Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 12. Wrennie and the Train of Thought

Author’s Note: Have you given a chance to my erotica/romance webserial Jack in the Box on Wattpad? Follow the link, and I hope you enjoy!

Summary: Armed with several degrees in psychology, sociology, and literary studies, as well as a particular set of skills and abilities, Gemma Wright works as a muse for artists in various creative fields. She can inspire a hit album; pull a popular novelist out of a writer’s block; or organize an international tour for a dance company.

Gemma has strict rules and a precise plan for her personal life – and Jack Richards, a famous mystery writer, definitely doesn’t fit her criteria. Perhaps, his direct competitor, John Barnett, with his soft manners and seemingly humble disposition, is a better match for Gemma than the dark and handsome Richards.

Understanding others and leading them to the fulfilling and rewarding life is Gemma’s specialty, but does she know the answers to the same questions when it comes to her own life?

“Nothing’s going on, Thea,” you mumble, and she waves her hand, summoning a waiter.

“Care for a shot, love? If memory serves me right, those few times I saw your arsed up, it had something to do with Dr. Sexy, and we ended up drinking vodka.”

You sigh.

“Vodka was later.” That was after the ridiculous auction, right after your break up with Phil. And you drank then to stop yourself from giving John a ring and inviting him for a consensual and thorough one-off. God, it feels like it’s been in a different life. “The time you’re thinking about was when you and I had wine, and it was mostly about Phil, not John. And no, I don’t want anything.”

A waiter pops a lager and a rum in front of Thea; and a second later the bottom of her now empty shot glass clanks on the table. She pins you down with an intense glare.

“Was our moose riding mate telling the truth? Is Dr. Sexy out of his bloody mind?” Thea isn’t one for pussyfooting, is she?

“No…” you answer, and you sure as hell don’t sound convincing. “The bird she mentioned is John’s TA. And…”

“And they’re shagging?” Ladies and gentlemen! Thea Martin, Master of Subtlety and Delicate Phrasing.

“Thea, I don’t want to have this idiotic conversation! I don’t want to be one of those women who whine about their partners to their girlfriends, over a drink, in a manky pub!” you cry out; and even over Fratellis’ Henrietta it seems everyone heard you and turned their heads to look.

“Yeah, you clearly want to be one of those women who bottle this fuckery up like a bloody stoic, and then their hair starts falling out!” she shouts back at you. Trust Thea to dig her heels in at the very wrong moment. “I’m your fucking best friend. And I bet it’s been fucking going on for… how long? Couple months at least? Yeah, Leary? And I’m learning about it from some daft Canadian in a jumper made of candy floss!”

You glare at her – but when did it stop her?

“So, is your husband sleeping with his secretary, or not?” she hollers, and she’s right. You’ve properly bottled it up, and there’s the cork! It just popped out, and is flying through the pub in a fucking beautiful arch.

“No, my husband isn’t sleeping with his TA!” you yell back, with all your lung capacity. “But he wants to!”

Here we go. Here’s the answer. Hanging above your table.

You pick up Thea’s lager and take one big gulp. She signals a waiter.

“Go for it, Wrennie.” She gives you a soft smile, and brushes her hand to your shoulder. “C’mon, you need to talk about it. I fucking know you. You’ll be in pain, and keep your gob shut. Remember when you cancelled your wedding?”

“Vaguely,” you bite back, and she gives you a pointed look from under a raised perfect eyebrow.

“You were half dead, and we couldn’t help you because you shut down; and Lan was considering slipping some tequila in your morning tea, we were so worried. So, talk. Well?”

You properly don’t want to.

“I’m never around, he feels old. She looks at him like he’s a new pair of Louboutins.” That’s a neat summary, isn’t it?

“Basically, she’s his equivalent of buying a red Ferrari?” Thea asks, and all you have left to do is nod.

“And what do you think about it?” She finishes her lager, watching you over the rim.

“I think that he has every right to buy a Ferrari if he wants to. If he’s not happy with his current car.” You point at your chest with your index finger. “Or he can just continue looking at Ferrari’s around him.”

“And if he decides to take one of them for a test drive?” Thea asks, and you throw a sad look into her glass.

“Then it’ll hurt very, very much,” you mutter, and then hide your face in your hands. You suddenly feel tired. And in pain. And scared.

You want everything to be simple, and easy, and you want to be happy. You want one job; you want to come back home from it, and have dinner with John; you want to be able to take a shower without falling asleep leaning against the wall. You want to see more than a glimpse of your husband a day. Your relationship right now is a PowerPoint presentation of the wonderful man you’ve married, but never see. Here’s a picture of John brushing teeth when you rush out to go to a seminar. Here’s John loading a dish-washing machine when you’re dragging yourself by him towards the bedroom. Here’s John sleeping when you’re back home. Here’s John sleeping when you’re leaving for the lab.

“He might be already sleeping with her,” you mutter. The lager is working. “And the worst thing is that I have no energy to ‘keep my eye on him,’ as our pink clad chum suggested. I just don’t see him enough. He might shave his beard, and I’d probably notice a week later.”

There’s another beer in front of you, and you mentally check your schedule. There’s so much to do tomorrow… Or you can just drink half of this beer, slip into coma, wake up tomorrow around two, be sick all day, and stay home for two days. Sadly, you feel too much like an adult for that.

“And what are you going to do about it, Wren?” Thea asks. She’s finally getting sloshed. She speaks slowly, and her giant hazel eyes are unfocused.

“I’m going to call us cabs, and we will both go home, to our men.”

“Sod it, I just realised… Have you heard her?” Thea suddenly snorts. “The pink chick… She said you needed to fight for your man!”

You help Thea to get up, and the two of you slowly head to the exit.

“I’ve heard her. But trust me, my ‘other woman’ will stomp me into dirt with her perfect stilettos. The sheer size difference, phew!” You wave your hand above your hand, mimicking Eva’s height.

“I think the Canadian meant a lot of blow jobs, and other stuff you normally wouldn’t let him do to you,” Thea announces, and you push her further, leaving the table with a couple of suddenly very interested looking blokes behind the two of you. “Isn’t it what you monogamous chicks do? Keep him happy between the sheets, so he doesn’t bolt.” Thea gives out a sarcastic laugh.

“How’s Jimmy doing these days?” you ask her. You might be a bit dischuffed. She’s one of you horrid ‘monogamous women’ now. No need to be snooty about it.

“Gets plenty of blow jobs,” she answers haughtily, and you steer her through the crowd. Some guy calls after her, and you give her a forceful nudge through the door.

“So, no bolting attempts?” you ask, and start looking for your phone in your clutch.

“Nah. Where will he go?” Thea gives out a dismissive huff. “And me too. I think we’re stuck together.”

