June 7, 2003
Claire reached for the phone, missing it the first time.
'Hey. You want to come let me in?'
'Unless you're expecting someone else to show up here at four in the morning, yes.'
"No, it's just so early," she said, glancing at the alarm clock. She'd assumed, well, she'd assumed maybe he wouldn't make it. He was supposed to call when he was on his way.
'I'll explain when you open the door.'
"Yeah, sure," she said. "I'll be right down."
She grabbed her robe before opening her door and making her way down the stairs. Scotty followed, heading in the direction of the garage and the doggy doors that would take him outside. She'd thought the idea of a room for the dog off the garage was ridiculous when Stu suggested it, but there'd been times over the past couple of years that it'd been a godsend. What was more the door from the garage to the house locked if they were going to be gone for any length of time so there wasn't really much of a security hazard.
She worked the deadbolt so she could open the door. He looked beyond exhausted, but she loved the way he looked right now. Tired, but happy to be here. Happy to see her.
He stepped inside, setting a small bag by his feet before he took her into his arms and kissed her. And kissed her. He'd stop so they could take a breath and go right back to kissing her to the point she whimpered.
"That is what has kept me awake until now."
"Yes," he said gruffly, sliding his hands to cup her ass and draw her against him.
"Why are you here now?"
"Well, I got word that my flight for this morning was cancelled because it never got into Dallas last night. Plane issues or something. They weren't sure they were going to be able to get another plane here in time. So, I got the number for a private pilot and here I am. He flew me into Palwaukee and then I had to get a cab from there."
"You should have…"
"Called? Yeah. This all happened in about fifteen minutes at one o'clock. I figured the most important thing was ensuring I actually got here."
"I'm glad you did."
"Me, too," he said. "I'd really love a shower and a nap. Can that be arranged?"
"Yes," she said.
"Thank you," he said. "If you wanted to join me in the shower I wouldn't complain."
"I don't have as big of a shower as you do."
"I know," he said, kissing her again. He found her ear, kissing it before nipping on her skin just under it. "I have this image of me behind you…"
"Yes," she whispered.
He chuckled softly.
"You didn't let me finish."
"You don't have to finish."
"Lead the way then," he whispered.
"Where's Melissa," he asked, sitting on the edge of her bed so he could slide his feet out of his boots.
"Yes," she said. Was she supposed to be somewhere else the night before graduation?
"And I'm not delegated to that room downstairs again?"
"Do you want to be?"
"No," he said with a shake of his head, sliding his socks off. He stood then, working the belt out from his waist. She watched and he knew she was doing just that. "You could come over here and help me instead of just looking."
"I like looking," she said.
"Yeah?" he asked.
"Yes," she said simply. She loved looking at him. She always had. She'd stared at him more than she cared to admit after that day of detention whenever she saw him. It wasn't real often, but occasionally she'd see him and she'd watch.
He peeled his jeans off then, stepping out of them before working his jacket and shirts off.
"You sure you want a shower?" she whispered.
"Yes," he said, not sounding so sure of his answer. "You joining me will give me the chance to cross two things off my list for this morning."
"Get clean and get sweaty with you."
"Then a nap?"
"Yes," he said. "I've been up since ten o'clock yesterday morning and somehow I suspect I'll be up for the duration."
"Uh huh," she said.
"So, let's go then, Princess," he whispered, closing the distance between them. He slid his hand to hers. "You've got something to tend to."
She scoffed at that, sliding their joined hands between his legs. "I see that," she whispered, kissing his jaw.
"You're not helping."
"I am, too," she said, laughing softly.
"You still have clothes on," he murmured.
"You're kind of bossy at four in the morning."
"Don't I know it. I'm tired and horny," he said, sliding her robe over her shoulders and off. "Lead me to the shower."
She did just that, immensely grateful that she had a good water heater because they stayed in there way longer than was normal.
"Do you want anything before you go to sleep?" she asked once he'd gotten ready for bed.
"No, just you here next to me. Less clothes would be preferable."
"I can't! If Melissa walks in here not realizing you're here."
"She's going to see my clothes all over the floor."
