See DISCLAIMERS. Also, PLEASE NOTE that this section isn’t exactly safe for work, but it isn’t completely NSFW either, so proceed at your own YES I AM 18 risk.
WHITE IN CHECK
Katja was always gone by the time Denna woke up.
The first time, she’d awoken in the conference hotel room alone and found herself still restrained. Denna had been furious that Mannis had left her in the embarrassing magnetic cuffs, and sat up with a curse, only to discover herself naked from the waist down, her shirt ripped open to expose her chest. She’d blushed so hotly she could feel the heat on the hands she pressed against her face.
She’d soon discovered that Katja had left the key on a bureau on the other side of the room.
After she calmed down, she had to admit it was a sensible precaution. Her first instinct upon waking had been to call [Foster? Marsh? One of the others?], but then she wondered what it was that she could possibly say other than the truth – Mannis had been lying in wait in her room, and then had attacked her…except that wasn’t accurate, now, was it? She hadn’t fought back – she’d been a willing and energetic participant. She couldn’t tell anyone. Now that she’d voluntarily slept with a wanted criminal, wouldn’t she lose her job? Would she be treated as some sort of accomplice for literally sleeping with the enemy?
Naturally, that led to her next question: was Katja still her enemy?
In the end, Denna had done the only sensible thing she could. She pretended that the sex had never happened, and doubled her efforts to find and capture Mannis and King. Her panicked in-depth search of the hotel’s feeds revealed absolutely nothing. She was the only one who knew that Mannis had been there, had been in her room.
If she reflected often about what had happened in that room, she chose not to acknowledge it even to herself.
And then, the Falcon disappeared again. There was nothing on the agency feeds, so Denna started her own datasets, complete off the agency networks. She stored and analyzed the data on her own shadow systems, but there was nothing there either. Katja was nowhere to be found.
Three weeks later, back in Versailles, she was walking from the morning’s team meeting back to her latest temporary home. Renault was making noises about leaving France again, this time to head to Greece. It would be tougher for Foster’s team to work in Athens – their ops weren’t cleared for that country, and if they made the trip, they’d be on their own without backup.
Denna would never say so, but she thought Foster was dragging his feet about making a decision.
She had just finished her second double-backed loop to shake any surveillance and was headed once again in the right direction. Two blocks from the train station, she felt it.
Someone was watching her.
She wasn’t planning to take the train back to her neighborhood. She was suspicious of heavily surveilled areas now, particularly since she knew that King was monitoring the feeds the same way she was. King’s skill was comparable to her own and she alternated between being impressed and frustrated. The station was just another pivot point on the long walk back, but today, she wondered if she could use it to her advantage.
Denna stepped on a crowded commuter car and found a open corner seat directly beneath the camera. She sat with her back to the wall, pulled out her mobile, and hacked into the feeds, trying to catch a glimpse of who was following her.
The feeds were down. That made this train a complete dark zone. Nobody could see her from outside this train, since the cameras were out of commission, but on the other hand, she couldn’t record who was following her for future analysis, if they’d followed her here at all.
Then she felt eyes on her again.
Without moving her head, she looked around the car. No one seemed to be paying any attention to her – all involved in their own lives, conversations, devices – until she noticed the one person looking right at her.
Katja Mannis sat midway through the train, right next to one of the doors, her head mostly covered by the cowl of her coat.
Denna didn’t move a muscle, trapped between wanting to shout, wanting to flee, and wanting to confront Mannis to ask what the hell was going on, but then she drew in a sharp breath.
Katja tipped her head, and the look on her face made promises that had Denna’s body temperature rising. She remembered what that look meant – she’d certainly fantasized about it enough over the last three weeks. Yet while Denna’s body clearly wanted one thing to happen, her mind was conflicted. What was the right thing to do? Call for backup? Chase Mannis down all by herself?
The car slowed and stopped. Mannis raised an eyebrow, almost as if in question, and then stood and strolled off the train as if this were a simple afternoon ride through the city.
Unsure, Denna followed.
