***Chapter Eleven***
Word Count: 4,532

He'd found Tuxedo and ended up taking him to his condo with him. Sammy had not been very happy about that turn of events, but the house had been even hotter when he got there the second time. Obviously her furnace was on the fritz. His water dish was dry as a bone. John wasn't sure when he'd be able to get back there, assuming Claire didn't get out of the hospital when she thought she would. So, he'd called Claire to ask her what all he'd need to bring with him. Litter boxes were not something he had to worry about with Sammy so he was glad he'd asked.

She hadn't been released until Sunday, something about wanting to be sure whatever infection had caused the fever was truly under control. Apparently the antibiotics through the IV line were a much more effective way of distributing them. It made sense he supposed, the IV went right into the blood stream. They wanted her there for as close to twenty-four hours without the antibiotics fever-free before releasing her.

So, he'd brought some of his stuff with him to the hospital and hung out there as much as he could Saturday. She slept a lot. He took the opportunity when she did that to go home to let out Sammy. Her parents had come by Saturday despite her telling them it was absolutely unnecessary. They hadn't been surprised to see John there when they got there. He'd left the room, though, for a while.

She came home with him on Sunday. He offered to call someone out on Saturday to fix the furnace, but since they didn't release her anyway she just figured she could wait until Monday to do it. She had barely even set foot into the house after being released and she knew there was no way she was going to be able to sleep there. He'd offered to take her to his place or her parents'. She'd chosen his.

He wasn't complaining about her choice. He didn't really want to drop her off at their house. That would seem sort of odd since they thought they'd been dating for eight months or so now. He was pretty sure they thought they spent the night at one another's places more often than not. Claire's mom always called her house before stopping by Claire had told him when she didn't used to do that.

She'd slept most of the day on Sunday. He'd felt a little weird getting into bed with her that night, but she'd insisted she was fine with it. She didn't have a fever anymore or anything, but she was still sick. He'd stayed awake as long as he could, though, which wasn't too tough because he still had a shit ton of work to do preparing to be gone for a week.

Monday she'd called a repairman about her furnace but they weren't going to be able to get to it until Tuesday. He had no problem with her staying there another night so it was fine. He didn't have to leave until Wednesday and even if he was leaving tomorrow she could've stayed here.

"What are you doing?" she'd asked him Monday night when he was getting his duffle bag and equipment together to pack.


"You don't bring your regular pencils and stuff with you?"

"Nope," he said. "I have duplicates of everything. I've left more than one behind so I learned years ago to just have a set ready to go. I check it when I get back from trips to be sure I'm not missing something and replace it before I go on the next trip."

"Oh," she said.

She'd showered, but that was the extent of her physical exertion to this point. He hadn't wanted her to do that much because he'd been afraid she'd pass out again only this time naked. He certainly didn't want the first time he saw her naked to be under those circumstances.

Tuxedo was on the bed with her. He should maybe be a little disturbed at how easily the cat adjusted to a new place to sleep and dislodged Sammy from his normal spot, but it was kind of sweet he wanted to be near his sick owner. Sammy still made it onto the bed when John got into bed the night before, but the cat and the dog had maintained as much distance as they could. John hadn't been certain there'd be room for both him and Claire plus Sammy, but it had worked somehow.

"You really do have it down to a science."

"Don't you?" he asked. "You travel a lot."

"Yes, but not really for work. So, packing for me is an issue of which clothes I need based on where I'm going. Sometimes I have work to bring with me, but I can't really bring duplicates with me."

"I suppose not," he said.

"Are you going to be up late?" she asked.

"I don't know."

"I got the feeling last night you did it on purpose."

"Did what?"

"Stayed up late."

"Well, I have stuff to do, Claire."

"I know. You didn't come to bed until almost four o'clock."

"Yeah. I do that sometimes. I don't have to sleep like normal people do."

"I got the feeling it was because of me."

"Yeah, well, you were running a fever and everything into Saturday morning."

"I didn't have one Sunday."

"I know that."

"Then what?"

He shrugged. "It's nothing, Claire. I was working, that's all."