The two of you are outside, she pulls the sides of her coat tightly around her glorious tits. She’s unstable on her stilts, and looks very grumpy.

“Fuck me, it’s boring…” She exhales a small cloud of steam and drops her head back, staring into the grey sky. “Monogamy sucks cock. And shag has gotten dull. Like a vinyl…” She twirls her finger in the air. “Same thing, again and again…”

You’ve finally gotten her a cab; you kiss her cheek, and send her off. When you’ve climbed into yours and given the cabbie the address, you drop your head onto the back of the seat and watch the city rush by.

Your shag isn’t boring, and not at all repetitive. Your shag is magnificent. It’s not that frequent, especially compared to what you two have had before; but Christmas was wonderful. And then a churning disgusting thought comes. What if he’s sleeping with the dominatrix, and that’s him compensating, because he’s feeling guilty? Maybe him being so understanding about your studies, and making you dinners, and charging your laptop at night – all that is to make him feel less gutted about shagging his TA?

Or maybe you’re just bladdered, and your thoughts tangle, and you’re an idiot.

***

A decision comes – as most of your big decisions do – as if out of nowhere, and it leaves no doubt. Your plan is to do exactly nothing.

In some strange way you feel like it’s just none of your business what John and his TA feel towards each other, and what sort of relationship they decide to build. Among other things, you strongly believe that if he shags her, he’ll just tell you everything, and you once again will have to look for a new flat. You wouldn’t be able to afford the one you live in right now.

Four months later, in the middle of a surprisingly warm spring, and unsurprisingly excruciating end of the semester, you have a nervous breakdown. You’re in the underground. A panic attack comes; and none of usual management mechanisms helps. An ambulance is called, you’re pumped with drugs. John is on a conference. Without his TA. It’s a three day, over the weekend trip.

The next day you return home. You refused the prescription drugs. You’re a ginger, and you know only too well the addictivity rates. You’ve also hadenough experience with withdrawal and ‘brain zaps’ in your teen years, to try anything of the sort again. You sign up to weekly therapy sessions, so that they allow you to continue your studies.

You never tell John what happened. You have two alternative explanations why. Firstly, he’s no imbecile. He can’t possibly be unaware of what Eva’s doing. If so, whether he reciprocates, or not, and whether they actually are involved, or not – either way, he will feel guilty, thinking this drama contributed into your breakdown. It didn’t. You are so overtired that you simply had no brain capacity to dedicate to it. You compartmentalized it after Christmas, and bashed on.

Secondly, it’s not that improbable that you’re punishing him – in a sort of masochistic, perverse way. You’re keeping him out of your life, in the best passive-aggressive move one can make. One of those that a person can later throw into the other’s face like a very dramatic accusation. ‘I had suicidal thoughts and almost jumped under the train, and you didn’t notice anything!’ or some other kind of psychotic rubbish. You hope you’re better and smarter than that.

And then one evening you come home from work, and he’s lying on the sofa, in his usual manner – reading glasses on the tip of his nose, fingers lazily flipping pages, and you toe off your shoes, put your handbag on the table by the door, come up to him, and ask, “Are you having an affair with your TA?”

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 10. Wrennie and a Wake Up Call

It all starts with a dream. Well, maybe it doesn’t start with it, but the dream is definitely what puts this aggro somewhere in the top layers of your consciousness – somewhere underneath your studies , which take up 90% of your time, and your chi, or mojo, or whatever it is that keeps you going on three hours of sleep, irregular solids, and a gallon of coffee a day.

Do you know that kind of dream when you suddenly see someone you know in a completely different light? It happens to most. As an example, you can see shagging someone in a dream whom you’ve never even considered as a potential partner, and then you look at them in a completely new light.

Well, it isn’t that kind of dream. It’s more of what happened to Mendeleev with his periodic table, which he had already figured it out subconsciously, and then in a dream it came to him, all nice and neat.

The dream is vague, and tangled, and when you wake up with a jerk and a loud inhale that you can even hear yourself, you remember only one image.

John’s sitting at his desk, in his office, behind that mahogany desk he put in his office in uni. You’ve opened the door and stepped in. His knees are widespread, and Eva is kneeling in front of him. His head is dropped back, on the leather back of his swivel chair, and his right hand is on her head. You know this gesture. You’ve felt that relaxed heavy hand on the back of your head hundreds of times. You can see the black of her jacket, and the heels of her shoes, and the red soles. Her head is moving rhythmically.

You’re sitting in your bedroom, trying to shake off the sensation of some disgusting slime as if coating your insides this. It’s dark, and smells nice in the room. There’s a firtree branches arrangement on the shelf.

You look at John. He’s sleeping in his usual manner, on his stomach, nose squished to the side, bent arm under his pillow. You try to get rid of the image of his half-closed eyes, and parted lips, and the pleasure written on his face – and you can’t.

You roll off the bed, go to the kitchen, and greedily drink a glass of water.

You don’t need a shrink to understand what’s happening here. You two have been living together for almost a year; you’ve been married only a few months less – and almost from the very beginning he’s been somewhere at the bottom of your life priorities. You’ve been getting your degree; you’ve published a paper; you work. He agrees, and supports everything you do. You feel a bit guilty, but you always push it at the back of your mind.

And she took a lint off his jacket in front of you once.

It’s daft, and you’d like to say that it’s not that you’ve seen it in a couple of mystery shows, for some reason mostly in the costume ones. But such is indeed the ridiculous explanation for your current nerves. A woman takes a lint off a man’s clothing, and the clever arse sleuth immediately susses out they shag.

You came to his office then. She was leaving, laughing; and he was laughing inside; and she opened the door, and he jumped out of his chair and quickly came up to the door to greet you. You were focused on his gorgeous blue eyes, and then she called his name, and handed him a pile of some papers. And then she took something small and white off the lapel of his jacket. He was looking at you. And then she turned and left, and he pulled you into a kiss.

You know tomorrow it will all seem fucking stupid, but right now on the cold floor of your kitchen, an empty glass in your hand, you’re shaking.

They go to dos together. He sees her four days a week. And she wants him. It’s not because 87% of people who met him want him. You can see it in her eyes. You’ve just been ignoring it.

And it’s none of your fucking business. Say, she has a crush on him. It’s her right. Say, he has a crush on her. He has every reason. You’re never around; she’s hot as fuck. She admires and wants him. He’s a man of flesh and blood. And…

The glass hits the floor and shatters. You look down. It only broke in three pieces, but there are probably shards. You’ve just dramatically dropped a glass like in a cheap Septic melodrama. You dropped a glass because you so easily imagined how it’s totally happening. And it makes sense.

And you properly don’t know what to do now.

***

Act Two of this drama titled Wren at Loss is Eva getting arsed up at a faculty Christmas party.

