Chapter 5 : Scrumptious
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It was perhaps the best time of Audrey’s life. Every movement on stage by the actors seemed to thrust her farther and farther away from her troubles and she felt her heart pounding eagerly, her blood flooding with the hope that someday…that could be her.
Someday, she could be on stage performing, riveting audiences and finally standing on her own two feet without the whole world against her. Hope was something that she couldn’t willingly afford but as she watched the Tell-Tale Heart being performed with such breathtaking skill, swooping dialogue and fantastic prose, it brimmed and settled, sparking a fire within her.
Though Percy didn’t speak to her throughout the performance even though she sensed that he wanted to, Audrey’s annoyance with him kept her from even glancing in his direction in the dark. It was a bit cramped in Heathcliff Hall and someone was smoking and every now and then there was a cough but there was no other place that she would want to be.
Percy might not be accustomed to this sort of thing, Audrey found herself thinking bitterly, being seated with ordinary people. And even though she had no idea what he did, something told her that his world was far more glamorous than her own.
What she couldn’t seem to understand, underneath her fascination and wariness of him was why he had come to see her tonight. Although she had longed and dreamed of it, not quite certain what it was that bound them together in this way, Audrey had somehow not expected him to continue seeing her.
They weren’t dating and they weren’t even friends…just two strange people who kept circling around one another, waiting for something that she couldn’t even name. That thought seemed to hang in the air between them as the play continued; the extreme acting somehow lessened at the fact that the man beside her didn’t know her well and that she didn’t know him.
But they were playing a sort of game; information for information and Audrey wanted to know as much about him as possible. She wondered if he felt the same or was doing all of this out of pity. That was something she didn’t need.
There had been enough pity in her life to last a lifetime. Audrey bit down on her lip a little, averting her eyes from the stage and very nearly glancing at Percy, who was a stiff figure beside her, his fists clenched on his thighs. Audrey wanted to touch him…she wanted to reach her across the small space between them and touch his hand.
But touching him was probably not the smartest idea. Every time she touched him, the flare between them nearly grew out of control and he never gave in to it, he never gave her want she wanted. Audrey wasn’t the sort of girl who ever got what she really wanted but it stung a little, her ego affronted that the man she wanted more than she’d wanted anyone else might not be as attracted to her as she thought. And yet, the stares he gave her might mean something right?
There had been plenty of times in the past where a man had made his interest known (Not necessarily in the best way most of the time) but had they ever gotten her theater tickets? Had she ever really talked to them? Audrey knew that she hadn’t and that there was only Percy. Strange, fascinating, slightly scary Percy and she didn’t think she wanted anyone else. It was more terrifying than exhilarating and she didn’t understand why novels made it sound like some happy, transcendent moment and figured that the authors had never been her, had never known that trust was dangerous.
Audrey felt her shoulders slumping but trained her eyes on the stage, watching as the narrator was slowly overcome by madness and she felt a pang of sympathy. She felt as if it were happening to her, though she knew that she would never murder anyone but the fact that Percy was so close…so close and yet so far away tormented her.
Tension seemed to flare between them and for just the briefest of moments; Audrey thought she felt his eyes on her. She felt one of his hands, the heat of it scalding briefly touch her arm, as if he meant to turn her gaze to his but too soon, he allowed his touch to fall but she couldn’t forget how his eyes had felt on her. The pull of them, so sad and regretful caused the hope in her chest to flare out.
Perhaps she was trying too hard but the attraction she felt for him was hard to ignore and she didn’t know what to do with herself, knowing that deep down she was getting her head wrapped around something that could never happen. Percy wouldn’t want someone like her, someone who was nothing but trash. He seemed so distinguished and composed while Audrey was wild and broken. There was no way for them to be together and as the last bits of the play ended, she felt misery spiraling through her at a faster pace than ever before.
The audience was clapping and applauding and Audrey, snapping out of her thoughts, found herself standing eagerly and clapping along with quite a few others. Hoots and cheers exploded through the large space and Percy remained seated, somehow appearing more out of place than Audrey would have been able to guess. But some part of her didn’t want to talk to him just yet, even though the pull between them was starting to ache.
A few lights were flaring back on and drenching them all with an almost heavenly glow. Various cast and crew bowed low on the stage and she caught sight of Joseph Wring, who had played a minor role tonight, looking around at the crowd with a pleasured smile. Audrey had never thought she would be able to ever see him perform in person and the sight of him, handsome, tall and sporting a trained confidence was more than enough to keep her excitement thumping.
She had to at least get an autograph or get a closer look at him, ask him about his time on Broadway. He was a legend to her, someone she looked up to. Joseph had come from rather humble beginnings but had worked his way up, first as a member of the lighting crew and then, years later, as part of Othello. Audrey knew that if there was anyone that could give her some tips on how to make it in this sort of life, it could be him and she felt a smile brimming on her face…one of the first happy smiles that she had had in a while.
