Selina parked the last vehicle Fox called a Tumbler inside the C-can and pressed her head against the seat rest. She wanted this machine as badly as she wanted the CleanSlate. Maybe a smidgen more, since she had proof this vehicle existed.
Bruce wouldn't let her have it though, not after sticking the found in the mansion clause to her payment. She huffed as she shut off the Tumbler and climbed out of the hatch. The insane bike he used the other night was more her style regardless. She closed the Tumbler's hatch.
Fox finished entering information into his tablet computer. "That's everything, Ms. Kyle."
She closed the doors of the C-can and fastened the lock onto it while another man about a decade younger than Fox joined them. "Got everything?"
"Yes, Mr. Dawes, and thank you for your assistance." Fox shook the man's hand. Selina walked down the eighteen-wheeler's ramp.
Dawes waved off the thanks. "I'd do anything for that boy after everything he did for Rachel and her mother. I wouldn't even have this business if it weren't for him. But I had hoped he was here. With all the news has been saying, it don't sound like Bruce."
Fox nodded. "It's fraud, Mr. Dawes. Bruce is busy trying to prove it." Selina joined the two men. "Ms. Kyle, this is Ben Dawes of Dawes Logistics. My new assistant, Ms. Kyle."
The mysterious Rachel had a connection to this man too. Selina smiled as Dawes shook her hand. "How do you do?"
"Just fine, nice to meet you. I better get this stuff on the road before rush hour makes a mess of things." He picked up the ramp and slid it into the trailer. "Take care of yourself, Mr. Fox. And keep an eye on Bruce."
"I always do." Fox sighed as the truck pulled out of the entrance ramp. "No matter how hard he makes it sometimes."
"We packed it all in record time. Even if nobody wants to see this stuff go." He nodded at her and punched the code to lock the entrance ramp into the parking garage. "But where is it going? Technically, he doesn't own Wayne Enterprises anymore."
Fox smiled as he walked her towards the elevator. "Technically, none of what we loaded actually exists as an asset of Wayne Enterprises. As for your question, Mr. Wayne has a habit of playing things close to the chest."
"I wouldn't have pegged him for being so devious." She snatched her purse off the workbench left in the empty space as they passed it. "It's probably a good thing Bruce is so talented at fooling people, since it looks like Bane has watched him for years." Fox's face was puzzled as they waited for the elevator. "All his shares of Wayne Enterprise stock were bought by charities."
"Just like how Bruce ran Bill Earle off." He let her into the elevator car first. "Do you think this Bane is capable of such a long game?"
Selina swallowed. "He was brutal in West Africa, and the Stock Exchange attack was his plan too. I'm afraid he's more prepared for this than we are."
"If anyone can catch up to beat a madman, it's Mr. Wayne."
Such optimism, but he was part of Bruce's inner circle. Maybe he had witnessed miracles to believe it. And hopefully she could fill in the blanks she had with his answers. "Good to know. So Ms. Tate is not in the club?"
The elevator door slid open in Fox's office. "No, Ms. Tate is not, but that's his business." The bookcase covered the elevator door again as Fox picked up his desk phone and asked for his car before looking up at her. "Now Mr. Wayne left instructions that I find you a place to stay in the city. Do you have a preference?"
"Not really and I didn't pack--"
"You're not to go back to the Manor. I'll get whatever you need for tonight. Let's see what's available at the Carlyle."
She stepped to the window while he called. Why the hell did a free stay at the Carlyle of all the hotels in Gotham make her feel so disappointed? Aside from feeling like a team until she got dumped here, so Bruce could distract Miranda Tate. He must be taking her back to the Manor. She took a deep breath. It didn't matter.
"That will be fine. Thank you." Fox hung up the phone. "Ready?"
She gave him a big smile. "As I'll ever be." She brushed her pants off. Hopefully, she wasn't too rumpled for the Carlyle. "So what do you think of Ms. Tate?"