You go with John for once. You’re knackered as always, and you hate the tight dress, and the uncomfortable shoes, and the mascara eating at your eyeballs; but you’re keeping a good face, and smile, and mingle. It goes well. You have a few empty conversations, and couple of somewhat meaningful discussions of your paper. You drink water; you laugh at other people’s jokes.

John and you look good together. The height difference, the contrasting hair colours, his tie matching the pattern on your dress – the two of you have mastered public appearances. You also sincerely enjoy being in each other’s company, and it shows. His arm is around you, considerately, but oh so telling; and the two of you sneak a kiss from time to time.

You are politely nodding, listening to the droning of yet another of John’s venerable colleagues, when you hear a loud shrieky laugh from another end of the room. You peek and see Eva hanging in the arms of some middle-aged lady. At the moment, your husband’s TA is reminding you of those inflatable men near car dealerships in American films. She’s long, and thin, and unstable on her feet, her arms are moving frantically, and her mouth with bright red lipstick is half open.

“Is she alright?” you ask John, and he throws a look at her.

“I think I should go look after her.” He excuses himself, and you see him cross the room. She jerks and immediately moves onto him, in all her black and tight dominatrix glory. His arm goes around her waist, and he’s saying something comforting to the lady who’s fretting around Eva. He then pulls his mobile out of his pocket, and you assume he’s calling a cab.

“Well, that’s unfortunate…” Professor Murphy in front of you mumbles, and you smile to him politely. You hope you do look like Kate Middleton right now. Poise and elegance, Wrennie. Nothing’s happening; nothing’s happening; we are all going to pretend nothing is happening.

“Well, I’m sure Eva is just overtired. All the pressure of our scientific field…” You express dignified understanding on your face.

“Of course, of course…” Murphy mumbles, and the two of you go back to your previous discussion.

In a few minutes later your mobile beeps, and you see a text from John who informs you that he took Eva home in a cab, and that he’ll see you at your place. He doesn’t unnecessarily explain that Eva lives alone, or that he’s worried about her elderly mother seeing her like that – because giving you a reason why he decided to escort his bladdered TA to her place would mean that it’s something out of the ordinary, right? This way it looks as if he’s just being courteous, and you aren’t supposed to question it.

You are.

When you come home after quickly escaping the party, he’s already there. He’s taken off his jacket, and is sitting in the living room with a book.

He lifts his eyes at you over the page, and smiles.

“That was jolly fortunate. At least we didn’t have to stay to hear them sing,” he jokes.

You’re staring at him. You are torn between A. climbing on his lap, jerking the sides of that shirt open, and fucking him into the sofa. Rocking his world, and probably living marks all over his lush body. To remind him – and yourself – that he’s yours.

Or B. Not touching him at all, because you’re terrified to catch her perfume on him. You don’t mean that it would be there, because he shagged her just now, in her flat, really quickly. Nausea rises. You’ve just imagined how he dropped her on the bed, she was half conscious but readily spread her legs, and he just unbuckled his trousers, and maybe he flipped her on her stomach, and bunched up her narrow skirt. He was done quickly – otherwise how would he be home already? – and just zipped up, and left. You close your eyes.

Even if he didn’t – doesn’t – shag her, he as much as carried her to the cab. He will smell like her right now.

“Wren?”

Your eyes fly open. One of his eyebrows is hiked up. You two shag after parties. It’s a thing. You love him in white shirts. Opening the shirt, button after button, slowly, down to the stomach, and then placing a row of small kisses to his pectoral muscles, and a playful bite, or two, and the look on his face, his eyes shiny, and loving, and randy…

He expects you to jump him now. No, he doesn’t expect – he hopes. If you say you’re tired, he’ll smile softly and understandingly. And the two of you will prepare for bed, and you’ll fall asleep in his arms.

You pick up the straps of your dress, shimmy your shoulders, and let the fabric drop around your waist. You then quickly open the zipper on your arse, and the dress falls on the floor. You’ve calculated this move before the party. There’s a black lacy bra, tiny knickers – and stockings.

“I want to go to a shower now,” you say keeping your eyes locked. He licks his lips. “You first.”

He jumps off the sofa, the book lands on the carpet with a soft thud – and he’s walking backwards to the bathroom, his eyes roaming your body. The black trousers are tenting on his very jolly cock.

“Shower, Thorington,” you repeat, and he salutes, with a wide grin, and turns around, and disappears inside the bathroom. You hear the shower door bang, and the water runs.

You exhale sharply and follow him.

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 9. Wrennie and A Missed Party

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The next months are a daze. You study; you go to the lab; you drag yourself home. You’re so tired, you don’t remember what you eat, and how you fall asleep. You grit your teeth and bash on. You drink too much coffee; you look like shite. The Spring is the worst. You’re so exhausted by then, your nails chip and you start losing hair.

John is helping. He cooks, or orders take away. He brings you a full plate. He picks up the half eaten one, once you crash on the sofa. He takes your clothes to a dry cleaners and turns on the washer. He gets groceries. He never complains, he helps you with whatever studies he can help with.

One evening in March you’re sobbing desperately in the shower, and he knocks at the door.

“Wrennie, are you OK?”

You’re so raspy from crying that you can’t answer.

“Can I come in?”

“Yeah.” You’re moving behind the fogged part of the door, so he can’t see what bloody mess you are.

You hear him come in.

“Wren?”

“Yeah?”

“What’s wrong?” His tone is soft, and it makes something snap in you. You emit another loud sob.

“We haven’t shagged for two months!” You lean into the wall and start slowly sliding down. “And I don’t want to!” The last words are already a wail. “I’m so skinny, it’s disgusting… and everything hurts, and I’m just… so… tired…” You press the heels of your hands to your eyes.

He comes up to the door and taps the tip of his finger to it. You lift your eyes at him. He’s smiling to you, it’s a sympathetic warm smile; and you cry harder.

He opens the door and steps into the shower, just as he is – in his soft bottoms, a tee, and socks.

He sits on the floor, water running down him, and pulls you on his lap.

He’s rocking you softly from side to side, and you’re shaking.

“Wren, it’s OK… I’ve been there, remember? I’ve gone through three med degrees, and I was no better than you.” He’s cradling your head in his large palm. “And yeah, it is shite, and everything else has to wait… But, love, you’re doing fine. The research is going well, the grant has been confirmed. Just breathe through it.”

“What about you? I sometimes think you’ll forget what I look like…” you whine. You’re beyond the point where you craved reassurance. You have no energy anymore. You think if he gets up and announces he dumps you, you will just turn off the water, and fall asleep here.

“I’m making the list of all the shag you owe me. For when you’re done with the studies. So you know, the reverse cowgirl on the living room carpet is in the triple digits by now.”

You want to laugh, but all that comes out is a strangled bark like sound.

