Friday, October 26, 2012

84 THURSDAY

~Chapter 84~
THURSDAY

HE
“Hey, buddy,” Emmett greets me as I stroll into my cubicle. His cheery salutation brings me back to the good ol’ days, when we’d hang out occasionally after work and he’d point out every pair of tits that walked in the bar.

“’Sup, Emmett? I see your pile has shrunk a bit.”

“Dude, you know better than to talk about shrinkage. Bahahaha!”

I sneak a peek into the fishbowl and Rosalie is smiling and shaking her head.

“So what’s been happening down here while I’ve been toiling away in the tower?”

“Pfft, yeah right. You didn’t break a nail or anything up there, did ya?”

My back is to him as I hang my jacket on the hook and sink into my chair. “No, it’s all good upstairs.”

“Down here, too. Rosie’s been getting ready to post the position, and she wants the two of us to get our thoughts together on what we’d like to see for qualifications and job description.”

“Sure, I can help with that.”

“Good, because I know you don’t want to share our workspace with some Grade-A dweeb any more than I do.”

I’ve certainly known my fair share of those in the back rooms of corporate America. I couldn’t care less about the personality of the low guy on the totem pole, as long as he or she can do the job.

I tease Emmett, “You gonna put that in the job description?”

“Thinking about it,” he says so seriously I have to believe him. “How’s about we toss back a couple brewskies at lunch and pull something together?”

His offer is unexpected but not unwelcome. There’s a new détente everywhere—Alice and Jasper with Isabella, Rosalie and Emmett with me. Besides, I happen to know that Isabella is going out with Angela today.

“Yeah, sure, sounds good.”

“Cool,” Emmett answers, turning back to his piles.

My inbox is manageable, but my to-do folder is thick with requests and problems. I roll up my sleeves and dig in. Now that the less interesting issues have moved off my desk, I actually find myself enjoying the troubleshooting, every new case a puzzle to be solved. The hours fly by and before I know it, Emmett and I are headed to Thurston’s.

“Okay,” he says, tapping his pen on the little yellow pad he smuggled from the office, “what are we looking for in an office mate?”

I smile around the glass mug as the amber liquid makes its way down my throat. Setting my drink down, I lean forward onto my elbows and answer, “I feel like the kids in Mary Poppins who write the ad for their nanny.”

“What? You’re quoting me musicals?” he responds, guffawing into the back of his broad hand.

I shrug. “Can’t help it, my mom brought me up on Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz…”

“Let me guess,” Emmett says, quite amused now, “you have four sisters and you’re the only boy?”

I have to give him credit in the insight department. “Worse,” I huff. “I’m an only child.”

“Dude.” He nods his head sympathetically and guzzles down his beer. “So…?”

“Let’s have a guy who can do the job, first and foremost,” I suggest.

“A guy?” Emmett smirks.

“Whatever—guy, girl, I don’t really care.”

“Seriously? You’re indifferent?”

“Honestly, Emmett, it’s all the same to me. I want someone I can rely on to do what needs to be done so that you can do what you need to do and I can be where I’m really needed.”

Emmett folds his arms across his broad chest and grins. “Like upstairs in your girlfriend’s office.”

“Hmm, let me see. Would I rather be down in the dungeon telling people to reboot all day or upstairs in the presence of perfection? How much time do I have to mull this one over?”

“Haha, okay, okay,” he answers good-naturedly. “I can get behind that. It’s not like I don’t have better people—er, I mean things—to do.” He waggles his eyebrows so I’m sure to know it was an intentional “slip.”

Our meals arrive and somehow Emmett eats his baby back ribs with one hand while he takes notes with the other. “I’ll type this up and send it off to Rose. Thanks for your input.”

“Sure.” The check comes and we both toss down a twenty. “So things with Rosalie are good?”

“Yeah. She’s actually pretty great.”

His big, goofy grin draws a smile to my own face. “Well, aren’t we just one happy little IT department?”

“Exactly. And I’d like to keep it that way,” he adds, gesturing to the note pad.

“There you go then,” I tell him, pointing over my shoulder to the raging fake gas fireplace behind me.

His face scrunches into a puzzled look. “What?”

“Many thanks…sincerely,” I sing as off-key as ever, while pantomiming tearing up the pieces and tossing them into the fire. “Jane and Michael Banks.”

Emmett starts shaking his head violently the minute I start singing. When I finish, he jumps up from his chair and puts his hand firmly on my shoulder.

