***Chapter Twelve***
Word Count: 2,367

"Fuck," he murmured at the sound of her daughter coming downstairs again. "Doesn't she ever go to sleep like she's supposed to?"


"What?" He drew away so that she could get up from the couch. He'd dated women with kids a time or two, but he'd never until now spent any substantial amount of time with those kids. He'd certainly never been around three year olds before. The week after they'd come back from their dad's house she hadn't been like this. Now, though, it seemed she found every excuse under the sun to put off going to sleep as she was supposed to.

"What honey?" she said, walking to the stairs.

"Thirsty," Betsy called from the stairs.

"You can get a sip of water. You had some not long before you went to sleep."

"Okay," she said, running from the stairs towards her bathroom no doubt where she'd get her sip of water.

It was a school day tomorrow so Bryce was in his room, presumably sleeping. Bryce had a phone in his room, but John didn't get the impression he talked on it often other than to Kyle and a handful of other friends.

"Why does she do that?" he asked.

Claire shrugged, taking her seat next to him on the couch again. She slid her hand into his, lacing her fingers through his. When she did that, reached for him and touched him because she wanted to it made him forget about being annoyed that a little girl ruled the house in some respects.

She brought his hand to her mouth, kissing it before running her tongue over one of his knuckles.

"She's three?" she answered with a shrug.

"I don't get it," he said.

"I don't either, but I imagine you and I were the same way."

"Really? You think I would have gotten away with that once in my house? Never mind every day this week."

"John," she whispered.

"Don't worry, I don't think you're too soft on her or anything, but she always seems to choose the worst possible times to do it." Like when he was just about to unbutton her shirt or remove it the couple of times she'd been wearing a shirt that pulled on instead of buttoned. Two nights ago it was about the time Claire was about to use her mouth on him in a way he very much enjoyed. That hadn't been for just some water, though, and by the time Claire had finished with whatever she'd needed. Well, she wasn't much in the mood to continue anymore.

"I know," she said.

They got back to the kissing they'd been doing before Betsy wanted her drink of water. It was clear, though, that was all that was going to happen for the most part. Claire was afraid Betsy would come downstairs, which John could understand he supposed. He could tell by the way she was kissing him that her attention wasn't completely on him, an ear on the stairs for the sound of footsteps. He even drew his hand out from under her shirt after a few minutes because it just wasn't as much fun touching her when she wasn't as invested in it as he was.

"I have an idea," he said.


"Mm. Yes. I do get them once in a while."

"Very funny."

"They go to their dad's next weekend, right?"

"Yes," she said, sounding cautious.

They hadn't gone last weekend because it was the weekend before school started and they had last minute shopping to do and whatever.

"Well, how about me and you go downtown that Saturday."

"Okay. Sure."

"And stay the night somewhere. Maybe get a room with a Jacuzzi or something."



"I don't know…"

"Who's going to know? And so what if they do know? It's a night in a hotel, I'm not asking to move in with you."

"And what are you going to do with Randy?"

"I don't know. There are a couple of people at the station who'd take him."

"I just don't know that's a good idea."

"Come on. When was the last time you got out of this house?"

"I've been to your house!"

"Not the same thing at all. Come on. You work and you have your kids. I get that, I do, but you deserve a night for you, too."

"I know," she sighed softly.

"If I can find a place for Randy to stay and a place for us to stay is that a yes?"

"Sure," she said.

"Would both nights be doable?"

"That'd be pretty expensive."

"I didn't ask for your commentary about the cost, Claire. I asked if you'd be willing to do it."

"Yes," she said.

"Really? Yes? Just like that."



"Did you ask expecting me to say no?"

"Kind of. I figured it'd take some convincing or a few days for you to think it over. Something."

"I'd love to spend a weekend with just you."

"Yeah?" he asked, sliding his arms around her to gather her onto his lap. He slid a hand along her thigh, pushing her skirt up a bit as she shifted on his lap. Her mouth found his in perfect time with his fingertip grazing her inner thigh before sliding inside of her panties.

"Uh huh," she said as she reached between his legs to work the fastening on his jeans.

"You just want to have sex again without kids a floor above you."

"There is that," she whispered. He worked with her, shifting a bit so she could slide his jeans down enough to take him inside of her.

They both moaned softly into their kiss at the feel of being together like this again. If he wasn't careful he was liable to say something really, incredibly mushy sounding one of these times. He'd never felt as emotionally invested in sex with anyone but her, being inside of her.

"Hmm, maybe I should rethink the downtown bit then," he murmured as she found his ear and kissed it.


"There's so much to do downtown it'd be tempting to leave our room more than we have to. Who wants to spend a weekend downtown and then say we did nothing?"

"What other option is there?"

He chuckled, finding her neck and nipping the skin there. He slid both hands further under skirt, cupping her ass to draw her further onto him. He was getting pretty used to sex with clothes on anymore, or the bare minimum necessary removed. It was fun and all, but he wanted her naked again because sex with her undressed was way more fun as far as he was concerned.

"I don't know. We could just stay here in Shermer and do nothing all weekend?"

"That would be a terrible waste of money," she whispered.

"I disagree more than I can express to you."

She bit her lip as she moved along his length.

"How confident are you they're asleep?"

