John reached for his cigarettes and lighter next to his bed as he joined her on the bed again. He had no idea knowing someone was at his house during the day could be a turn-on. Not entirely the case, but he'd certainly liked the idea he could come home for a while.
"What was that for?" she asked.
It was close to one hundred degrees so it was pretty fucking hot in the bedroom. Almost too hot for him to follow through with his idea of coming home during his free couple hours to have sex with her.
He was finding that there was very little to stop him from following through with those ideas pertaining to her. He got those ideas a lot, too. Who knew being with the same woman could actually be enjoyable?
"What was what for?" he asked, taking a drag off the cigarette. He offered her one, which she didn't take. He'd discovered over the past couple of months that she didn't smoke regular cigarettes. Actually, she hadn't smoked anything that he knew of in the past couple of months. He didn't either often really anymore. Every once in a while, though, he was in the mood for that instead of a beer.
"Coming home like that?"
"I have to have a reason to want you?"
"Well, no, of course not. It's just it's not even noon yet. You were at work for barely two hours."
"I went in at nine, remember?"
"Oh, right," she said. She'd been sound asleep when he left for work so he doubted very highly she remembered. "Someone scheduled with you early."
"Right. It was a pretty time intense shoot and wasn't one Ronda could schedule in the middle of the day in between other appointments. You know?"
She didn't answer him and, in fact, drew away from him, taking the sheet with her as she sat up.
"So you were taking pictures of a woman?"
"Yeah," he said with a slight frown.
"Yeah," he said cautiously. "I do that."
"So, you get horny taking those kind of pictures?"
"Well, no," he said. "I mean, they're just pictures."
"You don't come home needing that after taking baby pictures."
"Of course not."
"So you do react."
"It got me thinking I guess, so it was a reaction."
"Thinking about sex."
"You've been doing this for years."
"Who have you come home to before?"
"Claire, come on. What's your deal?"
"Me? What did I do?"
"You get mad because I dance with a guy in public at a club, but I'm supposed to be okay with you getting like that taking pictures of women naked alone. Anything could happen and I would never know. You can bet if something happened between me and a guy I was dancing with you'd know."
"As if she'd walk in on you."
"Well, no, but she could. I'm not the one who's had my face plastered all over the various newspapers with a different guy every other month for the past four years either."
"No because you haven't been with the same girl for that long."
"Really Claire? I came home, here, to you! You're in my house. Are you listening to yourself? Why would I have you here, want you here if I wanted anyone else?"
"Yeah, but I can't help but think, wonder, you know, how many have you done things with when you reacted to them?"
"John," she said.
"I'm serious. I'm not going to say I don't ever react, but I'm not looking at them that way. I certainly wouldn't hit on someone. The only time I've ever reacted and acted upon it was with Tina and Lily. And they initiated."
"That makes me feel better!"
"Well, on the other hand, I saw them more than once over the span of more than three years."
"That doesn't help!"
"Claire, I swear to God I have never done anything with a client other than those two. And, if you didn't notice, those two are redheads like someone else I know. I maintain that's what I reacted to more than them."
"What is it you want me to do? Those shoots make me money and I'm good at my job."
"I know," she whispered. She was still sitting up, clutching the sheet around her.
"And I realize to you that may not mean much, my needing to make money because if you didn't want to you could not work and your dad would ensure you have a good life. I can't do that. I have nothing without my job. So I'm at a loss. Are you telling me to stop?"
"No," she murmured.
"Then what? Don't come home again?"
"I don't know."
"I thought of you. Do you get that? I thought of wanting to come here and see you," he ran a fingertip along her arm. "Your body."
"I get it. I just don't understand why you're jealous of me dancing."
"Because those guys don't know you've got me."
"Those women don't either!"
"Those women aren't coming to me to get laid, Claire. They're coming to me to get their pictures taken."
"Jesus. Yes. It's art. Maybe not the kind of art you like, but that doesn't mean other people don't. I never said you can't dance with anyone else. I said I don't like it, and I don't. I'm entitled to my opinion just as you are on this. I understand you don't like it, but I promise you I act professionally."