"Oh God," Claire said, pushing the bedspread off of her. He grabbed her arm.
"Don't you dare. She's eighteen, not eight. That's what she gets for just walking in here anyway. We're not going to be having sex in front of her."
"Claire. Stay where you are until you have to get up. I want you here. That was another of my needs. Sleeping next to you."
"You're just saying that because my bed is better than your bus," she mumbled. She couldn't deny she loved hearing it regardless of how serious he was. She believed him, but she doubted it was a real need.
"Yup, you caught me. Work my ass off all night and the stress over making sure I get here all for your bed."
He slid his arm around her drawing her against him. She brushed her ass against him feeling he was hard again.
"I thought you were tired," she whispered.
"I guess parts of me aren't in agreement on the level of our exhaustion."
"I see," she whispered, shifting a bit so he could enter her this way.
"Fuck, you feel so fucking good like this," he murmured once he was completely inside of her.
"You do, too," she whispered.
"Yeah," he murmured, brushing his mouth against her shoulder.
"Yes," she hissed as he pressed into her just right.
"I guess so," he said with a soft chuckle.
"What time am I waking up?" he asked a little while later.
"Well, the ceremony starts at two o'clock."
"Nothing before then?"
"No, just some pictures."
"And then after there's a party. I sure hope the weather got the rain out of its system yesterday."
"Yes. I have a tent, though, but obviously it'd be nice if we can use the whole yard."
"Sure," he said.
"Melissa will be glad you're here."
"Is Melissa's mom glad I'm here?"
"I've already demonstrated I am."
"You have," he said, kissing her. "You could demonstrate it again when you have to come wake me up for the day."
"How much did that flight cost you?"
"It's just money," he said.
"Don't worry about it. There was no way I was missing today, Claire."
"Her friends would have been deeply disappointed."
"Her friends, huh?"
"Oh, yes. She's been the focus of quite a bit of attention, more than usual even."
"I'll bet she has. All good?"
"For the most part. One of her friends didn't talk to her for a couple of days, thinking she'd withheld some huge secret from her all of these years."
He chuckled. "Women are so weird."
"We are," Claire admitted. "Men aren't so logical either, though."
"No," he said.
"Thank you for doing what you could do get here, John."
"Just don't leave me alone with your father and we'll be even."
She laughed softly at that, turning away from him again. "I don't think he has any desire to be alone with you."
"This is good. I'm not in the mood today."
"Wake me up about twelve, I guess. You got my suit pressed?"
"I did," she said. He'd sent her back with the suit he'd wear to her graduation today when they left in March, knowing he'd be on the road before coming here.
He slid his arm around her, gathering her to him. A totally different way than earlier, too. She was still pressed against him and everything, but his touch then and now was just different. Right now he just wanted her close to him. She wanted that, too, so they were in agreement.
"Claire?" he murmured.
"I love you," he said.
"I love you, too," she whispered.
The ceremony wasn't bad. John barely remembered his ceremony because he was pretty trashed for it. Claire sat in between John and her parents. They sat next to them for image, John knew, no other reason. If they could have gotten away with sitting elsewhere and not having it look bad they would have.
Their granddaughter had been thrust into the public eye and they had to be careful because likely they knew any misstep on their part would lead to things coming out they probably wouldn't want to come out. John had no desire to disparage their good reputation. In the couple of comments he'd made to this point about Melissa he'd kept it very generic and vague. They'd been young, they'd done what they thought was best for all concerned at the time.
No mention of her parents had been made, by either of them. Melissa had pretty much elected not to comment when she'd been asked anything. Of course, that didn't stop her friends from hounding her. Whether he was her father or not they were going to treat her different once she had a song getting played on the radio. Things always changed after that.
Especially since none of her friends seemed aware she had any desire to actually record anything from what he'd been able to ascertain.
The party wasn't bad. It was mostly adults at dinner, a few of her friends, and then throughout the evening she and her friends came and went. At the end of the night, though, most of her friends ended up back here. Claire's parents left early on, not early enough to be rude or anything.