"Uh, pretty," she said. He supposed that should've been obvious. They'd fooled around when she wasn't sure if they were asleep or not, but hadn't had sex until she was sure they were all conked out for the night.

"Can I talk you into moving to the floor?"

"My skirt will get all full of lint and pet hair if I do that."

"I didn't have you laying on the floor in mind when I asked."

"Oh," she said.

She'd let him behind her once so he wasn't sure if maybe asking for her to let him be that way was too much for her. Until she slid off his lap and slid out of her skirt.

"I guess you are sure they've fallen asleep," he said, watching as she went to her hands and knees on the floor. He'd assumed by her taking off her skirt she was dismissing his idea.

"I am, yeah," she whispered.

He slid behind her, admiring the view of her like this. He knew she was self-conscious of her figure. Kids or no kids he thought she was still as stunning to look at as she had been that day of detention. He leaned in, placing a kiss against one of her ass cheeks before moving to slide into her. She liked it this way. He'd learned that the other time. She wasn't a faker and she wasn't shy about telling him what felt good and what felt better than good. Him behind her, pressing into her as deep as he could go was better than good for her.

Him, too.

Only drawback, he finished too fast. Especially tonight like this, mindful that someone could come downstairs. She'd shut the door to the room they were in behind her and everything, but kids could be pretty fucking stealthy he was coming to learn by hanging out around here with hers. The little girl especially. She was sneaky as hell, purposely or not. Or maybe it was just that he wasn't used to kids.

He grabbed for the blanket on the couch and slid it over them once he finally pulled out of her. He hated doing that almost as much as he hated going home at night when it was time for them to go their separate ways. He slid next to her then, sliding an arm around her.

"So which won out? Downtown or something else?"

She turned to face him then, running a fingertip over his lower lip. He kissed her finger as she did that and he loved the look in her eyes that flashed for the second or two he did that.

"You decide."

"Yeah? So you'd be okay with me getting us a room for two days knowing I have no desire to leave the room other than for food?"

"If that's what you want."

"What about what you want?"

"I just said either is fine. And it is. It's your idea. Maybe you want to go downtown and do some things."

"Let me see what I can work out with Randy. What will you do with yours?"

"You are joking, right?"

"No," he asked with a frown.

"I have two techs who would take them at the drop of a hat."

"I suppose," he said. She brought them to work with her now that the kids were in school. When they were home the week before school started she hadn't done that.

"Is there someone who can go with Randy if he has to get taken to a scene?"

"Yeah, they'd call a handler in from another town more than likely. There's a guy on the squad who could go with Randy to the basic, run of the mill things like drugs or something."

"Well, that's good."

"Yeah," he said, leaning down and kissing her shoulder before finding a breast.

"I'm sorry if Betsy annoys you."

"She doesn't annoy me. I'm sorry if I make you think she does. I'm just not used to it and she didn't seem this bad last week."

"It's new for her, you know? Having to share my attention, my time with anyone but her brother."

"I suppose."

"She'll get better."

"Bryce, on the other hand."

"What about him?"

John shrugged. He couldn't put his finger on it, but he got the distinct impression her oldest son was not at all happy John was hanging out at the house with their mom as much as he was. He tried to be nice about it. He asked the kids about their days and stuff. Betsy always answered him without hesitation. Bryce, however, wanted nothing to do with John's attempts at getting to know him.

"I don't think he likes me."

"He doesn't know you."

"I get the distinct impression he doesn't want that to change."

"I can talk to him…"

"No! Don't you dare do that. He's either going to like me or not, that's between us. I don't want you to interfere as if I'm incapable or relying on you to smooth things over. That wouldn't be a good impression-maker either."

"Are you trying to make an impression?"

"Uh, yeah," he asked with a frown. "What kind of question is that? What do you think I'm doing here exactly?"

"I really don't know sometimes."

"What does that mean? How could you not."

"I don't know. I keep waiting for you to wake up one day and realize I withheld a huge piece of information from you."

"You're right. There are mornings I wake up and question my sanity for wanting you as my girlfriend. I do, though, Kyle or not."

"I just, God, I have so much going on."

"You're a mom and you're trying to hold your family together knowing that you have to keep very important things from them. That's a lot to deal with. That doesn't mean you can't have a boyfriend and someone to talk to about it."

"Just what you want to hear about, Bryce."

He shrugged. "You're right. I'd rather not, but he's a part of your history and he's your kids' father. Even if you didn't get the fun part of making them with him. I get that. If you need to talk to someone, well, I'd rather it be me than Brian."

She scoffed softly at that.

"I should get ready for bed."

"I know," he said softly, sliding his hand lower between her legs and into her panties.

"That's not getting me ready for bed."

"I think it is getting you ready for bed. Just think how exceptionally you'll sleep."

"God. Once wasn't enough?

"Once is never enough. If you let me stay here one night I'll show you that again…"

"I can't."

"One weekend they're at their dad's."

"Well, sure, then."

"Next weekend we'll do something different."

"John, you really don't have to."

"I know I don't have to. It just seemed like it'd be fun."

"A Jacuzzi does sound heavenly."

"Yeah?" he asked, moving on top of her.

"Uh huh."

"Heavenly enough to let me ensure you sleep real well tonight?"

"Me? Or you?"

He chuckled, sliding inside of her. "Both."

"Well, in that case, since it's for both of our sakes."

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