Word Count: 4,224
She was gone as much as she could be without making it seem obvious that she was doing anything different. She would load Lucky into the car to take him to the park. She'd stay later at work than she had to - that wasn't entirely due to trying to find out who was behind the flowers.
It only took her two mornings in a row of seeing the same pickup truck pull onto the road behind her as soon as she pulled out of her driveway to wonder if things had escalated to her being followed. Both days the pickup turned off well in advance of her getting to work.
Two more days in a row she finally mentioned it to Peter.
"Why didn't you say something before now?"
"Because I wasn't sure! I mean, I don't own the roads."
"Claire, what if they'd run you off the road between here and town."
"Well, they didn't."
"Were you able to get a plate number?"
"No, the sun was shining bad enough that I couldn't see it."
"All right. Monday morning I'll walk to the road before you leave and see if I can't get it."
"You haven't mentioned this to Bill have you?"
"I don't know. I don't want him to worry. I don't want to become a case to him. I don't want him to think I'm helpless. Take your pick."
"I don't think he would to any of those choices. He's the one who wanted you to file a report in the beginning."
"I know. I just don't want anymore attention drawn to me than needs to be. He's already asking me questions, so he knows something's wrong."
"Are you going to tell him?"
"Maybe, eventually if we get to that point I will have to. Until then, he seems okay with trusting me to pick the right time. And to tell him in advance if danger's coming to his town again."
"Understandable. So, what's on the agenda for the night?"
"He's coming here tonight. You've got to be getting bored."
"No, it's good. I'm catching up on my reading and I'm relaxing. It's not so bad. And I'm looking after you. That's no hardship."
"So you say."
"So I know," he said, drawing her to him for a kiss on the forehead. "If you'd rather go to his house go ahead, I'll be fine. I know he's got that girl living with him."
"Her name's Kylie, and she probably enjoys a night to herself once in a while. I know I did when I was her age. What do you do here by yourself anyway?"
"Read, watch TV, surf the Net."
"Sounds very exciting."
"Not all of us have dates."
"You could very easily."
"You think so?"
She laughed, knowing he was kind of joking. He wasn't vain, but he had to know he was an attractive guy. Not to mention he had the whole Petrelli name going for him.
"I know so. You just don't want to put yourself out there yet, I understand that."
She didn't mention why that was the case. She didn't know the whole situation, just knew that it was painful for him to talk about. He'd lost two women. One through death, a bullet meant for him from what she was able to piece together. The other through his abilities and not being able to return to get her, leaving her in a future place and time he wasn't sure she'd live through.
"I think I've come to the conclusion that I'm just not meant to have a relationship."
"Don't talk like that! You will find someone, you just have to be patient."
"Yeah, yeah, listen to you. You're twenty-three and already have one guy sending you anonymous gifts, even if that is a little creepy. And another guy trying to gain your affections rather intently."
"Gain my affections?"
"Who says that?"
"Hmmph," she said softly. "I'm not even sure I know what that means."
"You do so."
She laughed then, hitting him with one of her accent pillows. "I know. It just sounds so funny coming from you."
"I can talk like my parents if I have to."
"I guess I never thought about it. You seem nothing like them for the most part."
"There are times I feel nothing like them."
"Peter, don't say that."
"Don't worry about it, and don't worry about leaving me here. That's part of the plan, to try and catch the guy breaking in. Besides, he seems like a decent guy."
"You think so?"
"It's not like I've talked to him at length or anything, but I get the impression he's all right, yeah."
"Were you waiting for my approval?"
"I guess someone's," she shrugged and stood from the couch at the sound of Bill's pickup truck pulling onto her driveway.
"I'll see you later," he said, getting up from the couch.
"You don't have to leave, Peter."
"Claire, it's a date, I'm not going to hang around here making him think I'm watching to see if he makes a move on you. Have a good time."
She walked to the big window at the front of the house and opened the drapes once Peter had gone upstairs. She'd started keeping them closed since Peter'd come so that he could move around, watch TV, or whatever without being seen. If someone got close enough they'd be able to see light coming from the room, but not enough to tell if it was a TV or a lamp she'd left on. She'd checked and thanked god the previous owner liked heavier drapes because she wouldn't have thought of buying them with protection in mind.
Bill was coming here tonight in part to try and draw whoever the guy was to act sooner rather than later. If he thought they were getting more serious he might do something. Whether it was finally approach her or something more sinister she wasn't sure.
"Peter," she called after him after she'd walked to the front door.
"Would you get tired of just kissing a girl?"
"Tired of it?"
He turned to face her, his eyes searching for something. She wasn't sure she could explain what she was asking without saying it outright and that was just too embarrassing.