Something shifted beside her and she glanced down, noticing that Percy was staring up at her with a peculiar expression, as if he felt…dismissed. Audrey watched in surprise as he stood up amongst various other bodies vacating the theater, pushing and politely excusing himself, “Where are you going?” she called to his back.
Percy ignored her.
“Mr. Wring, could I have your autograph please?” someone’s shrill voice screeched and Audrey turned back towards the stage, where Joseph Wring was coming down to talk to a group of eager young women. For just the briefest of moments, as she stood there, he swiveled his head in her direction and she wondered how he had spotted her before she flushed in embarrassment, knowing that she had been staring at him.
To her amazement, he winked at her. “Cocky shit,” Audrey found herself saying and she blushed all the harder before turning away, looking for Percy. He was walking so quickly that she thought that he might vanish on the spot again, like he had the night that they had met and she was certain that he wouldn’t come back to see her.
Panic flooded through her.
As she tried to push and squeeze her way past various couples and groups, wanting him to stay with her, she heard more squeals. Against her will, Audrey glanced back towards the stage, where Joseph Wring was still surrounded by groupies, signing autographs with a happy little smile that made him all the more handsome. She turned away but not before his eyes flicked back up, spotting her somehow through the mass of bodies and a flush spread to her cheeks as she wondered if they would actually get to have a conversation someday.
But Percy was leaving and that was far more important… “Percy, wait!” Audrey called angrily as he deliberately ignored her as he chanced a glance over her shoulder. Something in his eyes was so terribly lonely that she didn’t think that it could hurt her even more, “wait, you piece of shit!”
Percy quirked one red brow and turned stiffly away with a curse, and Audrey felt something shifting inside of her, something stretching and pulling because she didn’t want to not see Percy again. She would probably never see him again and that was something she didn’t want to face, not now when she was so alone, “Would you wait a minute?” Audrey demanded furiously, her voice melting into the other conversations and chatter around her.
“You! Hold on a second!” someone called from behind her but Audrey ignored the voice, feeling a prickle of annoyance at the thought that it might be some perverted man wanting to hook up with her. It was a rather arrogant thought but a few men were eyeing her now as she finally caught up to Percy, her fingers clenching into his arm and stopping him from exiting the building.
It seemed as if she had sprinted across a thousand miles to reach him, the thought of not seeing him again making her nearly panicky. Percy regarded her blankly, something in his gaze making her stomach clench worriedly, “Weeeeasley, where are you going?” Audrey demanded, staring up at his tense face.
Percy gently took her fingers and pried them off of his sleeve, looking severely irritated for just a moment. Audrey thought that he was frowning at her but she saw that his pale, dead eyes were fixated on someone coming closer to them and his entire body tensed, “Hey, cutie, wait a second,” the voice was unfamiliar and she felt a bolt of irritation.
No one was calling her “cutie” tonight.
Audrey turned, a sharp retort on her tongue before she caught sight of who was coming towards her, looking supremely pleased. “Y…you’re fucking Joseph Wring,” she said stupidly and Percy tsked with distaste, the tension rippling through him more fiercely.
Joseph Wring roared with laughter, his head thrown back and the sound carried through the theater and a few fans turned towards it. They started whispering and pointing, nearly pushing each other out of their way to get to him but he was focused on Audrey, his gaze curious now as his laughter subsided into chuckles. “I sure am. I caught you staring at me back there,” he jerked a thumb back towards the stage, where a few more fans were still tittering madly.
Percy made a strange sound and Audrey glanced away from the fascinating person in front of her to look into his face. The lines of his mouth were tight and he was looking at Joseph Wring as if he wanted to stab him and something in her gave her a hint that he would… “I wasn’t trying to stare but you know, you’re famous and everything,” Audrey said awkwardly and he laughed again.
“Not all that famous, there are a lot more interesting people in America that make me look like a loser,” Joseph said good-naturedly. Audrey didn’t believe that that was possible but he seemed to think so and it was then that she saw that he was a bit older than her, judging from the faint lines around his eyes and she wondered self-consciously why he was talking to her. “Was it your first time at the theater?”
Audrey nodded enthusiastically and Percy muttered something foul underneath his breath and she felt his arm sliding around her waist. It was startling but she didn’t immediately protest, merely staring up at him with confusion before turning her gaze back at their guest, who was attracting more attention than humanly possible, “Erm, I didn’t bother you when I was staring, did I?”
Joseph had taken notice of Percy and he appeared amused for just the slightest moments before he glanced down at Audrey. She raised her eyebrows a little, knowing that look of interest anywhere but not appreciating it here and now, “Not really. I like it when pretty girls stare at me, makes me feel all fuzzy inside.”
