Chapter Fifteen
Word Count: 7,061

December 20002

He played on stage in front of thousands of people on any given night. He'd come face to face with celebrities that were bigger names than he'd ever be in his lifetime. He'd hung out with lots of them, partied with a ton of them. He honestly couldn't say there was a time he was more nervous than standing outside of the security check area to wait for them.

What if she'd changed her mind at the last minute and decided not to come?

Unlikely, but possible given she had to think the idea of coming down here was pretty crazy. She was initially going to come down for only a couple of days. He'd told her that was ridiculous. Even if for some reason they were at each other's throats he'd just go up to his place in New York for a few days or something and let them enjoy an actual vacation for a while.

What was more?

He'd be spending Melissa's birthday with her. He picked out a gift that was probably worth more than was probably warranted on a gift for her. She'd said her Mustang had been a birthday present, and his wasn't quite in that league but it was pretty fucking close considering it was the first thing he was going to be giving to her.


Stupid to be nervous, but he was. He knew going to Claire's house in July about what to expect from her and the neighborhood. He hadn't told her anything about where he lived aside from mentioning the party they'd be going to.

He had no idea if she'd be impressed or think he was compensating.

He was signing an autograph when he spotted them. Some guy who saw a concert of theirs with his son and now his son wanted to grow up and be in a band after college. The after college part was odd, so he took that to mean the guy was doing all right for the most part with the kid.

"Thanks, man, my son will never believe me."

"You bet," he said. "Thanks for listening and tell him I said to keep studying hard."

"I will," the man said, shaking John's hand. He knew when Claire and Melissa had spotted him and were heading in his direction.

It was weird that there were kids who were familiar with not just their band but him. He supposed kids listened to what their parents listened to by default and they were getting to the age that their initial fans had kids old enough to listen to them for themselves.

He gestured to the sunny view outside.

"Is this better than what you had in Chicago or what?"

"It is," Claire admitted.

"Off to a good start then. So," he said. "You hungry? Want to go back to my place and settle in?"

"Whatever you want. I still wish you'd let me rent a car."

He waved her off. "Not necessary. I have one you can use if you want to do your own thing or whatever. I know the plane ticket probably cost a ton this time of year on such short notice, so it's no big deal. It's a convertible, too."

"Wow, really?"

"Yes. Then again, I may rethink letting you have that one."

"Why?" Claire asked with a frown.

"Because I don't want to have to beat men away with sticks."

"Very funny."

"I'm pretty sure I wasn't joking."

Melissa still hadn't said anything to him. He wasn't sure if that was good or bad.

"What are you in the mood for?"

She shrugged a bit. Hmm. Had he done something wrong? He didn't think so. He'd been pretty consistent with his contact with her, and Claire, without being crazy about it.

"Food would be good."

"All right. Hey, whatever you guys want. Except snow, I'm afraid I can't pull that off."

He offered to take her carryon from her, which she gave him. "Did you have a good flight and everything?"


"Well, good. We can go this way to the baggage area," he said, gesturing.

Lunch wasn't as uncomfortable. John took them to a place he went to pretty regularly when he had people in town with him. They treated him pretty well and the service was always good. The food was always better than good. Claire and Melissa both seemed more than a little impressed that a restaurant like it knew him by name.

"This is your house?" Melissa asked when they pulled through the gate and onto his property.

"It is," he said, glancing at them once he pulled into the driveway and shut off the car.

"That's the car you guys can use," he said, pointing at the Thunderbird. He was a sucker for the retro look and bought one. He didn't drive it often so it hardly had any miles on it. "I bought it right after I bought this place. Seemed like the kind of car to have living here."

"And you don't spend all of your time here?" Melissa asked.

"I've been spending more time here now that I bought this place. Until then I'd rent a place for a few months or something."

"Oh," she said.

Claire hadn't said a word yet.

"Not what you were expecting, Princess?" he asked.

"No, never in a million years."