“Wren…” He cups your face and makes you meet his eyes. “I understand. I was young, and ambitious; and unlike you I didn’t care how it affected those around me. I’m here, and I’ll help.”

You drop your head, pressing your face to his chest. Your hands are shaking visibly.

***

Summer is easier. You seem to have found your footing. There’s even a week off, and the two of you plan a vacation.

You talk about it in bed, his Mac on his lap. He shows you photos of Greece and Majorca, and you nod and grin. You adore the giant new bed you two bought for your flat, and the bedding with light blue paisley pattern – and John in his glasses and tee, clicking excitedly on the sites of resorts. You two end up staying in your flat through the whole week, shagging, eating, and watching telly – and it’s the best decision the two of you have ever made.

You come back to work energised and ready to kick arse. And you do. You feel like Thomas, or that other tank engine that could – you feel very professional and put together. You reorganize your schedule, and you start getting enough sleep. You don’t have time for anything else, but at least you stopped falling asleep in the lift between the entrance hall and your flat on the fourth floor.

***

It’s the end of November, and the phone rings in your lab. You pick it up; and a vaguely familiar female voice asks for you.

“Mrs. Thorington?” she asks.

“It’s Ms. Leary, actually.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I wasn’t sure… Ms. Leary, I’m Eva Amandine, I’m Dr. Thorington’s teaching assistant.”

“Oh, right… Hi!” You’re flipping through a file for the current experiment. “You’ve met couple times in John’s office. And I think there was also that professorial party in May, right?”

“Yes,” she laughs softly. “The endlessly boring one, where we were the only two people under forty.” You hum confirming.

You remember Eva. She is tall, has raven black hair, and impeccable taste in clothes. Her heels were exceptionally tall as well. She was dressed all in black, and you thought there was something very dominatrix like about her.

“I’m calling about this party Dr. Thorington is invited to. One of his colleagues is receiving yet another award, and Dr. Thorington is supposed to bring plus one.”

“Oh…” You rummage through the piles of papers on your table. “Just a mo, I’ll find my mobile. For my schedule. When is the party?”

“It’s tonight, Ms Leary. I apologize it’s so last moment.”

“Oh…” You look at the row of tubes waiting for you. “I can’t tonight… I won’t find anyone to come in instead of me.”

“That’s a pity, Ms Leary. I’ll let Dr. Thorington know.”

You two say your goodbye, and you hang up. It feels strange that it was so last minute, but you forget about the conversation distracted by the bamf waiting for you.

***

And then one evening John comes home with flushed cheeks, smelling of cologne; and he waltzes into the living room, where you are for the first time in forever, before him, having dinner alone.

He’s humming a tune, and is loosening his tie. He’s endlessly lush in his black three piece suit, and you lift an eyebrow. He barks a throaty laugh, comes up to you, and stretches the hand to you.

“Well, hello there, doctor,” you purr, and he twirls you and then dunks you backwards. You laugh, and he pulls you up and to his mouth. He tastes like champagne.

“Good evening?” you ask with a giggle.

He picks you up under your arms and plops your arse on the table. He wedges between your knees.

“A very good evening?” you ask, and he grins lopsidedly.

“Horrid boring party. I drank just to have something to do.” He slides his palms up your thighs, and then dives in and presses his lips to your neck. You drop your head back invitingly.

“I’m very glad to see you then,” you murmur, and he presses his hand between your shoulder blades and, supporting you, lowers you on the table. He jerks off the jacket, while you unbuttons your jeans.

“I’m planning to reinforce this opinion in you, love.” When he’s randy or drunk, his childhood Northern accent peeks just a wee bit. Just a bit in the vowels. Just a bit more ‘loov’ in his ‘love.’ This turns you on so much!

Clothes fly off, only the white shirt and your bra surviving the purge, and the two of you spend an hour, energetically shagging, moaning, scratching, sucking, and grabbing.

In the bath afterwards, he’s tenderly moving a loofah on your shoulders in delicious circles, and you sigh contentedly.

“I honestly wish you could go to more parties with me.” He kisses your ear. “If we found a closet there and did what we just did there on the table, time would fly so much faster.”

You giggle.

“We would be arrested for inappropriate behaviour.”

“Well, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Everyone is way too proper at those parties.” He makes a dramatic disgusted grimace. “Mannered talking, champagne, no dancing on the table. I had to attend less of these dos when I was trying to sell myself. Who knew professors are so into unsatisfying inadequate parties?”

You look at him and gently wipe the bubbles off his eyebrow.

“I’m sorry I can’t come most of the time.”

He shrugs and pulls you closer.

“As long as I come home and get to… have dinner with you.” He wiggles his eyebrows.

Something pushes you to ask.

“So, you just go alone then?”

“Eva goes with me,” he answers offhandedly. “She’s no fun, though. She takes the parties seriously.”

You laugh, but something feels off. You will think about it later. You lean into his kiss, and slide onto his lap. You’re very glad you went for a roomy tub.

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 8. I Always Liked It Slow

Author’s Note:

I think this song by my beloved Leonard is the perfect soundtrack to Wrennie and Dr T’s relationship. The line ‘A weekend on your lips // A lifetime in your eyes’ reminded me of their weekend in Sheraton; and I can just hear ‘Let me catch my breath // I thought we had all night” pronounced in another, no less velvet male voice… 

If you like the song, check out the lyrics. There will no other like Leonard; there will be no other poetry like his…

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Four months later…

You come home with only one thought in your head – you want to sit down. You don’t care if it’s going to be a sofa, an armchair, or the rug by the entrance door. You think you’ve never been that exhausted in your life; but to think of it, you felt exactly the same way yesterday. And the day before, and last week – and sadly, you’re sure you’ll feel the same way for a long time now.

Instead of pushing the key into the door, you stop and press your forehead to it. It reminds you of that day when you and John broke up. Although, the only similarity is that you’re frozen on the other side of the door from him. That’s where parallels end. You do want to see him. You do know what you feel towards him. You do want to come in – you just can’t. Physically.

The door unlocks, and he’s standing in the frame. It smells like Italian. There’s a glass of Scotch in his hand.

You peek, and your jaw slacks. He looks arsed up. He is so obviously drunk! The eyes are shiny, red-rimmed, and unfocused; cheeks red flushed. That’s so unusual that you straighten up despite being in danger to just fall into the flat like a rolled up carpet.

“Has academia defeated you again?” he asks softly, and opens his one armed embrace. You whine, step in, and press into him. That’s better. That’s a relief. John is very therapeutic.

“Remind me why I decided that post-grad was a good idea?” you mumble into his soft white tee. He smells like food, clean laundry, and John – he smells like home.

“Because you’re a badarse scientist, and weren’t going to let your giant intellect go to waste.” He rubs your back, and you moan into his chest.