"She has taken charge admirably, which is stability the stockholders need right now. She invested in Bruce's fusion reactor and joined the Board--let's see--about three years ago. She's a crusader on clean energy, and will probably talk the Board into turning the reactor on even though Bruce never wanted that."
They were alone in the main elevator, so Selina felt safe asking more questions. "Crusader? Trying to make the world a better place?"
Fox nodded. "That's probably what reminded Alfred of Rachel so much."
"Rachel Dawes, she was a childhood friend of Bruce's, the only one really. That was her uncle with the trucking company."
"And she was a crusader."
"She made her mark in the district attorney's office." His face fell from the pleasant memories. "Bruce hasn't been the same since she died."
At the hands of the Joker; Bruce had no reason to lie about that. She kept up cheerful small talk with Fox as they left Wayne Enterprises in his car while her insides iced over. Wayne was interested in her. He made that abundantly clear with his waggling eyebrows when he challenged her over his safe, how his gaze kept dropping to her lips during their dance, and damn it, dwelling on him did not make her feel better. But Miranda was the good girl everyone in his life approved of. So far Selina was the only one who didn't.
She accepted the key card to a Trillium Park Suite on the thirty-third floor with another plastered smile. It grew more authentic when Fox told her to charge any gift shop or boutique purchases to the room. "I'll get my money back from Mr. Wayne."
"This has been my most lucrative one day on a job ever. Thanks, Mr. Fox."
He shook her hand. "A pleasure, Ms. Kyle."
She bought a toothbrush, hairbrush, a pair of pants and a blouse before heading up to her hotel room. The hallway door opened into a smaller hallway. The door to the left was the white and beige bedroom with a king-sized bed and a grey armchair with matching ottoman. She laid her purchases on the bed before circling around to the marble bathroom. Two white terrycloth robes hung in the closet with matching slippers.
The suite's hallway ended in a living room with a picture window overlooking Trillium Park. Across from the window was a door into a kitchenette with a small table for two. A contemporary taupe couch waited for the guests to make themselves comfortable while enjoying the view. A Louis XV armchair upholstered in gold was turned toward the couch and coffee table, but it could be shifted to face the white desk behind it. Lovely, tasteful, cozy; no wonder so many people moved into the Carlyle and never moved out. And it was all hers to enjoy alone because Bruce was distracting Miranda Tate back at Wayne Manor.
Her teeth ground together. She was not dwelling on how Jen's stupid talk led to thinking totally inappropriate thoughts about a client. In the effort not to dwell, she stripped out of her not-designed-for-crawling-over-Batman's-gear pantsuit, donned the provided robe, sent her dirty clothes to the Carlyle's laundry services, ordered room service, and inhaled the meal before wondering if the hotel sold ice cream by the gallon or if she'd have to order it one sundae at a time.
Hadn't she told Jen it would be Miranda and Bruce? God, she hated being right, especially when Bruce deserved better than a bitch playing the dead childhood sweetheart card. She picked up the cordless handset. I am a professional. A professional does not scarf ice cream because a client is being stupid. And that's all he is and all he'll ever be.
A knock on the hall door interrupted her chewing herself out. She set the phone down as she sauntered to the door. "Laundry service is faster than expected." She stood on tiptoes and put her eye to the peek hole. Bruce waited. Her jaw dropped open at the same time her heels hit the carpet runner over the hardwood floor. "What are you doing here? You're distracting Miranda." Mentally, she slapped her forehead. Oh that was perfect first words for opening the door.
He pushed his way in with a duffle bag hanging from his right shoulder and pulling her suitcase behind him. His eyebrows knitted together. "The Manor's not safe for either of us. I thought you knew that." He dropped the bags inside the bedroom while she shut the door. He continued to the living room.
She found him staring out the picture window with his hands in his pockets and shoulders stiff. She flashed back to Daniel's office at the bank. This was the same way he hid when he couldn't leave after all the Rachel talk. Damn Miranda Tate and her game. She didn't have a quip or anything to pull him out of his headspace. "Are you hungry? Room service is quick here."