“I’m not pretty at all,” Audrey said with a shrug and that caused him to smile. Awkwardly, she stared at him, seeing the sweat drying on his brow and that lingering bit of something hovering around him that she lacked, “you did an amazing performance,”
That caused the man to laugh disbelievingly, as he’d played only one of the three police officers that had been called to the narrator’s home. Audrey hadn’t been able to stop staring at him the entire time, plucking off every line he’d ever said through her mind, “You’re kind as well as cute. And you’re not like some of the other girls around here, which is refreshing.”
Audrey heard Percy draw in a sharp breath and she glanced up at him warily but he said nothing, his eyes trained on their guest. “Erm, I get that a lot but not for what you might think.” There was no way that she would tell him that she was a stripper. It would be all too humiliating, “but I was really glad that I came, I’ve wanted to come for the longest but haven’t had the time.”
“Really, now? That’s a shame.” Joseph said with a quick grin. Audrey still wasn’t certain what she had done to catch his interest, other than stare at him a little and get winked at it but it seemed to make him spark with curiosity. “It’s sort of disappointing. I could have met you sooner since I used to work here from time to time.”
“I know all about that,” Audrey found herself saying rapidly, excitement thrumming.
Joseph smirked a little, running his eyes over her and she felt a bit of annoyance go down her back. This dress, apparently was too short and she’d only wanted to make Percy foam at the mouth, not give anyone else the wrong impression, “I’m sure you do,” he said flirtatiously.
“I’m sure she’d much rather end this discussion now before it can bore her any longer.” Percy said acidly and his voice made Audrey tense a little and she felt a bit of anger forming. Just where did he get off? His fingers splayed along her hip and she squirmed a little, as if she meant to push him away but his grip only tightened, “if you’ll excuse us…?”
The obvious lack of interest in his voice wasn’t lost on Joseph Wring and he narrowed eyes that were a deep, darker blue of Audrey’s current problem. A smirk flitted across his mouth but he turned his gaze to her with a smile, “Obviously speaking for the lady but I know a taken girl when I see one.” He gave a deliberate pause that seemed to infuriate Percy all the more. “But I sometimes don’t care.”
“I’m not—” Audrey began but Percy sent her a dark look and she was so infuriated by it and oddly aroused that she couldn’t manage to finish her sentence. Damn him! If flirting with someone else was what got his attention than she’d flirt with every loser here if it would get him to kiss her! The thought was childish but he knew what she wanted and withholding it from her only made it more difficult to control.
Joseph glanced between them with obvious curiosity but he didn’t ask any questions and gave Percy a mocking glance. Audrey saw him frown from the corner of her eye as she was politely addressed in a sweet voice by the actor, “Alas, until next time. It was nice meeting you…?”
“Audrey Tang,” Audrey said nervously, extending her hand and he caught it in his own gently. She blushed a little with unease as Percy let out another one of those strange, growling sounds before her hand was quickly kissed. “You sure are full of it, aren’t you?” she asked the other man, who laughed.
“Full of amazing things, you mean?” Joseph countered wickedly and Audrey grinned a little but Percy scowled. Sensing that his time was running short, he quickly released her hand but gave her another wink, “I’ll be remembering your face if I see you again, Audrey. I’m going to be in London for a few days, why don’t you stop by the theater?”
Audrey wasn’t sure why this was happening but her chance to make her own dreams come true flooded through her. She wanted nothing else from him but if he could help her, give her a few pointers then she would be more than thrilled, “Sure! I’d be happy to—”
Percy interrupted crisply. “She’ll be busy, I’m afraid.” His tone dripped with malice, “you’ll have to schedule this some other time.” Audrey glared up at him but Joseph looked more amused by the second but it was an amusement that faded from his eyes the longer he stared into the eyes of a man who had no issue with physically putting him in his place.
A nasty pause settled and Audrey had to stop herself from punching Percy in the face even though they both knew she wouldn’t be able to reach. The theater was lessening, the chatter still pounding around them and Joseph Wring was being hailed suddenly by rabid fans and he reluctantly turned his attention away from her and said, “Until you’re not so busy then, Audrey. Hopefully your keeper won’t stop you from having a little fun,” he teased with a wink before throwing himself willingly into the mass of women that had surrounded them like vultures.
Audrey deflated, knowing that she would probably not be able to talk to him soon while she was working so hard at Bare Back and going to school. Fury danced in her eyes and she struggled out of Percy’s hold, even though he practically dragged her out of the theater and back out into the warm air, the night wrapping around them like a cloak. “Just who the hell do you think—Percy, what are you doing?” she demanded furiously as he dragged her unceremoniously around the building.
