Znakomyy, Part 2

1. Honest

“God, if that man grabs my shoulder again, I’m going to put him in the ground,” Michelle smiled and waved to an investor, talking through grit teeth.

“Looks like I was right to buy you those Tae Kwon Do classes,” Miles laughed, plucking her empty glass from her hand. “You might need a refill after that conversation.”

Michelle nodded, giving him a pitiful face. “Before I scream.”

“Down tiger, I’ll be right back.”

“A pinot grigio, please!” She called after him.

Michelle paused to contemplate the room after her husband slipped into the crowd. Many of their guests seemed to have forgotten their checkbooks this evening, preferring to keep conversations on the upcoming holidays or current events. With tonight’s abysmal turnout, their wing would take at least two more years in order to get built. They were right when they said that the move up to administration was a headache and a paycheck, but she had no idea it would be this tedious. Her beaded clutch vibrated in her hand. She undid the clasp and checked her phone, suddenly flooded with notifications. Six messages from Bones.

She glowered at her phone. Another night with Kostya back in town, drunk and looking for a diversion until his next layover. Rolling her eyes, she swiped away the notifications.

“Something wrong?” Miles returned, with a new glass of champagne for the both of them. A brave choice, considering that he generally didn’t take his alcohol well.

“No, just checking to see if I have any messages from the dog sitter,” she shook her head, locking her phone.

Her husband gave her an indulgent smile, his almond eyes curving into gentle half-moons, “Don’t worry about the dog, Jenna’s got it.” He took the cell from her hands and slipped it into the pocket of his dress pants.

“Miles,” she protested.

“Uh-oh, looks like you should hold onto this instead,” he handed her the glass of champagne.

“Okay fine, you’re right,” she said, reaching out to accept.

“Be here now,” he rubbed her back through her portofino.

“Thank you, Dr. Ngyuen.”

“Of course, Dr. Spotleva,” he said graciously, draping her hand over his outstretched arm. He lead them through the glass atrium of the western wing of the college.

She’d first seen Miles here years ago, when he started as an adjunct here, working fervently to finish a PhD track, and just as fervently concerned with making a good enough impression to get hired Post-Doc.

Michelle taught a class down the hall from his, and it was hard to forget how soulfully he stared out the windows of the atrium when his classes let out, in his own world. She wondered what he was constantly working out in his mind, staring out at the courtyard below like it was a silent council.

She finally decided she liked him after she observed him teach at a guest lecture, when he rolled up the sleeves of his sweater and she could see his delicately wiry wrists below. Miles spent the entirety of the lecture speaking to an empty corner of the room, too humiliated to address the crowd behind him. Then, with a small voice, he thanked them for coming and wrapped up the seminar.

After the lecture, Michelle decided to do something about things.

As Miles packed up his things into a small, black tote, she focused on his hands, slipping things into the bag. The din of the closing seminar grew silent around her and she could feel herself loosen from time, just slightly. She took the moment to impose her will on the space around him, pushing into the psychic static like a magnet pushing against the same pole. She pushed until she could feel a soft pop in reality.

As if on cue, Miles stopped, forgetting what he was reaching for on the desk. Turning away from his overlooked car keys, he left without remembering to check for their weight in his pockets. Without another glace, Miles set his eyes on the ground and left the room immediately.

Michelle laughed at herself, a little ashamed that she was using such a dirty trick to catch him alone. She took her time putting away her things, telling her friends she would catch up later, moving towards the door only when everyone else had cleared out of the seminar hall.

Then, she simply pulled out her phone and waited. Before long, she could hear his shoes coming back down the hall. Just as she could hear the steps near the door, she stepped out, looking down at her screen.

Miles ran into her, dropping his research papers on the ground.

She regarded him over the top of her phone, “Oh, I’m sorry. I just stayed behind to send a quick email.”

“No, that’s fine, I was just--” he went to gesture politely but could only just stand there, looking flustered.

Michelle stooped down in her pencil skirt to help him pick up his research, “Pardon.”

“No--that’s on me, Doctor Spotleva. I’m sorry to bother you.”

She paused, surprised that he recognized her, “How’d you know that?”

