copyright 2003, by TweedEmpress
The mansion looked, as it always did, half-intimidating, half-inviting. The dark forbidding façade broken by the soft, warm light spilling from the windows. The contradictions seemed to suit its occupant. Gil Grissom blew out a breath and, finally, opened the car door and got out. He hadn’t intended to come here when he had left work, but when he found himself outside her house, he had resolved to go and speak to her. Half an hour later he was still sitting and had almost made up his mind to go home when he got out. Grissom sighed – contradictions were, it would seem, in the cards tonight.
‘Apologies are just words.’
He kept seeing her face: cold and angry and hurt. Grissom stopped just before reaching the door and closed his eyes briefly. He felt ashamed – and slightly angry with himself – that he had done that to her, that he should be the one to put that look on her face. With another breath, Grissom took the last few steps and rang the bell.
It seemed an eternity before he heard the click of the lock and the door opened. It was as though she had been expecting him – her blue eyes were already guarded, her posture rigid and defiant. She was, he thought, utterly beautiful.
‘I suppose you want to come in,’ Lady Heather said coolly.
‘Er, actually, no.’
She raised an eyebrow and he felt a stab of relief – at least he had her attention, and she hadn’t slammed the door in his face. Yet.
‘I was hoping you would come with me. There’s something I want to show you.’
Her eyes scanned his face, trying to find some clue.
‘And if I say no?’
‘Then,’ Grissom sighed. ‘Then I’ll go.’
‘Will you come back and try again?’
Grissom hesitated before answering. If she knew him as well as she said she did, then she would know how difficult it had been for him to come here tonight.
‘I don’t know,’ he replied, honestly.
Lady Heather seemed to nod almost imperceptibly and continued to read his face.
‘Very well, Mr. Grissom. I will come with you now. If you’ll just give me a few minutes.’
‘Of course, Lady Heather.’
She stood aside, allowing him enough room to enter but he shook his head, feeling the need for the cool night air. The door closed again and Grissom leaned against it momentarily. He could face down cold-blooded murderers without flinching, secure in his evidence and his expertise. But this … In this he was floundering and he had no idea what to do or where to find the answers.
The car ride was undertaken in complete silence. Heather leaned back in her seat, apparently watching the road, but she wasn’t really seeing what was in front of her. Grissom glanced at her occasionally, but decided that it was best to leave her be. But the silence became too much, even for him, and he flicked the radio on. Something light and classical filled the space around them and Grissom was glad that it was, at least, something they would both appreciate. The music did alleviate some of the tension and, when she knew for certain that he wouldn’t be able to see her, Heather observed the man next to her out of the corner of her eyes. Curiosity about where this journey was leading had, more than anything, made her agree to go with him. She just wasn’t certain if she was willing to allow herself to be persuaded to give whatever it was they had together another chance. Grissom shifted slightly and Heather turned her head to gaze out of the side-window, blocking him from her sight.
Their destination, when they reached it, turned out to be a quiet apartment block. Lady Heather flashed Grissom a quick, querying look but followed him wordlessly through the foyer and up the flights of stairs until they stopped outside a door. He felt incredibly self-conscious as he unlocked it, aware all the time of her proximity, of her eyes fixed on him. Grissom pushed the door open and then stood aside. Heather held his gaze for a moment and then walked into the apartment. Grissom closed the door and stood, watching her as she paused in the middle of the room, looking about her.
‘Your dominion,’ she said softly.
‘If you want to call it that, yes.’
She walked slowly around the room, stopping again in front of the glass cabinets that held his collection. Insects had never been creatures she was particularly fond of – it wasn’t that she hated them; she just didn’t think anything of them. But there was an austere beauty in the formality of this display that she appreciated; and in the minute intricacies of the tiny bodies, she could understand the fascination. There was no obvious comfort in the room – it was a place that was suited to one person’s tastes and his alone.
‘You don’t bring many people here.’
It was a statement, not a question.
Grissom took a few tentative steps toward her, as though afraid she would suddenly bolt if he came too near. It was slightly overwhelming to see her in his apartment, still dressed in the extravagant costume of her world and yet … Despite everything, she didn’t seem out of place. Her wanderings finally took her to the Eames-style sofa and she sat down, holding her heavy wrap tightly around her, keeping herself contained.
‘Well, Mr. Grissom, why did you bring me here?’
He plunged his hands in his pockets, staring at a point on the floor and then, almost as though he couldn’t stop himself, he told her about his mother; about the slow, pernicious condition that was, through his own body, robbing him of some of the things he loved most. She had allowed him to talk without interruption, watching him, not allowing any flicker of emotion show in her face. She had already guessed his secret, but the severity of the condition surprised her. It must be difficult, she thought, to hide something like that, even for someone who valued their privacy as much as he did. He stopped talking and there was a momentary silence before she asked softly,
‘And none of your colleagues know?’
He shook his head. ‘None. I don’t think any of them would guess – I don’t think I’ve given them any reason to.’
Lady Heather digested this information and then said,’ So, I could walk out of here now and make a report to your superiors, telling them what you’ve just told me?’
