Chapter Thirty-One
Word Count: 2,730

Detroit, Michigan

Melissa was sort of getting used to being with them together. It was still pretty weird, though. There were some days she was sure she'd wake up to all of this being a dream. Stu would still be alive and none of the past year would have happened.

They'd gotten in late last night and the two of them made their way to her mom's room while anyone else staying at the hotel did the same. Not too many were, though, because Mom had chosen a pretty nice hotel. Melissa nor John were surprised by that.

"Is it okay if Sean comes and goes swimming with me?" she asked.

"Sure," her mom said.

"Okay," she said. "I figure that will give you and Dad time to talk without me around."

"You don't have to go swimming!"

Melissa shrugged. She didn't mind. She had to imagine her mom was pretty shaken up this week. She knew she was and she wasn't dating her dad. They probably wanted to have sex, too, but after her crazy emotional meltdown wouldn't do anything to make her think she wasn't their priority. She knew she was. Her mom's especially. Dad's not as much. She was, but she knew it was a different train of thought. She got it. He hadn't had to think about her first until recently.

Like his not taking her to school. She was totally okay with him not doing it. He was all apologetic about it, but while she'd really wanted him at her graduation. Well, she was sort of looking forward to her mom dropping her off at Wellesley. She wasn't sure she would have said anything if he'd wanted to bring her, but it wasn't an issue so she hadn't had to deal with that. She wouldn't have hated it if he did go with them, but she also knew her dad wasn't like them when it came to things. He had a super nice house, but he wasn't comfortable in it. Not really. Even she could tell that without knowing anything about his past.

She was surprised they'd been getting along as well as they had this summer. Sure, it'd only been a little over a month, but they'd been together virtually every minute of every day. The only times she wasn't with him was doing laundry and showering. This week he'd been pretty uncertain. Afraid of what her mom would say to her probably. Afraid of what she'd think of him probably, too.

She wasn't sure what to think. Was it unreasonable to think he had another child? Probably not when it got down to it, but he'd seemed pretty adamant and steadfast that it wasn't possible. Her mom couldn't see that because she wasn't on the bus with them. Melissa saw it, though, and she believed him.

He listened to her music. She loved that about him. He wasn't completely bored by it. Sean had tried to listen to some classical and hadn't been interested at all. John wanted her to make a playlist, and she was pretty confident he'd actually listen to it. She was one of a few who really liked classical, so she felt like a kid in a candy store at the excitement of creating a list for him so he'd want to listen to more.

"Where are you going?" Dad asked when he got back to the room from getting them coffee.

"To swim with Sean," she said.

"Oh," he said. "You want this?" he asked, gesturing to the coffee cup.

"Sure," she said. "Thanks."

"Where's Sean?"

"Meeting me down by the pool. He said he'd just change down there."


"I'll be back in like an hour so you and Mom can talk or whatever."

"Uh, we didn't ask you to leave."

"I know. I want to swim. The pool looked great and," she shrugged. "You're dating, not married. You want to see just her, too."

"Well, yeah, but…"

"I know," she said, blushing, knowing he was thinking about Phoenix. She'd spazzed. It was the first time she'd ever come face-to-face with either of them doing something for one another versus her. Everything until then had been focusing on her. She hadn't known what to do with that when she'd been faced with it. Who really wanted to think about her parents having sex? And purposely wanting to have sex? She shook her head, dismissing that thought from her head. She still didn't want to think about it.

"An hour. So, be all presentable when I get back because Sean may be with me."

He scoffed at that. "Only because Sean may be with you?"

"You don't want to embarrass me!"

"I don't," he admitted. "Enjoy your swim."

"Thanks," she said, letting the door close behind her.

John watched the door closed with a shake of his head.

He set the cup holder with the two remaining cups of coffee for Claire and him on the dresser, realizing Claire must be in the bathroom.

He grabbed his cup then, bringing it to the bed that he and Claire were sharing for the weekend.

"Holy shit," she said when she came out of the bathroom.

"Hello to you, too."

"I didn't hear you come in."

"Apparently," he said with a soft chuckle. "Were you expecting another man to be sitting on our bed?"

"No! I just wasn't expecting to see you sitting there. Melissa left too?"

"She did. Swimming she said with Sean."

"She asked me if she could."

"Ah, okay," he said, eyeing her. "Laziness becomes you."

"I'm not lazy."

