A surly lady in tremor (blacknarcissus2) wrote in unrealized,
A surly lady in tremor
blacknarcissus2
unrealized

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More Gangsterverse.

The Date. Erm, apologies for the length of this one, but I couldn't get it to be any shorter.

And thanks to Toni for her Boy - again (including letting me make up some history for him - heh! Sorry, got carried away there), Tracy for her Bastid Boy and to Jess for letting me borrow her Girl for a little while.



Martine scanned through the clothes in her closet as she told herself again that there was absolutely no way she could meet this MacNamara guy. It was ridiculous, out of the question. Not to mention far too dangerous - for both of them. The unbidden thought of what McCloy could and would do to her and to him made her shudder. She forced it from her mind.

And it wasn't as though she'd be breaking a date, she thought as she pulled a knitted dress (not one of the ones McCloy had bought her. No, she'd skimmed straight past those. This had come from home - from before) out, holding it up against her and staring appraisingly into the full length mirror before taking it from its hanger and throwing it onto the bed. She'd never agreed to meet him. He'd just put the note into her purse and...

But was it him? The note hadn't been signed after all, and she didn't know the writing. Well, all that really told her was that the note hadn't been written by McCloy. Unless he'd gotten somebody else to write it for him.

Berating herself for her bout of paranoia, Martine slipped the dress on and looked back at the mirror as she smoothed it down. Cream with a black, asymmetrical design around the bottom and the neckline. Not too much. Classy. Martine had never worn anything but 'classy' before she'd arrived in Chicago. Cream silk stockings and black button-bar shoes completed the look.

Anyway, McCloy was out of town. Véronique had done what was expected of her the other night, so he was meeting his new 'business associate' somewhere to discuss...whatever it was. Martine never asked. She knew McCloy would never tell her and would more than likely give her another bruise for her impudence. She pulled a wry face at herself in the mirror as she picked up her hat, placing it so that the slight brim was half-covering her eyes. Had McCloy been in town, she couldn't have even considered meeting MacNamara. Not that she was going to. Seeing him just to tell him to back off could hardly be construed as meeting him, now could it?

She got her coat and put it on, glancing at the weather out of the window. Mr. MacNamara could hardly expect her to turn up in rain or inclement weather. The sky gleamed bright blue in the winter sunshine. Cold, but hardly inclement. Well, alright then, but it was well past lunch time and, as she put on her gloves and picked up her matching handbag she reasoned that he probably wouldn't be there anyway. Assuming that he'd even turned up in the first place, of course. Or that he'd even written the note.

She opened the apartment door and peered outside. There appeared to be nobody there, although should she run into anybody, then she could easily say that she was just getting out to take some air and that she wouldn't be long. Of course, it would mean that she wouldn't have time to get over to Riverview Park to see...apologise...to Mr. MacNamara, since she'd doubtless be tailed, but that couldn't be helped.

With a last deep breath, she closed the apartment door and made for the street.

~ Oh God, if you ever loved me, let him have written the note. Let him have waited. Let him be there. Please. Just let me see him again. Just this once. ~

MacNamara checked the time, sighed and lit up another cigarette. Ordinarily, he'd have given her half an hour, then found something better to do with his time than wait around for any two-bit hustler.

But then...that was the whole point, wasn't it? She was no hustler. Two-bit, two-dollar or two-grand. She was...she was...

He grinned wryly to himself as glanced down at the growing pile of cigarette butts around his feet, silent testimony to whatever it was she was. He wasn't usually stuck for words. He could rattle 'em off as fast as his Tommy could and they were often more lethal too. No. She intrigued him. That was the word he'd decided on and he was sticking to it until he could come up with a better one to explain how it was he'd rather risk a potentially life-threatening meeting with her than screw any of the other - much safer - whores he and his associates used on a regular basis.

He looked up as the roller coaster thundered by over his head for the thousandth time since he'd taken up position, wondering idly if she'd agree to go on it with him so he could put his arm around her when she screamed in adrenaline-induced fear. Maybe she'd smile at him. He'd never seen her smile, not really - he didn't count her 'work' smile - and he wanted to. Or at least, he wanted to if she turned up.

It didn't cross his mind that she might not turn up because she wasn't interested. Oh no. That much he had seen, even before he'd exchanged his first words with her. No. If she didn't turn up - and she would - it'd be because she couldn't. Because something had happened. Because McCloy had 'happened'. Suddenly worried for her ~ Fuck it, what if the bastard found the note? ~ and cursing himself for maybe putting her in more trouble, he scanned the crowd, nervously.

She was standing there, about thirty feet away from him, watching him. He forced a smug smirk to hide his smile of relief and headed casually over.

