***Part Six***
Word Count: 3,256

She went back to her house at the beginning of August. She was ready. She loved her parents, but she just couldn't live with them anymore. Six weeks of being there and she was ready to scream. Her mom was worried and Sara tried to understand that, but her mom wanted her to live at home until graduation. She'd had a house since her sophomore year and she had no desire to have to conform to her parents' rules for the entire school year.

She unpacked the things she had to from being gone the past month. Things like her TV, stereo, computer, and stuff had stayed but her every day stuff like clothes and toiletries her mother had picked up for her while she was in the hospital.

None of her roommates knew what happened and Sara preferred to keep it that way. The police had arrested Donnie and evidently the skin they'd collected from under her fingernails matched his. He was in jail and would probably be there for a long time. Eventually, she'd have to testify. She absolutely was not going to tell her parents when that was going to happen because her lawyer told her in no uncertain terms that the fact she left the bar with Erik the night she met him would get brought up. She'd explained to her lawyer that she had actually known Erik before that night and he said that would certainly help matters. She, however, still didn't want her parents to hear that she'd left with him. They were paying his exorbitant fee, but she made him promise not to tell them either. He seemed to understand what she was trying to protect them from so he agreed. Whether he held true to his word was something she'd find out down the road.

It was great to see Betty, Susan, and Cassie. She'd missed them. Susan she'd known since grade school. Betty and Cassie she'd met her freshman year. The four of them decided to get a house together their sophomore year and it had worked out well for them. They had disagreements, but to this point it had never been over anything of significance. The power bill was too high so everyone had to work on turning lights off. Someone kept leaving their towel on the bathroom floor. Things like that. They each bought their own groceries and had cleaning responsibilities so things ran pretty smoothly. If someone was sick or was real busy with homework they pitched in. Susan was an art major so she had more and more projects as she closed in on her senior year.

She hadn't told Erik she was moving back, afraid he'd think badly of her if she changed her mind at the last minute. She wasn't one hundred percent positive she would go back so early until she'd packed up her car and driven out of her parents' driveway.

"I guess I don't have to ask where you're going or whether you'll be home tonight." Betty asked.

"No," Sara said.

"For a while there I was wondering if you were going to bail on our lease and move in with him."

"Really?" Sara asked, surprised for some reason Betty would think that.

"Just let us know if you do decide to do that."

"My parents would kill me."

"They'd probably get over it eventually. I guess it doesn't really matter for you since your dad is paying your rent. I guess if I didn't have to share a bathroom with three other women every day I wouldn't either. Tell the man I say hi and have fun tonight. I'm glad you're back by the way."

"Thank you," she said, leaving out the backdoor. Their garage was in an alley, which was a pain in the winter sometimes but they never had to worry about finding a parking space on the street like some other people she knew did. She'd take being unable to get out of her driveway on a snow day or two versus having to circle a block one hundred times on the hopes of finding a parking space within a mile of her place.

She drove to Erik's house. He'd given her a key last month in case she drove down to see him sometime when he wasn't expecting her. He didn't want her going to his garage again without him. She had no desire to go there, so he had nothing to worry about.

It was close to the time he'd leave the garage, assuming he left at closing time. She'd picked up some deli chicken and side dishes that he liked from Jewel. It was too hot to cook and she knew he probably didn't have much in his fridge that was edible. He wasn't great at grocery shopping. The chicken and the mashed potatoes and gravy would have to be warmed in his microwave, but it was better than turning on the oven or stove to cook something. She'd even stopped at Baskin Robbins and picked up a pint for each of them of their favorite flavors. She was a pralines n' cream girl. He preferred plain old chocolate.

It was after seven when he got home. He looked tired, but he didn't let that affect making it obvious that he was glad to see her.

"Hi," he said.

"Hi," she said.

"Everything okay?" he asked.

"Yes," she said with a soft laugh. "I can't surprise you?"

"Well, sure, you can anytime, honey, you know that. What's the occasion?"

"I moved back into my house today."

"You did?"



"Yes, I love my parents, but I think I might have killed them or myself if I stayed there much longer."

He chuckled. "Somehow I bet you'd have managed, but I can understand that feeling."

"I brought dinner."

"Sara," he said, though he didn't look upset at the idea of food.

"Chicken and stuff from Jewel."

"Their deli stuff?"


"That sounds great tonight. You haven't eaten yet?"

"No, I was waiting for you. You should look in the freezer, too."

He stepped into the kitchen to do just that.

"Wow, Baskin Robbins, too." He walked back to the doorway leading to the living room, leaning against the doorframe. "There a reason for this generosity of yours?"

"No, just felt like doing something nice for you."

"You sure?"

"Positive. It's been a bad few weeks for both of us."

"I've missed you, but I knew you'd be back here eventually."

