***Chapter Fourteen***
Word Count: 2,946

"So, did you knock her up or something?" Dawson asked John in the back area.

"Who?" John asked.

Was he supposed to know what his boss was talking about? Never mind he'd surprised the shit out of him walking back here like he did. He hadn't been expecting him and almost dropped a part as a result. Never mind breaking the part, his foot wouldn't have fared too well if he'd done that.

"Claire. That's who."

"No, why?" John asked with a frown. "What the fuck are you talking about?" he asked. Jesus Chris. He swore he never wanted to hear those words again in his life. Well, at least for a while anyway. A few years from now when she was done with school and stuff. Maybe. That was a huge maybe. Having Holly full time would probably be a huge factor in whether he wanted to do that again ever.

"Her dad is here to see you."

"Claire's dad is here?"

"That's what I said."

"Oh," John said with a frown.

That could potentially be bad on two very different fronts. He could be here to warn him away from his daughter. Or he could be here to tell him that Betty had been pissed off enough after seeing him on a date with someone over the weekend that she was challenging the custody ruling. John didn't think it worked that way. He'd left Holly with a responsible sitter. He had no drugs in his apartment. He had a couple of beers in the fridge, which perhaps he should rethink keeping until he knew Betty wasn't going to freak out.

"You're sure?"

"I'm positive."

"He doesn't look very happy."

"He's a busy guy," John said. Very busy actually so coming all the way here probably was costing him a lot of billable hours.

"Better go see what he wants then."

"You're staying back here?"

"I don't want to intrude," Dawson said.

"Right," John said with a scoff.

"You can use my office."

"Thanks," John said.

He made his way up to the front of the garage, mulling over in his mind what he could possibly be here for that was good. Nothing. He came up with nothing good.

"Mr. Standish," he said, offering the man his hand. He regarded it briefly before taking it. John couldn't blame him, but he'd stopped in the bathroom to wash them first so they weren't dirty at the moment.

"I was hoping you had a minute."

"Sure," John said.

"I'm sorry to intrude at work, but catching you at home when Claire isn't there might prove to be difficult."

"Right," John said. So it was about Claire and something he didn't want Claire to know about evidently. "Sure. My boss said we could use his office if you want to sit down or something."

"No, I won't be long."

"All right."

"I'd just like to know what you think your intentions are with my daughter exactly."

"Exactly? I'm not sure I can answer that." Fuck, she was pregnant. That's why he was here asking him this question. "We haven't been dating that long really. Have I done something wrong?"

"Other than letting her stay out all night?"

"It was an accident and it won't happen again."

"She's assured me that's the case."

"It won't."

"She's suddenly taken an interest in transferring schools."

"Oh," John said.

"You didn't know that?"

"No, Sir. She hasn't said anything to me about it."

"You haven't talked to her today?"

"No. I haven't talked to her since yesterday. She said she was going to be busy today."

"You didn't ask what she was going to be busy doing?"

"Well, no, I figured if she wanted to tell me she'd tell me. Busy is busy. I mean, I realize she has other things to do with her time than just hang out with me."

"How is Holly acclimating to the change in households?"

"She seems to be doing all right. I haven't had any problems. She was with me four nights of the week anyway, now it's just every day. She probably missed Betty's parents, but I can't really help that. If they called wanting to see her I'd let them, but they haven't."

"Her mother hasn't come to see her either?"

"No. Claire and I ran into her over the weekend, I asked her if she was going to but I haven't heard from her since."

"You're documenting all of this?"

"Yes, Sir."

"She hasn't offered you any support either?"

John scoffed at that, realizing that wasn't an answer.

"No," he said.

He really didn't want money from Betty anyway. He knew he was in his right to get it from her, but he wasn't going to do that. He figured if he did decide to go the abandonment route he'd let her dig her own grave. He was getting by all right without whatever measly amount she'd be able to give him.

"So you haven't asked Claire to transfer schools?"

"What? Me? No," John said. He shook his head. "No, I did mention that I'd been accepted at a community college but probably wouldn't be able to swing going now. I'd applied before getting custody of Holly."

"I can't stop her from transferring. Both schools she's looking at are just fine, but if I start to hear her talking about dropping out…"

"No, Sir, I wouldn't let her do that anyway. I mean, not on my account. If she transfers, which I didn't ask her to do, the only thing she'd help me out by doing would be to babysit Holly the evenings I have class. Otherwise, I'd be working to pay a sitter, which defeats the purpose."

"There are loans."

