Continuing Tales

What You Wish For

A Labyrinth Story
by KnifeEdge

Part 7 of 14

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What You Wish For

There were some New Years revelers coming out of the door to the lobby as they approached. Which was lucky, since Sarah’s keys were in her purse back at the party. Luckily, she had a spare to her apartment. She led him through the lobby, past the mailboxes and the round red upholstered settee in the middle of the room, to the elevator bank. He looked around at everything as they passed, with that curious tilt to his head, flicking his gaze back and forth from the room to her.

She did her best to ignore him. As soon as they were on the elevator, she bent down and one handed (the other still clutching the crystal) started to unbuckle her shoes. Her toes were half frozen, and the thin soles had long ago stopped being comfortable. It distracted her a little from the mild claustrophobia she always suffered in elevators. When it came to a stop with a lurch, and the young couple that had gotten on with them went out, she breathed deep, trying to keep the panic at bay.

How could someone so bad smell so good? she thought, her numb fingers fumbling with the tiny catch, and trying not to think about how uncomfortable she was trapped in such a small space. Especially when she had to share that space with him. Suddenly she felt his gloved hand touch her arm and pull her upright, and she watched in amazement as he knelt down in front of her.

“Allow me,” he said, and cupped her shoe in one hand, while he deftly flicked the buckle open with the other. She held onto the railing at her back for support and tried to breathe properly. His fingers were warm, even through the gloves, and all of a sudden she wasn’t cold at all. He pulled her shoe off gently and set it aside, his fingers massaging her foot through her silk stockings until the blood had returned to her toes in a tingling rush. Then he reached for the other one.

“For the record, Sarah,” he said, his head down so she couldn’t see his face, his voice low and rough, “I kneel for no one.” His fingers trailed over the smooth silk, and he eased the second catch open, slipping the shoe off, then palming her foot and kneading the sore muscles. Sarah wondered how she was standing considering that her legs had become spaghetti.

The sound of someone moaning softly brought her back to attention, only to realize that she was the one making the noise. He looked up, finally, and while his face betrayed nothing, there was something feral and predatory in his eyes that made her choke back another moan. In all her life, with all the relationships she’d tried at (and failed), no man had ever looked at her like that. He wanted her.

A tiny part of her exulted with that knowledge.

Someone coughed. This time, it wasn’t her. She turned to look at the doors and realized that they’d gone all the way back down to the lobby, and a man and a woman, with a small child peeping around the woman’s legs, were standing in the elevator door, holding it open.

“Er...,” the man said, coughing again and looking terribly amused. “Is this elevator out of service?” The woman was staring at Jareth with a mixture of awe and curiosity flitting over her face. The child merely looked at him and smiled broadly, as if seeing an old friend again.

“Oh,” Sarah said, wondering if it was possible to spontaneously combust from embarrassment, “no. We were just.. um...” She glanced at Jareth, who unfolded himself from the floor, and handed her her shoes. His grin was knowing and smug, and she felt herself flush now in anger. He’d embarrassed her on purpose, she thought, and as she thought it he silently chuckled. She turned away from him and pressed the button for her floor. “We were just on our way up.”

“Something was on it’s way up,” the man said, teasingly, and put his arm around his wife. She smiled up at him, and Sarah’s heart lurched at the love between them. That, she thought, was what she wanted. She wanted a man who would look at her like that, and love her like that. Definitely not a man who would tease her in a public elevator for the sole purpose of amusing himself and embarrassing her.

He leaned close and whispered in her ear, “Still frightened of small spaces?” he asked, startling her.

The little girl peered around her father’s leg and looked up at Jareth. “Hi,” she said, in a lisping voice.

“Hello,” Jareth said, smiling at her warmly. Sarah wanted to slap him. Or pick the little girl up and hold her as far from Jareth as possible.

“You’re doing it wrong,” the little girl said, and Sarah had the pleasure of seeing Jareth almost choke.

