"You, Ms Rosenby, are a natural," Ms Livingstone sealed her compliment by sliding down a most deliciously naked body and using the weight of her shoulders to push her associate's legs wide apart. She gasped as a heady perfume drifted up and caused her olfactory senses to switch to overdrive. She drew closer to the source of the scent and couldn't resist placing a tasting kiss on velvety soft parts.
The redhead in question squirmed underneath that brief kiss as she felt warm heat gush from a secret place inside her, coating her legs liberally. "You were equally magnificent, Ms Livingstone," she gasped, entangling her hands in the blonde hair of her associate and pushing her head down toward the apex of her thighs.
"Was I now?" The blonde found her way through neatly trimmed red tufts and gently licked the swollen clit that had been crying out for her attention. She heard her charge clench and groan, which spurred her on further. She continued to nip and tease the tense knob until she felt the body underneath her start to tremble spontaneously. Switching attention to other expansive parts, she lapped up the spicy-sour coating and eased her stiff tongue inside a welcoming passage, all the time ignoring the insistent throb in her own belly.
She set a slow rhythm and ventured deeper with every stroke. Her lover was making incomprehensible, but delectably throaty sounds. She slowed down, withdrew completely and placed strategically chaste kisses along her lover's quivering sex.
"Don't stop," came the plea.
She smiled. "You were so convincing with Mr Wyndam-Pryce today. Why, I do believe you were flirting with him. May be this jealous associate should stop."
"I wasn't flirting!" her lover huffed. "Well I was, kind of. But it was in character, to get information off him. You weren't exactly giving playing it cool either, I thought he was gonna suggest a threesome any minute."
She rested her head on her lover's thigh and pretended to think. "Hmm ..."
"No. Don't you dare! I do not want that image in my head right now."
"But Ms Rosenby distinctly told Ms Livingstone he was one of the most interesting newcomers she had the pleasure of interviewing."
"Ms Rosenby doesn't want Mr Wyndam-Pryce."
"What, Ms Rosenby, do you want?" she smiled tantalizingly.
A deep breath. "Ms Rosenby wants to write an exposť on how corrupt and misguided the art world is. Ms Rosenberg, on the other hand, wants Ms Maclay to go back to what she was doing because she's gonna be grumpy all day if she doesn't come within the next two minutes."
"Does she now."
"So Ms Rosenberg wants only Ms Maclay?"
"Oh gods, yes. Completely. No one but you."
Tara smiled and started tracing kisses up Willow's body. Navel, stomach, breasts, shoulders, cheeks and finally inviting lips. Her tongue entered Willow's mouth just as she reached down and entered her lover with two fingers. She didn't need to set a rhythm, as soon as she touched the sensitive walls Willow jerked off the bed and thrashed as she fell into a climax that didn't seem to end.
Tara slowed her exploration of Willow's mouth and brought her exhausted lover gently down from her orgasm. She could feel small spasms still tearing through Willow, and she cupped her hand firmly around Willow's sex until her lover sighed deeply and threw grateful arms around her.
"Thank you," Willow said sleepily.
Tara's body was humming but Willow was so tired. She gathered the sack-like form of her satisfied lover in her arms and showered her with small pecks.
Willow opened one eye. "It's all your fault. You're so good I can't move my arms or legs. How am I gonna touch you?"
Tara pulled Willow closer. "That's alright. It's enough to know you enjoyed it."
Willow shifted so she wasn't lying on top of Tara. "Come up here," she said.
"You're tired. We can do this tomorrow." Tara reached out to embrace Willow again.
"Oh no. You're not getting away with being considerate and nice. This is all about me. I want to taste you, I want to feel you," Willow twisted until she was on her back and pulled Tara toward her.
"Get up here and sit on my face, Tara. Now."
Tara wanted to let Willow rest, but the hoarse authority in Willow's voice was completely turning her on. She had deliberately brushed aside her own arousal but now it returned with a force so hard that her stomach felt it would seize up if she didn't release it soon.
She rolled onto Willow and crawled up on her knees, feeling herself opening up with each step. Any words of hesitancy were stalled when she caught sight of Willow. Her lover was watching her progress with a wide-eyed wonder and a look so hungry it made her momentarily weak. She straddled Willow's head and lowered herself onto Willow's tongue. Although she was in the dominant position, she felt oddly helpless as her whole body surrendered control to Willow's mouth and hands. Willow grabbed her from behind and pulled her down, burrowing into neat folds and hidden valleys and warm pools of desire. Time slowed down as Willow leisurely yet firmly devoured her until Tara could stand no more and she came - and came and came and came, her insides turning white and then it was bliss, and soft screams, and muscles locking as she bounced wildly under Willow's touch.