You’d ask him if he’s trying to butter you up, but that would sound like flirting. And hinting on a shag. Which would be unacceptable, since you can’t shag. You’re too tired. You could probably just lie there, and let him do all the work – but surely, he’d get offended if you fell asleep mid-way. And you definitely would.

He closes the door behind you, and then kneels in front of you helping to take off your boots. You shake the coat off your shoulders, not caring that it falls on the floor, and plod into the living room.

“Italian?” you ask and drop onto the dining table chair.

“Yeah, I ordered take away.” He goes to the bar and adds more Scotch. “Three hours ago.” He gives you a soft reproachful look.

“I’m sorry…” You have no energy to get up and go to the kitchen. “We were in the lab, and then it turned out we needed to redo couple tests…” You can’t stifle a wide painful yawn. “And then one of the students in the group project cocked up some data…” You drop your head on the table.

He hums, and you hear a clank of the bottle. And then you remember. Oh fuck! Fucking fucking fuck! You jerk your face up and look at him.

“Oh god, it’s Thursday, and it’s our ‘dinner and talk’ evening, isn’t it?”

“Yeah…” You see him heavily sit down in the armchair. He takes a gulp of Scotch and drops his head back. His eyes slowly close.

“I’m really sorry…” you whine again. “It’s been a mental week, and…”

“It’s alright, Wren…” He lifts his head, takes a sip, and then goes back to the same position. “Have you eaten?”

“Some disgusting sarnies in the cafeteria. But I’ll enjoy the Italian tomorrow, yeah? I’ll take some to the lab for lunch. Or we can warm it up and have it for dinner.” You’re groveling, and he makes a small wave with his hand, his eyes still closed.

You consider apologising again, but then you realise that he’s much more drunk than you initially assumed. To think of it, except his stag night, you’ve hardly ever seen him under the influence, in all the time you’ve known him.

“John, are you OK?”

“Leonard Cohen died,” he answers, and takes another big gulp without opening his eyes.

“I’m sorry…” Your words sound empty, but you do sympathise. When it were an actor or a musician you were fond of, their loss always felt personal.

John loves Cohen. Well, ‘loved’ will now be a better term. Popular Problems, released couple years ago, is his favourite album.

“Should I choose some younger artist to fancy now?” he asks from his armchair, and you hum questioningly. “To make me more hip, and less… old.”

You frown not sure what he’s talking about.

“Peterson’s retiring,” he says. You properly fail to follow the leaps his mind is making tonight.

“OK…” you draw out. “Peterson from Cardiology? Well, he’s old, and…”

“We were in the same year in uni,” John interrupts. Oh bugger.

You could remind him it’s not dates and numbers that determine a person’s age. It’s not about ‘how long;’ it’s about ‘how’ – how the person lives, how they feel, how much they want, crave, how much they take from life, and how much they’re willing to give.

“Do you know that in a few years they will think I’m your Dad? I’ll get all that grey hair, and with your genetics you’ll stay young forever…” He emits a sarcastic sharp laugh, and finishes his bevvie.

Ah, so that’s what it’s all about.

You rise from the chair, cross the room ignoring the aching soles, and climb on his lap. He doesn’t stir, but you know he’s glad you’re here.

“So, is this Hemingway style drinking all about your mortality and…” you start in a light teasing tone, and he suddenly lifts his head and pins you with a dark stare.

“Do you want children, Wren?”

Oh sod it. Wrong time, wrong place – and really, John? Definitely wrong circumstances. He’s pissed, you’re exhausted. The combination is as cocked up as possible.

You have an odd thought. You wish you were forty right now. You wish you knew what one is supposed to answer to a man of his age, how one is supposed to talk, what to say to this question. Should you console? Flirt? Answer directly? Mollify?

And you’re tired, so very tired. And you feel young, and immature – and lost.

An adult wise woman would know what to say to her husband in this situation. She would know just the right words; she’d look into his eyes, and answer something that would make it alright. You want him to be happy. You don’t know how to make a man like him happy.

He’s achieved so much; but is looking back on one’s former successes a healthy way to deal with one’s age? He’s right – in ten years his hair will be all white. In ten years you’ll look just the same; you saw your biological mother’s photo in your file, she was thirty seven when she had you, and looked just like you do right now.

Are you to say that all is ahead of him? What if it isn’t? Are you to promise that the two of you will have a baby soon? You might not. There’s your education; and your career. On the other hand, you do want one. But you don’t want one right now. Right now, you want to sleep.

If you stay quiet long enough, he’ll shut like a clam, like he used to – or sigh melancholically, as he’s recently started. He’ll apologise, and say that the two of you need to go to bed.

“I’m sorry, Wren…” he starts, and you lean in and press your lips to his. He tastes like Lagavulin.

“I’m so tired…” you whisper, after moving away. His eyes open slowly, dark blue and shining. “I don’t think I can sustain this conversation.” He opens his mouth, and you press a finger across his lips gently. “Don’t apologise. It’s a valid convo, I just can’t…” You’re feeling sick, your eyes feel like full of hot sand, and there are some grotty yellow sparks dancing before your eyes.

He studies your face, and then sighs and nods.

You two go to bed; but despite how knackered you were, you can’t fall asleep. The conversation has left a nasty feeling somewhere in your stomach. And in half an hour or so, while you’re lying on your side, as if asleep, John carefully climbs out of bed, and leaves for the kitchen. You fall asleep before he’s back.

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 7. Together

Author’s Note:

This is it, my lovelies. This is the chapter. This is their happy ending (although not an ending per se). 

There will be more to their story. There is couple more plot twists I have prepared for them; there are characters to talk about, loose ends to tie, and hot nights to describe. There are still the one-shots that I’ve stashed from the time when the story was first published on FanFiction site (I know you want to see the triplets, and Unna of course.)

But I feel that this chapter, below the title, is what we were all waiting for since that first one-shot titled “Camping” in my collection of short stories We Are Scattered Through Time and Space. It’s been four years of my life, and it’s been a journey. For me, and for the characters. 

This John – Dr T, Dr Delicious, The Sun and Moon of Modern Neurosurgery – has been, and will always be my first true modern AU Thorin Oakenshield. And this Wrennie is the most honest, genuine, imperfect Wren I’ve ever written. If I didn’t love them all equally, I’d say these two are my favourite protagonists.

I hope this chapter will be as satisfying for you to read as it was for me to write.

Katya

P.S. And remember, there will be at least ten more chapters 😉 Hope you enjoy!

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Four months later…

You like sleeping with John. He’s just the right density, not bony, not soft – warm and firm, and perfectly furry in all the right places. In his sleep he tends to wrap around you like an octopus, and you’re properly OK with it. There’re couple positions that you especially enjoy, such as curling in a ball, pressing your bum into his crotch. Since you’re significantly shorter, his arm doesn’t fall asleep under your head, and you get all the advantages of his snuggling. Or sometimes you like being the big spoon, and press your forehead above his shoulder blades, into the nape, into just the right spot.

