I think my muse for this one was 'Citizens' by Alice Russell from "The Blacklist" soundtrack, but I can't remember! I'm calling this chapter Strive to Destruction. Little bit of angst, little bit of fluff, little bit of smut; the perfect combination, really, for a Blacklist story, lol. As always, I own nothing, just my thoughts. All my love to BlackInk07 for taking the time to preview and give opinions :)
"This isn't the way to your safehouse," Lizzie points out in the back of Red's car as his driver speeds them away from the Post Office.
"Hmmm, no it isn't," he murmurs distractedly, rubbing his thumb over the backs of her knuckles, holding her hand tenderly clasped against his leg.
"Red?" she prompts, squeezing his hand, "I thought you said you told Cooper we were working from your safehouse this week?"
"I lied," he states simply, a smile blossoming on his face. "I wanted you all to myself for a few days; I told him what he needed to hear to make that possible."
A smile slowly spreads across Lizzie's face, "So...where are we going?"
"I have a lovely little cocoa plantation in Costa Rica," he shares. "I thought we'd spend a few days there; soak up the sun, maybe visit the Arenal volcano, and of course, tour the cocoa fields."
"That sounds...really relaxing," she sighs. "Shouldn't we be heading to my place so I can pack?"
"Not necessary! Everything has already been provided and is waiting on my jet," Red looks positively pleased with himself.
"When in the world did you find the time to do all that?" Liz stares incredulously.
Red just smiles ambiguously and tucks her into the fold of his arm for the remainder of the ride to the airstrip.
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Five hours later, they touch down in Costa Rica and Liz finds herself swept up in a romantic getaway that only Raymond Reddington could plan on a few short hours' notice.
Pulling up to the manor house, Liz says the only word she can think of to describe the view,"Wow."
Red regals her with stories about the property's acquisition, his grooming of the cocoa field workers which has allowed them to raise their status in the community, and the lush profits which fund a nearby school. Lizzie is taken aback by his generosity, awed, as she always is, by the elaborate enigma that is her Red.
They tour the property, walking slowly to accommodate Red's pain. The plantation's foreman, Diego, accompanies them, explaining the process they use to cultivate the cocoa plants. After updating Red on the farm's progress, he leaves them to continue their tour alone.
"Diego is a dear friend," he says of the slight man walking toward one of the barns. "I plucked him out of the hands of a Colombian drug cartel years ago and relocated him here."
"Whyever for?" Liz expresses her surprise.
Red stares at her enigmatically for a moment, as he often does, head cocked to one side, clear amber sunglasses shading his view, before answering. "I saw something in him," he tells her simply.
He continues forward. "Let's return to the house. I could use a coffee."
"What made you want to go into the chocolate business?" Lizzie questions.
"The Chorotega natives used cacao as currency. As a businessman who often finds himself dealing in trades with unorthodox payment properties, I found the symbolism quite amusing."
Lizzie shakes her head and smiles as she follows him up to the house. Only Red would sink millions into a property simply for the symbolism.
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The Costa Rican night sky is beautiful, clear, and empty as they sit on the patio after dinner. Red looks relaxed, legs stretched out in front of his chair, cool and collected in his suit pants and vest the color of sand. His cream fedora, never far, rests on the table near his glass of scotch. Lizzie is standing near the edge of the paved patio floor, a glass of wine in her hand, staring up at the sky.
He calls to her from his place at the table, "What do you see?"
She returns to him, smiling. "Nothing, and it's perfect. I don't think I've ever seen a night sky so clear."
The crickets are chirping out across the cocoa fields, a serenade to their conversation. Lizzie sighs contentedly, settling back into her seat.
"This is beautiful, Red; thank you for bringing me here," she tells him sincerely.
A soft smile rests on his lips for her. "I would take you everywhere, my love, if only you were free to go."
"I know," she replies quietly. She knows this is a conversation they are going to need to have, but she wants to stave it off just a little longer. The corners of her lips quirk up as inspiration dawns. She rises gracefully from her chair, moving around the table to stand in front of Red's chair.
"How are the ribs?" she asks him. His answer will dictate the next part of her plan.