"I took Miranda to dinner to distract her." His voice was calm despite his coiled body.
Tension in a man has two reliable outlets, and she didn't want to smash up the pretty furniture in here, so option two. She strutted to the cabinet against the bedroom wall just in case he saw a reflection in the glass, then she hopped her ass onto the cabinet right next to the flat screen television and let the robe fall open over her crossed legs. She was inside his peripheral vision even if he hadn't reacted yet. Plus she could stare at his profile unless he decided to turn his back to her again. She doubted he would with her legs on display like this. "Is this you pretending to have had a lousy time because I got stuck with the hard work?"
"I'm not pretending at anything."
"So dinner is followed by brooding. That's good to know."
He glanced at her, and she flexed her leg. "I'm not brooding; I'm waiting."
"For what?" She frowned. "Blake called you with more bad news? Bane took something else hostage?" His puzzled eyebrows were back. "None of the above?" she asked.
"You're not yelling. You're not calling me crazy or suicidal for putting on the mask. And you asked me point blank and I didn't tell you." His hands curled into fists in his pockets.
Selina smirked and crossed her legs so the left one was on top. "Given how the police chased you down, I'm a little confused why you trusted Blake before me, but you not saying 'I'm Batman' has been the only thing that made sense today."
The tension ebbed out of his frame, and she wondered about that reaction. Was Fox the only one who had ever supported Batman? "I didn't tell Blake; he figured it out," he said as he looked out the window again. "Not that I believe his bullshit about how he figured it out, but there hasn't been time to get the truth out of him."
"Want me to interrogate him?"
"No, I like the kid and you'll break him."
Her smirk slid into a full smile. "I promise I won't break him, but I will scratch him up if he keeps being stupid to me."
"That's acceptable." He glanced at her again. She squeezed her legs together. "Will it upset you to talk about Miranda?"
She sighed. "Your choice in confidants is limited, so I'll try to keep my snark to myself. What's wrong? Did she shoot you down worse than I did last night?"
He turned back to the window. "I turned her down."
"Can you afford to do that since she's saving your company?"
"I did it nicely."
She swallowed back the question of how he defined nicely because it didn't matter. "Okay, not that you have anything to worry about. She's smart and still after something from you."
And that stiffened him up again, but he looked at her while waiting for a body blow. "What do you mean?"
"If all she wanted was Wayne Enterprises, she would have given a date the brush off."
"Because it's so inconceivable that she might enjoy my company?"
"You said it, not me. Then again, you did go to her save the planet by making materialistic asses of ourselves party. Maybe you want something from her."
He crossed his arms. "I followed you to that party. And you went to get into Gladstone's pants."
"I went to get into Gladstone's safe, and you know why."
"Diamonds are traveling money," he said and she nodded. "So really Miranda was the only one there without an agenda."
She snorted. "Everyone has an agenda. Hers just happened to be on display that night. Hope the Planeteers appreciated it."
"Do you not like Miranda Tate, Selina?" His hands went back into his pockets as he smirked.
"When did approving your girlfriends get added to my job description?"
"She's not my girlfriend."
Now she crossed her arms. "She wants to be," she muttered and didn't look at him.
"I feel like I had dinner with a ghost tonight." He turned back to the window.
"A ghost?" When he didn't turn back to her, she shifted her legs again rather than close the curtains in front of his nose. "What did she say?"
"Nothing I haven't heard before. Bruce Wayne can do so much good for Gotham, the world, so get to it."
"And Rachel brought it up the most."
Before she blinked, he whirled and took one step closer to her. His fists stopped at his sides as intensity from him pushed her back toward the wall. "What do you know about Rachel?!"
Now she wanted to kick Miranda's ass. "How 'bout you save that righteous indignation for the woman copying your dead sweetheart! Fox and I talked while we packed up your toys, and he said Miranda reminded people of Rachel. He also said you haven't been the same since Rachel died." His narrowed eyes widened with pain. She didn't want to hurt him, but she wouldn't make Fox a target either. "Now before you get all pissy with Fox, it's not that big of a secret. I ran across society gossip speculating the same thing in my research, but I didn't use it against you."