"Funny, Betty said she thought I was going to move in with you altogether."

"That Betty's a girl after my own heart. Which one was she?" he asked.

She laughed. "Tall, red hair."

"Ah yes, okay. What did you say?"

"I told her my parents would kill me."

"That the only thing that would stop you?"

"Well, right now?"

"No, just in general. I know it's kind of soon. I mean, I want you here, Sara. Every day. I want nothing more than to come home to you sitting on my couch like you were tonight for the rest of forever, but when you're ready."

"Maybe once I have a job."

"Mm, don't want to mooch off me?"

"Yeah, I don't think Dad would pay for me to live with you."

"Well, something to think about, though. And you can certainly stay here as many nights as you want."

"I know. I just."

"I don't expect anything, Sara. I miss sleeping with you."

"Not the rest of it?"

"Well, of course I do, I would be a liar if I said otherwise, but I understand that may not happen again for a while."

"You're too nice."

"Any man who'd get mad about something like that is not a real man."

"Maybe you're right, but you're still too nice."

"Maybe love has made me soft I don't know."

"So, you hungry?"

"Starving. I didn't get lunch today."


"I had this rush job, willing to pay extra for it, but it took me until almost four o'clock to finish it. I didn't work on anything else either, but they needed it before close of business today."

"You got it done?"

"Yes, and I suspect I'll get more business out of the deal, too."


"Yeah. Company vehicles."

"I didn't know you did that."

"Serviced vehicles? I am an all-purpose mechanic. I really don't care as long as I get to work on a car out of the deal."

"Well, good, I hope you get more business than you know what to do with."

"Not that much. I can do without missing out on time with you when it's been so limited lately."

"Not anymore."

"That is true. Seems a shame you bought that stuff. I could take you out somewhere."

"No, I was in the mood just to be alone with you tonight. Maybe go to bed early with you."

"You know exactly what to say. No arguments from me on that plan. I should shower, though. I didn't before I left."

"Okay. I'll start warming the chicken and mashed potatoes."

She knew the sounds of his house pretty well. Knew when he'd stepped into the bathroom to turn on the shower, letting it heat up. Then to his closet where he'd undress and put his dirty clothes in the bag there. Then over to his dresser so he could take off his watch and set his keys in the dish there for the morning. Then back to the bathroom and the shower which would be as warm as he liked it by now.

She made her way up the stairs once she heard him head into the bathroom again. This was another thing she wasn't sure she'd see to the end until she actually did it. She shed her clothes quickly, not bothering to pick them up or anything. If she thought too hard on this she'd go back downstairs and chalk it up to not being ready yet.

She missed him, though. Not just the sex, but the physical closeness of him.

"Jesus, Sara," he said when she drew the shower curtain back. "Make a little noise next time."

"Sorry," she said, stepping into the shower. He had one of those big antique stand-alone tubs with the shower curtain that went all the way around it. The shower head had been added by him she knew.

"It's okay, just holy shit I wasn't expecting you."

"I know."

"You okay?" he asked.


"You don't sound so sure about that."

"I'm not. A little nervous."

"About being naked with me?"


"I love seeing you naked."

"Obviously," she said with a smile.

"Yeah, well, that part's a given, especially when it's been over a month since he's seen any action, but all of me loves it."

"You're sure? I'm not sure I'm ready…"

He shook his head. "Doesn't matter."


"Doesn't matter. I'm not going to pressure or push you, but I'm not going to stop looking at you as if I want you either, Sara, because I do. Every day. And if I stopped looking at you like that you'd start wondering if I've stopped," he said, carefully kneeling in front of her. He kissed her stomach, hands at either hip. "None of it matters. Nothing he did to you defines you or us."


"But nothing, Sara," he said as she ran her hands through his hair. He hadn't finished rinsing the shampoo out of his hair. She'd gotten good at washing his hair for him. It was one of those silly yet kind of sexy things she enjoyed doing for him. "I won't let him change anything between us, Sara. Nothing he did that day has anything to do with what we do together."

"I know that."

"Do you?"


She leaned over and picked up his bar of Lava soap and his washcloth. She soaped it up and washed his shoulders and arms. Reaching for his back and his front before he stood so she could keep going to his legs. His legs didn't get nearly as dirty as his hands, arms, and face did. Occasionally, he wore a pair of jeans with a hole in them but overall his legs usually remained pretty clean.

"Thank you," he said when she'd finished.


"I miss you touching me."

"Me, too."

She'd avoided touching anywhere private and while he seemed to notice that fact he didn't seem bothered by it, taking the soap and finishing the parts she didn't wash.

He reached for the soap at the side of the tub he kept for her. She didn't like the stuff he used, it felt rough and kind of funny on her skin. It got the grease and dirt off of him real well, though, so she understood why he used the stuff. He'd mentioned in the spring that it was good after working in the yard, too. She hadn't gotten to work on his yard with him too much this summer. A few times before Father's Day.

