college. She had dreams too, of adventure and far off places that she kept tucked safely into her heart, very much aware of her limited circumstances. He itched to tell her he'd take her anywhere she wanted to go, no strings attached, but the words got stuck on his throat and turned to ashes. He wasn't blind, he knew he was a scrawny man very much past his prime with a bum leg and greying hair. Belle, on the other hand, was barely reaching the end of her twenties, and sounded vibrant and full of life. She'd never want him, and with good reason. Better not try to ask for more than he deserved.
It'd been a frustrating day. Rent Day almost always was, subjected to hearing people's excuses as they asked for more time in which to pay. Though he didn't mind being painted a dastardly villain it rankled at him, sometimes, how people could quickly shift the blame away from themselves and onto some cartoonish evil figure. The bed looks and the sneers were bad enough, but sometime people went the extra mile and sough a physical confrontation. As a result he'd winded up with a sour disposition and a splintered cane, his favourite one to boot.
The moment he walked into his home in Back Bay he shed his suit jacket, ripped off his vest and poured himself a hefty dose of Scotch, downing the drink quickly in order to refill the glass. He discarded his cane on the foyer, taking out a spare one he had till he could get the other repaired and climbed the stairs to his bedroom, wondering at the hubris that had made him discard the bedrooms on the ground floor in favour of a bigger but far more inconvenient room upstairs. Once he entered it its vastness mocked him, highlighting his loneliness. Though somewhat cluttered with antiques and such his bedroom remained a cold, unwelcoming place devoid of personality or appeal. He fetched the bottle of 50-year-old Chivas Regal Royal Salute that he kept stashed on the back of his closet and poured himself another drink, trying to drown the urge to fish out his cell phone and make a call.
In the end his phone rang all by itself and he lunged for it, almost dropping it to the floor in his haste to grab it. He pressed the answer button before he could accidentally disconnect the call, trying to get a grip on himself.
Her name on his lips was wrapped in wonder and warmth, the slight alcohol buzzing in his veins making him less guarded than usual. She made a small, understanding noise on the back of her throat and he shivered, crawling into bed and propping a few pillows against the headboard for comfort.
"Bad day? You sound tired."
It was a novelty, having someone who'd ask about his day, who'd care. He carded a hand through his hair, feeling some of the tension drain out of him.
"Sometimes being a landowner loses some of its appeal. It's nothing, dearie, don't worry for this old beast."
"You're not old. I can tell. And you're not a beast, though you do tend to growl a lot."
Her gentle teasing made his blood boil in a pleasant way. Combined with the alcohol Rum could feel the grievances of the day fading from his mind.
"You sound tired too, sweetheart."
The pet name came out of nowhere, and the moment it left his lips he wished to take it back, to hide from it. Belle didn't seem to mind, whoever. He could hear her struggling on the other end of the phone and then a popping sound. When it was followed by the sound of a liquid being poured he surmised she'd served herself a glass of wine.
"Gruelling day, but that's good. The bookstore's busy and I've managed to get out from another blind date arranged by Rory."
Rumford didn't much like Aurora, one of Belle's friends who was determined to find her a beau from amongst her boyfriend's single friends. They didn't go beyond dinner and a movie but it still bothered him for someone to thrust Belle into the waiting arms of some irresponsible young buck who wouldn't appreciate her like she deserve. Like he did.
"I'll toast to that."
He took another swig of Scotch then promptly grabbed the bottle to refill his glass. Someone, Gold couldn't exactly say who, proposed a topic of conversation and time flew by as they bantered back and forth. At some point, he wasn't sure when, the conversation became personal. Rum could tell Belle was getting tipsier and tipsier and he thought of stopping her but he was in no position to judge, as the two-thirds empty bottle of Scotch on his nightstand could testify.
"Is it hot in there? 'cause it's starting to get hot in here. Strange."
"That's the alcohol talking, sweetheart."
She made a noncommittal sound and then he heard the unmistakeable sound of clothing being pulled off and tossed onto the floor.
"I think it's your voice." Belle's pitch had lowered, an innocently sultriness coating her words. "It makes me feel all warm and tingly."
He almost swallowed his tongue along with the Scotch, blood rushing to his groin instantly. He bit his tongue to contain a moan and was only half successful. His mind starting scrambling for answers, trying to find a way in which her words made sense other than the obvious one because, surely, she didn't mean...