“Your name?” He smiled shyly, towards the ground, collecting his papers. “Your translation of Brothers Karamazov is pretty well known here, not just in Humanities. I was actually pretty surprised you came. Didn’t know neuroreceptors were your thing.”

Her brows furrowed, feeling like he was putting her on, “Really?”

“Yes,” he said, now visibly coloring. She could tell that he was avoiding specifically looking at her legs.

“Plus there’s the other thing.”

“What other thing?”

He shook his head, his jet black hair covering most of his mortified face. “No, sorry, it’s not work appropriate. I shouldn’t have mentioned it.”

“The what?” she smiled wickedly, holding his papers hostage.

He stared helplessly at her for a moment before hanging his head. “The chili pepper.”

She was confused for a moment. “The chili pepper?”

“On Rate My Professors. You have a chili pepper on your page. Quite a few, actually.”

“Well,” Michelle tried to hold back a stunned laugh. He was far more forthcoming than she expected him to be. “I guess my reputation precedes me. Or at least my chili peppers do,” she relinquished the papers to his grasp, brushing dirt off her skirt delicately. She felt his gaze follow the path of her fingers.

“You’ve been getting quite a bit of renown, too, from what I hear,” Michelle stood, holding out a hand to help him up, “Miles Ngyuen. Proponent for treatment of PTSD with Lysergic Acid Diethylamide.”

Miles paused for a moment warily before accepting her hand, “You got me.”

She handed him his emptied folder, “You’re not looking into starting a new religion here at Harvard? I hope

I’m not disappointing you in letting you that’s been done already.”

His lips twisted sardonically, “No. My sister’s a veteran in treatment. I’m not here to beguile any co-eds during my tenure.”

“I take it you’re not the beguiling type?”

“I never said that,” he said, giving her a discreet smile.

Michelle admired the string lights they hung for the night’s Gala, a nostalgic smile playing on her lips. “You remember we met here, not too far from here?”

“I remember I was picked up by a gorgeous blonde after losing my keys, yes,” Miles replied.

“I think the only thing getting picked up there was your research paper,” she teased.

He laughed, before taking a step back and regarding her at arms length, “Mmm, yup. Still gorgeous.”

She appreciated the way the soft light above hit Miles, falling in his coal black hair, and warming his tawny face. The burnt orange button-up was a fitting choice, doing lovely things to his light brown eyes and slightly flushed cheeks. “Do you want to get out of here?”

He groaned, leaning back, “Dear Lord, I thought you’d never ask.”

The keys clattered to the marble countertop, the loudest noise in their quiet apartment as they came home. The front door shut behind them, the outdated holiday wreath attached to it swinging softly.

“I’m going to take it a lot easier on my wine next time,” Miles said, folding his blazer over the kitchen counter stool.

“You’re such a lightweight,” Michelle laughed, leaning down to take off her sling-backs. She could see him wobbling slightly, standing there and holding onto the stoolback. “I could’ve sipped you under the table three times over already.”

“Oh I see,” Miles laughed, his olive face flushed, “You were trying to get me drunk.”

“Well it does get you frisky,” she smiled charmingly across the kitchen, knowing it would take her shy husband off-guard.

He pulled her in by the waist, “You don’t have to get me drunk for that.”

She pulled his head down and kissed him, tasting the sharp bite of his merlot. She could feel his hands, slowly and searchingly working her blouse out of her skirt. Sighing, she closed her eyes and enjoyed the feeling of his hands undoing her bra.

Then faintly--so softly she thought she was imagining it--she heard a lighter go off. That was when she realized the balcony was door open. Michelle’s body froze, trying to remember if she’d forgotten to lock it from earlier. “Miles,” she said, putting a hand on his shoulder, “Did you open the balcony door just now?”

He took his face from the crook of her neck and looked behind him, at the curtain flapping in the mild wind. “No, Mich. I don’t remember doing that.” He reached for his phone, eyes trained on the open screen.

“I’m going to call the cops.”

“Don’t,” she said, frustrated. She could smell them now, Marlboro Reds. She only knew one person still smoking them. “I’ll take care of it.”