"I'm not going to sleep with anyone else."
"That is very good to know, Princess," he said. "I believe you. However, you did come to my house one night with your blouse ripped and a bump on your head because a guy attacked you. I mean, what would've happened if you'd been a little drunker and didn't at least try to get away at first? What if whatever distracted him hadn't happened? Do you think about that?"
"Me, too, every time you go out without me I think about it."
"Do you? I don't think you realize how much that bothers me. It bothered me that night more than I thought possible considering we hadn't talked in months and we weren't involved. I don't even want to know how I'd react if that happened now. I'm pretty sure I'd hunt him down and you wouldn't be able to bail me out of jail when I got done with him."
"I just," she shrugged.
"If you wanted to the next time someone I know well enough has an appointment I could ask them if you could sit in. You'd see then that there's absolutely nothing sexual about it."
"But you came home…"
"Yes, because I knew I had you to come home to. If I hadn't I would've gone about my day like any other day. I came home here to you because I could. Do you get what a huge thing that is for me? I mean, two months is a long time for me."
"Me, too," she whispered.
"So, is this it then? I pissed you off and you've reached your allotted time with me, or what?"
"I never said that!"
"Well, I don't know. Maybe you're itching to move on. I know you like to do that."
"You should talk!"
"I'm not the one getting mad at you for coming home to me to have sex."
She slid her knees up, setting her chin on them. "You really think I'd just move on?"
"That's what you do."
"I wasn't having sex with them. I didn't like them because they weren't you."
"Do you want me to ask?"
"No," she said.
"I'd do it."
"I know you would."
"I mean, shit Claire you've basically been living here for the last month. I'm not a complete asshole. I like you here."
"I like being here."
"I more than like you being here as much as you are."
"Me, too," she whispered.
"You're even learning to cook."
She laughed softly at that.
"Why you're teaching me better than my mom ever has I don't know."
"Maybe I have more incentive to teach you than she ever did."
"It's kind of nice to come home to food I didn't cook or buy."
"I don't think I'm going to cook tonight."
"Nah, it's too hot. I'll pick up a pizza or something on the way home."
"Are we okay?"
"Yes," she said, glancing at him.
"You mad at me?"
"I wasn't mad, just," she shrugged.
"I get it. Really, it was thoughts of you that put me in that mood not her."
"I don't think I even want to know what you were thinking about me."
"I don't know, do I?"
He shrugged. "It was just thoughts of you. I don't know. Your willingness to do just about anything is a turn on, which gets me thinking sometimes."
"You mean in my parents bathtub wasn't adventurous enough for you?"
"Your parents' bathtub," he scoffed. "You could fit four people in that thing and still have room left over. It was pretty nice, though."
"I thought so, too."
"It was only a little weird and only because it was in your parents' room."
"My brother and I used to go in there all of the time."
"Not to have sex I hope, or that might explain some things about your brother's preferences."
She rolled her eyes, but laughed so she knew he was teasing her. "No."
They'd gone up to her parents' lake house for a couple of days two weeks ago. It was a nice place, not that he'd expect any less out of the Standishes. Her parents' bathtub was really a hot tub. Claire had been all for using it, John had been a little hesitant. It wasn't a lack of wanting to, it was more it seemed sort of…wrong to have sex with their daughter in their bedroom. She'd convinced him, though.
As if it ever took her much to convince him. She hadn't been quite as bold as the day in his garage. He wasn't sure why either. He'd certainly told her he'd liked her doing it. Maybe she just wasn't comfortable enough to yet. He had no idea. She had never called him to ask him to come home on his lunch. So, this was the first time he'd come home in the middle of the day for that purpose. He'd come home a couple of times to eat lunch with her because she'd woken up late and didn't have enough time to get ready and get to him before his next appointment.
"So, if I do this again you're not going to think it's because I took pictures like that again, are you?"
"I don't know. Are you?"
"I have no idea. I just wasn't entirely sure you'd actually want to, you know."
"I've never said no to you."