"When you get angry your brogue deepens and even though I can barely understand what you say I feel myself blushing and my breathing quickening. I feel guilty about how I wish a caller would tick you off, sometimes."
"Belle, sweetheart, you don't mean this, surely..."
His words were little more than a desperate whine, all of his attention concentrating on keeping the last shred of his control from snapping. On the other end of the line Belle tutted, as if scolding a misbehaving child.
"You don't get to tell me what I feel and what I don't. Do you want to hear something funny, Rum?"
He could imagine her lips wrapping around his name, plump and red and perfect and he keened, a sound more befitting a dog than a man. He agreed all the same, digging the nails of the hand not holding the phone on the bed.
"I used to try and get out of Rory's arranged blind dates because I was happy being on my own and didn't want a man. But lately I've found that I do want a man, just not one Rory can fix me up with."
Underneath the provocative tone he thought he spotted a hint of vulnerability. It drew him in even more, and coupled with the alcohol it lowered his inhibitions, chased away his doubts and insecurities.
"Good girls don't wish for monsters, dearie," he chided her, his tone turning dark and full of promise. He let the Scotch talk for him, saying what he didn't dare to. "Aren't you a good girl?"
He could hear her breathing become quick and shallow, and could picture her biting her lower lip and closing her eyes as her cheeks flushed.
"Not at all. Not tonight."
He chuckled at her words, a raspy sort of laugh that helped bleed the last bit of tension out of him.
"And who are you tonight then? A bad girl?"
"Nope." She popped the "p" teasingly. "Your girl. And you're mine."
He wanted to agree frantically, to tell her that yes, he was hers, always, for as long as she'd take him and more. He'd been hers for weeks, almost since he'd first heard her voice and it felt glorious to hear her acknowledge her claim.
"Always, sweetheart. And what will you do with me, now that you have me?"
Life had made Rumford Gold a wary man, skittish and unwilling to let others have power over him, which is why it came as such surprise how eager he was to put himself at her mercy. It excited him, a new buzzing overcoming that of alcohol in his veins.
"I'd card my hands through your hair. You're always complaining about how it's getting too shaggy and in need of a cut but I bet I'd love it. I'd gently scratch your scalp, watching you shiver in response. I think you'd be amazingly sensitive. And you're so wound up sometimes, darling, that I want to feel your relax under my touch..."
He was hardly relaxing, his cock growing hard and straining against his underwear and pants. He could almost feel phantom fingers in his hair, sharp nails gliding across his scalp, tracing nonsensical patterns and fought the groan that was threatening to pass his lips.
"I'd linger on your nape, since I have a thing for necks, and then knead the space between your shoulder blades till you arched and became soft and pliant..."
He made an appreciative noise and shifted around in the bed, feeling pleasantly uncomfortable and hot.
"What are you wearing, darling?"
Her voice was like silk, cool and slippery as it washed over him, making his skin tingle. For a moment he basked in it, in its cadence and the obvious hint of arousal he could hear. It took him a while to realize she'd actually asked him a question and was expecting an answer. He looked down at himself and struggled to turned what his eyes saw into words.
"I... I was wearing a full suit, but I discarded the jacket and vest and my shoes too. I have a shirt and suit pants on."
He cursed himself for his lack of ingenuity, thinking he sounded as far from sexy as was humanly possible. On the other end of the line Belle hummed, the vibration seeming to transfer straight to his groin.
"You still have your tie on, don't you? That's no way to relax." She scolded him ever-so-gently, and there was an undertone of caring that warmed him from the inside out. "If I were there I'd loosen your tie and then slide it off slowly, feeling you relax further beneath my hands..." She sighed, longing seeping into her voice. "I'd make you lie down on your bed and straddle you, reaching out to unbutton your shirt, idly running my hands over your chest and ribs to try and dispel some of the tension. I'd take care of you, such good care..."
He whimpered, trying to remember how to breathe. There was something incredibly erotic about the idea of someone taking care of him, soothing him after a bad day. He'd been alone for too long and had never felt the urge to give anyone power over him. Belle had somehow broken through every single one of his defences, had burrowed deep inside of him and now he didn't want to let her go.