“Do…not…ever…do that to me again. Are we clear?”

she
“God, I’ve missed you, Bella.”

Angela’s tight hug sends a pang of guilt straight to my heart. I know she understands why I haven’t reached out again, but still, it’s not her I’m upset with; it’s her boor of a boyfriend. Beyond that, I just haven’t really wanted to tear myself away from Edward long enough to spend time with anyone else. I’m sure we’ll plateau at some point—I mean, we have to, right?—but for the time-being, he more than satisfies my every need for physical fulfillment, intellectual stimulation and good old-fashioned friendship.

Or so I thought, until Angela wrapped her arms around me and started being Angela, my best friend, my girlfriend, my past, my accepting, loving, easygoing, reliable, loyal friend. That’s when the guilt is compounded with a sense of regret, and I’m loath to admit, a serious dose of shame. My obsession with Edward is not apparent until I’m sparked in a different way by my sweet friend, and I realize with a flood of emotions what’s been absent lately.

“I’ve missed you too, Angela,” I answer, clutching her just a bit tighter than normal.

I vow then and there not to take this friendship for granted, and not to let some pettiness keep us apart.

She releases me with a knowing smile, and we follow the hostess of Brasserie Quatorze to our table and unfurl ourselves from all our winter wrappings.

“Look at us all ‘trying something new,’” Angela says with a little attitude as the hostess leaves us with menus.

“It seemed like time for a change,” I voice out loud what I’m sure she’s thinking.

“I wish I could have a glass of wine,” she says ruefully, “but that would be a terrible idea during busy season. I’ll probably be at the client until late tonight and I don’t want to be falling asleep on my workpapers.”

I wave off the idea. “I’m no good if I have a drink at lunch either.”

“So how are things with Mr. Wonderful?” she asks, after the server heads off with our orders.

“Dreamy.”

She sighs in response to my sigh, and we both burst into mad giggles.

“Damn, Bella, I am so happy for you. You’re like a whole new person since you met Edward. You’re…ugh, it’s so cliché, but honestly, you are glowing!”

I lean across the table. “Sometimes, I just randomly think about him and I smile so hard my face hurts!”

“That’s a good thing, right? The pain?” She busts out again, and I shake my head playfully.

“How’s busy season going?”

Angela smiles. “I must be a bit of a masochist, too, but I love it, Bella.” Her face lights up as she goes on. “The adrenaline rush of having so much to do in such a short time, late hours with a team of co-workers, all of us pushing together to the finish line…I just love it.”

“I can relate. Just landed a big client last week in Seattle. It felt great.”

“Congratulations. That’s great news.” We clink our water glasses to celebrate. “So…”

“Yes?” I respond, smirking at what is sure to be her curiosity about our private life.

“What do you guys do when you’re not…you know…sexing it up?” The last part is barely above a whisper and her face is all scrunched up and blushing.

“Hmm, mostly the same as everyone else. We eat and talk, he watches football…”

“Ugh. What do you do while he’s watching football?”

 “I’m actually starting to get into it a little bit,” I admit.

Angela waves her hand through the air, dismissing the idea. “Seriously, Bella. You’re never not reading.”

“I haven’t actually held a book in my hands in months, I’m afraid.”

She looks up at me, puzzled for the first time. Of all the things that seem out of character, this seems to be the one she just can’t quite reconcile. And of course, she’s right. I may not be reading, but that’s because I’ve been pouring myself into writing every spare moment I get, and if not writing, researching.

I fiddle with the napkin in my lap, running a subconscious pros and cons list through my head. I’ve kept so much of myself from everyone I love for so long, I feel as if they don’t have a chance to even know who I am. Here’s my friend—gracious and open and honestly curious and caring—and I can’t think of a reason not to tell her who I am. Really.

“I’ve been doing some writing, actually.”

Her face lights up. “You have? That’s great! What kind? Like a novel?”

“Um…not exactly.”

“Tell me!” she demands, reaching across to rap me with her knuckles.

“Ow, jeez, Ange.”

The server arrives just in the nick of time with her Croque Monsieur and my Salad Niçoise. I dig my fork into the nearest slab of tuna and make a big show of eating while Angela crosses her arms and tries to look threatening.

“Don’t quit your day job to become a domme,” I tease her.

She picks up half her sandwich and before bringing it to her lips, she asks, “Is that what you write about? All that…kinky stuff?”