He turned the water off, toweled off and handed her a towel so she could do the same. It was odd that he had things in his bathroom set aside for her. A toothbrush, a towel, her own shampoo and soap, a hook on the back of the door. He handed her his robe, seeming to know the silky one she had here wasn't what she wanted to wear just now.

"Thank you."

"Thank you. You still hungry?"

"Yeah," she shrugged. "Let me get dressed and I'll go down."

"Just wear that."

"I should…"

"You're just going to come back up here and go to bed. You are staying here, right?"


"Then just keep that on."

"I think I need to…"

"Wear what you need to, Sara."

She looked away from him then.

"Hey," he said, touching her chin lightly so she'd look at him. "It's all right."

"You're going to get so tired of this."

"Of what?"

"Me being all over the place, sending you signals."

"I didn't get any mixed signals, Sara. I can take a shower with you without it leading to more. I can do all kinds of things with you without it leading to more, including watching you eat in my bathrobe. If you feel too exposed in that then put your clothes back on. We'll get through this. Together."

"That's what I'm afraid of."


"That you'll get tired of all of it."

He picked her up then and she screeched. He knew she wasn't scared, but he'd surprised her. He carried her to the bed and set her down.

"Not going to happen, Sara. I don't know what I can do to make you believe that other than just be here for you every day and every night. I never thought I was missing out on anything not having a wife when most all of my friends did. I saw what John went through with his and figured why bother. I want to bother with you, every single thing that I can possibly think of to do with you I want. I certainly never thought I'd get lucky and end up with someone like you who looks at me the way you do. I'm still not sure I deserve it, that look you give me. Even today it's there and I love you for it. You have no idea how hard John had to work to force me to leave Donnie alone. I wanted to kill him for hurting you. If I could somehow take onto myself what he did to you so you could be free I would do it in a heartbeat."

"I wouldn't want you to."

"Why not?"

"Because it'd make me sad to know you're hurting."

"Yeah, that's more than just kind of how I feel, Sara."

"I know," she said, reaching to her midsection. He was touching her there, arms around her but it was no different than he'd been touching her lately and she hadn't minded. She shook her head in a silent no when he started to pull away. Only then did he realize she was undoing the belt on the robe.

"I'll tell you when I need you to stop," she whispered.

She could see in his eyes that he wasn't going to question her on this. She knew she could trust him to treat her well and stop if and when she said stop. He only used his hands and his mouth and as the sun started to come up she realized she never uttered the word stop or no once during the night. Not even when he used his hand to bring himself off.

"Not sure what it is about you that makes me take two showers in less than twelve hours."

She laughed softly. "I had nothing to do with why you had to take one either time."

"The first one, no. The second one," he said, trailing a fingertip along her thigh. "That was all you."

She groaned softly.

"At least you get to sleep the day away."

"I know. I'm sorry."

He circled her ankle with his hand. "Honey, I wasn't asking for an apology or even complaining. Not sure I could do three or four of those nights in a row, but I can say that was one of the most enjoyable nights I've ever had."

"Even though we didn't. I mean, you didn't."

"I did."

"Yeah, but not inside or on me."

"Doesn't matter. You let me touch you that was more than enjoyable. Obviously."

"It can't be the same."

"Ordinarily I'd agree with you and say that it's not as, heightened, as when it's you causing me to finish. Under the circumstances, though it was completely satisfying. I have no complaints besides it was still you causing me to just in a different way than we're both used to. I should wash the sheets later maybe."

"I can do it."

"You're going to be here that long?"

"I was thinking about it."

"Yeah? Like maybe being here to eat that chicken with me when I get home tonight?"


"I like the sound of this plan a lot."

"You do, huh?"


"Well, then I'll be here. I think there's a Cubs game on today."

"I'm sure there is." He leaned down and kissed her lightly. "I like the idea of you being here while I'm at work."

"In your house or your bed?" She slid her arms around his neck. It was probably the most assertive she'd been with him yet. Well, besides opening the robe last night, but that didn't really involve touching him.

"Both. Get some rest."

"You didn't get any more sleep than I did!"

"Yeah, well, I have work to keep me busy."

She drew herself to her knees and kissed him.

"Sara, that is not the way to make me keep my mind focused on going to work."

"I kind of don't want you to go to work today."

He exhaled sharply, hands at her hips to draw her away from him a little. "I wish I didn't have to, but I have cars to work on so I can pay the bills to keep a roof over my head. So that you'll have a roof over your head next year. I can't imagine I'd impress your parents much being homeless."

She laughed softly, kissing him. "I suppose not."

"I'll see you later."

"I'll be here."

"And I'll have that thought to distract me all day."

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