Laurie put a hand on her forehead, closing her eyes for a beat before pushing her hair back from her face. She blew out a breath slowly, and stifled the sensation of claustrophobia she felt in the crowds of people heading home from work. As the subway train roared into the station, she turned her head looking for her rucksack. When she couldn't find it, she felt panic fill her for a moment until she remembered that it was still sitting beside her bench where she had left it.
"Damn, damn, damn!" she cursed softly, turning and fighting her way through the throng of people surging forwards now. As she broke through into the relatively clean, freezing air outside the station, she took a deep breath and headed back to the lab. Christmas lights twinkled in windows of shops as she walked along the street. Laurie worked for the local forensics laboratory in the microbiology section and often took work home with her. At the moment, she was embroiled in a case trying to identify an organism and was struggling. It was unlike anything she had ever seen, with characteristics of several bacteria but not fitting with any of them. The agents in charge of the case had been down the lab today, and one of them, the guy, had brought up the possibility of genetic modification. She was starting to believe that this was the only logical explanation. Either that, or it was from outer space... She laughed at herself then, swiping her card through the front entrance lock and pushing the door open.
She went back to her thoughts as she walked through the maze of corridors and down the stairs. Under the microscope it looked like the causative agent of cholera, but in a test tube or on a gel plate behaved like a cross between anthrax and botulism... the animals had reacted to it like botulism with heavy haemorrhaging thrown in for good measure. She barely saw the level 4 containment hood lab as she walked past and swiped into the lab where she spent her time pondering this puzzle. With something akin to horror, she realised that there was someone at her computer.
"What the hell do you think you are doing?" she shouted, astonished. The man turned to look at her and her breath caught in her chest. His emerald green eyes raked over her face, and for a moment she saw his shock before a neutral mask slid back into place.
"Dr. Laurie Oakley, I presume?" he asked, his eyebrow rising. "Now this is interesting. I was just pondering on whether or not I should pay you a visit and..." he paused for effect "... here you are. Funny how these things work out, isn't it?" Laurie reached for the phone to call security, but his hand closed over hers. 'Long fingers...' she thought irrationally, before looking up. She was close enough to smell his scent mingling with the smell of the leather jacket he wore. As his eyes fastened on hers, she felt a shiver of desire pass through her body.
"I wouldn't do that, if I were you." he suggested, glancing at the desk beside the phone. She followed his line of sight and gasped as she saw the gun.
"W...what do you want?" she asked, starting to shake with fear. He smiled and another frisson of excitement flew unbidden down her spine. He tapped her temple gently with one finger of his free hand, and murmured,
"I want what's inside here." His gentle tone made her relax slightly and she jumped at his brusque "Let's go."
"W...where are we going?" she asked as he closed his hand around her arm and led her to the door. "I need my rucksack..." she started. He fixed her with a stare and she shrank back afraid. Letting her arm go and reaching across, he picked it up and thrust it at her. She could feel the muzzle of his gun digging into the small of her back.
"Somewhere to talk. Do as you're told and you're not going to get hurt, OK?" he replied softly, his lips barely above her ear. She nodded jerkily."Good." They climbed the stairs and made their way through the reception area. Laurie almost groaned. The place was deserted. When you wanted someone to be around...
"OK, now turn right outside and just keep going until I say so. And remember, no screaming..." He nudged the gun harder into her back before sliding it out of sight under his jacket. He slid a hand under her hair and around the back of her neck. To any passerby, it would look like an affectionate touch from a lover, but Laurie was shaking with the knowledge that he could break her neck with one movement. They came to an alley and he steered her into it. About halfway along, he stopped and turned her to face him.
"Very good... Now at the end of this alley is a car. You're going to get into the back, and then we are going to go somewhere that we can talk... How about your apartment?" he suggested. Too afraid to say no, she nodded in affirmation, suddenly aware that her bladder felt desperately full, and shifted her weight. He caught her movement and chuckled.
"Well, well. You really should have gone before you left. Now would you like to go here, or do you want to wait until you get home?" he offered.
"I...I'll wait until I get home." she stuttered, her face flaming at the thought of crouching down here, despite her doubts that she could last. He seemed to see through her words.