“Take care of it?”

She poked her head out onto the balcony and sighed when she saw Kostya’s moonlit outline.

“Bones,” she said, stepping out in her bare, stockinged feet, “Don’t you believe in making plans?”

“Only if you believe in picking up,” he said, flicking his cigarette over the railing.

“Are you here to cockblock me?” Michelle said asked.

“I block nothing,” he held up his hands defensively. “Just bored tonight.”

“Use the door next time, you have keys for a reason,” she said, feeling a growing weariness as he padded inside with his boots on, treading over her new cream-colored rug.

“Hello Miles,” Kostya replied, sliding into the counterstool cooly. Even sitting down, he towered over his hosts. “You guys coming back from a date?”

“A fundraiser,” Michelle said, rubbing her temples. “For the new research wing of the College.”

“Kostya,” Miles said, reddening when he saw him. “Nice of you to drop by.”

Michelle shifted uncomfortably. It wasn’t that Miles didn’t like her childhood friend, but rather that Bones completely unseated his calm. The fact that he commonly barged in on them like a drunken frat boy, or the general size of him wasn’t quite what irked Miles.

Rather, it was the gravitational magnetism of Bones that flustered Miles, who was so used to taking the world at his own speed. There was a hurtle to everything about the scruffy libertine slouched on her counter stool, a momentum that felt hard to throw the brakes on once he got started.

Being the master of himself was something Miles took pride in, but decimating control was something Kostya sipped on like a fine wine. She knew that first hand. Michelle began to feel a deep exhaustion setting in. Before it could overtake her completely, she tried to cross the kitchen, “What are you having, Bones? I’ll fix something for you.”

He stopped her by putting a hand on her shoulder, ice cold. It made her wonder how long he’d been out there on the balcony, waiting for them to come home. She wondered if he got cold at all anymore, like her.

“No, no, no,” he insisted, moving to the bar “You relax. I’ll make you two something I had in Dubrovnik.”

She met Miles’ gaze in the kitchen and gestured her head towards the couch. He nodded and settled onto the soft creased leather with her. She tried to give him an apologetic look, but he seemed like he was reaching his daily limit of polite interaction.

“Where are you headed to this time, Bones?” She asked, watching him fiddle with the mesh filter of their cocktail shaker.

“Prague,” he answered vaguely, stooping down in front of their service bar, “Do you have any red pepper flakes?”

She pointed towards the kitchen, “Bottom right cabinet, on the spice rack.”

Miles tried to hide his mildly disgusted face, but Michelle caught him, laughing silently. She looked back over to the oversized manchild raiding a spice cabinet that he was too tall for, wondering what in the world he could possibly want in Prague. It hardly seemed like a party destination fit for Kostya, with all its manicured castles and farty old tourists.

He must have sensed that she had her attention trained on him, because Kostya turned around with red pepper in hand, winking as he tossed it gently in its small glass jar. After a moment of mad scientist mixing at the bar, he returned to the couch, placing their drinks neatly in front of them on the coffee table. Then, without invitation, he sighed tiredly and settled between the two of them on the couch, still in his boots and coat.

Michelle could tell by the look on Miles’s face that he was quickly approaching the limit to his patience. Even so, she watched him straighten out his rumpled dress shirt and politely ask, “What’s waiting for you in Prague?”

Kostya lifted his drink to his lips, inhaling. “Just a bit of R and R.”

Reading people was Kostya’s specialty, but Michelle had known him long enough to know that he was full of shit. Her guess was that he was hitting up an old flame--the idea of it giving her a dull sort of pain.

He was a man that was hard to pin down and even harder to understand in his frenetic moments, no catching on to his irrational flight patterns. She couldn’t count how many times they’d tried to stay abreast of each other’s comings and goings, but he was always off chasing his next new fascination. She tried to swallow down the wall of dissonant nausea, climbing up her throat.

Kostya cocked his head to the side, regarding her over his glass. He must have sensed a surge of something off her, which made her kick herself. Usually he was the only one showing up drunk, and she was a lot more careful at keeping charge of her feelings. She had to be, at least, unless she wanted to be completely undone by his chaos.