"No," he said. The only time she hadn't wanted to was a legitimate female reason and she'd more than made up for that by going down on him both times it'd been the case so far. He certainly didn't consider that saying no.
"Are you going to be home when I get home tonight?"
"Yes," he said. "My plans will not keep me out as late as you'll be out."
"I was just wondering."
"No, I haven't seen Charlie and Glen in a while so I may be later than I think, but not real late."
"I remember Glen, I'm not sure I remember Charlie."
"Yeah, well, I'd tell you to look in your yearbook, but Charlie isn't in there."
"Never? In four years?"
John chuckled. "No, he always skipped pictures and went out to the football field or something and got stoned instead."
"Is that what you did?"
"I think I was in the yearbook freshman year. I vaguely recall getting my picture taken, but overall yes that's where I was."
"You got stoned at school?"
"Sweets, I got stoned in gym class once. We were playing floor hockey and those of us not on the floor playing were sitting on this huge stack of wrestling mats."
"I remember," Claire said.
"Yeah, well, people could slide behind those."
"Oh my God."
He chuckled. "That shocks you? Really? Come on."
"No, I guess not. I just would never have."
"You did that day of detention. And Vernon could have walked in at any time."
"I know, that's different though."
"It was one time."
"You still did it, and I'm willing to bet you did it more times than just that once while not at school."
"Well, sure," she said. "Not as much as you."
"I have no doubt that's true. Do you realize sometimes I didn't have a choice?"
"What do you mean?"
"Sometimes I was in pain. I couldn't go to the nurse and my parents never took me to a doctor or anything."
She turned onto her side then, touching him. "I never thought about it. I'm sorry."
"I'm not going to say that's the only reason I did it, but there were times it was either that or stay home. Staying home from school wasn't an option."
"I know," she whispered.
"Now it just relaxes me, you know."
"Yes," she said.
"And I don't do anything else."
"I know, John."
"Just being honest."
"I don't think you could be as successful as you've been if you did anything else."
"Maybe. Maybe not. Some people can do it. I get fidgety when I do anything harder. That doesn't produce good product."
She laughed softly at that. "No, I suppose it doesn't."
"Plus, I don't know where to buy stuff anymore, you know? I'd hate to end up in jail over buying from a narc."
"I don't think I could afford to bail you out for those charges."
"Yeah, probably not," he said with a snort. "I need to get back to work, though," he said, glancing at his clock.
"You didn't even eat!"
"I did, too, and it was far tastier than food."
"Now she gets embarrassed. You didn't tell me to stop when I was doing that."
"Well, of course not, it feels good."
"To me, too."
"You don't feel anything when you do that to me."
"I do, too. I feel your skin, the changes in your clit as you get aroused and then as you come down from your orgasm. I taste you, that's a sense, too. The only thing I can't feel is the flush on your skin when you come as hard as you did that first time."
"John," she whispered.
"It's arousing, what can I say?"
"Would you just let me break up with you?"
"What?" he asked. "Where did that come from?"
"Earlier you asked me if I was planning to stop seeing you."
"You'd just let me do that?"
"What would you have me do? We've been doing this for a couple of months, it's not a lifetime. Would I want you to, no, but I'm not going to make someone stay with me either who doesn't want to or expresses the desire to get out."
"Would you find another girlfriend?"
"What? What the fuck are you asking me?"
She shrugged a little. "Just wondering if now that you've had one you'd want another one."
"The one I have, sure."
"So, no desire to find another one."
"I'm just fine where I'm at. What are you asking me?"
"Do I make you happy enough you'd want to try again?"
"Well, you do, sure, but I don't know that I'd rush out to try again, no. Once is challenging enough for me."
"Because it's me. You're not the only one who has doubts you know."
"What do you mean?"
"There are women out there who aren't me. You wouldn't have to worry about being followed or having pictures taken of you."
"I deal with it. I'm surprised they haven't found my house yet."
"Me, too," she said, sounding as if she had in fact thought of that. "I guess we've been more careful than I realized."