He chuckled at that.

"I told you it belonged to a former football player."

"I know. I guess I've never paid attention to the homes owned by football players. I mean I've seen Walter Payton's house from the street but never closer than that to see what it was really like."

He pushed the button to open his trunk and got out.

"Leave it," he said when Claire and Melissa went to grab their bags. "I figured I could show you around and they'll be in your rooms by the time we're done."

"You have…"

"Yup," he said. "It's not a huge staff since I don't live here every day of the year, but someone has to clean all of the rooms. He lives in an area off the kitchen designed for more staff than I'll probably ever have so he's not hurting. If I wake up at three in the morning and want something to eat I'm pretty much on my own, though. I mean I guess if I was a demanding fuck I'd wake him up, too, but I haven't quite gotten the at my beck and call side of things down. I think that's maybe one of the reasons we get along."

"I see," she said.


Melissa had seen pictures of homes – and home was being modest – like this on TV shows. Like her mom had just said, never in a million years did she think she'd be spending a week in one. The pool was amazing with a waterfall and everything. And the beach? Was literally right outside his door and as private as could be.

She chuckled a couple of times when John showed them a room that was virtually empty and he had no idea what purpose it served. Did Sean know what his house looked like and had said nothing to Melissa about it?

The last thing he showed them was his studio, which put hers to shame so incredibly she was almost embarrassed she'd showed it to him. He mentioned the band recording a couple of tracks here, so that answered her question about Sean and whether he knew about this place.

"So, that's it. Make yourselves at home. I'll give your mom the keys to the car so you two can come and go as you please. Just be home in time to go on New Year's Eve."

"You're not going to do anything with us?" Melissa asked. She wasn't sure how she felt about that.

"If you want me to. If I'm invited, sure, but I just thought you'd like to get away from December in Chicago for a while. So, whatever. I have nothing on my calendar. I wasn't going to assume I'd be included. I know this is kind of weird. It is for me, so I can only imagine what it is for you two."

"It's all right," her mom said.

"I can show you where you two will be sleeping if you want. Your stuff is probably up there by now. If it's not it will be shortly."

"Do you have a cook and stuff?"

"I do. I just have the one guy, but that's only because I'd forget to eat if left to my own devices. Not to mention I'd starve since I don't know how to cook."

"What have you done before buying this place?" Melissa asked him.

"Well, I can make pretty basic stuff. Sandwiches, microwavable dinners, pizza, pasta with jarred sauce, and so on. Otherwise. I lived in New York. Whatever food I wanted was practically right outside my door. We travel so much I just never bothered to learn."

"I suppose," Melissa said.

"I was thinking maybe if you wanted to we could work some more on that song we did at your house."

"You want to?"

"Why not?"

"It's not really your thing."

"No, it's not, but it's music and I like making that. If it was handed to me ordinarily I'd pass, but it wasn't so I'm not passing."

"Thank you," she said. Ridiculous that she knew she was blushing from him saying that. She'd liked working with him that weekend, even if it never saw the light of day. She had lots of things in common with her mom, but not music. Not like that, and it was incredible to be able to do that with him.

"So, rooms," he said. "All right then, let's go. I assume you brought your swim suits we can do that if you want once you've settled in."

"Sure," Melissa said, eyeing everything as he led them to their rooms.

"You're in here, Melissa," he said, opening a door. "You have your own bathroom through there," he pointed to a set of doors. "And those doors open if you want to. There's a balcony out there. You can sit out there and stuff. I don't think you can get down to the pool from your room," he frowned as if thinking that over. "You might be able to, though. If so, have at it."

"Okay," she said.

She walked toward her stuff, eyeing the bed more than a little enviously. God, it was ginormous enough for her to get lost in.

"I'll show your mom her room."

"Okay," she said, pulling out her cell phone to call Sean.


"You've been quiet," he said as he led her to her room. She had no idea what to expect from her room because the entire house exceeded anything she'd imagined he'd have as far as a home.