"Oh," he said finally. "We're talking about a specific girl."
"Yes. He's older than I am obviously, and I know he's…."
"You've only had a few dates. If it were me, a few weeks or months of some frustration and cold showers would be worth the wait."
"Yes, for you. No guy's going to walk away from you just because you won't put out, Claire."
"If he leaves because of that or pressures you, he's not the guy for you anyway."
"I know, I guess I just needed to hear that. And he hasn't, I promise."
"Good to know because I really don't feel like getting arrested for assaulting a cop. See ya later."
She opened the door when Bill got to there. Lucky heard the noise but didn't get as excited as he would have at the sound of the doorbell or someone knocking.
"Hi," she said.
"Hi yourself," he said, patting Lucky on the head as the dog vied for Bill's attention. "I see at least one of you is happy to see me."
"I am, too," she said.
"Just not enough to stick your head under my hand, huh?"
He gave a soft laugh, stroking Lucky's ears before dropping his hand to his side. "Where's your guest?"
"Oh," Bill said, glancing up the stairs. "Because of me?"
"No, well, sort of, he's trying to give us privacy."
"Nice of him," he said.
Claire took his hand and led him to the living room. Lucky followed, continuing on to his bed in the corner of the room once it became apparent Claire and Bill were settling in for a while anyway.
"So what movie did you get?"
"Mm, a couple actually. If we don't get to them tonight we can watch them tomorrow at my place."
"Okay," she said.
It was kind of strange at how easily they'd settled into seeing one another. Sure, the flower thing helped, but he didn't have to spend quite this much time with her. And he didn't have to kiss her and touch her, so that wasn't an act.
She'd had a few boyfriends in college, but none of them really piqued her interest enough to care about them beyond casually. She wasn't really a casual person as it turned out, so the boyfriends never lasted very long. The idea of spending every night with someone, talking on the phone with them after her day if she wasn't seeing him - well, that just didn't seem necessary to her. Her mother teased her relentlessly about that.
She could understand the appeal now. She liked spending time with Bill, but it hadn't happened because of a plan or anything. They'd just fallen into it. She knew her mother would tell her that was when this type of thing happened, when you weren't expecting it. She certainly hadn't. If she hadn't met a guy she really liked living near LA or in New York what were the chances of moving to the small South Carolina town and doing so?
She took the cases from him.
"In an eighties mood?"
"Either that or you like Richard Gere, which I can't say as I blame you or anything he is cute."
"He is, huh?"
"Well, kinda. I mean, sure. I think I like him better in Pretty Woman, though than these two." She had to admit she hadn't seen An Officer and A Gentleman or The Cotton Club, so she really had no room to talk.
"I thought you might like them. I haven't seen The Cotton Club, it looked interesting. We've got to start getting into the habit of stopping at lunchtime to pick out movies. By the time we get there en route to your place or mine all the new releases are gone."
"So then Urban Cowboy? This one doesn't really seem to fit the theme."
He smiled a little. "I wasn't going for a theme. And I just thought it might put you in the mood to learn some of our type of dancing."
"Hmm," she said. "Are you saying I can't dance?"
"I didn't say that. Notice I said our type of dancing. I'm sure you could dance circles around me at the types of clubs you're used to going to."
"I know I'm just teasing you. I haven't seen any of them, so they're new to me. Which one first?"
"Up to you."
"Well, since you mentioned Urban Cowboy for my benefit, let's do that one," she said, handing him the case. "You put it in, I'll be right back."
"All right," he said.
She went to the kitchen to get the things she'd bought for the evening. She paused in the doorway to watch him as he worked the remote. He hadn't been at her place often, but if he was uncomfortable here it didn't show. Especially with Peter right upstairs. She wondered if he was the type of person who would seem at home no matter where he was.
"What you got there?" Thankfully he hadn't asked why she was standing there.
"Just a couple things," she said, setting the glasses down before returning to the kitchen. She returned a few minutes later with the bottle of white zinfandel she'd picked up.
"Yes," she said.
"Haven't had much occasion to drink it."
"Me neither really, but I like it once in a while. I'm sure Peter would choke on this stuff if he had to, but that's okay. We won't tell him we're drinking it."
She didn't have time to think about whether she should have stuck with beer because the movie started and Bill reached to turn off the light. That was another thing she liked about him. He seemed to prefer watching movies in the dark as she did.
"Too bad Peter has to hide," Bill said in between Urban Cowboy and An Officer and A Gentleman.
"Oh, I know a girl or two in town who'd keep him occupied during his stay here."
"Maybe next time. Or maybe he'll stay for a while once this gets resolved."
"You like having him here, don't you?"