“Pretty much, yeah.”

“For Edward?”

“Well, he does read my stuff, but I was posting back before I met him.”

“Posting? What do you mean?”

Whoops.

“I…um…have this pen name and I write to a website where other people read and leave me reviews.”

Taking in a big mouthful, she pauses for a second to hum and enjoy, but then she’s right back on me. “What’s your pen name?”

I regard my good friend, who is doing her best right now to look nonchalant, as if reading my innermost kinky fetish porn fantasies would be no biggie. Yeah, right.

“I can’t, Ange. I think it might burn your eyeballs out.”

She chews thoughtfully and returns her sandwich to the plate. Her face screws up in an expression that is meant to look tough but comes out looking an awful lot like hurt. “You know, Bella Swan, you’re not the only one who likes sex.”

“I know, Angela. I’m sorry; I didn’t mean it that way. It’s just that these are intensely personal ideas that I’m spilling out into my stories.”

“And letting a million strangers read, but not your best friend.”

Now I know why I never told her about this before. “It’s not a million, it’s more like a hundred,” I say, even hearing to my own ears how lame that sounds. “It’s just easier for me that nobody knows me there.”

“How do you know that?”

“Edward told me I’m safe.”

“That’s it? He says it; you believe it?”

“Pretty much,” I answer, attacking the hard-boiled egg.

“I hope he knows what he’s talking about,” she answers after a while.

“Angela,” I reassure her, “he knows exactly what he’s talking about. This is his field of expertise.”

A wry smile comes over her face. “I thought the other thing was.”

Her eyes crinkle up and she starts giggling once again. The subject is officially dropped—for now.

HE
“What did you have for lunch?”

“Tuna.”

“Good. I wasn’t going to make that for dinner anyway. How about steaks? I’m good at that,” I suggest.

“Sure. I’ll go grab a couple baking potatoes?”

“Yeah, and find something green, while you’re at it.”

She bites back her glee and heads off to produce while I wrangle us a couple of cowboy steaks. On the way to the cash register, I swing by the floral department and pick out a colorful mixed bouquet. Her face lights up when I pull the flowers from behind my back.

“What’s that for?

I shrug. “It’s Thursday.”

“Romantic.”

“You know it, baby.”

I’m fully loaded with her shoe bag in one hand and the groceries in the other, but Isabella is carrying the flowers, so it’s all manageable.

“How was lunch with Angela?”

Even in profile, I can see the smile pulling up her cheek. “It was great. I almost forgot how nice it is just to giggle with her.”

It’s good to see her so carefree. “You should do it more often.”

“I will, but…”

So much for easygoing Isabella. “What is it?”

“I won’t blame if you say no, but Angela says Garrett really wants to make it up to you.”

“Oh.” Prick’s been sleeping on the couch for three weeks now. Of course, he wants to make it up to me.

She looks my way then cringes. “Don’t worry, I already told Ange it probably wouldn’t work.”

“Why not?”

“Uh, because he was an ass.”

Sure the guy is an ass, but he’s my girlfriend’s best friend’s ass. I can see the unspoken plea in her eyes. “Isabella, this is really important to you. I’m happy to give the guy another chance.”

“You will?”

“Sure.”

“Is there a ‘but?’”

I can’t help where my head goes. “That’s a butt and an ass within minutes of each other—got something on your mind tonight, sweetheart?”

She looks over at me, incredulous. Without saying a word, she dips her nose into the bouquet and inhales deeply. “Mmm, I’m just going to stay right here while you do that thing you’re doing.”

I chuckle at her, relishing the way she “handles” me. Then I turn my thoughts to Garrett. I’m not worried about blowing my stack with him; frankly, he’s an arrogant, ignorant jerk and he can’t hurt me. It’s Isabella’s friendship with Angela that concerns me.

“Have Garrett call me.”

“What are you gonna do to that boy?” she asks, her eyes narrowing with suspicion.

“Let’s just say I’m going to pre-screen him before I let him near you again. If he passes through my douchebag filter, we’ll give him another chance…but it’s going to have to be on our terms.”

“And what are our terms?” she asks, knowing full well that our terms are my terms.

“First of all, our turf—the apartment.”

Isabella nods agreeably.

“And secondly, you and I will be in scene.”

“WHAT?” She stops walking just as we round the bend to the apartment entrance.

“Bottom line, you trust me better when we’re in scene—though we do have our issues.”