She fell backwards and collapsed next to Willow, idly noting that her head was next to the most beautiful knees. She scrambled around and they were face-to-face again. When Willow kissed her she tasted both herself and Willow, a potent heady taste that had her wanting more.
They didn't move or speak for a long time, savoring the closeness and holding each other as they lay in mutual exhaustion.
Just before Tara fell into a deep slumber, she remembered to pull the duvet over their tangled bodies.
They didn't want to get up when sunlight peered through the curtains the next morning. It would have been idyllic to stay in bed and enjoy the intimacy of the previous night all over again. But sobering thoughts of international art theft and Lily's disappearance propelled them out of bed and back to research.
"I didn't realize so much art is exchanging hands every day." Willow was already working on her laptop while Tara was getting breakfast ready. "Not only paintings but antiques, furniture and anything collectible."
"I guess only the big sales make the headlines but there's so much art out there," Tara agreed.
Willow clicked open the page for the auctioneer Wesley mentioned. "Travers & Son. Established 1921. Specialists in over 30 categories, representing virtually everything you may collect or need to have appraised," she read off the homepage. "This sale alone had 200 lots, going for a few hundred or thousand dollars. Perfect cover."
Tara was in the middle of popping two slices of bread in the toaster. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"Uh huh," Willow said without looking up. "What better to hide stolen paintings than underneath another one? And if the piece is destined to go abroad, it's exported as -" Willow paused.
"A Wyndam-Pryce," Tara completed. "I bet the auctioneer is part of the scam."
"He'll almost have to be. Let me see if Buffy can find out more about this Quentin Travers." Willow was already tapping out an instant message to their FBI friend. "You know, I don't think Wesley is involved. He genuinely thinks people like those paintings of his," Willow added.
"You're right, he's too ditzy. If I were a master criminal I won't trust him to keep his mouth shut. He's the perfect tool. Talk about hiding things in plain sight," Tara remarked as she placed a slice of toast on two plates and spooned scrambled eggs over each.
"Say that again," Willow said suddenly.
"Wesley is a tool."
"No, after that."
"I was saying, talk about hiding things in -"
"- fuck! We're so blind! Lily, she put something in her account, it's an email address or website. Not a bank account or security deposit box like we thought. She even gave us her username and password. Shit," Willow slammed her hand on the keyboard in annoyance.
"But what?" Tara asked.
"It could be anything. I'm gonna try them all. Yahoo, hotmail, gmail, myspace, livejournal, eBay."
Cold eggs and toast for lunch then.
Tara watched as Willow brought up login pages for the most popular social networking websites. There were hundreds, thousands of possibilities, but her lover wasn't perturbed.
Then Tara had a thought. "Let me listen to her voicemail again," she said.
"What? Okay, wait." Willow quickly loaded the file. They listened in petrified silence at the message they had heard many times.
"Tara, it's Lily. I can't talk long, he's in the next room. I got something. Check your email, I put it on my account on you- fuck! Noooo ..."
"YouTube," they said simultaneously.
There were three videos, grainy and full of static, as befit videos taken with a cellphone.
The first one showed Wilkins meeting with two middle-aged men. One an overweight, pale bald man they identified as Dmitri Balthazar. The other was more cultured but without a shred of warmth in his appearance or voice. It started with Lily being asked to leave the room, but the girl had obviously turned on her cellphone's video recorder and hidden it underneath a book.
The three men discussed prices, buyers and which pieces were to be bought by which buyer. They never referred to the artwork except by their dimensions. When Wesley's name was mentioned, it was with a derisive snort.
The second video was of a short phone call between Wilkins and someone named Dawn. Lily was in the room and was waved back when she made to leave. He was paternal and friendly, promising to pick up finished pieces in the evening. "I'll bring the originals, we can enjoy them for a few minutes while we slurp our milkshakes," he added.
The third video showed a shadowy form that was unmistakably Wilkins, captured in compromising positions on top of, underneath, and between unidentified naked females. They thought back to Detective Lockley's investigations into internet porn and wondered if this was the incriminating evidence she was looking for.