"Well, I hope you aren't going to make a mess in my back seat. I wouldn't be very pleased if I had given you the chance to go now and you did. You're not going to, are you?" he asked her mockingly. She shook her head and he smiled. "Good. Let's go then." He opened the car door for her and she noticed that the doors had no internal handles in the back and there was a partition behind the front seat. He climbed in behind the steering wheel and they pulled away from the kerb.
Despite the fact that he was kidnapping her at gunpoint, her body was betraying her by responding to him in quite a different manner. As they passed under streetlamps, the light caught the blue- black of his hair, the sharp contours of his cheekbones, his full lips, his slightly upturned nose. He was tall and slender, broad shoulders and narrow hips. She could see the denim of his jeans pulled tight over powerful thighs. Fear and desire twisted together like the double helix of life itself, winding along her spine, the nerves tingling. She cursed herself. Why was she responding like this to him? How could she find someone like him attractive? She prided herself on looking at the person inside, but when she tried to look below the surface of this guy, all she saw was charisma, strength, control... Her rational mind told her that he was trouble, the danger flashing in her mind's eye like the flicker of a flame.
She let out a soft moan, and coloured as he looked at her in the mirror, amusement and something else glittering in his eyes. He said nothing, but held her gaze for a moment before he chuckled huskily and looked back at the road.
The journey seemed interminable. The traffic conspired against Laurie, and kept her trapped in the back of the car with this devil with the face of an angel. By the time they reached her apartment, she was frantic with a mixture of desperation, fear and desire. As he opened the door, he grabbed her arm, pulling her out of the car and pushing her towards the building. She stumbled over a loose paving stone and he caught her before she fell, his arms around her. She swallowed hard, and he took the key from her fingers, opening the front door, and pulling her up the flight of stairs to her apartment. He pushed her in first, where she groaned softly and ran for the bathroom. He kicked the front door shut, cursing, and strode after her. Laurie turned to close the door, but found his foot wedged between it and the frame.
"No games, Laurie." he threatened softly. "If I have to come looking for you again, I won't be so... civil. Understand?" Laurie nodded jerkily, her mouth dry. Satisfied, he pulled the door shut. Laurie collapsed onto the toilet, swallowing convulsively as tears welled in her eyes and trickled down her cheeks. She stood up and flushed the toilet, heading for the sink. She filled a glass with water, her hands shaking badly and drank. Her mind ran in circles. Why does he want me? Who is he? What is he going to do to me? He said I wouldn't get hurt... but did he really mean it? Perhaps he just said it so I wouldn't scream... maybe he's going to torture me, kill me... Her stomach heaved and she fell to her knees in front of the toilet, retching hard, until her stomach was empty. Trembling, she rocked back on her heels. Her head spun round at the sound of the door opening and found him watching her impassively.
"You done?" he asked. She nodded, and he pulled her up, propelling her through to the lounge and down onto the sofa. He wandered into the kitchen and she heard the taps running. He returned with a glass of water in one hand and a kitchen chair in the other. He handed her the glass and placed the chair down in front of the sofa, straddling it, his arms resting on the back.
"Tell me what you know." he told her.
"I... I'm not sure what..." she started. He reached out and grasped her forearm.
"No games..." he whispered. She swallowed.
"I take it you mean the case that the FBI are following up?" she asked, wincing at the pressure of his fingers on her skin. He nodded once, relaxing his grip on her arm.
"I don't know too much yet, not for sure anyway..." she started.
"Tell me what you do know."
Laurie started to list what she had discovered about the organism. He listened, nodding occasionally as she spoke, posing questions that made her wonder if he had had some training in microbiology. When she finished speaking, he rested the fingers of one hand against his lips, absently chewing on the pad of his index finger. The gesture was so unwittingly erotic, that she couldn't stop a sigh escaping. He looked over at her and she blushed, dropping her eyes.
"Can... can I ask you a question?" she asked hesitantly.
"You just did." he replied dryly. "Go ahead."
"What's your name? You seem to know so much about me, I just thought..."
She trailed off as he stood suddenly, pacing around the room, his brow furrowed as though he were deep in thought. Just as suddenly, he stopped and turned to her.
"You have the beginning of the DNA analysis, right?" Laurie nodded. "And you have the notes here with you? Right, tonight we're going to figure this out. I have an idea and I need you to prove it." He reached for the phone and thrust it towards her.