As she watched him approach, Martine licked her lips and swallowed nervously. Okay. She could do this. She still didn't quite believe she was standing there - had been standing there for about twenty minutes before he'd noticed her. It would be easy. She'd keep her cool, apologise for keeping him waiting even though she had no idea how long he'd been there, then explain that she really couldn't stay and make a quick exit. After all it was only good manners to at least give him that much.

She got as far as apologising for being late. Then he completely threw her by taking hold of her hand, kissing it and looping it over his arm.

"'S okay. These things happen, and I don't think I mentioned a time."

"No, you...you didn't. But I can't...I have to...I should...Mr. MacNamara, where are you taking me?"

MacNamara grinned down at her flushed face. Damn, but she was fucking adorable when she was all flustered.

"Well, I figured the least you could do is take a stroll with me, since I've been waitin' all this time."

Martine opened her mouth to answer him when her attention was caught by the fact that they were passing the place where she'd watched him standing. The ground was littered with extinguished cigarette butts. She didn't count them, but there were far too many for her brain to tally them by sight alone. Her eyes widened and she looked up at him.

"How long have you been waiting?"

MacNamara shrugged. "Long enough. But I'd've stayed longer. Like I said, I didn't tell you a time and I didn't want you to have a wasted journey just to tell me you couldn't stay."

She nodded absently before his words sank in, by which time he'd stopped too and stood there, waiting for her response. She stared mutely at him, wondering what his game was. Was it just a case of wanting to fuck something that belonged to McCloy? The lure of the forbidden? Was he working on Aileen Foster's instructions? Talk her into bed so she'd sing like a bird? Well that was a non-starter. She knew what McCloy wanted her to know, and no more. Still, Foster and MacNamara didn't know that, did they? Or, was it actually what it seemed on the surface? That he could just want to get to meet her? Talk to her, maybe get to know her? The thought of that being a possibility was what made her decide to throw caution to the wind and risk being wrong.

"I was. That's exactly what I was going to do. And I still think it would be for the best. But...I've changed my mind." She lowered her head slightly and glanced up at him through her eyelashes as she spoke the last, her voice dropping in volume at the same time. MacNamara wanted to grin like a loon. He managed to control it - just.

"Fine. In that case, if my lady would care to accompany me...?" He extended his arm again for her to replace her hand where he'd placed it earlier. "Unless of course you'd rather sample the delights of the Park?"

Martine shook her head, but she took his arm again. "I can't risk being seen, Mr. MacNamara. If word got back..."

She pulled herself up short, the look of panic that he'd seen just before she slapped him the other night crossing her face again. For an instant, he was worried that she'd noticed somebody, but the look was fleeting and she soon regained her composure. He frowned slightly, and patted her hand.

"It's okay. We won't be seen. We'll think of somethin'. We're both smart, right?"

"You really think so, Mr. MacNamara? What we're doing now is hardly to be considered 'smart'."

He smirked. "Well, sometimes you just gotta go out on a limb. 'Sides, I know of someplace where we can go. It's not too far and we won't be seen."

Martine hesitated for a moment, torn between accompanying him and an almost unbearable desire to just run away and forget she'd ever laid eyes on him. Just as MacNamara was about to give up, she made her decision.

"Alright, Mr. MacNamara. Just so long as you're sure."

He almost managed another smirk, but the smile of relief won by a margin. He threw his cigarette to the ground, to join its brothers in their mass open grave, exhaled a cloud of smoke and placed his now free hand over the one with which Martine had taken his arm.

"I'm sure. You hungry?"

Martine shook her head. She knew she should be hungry by now, not having eaten all day, but she was too nervous to eat. "No, I'm fine. But if you want to eat..."

"No. I already ate while I was waiting," he lied. "Let's get ourselves somewhere where we don't have to be lookin' over our shoulders all the time.

They crossed the park to the exit in silence, then left that crowd behind and soon joined the one on the street.

She was shaking with nerves - MacNamara would go so far as to say that she was damn terrified and he mentally cursed the bastard who'd abuse her to this degree. Her eyes were never still, constantly scanning their surroundings, her hand tightening on his arm occasionally, periodic tremors running through her as she thought she'd seen a face she knew or recognised the set of a pair of shoulders. He knew she wouldn't be happy carrying on a conversation in this state, so he just patted her hand at intervals, making quips and observations in an attempt to at least get her to smile a little. It didn't work. She was walking as if in a dream, just letting him lead her where he would, not taking any notice at all of their surroundings, so intent was she on the people.