I didn’t mean that to sound accusatory, but she bites her lip and looks away for a second. “Edward, it’s one thing to scene with Marcus…”

“No, sweetheart. You and I will be in scene. Angela and Garrett will have no idea. Zero.”

I can pinpoint the exact moment her mind opens to the idea; her expression completely changes. It’s the moment she decides to put her faith in me—all the way—not just in words, but in deeds. And just as quickly, doubt clouds her face, but I realize immediately it is not me she doubts.

“What if I mess up? I’ll ruin everything.”

“You won’t. But I will be right there and I won’t give you enough leash to get tangled.” Horror crosses her eyes, and I quickly add, “Metaphorically, that is.”

“Jeez, Edward.”

“We won’t schedule it until you feel ready.”

“Do you think I’m ready?”

“Not yet. I have more work to do with you.” I wink at her, and her cheeks pink up. “C’mon. Let’s go inside. I’m hungry.”

she
“Are you sure I have time to change?” I know better than to get between Edward’s stomach and dinner.

“Go, go. This meal only takes about ten minutes to cook. I’ll set the table and turn on the broiler. You can handle the vegetables.”

I give him a quick peck on the lips. “Thanks, and don’t forget to put those flowers in cold water.”

“Yes, dear,” he sings, putting on his best imitation of the brow-beaten boyfriend we both know he’s not.

I find myself rushing to change so I can return to his side as quickly as possible, and he greets me with a delighted smile that lets me know he’s just as happy about it as I am. Edward’s cuffs are rolled out of his way as he sprinkles the seasoning onto the steaks and works it in with his fingers.

“Just like the pedicure scrub,” he jokes. I have a hard time ripping my eyes from the erotic movement of his hands over the raw meat. “Don’t you have something to do?” he smirks without lifting his eyes from his work.

“Evil,” I mutter. I scrub the potatoes under running water and poke the heck out of the little spuds with the fork before placing them on a paper towel in the microwave.

Something strikes me about the way they begin traveling around in circles. “Look how cute they are in there, just the two of them, round and round, together on their little carousel of life.”

“Are you losing it just a little bit there, sweetheart?” he asks gently, brushing past me to slide the steaks under the broiler.

“Most likely,” I answer with a long sigh. “I think you’re making me stupid.”

“Not stupid. Romantic.”

“Whatever. How about opening some wine?”

“Yes, dear,” he moans again, even worse than before.

“Poor baby,” I snort. Very carefully, I spread the sliced almonds along the toaster tray and set the oven to 200 degrees. “Do not distract me. If I forget about those, there’s no way I’m going to get you to eat the green beans.”

“That’s a pretty big long shot anyway, just so you know,” he informs me.

“You do know that boys who don’t eat their vegetables don’t get dessert, right?”

Edward hands me a glass of cabernet. “Let that open up a bit before you drink it. And don’t ever try to deny me my dessert, Isabella.”

His suddenly chilling words send their usual shiver down my spine.

“Here’s to a relaxing week,” he toasts more mildly, raising his glass. I do the same, we both clink, swirl, and sip. “Yep, needs more time,” he confirms with puckered lips.

I toss the green beans into the colander and spray cold water over the surface. Just as I pick up the handles to shake out the excess moisture, a pair of hands creeps around my stomach from behind. Edward presses his hips into my back and lets out a low, “Mmmm.” And I’m still okay, still fully capable of transferring the beans to a clean paper towel and patting them…until his lips make contact with my ear.

“Edward,” I warn.

“Hmmm?” Mr. Innocent hums.

“What did I tell you about distracting me? Did I do this to you while you were feeling up the slabs of beef?”

“That’s different,” he croons into my ear. “Beef is sacred. Beans are just…legumes.”

“No love for the legumes, huh?”

He rotates his hips and grinds against my ass. “Now here’s a food group I have loads of love for.”

“Nice segue there, babe,” I mumble, leaning into his attentions. Miraculously, the scent of the toasting almonds cuts through my haze before I burn them to a crisp. “Shit! Shit, shit, shit! You nut saboteur!”

Edward’s hands fly off me, proclaiming his innocence. “I have nothing against nuts! You know this!”

As I rush to the toaster, I hear him chuckling in the background, but one look toward the oven tells me he’s not exactly in full control of all his faculties either. “Um…you like your steak well-done, right?”

“No, I—shit! Fuck! Crap! Damn, damn, DAMN!”