"Yes, I'm aware. I'd rather not take out more than I have to, though. If I have to, I have to. I didn't ask her to transfer schools, though!"

"I believe you, which is why I'm here. I'd better not hear about Holly getting a brother or sister anytime soon."

Claire had said she and her dad had already had this conversation. Was he supposed to know that? Not know that? Pretend he didn't know they had? He wasn't sure.

"No plans on that, no. I learned my lesson and I'm sure Claire feels equally as adamant about it as I do."

"I'm just making sure we're clear."

"I don't know what you want me to do? Tell her I don't want to go to school anymore? I'd think you'd want me to do that. I mean, you're here asking me what my intentions are, so that suggests you think I have a future with her. I'd do far better for her and Holly going to school than no school."

"I'm aware."

So what did that mean? He was okay with her transferring schools but he wanted them to be careful? Was she going to get an off-campus apartment? Live on-campus and just stay with him the majority of the time? His lease was up at the end of the month so he supposed if he needed to find a new apartment closer to wherever she was going to school he could do that.

"So, she's in Iowa?"

"Yes," he said.

"Oh, I had no idea," he said. So she'd just left town and hadn't told him? Why? Not wanting him to know? Her dad knew so he wasn't sure what the deal was. "I just assumed she was doing something with her friends. The beach or something."

"No," he said. "She hasn't mentioned it to her mother yet."

"Great," John said. Another thing she was withholding from her mother.

"One of these days you will have to meet her."

"It would seem so." There was no way if she was thinking of transferring schools him being the reason wouldn't come out. He could imagine how well that was going to go over. Fantastic.

"She likely won't be nice to you."

She already had been not nice to him, but John refrained from saying so. "I understand."

"Her mother…"

"I've met Mrs. Standish and I'm aware of how she feels about me and my daughter."

"I've mentioned it to Claire I will to you as well, you don't want her on your bad side."

"I have no intentions on doing that, no." That was why he'd invested in the spare alarm clock. He absolutely was not going to take the chance she overslept a second time and ran into her mother that go around.

Was transferring schools a bad thing? Would her mother hold that against him? He wasn't sure. It sounded, from what her dad was saying, she wasn't downgrading school choices or anything. She'd be closer to home. Certainly her mom would like that. Except being closer to home meant being closer to John. She probably wouldn't like that so much.


"So you don't want me to talk her out of transferring?" John asked, to be clear.

"I don't think you could even if I wanted you to. She wasn't super happy in Iowa anyway."

"No," John said. He knew that, but he thought the roommate played a large role in that. "I just wanted to be sure what you were, or weren't, asking me to do."

"Just make sure she gets her degree."

Wow. No pressure at all there or anything.


"Yes, Sir," he said. Funny, he didn't mind calling him sir. He'd been nothing but nice to him, helping him out for nothing all because Claire asked him to do a favor for her. He was probably rethinking doing it these days, but it was too late for that now.

He left then. John watched him get into his BMW and pull off of the parking lot.

"Everything all right," Dawson asked.

"I thought you weren't going to intrude," John said, knowing full well Dawson had been hovering. He probably hadn't been eavesdropping, but John had no doubt his boss knew the second Mr. Standish started to leave.

"I didn't."

"Everything's fine," John said.

"Yeah? It was just a social call then? Everything all right with the kid?"

"Yeah. It sounds like Claire's thinking about transferring schools and he just wanted me to know he was aware it's because of me."

"Oh," Dawson said. "That college thing, right?"


"So, that means you're going to be finishing even earlier?"

"The nights I have class, yes."

"You're lucky I like having you work here, you know that?"

"I do know that," John said. John helped Dawson out, too, though. Two mechanics churned out more business than just one.

"So this transferring thing."


"Is that good or bad?"

"What do you mean?"

"I don't know. Do you want her that close all of the time?"

"What kind of question is that?"

"Just asking. It doesn't sound like she talked to you about it first. Maybe that's not what you want."

"I want."

Dawson gave a low laugh in response to that.

"I'm just not so sure about dealing with her mother."

"Wow. Double dates. The father shows up. And you're contemplating dealings with the mother, too."


"You are so completely whipped."

"And if she wanted to go out with you you wouldn't be?"

"Oh, no no. I'm not saying she's not worth the aggravation. She most definitely would be."

"You don't need to worry about doing any aggravating with her."

"Hey, cheer up. Maybe she'll like being a grandma."

John scoffed at that. "I doubt that, no," he said.