She sighed a little, leaning against him as he took hold of the remote to start the movie. "Yeah, I do. I wish I could take him out, do stuff with him. He's got to be bored, but I know he just wants me safe. And it really is a perfect plan since no one knows about him. I mean, you and Kylie are the only people I've really gotten to know and the town would start missing you if you disappeared for days."
Eventually, she slid so she was lying on the couch, resting her head against his leg. He didn't seem to mind and she liked sitting close to him like that. An Officer and A Gentleman was kind of depressing, but when it finished she could understand why it had been so popular when it came out.
"I didn't realize you were a romantic guy," she said softly.
Bill wasn't sure she was even still awake. She hadn't moved or made a sound in a while. He used the remote to turn the movie off, but neither made an effort to switch the DVD out for the last one.
"Not really, least I don't think I am. I'd say the fact I'm still single would be proof of that."
"I don’t think so. Just because someone's romantic doesn't mean they'll find someone receptive to that right away."
"I suppose not," he said, not really liking where this was going. There was nothing wrong with watching a sappy movie with a woman, but he wouldn't rate his movie choices for the night as being a romantic gesture. He just tried to think of what she might like.
She stayed lying against him and he couldn't resist running his fingers through her hair. He liked doing that and judging by the soft sigh she gave she did, too.
She turned then onto her back so she was looking up at him.
"Huh?" he asked.
"The look on your face doesn't say nothing."
"Do I bore you?"
"I'm sorry?" What was she talking about?
"All we do is go to one another's houses and watch movies."
"Well, if I didn't have Kylie to look after I might be more prone to doing more things. And I have to admit, in case you haven't noticed, I'm not exactly made of money. So dinner out every night isn't really an option for me. I guess I should ask you the same question."
"No," she said, shaking her head so that it rubbed against his thigh.
"Yes," she whispered and sat up then, curling onto her side as she did. And then she was on his lap, arms around his neck. Her lips were there, closing in on his and he wondered how she could think she was boring.
His arms went around her. Not long after she started kissing him, her lips parted and her tongue slid in between his. He knew how to take a hint and joined her tongue with his. She groaned softly, which turned him on something fierce. She had that effect on him quite a lot.
He got a little bolder with his hands, sliding them lower from her back to cup her ass. He sensed somehow despite the way things had gone that night in his bedroom that she wasn't exactly swimming with experience. A virgin? He doubted that. He didn't think too many were left in the world once they hit college. He wasn't even sure about Kylie, truthfully. She'd fallen into a wild streak for a while before everything'd happened.
He wondered if the guy who was doing this realized that he actually cemented Bill getting involved with her that night. Before that, he hadn't been sure. He still wasn't entirely, but since that night in his bedroom he was willing to try. If that night had gone differently he wasn't sure he'd be as all in as he was. It wasn't the touching they'd - he'd - done either. She'd trusted him, come home with him, and had wanted to be near him. That last part was a pretty heady feeling. Kylie was different.
He was hesitant to label it stalking but it was certainly sinister in nature. People just didn't break into someone's house to leave them gifts in their bed. That was just wrong on so many levels.
She shifted a little on his lap, pressing her center against him and he just about bit her tongue from the surprise. And the feel good aspect of it. She gave a soft giggle as if knowing what had made him react that way. He slid a hand from her ass to her thigh, bringing it high enough that his thumb could touch between her legs. He longed for her to be wearing one of the skirts she was so fond of wearing to the office.
Mirroring him, she reached between them, deepening the kiss even more as she cupped him through his blue jeans. He couldn't stop the sound that escaped his lips. It'd been a while since anyone had touched him like this. He longed for her to be touching him flesh to flesh, but he wasn't of the mind to scare her off by pushing.
He reached for her hand, lowering it a little so she could touch him better. More completely. Which on second thought may not have been the wisest thing to do.
"You are going to save me a lot of money on my gas bills," he whispered.
"I am, huh?"
"Not much need for hot water when I leave you, that's for sure."
She gave a soft laugh, pressing her cheek against his jaw. "I'm sorry."
"Not complaining. It's different, but kind of nice."
"Not used to having to wait, Sheriff?"
"Well, I didn't say that either…"
She laughed. "That's okay. I've seen the way some of the women about town look at you. I can't blame them, I look at you, too. A few of them look at you as if they know you quite well."
"Well, let's not go talking about them. I'm here with you."
"I know you are," she whispered, kissing his ear as she squeezed him through his jeans enough to make him shiver. "I like you here."
"Me, too," he managed to whisper.
She gave a soft giggle, kissing his neck. And then she wasn't just kissing anymore. He knew he should stop her, but he really didn't want to just then. He'd deal with covering it up in the morning.