"You were afraid I'd wake up and not remember where I was or why you were in bed with me?"

"Kind of," he admitted. "I debated about sleeping on my couch, but I've done that once before and not only is it not comfortable Sammy took it as an unwritten invitation to wake me up as soon as the sun came up instead of his usual crazy early hour."

She laughed softly.

"Yeah, I know, my fault for getting a dog, but he sleeps around my hours usually. You and Tuxedo being here sort of have both of us out of our routines."

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be. I'm not."

"You're okay bringing me home tomorrow?"

"Yes, of course. Why wouldn't I be?"

"I know you're busy."

"Well, I can work taking you home around my schedule. My plane doesn't leave until noon on Wednesday so I can work until about four again if I had to tomorrow night and still get a decent night's sleep. I'm actually pretty caught up now."

"Well, still…"

"I'm glad you called in for tomorrow, too. I was worried you were going to push yourself."

"My dad would've gotten mad at me."

"Yeah. You won't do your clients any good dead or in the hospital for days relapsing."

"I know."

"Good. I can stay and handle the repair guy if you're not up to it. Just let me know."

"I think I can handle it."

"I'm sure you can, but if you're not feeling up to being up and around like that let me know and I'll stay."

"Do you want me to call our travel agent and make arrangements for the trip we're taking next month?"

"If you want to. I hadn't had time to think about it honestly beyond you agreed to come with me."

"I can."

"Wait, no, you're not doing that. I'm paying for this trip."

"John… It's my fault."

"It is not your fault! Stop saying that. None of this is your fault. It's not a bad thing I got invited. It's pretty cool. Rich is envious as all get out."

"I bet he is."

"I mean, he got invited to the premiere itself, but my invitation is kind of a blanket thing for a whole bunch of shit."

"I know, I saw that."

"So, I'm not complaining, but I'm still paying. You paid for France, this is my deal I'm paying for this."

"Yes, but…"

"No, buts. I'll take care of it tomorrow. Thank you for reminding me, though."

She yawned and he chuckled softly.

"Get some more sleep."

"I've done nothing but sleep since Friday night!"

"Well, you obviously need it. I'll be done in a minute here and turn off the light so will be out of your hair in a few."

"You're not in my hair."

"If you say so."

"John, it's your house. I should be the one worrying."

"I like you here. It's not exactly how I envisioned getting you to spend the night with me, but it'll do until I can get you here the right way."

"What's the right way?"

He chuckled, zipping up his bag. "You not sick would sure be a start."

"Why are you packing tonight?"

"I don't know. Habit. I like to make sure I have everything. I know the night before I leave I'm always busy and distracted working."

"Oh," she said.

He set his bag on the floor by his dresser. He flipped the light switch to turn the light off.

"Get some more sleep, Claire. I'll be in in a while, I promise."

"Okay," she said.

"It's a very good thing I'm not allergic to cats, isn't it?" he asked as he watched Tuxedo knead the bedding beside Claire. The hall light was on so he could see him clear enough.

"I think so, yeah."

Eventually the cat got the bedding in the condition he wanted it to be John guessed and he curled up next to Claire to sleep. He was strictly an indoor cat so while he'd gotten up a couple of times the past couple of nights and wandered around the condo he hadn't begged to go out or anything. He wasn't used to that, movement late at night because Sammy didn't wander around so John had checked the first time to be sure his food and water bowls weren't empty. He'd had to put the cat's stuff on a counter because Sammy ate the first bowl of food John had put out.

"It's not four o'clock already is it," she murmured when he joined her in bed about an hour later.

"Not even close. Try eleven o'clock."

"Oh," she said. "You're here early."

"I am."

"Why?" she asked.

"I realized I'm kind of an idiot. I have you sleeping in my bed and I'm avoiding sleeping with you. What kind of moron does that?"

"I'm glad."

"That I'm an idiot and a moron?"

"That you realized you were being one. You're not him, John."

"I know… I just don't ever want…"

She cut him off by sliding closer to him and kissing him. A real kiss, too, not just a quick thing like they'd been doing pretty much since getting back from Paris. Oh a few times here and there they'd kissed nice like this, but not too often. He turned a bit, sliding a hand to her hip to draw her to him. He could definitely get used to this.