“Relaxing is good Bones,” she said, giving her husband a pointed look over Kostya’s head as he bent down to untie his boots. “Miles and I don’t do enough of it.”

“I can see that,” Kostya said, getting up and crossing to the other side of the couch. He grabbed Miles good-naturedly by his narrow shoulders, “This poor guy is wound up like a clock.”

Miles jumped looking mortified. He turned to her for help, but she was moving in slow motion through a champagne haze, and she was too in her cups but do anything giggle.

“Bones you brute,” she said, yelling at him across the couch like an inattentive pet owner, “Take it easy on Miles, he’s a person, not a chew toy.”

“I think Miles can speak for himself,” Kostya rebuffed, massaging his shoulder like a prize-fighting champ.

Her friend gave her a look from over the top of Miles’s dizzy head, before leaning down, “Do you know how long I’ve known this freckled rascal over there?”

“How long?” Miles said, suddenly distracted by Kostya’s ministrations. Bones had a way of intimidating people just to put them off kilter enough to pay perfect attention to his captivation. He was the perfect conqueror.

Kostya waited on her for an answer, and before long, both men were.

She cleared her throat, taking a sip of Kostya’s cocktail, “Twenty-seven this year. I think that’s your lucky number, isn’t it?”

“Twenty-seven years this September,” he confirmed with a wink. “This little lady taught me how to speak English. I was months away from being left back a year.”

“Lucky guy,” Miles echoed, giving her a weak smile.

“No, I think that’s you,” Kostya smiled at her and she felt her stomach bottom-out from the mischief laden in it. He slipped a hand down the front of Miles’ unbuttoned shirt, running his fingers across his delicate collarbone. “You’re married to this enchanting creature.”

Miles’ heavy eyelids fluttered, mouth fumbling for the right words. All this time around Bones--Miles had never acted anything but irritated and bowled over. But the deeper truth of it seemed to be that he was flustered by him. The thought of it admittedly turned her on far more than she wanted it to. “I don’t think—” he said and then trailed off.

Kostya looked at her for approval, like a dog waiting for the command to kill, poised over Miles’ throat.

Her husband looked at her, eyebrows furrowing, and it made her pause, questioning whether or not she wanted she wanted to take it anywhere past here. They were hurtling along at Bone’s speed, not their own.

She felt his eyes burning into her and she remembered that look. He had it every time he was about to get her into an enormous amount of trouble. Michelle risked a glance at him and was immediately pinned by his knowing smile. He was pushing her over a fence she had no idea she’d been sitting on, all just by showing up and pushing the right buttons. She hated that Bones had come to reassert his presence in her life, and he wouldn’t leave until his work was done.

“Miles,” she asked softly, “How are you feeling?”

“Good,” he hummed, woozy and cheerful. “Like the room is spinning.”

“You really are a lightweight. Maybe we should send Kostya home and go to bed,” she reached out to Miles, brushing a thumb over his parted lips. Miles smiled softly into the pressure her fingers, grabbing them and kissing them tenderly.

“I think Miles can speak for himself,” Miles said smiling softly, when he opened them again, his eyes were full of an electrifying confidence, “We don’t have to send Kostya home.”

She didn’t need to look at Kostya to feel the triumph radiating off him in waves, and all her mind could think of saying was simply what a bad influence.

“I like Miles when he’s drunk--he’s honest,” Kostya said approvingly, tugging the man’s shirt open so he could spy downwards.

Miles hummed warmly, putting a clumsy hand in her hair to draw her close. She kissed him, feeling his other hand brush over her shoulders, pushing her shirt off.

Kostya leaned down and nuzzled Mile’s sensitive neck, earning a shy gasp out of him, which grew into a full-fledged moan when he reached the spot behind his ear, just where his slender neck met his lobe. Bones was reading Miles like an old favorite book, making him shiver into her lips.

Michelle pushed the coffee table back, slipping down onto the carpet in front of Miles. She took her time to undo his belt, watching as Bones made him shiver with the sandpaper-rough texture of his beard. She was thrilled and shaking when she pulled him, hard from his pants, half-dazed in disbelief. She darted her tongue over the small bead pooling at the tip of his cock, feeling her face grow red with warmth.