"Better call for some food, its going to be a long night. Oh, and by the way..." She looked up at him, her eyes wide. "You can call me Alex."
Laurie was sitting crosslegged on the floor. In front of her was a book on antibiotic resistance patterns and a dozen sheets of printouts with first-run DNA sequencing. Alex was running his finger down the complex table, trying to match the organism's resistances to known ones Laurie was reading out.
"That's the one." Alex answered, looking up. She stretched her arms over her head and glanced at the clock. It was 3.17am. She had realised that Alex was hungry for knowledge, as keen to solve this mystery as she was. After her initial nervousness, her fascination for all things invisible without a microscope had animated her conversations with him. He in turn seemed to soak up her knowledge like a sponge, even grasping some of the complex genetics she had tried to explain to him. She took the book from him, and he pointed to a row on the table.
"This is rather worrying." She told him, chewing her lip as she read the entry. "This plasmid is transmissable between organisms. IF this plasmid has been modified, and IF any of the organisms have been shed from the gut, then we could have an epidemic on our hands."
"So you mean to tell me that it seems we have a genetically engineered bioweapon that is resistant to the main antibiotic therapies, leaving only the obscure ones unaccounted for, that contains the genes that code for the haemorrhaging of dysentery, the paralysis toxin of botulism, the spore- forming genes of anthrax and the infectiousness of cholera. Christ, Laurie," he spat, his hands in his hair. "You sure you wouldn't like to add the plague to the combination too? Maybe some of that bug from Outbreak?"
"There's no need," Laurie replied shakily. "The combination they have would probably finish off anyone who succumbed to it."
She levered herself off the floor and headed to the kitchen. Discarded foil containers with the remainder of their Chinese takeaway dinner were piled on the side, and she pushed them into the bin before filling the kettle and setting it to boil. Although she wished that she had never been landed with this assignment, a small part of her was thrilled. She had never thought that forensics would have brought her this close to something so terrifying, so dangerous, so man-made. Despite her horror that man could wilfully create something so deadly, for which the only intention could be biological warfare, she was in awe at the talent and time that this work must have taken to achieve. She wished she could meet the molecular biologist responsible. She wasn't sure whether she would shake him by the hand or have him arrested. Probably both, she conceded.
Laurie's mind travelled onto other issues. Alex still hadn't explained his interest in all this. She had gleaned that he was committing some kind of espionage, whether industrial or something larger she wasn't sure. She still wasn't entirely convinced that Alex wouldn't just take what he wanted and leave her dead in her apartment. Although the previous few hours had been spent in an atmosphere of comradeship, she knew enough about Alex to realise that he was a man of many facets, of a thousand faces. He seemed to be able to become whoever he needed to be in an instant. She wasn't sure whether he would turn into the terrifying assassin she had seen earlier in the evening. She shivered as fear tightened her chest, while the memory of her desire for him burned her cheeks. She shook her head ruefully and headed back to the lounge with two cups of coffee. It seemed that he was a caffeine junkie, liking it black and sweet and strong enough to dissolve the spoon.
She stopped suddenly as she stepped through the doorway. Alex had cleared the floor of paper, now neatly piled on the table and was sprawled back on the sofa. She took a step towards him. One arm was over his face, the other lying across his chest. He had kicked off his boots and unbuttoned the top button of his dark blue denim shirt, the sleeves rolled up his forearms. He seemed to be asleep. Slowly, quietly, she padded up to him and knelt beside him. She placed the mugs on the floor and reached for his arm to wake him. Her hand froze in mid-air, then slowly, as if of it's own volition, rose to his face. Her fingertips barely brushed over his cheek, down to his full lips. Suddenly, his eyes started open, glinting like shards of glass. His hands moved with lightning reflexes, grasping her biceps and pulling her towards him. Laurie stifled a scream, and he blinked, like a sleepwalker waking from a trance.
"Fuck!" he hissed, lifting his face to within an inch of hers. "Don't you EVER do that to me again."
"I... I'm sorry," she stammered, pulling free from his grasp. Once she reached the sanctuary of the kitchen, she leant her elbows on the counter, her face in her hands, trembling. She didn't hear him approaching. When he placed a hand on her shoulder, she swung around, her fists flailing against his chest. He cursed her fluently in what sounded like Russian and grabbed her wrists. She fought to get free, her fists clenching tighter, until he pulled her hard against him, trapping her between his body and the cupboards.