He matched her glare with one of his own. "No, you just beat up a cripple and dropped me on my ass."
"You need someone around to drop you on your ass."
Bruce's hands uncurled as he blinked. His stare softened, but she dropped her gaze to the floor. "Why would anyone want to pretend to be Rachel?" The angry bite lifted from his voice.
How in hell did she end up the one to explain this to him? But Batman wasn't subtle when interrogating criminals and these grifting games were all about subtle. She shifted on the cabinet before looking at him. He leaned against the wall next to the picture window and watched her. She took a deep breath. "Let's examine your dating record: airhead supermodels, actresses, and debutantes; sometimes all at once. That tapers off to one at a time for a year after Rachel died until you quit dating after the first Harvey Dent Day celebration." His gaze dropped to the floor. Selina sighed, but continued. "Miranda has brains, read between the lines, decided you prefer idealistic crusaders, and adjusted her behaviors to give you that."
"That makes sense. She has been trying to meet with me since she invested in the reactor."
"Way to test her persistence."
"Also explains why she offered to run away from Gotham with me."
Her mouth fell open again. "And why on Earth didn't you take her up on it? Bane wants to kill you!"
He looked at her with the hopeful and resolute expression he had last night. "I can't let him hurt the innocent of Gotham." He smirked, "And you didn't leave."
"I guess we're both a couple of suckers." She hugged herself and looked away from his handsome face.
"That's how you feel?" he asked.
His soft voice pulled up all the pity she had shoved down. She squeezed her eyes shut against Miranda is the one he wants; I'm just useful. "I've spent most of the afternoon and this evening feeling like a sucker." Her professionalism hammered the pity back down and she inhaled. "I must be one, because with anyone else I would have beat answers out of during the car ride from the airport."
"What does it make me that I kept thinking of you the entire time I was with Miranda?" He had left the wall and stood next to her legs, and she hadn't heard him move at all.
Her mouth fell open for the third time. She wished Bruce would stop making her react like that. "I'm not an idealistic crusader."
"You're the one who ripped off my masks and isn't frightened by what you found. Rachel never understood. After she was gone, I didn't think anyone would. And then you--"
"Made off with your pearls," she said with a sigh.
He set his left hand flat on the cabinet next to her hip. His hazel eyes bored into hers. "Woke me up." His right hand cupped her jaw. "Made me chase you." He leaned in or pulled her closer somehow. "Made me want you." His lips pressed over hers.
She clutched the lapels of his jacket and tugged him closer. His fingers tangled in her brown hair when he gripped the back of her head. Her tongue darted into his mouth as soon as his lips parted. Tension seized his muscles again, but she knew he would let her battle it away now. He panted when he pulled back with her lipstick smeared on his lips.
"That rule?" She curled a leg around his waist as she grabbed his shoulders.
He stepped between her knees. "The one we're breaking?" His left hand found her thigh under the terrycloth.
"It was more of a guideline, to give Jen a good example."
"I'm glad she's safely away then." He tipped her head back and dropped his lips on her neck.
An involuntary gasp rose with the heat on her skin as his lips trailed down her neck. She wrapped her other leg around his waist and hooked her ankles together. His hand under the robe stroked her thigh. Her hands ran over his shoulder blades, up his neck, and into his hair. Her fist curled in his thick hair when his tongue ran along her clavicle.
She wanted to press against his skin, but he was too dressed. His hand ran down her back and left shivers in its wake. She let go of his hair and unknotted his tie.
Bruce pressed a kiss on the lace border of her bra before straightening. "If we're going too fast--"
The chuckle erupted before she could stop it. "There's a mad man with an army who wants to kill both of us. Lover, you aren't moving fast enough."