Nerves notwithstanding, their journey passed without incident. There were a few occasions where one or other of them had to suddenly turn to look unseeing into a shop window, and twice MacNamara led her swiftly down a convenient alleyway, hiding her body with his own so that she couldn't be seen from the street. But their pursuers were all in their mind and their journey would continue after a few heartstopping moments. Martine was strangely comforted by the knowledge that MacNamara was as wary as she was herself. That at least told her that, whatever his reason for meeting her, it wasn't being done with Aileen Foster's consent. She held onto that as she let him guide her.

Eventually, he led her through a large double door and into a carpeted foyer of some description. Martine was in a daze of unawareness as he paused and spoke briefly to somebody before shepherding her gently up two flights of stairs, their footsteps silent in the pile of the floor covering. Still not registering, she was steered down a corridor, MacNamara eventually pausing in front of a door.

Taking a key from his pocket, he unlocked the door and opened it just enough to allow himself to slip inside. His hand on his gun, he scanned briefly before pulling back and taking hold of Martine's hand, drawing her gently over the threshold.

It was the sound of the door locking again behind her that dragged Martine's senses back to the here and now, and she raised her head to take in her surroundings.

The first thing she saw was a large double bed, and she shut down again as her heart sank in resignation and dismay. She gazed slowly round in disappointment, taking in nothing of the room's decor, to see MacNamara slip the room key back into his pocket with a wink and a grin.

"Well, here we are. Just make yourself at home. I'll be back in a minute."

Martine nodded numbly as he disappeared into the bathroom. Well, at least she wouldn't have to ask him to wash himself first. Or worse, be made to do the job for him. She didn't even try to register her surroundings any more. You've seen one hotel room, you've seen 'em all. All she knew was she'd been fool enough to trust him to take her somewhere where she'd be safe and he'd brought her to a bed.

Okay. Fine. If that was how it was going to be.

Martine slowly shrugged off her coat, folding it and placing it on a bedside chair. She then removed her hat and gloves in the same daze, placing them neatly on top of the coat. Her dress followed. Finally, and with only the slightest pause of reluctance, she begain to take off her underwear.

She had just lowered one strap of her slip when Noah emerged from the bathroom, carrying two glasses.

"Here. I left this in the bathroom when I booked the room. Seems to have worked. It's still cold. It's only soda. I didn't know what you...fuck!"

He froze, staring at her in shock as she moved with seeming ease into action, gliding round the bed and towards him, smile firmly in place. She took the glasses from his nerveless hands and placed them on the nearby dressing table. Then she turned back to him. He uttered the expletive again under his breath before suddenly coming back to his senses.

"Martine, wait..." he started, words failing him again as she reached him, one hand going to the back of his head, pulling his mouth down to hers. The other hand found its way unerringly to his fly, undoing the buttons deftly before taking hold of him firmly, pulling at him with a precision and efficiency that took his breath away and, for a moment, all he could do was respond.

She pulled her face away from him, gazing through half-closed lids.

"That good for you, Honey?"

God in Heaven, even her voice had changed. He'd never heard her 'working' voice and, even though some part of his brain knew that she must have one, still it surprised him. She oozed sex and seduction, and he went temporarily light-headed until realisation hit him again and he took hold of the hand that was stroking him.

"No. No...wait..."

"No? You don't want my hand? Not good enough for you? Well then, maybe somethin' else, just to get you started."

She fell to her knees, pulled his pants and underwear down a little to expose him further and, with a look of abject misery on her face, which she couldn't hide but didn't give a damn about right now because he couldn't see it from this angle, she took him into her mouth. Just for a moment he forgot how to speak, and it took every atom of will-power he possessed, plus a fair bit of previously unknown reserves, not to hold her head still and just fuck that incredible mouth until he came.

"M-m-martine..," he gasped, a note of desperation entering his tone, "No. Stop...listen to me..."

She moved back and off him. He moved his hands to hold her and draw her to him, but she took hold of them in hers and, moving backwards, led him towards the bed, where she sat down.

"Oh, right. I'm sorry. How silly of me. You just want a straight fuck then, so you can throw me out quicker. No fancy extras for you. Okay, Mr. MacNamara, you're the boss."

She stood and removed her underwear, not meeting his gaze, her disappointment, bitterness and anger at her own stupidity all too apparent. Something inside MacNamara snapped. This was NOT fucking FAIR!

He snarled and picked her up, ignoring her sudden gasp of surprise and alarm, before throwing her naked body down onto the bed.

With another snarl of frustration he threw himself onto her, pinning her arms and slamming his groin deliberately into hers so she could be left in no doubt.

"FUCK it, Martine. What d'you want from me?" he snarled, his face no more than a couple of inches from her own. "Is this what you want? Is it? Because if it is, you just keep on doin' what you're doin' and so help me girl, that's just what you're gonna get."