‘Yes.’ He smiled wryly to himself, imagining the gleeful expressions on some of his more hostile detractors. ‘In fact, some people might say you had a duty to do so.’
‘It could destroy you.’
‘That is a possibility.’
Lady Heather stood up and walked back across to the display cases, staring at them blankly.
‘Do you really think I would cheapen myself by doing that?’ She turned to face him, her blue eyes unreadable.
There was a pause.
‘No, I don’t think that. I-I’m just giving you an option. Sharing something with you that I haven’t told anyone.’
She lowered her gaze again and then inclined her head, acknowledging the fact he had confided in her. Some of the tension seemed to have eased and now, Grissom felt, he could finally say what he had wanted to say to her ever since he had watched her sitting in that interview room.
‘I never meant to hurt you, Lady Heather.’
‘But you did.‘
She held his gaze and Grissom nodded humbly.
‘I would have given you anything you’d asked for – if only you had asked,’ she continued softly and, for the first time that night, he could detect a trace of vulnerability in her eyes.
He shook his head.
‘It doesn’t work like that. I hold my people up to a very high standard and if I don’t follow it myself, how can I expect them to? It’s what I do, no matter how I feel, personally…’ he trailed off and closed his eyes, blowing out a breath. ‘And that isn’t the entire truth. You were right; it scares me that you know me so well, so soon. I overreacted: I needed to prove to myself that I could still do my job objectively, as a scientist.’
Heather arched an eyebrow.
‘I am not one of your specimens.’
‘Yes, I can see that.’ Grissom paused before continuing. He still had no idea how this evening would end and even the fact that she had stayed this long meant nothing. She could still walk out of the apartment and he would, most likely, never see her again. And that thought seemed unbearable. ‘I could have run the tests on your syringe and then acted on whatever evidence I discovered. There was no reason to subject you to that … humiliation, except-’ He gestured helplessly. ‘You paid the price for my insecurity.’
Lady Heather had remained perfectly still and he took a few steps closer to her.
‘I know that you don’t get involved easily, anymore than I do.’
‘I can’t afford to,’ she replied. ‘I’m quite sure you can see why.’ There was a faint accusation in her tone.
‘Yes.’ He was feeling increasingly frustrated with himself – the conversation kept going in a circle and he was beginning to think that there was no way to break it. ‘So I know how difficult it must have been for you to open up to me. You handled it better than I did. I still don’t know how to handle it. Bringing you here, all of this … this was the best I could come up with.’
Grissom wasn’t quite sure how it had happened that they were standing so close to each other. He had, over the course of the conversation moved toward her, but she had seemed immobile. Perhaps, unconsciously, they had been drawn back together.
She sighed. ‘So, this is what it comes to? You get the power to hurt me and I get the power to destroy you? It sounds like a fair exchange – but not a very healthy one.’
‘I think we have more to offer each other than that, Lady Heather.’
‘Trust,’ he answered decisively. ‘You understand a lot about power – you must know that part of giving someone power over you is the trust that they won’t abuse it. I abused your trust once, but I can promise you that it will never happen again.’
Her eyes searched his face and then, very slowly, she leaned forward until her lips brushed across his. Grissom felt a jolt of electricity at that whisper-light touch.
‘What was that?’ he asked, voice slightly hoarse.
Heather smiled, the ice in her eyes finally replaced by sparkling warmth.
‘Me accepting your apology.’ She leaned in again and he could feel her breath against his face, her lips tantalizingly close to his. ‘But I‘m holding you to your promise, Mr. Grissom.’
His hands moved to cradle her face and he caressed her cheeks with his thumbs, savoring the anticipation.
‘I have no intention of saying stop,’ he informed her, a faint smile hovering at the corners of his mouth.
He claimed her mouth and her lips parted, allowing him entry. Heather let out a slight hum of pleasure deep in her throat as his tongue slid across hers. She wound her arms around his neck, allowing her wrap to fall from her shoulders and slanted her mouth across his to deepen her access, kissing him hungrily.
Grissom’s hands followed the contours of her shoulders and then slipped down her back, drawing her even closer to him. His fingers encountered a number of cold metal buckles and he fumbled slightly. He felt her laugh against his mouth and Heather pulled back slightly from the embrace, her breathing unsteady. There was an implicit challenge in her eyes and she turned around slowly in his arms. The back of her dress consisted of numerous leather straps criss-crossing her flesh and fastened by buckles. He wondered, fleetingly, how she had managed to get into it in the first place. He slid his fingers beneath on of the buckles, gently working the strap free and carefully letting the pieces fall to Heather’s sides before stooping slightly to kiss the area of skin now revealed. She arched her back, leaning into the caress. He moved to the next buckle, repeating the same process and then to the next until Heather suddenly turned, pulling his mouth down over hers, her fingers laced behind his neck. He pressed her closer to him, matching her passion. Her hands moved to his shoulders and then down the front of his shirt until they reached his belt buckle. Grissom suddenly caught hold of her wrists.
‘There are more comfortable places for this.’
She raised an eyebrow.’
‘In this apartment?’
He smiled at her.
‘You haven’t seen all of it yet.’
The dominatrix glanced around and then met his eyes again.
copyright 2003, by TweedEmpress