"That's good, though, Princess. You need some place you can be where you don't have to worry about anything. I'm glad that's here."
"Me, too," she whispered.
"I'm going to clean up and then I really have to go."
"Do you want me to make you a sandwich or something? There's turkey and cheese and some stuff to make something like that."
"I like that you buy stuff to keep here."
"I keep waiting for you to accuse me of taking over your house."
"Nah. If you were redecorating or moving furniture around I might say something."
"Funny, because that couch…"
"Don't even start. I like my couch just where it is."
"Is that a yes to making you something?"
"That's a you stay right there. I'll grab something on my way back to work."
"You like me in your bed entirely too much."
"You look good there. What can I say?"
"I know the feeling. I liked you in my bed, too."
"Which one?" he asked. Her rooms at her parents' house and lake house were pretty different.
"As long as you're not plotting replacing my sheets with anything resembling what you have we're good."
"Solid colors are so boring."
"I'm a guy, Princess! I'm not supposed to have flowers, stripes, polka dots, or those amoeba looking things anywhere in my bedroom."
"You make up for any dullness I have in here."
"You're welcome," he said from the bathroom. He turned the shower on to let the water warm up. He was really going to be pushing it taking a shower but as hot as it was in here he didn't really have a choice.
"You're sure you want me to come back here tonight?"
"Yes! There isn't a night I wouldn't want you here. If you want to go home I wouldn't get mad or anything, but not wanting you here isn't part of the equation."
"You haven't gone out before."
"I'm not sure what you think I'm going to do while I'm out. We sit around and bullshit. We play pool. We throw some darts. We drink beer. None of which requires my sleeping alone tonight."
"And well, I guess I'm taking advantage of you being a woman of leisure. I imagine sometime soon your dad's going to put you to work."
"God, don't remind me."
John chuckled softly. "Welcome to the adult world, Princess. That also means you being here so much will change I imagine. So I'm enjoying it while I have it."
"As long as you're not tired of me."
That was the craziest thing he'd ever heard in his life.
"Not likely," he said before stepping into the shower.
She joined him a couple of minutes later.
"This is not helping me get back to work on time," he whispered. She was facing away from him, hands against the wall. She made a very enticing picture like that and his body thought so, too.
"Remember when I said quick with you would be fun," she said, glancing at him over her shoulder.
"Uh huh," he said. He discovered that the blush he saw on her chest when she got real excited while not as dark was at the back of her neck, too.
"Now's a time I wouldn't complain about that."
"If you insist."
"I think I kind of do."
He hadn't fooled Ronda one bit, but she didn't say a word when he came back. Then he really wasn't trying to. He was (barely) on time for his next appointment, so what he did with his time in between appointments was his own business. Sometimes he took the time between appointments, brought a camera with him somewhere and just took pictures. He hadn't left with a camera today, and she knew that. Chances were she was more amused than anything, but he didn't ask.
"There he is," Charlie said.
Glen and Charlie were waiting for him at their usual place when he got there. They were about the only two people he kept in touch with from high school. Charlie worked at a gas station, but he was scraping by somehow. John suspected he was supplementing his income by less than legal means. He didn't know for sure, he certainly wasn't going to ask. Glen, however, had worked his way through college first going to a local community college and then transferring to a state college. He'd just finished this spring and was applying for "real" jobs. He was gainfully employed, though, working at a local hospital in their food services area. He'd worked there during high school, too, and they'd been decent enough to let him come back to a job when he was home for summer break last summer.
He ordered a beer as soon as their waitress showed up to take his order. Glen and Charlie had both been here for a little while at least judging by the already empty beer bottles in front of them.
"I told you I'd be here," John said. "It's not my fault some of us have to work for a living."
"Hey, I work."
"I know, Charlie, I was kidding," he said, not wanting to get his friend riled up this early into the night. If he did now, he'd never stop and alcohol made it worse. Charlie reminded John a little bit of his dad in that regard. Alcohol made him mean. He wasn't abusive or anything (that John knew of anyway), but he could be more than a little bit of a jerk to waitresses and stuff.