"I'd pause to watch your face, see the weariness melt out and hunger settle in. Your hands would land on my hips, your touch so hot I could feel it through the jersey of my dress and then you'd travel upwards, at first just stroking. Just feeling me over you, near you, soft and eager and yours..."
He groaned, fisting the hand not holding the phone in the duvet beneath him. With shaking fingers he undid the buttons of his shirt, hastily untucking it from his pants. He could almost feel her hands on him, and the "almost" was killing him.
"You'd feel so good, your weight on me, your warmth... I'd reach out to the zipper of your dress, dragging it down slowly, meticulously, while you wiggle above me, impatient and eager..." He paused as he distinctly heard the sound of a zipper on the other end of the line. His nostrils flared, as if trying to catch the scent of a woman who wasn't there.
"Take it off, Belle. Please. Take it off for me."
He wanted no more of the make-believe scenario. She wasn't there with him and it was no use pretending otherwise. But if he'd learnt something working at a radio station it was that words had power and could connect two people no matter the distance between them. A rustle of fabric let him know that Belle had done as he'd asked, and it thrilled him to be able to reach out to her in such a way.
"What are you wearing now? Let me see you."
She understood him immediately, for which he was glad.
"I'm... I'm wearing a rose-coloured balconnete bra. It's lacy and a touch sheer..." The sudden vulnerability in her voice disarmed him. "With matching shorts. And nude stockings, of course. Thigh-highs, didn't want to bother with a garter belt today."
The fact that she owned a garter belt alone had him almost howling. He was old-fashioned in his choices of attire but was acutely aware that he was an oddity in today's world, so it thrilled him to find out Belle shared his quirk.
"Temptress..." he growled into the mouthpiece of the phone, hear her chuckle lowly in response, some of her hesitation bleeding out. "I want you to grasp the elastic band of your stockings and peel them off of you, one at a time. Slowly, sweetheart. I want you to enjoy this."
He felt newfound confidence fill him, a mixture of alcohol and the headiness of the moment getting to him. Belle was on the other end of the line, stripping for him, hearing only his voice, only him. She could not see his crippled ankle, nor his age, she could only hear his hunger, his need for her.
"They're off." Belle sounded the littlest bit unfocused, breathless. He felt so as well, his head slightly muzzy. "Your shirt. On the floor. Now."
Something in him felt the immediate, almost visceral urge to obey her and he did so immediately, shrugging the garment off and tossing it aside carelessly. He wanted her to hear what a good boy he was being for her, how obedient and pliant and worthy of reward. A sudden spark of genius struck him and he fumbled with his phone to put her on speaker, thanking God that, as much as he loathed modern technology sometimes, he'd made a conscious effort to keep up with it.
"Good." He could practically taste the devious little smile on her lips. "I want you to unbuckle your belt next and unbutton your pants. No removing them, though."
The faint hint of warning in her voice sent a shiver down his spine, his hips eager to thrust forward into thin air. He did as he was told, his fingers clumsy on the leather of his belt, way too eager to be in any way coordinated. Finally he managed to unbuckle the damn thing, sliding it off the loops of his pants before attacking the button and fly. He itched to continue, to drag the material down his legs and chucked it carelessly to the floor but her contained himself. Belle would surely hear and not approve and he so wanted to please her...
"All done, sweetheart." He caught faint keening sounds coming from the other end of the line and his imagination started supplying his mind with a thousand and one different scenarios. "Where's your hand, Belle? What are you doing?"
She took her time answering, the noises becoming more frequent and pronounced, teasing him. "I'm feeling the scratchy lace of my bra, cupping my breasts and imagining it's your hands on me, rougher and larger than my own. It helps when you talk, I can almost imagine you here, with me."
Half of him wanted nothing more than to coax her address out of her and abuse his Cadillac to get to her as soon as possible. The other part of him liked the situation as it was and wanted to explore it further.
"Touch yourself, Belle, for me. Begin by tracing a hand down your collarbone, teasing the bare tops of your breasts with feather-like touches. While the sensation remains fresh slowly slip your fingers inside the bra, at first tentatively but then more firmly. I'm there with you, sweetheart, enjoying the sight of your hands on your body." He paused, doubting his next words before he decided to just blurt them out. "You're making me so hard, Belle."