"Laurie, stop it!" he whispered against her ear as she struggled against him. "I didn't mean to frighten you. You gave me what I needed. I don't need to hold the threat of violence over your head. You startled me, that's all. You're OK... I won't hurt you. I give you my word on that. I won't break it."
"You're a goddam spy." Laurie spat back. "Why should I believe you? Why would you leave me lying around, a loose end? Why shouldn't I think you capable of murder? You managed kidnapping."
He was silent for a moment. When he replied, Laurie thought she could hear a vein of hurt in his soft voice.
"Yes, I'm a spy. Yes, I'm a kidnapper. Yes, I'm a murderer. But I also have my own code of ethics. I don't hurt anyone when I don't have to. Sometimes I have to. This time I don't."
Her struggles stilled as his grip eased on her wrists and his arms slid round her shoulders. Her face was buried in his chest, every breath drawing air filled with the scent of his skin blending with the smell of soap. She became aware of the hard muscles beneath his shirt, the heat of his body radiating out and enveloping her. She tried to pull away, not daring to meet his eyes, fearing that he would see the desire in her face. He placed a hand under her chin, and lifted her face almost roughly. Her breath caught as she saw the hunger in his own eyes, her face flushing as erotic thoughts flew unbidden into her mind.
"Oh fuck." he hissed. "Do you have any idea how much I want you?" With that, he wrapped his long fingers around her wrist, and placed her palm flat over the buttons of his jeans. She shivered, a soft moan tripping off her tongue as she felt his hardness, his heat beneath the thick denim. With his hands on each side of her face, he pulled her towards him and kissed her almost brutally, until her lips felt bruised by his assault. She felt his hand caress the gentle slope of her neck, the curve of her breast beneath her silky shirt. Her nipples hardened as his touch circled ever closer, and she cried out in pleasure when they reached their goal.
His touch was anything but gentle, but everywhere his skin came into contact with hers burned, erupting into goosebumps. Molten lava replaced the blood in her veins as he spun her to face the wall and almost slammed her against it, his fingers linked with hers, his teeth sinking into the tender skin at the nape of her neck. She cried out, the pleasure bordering on the edge of pain, and gripped his fingers harder. When his hand slid under the back of her shirt, his nails leaving red welts down her spine, she arched into his touch, a shuddering moan catching in her throat.
He pressed the length of his body into her then, his arousal against the curve of her buttocks, and bolt of desire shot down her spine. A moment later, his arms were round her waist, turning her to face him. His lips caressed her neck, her throat, while his fingers worked at the buttons of the blouse, spreading the material so that he could nip at her collar bone, his hand cupping her breast. She wrapped her arms around his neck as he placed both hands on her waist and lifted her onto the edge of the counter. She locked her legs around his waist, as he undulated against her, and lapped the lobe of his ear. Her whole body burned with desire, a hot, aching need building low down in her stomach. He lifted her bodily, and carried her into the bedroom.
Lowering both of them to the bed, he pinned her hands above her head and rolled his hips against hers. She moaned out loud, reaching up with her body to arch against him. He freed her from her bra, and dropped his head to their taut peaks. She called his name, her fingers sinking into his silky hair, urging him closer. His lips closed on the sensitive curve of one breast as his fingers teased the nipple of the other. Laurie reached for his jeans and unbuttoned them, her hands sliding inside. He wore boxer shorts, and she eased him free of those as well. Standing up, Alex pulled his clothes from his body, until he stood naked before her. Oh God, he was gorgeous. His body was toned, but not overly muscled, a fine sprinkling of hair over his body, with a thicker line of hair arrowing down from his navel; even his arousal was gorgeous. Laurie slipped the discarded bra and blouse from her shoulders, as he slowly unbuttoned the top few buttons of her ankle length skirt, pulling it away from her hard, leaving her clad in just her knickers, white silk and lace.
