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Excerpt Chapter 27: The Devil Does Indeed Wear Prada; Maya Rising (Last Call for Caviar, vol. 2)

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Abdul is standing on the balcony, his back to the door when I enter the second floor salon. I stop for a moment, my gaze roaming over the breadth of shoulders tapering to a slim waist and hips. He's clad in a pale blue, long-sleeved shirt, cuffs rolled to mid-forearm, and jeans. Nevertheless, his natural elegance makes it seem as though he’s dressed in black tie.

Thick, straight black hair brushes the collar of his shirt. I remember that beneath his shirt, his chest and arms are heavily muscled and that his smooth skin is the color of caramel and cream.

He senses my presence and turns to face me. His gaze takes in my turquoise and silver dress, my high heeled sandals, make-up and the deliberately seductive disarray of my hair. I feel the heat of his gaze as it flicks over my breasts through the fabric of my low-cut dress. I clutch my shawl closer, covering my breasts from his scrutiny.

“Damn Lucy Brown!” I think to myself. “Why did I let her tart me up like this? I feel like an expensive whore.”

“Maya,” Abdul's voice is clipped as he gestures for me to come further into the room. “So you're back?”

“It’s good to see you, Abdul. Thank you for meeting with me,” I say. My voice sounds shaky and hesitant.

He turns away and pours me a glass of champagne from the bottle nestled in a silver bucket on a table by his side. I swallow half the glass in one go, and for the first time in eight months gaze closely upon his face.

Clean-shaven male arrogance is etched into each angle and plane. I take in the aristocratic blade of his nose. The once-warm dark eyes, fringed by impossibly long lashes, spit ice. The deliberate thinning of what I once knew as passionately full lips tells me volumes. I feel the pull of his sexual magnetism. I'm shocked at the strength of it and my reaction to seeing him again. It's as though the ions in the air are crackling in an electrical arc connecting us.

Abdul is angry, though it is buried under a veil of icy indifference. I sense the volcano beneath the ice, held in check. He's ready to erupt—not with the passion and affection I once knew—but with something far more dangerous.

There's no doubt there's unfinished business between us. My dilemma is how to defuse the tension of this encounter. I take my courage and guilt in hand. I have to find a way to reach Abdul and make him understand the choices I've made.

“Abdul, I owe you an apology and an explanation for running away. I'm here so we can talk about that. But more importantly, I have information about an imminent attack on Monaco.”

The force from the look he gives me almost feels like a physical blow. Abdul is not in the mood for explanations or apologies. I involuntarily take a step back. He comes towards me. I edge away, my eyes locked with his. I try to remember how far the door is, the one that leads to the staircase and Bilal, who is somewhere below.

His lips curl in a taunting half smile, as he responds: “So you came here to talk, Maya?”

“Yes. I have a lot to tell you. I owe you an explanation why I left the Carpe Diem. Please believe me, I never wanted to hurt you…or make you angry. It wasn't you…If you'll give me a chance and listen, I'll explain everything,” I say.

Abdul doesn't answer. He's not making this easy for me. Instead, he reaches for the champagne and pours himself another glass. He holds up the bottle. “Do you need a refill?”

I shake my head no. The two shots of Cachaça at Anjuli's plus the half glass of champagne have already gone to my head. I need to keep my wits about me.

“Come, Maya, have another glass with me. I insist we toast your homecoming.”

Although Abdul smiles as he refills my glass, I don't like the gleam that leaps into his eyes. There's something very hypnotic and at the same time threatening about it.

I haven't been in his presence for five minutes, but I sense that it's all going wrong. The room's too small; we're too close. I can feel waves of anger emanating from his body. Something's building between us, the tension ratcheting up notch by notch. I feel as though I'm walking a tightrope and about to fall. I risk a glance over my shoulder, gauging the distance to the door. Abdul follows my glance and in a few long strides he's at the door and locks it.

“What? Why are you locking the door?”

“So we won't be disturbed,” he calmly replies, daring me to put another interpretation on it. The taunting smile is back again. “You were saying, Maya?”

I glance around. Other than the balcony and a second-story drop in high-heels, I'm trapped.

“I didn't leave because I didn't value the time we spent together or appreciate all you'd done for me. Your offer of protection…” My apology bounces off the stone façade he's erected. I try again. “I care for you, Abdul. More than you know.”

My remark gets under his icy façade, lowering his suave indifference long enough to demand, “Do you really think you can walk in here after disappearing for eight months—dressed like this—and we're going to talk like old acquaintances?”