He glared at her for a long moment, watching the light go out of her eyes. She said nothing, eventually turning her head away from him to gaze at the wall opposite. Already he could feel his anger abating, even if the frustration that her actions had caused was still raging through his body. He sighed and looked down, noticing for the first time since she'd stripped, the bruise which he'd first seen above the low neckline of her dress at the Speakeasy. From this distance he could easily make out the tooth marks nestled among the purple and red. He pulled away slightly, scanning her naked body. The one on her arm was still there although the one on her face seemed to have finally disappeared. But there were a few others, in varying stages of newness, covering her torso and upper legs. That finally broke the spell. Noah moved away and off her body, rolling over to sit on the edge of the bed facing away from her. He put his head down into his hands.

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't've done that."

She spoke in a quiet monotone, not having moved from her position on the bed. "It's okay. Really, it's alright..."

"No!" he interrupted. "No, it's not okay. It's not alright. I don't...I don't wanna do that. Not to you."

He got up and walked to the window. Staring blankly outside, he continued. "If I wanted to do that, I could get it anywhere. I don't want it...don't want us to be that way."

Martine turned her head again, looking at Noah's back. "I...don't understand..."

"No. No, you don't understand," he cut in again, still staring down at the street below. "I want it. Okay? I want it. I'm a guy, that's pretty much what we do. And you..."

"I'm a whore. That's what I do." She said it flatly, without emotion. He spun round.

"No. You're not a whore. Véronique's a whore. And she's good. And...oh sweet Christ, but it would be SO easy to just take it. To take her." He clenched his fists, closed his eyes and let his head drop back with a moan. "So fucking easy. And I know...I know it'd be...DAMN! And I want Véronique. I want her so bad it hurts to say no."

"Then why..?"

He looked back at her and smiled. Then he walked slowly back to the bed and sat down. Reaching up, he brushed his fingers through her hair.

"Because...if I have her, then I'll never have you. I...ache for Véronique. But I want Martine more. Takin' her means I'll lose you, and I might not get you back."

"Pretty words. But if that's how you feel, then why all this?" She indicated the room with a wave of her hand, taking in the surroundings beyond the bed for possibly the first time since he'd brought her here. This had cost him some. Almost as though he'd gone to some trouble. Surely if he'd just wanted a fuck...her voice faltered a little and a tone of uncertainty flickered through it. "Why...why bring me to a hotel room? To a bed?"

He sighed. "I figured you mightn't be happy strollin' the park or the streets. You wouldn't be able to relax, y'know? I thought...well, I didn't think of the bed. I just thought I should find somewhere we could go if you wanted to be away from public view." He let his words trail off as it hit him just how she must have interpreted the whole thing. "I...just didn't have the time to come up with anything else. I...I'm sorry."

Martine got the impression that MacNamara didn't apologise for much. He hung his head down then looked back up into her eyes. She was impressed that he managed it. He'd told her what he wanted...what his body wanted, and yet he'd managed to focus on her, and not her naked body. She took pity on him, pulling the bedclothes down and sliding beneath them, covering herself to up above her bust. She tried to explain.

"You see...it's hard for me...to trust. To know what you want, why you even met me. I took a risk even seeing you. And I trusted you to keep me safe. I don't know why, I just did. And when I saw this, I just thought..." She wanted to touch him, to let him know that, while she still wasn't fully convinced, his simple apology meant something. She took his hand in hers. "I'm not used to people considering how I feel. Not any more. Once maybe, but I've forgotten. And when I saw the room, I guess I forgot all over again. Thank you for doing that."

She leaned forwards and placed a chaste kiss on his cheek. He smiled and nodded.

"So...we friends again?"

"Again? I didn't know we'd been friends before." She raised an eyebrow.

"Sure we have. We've always been friends. We just didn't know it yet."

Martine looked down a little and smiled. Noah found himself thinking he'd have paid anything for her not to have turned her head. He still hadn't seen that smile of hers. He put his hand under her chin, raising it gently. Damn, she'd reverted to 'serious' again. Not that that was bad, but it wasn't what he'd hoped for. He ran his thumb across her cheek. This time he knew she leaned her face into it and her eyes closed.

"Noah..." her voice was barely above a whisper. He realised with a thrill it was the first time she'd said it. He also realised he wanted to hear it again. He kicked off his shoes and lay down on the bed facing her, willing her to smile again. He couldn't explain it, but it was important somehow. She moved closer to him and let him put his arm round her. She lay her head down on his chest.

"Noah...I'm so tired."