"I've been processing." That was an understatement. Her house was nice, spacious even. She was pretty sure two of her houses would fit inside of his house and there'd still be some room leftover.

"Yeah? Processing good? Processing bad?"

"Just processing," she said. She wasn't sure how to explain it. She was glad for him, totally. If anyone deserved some good it was John after the crappy childhood he'd had.

"I see." He opened the door leading to her room. "Now, there's one thing about your room I should tell you. Whether you want Melissa to know about it is up to you."

"Okay," she said.

He chuckled, shutting the door behind them. He slid an arm around her, drawing her to him. She went willingly, easily. Too easily. He kissed her and she realized she'd been sort of disappointed he hadn't been able to do that at the airport.

"Relax, it's nothing bad. You do share a bathroom with me, though," he said, walking to the other end of her room and flipping on a light in the other room.


He shrugged. "We share the closet, too," he said. "I guess it's the master suite. I don't know. I've never stopped to think about it, and I've never put anyone in this room before for the very reason I don't want to share my space. There's a door to the closet from the bathroom, but I never go in that way." She met him at the door to the bathroom and peered inside. He had a Jacuzzi in here. Sitting in there with a glass of wine would be incredible.

"And I'm in this room because?" She had to draw herself away from thoughts like reclining in his tub. What was he expecting exactly by giving her a room that joined his? And why did the fact she was the first person to have this room make her feel good?

"Well, I put you here because I wanted you here."

"John…" She started to get panicked. She should have known better than to think the invitation to come down here came without any strings.

"Hear me out."

"Okay," she said.

"I'm not trying to sleep with you or anything. However, if the opportunity for a few hours like that Friday night at your house presents itself I wouldn't say no. This is a vacation for you, and your first time here. Not to mention you two are still getting back on even footing, so I figure you're not going to run off and leave her on her own."


"So, that ruled out time alone because why would we want to be alone? We can be alone without her knowing that's what we're doing."

"Oh," she said, nibbling on her lower lip as she did sometimes.

"Oh as in that's a good idea, John?" He slid his arms around her "Or, oh as in you fucked up, John?"

"It was a nice thought," she said.

"It was better than nice, Princess."

"Doors lock from in here, so you don't have to worry about me barging in on you. The closet is a little trickier, but I always leave my door open leading to it. So if you're in there changing or something shut it and when you're done open it again. Your side usually stays open so I'll do the same if I'm in there. I don't ever really change in there anyway so can probably refrain from going in there undressed for a week."

"Sounds reasonable."

"Now if you don't want to shut it…"


"I'm kidding. Relax."

"I just…"

"Can I kiss you now?"


"Is unpacking and looking around her room. And so what anyway?"

"I just don't think it's a good idea."

"We made her!"

"Yeah, eighteen years ago. I'm not sure I'm ready for her to see us kissing."

"I sort of figured that was the case. I almost forgot about the love bite you gave me that night when I was working with her. I caught myself a couple of times over the weekend pushing my hair out of the way and remembered at the last minute."

"Thank you."

He chuckled, settling a finger under her chin so he could tilt her face toward his a bit and kiss her.

"You're welcome," he murmured. "So, does your room pass inspection?"

"You're joking, right?"

"A little, but maybe you don't want a room next to mine."

"No, it's fine."

"All right then."

"Why'd you buy this place?" It was absolutely none of her business and beyond rude of her to ask, but she was immensely curious.

He shrugged, glancing around the room they were standing in a bit. She wondered how many times he'd been in this room and how many times he'd looked at it like this, as if he was really thinking about why he was here.

"I don't know. Why do people do anything? Compensating? Proving I am actually worth something? I don't know. It was a whim. I was down here and we were driving around. I'd been in the neighborhood before for some parties. The New Year's Eve party we're going to is one of them. The player and the team were going through this awful breakup and some birdies whispered in my ear it'd be great to have roots down here. And so I bought it. It seemed like a thing to do, you know. Roots. Stability. A place to throw parties."