Denna got the impression that at any moment, Mannis would disappear. She followed closely enough that Mannis would know she was there, but far enough away that she could disappear herself if she needed. It was an odd dance – and she wondered why she was trusting Mannis this much. It was entirely possible that more of Renault’s goons were nearby and could snatch her again, but she didn’t think that’s what was going on.
It certainly wasn’t what that look on the train had implied.
Mannis approached a lower end hotel and disappeared inside. Denna followed, closing the distance between the two of them.
By the time she caught up, Mannis was stepping inside a door at the end of a short hall.
Denna hadn’t seen another soul, and prayed she wasn’t walking into a trap.
Inside, Mannis’ back was to the door as she stood on the far side of the small room. She removed her coat, and tossed it over a nearby chair. Her arms were held away from her body, revealing that she wasn’t visibly armed, though Denna didn’t think for one moment that she actually was. And then Mannis turned around slowly to face her.
Neither of them spoke. Denna didn’t know what to say. If she opened her mouth, she’d have to explain why she was here, and it would force the issue. Would she try to capture Mannis and take her in? Would Mannis fight back?
With each of them trying to gain the upper hand, would they kill each other?
Their eyes locked as if skittishly watching for one [confrontational move], they stood across the room from one another.
Finally, Katja took a step towards Denna, her palms flat as if easing a frightened animal. Every muscle in Denna’s body prepared for fight or flight, but she knew it was foolish.
Katja wanted her, and Denna would be lying if she tried to convince herself that she didn’t want Katja right back.
By the time Katja stood before her, they were both breathing hard, as if they’d overexerted themselves by simply remaining silent.
And then Katja reached out to grab Denna by the hips and pulled her closer, kissing Denna hard until Denna responded.
Denna ached for more.
She tried not to think about the game she was playing, and it was that – a game. Her job was to track down the very woman she allowed to wordlessly command her in secret bedrooms all over town. Every few weeks, Katja would show up out of nowhere, and guide Denna to some clandestine hotel. They never spoke, not in words, but every moan and gasp was another language. In that way, they were in constant communication.
Katja would wear Denna out until she had no choice but to sleep. When Denna woke up, whether it was seven hours later or only 45 minutes, Katja would be gone.
And then Denna would return to her private and solitary apartment, and resume the official search for a woman everyone else thought was a ghost, but whom Denna could still smell on her skin.
One night, the game changed.
Denna lay flat on her back with one arm thrown over her eyes, her chest heaving as she recovered. The hum of her last orgasm – the fourth or fifth tonight – resonated throughout her body, when suddenly she felt something new.
A soft, light and almost teasing caress across her stomach.
She lifted her arm and looked down her body.
Katja lay naked between Denna’s legs, her arms crossed over Denna’s hips, her head resting on one arm. Her fingers tenderly stroked Denna’s skin, and now that Denna was looking, Katja stared in her eyes.
There was a warmth and tenderness there that Denna had never seen before. From anyone, but certainly not Katja.
They stared for a long time. Tonight, as usual, they hadn’t spoken a word to one another, but the way Katja looked at her was new, and it made Denna’s heart pound differently.
Katja pushed herself up, and in the low light of the room, with her dark hair tousled over the smooth skin of her shoulders, she looked like a goddess to Denna. Katja climbed over Denna’s body, settled her gentle weight into Denna’s arms, and so slowly Denna felt every hush of breath between them, lowered her face and gently brushed her lips across Denna’s.
It was a warm kiss, gentle and achingly kind, full of slow passion. This wasn’t a kiss of conquest. This was a kiss that spoke of things Denna didn’t think were possible, and yet in that moment, she craved every last one of them.
She flipped Katja, rolled over with her, and made the kiss her own.
Though Denna had lost count of how many times they’d touched one another, this was the first time they made love.
When Denna woke, Katja lay in her arms, already awake herself.
Katja raised her head and pressed a sweet kiss against Denna’s lips. Denna’s diaphragm seized. She was elated that Katja was still there, but soon she realized that they had to talk now. There was no avoiding the truth of what was happening.
Katja pulled away just enough to look at her, and there was fear in her eyes.
“What do we do now?” she said, and Denna knew that she didn’t have any answers.
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