"Oh, they're fine." He looks up at her expectantly. "Sore, but fine. Why? What did you have in mind?" There is a lilt of anticipation in his voice, as if he is hoping she will suggest something naughty.
She chuckles at him, extending both her hands to him. "Get your mind out of the gutter, Reddington," she teases. "Come on, dance with me."
He allows her to pull him from the chair. "We don't have any music."
She draws him into her arms, across the stone. "Sure we do; can't you hear it?"
He nestles his face into her auburn hair, smiling. "Ah, my love, you always know how to see the best in every situation."
They sway gently together in a rough approximation of dancing, content merely to be near each other, eyes closed, moving together.
After a time, she sighs, prompting him to lift his head and peer at her in the darkness. "What?" he inquires softly.
"I know we have to talk about my job," she admits.
Red pauses, hands still on her hips. "Do you want to talk about it?"
She groans, "No, but I know we need to. We have to figure this out; we need to make a plan."
He smiles reassuringly, "Well, I think this conversation would go much better with alcohol. And you...naked."
Lizzie laughs, relieved that he is willing to discuss it and by his quick, disarming humor. She allows him to guide her inside with a warm hand on the small of her back, and up to the master suite, their drinks in hand.
It is the first opportunity she has had to see their room and she is speechless as he leads her into the breathtaking open space. Soft candlelight glows on various surfaces around the room, casting shadows. The big four-poster bed is draped with gauzy white fabric that billows gently in the breeze from the open french doors leading out to the balcony, overlooking the cocoa fields. She leaves her wine glass on the dresser as she crosses to the balcony doors, letting the warm breeze wash over her skin.
Red pauses behind her, his hands encircling her hips, head dropping forward to nuzzle her neck. His lips nibble her skin enticingly and her eyes close.
"Hey," she protests softly and convincingly, "I thought we were going to talk about work."
One hand drifts up from her hip to caress her jawline, gently turning her face towards him, pressing a soft kiss to her mouth over her shoulder. "We will," he promises, "but you aren't naked yet." His kiss is more urgent now, his tongue darting past her lips to caress her.
As the kiss deepens, Red turns her in his arms, hands knotting in her long brown locks to angle her head back for his exploration. He breaks away from her to kiss across her jaw, down her neck, leaving her panting in his arms. His fingertips trail over the fabric of her clothing, tugging, unbuttoning, untucking, unzipping; each new sound an emphatic revelation to her ears.
He undresses her with exaggerated slowness, pulling each item effortlessly from her body and letting it drop, walking her backward a step with each piece he removes until the backs of her knees hit the bed. His hands on her hips playfully toss her back, spilling her onto the bed. He takes a moment to gaze at his handiwork; her beautiful body is splayed out before him, creamy skin radiant in the flickering illumination, a sharp contrast against the dark heather of the cashmere blanket. He wants to taste every inch of her sacred flesh, but his body restricts him at the moment, his broken ribs protesting any strenuous movement.
Lips twitching, he reaches down and grasps her ankles in his strong hands and drags her closer to the edge. A squeal of surprise escapes her, delighting him as he drops her legs to dangle against the side of the bed.
Stretching across her body, he steals a pillow from the bed and tosses it at his feet. With care, he lowers himself to kneel at the edge of the mattress, his hungry eyes devouring her above him. He parts her knees with his hands, leaning forward to lick along the inside of her left thigh. He creeps along until he reaches the apex of her legs, and then teasingly skips over it to nibble his way down her right thigh.
Lizzie breathing grows shallow the moment she realizes his intent. Now, she is panting on the soft mattress, alternately holding her breath and gasping for air as he teases along the edge of her knee with his lips. He finds his way back up to her center and pauses. She holds her breath, preparing for his tongue to invade her.
Red's mouth closes over her core, sucking all of her into his mouth, his tongue lapping over her clit. She moans, her back arching off the bed at his sudden, sweet torment. He continues driving her higher, releasing her from the suction of his mouth, but driving his tongue harder against her folds. He explores her with his mouth, tasting her sugar on the back of his tongue.
Lizzie's hands fist in the soft blanket beneath her, desperate for something to cling to. She thrusts her hips against his mouth, encouraging him deeper. The small sounds she makes fuel his desire to please her, his own lust pooling low in his body.