"And you don't think it's a little much for one person?"

"I do think it's a lot much for one person, especially one person who isn't here all of the time."

"You're thinking about being here more, though, aren't you?"

"I am. The man who cooks sort of doubles as a housekeeper. I don't know what men who do that are called. He keeps things organized and clean while I'm gone that's all I know. A surrogate head of the house I guess. He's the only full-time employee I have all year long. He has the ability to contact my lawyer for any money he needs for upkeep if I'm out of the country or something. Otherwise, I just use a service for when I know I'm going to be in town for a while and need more. If I lived here full-time I'd probably need more than one. Then only being me maybe not. A landscaper comes by every week, of course. Pool guy. Inside the house, though, that's it. Weeks like this when it's just a couple of guests I don't need more than him. He had plenty of notice to get your rooms ready and shop for you. I should show you the kitchen, if I missed something Melissa might like let me know. I told him she was seventeen."

"I'm sure it's fine, and it must be nice."

"I'm not used to it, but this place won't clean itself. And when we're on a break from touring but want to get some work done. We can all stay here under one roof for a hell of a lot cheaper than days or weeks at a hotel while we hammer out an album. The recording studio is as top of the line as I can have it."

"Melissa seemed very impressed."

"I'm glad," he whispered, leaning down to kiss her again. "Do I get to have my shirt taken off later?"

"Maybe," she whispered.

"You touching me still feels amazing."


"It's not a line. You touch me like you don't care about anything. You know?"

"I guess I don't."

He shrugged, kissing her lower lip.

"You want to know me. All of me. Even that part of me I don't want people to know."

"Oh," she said.

"Are you going to go swimming?"

"I don't know. Are you?"

"I was planning on it."

"You're not anymore."

"I think I need a cold shower first."

"Why? Oh," she said, blushing and he laughed softly.

"I'll let you settle in I guess. You have dresses, both of you? Do you need them pressed or anything?"

"Yes! Please!"

"All right. We can take care of that. Are they something you've made?"

"They both are, yes."

"So, no chance of anyone else wearing them?"

"Not in this lifetime."

"Very cool."

"Both will go with a tuxedo very well."

"I think most anything would go with a tuxedo, Princess. I'm going to be the envy of every guy there."


"Not just one gorgeous redhead on my arm, but two."

"Some might think you're insane."

"Perhaps you're right."

"Melissa's nervous I think."

"About the party?"

"Yeah," she said.


She shrugged. "I don't know. She's still figuring all of this out and you're bringing her to a formal party. She hasn't said much, but I know how to read her pretty well."

"I'm not telling anyone anything. You two are my guests for the week. That's all anyone needs to know and I don't think anyone's going to jump to the conclusion that she's my kid."

"I wouldn't think so."

"So, it shouldn't be a problem."

"You've never dated anyone with kids."


"Never in all of these years have I seen you with a girlfriend with kids."

"Oh, no," he agreed. "Never."

"And you don't think people will think it's strange?"

"Well, I'm not planning on introducing you as my girlfriend. I mean, I'm not, am I?"

"No, I just wasn't sure people wouldn't find it strange we just show up all of the sudden with you at a New Year's Eve party. I think people might assume that's what I am."

"Well, I am getting to an age it's harder to find women without kids."

"Is that why you stay single?"

"I actually broke up with someone right after meeting Melissa."


"I told Melissa about this, too. I felt like I was lying to her. I couldn't come back and say nothing now that I'd met her. Telling her that I'd met my seventeen year old daughter for the first time seemed wrong, and like a good way to lose a woman. It was really way more than I cared to delve into with her. I felt that was probably a pretty good indication she wasn't someone I had any sort of future with. I wouldn't want someone like that having that information about me. So I just told her we couldn't see one another anymore."

"Oh. And she was okay with that?"