The smile vanishes from his face as he grabs the remaining hot pad and retrieves the pan just in time. “You temptress! You nearly ruined our dinner with your wily ways.”

Me?” I laugh out loud. “I’d like to see the video replay on that one.”

“Hmm, video replay, eh? I like the way you think.”

Yep. I’ve done it again.

HE
“Edward, please, you sit and let me clean up for a change.”

She gives me a long, hard stare and I know it’s time to give in. “Okay, sure.”

I see the mischievous smirk the moment it reaches her eyes. “If you want to help, you can always entertain me. You know, the way I entertain you?”

In two seconds flat, I’ve unknotted my tie and tossed it across the room, along with my shirt and undershirt. Her eyes rake over my chest and she nods appreciatively. “Yep, that’ll work,” she says.

“I feel so cheap,” I tease, flexing for her before taking a seat in one of the stools at the island.

Isabella looks up at me occasionally while she scrubs the remnants of the burnt meat from the broiler pan, but she seems fairly lost in thought. “What’s going on over there?” I query.

Isabella’s eyes click up from her work as they meet mine. She’s fairly toasted from the bottle of wine we finished off, and she bites her lip as if holding back a secret. I lean across the counter to ferret out whatever she’s trying to hide. “Tell me.”

“I kind of…told Angela about my writing.”

More than anything, I want to kiss the crap out of her right now. “You did?”

She resumes scrubbing. “Yeah. I just got so tired of holding back the real me from my best friend.”

I feel a surge of pride for this woman, who has put herself out there again and again, at great personal risk. “Isabella, stop scrubbing the damn pan and look at me.”

She sets down the sponge and dries her hands on the towel, looking over for my response. “You are amazing, you know that? Every day, you take another giant step forward.”

She leans back against the counter and crosses her arms over her chest. “It felt so good to share this with her. And you should’ve seen her, Edward. She was so happy for me because she could see how passionate I am about this. She had tears in her eyes…for me.” Isabella is all choked up, and there is just no fucking way I’m keeping so much distance between us. I slip around the granite countertop and she falls into my arms.

She buries her face in my chest and inhales deeply while I clutch her against my body. One hand automatically finds its way into her hair, pulling rhythmically while I kiss the top of her head. Isabella’s soft voice wafts upward. “I feel like I’m letting people see me for the first time.” Hot tears leak onto my skin.

“You’ve been holding yourself back for so long I think maybe you forgot who the real you is.”

She lifts her eyes to mine. “I actually don’t think I ever knew before.”

Those soft chocolate chip eyes get me every damn time. I cup her cheek gently and pull her to my mouth. Her lips mold themselves to mine as we move effortlessly together without urgency, without context, and without any agenda. A kiss just for the simple joy of kissing.

When she finally pushes me back with her palm against my chest, she has a huge smile. “I love my life.”

“Do you have any idea how happy that makes me?” I feel like my face might crack in half with my own ridiculous grin.

“I think I do, yes.” Her eyes make a slow circuit from my eyes to my lips and back again.

“Okay then. Why don’t we finish these damn dishes and go have some fun?”

she
Edward weaves his fingers between mine in the kitchen and we walk together to the bedroom. The wine is only the very tip of my giddiness; being near Edward is beyond intoxicating always, and right now, I’m feeling especially vulnerable to his charms. There’s something special about him tonight—I’m not quite sure exactly what it is—but he seems more tender and appreciative than usual.

And that’s when it hits me. My plea to Master, that he help me break down my defenses, is spilling over into us. He figured it out first, naturally, but now that I’m catching up, it’s plain as day. What’s the difference whether I’m succumbing to him as Master or my insanely wonderful boyfriend? Every day I give myself over that much more, hold myself back just a little bit less. And it occurs to me in this moment of clarity, he’s doing exactly the same.

He leads me to the foot of the bed and wordlessly peels the cami over my head. When he drops his face to take my breast into his mouth, tears prick at my eyes. His thumbs whisper along my rib cage as he kisses down my belly, and I ache for him when he eventually slides my flannel pants over my hips and down my thighs.

“I love you,” he says urgently, covering my mouth with his as his fingers find their way inside me.

He swallows my cries, and I grasp his shoulders and hold onto him like a drowning victim grasping a life preserver. I press my bare chest to his as he rolls his thumb over my opening and slides his other hand behind me. I feel cradled and loved and my head swims with the stimulation at all my most sensitive points.  Before long, the pressure builds and my knees buckle and thankfully, he holds me up while I explode into his skillful, loving hands.