"Okay. Sleeping in becomes you."

"I was tired."

"It's been a rough week."

"It has."

"I have a new appreciation for hotel towels."

"Why?" She frowned a bit.

"Because they make it abundantly clear you're wearing nothing but the towel, and I like that."

"I wasn't expecting you to be in here and I forgot my clothes when I went to shower."

"I've seen you with less than that towel on several times now, Princess."

"I know, I just wasn't expecting it this time."

"Come over here and let me see how little else you have on."


"Is going to be gone for an hour she said. So we can "talk or whatever" was how she phrased it."

"Did she?"

"She did."

"Maybe she thinks we should talk."

"We are, aren't we? Talk while you walk over here. Talk while I investigate what's underneath the towel."

"You know what's underneath the towel."

"I want to see it again. Now. My memory may not be so good."


"What do you want to talk about?"

"I don't know. Melissa…"

"Apparently knows her mom and dad might want to have sex."

"Yes, but…"

"Come on. We're not doing anything wrong. Wouldn't you like her to see that sex can be healthy?"

"Not with Sean around her!"

"Yeah, I don't think this summer has gone at all how he'd planned," he said as she met him at the bed.

"No?" she asked as he sat up on the bed and tugged at the corner of the towel.

"No," he said, sucking in a breath a bit once the towel was gone and he could look at her.

"Stop that," she whispered.

"No," he whispered, reaching up a bit to capture a breast in his mouth as he slid his hands over her hips and waist until he met the small of her back and her ass. He groaned at the feel of her in his hands.

"You swimming?"

"No," she whispered.

"Good," he murmured.


"I think that would show if you were wearing a swimsuit."

"I don't care."

"You may not want Melissa seeing I left you a hickey there."

"Maybe," she whispered as he kissed along her stomach.

"Thinking we're doing things and seeing physical proof may be different."

"Possibly," she said, gripping his shoulders when he kissed her hip and then stood up.

"Hi," he whispered kissing her as she worked his shirt off and then his jeans.

"Hi," she whispered.

"I missed you."

"You, too."

"After August is going to suck," he whispered as she ran her hands along his chest and lower to touch him.


"We're not going to be driving distance from you once we drop her off. I've gotten spoiled seeing you this often."

"I'm picking a few days, though, right?"

"Yup," he said as she moved onto the bed.

"Where are you going?"

He chuckled. "Not far. I assure you," he whispered, walking to the door and working the chain. "Remind me to get up and undo it."

"Okay. Can I tell you something?"

"Anything," he said as he worked at touching her.

"I'm looking forward to those few days."

"Me, too," he whispered with a groan as he slid inside of her.


"Uh huh. Making love to you shouldn't be on a schedule."

"I agree."

He chuckled, kissing her. "Somehow I thought you would."

"I want days in bed with you," she whispered after he'd finished.

"Yeah? Funny, me, too. It'll only be a couple in September, but probably around her second semester you can come down to Tampa for all the days in bed together you want."



"I like the sound of that."

"Me, too."

"I thought it was just women that wanted days in bed together."

"I don't know about other men and I don't know about other men with you. I want days in bed with you. I've never had that urge before."


"Yes. To just disappear with you and do little that requires clothes."

"Speaking of clothes," she whispered.

He chuckled. "Yeah, I'll get mine back on."

"At least your shorts."

"Can I ask you something?" he asked as she stood from the bed to go to the bathroom.

"You can."

"She's going to be there for four years, right?"


"Is she going to live on-campus the whole four years?"

"I don't know that she's thought that far ahead."

"Well, I was thinking," he shrugged.


"What if we went in on a condo or something together there? Somewhere she could live if she wanted to. Somewhere we could stay when we visit her that's not a hotel."


He shrugged. "Just think about it."

"I will. I'm not saying no, I just wasn't expecting that."

"I get that."

"And you'd want to buy it together?"

"Well, that would be the idea, yes. We'd each have our own places and then we'd have our place."


"You don't like that idea?"

"Our place wouldn't be permanent."

"That one place may not be, but the idea could be very permanent."

"I suppose."

"Think about it. Obviously we have time until her sophomore year."

"Obviously. And you'd want that type of financial commitment with me?"

"I want every type of commitment with you, Claire. If I haven't made that abundantly clear I'm sorry I'm not good at making my intentions clear. Yes. I'd buy a place with you."