It did not rain either so no one was restricted to being under the tent, which made things a lot less claustrophobic.
John and Claire were in the living room watching TV while Melissa and her friends did whatever they were doing downstairs. John thought the whole day had gone pretty well. No one seemed to dislike or distrust him. Well, except for Claire's father. Melissa's friends had been curious and asked some questions, but they hadn't pried too deeply or anything. One of them asked for an autograph, but his girlfriend told him that was rude to ask.
"You must be exhausted," she said, resting against him.
"I will sleep very well tonight for sure," John said.
"She's very glad you're here."
"Me, too," John said.
"Where to tomorrow?"
"Such a shame you had to fly all the way here just to go back down there."
"It was worth it."
"I've never flown with my daughter before."
"Is that going to be weird?"
He shrugged. "A little. Just different."
"She's been packed for days."
John chuckled at that. "That's good. I'm glad she's excited. I think by the end of June she won't be so excited any longer."
"She'll have fun. She's spending time with you."
"I'm looking into it."
"Good. Whatever time you can work in. Just let me or Melissa know where you'll be meeting us so we know."
"I don't know what will happen. I really don't. He's not going to sleep with her. He won't have the chance. I mean, I guess there's the chance if she's hanging out in his room. I can't watch her every second."
"What's going to happen is what it is. They may spend every day for the next three months together and realize they hate each other. I don't know."
"He's okay though?"
"Yeah, he didn't say anything against her coming along."
"You do a nice party," he said.
"You liked it?"
"It was pretty good."
"You didn't think it was too much?"
He shrugged. "She's your kid, so no."
"She's your kid, too."
"I know that, but she's been raised by you so she'd expect that type of party. My producer, when I first told him who Melissa was. He asked me if I was sure she was mine."
"Why would he ask that?"
He shrugged. "Oh, he was making sure you weren't some woman showing up eighteen years later out to make a name for yourself."
"Oh," Claire said.
"Yeah, I told him who you were and that shut him up immediately."
She laughed softly.
"I also told him that I'd known all along so it wasn't like you just showed up today."
"Does she know yet that I've given you money all of these years?"
"I haven't brought it up, no."
"She'd have to sort of assume, wouldn't she?" he asked.
"I'd think. It just hasn't come up, and I haven't really known how to bring it up."
"I suppose. Do you think that will make her mad at me?"
"I don't know, John. Maybe. Confused. I'm really not sure."
"Yeah, me either. I can see it going a few ways."
"So, she saw me coming out of your room earlier."
"That means you don't have to pretend you're sleeping in the other bedroom at my house anymore?"
"I've never done that before."
"She never met anyone I was dating. She certainly never knew I was sleeping with someone until I married Stu."
"She didn't say anything?"
"She was fifteen. I think she knew we were going to share a bedroom once we got married."
"I guess. He never stayed here before that?"
"I didn't want her to think it was no big deal."
"Has she yet?"
"Not that I'm aware of. She hasn't told me if she has. I asked her when we came back from your house in March if she wanted me to take her to go on the pill or something."
"What did she say?"
"She said no."
"Poor Sean," John said with a soft chuckle.
"Yeah, I don't think she has gotten there yet."
"Well, she knows you'd take her, though, that's good."
"Yes, but she's going to be gone for three months!"
"If it came to it I could take her."
"You'd do that?"
"I really don't want to be a grandfather at thirty-seven, so yes. That's assuming she'd tell me."
"I don't know if she would."
"I don't either, I'm guessing probably not."
She laughed softly.
"What?" he asked?
"Oh, nothing, just trying to picture you in the waiting room of Planned Parenthood or something."
"Laugh away. If she asked I'd take her."
"I know. It's still funny."
"Ha ha," he said, kissing the top of her head.
"I like this," she whispered.
"What?" he asked.
She shrugged, glancing up at him. "Just sitting with you like this. Watching TV. Kids downstairs doing their thing."
"Oh," he said with a nod. He glanced out the glass doors that led to her backyard. She'd had the food and everything catered so there was no mess to clean up, but the tent was still out there. "It is nice," he said.
"Different than when we're at your house," she said.
