The image of Joey’s eyes on me as the elevator door close hunts me throughout the next day. I keep looking up even during the most heated discussions, unconsciously searching the crowd for a flash of white blond hair. I catch myself trying to remember the smell of him when we stood close, the feeling of his arm on mine, the dimples that showed when he smiled instead of wearing his usual sneer.
Despite all effort I do not see a hint of him during the whole day. Oddly enough, even his followers seem to be either vanished or wandering around aimlessly without their leader. Late at night Vanessa shows up at the hotel bar, followed by her pack of girlfriends. My mood soars up watching them stick their heads together, Vanessa looking sourly and shooting daggers at any male who dares to approach their table. An hour later they leave again.
In the end it is only reluctantly that I retreat back to my room after the bar closes, having had not a drop of alcohol and hoping the whole time, Joey would finally show up.
Well, apparently the bastard has lost interest.
I am in the bathroom when I hear someone pounding at my door. It sure as hell feels like my heart stops and I freeze with my toothbrush in hand. The toothpaste tube falls into the sink as I hastily place everything back, checking with a fleeting glance into the mirror that this time I am not in my pajamas or anything worse before darting from the bathroom to open.
It is him.
He stumbles into the room, panting, visibly sweating and makes a beeline for the recliner in one corner. I only get a glimpse of wide blue eyes before he plops down in it and buries his head in his hands.
I close the door and approach him hesitantly. “Joey?”
He takes a shuddering breath and groans.
I kneel down in front of him. “What’s wrong?” I touch one of his knees but shy away when he flinches.
Joey makes another muffled sound behind his hands.
He sighs, rubbing his eyes before looking at me. The icy blue has dulled slightly. “I said: don’t stop.”
“I have shitty reflexes, is all.”
I place slightly trembling hands on his knees, rubbing soothing circles into them. He leans back, groaning.
“Where is your cane?”
Joey answers without opening his eyes: “I think she took it.”
My hands grab his knees harder than intended. “What? That Vanessa bitch? What the fuck is that whore thinking-“
“Can’t blame her, can I? Already ran away once, she wanted to be sure I could not get away again.” His voice is distant as he says that. “Good luck with that.”
I bristle. “That fucking stupid- She is going to pay for that!”
Joey gets hold of my hand as I jump up, effectively making me lose my balance and topple over him. Somehow I can prevent myself from crashing into him, bracing myself against the back of the recliner next to his head.
“I hate her,” I squeak, suddenly oh so close to his lips.
“She is not worth a mere thought,” he whispers, running the back of his left hand down the side of my face, making me shiver violently.
He drowns my weak retort by pulling me closer gently and nipping at my lower lip. I moan and melt into his lap, brushing our lips together. His tongue is probing, gently, his lips are softer than anything I ever tasted. His head jerks a little before he breaks the kiss.
He balls a fist into the fine material of my silken blouse. “M-my father wants me to marry her.”
I freeze on top of him. “What?”
Intentionally or not, he pushes me back roughly and I hastily try to get my feet under myself to not fall on the floor, glowering at him.
“Will you marry her?”
Joey shifts. “No. Course not. Are you crazy?” But his eyes will not meet mine.
“Your father will be disappointed.”
He grimaces and settles back in the recliner. “Oh yes.”
“He will cut you from his will.”
He frowns, placing his hands on the armrests. “He most definitely will.”
“No more Ferrari. No more real good Chianti.” I sit on the bed, crossing my legs.
He rubs his temples again with his knuckles, barely manages to smooth out the lines of pain on his forehead and chuckles drily. “That too.” He looks at the ceiling, rolling his shoulders. “You know you can really kill the mood, right?”
I watch him, frowning. “Come here.” I pat the mattress next to me.
Joey sighs and struggles to get out of the low seating without the help of his cane, falling back into it two times before he manages to push off completely on the third try. I do not even ask if he might like any help. I feel heat rushing to my stomach and flow to my vagina as I watch him take the few steps to the bed, his legs bent and feet turned inward, his elbows bent as well and hands in lose fists.
The mattress dips when he sits with some distance between us. I crawl towards him on all fours and sit behind him, wrapping my arms around him, feeling the muscles in his back spasm. No wonder he is sore. My back aches in sympathy. I press my lips into his neck, between some strands of hair. “It’s your choice,” I whisper, breath tickling the sensitive skin.
He shivers. “I know.”
It takes several minutes sitting in silence, me holding him, until I feel him relax against me a little.
“Sometimes I just wish… I… ah…”
“Hm...?” I inhale the smell of his skin, his hair.
“Do you know how it is to always keep your head up? Like… all the fucking time?”
I let one hand ghost over his neck and dig my fingertips into the knots I can feel. Joey shudders. I feel the low rumble of a groan in my other hand currently lying over his chest.
“Hm... yeah.” I do not elaborate. This is not about me.
“I… just sometimes I am so tired. I am so tired of always watching out, of never letting my guards down once, of never showing a sign of weakness because I know… I know…”
He is trembling against me.
“Shh… It’s okay.” I pull him closer again, hugging him tight, to the point of where it might be too much, might even hurt, but he does not complain. “You don’t need to… pretend for me, you know?”
I feel him swallow. “Thanks.”
Minutes go by in silence. Joey sighs as my fingers work their way up again, along the side of his arms, the side of his neck. They brush through his hair, caress his head. “Emma…”
“Don’t stop that.”
I take my second hand up, too, my fingers massaging the skin of his head in slow circles. Joey positively purrs and I feel the knot in my stomach untighten.
“Emma… can I…” His voice is merely a whisper.
“Can I stay the night?”
My fingers stop, then resume their work. “Of course.”
--> Part IV