This had nothing to do with lack of sleep. And he knew it. Putting his hand under her chin again, he tilted her head up to his, shifting slightly so he could lean down and kiss her. After a slight delay, she responded.

He pulled back slightly, his hand still under her chin.

"Tired?"

She nodded, closing her eyes. "Tired. Tired of being passed around. Tired of being scared to wake up in the morning. Tired of being scared to go to sleep at night. Tired of being scared to leave my apartment. Tired of being scared of every caller to my apartment because they're all Aidan McCloy or somebody he sends to me. I'm tired of being nobody. I want something to be for me. Just once. I know I don't deserve it, but oh GOD I want it. I want just a minute's worth of peace. So I can keep it and remember it. I've forgotten what it is."

Martine screwed her eyes tight shut and let her breath out in a juddering sigh, her words escaping in a whisper. "I'm sorry."

Releasing her chin, Noah's arm went round her shoulders, stroking at the base of her neck and her upper back. Encouraged by her small whimper of pleasure, he moved his hand gradually lower, taking his every cue from her, listening for hitches in her breath, quiet moans, anything that might tell him to stop what he was doing. He'd meant what he said earlier, he had no intention of forcing her into anything. That wasn't his style. But Hell! He was a normal guy and she was a beautiful woman and she was lying naked right next to him when he was still more than just a little aroused by her earlier onslaught.

He gave a small grunt of enquiry, and was relieved when her quiet response seemed to assent. He continued, his hand reaching the base of her spine, taking the bedcovers with it. He ran his hand over her buttocks, and down to the top of her thigh. Then he stopped, unsure of just where she was going to draw the line.

He wasn't altogether certain whether it was by accident or design, but she twisted her lower body slightly and the movement caused his hand to slide round and into the small cleft between her thighs. He pulled away from her just enough to study her expression. She had her eyes closed and was biting down gently on her bottom lip, but she didn't seem unhappy or unwilling. He decided to take the risk, his own arousal growing again. Well, even if she didn't want him inside her, he could still do the decent thing and make sure she got something out of it. As for himself, well, that was easily, if far less satisfactorily seen to in the bathroom afterwards. He spread his fingers slightly and, moving slowly, he started stroking her.

Noah couldn't honestly say he'd never hit a woman. Hell, some of them asked for it. But he never took pleasure in it. And he COULD say he'd never done it just to see them cry. Men who did that were Sick Bastards in his opinion - McCloy and his cronies being among the sickest. He preferred to take his temper out on an evenly matched opponent. Fists, or guns. He didn't really care which.

But when it came to women, well he had no qualms about paying for their time, but he got a kick out of giving them pleasure, if only because it made him feel smug that they'd remember his name afterwards. His sex life had begun early, and he'd been a keen participant since then. He'd discovered that he enjoyed it anyway, since even bad sex was damn good if you were a guy, but he enjoyed it even more if she did. He knew he was unusual in his opinion, but he didn't care. He was tough enough in a fight. He did as he was told when he was working. They could all fuck off when he was off-duty.

And Martine was enjoying it. She'd been reticent to move at first, in case he stopped, but as he continued his slow teasing of her clitoris, occasionally dipping a finger inside her, she found herself thrusting and rubbing against him almost automatically. She cried out when he dipped his head to take a hardened nipple into his mouth, sucking on it almost lazily and running the tip of his tongue over it in short flicks. He froze for a moment, thinking she might protest, but he heard no further sound, other than the moans and whimpers which were so faint it sounded like she was in another world. But then, he thought with an inner smile, maybe she was.

He lifted his head to watch her as he felt her orgasm hit. Her eyes were wide, the dilated pupils making them seem almost black. She turned them to look at him as her mouth opened in an "O" of surprise and the hand which was on the pillow clenched and unclenched in a loose fist. Noah had a feeling of time slowing to a standstill, and he thought his heart had stopped beating as the earth stopped moving. There was no McCloy, no Foster, no seedy hotel room, no past, no future, and certainly no scratchy music issuing from somewhere down the hall. There was just him, and her, and now. He carried on stroking her gently until she closed her eyes slowly and smiled at him, and he knew he'd died and gone to heaven in that instant.

He fucking knew her smile would be something worth waiting for.

"Fuck, you're beautiful," he murmured, his voice rough and shaky.

Martine moved her hand from the pillow and reached for him, pulling his head down to hers until their lips met in a long, slow, langorous kiss. She hooked her leg around him and rubbed herself slowly and gently against him. He pulled away.

"Martine..."

"No. It's alright. I want to. I want you to."

He studied her eyes, searching for any evidence of Véronique's presence. If there was anything there at all, anything to make him think that she was doing this because she felt she should, then...well, he wasn't entirely sure he could say no, but he intended to try.