"You just haven't shown up the past few weeks. You haven't even called me back."
"He called me," Glen said.
"Way to be nice," Charlie said.
"I had to talk to Glen about something else, Charlie, it's nothing personal. Besides, you don't have a phone."
He had no phone, no cable, and he was lucky to have a bed to sleep on. He did have a TV, but had nowhere for anyone to sit but a small couch that had seen better days. Needless to say, Charlie's place was not a popular one to hang out.
"What did you have to talk to him about anyway?"
"John has a girlfriend," Glen said.
"Fuck, Glen, really?" John said, glaring at Glen. There was a reason he'd told Glen and hadn't shown up for the past few weeks to avoid Charlie knowing. He really didn't like Charlie knowing things about his life, and he wasn't sure he wanted him to know about this part of his life yet.
"You do?" Charlie asked. "He does?"
"He does," Glen said. "And you're never going to believe who."
There was a reason John hadn't been in a particular hurry to tell Charlie. He was, as much as John liked him, one of those opportunistic people. John didn't want Charlie suddenly showing up at his house hoping to borrow money or something from Claire.
"Oh come on, you didn't really expect me not to say anything?"
"Yes, I kind of did," John said. "If I wanted the whole world to know I wouldn't have to watch what I do every time I go out with her."
"So, who is it," Charlie asked. "And since when have you even wanted a girlfriend?"
John sighed a bit, taking a sip of his beer with a shrug, glaring at Glen. "Well, go ahead and tell him then since you seem to want to."
"Shut up," Charlie said, clearly not believing Glen.
"I'm serious," Glen said. "He's even had his picture in the paper with her a couple of times."
"I don't get the paper," Charlie said. Neither Glen nor John were surprised by this revelation. "What the hell is she doing with you?"
"And that is why I didn't want you to know, Charlie. You know how to make a guy feel real good about himself. Why wouldn't she want to be with me?"
"Yeah? I own my own business. I have my own house. I have a nice car. So, where's the issue?"
"Yeah," John said cautiously.
"They had a thing back in school," Glen said.
"We did not!" John said.
"You did so," Glen said. "I never realized you actually liked her, but I remember our senior year you seemed pretty interested in who she was going to prom with."
"Everybody like us? No," Glen said.
Us being the burnout crowd who hung out in the smoking section at school versus going to pep rallies. John could honestly say other than the detentions he'd served he hadn't set foot on school property outside of the required school hours in his life.
"I suppose maybe not," John admitted. He hadn't realized he'd been at all obvious about his infatuation with her after that day.
"Who did she go to prom with anyway?" Charlie asked.
"Scott Hansen," John said.
God, he'd hated the guy. He was everything John was not. He'd seen her in the halls talking to him for the month or so before prom and wanted to beat the crap out of him every time he saw him hold her hand or have his arm around her. It was the first, and only, time John had ever experienced jealousy in any shape or form.
"Says the guy who wasn't interested," Glen said.
"So I know his name. It doesn't mean I had a thing with her. Trust me, if we'd had a thing she wouldn't have gone to prom with someone else."
"As if you could've afforded to take her," Glen said.
"Well, no," John said. He wouldn't have been able to more than likely, but he would've given just about anything to have the chance to find out if he could've.
"So she still would've gone with Scott," Charlie offered.
"Shut up," John said.
"Why are you with her anyway?"
"Because I like her. What kind of question is that anyway, Charlie?"
"Well, no offense, but you tend to go for the easy types," he said. "Like that one over there," he said, gesturing to a woman who had been watching their table for a while now.
"Maybe she wants to hit on you, Charlie."
"I don't think so," he said. Charlie was a nice guy, but he'd gotten passed over pretty severely in the good looks department. He'd had acne pretty bad from the time he was like twelve and while it was not as bad now it wasn't completely cleared up. The glasses that he'd had since he was like fifteen didn't help either. Back in high school showering hadn't been a priority for him either. That wasn't the case now, but he still had no self-esteem to put himself out there. He was probably the only twenty-two year old he knew that was still a virgin … and male.