"It'd only been like three or four months. I don't think she was invested or deeply surprised. I'm not even sure she really cared. She was one of those people that liked to be dating someone in a band. I'm sure she's found another guy in another band who will make her happy."


"I have a question," he said, bringing his hands to the front of her blouse and working a button.

"Yes," she whispered.

"Do I get to take off your shirt later, too?"

"I…" He expected her to think logically and give him an honest answer when he was touching her. He had no idea how long it'd been since she'd been touched. Then, he knew Stu had been sick so maybe he had an idea.

"How about you don't answer, just know I've posed the question because I'd really like to and think on it some, I guess."

"I should go find Melissa."

"Chicken," he whispered.

"I won't deny that."

"Hey," he said, grabbing hold of her arm.


"What do you have planned for the week?"

"I don't know. We talked about things we'd like to do, but nothing concrete."

"You tell me what I am or am not invited to go with you on. I have nothing to do, but I don't want to intrude either. You're my guests, don't think that means I expect you to do everything with me."

"I know."

"You like the room?" he asked.

She thought for a moment he was fishing for a compliment, but she saw in his eyes that he was sincere with his question. Had he ever had anyone here who wouldn't look at everything based on how much it was worth? She'd probably never know.

"It's gorgeous, John. The whole house is."

"Yeah, your two rooms and mine are my favorites. As you could tell walking around I haven't done a whole lot with most of the place. I needed rooms, though, so that everyone had a place to crash if they wanted to while down here."

"Right," she said. "I'm honestly not sure I'd know what every room is for. That ballroom, though, John."

"I know, right? I could give my own concert in there if I wanted to."

"You could."

"The neighbors would hate me."

"Unless they were invited."

He winked. "I always knew you were smart."

He leaned in kissing her again. "To tide me over until bedtime."

"If I'd said no?"

"I would have moved you across the hall."

"Without getting upset?"

"Without getting upset, though Melissa may have been curious why you wanted your room switched."

"Thank you."

"Sure. So, swimming? Is that on your agenda? Or did you want to actually do something?"

"No, that sounds like a great way to pass the time until dinner."

"All right, then. Your balcony is my balcony and does lead down to the pool, by the way. I don't think they all do, but there are a couple of others that, too. I think the rooms that were setup or designed to be kids' rooms don't have that access. I don't think Melissa's is one of them."

"Are we eating here?"

"Yeah. Dominick likes the idea of cooking for more than just me for a change. He usually goes all out whenever I have company, so you can expect the full-court press. You know, a million forks and knives, wine and water goblets, the whole nine yards."

"Sounds good."

"I'll let you change and check on Melissa, I guess. See what she needs."

"She's probably talking to Sean."

"I expect so. It's only been a couple of months since they saw one another. I figure the true test will start about now when we won't get back there again for months."


"Unless something comes up, no."

"I see."

"Something coming up could be me being asked to go back there."

"Is that right?"

"It could," he said.

"I imagine Oktoberfests and carnivals are done until spring."

"I bet they are, but I think I could be enticed to head that way."

"You or your band?"

"I was talking about me, but I'm sure we all could if the right opportunity presented itself."

"Oh," she said.

"So, I'm going to go change then. Come on down whenever you two are ready."

"Okay. We shouldn't be long."


Dinner had been good. He'd insisted to Dominick he not go completely crazily overboard. He'd obeyed John on that for a change. Sure, John wanted to impress, but he didn't want to be obvious about it. Usually it didn't matter what John said if he had company, Dominick liked to show off his prowess in a kitchen and he usually ended up with food he couldn't pronounce. Maybe it was the way he said it this time that the other man had listened for a change. Maybe Dominick sensed there was something different about these guests. John would never know.

After dinner they'd spent the night in John's entertainment room, watching a couple of movies. The way the room was setup with a sound system and everything it was as good, if not better, than a theatre.