I whisper, “Thank you,” into his cheek, our noses sliding together in this most intimate conversation possible. There’s no hiding, not even from myself. The feeling is so liberating it shakes me to my core.

“I need you so much,” he responds, his eyes pinched with desire.

“Have me.” I go limp in his arms as he lifts my body and lays me carefully onto the bed. I’m riveted to his eyes as they linger between my thighs while he hurriedly tugs at his pants, finally releasing them and pushing out of his boxers at the same time. His swollen cock slaps against his abdomen celebrating its freedom, and he strokes himself with one hand as he knees his way up the mattress and between my legs.

He swallows thickly, and his voice catches in his throat. “Isabella—”

I lean up onto my elbows so I can see him better in the dimly lit room. “What is it?”

He reaches out and runs his fingers down the curve of my hip, grasping the flesh there and brushing his thumb across my thigh without conscious thought. “I want…”

What has him so messed up?

“Edward.” The sliver of moonlight catches the green glimmer of his irises as he meets my eyes. “What do you need?”

His jaw drops open slightly while his hand makes a slow slide around my hip, slipping into place at the mound of my bottom. The contrite expression does little to mask the raw desire written all over his body. He stares, unmoving, waiting for either permission or condemnation.

A tiny smile tugs at the corners of my lips, and I catch it between my teeth. “You know what I can handle. I love you and I trust you.”

He nods solemnly before leaning forward and pressing his lips against mine. I let my upper back slip back along the comforter and I wrap my arms around his neck, drawing his tight chest against mine. Edward’s hands become more insistent underneath me as his need presses against my thigh. A low rasp escapes him as he pushes himself away from my lips. He flexes my left leg at the knee and ducks underneath, flipping me three-quarters of the way onto my stomach. I take a couple deep breaths into the cool bed covers against my face.

Trust.

Edward’s hands find my hips, and his fingertips curl around the flesh, holding me in place while he lays his stiff length along the valley between my cheeks.

“Ahhh,” he sighs loudly, beginning to slowly rock against me. “So soffft.”

Relax.

My two globes of flesh are coaxed together, and I can feel every inch of him pressing, rubbing.

“Feels…so…gooood,” he grunts each time his thighs slap against my rump.

Feel.

My hips are guided forward and back, forward and back. Slap, grunt, slap. Fingers enter my pussy and I soak them with my juices. A palm flattens against my lower back, then the tip of his stiff cock enters me the usual way. A thumb presses over my tailbone, then lower, farther back. I meet the pressure, unafraid.

The fingertip circles, the cock thrusts forward, the thumb presses, the room fills with the sound of our combined low grunts and the thick air of anticipation.

Open.

I’m as delirious as he is, and I show him. Clambering up onto my elbows and dropping my face to the bed, I arch my back like a cat waking up after a long, satisfying nap.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” he whispers in rhythm. With each pump of his cock inside me, the circuit of that finger narrows, until finally, he slips the very tip inside me. I remember the burn, and I remember that it will pass—quicker if I don’t fight it.

Let go.

His knuckles rapping against me add another layer of texture to the mind-boggling fusion of sensations, until everything becomes too much to process and it all pares down to a singular conception—

More.

“Yesss,” he hisses. “More. More, more mooooore!” he repeats the word I had no idea I’d spoken out loud. His grasp at my back tightens; his finger knocks and twists inside me. Edward pumps furiously just before his own release, his cock pushing impossibly deeper, my pleasure spot being assaulted gloriously from both sides until I shatter around him.

He drapes his body over my back and drops his forehead onto my shoulder. “Thanks. I needed that,” he says with a dark, exhausted chuckle.

“Apparently, I did, too.” I jiggle underneath him, enjoying the full-on skin-to-skin contact.

He flops over onto his side, pulling me with him in a sweaty tangle. His lips press tiny kisses  into my back, and after a while, he mumbles, “That was all your fault, you know?”

“How do you figure?”

“All that ass talk downstairs. You did that on purpose.”

I roll onto my back, smothering him in the process. “That’s like a hawk blaming a rabbit for tasting good.”

His laughter is muffled until he pulls his head up and rests his chin on my shoulder. “Thank you for that National Geographic moment.”

“No, thank you, sweet boyfriend.”


“Good point.”