“Pardon me?” he said.

“You’re the Prince. You’re s’posed to put Cinderella’s shoe ON her, not take it off,” she said, with the emphasis of an expert on the subject. Sarah tried very hard not to snort.

“Oh,” Jareth said, regaining his composure and smiling again. “I didn’t realize. No wonder she doesn’t like me.”

“No wonder,” the little girl repeated, rolling her eyes in exasperation. She looked at Sarah and said, in a perfect imitation of a grown woman, “Men!” This time, Sarah did laugh. The little girl’s parents chuckled and looked embarrassed, but fond of their precocious daughter. Jareth just frowned.

The door chimed, and Sarah waved goodbye to the girl. She didn’t bother to wait for His Majesty. After all, this was his wish.

She hadn’t been this furious with someone since the last time her stepmother had ticked her off, and it felt good, she thought. There were times, at work, when the theater seemed to be falling down around her ears, and her actors were freaking out or throwing tantrums, or the sets were collapsing, or the mouse had escaped down someone’s cleavage and someone else was trying to fish it out, that she felt stopped up, bottled. Her emotions buried so far down that she was like the calm eye of a hurricane, with all that pent up force swirling around her but not quite touching.

But this, this raging anger, felt incredibly good.

She marched down the hall, and pounded her fist against a door. Someone yelped inside and she heard footsteps coming toward the door. She banged again. Damn that felt good. “Jimmy, I need my key,” she said loudly.

“Sarah?” the voice was a bit muffled, and the door cracked open, held tethered by a chain lock. “What the hell? You’re not due back for a week.” A brown eye peered out at her, blearily. “Whoa, nice dress.”

“Jimmy, I need my key. I’m cold, my feet hurt, and stop ogling my breasts and open the damn door.”

“Are you drunk?” Jimmy said.

“I’m pissed,” she said.

“But you never drink,” Jimmy said, confusion evident in his voice. He shut the door and she heard the chain disengage. When it opened again it revealed a college age boy, wearing ragged jeans and a baggy Korn T-shirt, with short, spiky black hair that looked like it hadn’t been washed in a week. His eyes were red rimmed, and Sarah noticed a smudge of Wicked Red lipstick beneath his gauged out ear.

“I’m not drunk,” she said, suddenly weary. “Just give me my key and I’ll let you get back to whomever you were celebrating with.”

“Sure,” he said. “Just a second.” And he wandered back down the hall, absently zipping his pants up as he went.

“You trust that with the key to your home?” Jareth asked, from just behind her.

“Appearances,” she said, without turning, “can be deceiving.”

There was a thud from somewhere down the hall, some giggling, and a few swear words, then Jimmy came limping back to the door. “Here you go, boss.” He noticed Jareth, gave him a once over, then grinned. “Cool hair,” he said, then turned back to Sarah, and handed her the spare key to her apartment that she’d given him so he could water her plants and drop off her mail.

She thanked Jimmy and wished him a happy New Year. She slid around Jareth without touching him, and unlocked the door opposite.

Home, she thought happily. Her trip down south had been nice, but she was glad to be home again, for however long Jareth would allow them to stay before he whisked her off to some other location. One thing was for sure, though. She wasn’t giving any tours until she was out of her dress and into something that he wouldn’t be imagining on his bedroom floor.

She flicked on the living room lights and pointed at the couch. “Sit,” she told him. “I’ll be back in a minute.”

“Remember,” he warned, “you only have a half hour.”

“We’re already here,” she said. “You can wait a few minutes to inspect the closets.” He muttered something, but slid into her favorite armchair, hooked a leg over the arm and began tapping a rhythm on his thighs. She sighed. It wasn’t like he could get into trouble in her living room, she thought, then went down the shorter hallway to her bedroom and firmly locked the door.

What You Wish For

A Labyrinth Story
by KnifeEdge

Part 7 of 14

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