His grip was strong but Audrey was full to bursting with anger and she felt like kicking, screaming and biting at him. But that would draw a crowd and people were already staring at them, some of them snickering, probably thinking that they were witnessing some couple fighting and she wished that it were true. She wished but wishing never got you anything.
Audrey struggled as Percy forced her into an alleyway that smelt like old paper, trash and what smelt suspiciously like human waste. “Look, who do you think you are?! First, you treat me like an idiot in front of Joseph Wring! Joseph Wring Percy,” she waved her arms around to emphasize her point.
Percy was still holding onto her but he was appearing dangerously…something and Audrey gulped loudly, not able to stare long into his eyes. They were so pale, so pale and filled for once with life and it frightened her a little, “Please be quiet Ms. Tang,”
“N…no I will not be quiet you arrogant jackass! I wanted to be here, I wanted to come to the theater and you were great for taking me but now you’ve ruined everything!” Audrey found herself screaming, fury lacing around her chest. Her chance at working her someday along one of the finest actors this side of the pond was slipping away like water through her fingers and she kicked Percy hard in the leg until he winced, glaring at her in the darkness. “And what was with that act in there? Why were you acting that way?!”
Percy heaved a sigh, stepping closer to her and she took a step back. A wall connected with her jacket and she tensed a little, noting ironically that any other time she would have loved to have been pressed up against a wall with him but not just now, not now when she was so furious. “Ms. Tang,”
Audrey felt near to exploding. “Don’t you “Ms. Tang” me! Audrey! Call me Audrey you stinking prat!” she snarled furiously, knowing that she was asking for too much. They weren’t anything; they weren’t anything to be getting on first name terms, even though she had broken that one rule herself without a care in the world. “You fucking piss me off—”
“Audrey, shut up.” Percy snarled commandingly as he cupped her face in his hands and forced his mouth over hers. Shock rippled through her and if she hadn’t have been so angry, she would have melted into it…the sinfully delightful pressure of his mouth on hers but instead, she tore her mouth away, a curse starting before he sighed. “Stop being so stubborn,”
“I’m not being stubborn!” Audrey snapped, though she could barely breathe. She pushed at him, wanting him to leave her alone but wanting to pull him closer and stopped herself, curling her fingers into her sides just as he brushed his mouth against hers again, not giving her time to think. His mouth was delicious, sinfully delicious and she made a mistake…a horrible mistake but her arms were lifting eagerly, every inch of her trembling.
Something told her not to.
But she would anyway.
Heedless of what sort of creature she was dealing with, Audrey snugly wrapped her arms around his neck. Percy made a sound against her mouth, a satisfied, relieved sort of sound that made her far more curious than she would have thought before he started to kiss her again, his fingers sliding up into her hair, undoing it. Long locks fell down and she felt a tickle as he massaged some place on her nape, which caused her to tilt her head up higher, making it far easier for him to invade her mouth with kisses that made her weak at the knees.
Audrey had, of course, been kissed so much in her short life that they had all felt the same but Percy’s kisses…they felt almost wild and she matched him so perfectly, responding to each little nibble until they nearly expired from it. Time seemed to fall away, the night wrapping them in a soothing sort of warmth until she forgot everything, every little problem that had been plaguing her of late.
Remmington and his demands at the club, the club itself and her rent…she forgot that Percy deserved better as she dissolved, their bodies pressing so close but not close enough. Audrey wanted him to do something more! She wanted him to kiss her throat, wander his hands up her dress, where her skin felt too tight, too hot and needing to be freed. Hesitation rippled through Percy and Audrey waited; her back arching and their lips clinging… “Please, do something,” she whispered, taking just the tiniest minute to gather her breathing.
Silence seemed to stretch between them for a moment, Percy’s eyes, so pale blue and flooded with life, boring into her own. Audrey could see the indecision going through him and she knew that he was considering where they were, and who might see but just as she thought that he might release her, he surprised her.
Giving a curse, Percy lifted his hands from her hair, slid them down her waist and lifted her—literally lifted her against a wall, urging her legs around his waist and she complied without an argument but she had to know something and asked. “Done this before?” in a weakly jealous voice that was nearly as pathetic as the way she was clinging to him so desperately, her fingers digging into his shoulders.
Percy’s silence was more than enough but right before his mouth connected with hers again; he gave her chin a warning nip. It hurt a little and Audrey protested, even though her legs tightened around his waist, “Audrey, I want you all for myself.” His voice was a sort of anxious growl and she felt her heart leap, her eyes going wide as he stared at her fiercely while his breath coming out in rough pants. “Don’t think that I don’t want you. Not ever again,”
Audrey felt herself melting, trembling and she opened her mouth to say something but he was kissing her again. And it was scrumptious.
Simply the most wonderful thing.
Thanks for reading! Please leave a review and let me know what you all thought and next on my list is "A Force of Wills" so please hold on, those who read it! :D
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