"Claire," he whispered when he discovered pressed against him like she was currently she wasn't wearing anything but a shirt.

"Shh. Don't, please," she whispered, moving on top of him.

She found his mouth again as she settled her hands against his waist, pushing his shirt up with one hand. She touched him with the other one, breaking the kiss only long enough for him to lift himself up to slide the shirt off. Her hands were hesitant as she touched him, which he completely understood because he had no idea what to do with his at the moment. He decided on settling them at her hips.

She shifted a bit, lowered her mouth to his chest and he couldn't help but groan when her tongue grazed over his nipple. He moved his pillow, bunching it a bit so he could watch her easily. Watching her do anything to him was a definite bonus as far as he was concerned.

She didn't seem to be in any particular hurry and didn't seem interested in focusing on any one part of him over another. She even took hold of one of his hands, bringing it to her mouth and kissing each fingertip before settling it against her hip once more. It was really, really a huge test of his self-control because he knew what he wanted to do but he absolutely wasn't the one in charge at the moment. Even this much was way more than he expected tonight so he couldn't complain. Question his sanity maybe. He had a friend or two who would certainly tell him no one was worth having to be so careful of everything he did with.

He thought she was worth it, though.

Eventually her hands settled at his hips, tugging on the shorts he was wearing. He cried out when she slid a fingertip along the tip of him. He couldn't help it. He'd dreamt of this for months after that day at school. Who was he kidding? Months didn't begin to cover it. She'd been the focus of some pretty intense dreams more than once over the years. She'd touched him through his jeans that day, but that was it and not at all the same as what she was doing now. He'd sure hoped she'd get around to doing more than just through his jeans but it hadn't happened.

He hissed softly, tilting his head back a bit on the pillow to stop looking at her when she took him into her mouth. He was pretty sure he'd come right there and then if he watched her do this. He didn't want to do that. At least not just yet anyway. Her sliding her mouth off of him was not at all what he'd wanted her to do.

"Is that wrong?" she whispered.

"Wrong?" What the fuck was she talking about? Wrong? Her stopping was incredibly wrong, but he couldn't say that. Not in this lifetime. He wasn't stupid, he knew that much.

"Yeah, you…"

"Oh, no, that was a good sound. Trust me."

"Thank God," he whispered when she returned to what she'd been doing.

He'd always prided himself on having pretty good control and stamina. Coming from a blow job wasn't as easy for him anymore because he'd gotten real good at ensuring getting one lasted as long as he could make it last. Getting good ones was a rare occurrence so he liked to enjoy them when it happened. Right now though he was pretty sure that control and stamina had flown out the window. He couldn't help it. Never mind it was her doing this to him after years, over a decade, of him imagining her being the one to do this.

No, that wasn't the only reason.

She was doing this. To him. Of all the people she could have … trusted she'd picked him. Maybe it wasn't a choice for her any more than his knowing when he saw her at the reunion that he'd more than just a little fallen in love with her that day at school. The relief he felt when she not only wasn't married but wasn't there with anyone hadn't been anything he'd ever experienced before.

"Fuck, Claire, I don't know what your goal is here. Just this, that's fine. But if you're looking for more I swear to God you have less than two minutes until I'm going to need a little while to be able to do anything again. And, uh, if swallowing isn't something that interests you you might want to stop anyway."

She didn't stop immediately, but she did after a few seconds. He wasn't sure what to make of her decision. She just didn't want to swallow? Was he supposed to, uh, do the rest or was she planning on doing more? Again, he wasn't the one in control and while frustrating as all hell not to finish when he was so dreadfully close to doing that from her efforts he had to let her do whatever she wanted to do here.

She reached for him as she moved herself up along him, sliding him between her legs and along her slit there. It occurred to him as she worked herself over his length that he hadn't done a damned thing to her. Nothing. Evidently that was what she wanted right now, but fuck it all if he didn't feel pretty bad that was the case.

"Can I?" he asked, shrugging a bit. He had no idea what the fuck the rules were here. "Your shirt. Can I take it off?" he asked.