Tomorrow they were going to Sea World, John was going along. He'd heard them mention Disney and a couple of other things, so he had no idea how many trips to Orlando they were going to make. It was only a little over an hour's drive, so not a big deal to do it.

He finished in the bathroom, opening the door leading to her bedroom when he was done.

"So, I was thinking," he said softly.

"Yes?" she asked.

She'd changed for bed, but hadn't done what she needed to in the bathroom yet.

"I didn't show you my room earlier."

"You didn't."

"Did you, uh, want to see it?"

"Right now?"

"Well, if you wanted to brush your teeth and stuff first so you're all set for bed that would be fine, but yes. Now seemed like a good time."

"Sure," she said.

"All right. Well, I'll be in there whenever you're done then."

He laid there, staring at his ceiling with a hand under his head. Why was it exciting him more than it should at the idea she was going to join him in his room? That night at her house they'd spent kissing hadn't been planned for or talked about. It had just happened. Was that the difference? He had no idea.

She opened the door eventually, leaving it open after she'd turned off the light in the bathroom.

"You don't have any lights on," she whispered.

"I know," he said.

"How am I supposed to see your room?"

He chuckled as she found her way to his bed and pushed the covers back on the opposite side from where he was.

"Don't you have like a sixth sense or something?" he asked as he turned onto his side once she'd shifted on the bed closer to him.

"No," she whispered.


"You don't get to go to movies often, do you?"

"What?" he asked. What did that have to do with anything? Why was she thinking about movies when she'd just gotten into bed with him?

"I was just thinking about your room with the big comfortable chairs and everything."

"Yeah," he said. He had a real popcorn maker, which they'd used tonight. He also usually had some pretty good candy on hand because some people weren't popcorn eaters when they watched movies. (Not that he understood that.) Dominick always stocked up on that stuff when he was having people here who'd eat it.

"It just dawned on me that you can't just randomly go to a movie without your night being disrupted."

"Oh," he said with a slight nod. "It's a little worse down here than it was in New York. Up there, almost everyone is someone or wanting to be someone. So if they think they recognize you but you don't acknowledge it they'll dismiss it as being wrong."

"That must get tiring."

"Sometimes. Honestly, I can't even imagine seeing a movie at a theatre anymore after living here and having that at my fingertips. It spoils me."

"I can understand that."

"I mean, I'd go to a movie. If you two wanted to go to one. I don't care."

"It just dawned on me. I mean, you talk about our lives being somewhat similar. I guess they are, but not like that."

"I think you're underselling your name recognition quite a bit."

"Okay, that may be, but people aren't going to stop me at a movie and ask me for my autograph or something like that man did with you at the airport."

"It happens all of the time."

"You sign them all of the time?"

"Within reason. I was waiting for you today, so had nothing but time on my hands but if I was hustling to make my flight or something, no."

"I see."

He slid his hand under the comforter, sliding it along her hip a bit to draw her closer to him.

"Hi," he murmured.

"You said you were going to show me your room."

"I'm showing you the most important part of my room."

"Is that right?"

"Right now it is absolutely the most important part, yes," he whispered, leaning in to kiss her.

They got pretty good at this in his bed at her house a couple of months ago. Tonight was no different, only he knew this go around they weren't going to get disturbed. Barring Melissa walking into one of their bedrooms, but he didn't see her doing that. She'd have no reason to. She wasn't a little kid where she'd get scared sleeping in a new place, and likely she'd be talking or texting with Sean until she fell asleep. That night at their house, Claire wasn't sure when she'd get home and if she'd want to see John when she did. They were also under the covers tonight where at her house they hadn't been.

He groaned softly when she slid her mouth lower along his neck and throat, and along his collarbone before finding his chest. He'd decided to forego the shirt tonight. She'd seen him without his shirt on while they were swimming today so he didn't think it was a big deal to go without one now. He'd been more concerned about Melissa seeing him without his shirt on even though she'd seen him like that at his room in Kankakee. That had been different somehow. He hadn't expected her to see him that morning. Today there was no doubt she would and he couldn't help but wonder what she'd think.