"We could have Missy look at areas maybe when she gets there and see."

"You could do that, yes. Obviously we wouldn't want something way out of the way for her so she'd have say."

She slid the chain off once she'd finished getting dressed. She was just wearing shorts and a top, something to lounge in he supposed. It allowed her to slide back into bed with him so he wasn't complaining.

"Think she's going to freak out seeing us lying in bed together?"

"She's seen us lying in bed together."

"I know, but not in the middle of the day."

"She'll be fine."

"What's going on with her and Sean?"

"Nothing that I can tell. I think they kiss when they can, but as far as I can tell that's it."


"I think she likes him, but there are things about him she's not crazy about. He's worried about what's going to happen at school in the fall."

"He knows there are no boys on her campus, right?"

"I'm not sure I've told him that piece of information."

"But they're getting along?"

"They are. No arguments or anything. He wasn't too thrilled her bunk was right by mine."

Claire laughed softly.

"What did he expect, I wonder?"

"I don't know. Two months with her on a bus and you not around."

"I suppose."

"He's a twenty-two year old virgin and doesn't want to be that anymore."

"And he doesn't like any of the singers?"

"Oh, he likes Farrah plenty, but he is not at all her type."

"She has a type?"

"Uh. Yeah. Doctors."

"That's right. She's a nurse. Doctors can't be too fond of what she's doing."

"You asked what her type was. You didn't ask me if she was currently dating anyone."

"No, I suppose I didn't."

She leaned in and kissed him.

"I was also thinking," he said.

"You've been doing a lot of thinking."

"I know. I have time to think when we're on the road like this."

"Tell me."

"Well, you gave me a key to your house."


"I was kind of hoping that would mean I could have some things there. And you at my place."


He shrugged. "Yeah, you know. Clothes, a toothbrush, shampoo, whatever. Stuff. Things."

"You want things at my house?"

"I want us to have things at one another's houses. Like, you know, they'd be our houses. I certainly have space to have whatever you need brought into the house to design down there."

"You do," she said softly with a giggle.

"I'd love to have you waiting for me when we're done with this tour."

"At your house?"


"I think I could manage that."

"That may be our opportunity for days undisturbed."

"Except Dominic."

"You can cook. I'll give him a week off."

"I like that."



"All right. Let's do it then."

"God, you're still in bed! Didn't I give you enough time?" Melissa said.

"We're dressed," John said. "See," he said, drawing the covers back.

"Yeah, yeah."

"Hopefully you stayed dressed as well."

"I went swimming!"

"Just saying," he said. "Where's Sean?"

"He felt weird coming up here so he's down in the lobby waiting for me to shower and change."

"Ah," John said.

"You're leaving again?" Claire asked.

"Yeah, there's stuff around we can walk to."

"Okay," she said. "Keep your phone on."

"I know, Mom."

"I gather she's heard that a time or two."

"Just a few," Claire said.

John chuckled, kissing her nose and forehead.

"Do we tell her thank you for leaving us alone like that?"


John chuckled softly.

"She's leaving us alone again it sounds like."

"I know."

"You have anything to do before I have to get my nap in?"

"No. Why?"

"Good. That means you can stay here with me."

"I can."

"That sounds fun."

"It does."

"I'm going to do a DNA test," he said softly. He'd decided yesterday after talking with Larry. The woman was insistent her son was his. No one he'd talked to who knew her could remember her ever saying anyone but John was the kid's father. They'd decided it was the most expedient way to get this shit cleared up.

"Are you?"

"Yeah. It's the only way to one hundred percent set the record straight."


"They may wonder why I didn't do one for her," he said, gesturing to the bathroom.

"I know."

"Just preparing you for that."

"I get it. Thanks."

"If you do go out today, take my keys with you and get copies made."


He shrugged. "If it gets bad at your house. You know, reporters, your brother, or whatever. Go to my place. They can't get in there."

"I know."

"So, make copies of my keys so you can get in."

"Okay," she said.

"I'll warn Dominic you may come so he's prepared."

"I doubt I'll need to. I could go to Ally's house if I had to."

"I like the idea of you in my house."


"I know, but I still like the idea of you in my bed next time I talk to you."

"You do have a very nice TV."

"I do."

"I could get used to watching it before going to sleep."

"I know! It's addicting."

"You're addicting," she said, sliding a fingertip along his jaw.

"Back at you, Princess."

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