He lowered himself between her thighs, kissing his way from behind her knee, up the sensitive inner surface of her thighs, to her crotch, lapping at her moist knickers as she called his name again. Hooking them to the side with his thumb, he returned to lapping her, this time directly, his fingers stroking deftly inside her. She tightened around him, nearing orgasm, only to cry out in frustration as he left her teetering on the edge. He pulled himself up so that he was looking into her eyes, before sinking into her, allowing her time to adjust to him. She was swept up in a whirlwind of exquisite sensations as he filled her, spasming around him, her breath leaving in groans. As she came down, she realised he was lying inside her, stroking his cheek against her own. Only when she was fully aware of him did he start to move inside her, filling her completely, withdrawing before sliding back again. She lifted her legs around his waist, arching her hips to meet his strokes, feeling the fire building again as they moved together. She held him tightly against her as he aroused sensations and emotions that she didn't know she possessed, her nails leaving half moons in his back. She felt his mouth against her throat, marking her and she pushed into him harder, whispering his name against his ear. His fingers tangled in her hair, tilting her head until she met his gaze. His pupils were wide, his eyes seeming black with just a narrow edge of intense green, framed with thick black lashes. She focussed on his swollen lips as he spoke.
"Come for me, Laurie," he ground out hoarsely. "Come for me, krasota." He freed a hand to slide it between them, his fingers flicking over the sensitive nub between her thighs and she cried out, convulsing around him, beneath him. With a final cry, he buried himself inside her, spilling into her, his breath shuddering gasps into her neck. With the final remnants of his energy, he rolled next to her, pulling him into his arms and kissing her hard. Sleep descended on Laurie like a blanket.
Laurie was reluctant to surface from her dreams. In them, Alex was making love to her again, hitting her in just the right spot. She woke slowly as Alex brought her closer and closer to her peak, crying out his name as she came, fully awake now. Alex shifted beside her and curved around her hip, his arousal a fiery brand against her skin. When she kissed him, she tasted herself on his lips, and it drove her wild. She dropped a hand to his chest, trailing her fingers down, feeling his stomach muscles jump in anticipation, and lower, wrapping her hand around him. He bucked into her touch as she stroked him slowly, languidly, watching his head drop back as his hands clenched into the duvet. With her free hand, she pushed him onto his back, slapping away his hands as they reached for her and kneeling between his legs.
She switched to a furious pace, stroking him hard and fast before slowing again, the pleasure sharp, coiling deep inside him. His back arched as she brought him to the edge. He moaned in frustration as she stopped, stroking the first drops of fluid over the sensitive head, before dropping her head to slide her lips around him, her tongue stroking, teasing. She plunged down over and over, feeling the blood thrum beneath her lips as he arched up to match her caresses, his breath catching almost silently. Sliding her hand between her own thighs, she slickened her fingers with her own wetness before reaching between his legs, stroking his balls, behind them, until she circled his ass. His hands dropped to her head as he moaned her name, whispering in Russian and English, as she eased a finger into the velvety softness. She lifted her head momentarily to look at him, finding the hard knot inside him. His eyes flew open as he pushed back against her hand, his own hand dropping to stroke himself hard. Laurie watched, desire coiling within her again as his head fell back, his lip caught between his teeth. Peeling his fingers away, she dropped to lave him again, his hard flesh slick. It was only moments before he crumbled under his ministrations, spilling into her mouth. She suckled softly as his taut muscles relaxed, and she slid up across his hips.
Lowering herself, she moaned as she sank onto him, his hips moving to shift her to a deeper coupling. Their lovemaking was fast and furious. Alex rolled her onto her back and slammed into her hard, the headboard thudding into the wall until they cried out in unison. He kissed her, his fingers tangled in her hair, before drawing away and heading into the bathroom. Laurie must have been dozing, because when Alex kissed her lips gently, she woke with a start. He was dressed, his leather jacket draped over the end of the bed.
"I have to leave." he told her. "It'll be light soon."
Laurie nodded, her heart heavy. What had started as kidnapping had turned into a night of the most intense pleasure she had experienced. She didn't want it to end. Alex lifted her face until her eyes met his, and smiled gently.
"This won't be the last time you see me." he told her.
"Is that a threat or a promise?" she asked softly. He stroked her cheek, his lips brushing her forehead.
"A promise, mne liubov." he whispered against her ear. He stood and slung his jacket over his shoulder. At the door, he turned and looked at her.
"Goodbye Alex." she murmured.
"Not 'goodbye'." he told her. "Until next time."