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Trigger warnings for this chapter:
CHAPTER 9 ~ SURPRISE
"Yes? Can I help you?"
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Madame. I am paying a business call on your husband; is he at home?"
"Oh! Um, no. No, he's not. He's, ah, he's out at the moment. I'm not sure what time he'll be back." Cornelia gave an apologetic smile to the stranger on her doorstep. "Business meetings. They tend to run late, you know."
"Ah." The stranger looked slightly bewildered. "A pity, for it is most important that I speak with him."
"Well..." Cornelia chewed on her lower lip; an unfortunate habit that Agnes had always told her gave away her uncertainty. "He might not be long. You could wait inside?"
The stranger took her hand between two surprisingly-cool and dry palms, raised it to his lips, and kissed her fingers. Something deep inside her fluttered for a moment, then she dismissed it. He's French. They're charmers. Agnes always said so.
"Madame, it would be an honour. I shall wait in the hallway, if it will not be too much of an imposition upon your privacy?"
"Oh, not at all. Would you like a cup of tea while you wait?"
"Thank you. Most kind." The stranger smiled, then touched a hand to his lips. "How remiss of me not to introduce myself. Valois Fulcanelli, at your eternal service."
He bowed low, and there was that flutter again. Cornelia stomped it down, hard. She had other things to worry about than strange French men with startling red hair trying their very best to charm her.
"Nice to meet you. Come in, and I'll put the kettle on. Gunther won't be long." I hope, she added silently.
"This is a beautiful home," M. Fulcanelli remarked as he followed her into the kitchen.
"It feels a bit big and empty sometimes," Cornelia replied as she put the kettle on the hob and dug around in the cupboard for teacups. "I feel like a solitary pea, rattling around in a very big pod."
"Ah, with just the two of you, it must feel that way. May I sit?"
"Of course." Cornelia spooned some tea into the pot, glancing over as the stranger made himself very comfortable at the kitchen table. Something... wasn't quite right.
"In our earlier business dealings, Gunther mentioned he had a son. Surely the presence of a young boy, with all the noise they can produce, makes the home seem a little less empty, non?"
The lid of the pot landed just a little too hard as Cornelia replaced it. "Mortimer is at prep school," she said calmly. "His father's decision." She turned to lean back against the counter, waiting for the kettle to boil. Unconsciously, she rested a hand against her belly and sighed.
"I think..." M. Fulcanelli said, delicately, "that the house may not feel so empty very soon. Forgive me, Madame, but I come from a large family. Maman was forever producing brothers and sisters for me, and I came to know the glow of une femme enceinte at a young age. May I be the first to offer congratulations to you and your husband?"
Flustered, Cornelia stared at him. "I... well... it's so early. It's not something I would... I would wish to announce. Even Gunther doesn't know yet," she stammered.
"I shall not utter a word--" the stranger began, but was cut off as the door opened and Gunther walked in, his suit jacket slung over his arm and an oddly happy smile on his face.
"Darling, there's someone here to see you," Cornelia blurted, quickly turning back to the stove.
M. Fulcanelli rose from his seat. "Monsieur Goth, the business could not wait, and I apologise for the presumption in visiting you at home, and at so late an hour."
Cornelia watched her husband. Well, what the hell was going on here? Gunther looked absolutely stricken. His recovery was impressive, but Cornelia knew from her first look at him that he was caught completely off-guard by his visitor.
"Uh, quite all right. Would you like to come up to the office? Hello, dear."
Cornelia proffered her cheek for Gunther's perfunctory kiss - all for the benefit of their red-haired visitor, of course - and then turned back to the suddenly-very-interesting kettle.
"Ah, your lovely wife was just making some tea for me. May I stay you for a moment, that her time is not wasted?"
Gunther nodded, draping his suit jacket over the back of a kitchen chair. Cornelia busied herself with making the tea, turning to look at the pair of them while she waited for the pot to steep.
"Just a couple of minutes." She smiled, watching her husband closely. "Can't have it tasting like gnat's pee."
M. Fulcanelli chuckled. "Indeed no. That would be a most unpleasant drink."
"So, what line of business are you in, Monsieur Fulcanelli?" Cornelia asked. "Gunther rarely mentions work to me, but since you have called on us this evening..." She left the sentence trailing delicately, noting the heightening colour in Gunther's face. He glanced at her, his expression registering annoyance, then looked away. He was still looking at M. Fulcanelli as if the man was about to drop a bomb on the house.