She didn't answer him and he didn't make a move to do that without her permission. Evidently that exceeded her area of comfort right now. He wasn't sure he should or could complain since he was on his way to being planted pretty firmly inside of her.

She reached for her shirt once he was all the way inside of her, sliding it up and over her head.

"Thank you," he whispered.

"Stop staring at me," she said shyly.

"Forgive me, Claire. It's a natural reaction to seeing someone beautiful naked for the first time."

"Shut up," she whispered.

"I won't. You're in control, I get that, but I'm not going to stop thinking what I think."

"I know. I'm sorry."

He chuckled softly, sliding a hand from her hip along her abdomen. "Nothing to be sorry for. Trust me," he said as he slid his thumb along the edge of her belly button before moving up. She exhaled sharply as he found a breast, touching her there. This he'd done before. He remembered vividly how she felt in his hand, the soft gasp she gave when he stroked her nipple. She gave it again now, too, and he liked very much she gave the same response today.

She started moving over him slowly. He still wasn't sure he was going to last too long so he shifted them both a bit so he could lean up and use his mouth on her breasts while settling his fingers between her legs.

"You okay?" he asked when she gasped softly when he touched her between her there for the first time.

"Uh huh," she said. She didn't sound too sure about her answer, though.

"You need me to stop?"


He chuckled softly at that, but returned his mouth's focus on her breasts. A focus that he was thoroughly enjoying.

He came after she pulled herself almost all of the way off of him and took the length of him in one quick thrust. It felt too good. She felt too good around him. She wasn't as easy to get off as it had been for him, but he was more than patient and willing to do the work to bring her over, too. He wasn't sure if she was really that difficult or if she was hesitant to let herself go. He hoped he'd have a reason to find out which was the case another time.

She settled against his chest and he slid his arms around her, drawing the sheet around them. He was still inside of her, not very useful or functional at the moment but he liked being there and she didn't seem to be in any hurry to dislodge him. He was good with that.

He cleared his throat, not sure how exactly to put into words what he was thinking without it sounding insulting.

"Why?" he asked simply.

"You pointed out, I could have died."

"I didn't…"

"You didn't have to say the word, I know what you meant."

"Okay," he said cautiously. "That wasn't a line to get you out of your panties, Claire."

"I know it wasn't, but it got me thinking. I don't want to die knowing he had that control over me. That he controlled even my feelings. That I was so scared to do what's completely normal."

"Claire…" He couldn't begin to understand. He never would. He doubted he'd ever be in a position to. Not to say that men couldn't be forced to do things, but even if that part did happen to him the rest of what she went through couldn't.

"At least I can say I won't die a virgin now."

He chuckled softly.

"Well, hopefully, high fevers aside, you'll live a long and fruitful life."

"I hope so, too."

"I plan to do everything in my power to be sure you do more than hope."

"You do, huh?"


"Thank you," she said.

"For what I just said?"

"Yes," she whispered.

"Good. I mean, I don't want you thanking me for sex, because believe me I enjoyed myself very much."

"Did you?"

"Uh yeah."

"I'm glad."

"Me, too. I mean, that you did. You did, right? I didn't do a damned thing, but you didn't seem to want me to."

"You did."

"After you were already inside of me. The things you were doing with your mouth, they would feel equally good being done to you as they do to me."

"Oh," she said.

"And unlike me you can come more than once without putting a crimp in immediate plans using your parts for things other than my mouth."

"I can, huh?"


"Once wasn't easy."

"It will get easier, Claire. I swear to you."

"I believe you."

"Good. So, is that why you were concerned with when I was going to come to bed?"

"Kind of. I wasn't sure I'd wake up enough at four o'clock in the morning."

He chuckled.

"I would have come to bed last night much earlier had I known."

"I know. Should I move?"


"Yeah, off of you."

"Nope, you can stay right there for as long as you like."

"I'm not too heavy?"

He scoffed. "You? Hardly. You're fine where you are. I like you there."

"You just like being inside of me."

"I will not disagree with that point, no, but I like feeling you against me. Though I don't know, you start moving before he falls out of you and he may be up for more."