"Please, Red," she gasps, her back bowing off the mattress.
He smiles against her clit and gives her what she wants, sliding his middle finger gently through her folds into her sheath. She exhales the breath she is holding, shivering around his seeking digit. He curls it against her, stroking it across her sensitive spot. Her moan cuts through the heady, tropical air.
Red flicks the tip of his tongue over her as he begins to plunge his finger into her, keeping time with the beats of her heart. Soon, she is begging for more, her hands grappling for his head, holding him to her. He wedges her thighs further apart, keeping her open to him, holding her in place with the breadth of his shoulders. He slips his middle finger from between her folds, replacing it with his index finger, and gently slides it into the tiny, puckering furrow of her ass. She whimpers above him as her control dissolves on his tongue and she is reduced to a quivering, weeping mass on the bed.
Red continues to suckle her clit as Lizzie's orgasm pulses around his fingers, her body devouring his slender digits inside her clasping recesses. He holds on until her hands become insistent against his skull, begging his mercy for her reprieve. He releases her, dropping wet kisses along her thighs as he settles back on his haunches, watching her as she trembles down from her high.
Finally, when her gasping breaths have slowed, he pushes himself up from the floor with effort and lowers himself on the bed next to her. She rolls haltingly onto her side to pillow her head on his arm. His fingers flit over every available surface of her skin that he can reach from his current position.
"So," she sighs contentedly after several long minutes, "we were going to talk about something...?"
He chuckles at her, twining his fingers through hers. "Yes, I believe you said something about work," he reminds helpfully.
"Mmmm...yes," she agrees sleepily. "I don't know how we're going to keep this a secret."
"I've been thinking about that as well," he admits.
"There are just so many roadblocks in our way," she begins. "You're my asset; this is out-of-bounds on so many levels. Your business is illegal and I could be compromised just by association with you. Your status with the FBI is tenuous at best and, realistically, they could revoke your rights at anytime."
"All that is true," he allows.
"And then there's Cooper; oh my god, Cooper would lose his mind. And can you even imagine Ressler's face if we told him?" Red is quiet, letting her get it all out.
"I mean, I don't know how I'm going to keep my hands off of you at the Post Office," she tells him honestly. "Not to mention the fact that we'll likely be coming into work and leaving work together more often. And the FBI can track your chip, so they'll know that we're together all the time." She fumbles over her words, cheeks burning, as she realizes the implication of what she has just said. "Oh!...I...not that...I'm sorry, I didn't mean to suggest that we would always be-" she babbles.
"Move in with me," he cuts her off.
She stares at him, stunned into silence. She regards him skeptically, weighing the ramifications before deciding just to leap; leap and trust that he will always, always catch her.
"Ok," she smiles as the word leaves her lips. She relaxes against him in relief, but then her brow furrows again. "They'll find out," she reasons.
Red's eyes search hers, his hand resting against her cheek. He pulls her in for a tender kiss. "Then they find out. And, we'll figure out what to do then."
She nods, her eyes closed. He settles her head back onto his arm, kissing the tip of her nose lightly. He holds her as she falls asleep, daydreaming about the possibility of a life where he can actually keep her.
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They spend the better part of the next two days working, just as Red had promised Cooper they would. Though he does spirit Lizzie away to see the volcano for an afternoon, most of her time is spent typing and emailing reports to Ressler, while Red is on the phone tracking down contacts and arranging meetings with their next Blacklister.
"We're all set for tomorrow," Red announces, snapping his phone closed as he walks in from the patio.
Lizzie looks up from her laptop. "What time?"
"We leave in the morning and we should arrive back in D.C. around 3:00. We have a dinner meeting with him at 7:00," Red outlines their timeline for her, plucking a grape from the bowl of fruit at her elbow.
She smiles up at him. "I'll call Ressler."
"Brief him, but inform him that you and I will be the only ones attending the meeting. My contact is skittish; we don't need to spook him with an entourage. He can wait in the surveillance van." Red's tone is firm.
"He won't like that," she admonishes.
"Yes, well, there are very few things that involve me that Donald does like." He places a kiss on her shoulder as she reaches for her phone, bringing a smile to her lips.