“I didn't have any clothes with me. Anjuli lent me these,” I say, cringing inside at how lame this sounds. This meeting is spinning further and further out of control. “I'm sorry for having run away, but it's not what you think. I know you're angry. You have every right to be. I can explain everything, but you're making me nervous.”

“I'm making you nervous, Maya?” He laughs. “But I thought we were old friends.”

I pick up my glass of champagne and take a swallow hoping to buy time and collect my thoughts. A gust of warm wind billows the sheer curtains on each side of the open French doors. I feel sweat beading along the skin between my breasts. Now there’s a trickle sliding down my cleavage.

“And…if I don't feel like listening right now?” He challenges. Something smolders in the depths of his eyes, a flicker of lust, but darker.

“What do you mean?” I stall.

“I think you know exactly what I mean, Maya,” Abdul says, moving closer until we're almost touching. The pull of his physical presence is overwhelming. I can't think clearly.

“I came here to discuss what happened,” I insist, taking a step backwards. I've got to keep some distance between us.

He smiles at that, the dangerous gleam burning brighter. “Are you sure that's all you came here to do, habiba?”

“Yes. That's all…”

“You're a beautiful little liar, my dear,” he says in a husky voice, reaching out to tuck a strand of hair behind my ear. His fingers trail down my neck.

I back further away, but Abdul keeps stalking me around the room, crowding me, closer and closer until he has me cornered, my back against the wall. He reaches out and catches my wrists, anchoring them over my head with one hand. I'm forced to the tips of my toes. I try to pull loose. His grip is like steel.

“You're scaring me, Abdul. Let me go.”

“I thought you liked games, Maya.”

“Not games like this!”

“Then why did you come here dressed for seduction if you didn't come to seduce?”

“I've tried to explain, but you won't listen,” I gasp as his hard chest presses against my breasts. Only the thin cotton of his shirt and the silk of the low-cut bodice separate our skin. His hips thrust into my lower belly and I feel his erection angling towards my navel. I can feel how hard he is. And God help me—I remember how hot, how intense he once felt while pushing into the depths of my body.

There's too much sexual tension smoldering between us. Abdul knows every inch of my body and most of my desires. Maybe even better than I know them myself. What had I been thinking? That we'd have tea and discuss the weather like two civilized old ladies?

Abdul may speak English with a California accent like my own, learned from his years at Cal Tech, yet his command of the idiom might fool one into thinking he was a liberal and modern man. But that would be a mistake. Abdul is from a culture where men have complete control over women. He's a male chauvinist through and through. And whether I want to admit it, it's always been too easy for Abdul to dominate me.

“So talk, Maya. Why are you here? What do you want from me?” His voice is harsh. “I warn you, this time there will be a price to pay.” Abdul's eyes are brilliant in his hard face. Gone is the solicitous lover of old. This is a new Abdul and one I don't know how to handle. But did I ever, truly?

“Please stop. I can't talk like this. Let alone think like this,” I beg, shaking my head.

He ignores my plea. His free arm wraps around my hips and pulls me up tight against his body. He juts his hips between my thighs, supporting my weight. I feel his denim-covered erection nestling against my sex.

Mon Dieu! How could I ever think that I could handle Abdul? I've got a fucking tiger by the tail and if I don't come up with an idea quick—I'm going to get mauled.

All thought—the whole story that I've rehearsed—flies out of my brain as he slowly grinds himself against me. “Please not like this,” I repeat. “Let me go.” I try to fight against it, but my body reacts. God help me, but his smell, the movement of his erection in slow circles against the flimsy barrier of my lace and silk panties, brings an intense rush of desire.

His lips brush along the line of my jaw. “Let you go? Do you really think that's going to happen? You owe me, habiba,” he whispers, his lips moving down the sensitive column of my throat. “And I intend to be repaid.”

He licks my throat, his teeth scraping my flesh. Pleasure races along my nerve endings. His teeth graze my pulse point at the base of my throat and he bites it lightly. My body arches against him as he soothes the spot with his tongue.

I feel his fingers sliding delicately along my thigh, reaching higher, teasing at the edge of my silk panties. When his hand cups my mons Venus and he slowly rubs it, the shock and heat are electric.

“I've missed you, baby,” he growls against my lips as his fingers slip past the flimsy barrier of lace and find the slick heat of my sex. He groans as he slips one finger inside. “You're still so wet for me, Maya.”

Wet for him? What? His words jolt me out of the erotic stupor he's so skillfully woven around me. What am I doing? I freeze and raise my eyes to Abdul's face, where lust burns in his dark eyes. Naked, predatory, they are filled with such heat I feel scorched. Against every notion of common sense, I ache for him too.