Would she wonder what Claire ever saw in him? He wouldn't blame her. No doubt her step-dad didn't look like he did.

He let out a soft hiss, sliding a hand through her hair as her tongue stroked his skin there. She nipped at the skin, bringing him out of his thoughts. He'd think she knew he was thinking things he shouldn't be right now, but he doubted she could know that.

"You can't do that," he murmured when she switched from licking and nipping to something more.

She started to pull away and he used his other hand to stop her from doing that.

"I didn't say to stop entirely," he whispered. "It's not what you're thinking either. There's no one who's going to see it and get mad or anything. You don't want Melissa to, uh, know. She saw me swimming today without a shirt on. That weekend at your house I could have passed it off I suppose, but tomorrow I don't think she's going to buy I went out between now and morning to hook up with someone while I had you two in town. I hope she wouldn't buy I'd do that anyway."

She didn't stop then, keeping the kisses just that as she kissed along his chest and shoulder. She slid her tongue and lips along his arm, which he moved so she could have full access to it. He gave a soft chuckle as his fingers wiggled almost on their own as she kissed each one before moving to his other arm and hand.

From there she slid her mouth to his stomach and he cried out softly as she reached for the waist of his pants and slid her hand inside of them.

"Shh," she murmured with a soft giggle.

He forced his eyes open, staring at the ceiling, knowing his heart rate was pumping double time right now. He had to think, focus on anything but the fact Claire Standish was currently giving him a hand job. Because if he didn't focus on other things, he was likely to embarrass himself.

"Feels good," he murmured, trying to think of anything but her hand around his shaft and stroking him. She slid her mouth lower, pushing the waistband down a bit. She pushed them down enough his head was exposed and darted her tongue along the tip of him.

"That feels real good," he hissed.

"You taste good," she whispered, swiping his tip with another stroke of her tongue.

He chuckled softly at that. "That's not even the main course."

"I know," she whispered.

"Fuck it," he murmured.


"I've been laying here trying to count to a million or whatever I can do to distract myself."

"It's not working?"

"I don't want it to work," he whispered.

"Oh," she said. She went back to what she'd been doing, and doing it very well.

She felt absolutely fantastic around his shaft, warm and wet as she worked him in and out of her mouth. He wasn't shy about telling her that either, though, he'd maybe owe her an apology for a couple of words that came out of his mouth when he was perilously close to finishing.

She licked along his shaft casually afterward, finding his inner thigh and completing what he'd stopped her from doing on his chest earlier. He didn't have it in him to stop her, and he really didn't care. So, instead of try to reason with her (really he hoped Melissa wasn't going to be looking at him that closely) he shifted his leg a bit so she had better access. Her hand rested along his shaft, fingertips running along his length and his tip.

Eventually she stopped and slid up a bit, kissing his stomach and chest as she did.

He cleared his throat softly.

"So do I get to, like, return that experience to you?"

"You don't have to."

"Well, I know I don't, I don't think the words have to or obligation entered my mind. They certainly didn't come out of my mouth."

"No," she whispered, running a fingertip along his shoulder. She leaned up and kissed him. He kissed her back, sliding his arms around her before shifting them so he was on top of her.

"You have a ridiculous amount of layers on," he whispered, finding her neck.

"The shirt unbuttons," she whispered.

"Does it now?" he asked with a soft chuckle. He sounded much calmer than he felt. He found the top button and worked it and the rest of them as quickly as he could. His breath hitched a bit as he slid the back of his hand over one of her breasts. He'd touched her under her shirt that night at her house, but her top hadn't come off or anything. She had no bra on tonight either.

"Please don't get mad at me for thinking again how amazing you feel."

"I won't," she whispered.

"Thank you," he said, dropping his mouth to a breast. He was much more focused on this part of her than she'd been on his chest. The sounds she made guided him whether she realized that's what she was doing or not.