Her sharp intake of breath had him almost panicking, but it was almost immediately followed by a keening sound that was definitely approving. Emboldened by his success he pressed on. "And you? Are you getting wet for me, my darling?"
Her answering "Yes!" was flatteringly emphatic, and he could hear the rustle of the sheets as Belle wiggled on the bed. "So much. I need..." She seemed to be struggling for words, and there was an undeniable power behind rendering a woman such as Belle temporarily speechless.
"I'll give you what you need, sweet." He crooned, enjoying the role reversal. He itched to touch himself, even through his pants, but the unspoken rules deemed that decision Belle's to make.
"Take off your bra. I want the cool air touching your nipples, making them tighten and harden." He waited for her to do as he bid and let the background sounds guide his fantasy of what was going on in her own bedroom. Finally she settled down again and the notion that she was one flimsy scrap of lace away from being naked was sheer heaven. "I want you to use your hands to stroke your breasts, cupping them first and then massaging them slowly. You know how to make yourself feel good."
It seemed like forever that he lay in his bed, listening to Belle fondle herself. He could almost imagine her, pale skin blushing disarmingly and eyes closed, writhing in bed, her hips slightly thrusting upwards.
"You're not the only one allowed to play." She was the right mixture of breathless and determined and he almost went mad with the urge to touch himself. "I want you to run your hands down your chest slowly, lingering where it feels good, drawing lazy circles around your nipples, the barest touch of your nails against the buds. Light, Rum, really light."
Light was sheer, undiluted torture but he did as she bid, biting his tongue to keep himself in check. He tried to imagine smooth skin instead of rough fingertips, picturing the hungry look in her eyes, the desire in them for him and him alone. He finally reached the fabric of his underwear and paused.
"Belle, please, tell me more. Please, please..."
She chuckled on the other end of the line, low and throaty and wonderful. He whined in response, the sound more fit for a dog begging for scraps than for an adult man wishing for permission to touch himself.
"Slide your fingers into your underwear for me, honey."
He almost cried out in triumph as he followed her orders, stopping short of taking himself in hand. She hadn't told him he could so he wouldn't.
"If I were there I'd wrap my fingers around your cock..." The way she said 'cock', without a trace of embarrassment, had him almost coming. "Do it for me, Rum. Please."
He followed her orders eagerly, his right hand taking a hold of his erection, feeling the vein on the underside of his prick throb. He was hot and painfully hard, and incredibly relieved that Belle wasn't actually there to see the sorry state he was in after some fondling and talking.
"I bet you'd feel amazing..." She sighed longingly and his erection twitched on his grip.
"You mustn't say such things. I'm not gonna last if you do."
A part of him was ashamed to have admitted to it, wanting to crawl under the sheets and be done with it. Belle, however, didn't laugh or comment on it.
"I need you, Rum. What are you gonna do to me?"
He could picture her lying amongst cream satin sheets, one of her hands still kneading her breasts and the other stroking bellow her belly-button, eager to explore beneath the lace of her underwear. If he were there he'd tear that scrap of lace off of her to be able to kiss his way downwards till his mouth was flush against her cunt. He told her all that, memorizing the way her breath hitched when he said the word 'cunt'. Deeply aware he was leaving her unsatisfied he struggled to form words, orders.
"Listen carefully, sweetheart. I want you to shimmy out of those useless knickers of yours and spread your lips apart. I want you to get your fingers wet and ready."
It was her turn to keen as she did as he'd told her. His fingers tightened around his cock as he strained to hear as much as he could. She seemed to be trying not to make a sound, no doubt by biting down on her lower lip. The image alone was titillating.
"No smothering your little cries, sweetheart. I want to hear you scream so I know you want this as much as I do. I'm so ready for you, Belle. Are you ready for me?"
She mewled in response, sounding like she was almost in pain. He felt very much the same, walking some fine line between ecstasy and torture.
"Push your pants and underwear down and stroke yourself. No soft touches, no gentleness. I want you to rub yourself raw. I want you to squeeze your cock the way I would if you were inside me. I want you to burn like I am."
Belle had never sounded so demanding and fucking hot. He followed her orders to the letter, kicking off the rest of his clothing and feeling pre-cum coat his fingers as they slid over his aching erection, the grip and pace brutal. The only thing keeping him from coming was the fact that he needed to take care of Belle.