He blinked at her before he shucked off his dark gray jacket with a grin. She grinned back, seized his head, and pulled him back for a kiss. He wrapped his arms around her and pressed her to his chest. She kissed up his jaw to his ear while she unbuttoned the first button on his shirt.
"Impatient," he muttered into her hair.
She tightened her legs and rubbed herself against the bulge in his pants. "If you had stripped off the armor, you could have had me two nights ago." She bit his ear and unfastened the next button.
His hands lifted her ass off the cabinet. "I have dreamed about you every night since you flipped out of my window."
"Naked, sweaty, naughty dreams?" She wrapped her arms around his neck.
He nuzzled hers as he carried her down the hall. "Do you want me to talk dirty to you? I'm out of practice." He returned the bite on her ear.
She slid her hands over the cotton of his shirt before unbuttoning the next button. "Rather you just play dirty with me." Her hand tucked into his shirt and stroked the dusting of chest hair she found. Her other hand pushed the fourth button loose.
Her back pressed up against the wall inside the bedroom. His larger hands caught both her wrists and pulled her arms taunt over her head. His hips ground against hers. Her legs sprang apart, but her feet only brushed against the floor. "Play dirty like this?" His eyes glittered.
"It's a start." She pressed her breasts against his chest.
He spun her around to face the wall. The robe slithered off her shoulders and arms. His left hand flattened against her stomach while his right teased her hard nipple through her bra. She dropped her head back with a moan and he caught it with his shoulder. "Better?" His cheek grazed hers.
"Much." She put her hands on top of his. She slid one down her stomach. His fingers traced the band of her boy shorts while he squeezed her breast. She inhaled sharply, but her fingers found the buttons on his cuffs. He kissed her neck and shoulder. She ground her ass against his erection.
He growled against her skin. "And here I thought you were just interested in my wallet."
"Please. Your wallet is the most boring thing about you."
"Well, that's a first."
She reached up, ran her fingers into the hair on the back of his head, and pushed his stalled hand toward her mons pubis. "Let's find some more firsts."
"I want to taste you first." His lips brushed against her bra strap. "May we start there?" He took her hand and rubbed his thumb against her palm. His other thumb grazed her nipple.
Her grip on his hair tightened. "So polite. Yes, Bruce, yes."
His kisses moved across her shoulder to the center of her back, and she let go of his hair. His fingers danced along her skin as they moved behind her. His lips followed the curve of her spine as he unfastened her bra and slid the straps off her shoulders.
Selina shimmied her arms and dropped the bra on the floor. Bruce knelt behind her. Each kiss he laid on her skin sent a pulse through her. He wrapped an arm around her torso and turned her slowly. His lips skimmed her side as she rotated. She brushed her fingertips over his firm bicep.
Once she faced him, he pulled her boy shorts down and kissed her hip. He looked up. The clench of her insides started at her throat and continued down her body. She combed his hair back. Those intense hazel eyes never broke away as he slid the panties off her other hip, and then ran his hand over her bare ass and down her leg.
She stepped out of them and he guided her stance wider. "You are beautiful, Selina." He caressed her inner thighs before kissing her mound. One long finger slid between her wet lips and brushed her pulsing clit.
Her knees buckled as she moaned. His arms wrapped around her before she fell against the wall. He spun them around and her back landed on the mattress. His lips fell on hers. She gasped for air once his assault moved south. His kisses reached her stomach before she remembered to spread her legs as far as she could.
Silver tongued devil proved he could use that tongue for more than just obscuration. She grabbed the comforter with both hands and he pinned her hips in place. She wasn't a frigid society bitch, so she moaned her appreciation for his technique. Her voice squealed as an orgasm rolled through her.
Bruce settled beside her and brushed her hair away from her face. "I think you enjoyed that," he said with a smug smirk on his face.
"Not as much as you'll enjoy this." In one spring, she pushed him on his back, straddled his hips, and ripped open his partially button shirt. He let her have the move without a struggle, though after she gasped, he looked like he regretted not stopping her.