"I am a seller of antique books, Madame. Your husband and I met quite by chance and he mentioned his extensive collection. I have notice of some volumes that may be of interest to him."
Cornelia couldn't help the small grimace that puckered her lips. Oh, the damned books. He's spent far too much of our money on them, and far too much of his time with them. Aloud, she only said, "And this necessitated a visit so late in the evening?"
"I think the tea has steeped for long enough, dear." Gunther's voice cut across the conversation, but before Cornelia could respond, M. Fulcanelli was moving across the kitchen towards her and taking her hand to kiss the back of it again. He looked up through his lashes at her - the strangest ruby red eyes that creeped her out not a little bit - and smiled.
"Madame, it is an imposition, I know. But some books came up suddenly at auction, and I need to know if your husband wishes me to obtain them for him. You are aware, no doubt, of his love for such antiquities?"
Oh god, there was that fluttering again, and this time Cornelia couldn't stamp it out. She rested her other hand against her throat - an unconsciously-protective gesture - and nodded mutely.
"I beg your forgiveness for the intrusion, but you understand the need for urgency that I felt." M. Fulcanelli was speaking again, but Cornelia barely registered his words. All she could do was stare into those freakish eyes.
"I'll... I'll make the tea now," she whispered as he released her, turning blindly to pour three cupfuls: one for each of them.
"Merci." M. Fulcanelli took a small sip and smiled at her. "It is perfect. Now, Monsieur Goth, shall we head to your office?"
No sooner was the office door closed behind them than Gunther put his tea down on the desk and turned on Valois. "What the hell are you doing here?! And why are you like this again? What happened to the rockstar guy?"
"Tsk. That is no way to address a guest in your home."
"For fuck's sake, we're..." Gunther realised his voice was raised and he lowered it to a hiss. "We're fucking, Valois. Or, ar least, me and some version of you are fucking; fuck knows what that's all about. What in hell made you think it was a good idea to come here and antagonise my wife?"
"Purely a social call, I assure you. And your language is terrible."
"A social call?! Seriously? The fuck are you on?!" Gunther took the teacup from Valois's hand and set it down on a side table, moving closer until he had Valois trapped between him and the desk. "Don't fucking push me," he hissed. "I swear, if you do anything that could ruin my reputation in this town..."
"You'll what?" Valois responded coolly. "Ruin the reputation that I do not even have, in return?" He closed his eyes and a small moué twisted his mouth. "Your wife is pregnant. Did you know that?"
Gunther's hands were halfway around Valois's neck. "I'll-- What?!"
"You gave me your promise." Valois opened his eyes again and their intensity was such that Gunther could barely look into them. "What am I to do with this promise when I know you have also fucked your wife since you gave it?"
"She... she's my wife!"
"The wife whom, not many weeks ago, you told me you were all-but estranged from. The wife whose presence you could not bear. The wife who, apparently, you cannot resist, still."
"She... caught me unawares." Fuck it, Gunther. Do you realise how lame you sound right now?
Valois arched one perfect brow. "Is that all it takes to get you in the mood?"
Slowly, Gunther pulled away, covering his eyes with one hand. "I... I don't know. I didn't expect it. She just... took over," he whispered.
Valois sat down in Gunther's chair and examined his fingernails. "For a man who exudes such dominance," he said softly, "you have so much submission hidden just below your surface."
Gunther's hand went down and he stared at Valois. "The hell does that mean?"
Gunther took a step forward before he'd even realised it, and suddenly his shirt was being unbuttoned and slipped from his shoulders. Valois was pressing hot, wet kisses to his neck and collarbones, and he couldn't help but inhale sharply, his dick responding.
"It means this," Valois whispered against his skin, forcing Gunther to the ground with astonishing strength. His dick was hard against Gunther's arse through his pants, and he slipped two fingers into Gunther's panting mouth.
"You let others take you over," he murmured, close to Gunther's ear. "Like this. See? You do not even fight me. You simply take it. Is this what you need, after a long day of being in charge at work? To let go and simply do another's bidding?"
With those fingers in his mouth, Gunther could hardly reply, but he shook his head and whined, trying to pull away, but it was feeble at best and there was nowhere for him to go anyway.
"Your body tells me otherwise." Valois's breath was hot against his neck as his free hand worked the button and zip of Gunther's pants and shoved them down. "Now, we are going to fuck right here in your office, with your beautiful pregnant wife downstairs, and you will be perfectly silent because otherwise she will hear us... and we cannot have that, can we?"
And, just like Valois said, Gunther let him take over. And when it was done, he just gave in.