"Sweetheart, I want you to slide two fingers inside your pussy, as deep as you can go. Let yourself get used to the feeling, don't try to rush things." He waited as she did as told; listening as he cried grew more frantic. "Now I want you to add another finger inside you, Belle, and pick up the pace. Ride your hand like you'd ride me, hard and fast. I can almost imagine you above, like some avenging goddess stacking her claim."
She begged him to keep talking and he did, alternating filth with sweet nothings. Belle sounded on the brink of orgasm but could never quite get there and he knew he wouldn't be able to hold off his own release for much longer.
"Press your thumb against your clit, Belle. Hard. Imagine it's my tongue bumping against it as I eat your pussy out and you make the most decadent little noises. Fuck, Belle, please..."
She let out a shrill cry and his balls tightened, his only warning before he spilled himself, warm cum staining his lower belly. He slumped against the pillows, sweat sticking his hair to his face and covering most of his body. On the other end of the line Belle seemed to be coming down from her own orgasm, whimpering softly and breathing harshly. For a long time they were content with sharing only the sound of their breathing as it stabilized. He shivered and sluggishly climbed under the covers, his lax muscles barely cooperating.
"Have lunch with me. Tomorrow."
Her voice caught him almost by surprise and he seemed to need forever to decipher the meaning of the five words she'd spoken.
"Hamburgers, perhaps? At Spinner's?"
He knew the dinner well, a cosy little place near to the radio station.
"Yes. After the show."
She smiled, he was sure of it.
"It's a date."
"It's a date."
Cancelling was a coward's way out, but Gold knew of no other. He'd woken up the day after with a groggy head and a sinking feeling somewhere on his stomach. It'd been a mistake. Belle must have been imagining a whole different man, a fitter and more attractive one. Younger, even. And she deserved such a man, a far better one that he was. He cancelled once hoping she'd take the time granted to think things through and see things his way and quietly desist from meeting him.
When she called to reschedule he mumbled something about work that even to his ears sounded asinine and completely made up. But maybe if he let her see that he was avoiding her on purpose she'd stop, out of wounded pride or anger. But like best laid plans that didn't go over like he expected, so he resigned himself to avoiding her calls. After a few days she blissfully stopped trying to contact him.
Like any mentally-healthy person he took his pain and anger out on everyone around him, becoming even more vicious to his callers and to people in general, including his now-terrified colleagues. Hopper could no longer look at him in the eye and every time he spotted him he turned to briskly walk the other way. Whale eyed his warily, trying to make himself small when in his presence. Nolan was the only unaccommodating one, still clapping him on the back and trying to get him to talk things over a beer. He'd made it very clear that every time his cane make contact with his foot was not an accident.
Dove was the only one unfazed, either too tall or too stoic to feel intimidated. But he kept quiet and didn't pry, which was good enough. And it was easy enough to disregard the quiet looks of disapproval the giant sent his way, or his little passive-aggressive gestures.
He didn't like to linger at the station, but sometimes paperwork and such made it unavoidable and, though usually Dove took care of it, he'd adamantly refused to do so as of late. He hid in an empty meeting room to try to get through the tedious task when a blushing Hopper interrupted him.
"Mr... Mr Gold, there's s-s-someone looking for you. A... a f-f-fan, I b-b-believ-ve."
"Tell them to fuck off."
He seemed to blush even deeper at the use of profanity, trembling like a leaf, but he shook his head nevertheless.
"They won't leave. Jefferson says you have to deal with it."
He grabbed his cane violently, pulling himself up and taking pleasure in seeing Archie recoil, as if afraid he's strike him. Reluctantly he let the shrink direct him to the lounge, a place he avoided like the plague since it usually involved socializing with people. When he entered the room the scene was peculiar to say the least. Whale and Nolan were in a corner, gaping at someone. Whale seemed almost in physical pain and Nolan had the beginnings of a silly grin on his face. Mary Margaret was huddled together with Ruby and her grandmother, both having arrived early for their show, and they seemed as nonplussed as the rest, Ruby sporting a wicked grin and Granny looking somewhat impressed. And in the midst of it all Gold spotted the newcomer, a short brunette with sky-high nude heels, a rose-coloured pleated skirt and a dark, chequered blouse. She seemed to be carrying a brown paper bag and two iced teas. Though he was sure he'd never seen her before there was something almost familiar about her, from the blue of her eyes to the tumbling curls.