For their last night in Costa Rica, Red surprises her with a tray of chocolate confections from a local bakery and they spend the evening in bed. Red shows her several condo listings that his people have vetted. They pore over features and debate the merits of location: fireplaces and marble countertops, clawfoot baths and views of the park. It's still early when she falls asleep in his arms, her mind full of their plans, but he lets her slumber, staying awake hours longer to watch her peaceful repose. He is happier than he could have anticipated; happier, he knows, than he has a right to be.
She is back in that stone chamber, the man with the gun aiming at Red. He is kneeling in the center of the floor, his hands bound behind his back.
She is screaming for them to wait, to stop, pleading with them for his life.
His eyes are begging her to run the other way, but she struggles to reach him. She is running, running towards him, her hands reaching out, she is almost there, she can almost touch him, and then...she hears the shot.
Lizzie bolts upright in bed, a scream frozen in her throat. She holds herself taut for a moment, gasping to recover her breath, chest heaving. Her eyes dart around the unfamiliar room in the darkness. They are in Costa Rica, she remembers. She glances down at her side; Red is still sleeping, his features relaxed. Sleep is such a luxury for him that she doesn't want to wake him for this.
Quietly, she extricates herself from the covers and climbs out of bed, careful not to disturb him. She pads silently to the balcony and curls up in one of the patio chairs, wrapping her arms around herself, unable to chase away the chill through the air is balmy. She stares out across the fields, illuminated by starlight, reliving the nightmare in her mind.
What would she have done if Ressler and the team hadn't arrived in time? What if she'd never had the chance to tell him how she felt?
She can't bear the thought of it; cannot think of what her life would look like without Red in it, especially now. It is painful enough to remember all the wasted time, months, years even, that they could have spent together, learning each other, loving each other. It had all been such a waste. And that is what her life will return to, she realizes, if the FBI were to find out about their relationship. They would take him from her as surely as the ghosts in her dream had. She buries her head in her hands and lets the terror of her awful dream leak out of her eyes.
She startles when she feels a pair of strong hands grasp her knees.
"Lizzie, what is it?" The gravelly tones of Red's sleepy voice wash over her, a calming wave.
She opens her eyes to find him kneeling in front of her, concern etching his features. Forgetting his injured ribs, she throws herself at him, burying her face against his neck.
Red's arms wind around her, holding her tightly to him, ignoring the sharp pain in his chest. Her hot tears scald his skin as he tries to calm her frantic sobbing.
"Please, sweetheart, tell me what's wrong," he pleads.
"We can't tell them!" she exclaims, pulling back from him desperately, her hands clutching at the material of his t-shirt. "Cooper and the FBI; we can't tell them about us! They'll take you away from me, they'll put you in a hole somewhere and I'll never be able to find you. Please, Red, they can't ever know!"
He smoothes his hands over her face, her hair, searching her eyes for some clue to understand her terror. "Ok," he says seriously, his eyebrows knitting together. "But, sweetheart, I don't know if we can live together and keep that from them for very long. It just isn't practical. Someone will find out. What do you want to do?"
"I can't lose you, please! We do whatever we have to, and if that means we can't move in together, then...we c-can't," her voice breaks and she falls apart in his arms again.
It feels like hours that he holds her like that, until she is so exhausted that he simply gathers her up and sits in the chair with her on his lap, her tear-streaked face pressed against his chest. He watches the sun come up over her sleeping head, his jaw working tensely against his own anguish.
When he awakens her with a kiss on her temple, she is withdrawn, regretful; the sunrise burns away for the gloom, but does nothing to quell the sadness in her heart. They ready themselves for the day in silence, both of them unsure of how to proceed, the terror of the night clinging to them even in the morning light.
The flight back to Washington is strained and quiet.
When Red drops her at the Post Office, she is grateful to have a few hours to herself before their meet tonight. He reminds her that he will pick her up at 6:00 from her motel. She climbs out of the car, clutching her laptop, with a long look behind her as his car pulls away.
Red stares out the window forlornly; how different today is from the last time they were in this same place. He shakes himself mentally; he is the Concierge of Crime for heaven's sake! Surely he can find a solution to this problem. He need only set his mind to the task; he will find a way to convince Lizzie that they deserve a chance together.
Jun 25, 2018 in romance