There are issues, of course. His place, which he moved into a month after your break up, feels unlived in. He explained to you that he wanted to start from scratch, but somehow it just never became anything more than a perfect illustration from a home decour magazine.

The bed in your flat is too small for him. Lan and Thea bought it for you when you moved in; and although the two of you can fit when sleeping, shagging on it is really difficult. You always seem to end up on the floor. It also squeaks, loudly and annoyingly, and you wouldn’t want your neighbours to get jealous of how many hours in a row this concert continues.

***

You snuggle into the pillow, without opening your eyes. It’s warm and smells nice under the duvet, and you stretch your hand in search of the scorching skin, and maybe furry chest, but there’s… nothing. You stick your nose out… and catch the delicious aroma of coffee. He’s cooking breakfast in your kitchen. You’re torn between going there to ogle him – it’s a gorgeous spectacle, him in his pants, and bless that arse! – confident movements, glasses; and staying in the balmy warmth, with the smell of his cologne on the sheets, and bliss coursing your body after the three rounds the two of you went for last night.

He sticks his head into the room and smiles to you widely.

“Morning.” God, this voice needs to be bottled and prescribed as an antidepressant.

“Morning.” You smile back. He reappears in the room with a tray with coffee, fruit, and his favourite toast with marmalade.

“What are we doing today, Ms Leary?” he asks, stirring sugar in your coffee. “It’s Saturday, you had a long week, and you…” He kisses the tip of your nose. “You require spoiling,” he purrs, and one eyebrow jumps up.

“I did have a long week,” you agree. You’re very pleased with yourself. The papers for the post-grad went through three days ago, and you do feel you deserve a bit of rest and perhaps celebrating.

“So, what do you want to do?” he asks handing a triangle of toast to you.

“Nothing. I want to do nothing. All day. With you.” And then you want to do him. Repeatedly. Something tells you he knows.

“Perfect. I know just the place for that.” He pats his thigh under the blanket, and you giggle.

***

Eventually you do get out of the bed, take shower – separately, otherwise you’d never leave the flat – and go for a walk. Nothing is exactly what the two of you do. You wander into shops, look at windows, talk, and laugh, and kiss. You take photos with your phone, there are couple of selfies together. The two of you laugh at how in order to fit into the screen either he has to scoot, or you need to stand on a bench. Eventually, he picks you up bridal style. The photos feature his sleeve and then the collar of his peacoat, because instead of taking pictures, the two of you are behaving endlessly inappropriately, snogging in the middle of a park.

You stop for lunch in some sarnie shop, all hipster and organic, and you laugh at the light disdain colouring his face. Tofu burger with yam mayo is clearly isn’t his first choice. They have ace coffee though, and the two of you are walking out with compostable cups bearing some hipster slogans.

There’s a vintage book shop in the next block, and you pull him in. It’s the passion for the both of you; and browsing books, talking nonstop, takes the solid second place in the top five things the two of you do best together – after shag, of course. He’s wonderfully well-read, with diverse, very non elitist taste; you are a binge reader. If he happens to know something you don’t he’s never condescending. And the discussions the two of you have are most stimulating.

He’s standing near a shelf, a fourth edition of his favourite Omar Khayyam in his hand. He knows the book like the back of his hand, and yet you see his eyes slide tenderly along the lines. It’s lying open on his large palm, and he’s so beautiful to you at the moment that your eyes prickle. He blindly stretches his hand to his cup he put on the ladder by the shelf, and takes a sip. And then the cup goes back, and he gently turns a page.

“I want to live with you,” you blurt out, and he looks at you above his reading glasses.

“Sorry, what?”

“You hate your flat, mine is too small. And I want to sleep with you every night. And wake up together. And eat dinner together. And we spend five nights a week together anyroad…” Your voice dies out, and you awkwardly cough. “I mean when you want to… When it’s time… I’m just letting you know that I already want it, that I’m… there…”

Great, Wrennie, just bleeding great. You started with overly direct, clumsy declarations, and ended it with choked mumbling, with questionable grammar. Well done.

He smiles to you softly, and you feel your nose twitch in the daft nervous tick.

“I too want to live with you.”

Oh sod it, that’s a relief. You sort of suspected he did, since he always eagerly agrees on spending a night together, but that wasn’t the most graceful of offerings, let’s face it. Plus there’s always your shared history.

“We should look at flats then?” His tone is more questioning than stating, and is adorably hopeful. You exhale and step to him. He readily puts the book aside, and you pressed your forehead into his chest. Blimey, you love him in this peacoat. You love him, period. The peacoat is just a bonus.

He wraps his arms around you and kisses the top of your head.

“And I feel like I want to marry you.” Oh look, Wrennie’s cork has popped, and now she’ll have to move to the Arctic to escape the consequences. He stops gently rocking you from side to side. You realise the previous statement requires an explanation.

You wince away from him, and rush to clarify. His face is unreadable, just eyes might be a bit widened.

“I mean, I just feel very good about our relationship now… Recently… I mean, it’s been great since day one, since we got back together, but it’s just glaringly obvious to me recently. I notice it, all the time, how ace it is, and how happy I am. And you!” you exclaim hurriedly. “You seem happy. I mean, I can’t know for sure, but that’s how it looks. And I don’t mean a wedding or something, but you know how when people get married they are hoping it’s forever? That’s how I feel. Like if I had to choose now, I’d say yes, and wouldn’t have a shadow of doubt. And it all can change any moment, but… And when people get married they know it too, yeah? That anything can happen, but they go for it, and I absolutely certainly would.” You’re out of breath, and you inhale sharply. “What I mean to say is that I love you…” Your voice breaks, and you puff some air out. “And I want to spend my whole life with you.”

“I love you too,” he answers slowly, and you give up a nervous chuckle.

“Right…” You cough purposefully. “Let’s just forget this mental outburst…”

“And I do want to marry you,” he interrupts you in a low voice, and you freeze and throw him an embarrassed look. “No, that’s not exactly it… I want to be your husband. And spend my whole life with you, just like you said. And…” He gives you a calm and earnest look. “And if and when you decide you’re ready, I’ll be here.”

“Ready for what?” you breathe out.

“Anything. Anything you want.” He smiles to you, and your breath hitches from how clearly you can see that he loves you. “I’m OK with any level of commitment, Wrennie, so you just let me know.”

“I want to be your wife.” There isn’t a single moment of hesitation. “I don’t want a big wedding, maybe no wedding at all. But I want rings. And couple photos, and a pretty dress. And I want some B’n’B somewhere not too far. And shagging for a week nonstop, and you calling me Mrs Thorington, and…”

“Bath,” he says suddenly, and you realise tears are running down your cheeks. Happy tears.