Martine looked back at him.

"It's alright, Noah," she repeated. Then, she grinned, impishly. "Unless, of course, you don't want to, because that's alright as well."

He stared at her in amazement. "Don't want to? Fuck, woman..." he shook his head and began to laugh. She joined in and he thought it was one of the most beautiful sounds he'd ever heard. To think, he'd have been happy just to get her to smile. He pulled away after placing a quick kiss to the tip of her nose.

"I need to undress. Then uhm..." he glanced down and indicated his groin "...dress for the occasion, I guess...Are you sure?"

She was still smiling "Alright. You need any help with the 'dressing' part? And yes...I'm absolutely sure. Honey, I don't know what you think I am, but make no mistake. I'm a whore. I may not be Véronique all the time, but I didn't come to Chicago to take the air, if you know what I mean. I'm not a china doll. I stole $5,000 from my dad, got on a train, and came here. I thought it'd be fun to be a hooker. My friends and I talked about it...I went ahead and did it. I like - liked - sex. I was expected to marry and settle down. I didn't have a problem with the guy except...he bored me to tears. So, I got out."

Noah paused in his undressing, studying her for a minute.

"So...who are you then?"

"The real me? I have no idea. I suppose I'm somewhere between the two extremes. There is no Martine OR Véronique, Noah. There's both, and they meet somewhere in the middle. That's me. That's who I am. I'm not a shrinking violet. Neither am I a...whatever Véronique might be. I'm a little bit of both and a lot of neither. You take me, you take them both, and you lose neither."

By the time she'd finished talking, he was fully undressed and climbed into the other side of the bed before putting an arm round her and pulling her in for a deep kiss.

"You're a fucking Princess, that's what you are."

"No...not that either." As she was speaking, she took the sheath from his fingers and rolled it onto him expertly. He groaned at the contact. She was gentler with him than she'd been before but it had no less of an effect. He sank down onto his side, one arm cradling her to him, the other stroking through her hair. Martine wrapped her leg around him, pulling them further together.

"You sure, Princess? I mean, I sure hope you are, but...it's your call."

Martine nodded, moving her free arm around his neck to stroke the back of his hair. He closed his eyes and, with a low moan, moved up into her, his lips curling into a smile as he heard her expelled sigh of satisfaction.

"Noah? You alright?"

He nodded, biting his bottom lip, his eyes still closed as he thrust slowly into her. She smelt of lilac, and he knew that he'd never smell that again without a smile.

"I'm fine, Baby. You?"

"Mmmhmm." He didn't open his eyes, but her could feel her nod against the arm she was resting her head on. Then, she rolled slowly and gently backwards, pulling him with her until he was looking down at her, face flushed with pleasure, pupils already dilating again, a small smile playing around her lips, her hair a dark halo on the pillow. He felt her hands begin to knead at his buttocks, pulling him further into her and he moaned again and moved faster, kissing her hair, her face, her neck, anywhere he could reach on her. She in turn moved in rhythm underneath him, meeting his thrusts with nothing more than the occasional murmur and shudder of pleasure, her breath becoming gradually more gasped and erratic as she lifted both legs around his hips and his thrusts rubbed against her already-sensitized clitoris until he knew she was about to climax again.

"Noah..." She just had time to say his name before it hit and then, with a cry, her whole body clenched around him. He couldn't have stopped now even if his life depended on it. Burying his head into her neck and shoulder, he drove hard and strong into her, moaning at the rapidly growing tingling and tightening in his balls until it became too much to bear and, gasping and shaking, he came hard, Martine holding him through it, murmuring...something he had NO chance of understanding, even if he could hear it. All he knew was he liked it. A lot. Then, when his moment had passed, he rolled off her onto his back and gathered her to him, kissing the top of her head as she snuggled into his side.

"Mmmmmmmmmmh. I should...go...see to..." he muttered apologetically. Damn, but he didn't want to move. She might be gone when he got back.

When he got back from the bathroom, he realised he needn't have worried. She was still in the bed, dozing. He climbed back in next to her and chuckled at her muffled protest about cold feet. Gathering her to him, he kissed the top of her head as she snuggled into his chest and snaked her arm around him.

"'S nice," she smiled sleepily. "Don't let me sleep too long."

As it turned out, he fell asleep first.

When Martine awoke with a start, she realised two things. One, that McCloy WASN'T on his way up to her apartment, that was only a dream. And two, it was dark outside and, much as she'd have liked to, there was no way she could stay here any longer. Somebody might be looking for her.