"He may, huh?"

"Uh huh. Only if you are, though."

"I know," she said, settling her head against his chest. He felt her sigh against him there and he couldn't help but give a sigh of his own. He kissed the top of her head. "What?" she asked.

"I guess it's really a good thing I got you something for Valentine's Day now, huh?"

She laughed softly. "I guess so."

"Glad I did the right thing there for a change, I wasn't sure it was going to freak you out."

"No, it was sweet, thank you."

He'd just gotten her a card and some chocolates. He had already put in an order for some roses to be delivered to her office …

"Fuck," he said.


He laughed softly. "You're not going to work tomorrow."

"No," she said cautiously. "Am I supposed to?"

"Well, I ordered you flowers to be delivered to you there."

"You did?"

"I did."

"Wow," she said.

"I know, right? I never knew I had such a mushy aspect to my personality. It seemed the thing a boyfriend of eight months would do, though."

"Oh, well, I suppose you could drive me down there to get them and I could bring them home with me."

"I suppose I could do that."

"I'll have Sonia call me when they get there."

"Fair enough. Sorry to ruin the surprise."

"I'm still surprised."


"And I don't know what kind of flowers you ordered."

"Is there more than one kind to get on Valentine's Day? Especially since I had them sent to the office where your dad works?"

"Oh," she said. "I'm sure they'll be gorgeous."

"I hope so. I wasn't expecting to see you tomorrow so I had them sent there."

"You weren't going to come have lunch with me?"

"I don't know."

"I think I would've called you and asked you to come have lunch with me after getting them."


"Then it seems I did right. It's not often women ask me to lunch."

"It would seem so."


"Where'd Sammy go?"

"Unlike your obviously perverted cat he bailed from the bed about the time you took my shirt off."

"Well, he wouldn't have any idea he should leave the bed."

He chuckled softly. "Sammy didn't go far. He'll be back."

"Has he…"

"Don't, please, don't even think like that. But I'll answer your question. No, he's never had to leave my bed for that reason before. I don't make a habit of bringing women back here. I work here, you know? My livelihood is here. I hate the fact Allen might have an inkling what my address is. You're the only woman he's left my bed for."

"You're not just saying that?"

"Why would I lie to you?"

"To make me feel better?"

"And you find out I lied to you you'd be pissed at me. Nope. I'm not going to lie to you. I'm not going to say I haven't had sex in the last two years, just not here."

"It's okay."

"Thank you. Your cat, on the other hand, obviously is a voyeur. Then I can't blame him, you're something worth looking at."

She laughed softly against his chest. "Maybe he just likes looking at you like I do."

"He's a guy cat."

"Yeah, so."

"Still perverted," he said after a moment's thought on that.

"You seem to be ready to try to see if he'll leave the bed this time."

"Sweetheart, I was mentally ready immediately. I'm sorry parts of me couldn't oblige, but yes physically and mentally are meshing at the moment."

"I can tell."

"You want to drive again, Princess? Or you want to lay back and let me do the work this time?"

"You'd probably enjoy it better if you did."

"Fuck, Claire, there is no better. I'm inside of you. That's pretty damned better. You on top, me on top makes me no difference. Whatever you feel most comfortable with."

She sat up a bit, adjusting him inside of her a little better before she drew away from him.

"Hey, where are you going?" he asked, opening his eyes. "Oh," he said when she moved next to him. "Too much exertion? Did that bit of work exhaust you?"

"I was just in the hospital, you know?"

"You trying to make me feel guilty?" he asked, sliding on top of her.


"Good, because it's not working at all," he said as he slid inside of her.

"I can tell."

"Can I throw a shoe at him or something?" he asked.

"No! You don't have any shoes on the bed anyway."

"I have clothes."

"You don't like being watched?"

"I don't know. It's kind of creepy. What if he gets mad and bites me or something?"

She laughed softly until he evidently hit a particularly good spot and then she was making a much more arousing sound than laughter.

"To hear you make that sound is worth getting bit."

"Do that again then," she whispered.

"Gladly," he said.

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