Kostya framed Miles’ delicate face in his huge hands and tipped it backwards. He kissed him deeply and

Michelle swallowed the length of Miles, feeling him buck upward and moan into Kostya’s mouth.

Miles buried his hands into Michelle’s hair, pulling her downwards desperately. His quiet insistence, gently tugging hands, and flushed face were maddeningly beautiful to behold, like a butterfly pinned to cork.

Michelle hollowed out her cheeks and swallowed him down, nails grazing the soft flesh of his trembling thighs. She lavished the underside of his cock with the softness of her lips, running her tongue along the vein there.

Miles’ breaths began to grow short and Kostya pulled away, crossing to the other end of the couch to loom over Michelle. He scooped her up off the carpet by the waist with scarily little effort and pressed her against him.

Dazed, Miles watched Kostya take Michelle by the jaw and kiss her, his hands roving her, squeezing her breasts and pulling them from her black lace bra. He kissed them softly, cupping them in his rough, calloused hands. They roved farther down, over her skirt, pulling it upwards to dig his nails into the shiny nylon of her stockings.

“Get up on the couch, on your knees” he growled, and his voice made her breath catch in her throat.

Michelle complied, feeling her face burning as she kneeled on the couch in front of her husband, her skirt flipped upwards. She heard Kostya unzip his pants and felt it hard to stop the flood of old memories of him. It had been years since they’d been in an even remotely similar situation, but her body somehow still remembered.

Kostya stooped behind her on the couch, his knee dipping the cushion. She was startled when she felt him pinch her stockings and bite into them, shredding them in one, jaunty tug.

She could feel Miles’ eyes on her as Kostya rested his palm on her shoulder, slipping his cock in the newly ripped space between her nylons and the small of her back. He rocked back and forth against her. The pressure of which made her curl backwards, gasping. Miles slipped his hand under her jaw, pulling her mouth towards him.

She nuzzled Miles’ thigh, kissing him softly on the head of his straining cock, and taking him back into her mouth.

Kostya made a pleasant sound at the sight unfolding before him, grabbing Michelle by the hips before entering her roughly.

Michelle cried out, bracing herself by digging her nails into Miles’ soft thigh. She took a deep breath, heady with the feeling of Kostya pressing into the deepest parts of her, hands grabbing her greedily. She felt as if she were falling, a pad of butter melting into them both.

His hands scraped over her torn stockings, hard enough to leave marks, but not for long. They were to remind her of the same ferocity that made her stomach quiver, deep inside herself. A reminder that control, pain and pleasure were inextricably tied together for him. It was his unpredictability that left her winded and shaking in need. Kostya grabbed her firmly by the base of her neck, plunging into her.

She felt herself bottoming out, moaning helplessly around Mile’s cock. Kostya pushed her down onto Miles until she was at the base of him, choking on tears. Her husband came, and Michelle saw stars, coming so hard that all she could do was lay there, head spinning until she could gain some semblance of composure again.

Miles was languid and slow, enjoying the soft daze for minutes, stroking her hair gently. He was asleep, not too long after, curled up on the couch in a drunken stupor.

Michelle got up and went to make tea in the kitchen as Bones stalked off wordlessly to the shower. She enjoyed the sweet, uncomplicated silence for as long as she could before he returned. Why was Bones rushing off to Prague after just coming stateside? It was a nagging question she couldn’t shake from tonight, among so many others. Though she was surprised at herself for caring more than usual.

He was just padding into the kitchen drying his hair when she began to pour her boiling water in her mug. He gave her a comfortable smile, one she hadn’t seen in quite some time.

She blew cool air over the water, to cool her tea down. Then, she leveled a serious stare at him from across the kitchen counter. “I erased the last couple hours from what Miles is going to remember about tonight.”

He nodded to himself like she was confirming something. “Way to make the uninteresting choice.”

“How many times are you going to make me do this, Bones?”

He laughed, but it was a dismissive one, lacking mirth, “You’re the master, I’m the familiar. You call the shots here.”