Claire's mom didn't strike him as the grandmotherly type. Then he had no experience with grandmothers himself to know about such things. She just didn't. Hell, John wasn't entirely sure how Claire felt about being … Whatever she was to Holly. Certainly more of a mom figure than her own mother was at the moment. He was pretty confident Betty didn't sit with Holly and watch movies with her like Claire had the afternoon she was alone with her. John wasn't even sure Holly had ever had a pig or pony tail before that day either. Betty could hardly take care of her own hair let alone worry about Holly's. Her parents did their best, but he knew things like doing hair exceeded what they were willing to do. Justified or not, it wasn't fair to Holly.


"You're very lucky I don't own a gun, you know that?" he asked when she crawled into bed with him much later. She knew he wouldn't be expecting her, but she also knew no one else had a key to his apartment.

"I know you don't own one," she said, sliding her foot along his calf.

"A phone call telling me you were driving back from Iowa tonight might have been nice."

"I thought you'd prefer the surprise."


"Yes, I'm here for the night. Unless you'd rather I go home…"


"Yup. Dad thinks I'm gone until tomorrow."


"I know, right?"

"And no I wouldn't rather you go home."

"I'm glad," she said.

"I do have to ask if you're sure you know what you're doing, though."

"I knew he'd go talk to you."

"Did you now? A little warning might have been nice."

She shrugged, sliding first her panties off and then his shorts.

"You said it'd be nice…"

"It was hypothetical. I wasn't expecting you to go out this week and look into transferring."

"Why not? College is college. Law school is law school. I mean, it's not like Northwestern is a bad school."

"True," he said with a soft hitch to his voice as she ran her fingers along his chest and lower.

"The apartment I was going to rent is in high enough demand the landlord will find someone else to take it."

"Why'd you have to go to Iowa?"

"To get a copy of my transcript."


"Faster than requesting it by mail and then waiting for it to get here."

"Oh," he said.

She straddled him, kissing his chest before scooting lower along him.

"You know, not that I don't appreciate what you're doing here," he said, groaning softly when she took him into her mouth. "A lot. Fuck. A lot."

"Yes?" she asked, sliding him out of her mouth.

"I didn't say stop!"

She chuckled softly and went back to what she was doing. He slid a hand to her hair, running his fingers through it as she slid her mouth along the length of him.

"Fuck, Claire. We should talk about this, don't you think? I mean, this isn't changing apartments. You're changing schools."

She shrugged, taking him deeper into her mouth. As deep as she could take him and kept her mouth there for as long as she could. She wasn't great at doing this, but she was better than she was the first couple of times. He was very good about not trying to force himself deeper into her mouth than she could take him.

"Stop that," he said, but she knew he didn't mean it.

She started licking and sucking faster, working her mouth over his length and using a hand to touch the base of him.

"Fuck. All right. You win. Do whatever the fuck you want as long as you don't ever stop doing that," he whispered. She crazily got incredibly wet just then, hearing him say that. Not that she wasn't already wet. The idea of surprising him, knowing she'd get all night with him pretty much assured she was wet as soon as she pulled onto his parking lot.

He was close. She could tell because he whispered things she knew he wouldn't say otherwise. Things that should probably make her feel incredibly dirty, but they never did coming from him. She liked hearing him say them, how much he'd dreamt of doing just this to her mouth before he ever did.

He gasped then and grew still beneath her as she continued licking and sucking until he was done coming.

"That is incredibly unfair," he whispered a few minutes later.


"You knew I was going to want to talk about this."

"I did," she whispered.

"You used your mouth to get your way."

"Did it work?"

"I already told you you can do whatever the fuck you want."

"You're not mad?"

"Mad? At which part? The transferring or the fact you just crawled into bed with me and gave me a very good blow job?"

"The transferring?"

"Not mad, no," he said, finding her hand that was touching him lightly and sliding it up to his stomach. "I just want to make sure you know what you're doing. I mean, I won't deny I got very excited at the idea of not just going to school but seeing you more often than once a month at best in a one bedroom apartment."

"I know," she whispered, kissing his thigh. He groaned again as she started leaving a mark on his inner thigh. She liked doing this for some reason not as much as on his neck, though. It was still fun.

"Where are you going to live?"

"I figured on-campus then my dad wouldn't freak out as much."

"He'll still know where you're staying the bulk of your nights."

"I know," she said.

"My lease is up the end of this month. If you know you're going to Northwestern I can look into something a little closer."

"That'd be nice," she said.


"Uh huh," she said.

"I'll do that then. I don't want you to have to spend any more nights in a dorm room than you absolutely have to."

"None," she said.

"I couldn't agree more."

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