Two Years Later
Braden and I held hands as we exited the train, keeping our fingers interlaced even when the crowd was thick and pushed against us. That’s how we were these days. Inseparable.
“I’m practically trembling with excitement!” I said as we walked down the tunnel leading up to the surface. “What do you think he chose?”
Braden shrugged his shoulders and glanced at me with his piercing eyes. “No idea.”
“Come on. Surely you have a favorite pick.”
I punched him in the arm playfully. “You’re no fun.”
“Actually, I think it’s tremendously fun to tease you.”
I stuck out my tongue at him.
We walked up the stairs, then down a long, poorly-lit hallway that connected one platform to another. The sound of trains on tracks rumbled above and below us. I was still daydreaming about the night ahead of us when I realized we weren’t heading the right way.
“Where are we going?” I asked. “The exit is that way.”
“We’re not going to the exit. Do you know what today is?”
“Um,” I said as we walked. There was nobody around us now. “The day Jack unveils his new theater and show. Duh.”
Braden reached a door marked Metropolitan Transit Authority Only, and smiled. “Today’s a special anniversary.”
He tried the knob. The door opened easily. We found ourselves in a dark room with humming machinery. An electronics switchboard room for the station. Braden closed the door behind us and flicked the deadbolt.
A wide smile split my face. “The night we made love for the first time!”
“Oh, we didn’t make love,” he corrected. “That night we fucked. Happy two year fuckaversary, Nadia.”
I kissed him, and his lips were warm and soft. “What happened last year?”
“I forgot,” he admitted.
I pouted. “A night as special as that and you forgot—”
He cut me off with another kiss, one that was so desperate and hungry it forced me backwards. I surrendered to his tongue in my mouth, undulating against my own as my back hit a terminal desk and stopped me short.
“After the expensive steakhouse Andy took me to last night, you seem like you have something to prove.”
His blue eyes sparkled in the semi-darkness, reflecting only the light of the electronics displays. “The only thing I have to prove is how much I love you.”
“I love you too,” I breathed automatically, spoken with my heart and soul.
I yelped as he bent me over the electronics terminal and lifted up my skirt. He went to his knees behind me, twisted apart my panties, and buried his face in my pussy from behind. I moaned loudly—louder than I wanted, but I couldn’t control myself—as his insanely long tongue penetrated my lower lips. It writhed and swirled, hitting every nerve in my pussy while he kept one hand on my lower back, forcing me to stay bent at the waist.
“How’s that feel?” he asked, breath hot on my ass cheeks. It felt like we were pretending it was that first night again, when we were barely acquainted but still couldn’t keep our hands off each other.
“It feels amazing,” I whispered.
Now his tongue didn’t tease; it pushed deep inside my pussy, rigid and hard. Once inside he moved it down, then up, an eager wedge to taste every inch of me. I pushed back against his face involuntarily, begging him to keep tongue-fucking me in the deep recesses of the subway.
I moaned and moaned as he ate me out, his hawk-like nose pressing against my asshole with each thrust. Andy had fucked me in the ass last night and I was still a tad sore, but I was beginning to rethink that as Braden went to town on my cunt in the darkness. I’d do whatever he wanted.
“Fuck me,” I moaned, voice echoing in the empty room.
Braden stood and twisted me around until my face was close to his. “I want to stare into your eyes when I do,” he said, just like he’d said that night two long years ago.
He picked me up effortlessly and put me back down on the desk. I wrapped my legs around his waist and pulled him in, accepting his cock deep into my pussy in one long, endless thrust. We moaned together in the belly of the subway station, joined by our most sensitive flesh. He filled me completely, the way he always did. Like we were two machinery parts meant to be joined together.
Braden gazed down at me with hooded eyes. He was beautiful in that moment, as he was always beautiful, his hard jawline clenching with intensity as he savored how I felt from the inside.
“Fuck, Nadia. You feel good.”
“Not as good as you,” I purred back.
He grinned at me, and I almost died right then and there. “I beg to differ.”
I removed Braden’s shirt so I could run my hand along his chiseled chest while he fucked me steadily. In response to my touch, Braden moved his hand to my belly and then his thumb slid down to my clit. He began rubbing in a slow circle, at the practiced pace that he knew drove me wild. His face was shadowed in the darkness but I could see him biting his lip.
“Nadia,” he said, a prayer and a moan and a curse all at once. “Nadia, I…”
“I know,” I moaned back, throwing my hips into him with each thrust. “Harder. Fuck me harder!”
“Just like that. Don’t stop.”
“Never!” he breathed.