“What?” you croak. You still haven’t kissed him. You need to kiss him.

“We can go to Bath.” His eyes are the brightest you’ve ever seen them. Like a July sky on the sunniest day. “For a week after, and I promise to you…” His voice breaks as well, and you rush to him and hang on his neck. “I promise to call you Mrs Thorington at least two thirds of the time.”

There are tears in his eyes too, and you kiss him, and he squeezes you, pressing you in, whispering promises, which you believe, and words of love, which you return with all your heart.

To be continued…

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 6. Post and Mid

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The two of you sit down to a microwave warmed Lebanese dinner, him in his pants, you in knickers and the button up that you had to fish out from under a chair. He throws you cheeky looks, you can’t stop smiling. There’s complete silence in the kitchen, but it’s a comfortable one.

“Do you want to stay over?” you finally ask, when both your plates are empty. One of the thick eyebrows jumps out.

“A sleepover after the first time? You’re moving fast, Ms. Leary,” he purrs, and you give him an attentive look. You’re suddenly reminded of all those moments when being still with him, you weren’t sure if he’s just lightly joking, or there was a tinge of offence there. He might be just defensive. Or honestly not wanting to stay over. Alright, you properly should stop spiralling into a dark terrifying pit of insecurities and panic here.

“Suit yourself.” You force a joking tone out of yourself. You get up and start cleaning the dishes. “My bed’s too small anyroad.”

He’s sitting on his chair, relaxed, his legs straight and crossed in front of him. And then he stretches his long arm and catches your hand, and pulls you towards him. You take a step just because resisting would be an open confrontation. You expect him to press his forehead to your sternum – he used to do it a lot. Was he hiding his face when doing it? Quite possibly. Instead, he gives you an open direct look in the eyes.

“I’m sorry. That was a bad joke.” His tone is even and earnest. “I’d love to stay. In fact I really hoped you’d offer.”

“I just don’t know… how much of our relationship is back…” you mumble. It’s not the most eloquent way of putting it, but it’s pretty accurate.

“As much as you want,” he answers, and you chew at your bottom lip. He sighs, nuzzles your sternum, and then looks up again. “Wrennie, I’m nervous too.”

“Well, that didn’t seem to arse up any… functions…” you mumble, and he smiles to you. “I had a panicky moment two days ago, with the whole getting bladdered and coming to your place…” you admit grudgingly, and he nods. And then he pulls you on his lap. The thigh under your backside is hard and warm. “I think I’m sort of overcompensating today.”

“If you mean you’re terrified of having shown vulnerability and relinquishing control over the situation…” he starts, and then chuckles. “Oh, wait. Those would be my issues.”

“What did I say then?” you blurt out, and he gives you a soft questioning look. “You said in your note that I mentioned my renewed… self-pleasuring habits. I’m – almost – OK with it. But what else?”

“It was all very incoherent, and slurred, Wrennie.” He’s reassuring you. You don’t want to be reassured. You want an open conversation. “You did talk about shag. You seemed to be in anticipation.” He kisses your cheek, the whiskers tickle your skin because he’s smiling. “You said, ‘Can you imagine how ace it’ll be? All the emotions and the dry spell and you’re the biggest I’ve ever had!’”

“I did not!” you cry out in completely fake indignation.

“Did you ever…” He shakes his head in no less fake mournfulness, and you grab the long nose between your thumb and the curled up index finger.

“Take it back!” You gently pull the nose. God, you love the nose! “Take it back! I did not say that!”

“There were gestures. Like a fisherman boasting about his catch,” he continues in a now nasal voice, his eyes twinkling.

“Oh god! Can you be any more full of yourself?” You’re trying to suppress the laugh, but it bursts out of you in a series of snorts. “I don’t care about the size! And you know you have nothing to worry about! I care whether I said something embarrassing! Divulged something, like said I loved you, or missed you, or…” You realise you’re divulging something at the moment, let go of the nose – and before you can say or do anything, he grabs the back of your head and pulls you into a kiss. It feels almost desperate.

He lets you go, and you probably look completely narked.

“Wrennie, you didn’t say anything. You were cute, and sexy, and a bit unstable on your feet, and the only thing that wasn’t directly related to shag was that you said you missed my hands.”

“It is shag related,” you grumble, and press your nose to his neck. You have missed the hands. And the rest of him.

“You said, you missed how I brushed your hair when you had headaches. That wasn’t shag related. And very, very cute.” He wraps his arms around you. “Once you got sleepy, you stopped offering shag, and asked me to stay in bed with you. That was a much harder offer to decline.”

“You can stay over,” you say quietly, and feel him slowly exhale.

***

You two have tea, and chat, and then you’re suddenly climbing on his lap, and kissing him, and he picks you up, and carries you to the bedroom. You fall into the bed, and you feel hungry, and greedy, and possessive. You scratch his back, bite, and wrap your legs around him possibly cutting off blood circulation. He’s back in your bed, he’s yours again, and something snaps in you.

He catches your mood, and grabs you, and you feel teeth grazing your shoulder, and at some point his hand squeezes your arse definitely leaving bruises.

You have a ridiculously small bed, and since the two of you are moving very energetically, your bodies are diagonal to the mattress, and legs and heads end up hanging in the air. And then he emits a long intricate string of curses, and if you weren’t busy riding him, feeling his cock hitting some delicious wall, back there in your fanny, you’d be impressed by the diverse content, the word choice, and innovative grammar. He rolls off the bed, pulling you after him, making sure your knees and elbows are protected from the impact on the floor.

He’s once again on top, his torso supported on straight arms, and his hips are snapping. His thrusts are so deep and rough that you’re jerking on the floor, your hair moving around your head. And you push off the floor with one arm, wrap another one around his neck, and as much as hang on him. A large scorching hand cups your arse, he’s supporting you, and pulling you in with each of his movements – and then you come. It’s sharp and sudden and almost too much, and you fall back onto the floor, hitting your spine, and bursting into a flood of ridiculous sobs and tears.

You try to stop, and it’s not working, so you hide behind your hands, being a slobbery, daft, moronic imbecile as you are.

“Wrennie…” His voice is unsure. You’d never before fallen apart like this in his bed. Well, technically your bed. Well, floor.

“I don’t  know… I’m sorry… It’s just…” He starts withdrawing, and you don’t know if you should stop him.

And you tear your hands off your face, and look at him. And his eyes are worried, and vulnerable, and you suddenly realise there’s nothing to be scared of.

You realise it’s better to go all in and risk everything than to be afraid every step of the way. Maybe, you’ve grown up – enough to fight for what you want, and to be kind, and to be honest.

You exhale loudly through rounded lips, and wrap your arms around his middle and pull him down – back to you. He doesn’t resist, but his face is uncertain.

