NOTE TO READERS: A Deal with the the Devil was originally written in dual POV. As I then incorporated Hayes's chapters into Tali's, you may see some exchanges that look familiar :-)

Hayes ch 5

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I missed Tali this weekend. But I’m downstairs waiting for her when she walks in on Monday like a breath of fresh air, all perfect skin and bright eyes. 

And curves. 

She’s slim but in that white dress she’s wearing, all I can see is the graceful curve of her spine, her hips, her chest. Before I can stop myself, I’m imagining lowering the dress’s side zipper, the feel of her bare back beneath my palm. I can picture it as if it’s already happened—soft skin, her sigh, the way her nipples would pinch tight. I’m imagining things like this more and more, probably because I haven’t wanted to do it with anyone else. Every time I come close, I picture my smart-mouthed little assistant and lose steam.

Clearly, I think as I adjust myself, this situation needs to be corrected. Soon.

She’s set a small clear pill next to my coffee today. I hold it to the light, frowning. “You realize if you successfully poison me, you no longer get paid, yes?”

“There are things in this world more satisfying than money,” she replies, pouring my morning smoothie.

“It’s Vitamin D. I’m beginning to wonder if you’re truly a doctor.”

“Yes, a significant part of medical school is being able to identify random vitamins by looking at them on a kitchen counter.”  I eye it with suspicion a bit longer, then swallow it. “What did you do this weekend?”

She blinks. “This feels like a trick. Was I supposed to have done something for you and forgot?”

“Is it that astonishing when I ask a friendly question?”

Her lips turn up. It feels like the sun has broken through the clouds. “Yeah, kind of.”

“That you still haven’t told me what you were doing this weekend leads me to believe it was something illegal or controversial. If you have a sex webcam, I’d like to be made aware of it posthaste.”

She laughs. She has a bloody perfect laugh, sexy and raspy and assured. I have to fucking adjust myself again. “No, I do not have a webcam. I was, uh, working on something.”

“Your evasiveness only piques my curiosity,” I tell her. “It’s getting filthier in my mind by the second.” 

She huffs in exasperation. “It’s embarrassing.”  

“So it’s worse than a webcam?” I ask. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone winds up getting fisted on Pornhub eventually.”

“It’s a book,” she says, flushing. “I’m writing a book.”

It feels like a gift, these few words from her. She’s so willing to smart off to me, to swap clothes with my houseguest and make fun of my life—yet she somehow manages to keep everything real about herself locked down. I like peeling this first layer back. I want to keep going.

“If it’s a tell-all about a devastatingly handsome doctor, let me remind you of the NDA you signed.  Although if he’s bringing all your sexual urges to the surface, I’d still like to read it.”

She grins. “Any tell-all about you would focus on why I decided to quit men altogether.”

I flash my filthiest smile. “My Life as a Lesbian by Natalia Bell. I’d definitely read that one. So anyway, what’s so embarrassing about writing a book?” 

She hesitates. For a moment I think she won’t answer at all. “Because I signed a contract and spent the advance,” she says, looking away, “and now I can’t seem to finish it. And I’m not good at anything else, so I don’t know what I’ll do if I can’t pull this off.”

“I’m sure you’re good at plenty of other things. Consider the webcam, for instance. You’d be your own boss, at least.”

Her full lips curve into a smile. “I’ll take it under advisement.” 

She clearly wants to drop the subject, but I want to keep her talking. Maybe if I can peel back enough of her layers, I’ll stop thinking about her quite as much. “So tell me about your book.” 

She cuts me a wary glance. “No, because you’ll laugh, and then I’ll be forced to poison you. Which I’m more than happy to do, but as I have both unlimited opportunity and motive, I’ll be the first person the cops look at.”

“I won’t,” I promise. 

She frowns, still uncertain. “It’s a fantasy,” she finally says. “This young couple enters a fae kingdom and the queen decides Ewan, the boy, is the answer to this prophecy and traps him in the castle. So the girl, Aisling, has to save him.”

“Through the power of her blossoming sexuality?” 

“Not that kind of book,” she replies. “There’s this dashing fae lord, Julian, who will come into play somehow. But anyway, she learns some magic to take on the queen.” 

“Which she pays for on her back?” 

 “Again,” she says with an exasperated laugh, “not that kind of book.” 

“No offense, but that sounds extremely dull,” I reply. “A good blowjob scene is essential to any meaningful work of fiction.”

“Ah yes,” she says, “I remember the blowjob scene in Pride and Prejudice. Very tastefully done.”  

I never pictured hearing the word blowjob fall off Tali’s pretty little tongue. She takes the blender to the sink and starts to wash it by hand and I watch, wondering how I can gracefully walk out of here without her noticing I’m hard as a rock. And wondering, more importantly, how the fuck to get her out of my system. 

Nothing has worked so far.  I worry the only solution is giving into it...and I like her too much to subject her to that. And the idea I might convince her it means something terrifies me, but what terrifies me more is that I might think it means something too...only to discover, ultimately, that Ella was right all along.