"I've been informed you're looking for me, miss...?"
She smiled, all fire and steel and he felt the sudden urge to take a step back, even though it was ridiculous. She was a mere slip of a girl, tiny and delicate. He wasn't about to let her intimidate him.
"French. Belle French."
Those words had an immediate effect on him. His palms started sweating, his pulse accelerated and a tiny voice inside of him started crowing because she was absolutely beautiful, more than he'd imagined, and he'd brought such a stunning woman to orgasm. The rest of him froze, as if some self-defence mechanism was trying to prevent him from screwing things up by doing anything at all. Belle didn't seem to have that problem because she advanced towards him, leaving the bag and the drinks on a nearby table before stopping an inch or so away from him, close enough that he could smell the faint scent of berries that clung to her.
"Belle..." The longing in his voice was plain for everyone to hear so he struggled to pull himself together. "You shouldn't be here."
"Don't tell me what to do, Rum. I could've handled it if you'd just come out and said you thought this," she gesture to herself and then him "was a mistake. I'm a big girl, I can take it. But you weren't upfront with me. And I have to hear from someone else that you're moping around, being an ogre to everyone and a self-deprecating idiot in private." Someone had clearly sold him out and he'd hunt whoever that was down and strangle them. But, all of a sudden, Belle's eyes softened and she raised her hands to adjust the lapels of his suit jacket, causing him to almost shudder at the contact.
"I brought hamburgers and iced tea. You can either tell me you don't want to eat lunch with me and I'll take them away or you can tell me you were being an unmitigated idiot and deciding things for my sake and I can accept your apology and we can have lunch. Your choice."
He wanted to tell her he was an utter and complete idiot and just crush her to him but the more he saw her, small, gorgeous and perfect, the less he thought he deserved her. He'd only make her unhappy in the long run, too much of a beast to be beside such a beauty. And it wasn't just about her appearance. Belle was... light and kindness. Too good for him.
"Belle... I don't think you understand..." Wrong thing to say, judging by the look on her face so he tried again. "I don't think we'd... work. In person."
She seemed to give his new argument some careful consideration and he didn't know whether to feel relieved or upset about it. Finally, she shrugged.
"Only one way to find out."
One moment he was standing a somewhat-respectable distance from Belle and the next he had his arms full of her, her hands winding around his neck and her lips closing around his own. He froze, fire spreading through him as he savoured the feel of her curves against him and then something connected inside his brain and he was kissing her back, his hands helping her stay on her tip-toes as she tilted her head to the side so she could kiss him deeper, coaxing his mouth open with gentle licks of her tongue and a hand delving into his hair. He eagerly accepted her tongue in his mouth, barely remembering not to moan loudly since they weren't exactly alone. Her fingers in his hair weren't helping him hold on to his last shred of self-control but he tried to nevertheless, even when Belle licked the roof of his mouth and he felt himself harden almost instantly.
As suddenly as she'd stepped into his arms she was gone, carefully disentangling his arms from around her waist. He bit back a whine of protest, aware of Whale's bug-eyed stare and Nolan's "Atta boy" look. He was pretty sure the sportsman was itching to clap him in the back and try to male-bond, as much as the good doctor was dying to cut him open with a rusty scalpel. He shuddered.
He nodded dumbly and grabbed the brown paper bag, Belle picking up the drinks and following him out of the lounge and in the direction of the meeting room he'd vacated minutes ago. On the way Gold spotted Dove, a small smile on his face. He ignored the hulking man completely but was forced to pause when he realized Belle was no longer following him. When he turned he saw she had her arms around the giant and was struggling to reach his cheek with her lips. Dove obligingly bent down so she could peck him, a faint blush colouring his features.
"Thanks for the heads-up, Dove. And I hope you have fun today at your niece's birthday. She'll love her present."
"Thank you, Miss Belle."
With those words the towering man was gone, Gold just realizing his producer was a treasonous double agent without a shred of loyalty. Or maybe he was loyal, just not to him.
"Did you know Dove makes ceramic unicorns?"
Clearly he didn't know the man at all. At the moment, however, he couldn't be bothered with it.