We stare into each other’s eyes, and then his mouth is on mine as he slips two fingers inside me. I moan against his lips as he starts thrusting his fingers slowly and rhythmically. My damned treacherous flesh welcomes him, becoming slicker and wetter with each thrust.

God help me. The friction and sensation feels so good. It's been so long. Once I craved Abdul's touch, his seduction, his dominance. My body jerks, and I moan as Abdul's fingers find that sweet, sweet spot deep inside me. I feel an orgasm start to build as his fingers, slick with lubrication from my arousal, commence to do their wicked magic.

He releases my wrists. There's no longer any need to restrain me. I'm so caught up in the madness, the whirl of sensation and pleasure, that I'm his willing accomplice. Our mouths fuse. My hips thrust against the stimulating stroke of his fingers. My hands cling to his shoulders before tangling in his hair, pulling him closer.

He breaks off the kiss and stares down at me with need. With his free hand he pulls down the bodice on my dress from which my breasts spill free. They are heavy, my nipples erect, aching for Abdul's lips. He cups my left breast and then his mouth closes over the bud of my hardened nipple. The scraping of his teeth sends a jolt straight to my groin. He sucks and licks the tip, then bites it lightly; the sensation a mixture of pleasure and pain.

I feel his hand at his belt and hear the faint rasp of his zipper, moments before his erection springs free. Abdul's fingers are withdrawn from inside me; now he's rubbing the head of his cock against the sensitive and swollen lips of my sex.

I don't try to stop him as he eases slowly inside me. Instead, my flesh welcomes the invasion. I know that Abdul is punishing me for my betrayal—for leaving him—by proving to both of us how easily he can make me still want him.

There's no love in this act. It's a pure, dark erotic spell he's cast on me. It’s humiliation and ecstasy at the same time. I know he wants to hurt me, humiliate me, as I did to him. And yet, here I am, balancing on the edge of something so dark and twisted. Arousal and need build inside me. And at this moment, I want and need this chastisement as much as Abdul needs to inflict it.

The first deep thrust sears me. Abdul has always been a master in games of dominance and seduction. I will regret this. But for now, I ache with need, with want as he slowly withdraws and slams into me again. Abdul's hands fist in my hair, pulling my head back until I stare into his eyes. His face is so beautiful— dark and dangerous—as he whispers, “be careful what you ask for, little girl.”

His eyes hold me captive as the thrusts again and again. He watches me through narrowed eyes, and his mouth twist into another half-smile, this one of triumph, at my surrender. I find myself on the brink. The ache is exquisite and I ride its crest higher and higher. And still his eyes hold me captive. His perfect white teeth gleam through parted lips.

“You're so hot, Maya,” he whispers. “I want to feel you come for me, baby.”

Abdul's voice—his yearning—swamps me with a flood of heat and pushes me over the edge. As I feel myself explode, he speaks again, “See how nothing has changed. You still want this, habiba.” His voice is dangerously soft, as he voices his triumph: “All I have to do is touch you, Maya, and you're mine.”

I hear his arrogant words, but I'm lost in a fog of pleasure. Even if wanted to, I can't stop my orgasm expanding and contracting. Waves of pleasure break through my body as the exquisite ache he's built in me finds release.

The last contraction hasn't subsided when, abruptly, Abdul pulls himself out of me and steps away. His body is no longer supporting mine against the wall. I'm falling and land on my backside with a hard thump. My legs are akimbo and my dress pools around my waist. Stunned by his abrupt withdrawal, I'm too weak to move.

I hear the rasp of his zipper and look up. He looms over me, the expression of his face unreadable and cold. I hear his voice—icy indifference with a note of disdain. “Pull yourself together. Now we're going to talk.”

His footsteps move away and return. My shawl lands in my lap. “Cover yourself.”

He walks to the bar and pours himself a tumbler of whisky, then sprawls on the sofa. His pale blue shirt is half unbuttoned, revealing an expanse of smooth muscled skin. His thick hair tousled. Abdul looks impossibly handsome, but icy, remote, and completely in control.

He swirls the whisky around in the glass and raises it to his lips. “Help yourself to a drink, then come over and sit down,” he indicates the chair across from him. “You can start by telling me about this deal of yours. I'm ready to listen now. If I like what I hear,” he pauses and stares into my eyes—the heat is back, “I'll tell you what I want in exchange.”

Abdul sees my hesitation. I'm sure he can read the wariness and fear in my eyes. A half smile plays on his lips as I recollect his whispered threat: “Be careful of what you ask for…”

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Tuesday, 3 January 2017    Section: General Articles
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