"Or not," he murmured as she lifted her mouth and moved it maybe an inch or so from the last spot.
"Hmm?" she mumbled.
"Nothin'," he said, lifting a hand to stroke her hair, tilting his head so she had easier access.
"Uh, Claire," he managed when he felt her hand reach for and find the zipper on his jeans. He'd have to remember to rent more movies with a romantic bent to them in the future if they'd put her in this kind of mood.
"Mm hmm," she whispered, taking a break from her attention to his neck.
"I, uh, didn't bring anything with me tonight."
"Well, with your houseguest and all…"
She gave a soft laugh, working the button at the top of his fly before sliding his zipper down. She slid her hand into his pants and that was about the time all thought left his mind. He let his head fall back against the back of the couch and just give into the sensation of her touching him. He'd dreamt of it a time or two already. His dreams didn't come close to how she really felt holding him, stroking his shaft, cupping his sac, and circling his tip with her thumb.
He hissed a little at that.
"Did I do something wrong?" she asked.
He chuckled. "No, darlin', you're doing just fine. Just felt good is all."
She returned to his neck then and he couldn't bring himself to care if she left him a whole necklace of the damned things just then. She broke away, reaching for his ear and nipping that.
"Can I ask a favor?"
He gave a laugh. "I think you're in a position to ask for pretty much anything you want right now."
"Unbutton your shirt."
"What? Oh, sure," he said, reaching for his shirtfront to do just that. Her question had kind of thrown him for a minute. He admittedly was hoping she'd ask him to take her up to her room or return the favor of touching her as she was doing to him.
She followed the path of his hands with her mouth as he worked each button, kissing him and making his hands a little unsteady.
"I think it's a good thing you changed into jeans tonight," he murmured as she used her cheek to move his shirt enough so she could kiss one of his nipples. Normally, it wasn't that exciting for him. Sure, it felt nice, but it just didn't do much. Normally. That wasn't the case tonight. Or maybe it was the woman doing it. He couldn't be sure.
"Why," she murmured, glancing up at him before taking said nipple in between her teeth.
"Because I'd be sorely tempted to do something else with my hands besides unbuttoning my shirt."
She tugged a little on the nipple before releasing it.
"Such as," she whispered. And damned if he didn't feel himself grow what seemed like ten times harder than he had been a second ago.
"Take hold of your hips and slide inside of you."
"But you didn't bring anything," she whispered, kissing lower almost to his stomach now. He'd always taken pride in staying fit and being told enough times he had a decent body to realize there must be some truth to that. Those were by people his own age, though, who didn't really have a whole pool of specimens to choose from in Wheelsy. Not that Claire was ages younger, but there were times he had to remind himself she was older than Kylie despite the fact she may not look it. And she wasn't from here.
"Not sure that'd matter right now."
"Throwing caution to the wind?"
"Which is bad."
"Terrible," she whispered, sliding even lower. "Except for the fact I can't get sick or anything, which means you're pretty safe when it comes to me."
She took him into her mouth then and he had to agree he was pretty safe right where he was. It wasn't inside her the way he ached to be, but it'd do. He gave a groan as she took him further into her mouth. It'd definitely do.
Bill started his truck, gripping the steering wheel with both hands and stared at her door as he let it warm up a bit. She was the world's greatest tease is what she was. Relentless.
Only thing was, she did eventually make good on all the teasing. Hell, she even swallowed and didn't make one complaint about it afterward. Afterward, she crawled back up onto his lap and hugged him as if she wasn't expecting anything in return. And maybe she wasn't. Eventually, she'd drifted off so he carried her up her stairs and to her bed. He'd knocked on Peter's door to tell him he was leaving so Peter would know to let Lucky out one last time and lock up the house.
If her uncle had any clue what had gone on downstairs he wasn't upset by it, so Bill had to presume that what Claire had said was true. That they were more friends than uncle to niece. Because if he came face-to-face with a guy who'd just gotten off in his niece's mouth he'd just have to punch him. Or punch something.
He turned around on her driveway, appreciating once again the space she had out here. He liked living in town for sure, but there was something to be said for having the space to do things like turn your vehicle around so you weren't backing out onto the street.
He turned the radio on once he pulled onto the highway that would lead from her house to the thriving metropolis that was Wheelsy. He found an old Garth Brooks song playing and decided to listen to Garth singing about having friends in low places.
Last thing Bill saw was the reflection of headlights in his rearview mirror. He squinted, lifting his hand to the offending mirror, hoping to adjust it to shield his eyes from the offensive bright lights. He should have been more worried about driving offensively, though. Because it wasn't just tailgating the driver behind him had in mind.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com