He frowned a bit. "Different bad?"
"No," she said. "I didn't say that. Just relaxing where I feel like when we visit you you think you have to show us stuff."
"Oh," he said. "I guess I don't want you to be bored and not want to come back."
"And I guess, other than in your room, we haven't gotten any time to just relax like this."
"No," he said. "We can now, right? I mean, she knows. So you can sit with me like this all you want now."
"You still feel weird?"
"I get it, I guess."
He shifted a bit so they were facing each other now instead of her leaning against him.
"So none of her friends have ever seen you kiss a boyfriend?"
"Not until today, no," she said. She frowned a bit.
"Nothing. I'm just wondering if any of them ever saw me kiss Stu. Maybe, I doubt it."
"Her best friend Cindy came to the wedding, so she would've."
"Not an affectionate guy?"
She shrugged. "I think he took his cue from me and I wasn't really into being affectionate in front of Melissa."
"But I'm okay?"
"You kiss me!"
He chuckled softly, leaning in to do just that.
"It's because you have very kissable lips, Princess," he murmured before kissing her again.
"I think you think so."
"I think I know so. I wanted to be that lipstick tube that day of detention."
She blushed, laughing softly. "Shut up."
"I did. At that moment there was nothing I wanted more. I didn't think it would happen."
"So you acted like an ass."
He slid a hand to her top, working one of the buttons.
"John," she whispered.
"Relax," he said. "I know the rules even if I haven't been in a house full of teenagers before now since I was one myself."
He worked another button slowly, watching to see if she'd stop him or trust him not to try to undress her with a basement full of teenagers a floor below them.
"Now, I get way better than that lipstick tube ever did," he whispered, sliding a finger over the top of a breast.
"You think so?"
"Thank you," she whispered.
"I'd never been jealous of an inanimate object before that day, or since then."
She nipped her lower lip with her top teeth, tucking it in a bit as she did that and he groaned softly. He leaned in to kiss her again.
"How late are they going to stay anyway?"
"I don't know."
"And we can't go upstairs…"
"No! When their parents' come to get them I can't be in bed."
"I suppose," he murmured.
"You can go to bed," she said. "I know you're tired."
"I'll have the plane to sleep. You let me sleep until noon," he shrugged. "I'm all right."
"Is that why you look like you don't really have sleeping in mind?"
"No. I look like I don't have sleeping in mind because you're here and I'm leaving tomorrow and don't know when I'll see you again."
"Alone," he murmured.
"Yeah, yeah. Where's the kid she went to prom with?"
"He was here earlier."
"Ah. I guess I missed him."
He shrugged. "Just wanted to size him up compared to Sean I guess."
"Tell Sean what he was like, you mean?"
"Well, that, too, sure."
She laughed softly. "Be nice. Especially since they have to be on a bus together."
"I know, but if I twist the knife a little bit I doubt I'll have to worry about what she does in his hotel room."
"There is that."
"I have an idea," he said.
"There was a pool table downstairs, right?"
"We can go down there, right?"
"Sure," she said with a shrug. "You want to play pool?"
"I want to play pool against you."
"Okay. I'm really not that good."
"Whoever wins gets to choose who's on top tonight."
"John! I just said I'm not that good."
"I highly disagree with that assessment."
"Well, then you better hope if I win I choose the way you want."
"This is what you want to do?"
"Barring going up to your room and deciding who gets to be on top another way, yes."
He shrugged. "Maybe I just want to be a cool dad for a night."
"Sure," she said, standing then.
"I'd win either way, but you'd never know if I did cheat, Princess," he said as he stood from the couch.
"At pool," he said evenly. "I think you'd find out if I did any other kind of cheating."
"Between Melissa and Claude…"
"He likes you."
"We've made him work harder to get Paula to let him talk to his kids."
"Well, good, I hope for their sake it works."
"Me, too. He loves them, really."
"You know, we don't have to play pool for you to …"
"It'll be fun."
"For you," she said.
He slid his arms around her, drawing her to him for a kiss. "I'll make it good for you, too."
"That's what they all say."
"Ouch," he said.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com