He was pulling all the way back each time, slamming his cock deep inside of me. His free hand gripped my waist and tensed, a vibration growing in his entire body. All the while his thumb swirled on my clit, bringing me closer and closer…
“Yes,” I moaned, urging myself on more than him. “Right there, just like that, yes, yes, yes, oh my God fuck me I’m coming!”
“Nadia!” he roared.
We came together like two freight trains colliding on the same track. Our bodies seized up and trembled, fingers grabbing and scratching and digging into each other. My lips tried to find his in the darkness but I kissed his jaw instead, biting down gently and then licking along his neck as he filled me with his come.
Braden smirked at me in the darkness. “That gets better every time.”
“Our sex life is aging like fine wine.”
“Speaking of wine, we’d better get to the party.”
We quickly got dressed and then quietly exited the room, then made our way up the stairs to the streets of New York. I took Braden’s hand and gave it a squeeze.
“I could do this for the rest of my life,” I said without thinking.
I tensed the moment the words were out of my mouth. I meant it, but I hadn’t meant to say it. I was practically asking him to marry me.
I wasn’t the only one who tensed. Braden walked noticeably more stiff as he said, “Yeah, uh, this is really great.”
“So great,” I repeated. Now things were awkward.
Stupid Nadia, why did you have to say that?
I berated myself for the rest of the walk.
Jack Vandercant’s new theater was on 48th Street, right in the heart of the theater district. An antique theater sign above the entrance proclaimed in big letters:
The lobby was impressive with old wood walls and brass fixtures, but the prize was just beyond the wide double-doors. The theater was larger than the first Vandercant Theater, with a wider stage and several levels of private boxes up the side. I gazed up at the majestic balcony section with awe.
“Impressive, isn’t it!” Jack Vandercant declared. He was up on stage with several other familiar faces.
“Impressive is an understatement,” Dorian said while opening a bottle of champagne. The cork popped and flew off into the catwalks above the stage.
“Careful,” Andy said, eyes blinking with alarm behind his glasses. “We don’t need to cause any spotlights to fall onto the stage.”
“Fuckin’ tell me about it,” Ryan agreed, grinning widely at me from across the theater.
Jack hugged me as we climbed up on stage. He was practically like a second father to me now that we’d been working together for two years. “Oh, I don’t think we need to worry about spotlights malfunctioning. Unless any of you have a deranged actress granddaughter?”
We all laughed at the joke. It was good that we could laugh about it now.
Dorian poured champagne into six glasses and handed them out. When we each had one, I raised my glass high. “To the new Vandercant Theater!”
Jack raised his. “No. To the best actors and lighting crew a producer could ever ask for! Without you, this is just a useless expensive real estate investment.”
“Aww shucks. If you say so,” I giggled.
We sipped our champagne and smiled.
Jack’s phone rang in his pocket. “Excuse me a moment,” he said, dashing off backstage to answer it. As soon as he was gone, I tugged on Braden’s arm.
“Hey. About what happened earlier…”
“What do you mean?”
The others were watching. I lowered my voice and said, “My comment about doing it forever. I wasn’t trying to imply anything about a long-term commitment, or marriage…”
Braden immediately tensed again.
“Dude,” Ryan said. “You told her?”
“Told me what?” I asked.
Braden put down his champagne so he could hold up both palms. “I swear I didn’t. She kind of brought it up out of the blue earlier.”
“Tonight, or all nights?” Dorian replied. “That’s a far-fetched coincidence.”
I cleared my throat conspicuously. “Will someone fill me in on what’s going on?’
Braden looked like he was going to throw up. I’d never seen the gorgeous actor look so green before. He jammed his hand in his pocket like he was trying to find a handkerchief to vomit into.
Instead, he pulled out a small black box.
“Nadia,” he said in a deep voice. He was practically shaking, but the look in his eyes was strong, and that’s what mattered most. “I fell in love with you soon after I met you, but after two years I know I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Just like you said in the subway today.”
“Oh my God,” I said in a squeaky voice. Ryan, Andy, and Dorian wrapped their arms around each other’s shoulder while watching. Dorian looked like he was going to cry!
Braden opened the box. Inside was a yellow gold engagement ring with a sparkling round diamond. “Nadia Helmuth, will you spend the rest of your life with me?”
I was almost too shocked to speak. What I ended up saying was, “Aren’t you supposed to get down on one knee?”
“Total dealbreaker, bro,” Ryan said.
Dorian nodded. “Where’s your sense of drama, Braden?”
Finally Braden went down on his knee and held the ring out. Only then did I bob my head and say, “Yes, yes, of course I will!”
I held out my hand and Braden slid the ring on the finger of my left hand. The diamond sparkled in the overhead lights of the stage, sending prism colors across the back of my hand.