He reached into her shorts, surprised she had nothing on under those either. (Then maybe he shouldn't have been.) A fingertip slid over her nub and she gasped softly so he slid it over the spot again. Her hands at his shoulders gripped him tighter the more he stroked the spot.

He was pretty sure there was nothing in the world more fucking arousing than to hear her call out his name as he brought her over.

He slid his fingertip lower then, dipping it into the spot between her legs. He groaned against her breast at how wet she was. She arched into his hand and he chuckled a bit, sliding his finger further into her.

Her murmured "yes" told him she liked that. She slid a hand to his wrist, gripping it tightly as he moved his finger out of her.

"Not stopping," he murmured.

"John," she whispered.

"I swear to you, I'm not," he said softly, sliding a little lower to kiss her stomach. She didn't let go of his wrist but loosened her hold on it a bit as he slid a second finger inside of her. He worked the waist of her shorts down with his free hand far enough so that he could slide his tongue over her nub before settling in to use his mouth on her.

He was far more thorough than he could recall being doing this before. Usually it was a means to an end, but he wasn't going to assume there was going to be any more end tonight than this. Did he want to ensure she enjoyed herself so that she'd want it to happen tomorrow night, too?

Damn straight.

"I don't want to move now."

"I take that to mean I did my job."

"You did, but now I don't want to go anywhere."

"Who says you have to?"


"Is she going to wake up and come into your room?"

"No, she wouldn't do that I don't think."

"Then stay. I'm not kicking you out."

He circled a peak with a fingertip before kissing it.

"I would definitely enjoy doing that some more."

"Shut up."

"What? I would."


"Really. What kind of question is that?"

"I don't know. I've just," she paused and he felt her shrug under him.

"You've just?"

"No one's ever…"


"No," she whispered.

"What about your…"

"No," she said. "Never."

"Huh," he said. "No space that day for me to or I would have."

She laughed softly. "We may not have Melissa if that was the case."


"I just want to go to sleep now. That day with your fingers I had to have more."

"I remember," he whispered, kissing her. "Vividly."

"Don't embarrass me."

"I'm not. I can honestly say that was pretty fucking exciting, which would explain why Melissa is here. That was the first time I'd ever had anyone tell me they wanted me to replace my fingers with a more useful part of my anatomy."

"The first time?"

"Only time, but it was so exciting I almost came just from you saying it."


"Uh, yeah," he whispered. "You being the one saying that may have had a lot to do with the turning me on part."

"I could say it again," she whispered.

"Right now? I'd need to have a finger some place you'd want that other part of me instead."

She laughed softly. "I suppose you're right."

"Easily fixed," he said, tracing a finger over her breast and lower. "I mean, you know, if you have a deep desire to say it again I'm happy to oblige."

"Would it turn you on again?"

"I'm already there, but anything about you does. So, yes."

"You shouldn't say things like that."


"I don't know," she whispered and shrugged under him.

He settled his hand against her stomach, running his fingertips along her skin there. He wondered when the last time she'd done any of this was. Her husband had died in March. He'd had cancer she said so, likely, they didn't for a while before he died. Add in the guy being sick before finding out what was wrong with him. That didn't leave very much time from when they got married to have an active sex life.

"You still don't feel like moving?"

"No," she whispered. "This is nice."

"It is. Stay," he whispered.


"Is not going to barge into my room. He's used to me sleeping until noon."

"I'm not sleeping until noon!"

He chuckled. "Just assuring you he's not going to do that."

"Okay," she whispered.

He slid beside her then, reaching for either side of her shirt.

"Just leave it," she said.

"All right," he said, more than a little surprised at that. "Just don't slap me if I wake up and want to take you up on such an enticing offer."

"My top being open is enticing?"

"Your breasts are incredibly enticing."

"I'll try not to then."

"That's better than no guarantee, I guess."

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