She unwrapped herself regretfully from Noah and got out of bed. Deciding she'd bathe when she was back in her apartment, while at the same time not relishing the thought of having to wash him off her, she started getting dressed in the dark. She was so engrossed in her task that she jumped when a voice cut the dark stillness.

"Leavin' without me?"

She turned towards him. In this light she could barely see him. "I have to get back. Mr. McCloy won't be gone for long, and I have to be there..."

Noah nodded, a gesture she could just about make out. "I'll take you home."

"No!" Her panic was genuine. "No, you mustn't. It's not safe."

He rolled over towards her. "And you are not going home on your own in the dark. No arguments, Martine. I'm goin' with you. Most of the way. Until I know you can see your apartment building and you're okay."

He reached out in the dark, stroking her cheek. "I'd never forgive myself if somethin' happened to you."

She felt unexplicably happy at the way he said that, but she made no reply for a minute, just smiling and nodding. "Alright then. But we need to get going. It's a long walk."

He sighed and got out of bed.

It WAS a long walk, but it wasn't long enough. They chatted as they walked in contrast to their earlier journey. They took confidence in the darkness and also in each other's presence. They discovered a mutual love for Laurel and Hardy en route which seemed to please Noah. And when Martine confessed to finding Al Jolson mawkish and horrendously over-sentimental, he grabbed her and kissed her. She took that to mean that he agreed. She told him about her reasons for coming to Chicago. How she'd met her father's mistress once. She'd been a whore beforehand, but Steve Brereton had set her up in her own place and gave her a generous monthly allowance. Martine had been devastated at first to think that her father would betray her mother like that. It had been her mother who had reassured her.

"Darling, Daddy and I love each other very deeply. But men have needs that no wife should be expected to endure. Your father is no different, and so he keeps a little friend to provide him with that...side of things. I understand and in a way I'm grateful to her. Daddy loves me even more for my forbearance. You will find as you get older that it's a common practice and one in which, no doubt, your own husband will indulge. Or at least, he will if he loves you."

Martine had decided that, rather than take after her mother, she wanted to be the whore-turned-mistress. They seemed to have far more fun. Knowing that this was not a career path which would impress her parents, however, she'd stolen money from her father and fled.

She then told Noah how she'd come to meet with McCloy and how sweet and charming he was, even offering to look after her and make sure that she came to no harm from her 'clients'. How he'd accepted her polite refusal with good grace, leaving her with his calling card "should (she) ever change her mind" and the impression of a helluva nice guy. Then she told him how, a few days later, one of her new 'clients' DID turn on her, ending up with her in hospital accumulating a bill she would be unable to pay since her visitor had stolen her money.

McCloy had visited her. He'd heard on the grapevine, he said, that she'd been hurt and robbed and was there to offer his help. He'd paid her hospital bills, set her up in a new apartment, bought her new clothes, food, jewellery.

Three weeks later, she'd met her attacker again. He'd been standing next to McCloy, laughing at her stunned realisation as McCloy had outlined to her, verbally and physically, what her new 'duties' would be.

Noah had known what the end of her story would be before she told it, and he'd held her to him in silence for a moment, not quite knowing what to say. He'd settled on telling her about his first time, when he and a few friends had pooled their money and drawn lots to see which of them would be the lucky one to go lose his virginity with a local 19-year old hustler. Noah hadn't won the draw, but he got the girl anyway by thumping one of his friends in the nose and stealing the money. Even at thirteen, Noah MacNamara knew what he wanted and rarely took 'no' for an answer.

Martine giggled. "And didn't your friends get their revenge on you later, for doing the dirty on them like that?"

Noah smirked. "Hell no. They just wanted to know what it was like. I was one popular kid for a while there."

She noticed he told her nothing about his family, and she didn't ask. She listened instead to him telling her about a whore he'd started seeing regularly when he turned seventeen. On his twenty-first birthday, he'd summoned up the courage to tell her he loved her and he asked her to marry him. She'd laughed in his face and kicked him out. Since then, there'd been many and often, but nobody he'd gotten close to. Safer that way. As he said that, he glanced sideways at her, as though challenging her to respond. She saw the look, nodded and remained silent.

All too soon, they reached journey's end.

They stood for a moment, looking towards the corner of the street that would finally take each from the other's view. He was aware of her shaking a little, although that could have been down to the cold. Either way, he put his arm around her and drew her into him, turning her so she was facing him. He lifted her chin with his finger and kissed her gently.

"You gonna be okay?"

She nodded as he scanned her face. She loved the expression of concern she saw in his eyes, but didn't tell him. "I'll be fine."

He stared at her for a little longer, then nodded, putting his arms around her and pulling her close into his body, protectively.