I glanced over at the other three. “What about… Um…”
Ryan smirked over at me. “Alright, fine. I guess we’ll join the fun…”
And then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small black box.
Dorian leaped forward before he could, dramatically falling on one knee and extending his own box. “Dearest Nadia, the gem of Vandercant Theater and love of my life! Will you—”
Ryan shoved him sideways, knocking him to the stage. “We agreed on an order, asshole. You’re stealing my thunder.” Ryan turned to me and opened the box, then shrugged. “You want to spend more time together and stuff?”
I loved how casual he was about the whole thing. It totally fit his personality. “Yeah, I guess I don’t have anything better planned for the next 50 years.”
He slid the ring on my finger, which held an identical round diamond. But unlike Braden’s ring—which was perfectly symmetrical—Ryan’s diamond was strangely lop-sided on the band.
Andy came forward before I could say anything. He sheepishly took a deep breath, then remembered that he was supposed to be on one knee.
“I accept,” I said, saving him from the speech I knew he would struggle to make.
He sighed with relief. “I’m so happy to hear that, Nadia.” His ring was like the mirror image of Ryan’s, lopsided but on the other side. When all three of them slid on my finger, with the bands flush together, the diamonds formed a V shape.
Dorian slid to his knees again with dramatic flair. “As I was saying before being rudely interrupted… Nadia, dearest! Love of my life and gem of the Vandercant Theater! The most beautiful woman in New York—nay, America! NAY, THE WORLD!”
“Get on with it!” Ryan said, half joking and half serious. “You’re showing the rest of us up.”
Dorian swept me into my arms and dipped me low on the stage so quickly I squeaked. “It’s you, Nadia, that I want. It’s you, and it will always be you.”
His kiss was slow and quaint, a promise being made to me. I kissed him back, accepting it.
When he slid his ring onto my finger, I saw why the others were shaped differently. The bands all clicked together, forming a square cluster with the four diamonds. Like one large ring made up of individual ones.
I would have made a Power Rangers joke if I wasn’t so close to crying.
Fortunately, Jack chose that moment to return. “Sorry about that! Business never ends. Now, the big question: what should the inaugural show for the new theater be?”
“CATS!” I declared happily. “Let’s do Cats!”
Everyone groaned except Vandercant, who gazed around the group with confusion. “What is the matter with that choice?”
“It’s a long story,” Braden explained. “If you choose Cats, she’ll never let us hear the end of it.”
I stuck out my tongue at him.
The door to the back of the theater opened and the one person who was missing walked in: Director Atkins.
“Sorry I’m late,” he called, jogging up the aisle and onto the stage to join us. His voice echoed in the empty theater. “The E-train was a bitch tonight.”
“Crap, we toasted without you!” I said. “Isn’t it bad luck to toast before everyone arrives?”
“It definitely is,” Ryan said, deathly serious all of a sudden. “In fact, bad omens have been recorded in theaters going back to pre-Elizabethan England…”
Atkins took a freshly-poured glass from Jack. “I don’t think we need to worry about bad luck. Unless anyone has a crazy granddaughter in the cast who can’t handle the pressure.”
“Mr. Vandercant already made that joke,” Braden said.
“Goddamnit, I hate being late.”
“A valiant joke nonetheless,” Dorian said with a bow.
Atkins smiled at me, then gave a start. “Woah. When did you get hitched?”
Jack blinked at me, eyes widening as he noticed my finger. “Oh. Oh my!”
“It just happened,” Andy explained.
Jack’s jaw dropped. “And I missed it?”
“It was kind of a private thing,” Ryan said.
Atkins hugged me, and kept hugging me longer than a normal hug. I could feel his emotion in the moment, how happy he was, and when he pulled back there were tears in his eyes.
“About time,” he said, wiping a tear away. “You guys will make a happy couple—err, happy group.”
Atkins and Jack knew about my weird harem relationship. Both had been completely supportive since day one, although Atkins had raised concerns about what would happen if we all broke up and made the workplace awkward. Fortunately, that had never been a problem.
And it never will be one, now.
I flinched as a gunshot-like sound went off. Jack was holding the end of a champagne bottle, with foamy bubbles pouring out the fresh opening. “Forget the theater. We need to toast to you five!”
We refilled our glasses and toasted again, then shared more hugs. Jack hugged me last and longest of all.
“You’ve come a long way from being a bartender at one of my businesses,” he said.
“I have,” I said in a choked-up voice.
“So,” Atkins said to clear the air from all the emotion. “What show are we going to choose to run?”
“Cats,” I said. “We’ve chosen Cats.”
Atkins rounded on Jack with fury in his eyes. “If we do Cats I’m quitting. You can find another director!”
We all laughed and drank champagne and continued teasing each other about the show long into the night.