She should have expected the scars. Hell, her careful planning to avoid confrontations had left her with a few nicks; a hazard of the masked lifestyle. But Bruce's muscles rippled under a mass of scar lines.
The widest patch was on his right side starting at his lowest rib. It looked like a grazing bullet had almost bisected an older gash, and it had been sewn together by a freshman home economics student. About half of the other scars scratched across his torso looked like they were closed by the same student while the rest were closed by a neater hand.
"Everything you've paid to Gotham." She ran her hands over his chest.
Resignation replaced his smugness. "The worst blows never left a mark."
His parents, Rachel, Batman had saved Harvey Dent before murdering him (and she would empty what was left of her savings betting that only the first half of that was true); she refused to be another blow he expected. She bent over and kissed him.
He pushed up on his arms so not to unlatch their lips as she sat back. She hummed into his mouth and peeled his shirt off his shoulders and arms. Scars marred the feel of his shoulder blades, but she didn't hesitate caressing them.
Once his arms were free of the sleeves, he wrapped them around her. They rolled until she was on her back again. Their lips parted when he propped himself over her. "You are out of practice if you think you can leave your pants on," she said huskily.
"I'm not proud of the brace." He stood up and shucked the pants and his boxers off quickly. She saw two black bands above and below his left knee wrapped tight enough to dig into his flesh, but there was only one metal hinge on the outside of his leg and thin to go under his armor. Bruce sighed, "I'm a cripple without it."
"You are far from cripple and we both know it." She held out her hand. "Now come to bed."
He moved over her. She ran her hand up his arm, pulled him closer, and wrapped her legs around him. He slid into her with a relieved moan. She rocked her hips to give a hint, but he caressed her cheek instead. "Do you have any idea how special you are?"
"I know I'm the woman who'll be on top again if you don't move."
He grinned so wide his eyes nearly shut before he slid against her. She groaned as she matched his rhythm and she came apart under his touch again. He followed soon after with a cry that might have been her name before he collapsed on top of her. He rolled off with a muttered apology.
Selina grabbed the comforter and rolled into his arms. He draped the blanket over them before kissing her softly. "I'm glad I chased after you."
"I take back what I said about you not being fun." She returned his kiss and let his beating heart lull her to sleep.
The sleep only lasted about an hour and a half before she woke up alone in the bed. "Bruce?" The suite was empty save for her. That knowledge collided with dread building in her gut. "Bruce?" She knew he was doing something stupid.
A sheet of paper folded into a tent was under the nightstand lamp she turned on. Addressed to her, how thoughtful.
I know this will piss you off, but I promised Jen I would keep you safe. And I can't stand the thought of anything happening to you. If it is the last thing I do, Gotham will be safe for you in the morning. Take what you need out of my wallet.
"You idiotic, masochistic bastard!" She flung the note back on the nightstand and the comforter off. "Weren't you at the same damn fight I was?" She stomped across the hardwood floor to her suitcase. "We both had to run, you pig-headed, altruistic martyr!"
She lifted out the false bottom hiding her suit and her boots. Maybe he took back-up. The dread tied a new knot. Who was there for him to take? The police, except for Blake, wanted Batman's head. He didn't want to endanger her, so he absolutely wasn't calling Blake.
She yanked on a clean pair of panties. "You self-sacrificial moron, they shot the Police Commissioner." She pulled her bra straps into place. "You think they won't shoot you?" She stepped into her catsuit and tugged the material up her legs. "Hard-headed cretin." She found her belt and goggles, and set them on the dresser before sitting on the bed. "I told you Bane wants to kill you!" She zipped up the first boot. "Repeatedly told you, you smug bat bastard." She zipped up the second boot. "You obstinate do-gooder."
After her catsuit was zipped closed, she ran a brush through her hair, and ignored the worry the mirror put in her eyes as she applied her crimson lipstick. She slid the room key card into a belt pouch, tightened her mask around her face, and sauntered out the suite door.