"I can't make you any promises, Princess."

Noah felt her arms loop around his waist and knew she was smiling without having to look.

"I don't recall asking you to." She had an uncanny knack of sounding amused, resigned and incredibly sad all at the same time. He half-wished she wouldn't, not particularly liking what it did to his heart and throat.

"I mean, I could be dead by this time next week."

She was silent for a long minute, but when she spoke Noah wished she hadn't. Her voice was quiet and there was such a wistful tone to it that he almost kissed her just to shut her up.

"We both could."

Instead, he just held her in silence until some unspoken cue prompted them both to pull slowly away at the same time. She looked up at him, briefly, touched her gloved hand to his cheek, then turned and walked away.

Noah stood and watched the dark street before reaching into his pocket to take out a cigarette. He'd just put it to his lips and was about to light it when the sound of a startled gasp had him break into a run, throwing his unlit cigarette to the ground and reaching for his gun as he rounded the corner, where he ground to a halt, his mouth dry and his heart thumping in his throat from a cause completely unrelated to exertion.

Martine was standing, ramrod straight, with her back to him. He knew, if he could have seen her face, that she'd be staring with the same 'trapped fawn' look he'd seen the previous week. There was a woman whose face was in shadow, facing her. She didn't appear to be armed, but Noah was taking no chances, shielding his gun under his jacket but not relinquishing his hold on it as he slowly approached the two women. He put his arm around Martine's shoulders and, keeping his gaze on the not-quite stranger whose name he couldn't quite recall, he kissed her head briefly. Okay, it might be a little odd for him to kiss a hat, but he was getting a message across to this broad, whoever she was, who'd scared his girl. He blinked. His Girl. He'd consider that later.

"Princess..?"

Martine turned her own gaze away from the woman in front of her to look up at him, lifting one hand to the one Noah had put around her, and taking hold of it. She opened her mouth to speak when the newcomer drew their attention back to herself by breaking the silence first.

"No. It's dark so I haven't seen you, and if I had I couldn't identify you. And if you don't speak, I can't hear you either."

The trio stood in silent tableau for a moment while the woman's words sank in. Noah realised where he'd seen her before. ~The Missionary! McCormack's piece. SHIT!~ The arm around Martine's shoulders twitched slightly, as though to gather her further into his side but, with a gentle squeeze of his hand, Martine took control of the situation. She took a deep, steady breath and nodded with a tiny smile at Eveline. She said nothing. Eveline paused just for a further brief instant, looking with a kind of detached curiosity at the way MacNamara was holding Martine and musing, almost amused, about leopards and spots. Then she looked into Martine's face, up into Noah's and with a nod of her own, she passed them by in silence.

That was when Martine started shaking. Noah turned to her, holding her close again as she sobbed silently on his shoulder in a mixture fear and relief. He soothed her as best he could until she finally pulled away from him with a murmured apology. He said the only thing he could think of.

"It'll be alright. I promise it'll be alright."

She looked up at him with a sad smile. "You said you couldn't make me any promises."

He smiled back, wiping the last of her tears away with his thumb. "I know. I lied."

Her smile broadened slightly. "This...is insanity, Noah. How can we even..?"

He stopped her by putting a finger to her lips. "I never said I was sane. And...well, you comin' to Chicago thinkin' you were headin' for a good time with the likes of me and McCloy and the rest of it isn't exactly the smartest thing I ever heard of for an educated woman."

She nodded agreement and moved back into him, placing a hand over his heart, as though she was drawing strength from the steady rhythm.

"Noah...I don't know if we can risk this again. Next time it mightn't be Miss Williams. It could be..."

"I know, Baby. I know." He was ashamed and annoyed to feel his eyes prickle. He sniffed to cover it and got himself under control. "If you don't want to..."

"It's not that. Oh, God it's not that. You...you made me forget. And you made me remember. And I feel like I haven't felt in such a long time. Maybe never. I feel safe, when I've never been in more danger in my life."

He smiled at her again. "You feel safe? With me? Not many people use that kinda talk when they're referrin' to me." Then his voice dropped. "You like feelin' safe?"

She nodded. "I love it. And I want it. So much. And that's why I can't have it." She pulled slowly away and looked up into his eyes, burning them into her mind. Standing on her toes, she reached up and kissed him. "Goodbye, Noah."

He didn't stop her walking away, but when she was about ten yards away from him, he called after her.

"Stay safe. And remember."

She didn't turn round, didn't even slow her pace, but she answered back immediately, in spite of herself. "Saturday. Riverview Park. Next to The Bobs. I'll wait."

Noah grinned. "So will I, Princess. I promise."

~~~~~~~

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