Summary: New Year's Eve at a fancy dress party
Word Count: 1167
Rating/Warnings: PG-13, for vague reference to adult activity
Character and episode: Annette Raines, from Love Hurts
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine.
A/N: For the NYE party at ppth_support. Happy New Year!
All thanks and love to my betas karaokegal and diachrony
The house looked the same as they always did - an unremarkable turn of the century two-story in the center of a street full of similar houses. The porch light was on, and the shades were drawn in every window, glowing warmly like opaque lamp shades. Billy reached down to hand her out of the taxi, and at her look, paid the fare. When the green and white cab finally showed them both its taillights, Billy straightened his tuxedo and offered his arm like a child offering his favorite toy. When Annette tucked her fur-clad arm around his elbow, his pale face lit up brighter than the windows.
Traveling for New Year's had become a tradition for her. It was a way to escape from the usual circle and swim unfamiliar waters. Glancing up at Billy's wide smile, she felt her lips curl around the warm certainty of the excellent meal waiting for her behind the house's unassuming front door.
They picked their way carefully along the mostly-cleared walkway, ice and cold biting at her toes, her grip light on Billy's arm. In a practiced motion, he swung open the main door and ushered her through, shutting out the cold and removing her fur from her shoulders without as much as a misplaced hair.
"Thank you, Billy. It's good to see you still have your manners." She kept the tone light but velvety, making sure no frost colored the words. Bill Christian wasn't hers anymore, even if Karen was lending him to her this night - and it was bad form to hint at displeasure for service to another. "Convey my compliments to your Mistress."
He gave a short bow, blue eyes merry and focused closely on her. "I will, Mistress."
Annette looked him up and down as she stripped off her gloves one finger at a time. The boyish good looks of his years with her had matured into sharp-planed masculinity, though he'd kept the length on his blond hair. She smiled to herself, reflecting that he didn't really look much at all like that doctor of Harvey's. Ah well.
She handed Billy her gloves to stow with her coat and allowed him to show her into the party.
The room thronged with songbird colors, fuchsia and emerald and blood red rubbing bare shoulders with the elegant lines of formal tuxedos. The host, a tall gangly man in a bright blue shirt and black kilt, pushed through the crowd to greet them. His round face was bright with pleasure.
"Annette!" He pulled her in for a one-armed hug, carefully keeping his wine glass clear. "It's so good to see you - I was thrilled to hear you'd be in town. How's Harvey?"
She rolled one shoulder in a wince disguised as a shrug. "He's well enough, Marcus." Well enough meaning healthy, but very frustrated that their play had been changed since the hospital stay this year. He'd changed in the past months, and not for the better. Deftly pushing the subject aside, she turned to her escort, bringing him into the conversation with a flick of her fingers. "You remember Billy Christian?"
Marcus blinked at the evasion, but took the hint. "Of course I do. It's good to see you, Bill." They shook hands, Billy's smile warm and friendly.
"Billy." She liked how he turned immediately at the silken command in her tone - she'd trained this man well. "Get me a drink. You may have one glass of wine." He gave her that short respectful bow again and looked inquiringly at their host.
Marcus waved toward the stairs. "Up and to your left. Bastian's tending bar, so be careful what you ask for - he mixes them strong."
Excusing himself with a murmur, Billy slipped around them and headed up, soft soled Italian shoes barely sounding on the steps. Annette watched him, feeling a smile form in enjoyment of the view.
Marcus cleared his throat; she looked back to catch a conspiratorial wink. She let her smile widen, and he chuckled.
Pulling her in for another careful embrace, he whispered, "Have I ever missed you, Annette." He released her abruptly, swinging his head to search the crowd. "You haven't met Marissa yet, have you?" When she shook her head, Marcus put his free hand to his face and called, "Marissa! Come here - you need to meet someone." His voice carried clearly over the party buzz, and a slight woman in a peach and gold sari slipped through the crowd to stand at Marcus' side. Her dark eyes were wary behind the glitter of the bindi on her forehead and cheekbones.
"Marissa, this is Annette Raines."
Annette felt the familiar prickle of tension at meeting another she-wolf in foreign territory. Inclining her head, she broke the stare and extended her hand. "Marissa. I've heard so much about you from Marcus here - he can't say enough good about you."
The dark woman took her fingers in a firm grip. "Interesting. I don't think I've heard much of anything about you." Her sharp features were still blank, testing.
Annette chuckled, unfazed. "And that's as it should be, yes?"
A flash of white teeth, not entirely shorn of malice. "Yes."
Marcus cleared his throat again, eyebrows raised. "Um ... Bill's back with your drink."
Annette nodded to Marissa again, a gracious concession of authority, then turned back to face Billy. He held a glass in each hand, one half full of amber wine, the other clear and clinking with ice. The soft fragrance of mint enveloped her as she accepted her drink.
"Well chosen, Billy." She smiled when he waited patiently for her to sip before attending to his own glass.
Grinning at the byplay, Marcus glanced at the wall behind her. "You've barely left any time - it's almost midnight."
Keeping her eyes on Billy, Annette chuckled. "I'm no fool, Marcus. I know the fun doesn't really start until after the children have rung in the new year - and are sent to bed." Billy's face was wide open with anticipation.
"Fair enough." Marissa broke in, pulling Marcus to her, reaching up to cup his face. "Start the countdown, love."
Marcus filled his lungs. "Everyone grab a sweetie, we've got about thirty seconds." The room shuffled; one woman ran squealing up the stairs, calling for her husband.
"Ready? Ten ... nine ... eight ..."
Annette handed her drink back to Billy. Both hands full, he waited.
" ... six ... five ..."
"Kneel, Billy." Eyes wide, he lowered himself carefully to the floor, sitting back on his heels.
" ... three ..."
She flicked back her skirt and planted one delicate shoe in his lap, allowing her leg to show through the high slit.
" ... two ..."
Pointing one crimson nail at the smooth skin of her inner thigh, just above her stocking, she hissed, "Kiss me."
" ... one!"
Enraptured and quivering, he did as she commanded. His breath was hot and quick.
"Happy New Year!"