"You could try. Glen and I will have your back."
"Uh no, she's not looking at me."
"Well, I'm not interested. You could try telling her that."
"Really?" Charlie asked.
"Really what? That you could talk to her? What's stopping you except you?"
"No, you're not interested."
"Uh no. What part of girlfriend do you not get?"
"I just never thought I'd see the day. Is she giving you regular sex or what?"
"I'm sorry. What does that have to do with anything?"
"Why else would you not pursue that," he said, gesturing to the woman.
"Because it'd be wrong?"
"It's never stopped you before."
John sighed. Charlie was right. He'd never thought twice about hitting on someone else when he was involved. He hadn't loved anyone else before. Too soon to think that way? Maybe, but he knew how he felt and while he wouldn't say it to these guys he could admit to himself what he felt for her without freaking the hell out. Well, maybe a little bit.
"Different type of involvement," John said with a shrug.
Glen laughed a little at that. John glared at him for opening the door for this conversation to happen.
"You go talk to her, Charlie. You have the same parts I do."
Glen wasn't an option since Glen had been dating the same girl since he was fourteen. They weren't married, weren't even engaged as far as John knew, but they were still together and happy as far as anyone knew. Kelly was pretty cool. A little out there, but they worked together for whatever reason.
"I'll make a deal with you."
"Okay," Charlie said, sounding suspicious.
"You stop asking me about Claire for the night and I'll stop telling you to go talk to her. Though you should. It'd be good for you."
"She'd just say no."
"You'd know that going in, though, at least you'd get the experience of trying."
"Says the guy who never gets told no."
"Do you find her attractive, Charlie?"
"Then go talk to her. The worst she can do is say no."
"You think everyone will."
"You said if I stop asking you about Claire…"
"Yeah. We have a deal then?"
"Fair enough," John said, glancing at the woman in question. Yeah, no chance in hell she'd be interested in Charlie, but he and Glen would've had fun watching him try. And John firmly believed he had to get brave enough to try at some point. He never understood shy people, especially when Charlie wasn't shy around them.
He felt the bed shift next to him and turned onto his other side to gather her to him.
"Hi," she whispered.
"Hi," he said back.
"You had fun?"
"I did," he said. Overall they had a good time. Once they got past the girlfriend thing. As he'd expected the subject of his love life hadn't been completely dropped for the night, but he'd kept to his end of the deal because he hadn't been altogether surprised his friends were curious.
"Good," she said, leaning in to kiss him.
She shrugged. "It was okay."
"Just okay?" It was one of her friend's birthdays. She'd been talking about it for days.
"Yeah, I don't know. It was kind of boring."
He scoffed. "Are you sick, Princess?"
"No, it just was."
"Yeah, I found myself wanting to be here in bed with you hours ago."
"I wasn't home hours ago."
"I knew that!"
"That's the only reason you stayed out?"
"It is," she admitted.
"Huh. Next time page me. I could've come home."
"No, you go out so rarely I wouldn't do that."
"Glen told Charlie about you."
He chuckled softly. "Yeah. I think he thinks I have no chance in hell of ever getting laid again."
"Why?" she asked with a frown.
"I don't know, Princess. Your image?"
"Oh," she said. "Well, I guess no one could claim anything to the contrary."
"No one would believe you. You're just one who'd claim I did."
"You don't think others would pop up and claim you did, too, if I started that."
"Probably," she whispered.
"I wouldn't do that, you know?"
"What we do here is our business. I don't talk about it."
"I wouldn't care."
"You always want to protect me."
"That's a guy's job, isn't it?"
"The right guy."
"Am I the right guy then, sweets?"
"I think so."
"Me, too," he whispered.
She made no effort to do more than kiss him. She didn't seem drunk or anything, but he could tell she was tired. He settled his arm around her then, keeping her close to him. He almost liked this better than sex anyway. He wasn't quite sure what that said about him, but he wasn't going to analyze it too hard tonight.
"Night," she murmured.
"Sweet dreams," he said, kissing her ear.
"Always when I'm here."
"Good to know."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com