“I just got a bit overwhelmed,” you speak softly, and cup his jaw. “John, it’s alright. I’m alright now. I just…” It’s hard to find the right words, and even harder mid-shag with John Thorington. “There’s a lot going on in my head, you know.”

He nods and leans in and softly kisses you.

“There’s always a lot going on in your head,” he says, and you laugh quietly.

“Yeah… But less like this…” You clench her the muscles inside, and his breathing hitches loudly. Hells yeah, Wrennie’s got a hostage. “I felt… insecure again; and then I couldn’t get enough, just felt like I needed to stake a claim, and get all of it – all of you – for myself… and then it was just too much, and I got scared that you didn’t feel the same way, and then all my past doubts rushed into my head, and how I’m making the same mistakes, and…” You stop, and laugh again. “I assume you had a bit less thoughts.”

“I felt loved up and I was shagging my girlfriend. That’s about it.” He isn’t laughing at his own joke. “Wren, I’m worried too. To make the same mistakes. And that it was just a post-coital ‘I love you,’ and that I’m pushing you too hard again.”

Oh wow. That’s what he calls ‘that’s about it?!’ Your little melt-down is a bloody nothing compared to what he’s brewing in his noggin. And says nothing about! And summarises in less than twenty words! No wonder you’re the one with panic attacks, and he’s the one with the heart one. Good thing the two of you have started actually talking this time around.

“I love you,” you say calmly, and rub your thumb to the beard on the side of the chin. You’ve always adored the rough tickle of the whiskers. His features soften. “Here’s a mid coital one for you. And you aren’t pushing me. Maybe we are just idiots, and it’s just going so well that we can’t believe it?” you offer, and he finally smiles.

“That certainly does sound like us.” His eyes are warm and shiny now. “And I love you too. Pre, mid, and post.” You giggle.

“They should put it on the Thorington family crest.”

The two of you kiss for a bit, and you realise your back is cold on the floor.

“Shall we give the bed another chance?”

“I’d say let’s give another chance to the equestrian pursuits.” How can you say ‘no’ the dark blue squinted eyes and a lopsided smirk?

You push him onto his back, and… Giddy up!

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 5. Wrennie and John

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Author’s note:

Just a small note to let you know that I’m planning about twenty chapters for this story, to match the previous parts. There’s a conflict/plot line that I want to explore for them (no spoilers 😉 but I’m rather excited about it); then there will be the question of commitment to discuss; and then happily ever after. If there’s something you would like to also be included into this story, or a character you would like to see, let me know.

Cheers,

Katya


You go home. The decision is surprisingly easy to make. There are two main reasons. Firstly, staying would create misbalance in your relationship. Or to be precise, it would enforce the existing one. Because if you stay, you’ll be that same old Wrennie Leary: impulsive, immature, vulnerable. Once again you’ll be the one who opened all her cards. The one in love with the man who once again has all the power. You’d stay in his flat in yesterday’s dress, knickers washed in his sink; nothing of yours; no control. That does sound familiar, doesn’t it, Wrennie dearest?

Secondly, if you stay, you’ll have sex with him. And somehow you’re an adult enough now to think about it before doing it. As funny as it sounds, the first time with him – and you do know, it’s the second time around, and far from your first one – matters. It matters to you. You aren’t a virgin, and every sex is a unique experience; and maybe you won’t even remember what it was like; but right here, right now that’s not how you want it to happen.

You cook in his pristine kitchen, eat, clean up, and go home. You leave him a note at the back of his: you thank him for taking care of you in your vulnerable state, and joke that now he owes you the disclosure of some of his sex fantasies. You ask him to ring you up when he gets home, and invite him to dinner in the next few days, when it works for him.

You feel very empowered and very mature on your way home – and grumpy and acutely frustrated sexually later, in a bubble bath you’re soaking in. But you don’t doubt your decision.

He rings you up around seven, while you’re watching some old rubbish on Netflix.

“That was brilliant, love,” he draws out, after greeting you. His voice is shaking with laughter. “First, you arsed up my day. I couldn’t concentrate on a single thing. My teaching assistant asked me if I was going down with something. Then I left my office half an hour earlier. And, the twonk that I am, I spent the aforementioned half an hour in a flower shop, killing time, since I said I’d be back by seven fifteen. And then when I showed up with your carnations, and all fired up, you weren’t there.” He laughs louder. “Well played, Wrennie.”

“None of it was premeditated,” you answer, and chew at your bottom lip. You’re certain that he’s joking, you can hear it in his voice; but you still feel a wee bit bad. “I thought it was best to let you have rest after a long day at work. And… Don’t forget to put the flowers in water.”

“Cold, Ms Leary. That’s just cold.”

He’s wrong. You’re feeling very, very hot. From the low purr in his baritone, from the ‘Ms Leary,’ and from how easy and exciting it is – to flirt with him, to tease him; and finally, from the anticipation.

You two chat a bit more, and he’s invited to your flat for dinner in two days. After cordial goodbyes, you hang up, and settle back in your bed to finish the episode.

***

Two days later, the dinner – his favourite Lebanese – is ordered, delivered, and plated; the candles are bought and arranged on the table; the new set of light blue lingerie is hidden under a simple white button up and a pair of comfortable denim.

There are another ten minutes till the assigned time, plus another fifteen minutes that he’ll be late out of politeness, and you’re brushing and tying your hair, when you meet the reflection of your eyes in the mirror.

Is that really you? Is this Wrennie Leary? All smart and dispassionate, planning a date and sex with Dr Sexy? Is this what you want? Is this what the two of you have become – after all the pain, for both of you, after the catastrophe that was your break-up, after those months of numbness, and the slow tentative growing back together?

Have you lost something on the way? Some part of yourself, perhaps? Have you grown… old? Is this new – calm, collected, almost calculative – you is now… forever?

The buzzer rings, and you hurriedly check your mobile. He is exactly on time. Was he standing behind the door, his finger hovering over the button, waiting for the watch hand to touch the number twelve?

You answer and buzz him in.

You can hear hurried, almost running steps on the stairs – and he as much as smashes into you, scooping you, kissing you, carrying you inside the flat. Something falls out of his hands on the floor, and you realise the answer to all the questions above is ‘fuck no.’

“Sod the dinner!” you mumble into his lips, and he growls. Hells yeah, Dr T’s growls and rumbles! You have forgotten them, and yes to them, hundred times yes!

You’re pushing the jacket off his shoulders, he’s groping you. There are kisses, bites, and you grab the hem of his jumper and pull it up. It’s on the floor, he toes off his shoes, you grab his belt. His hands fly up to the collar of your shirt, and he jerks. Something rips, and you loudly curse from how fucking randy that made you and bite his bottom lip. The shirt is off, and the bra follows. That’s two hundred quid wasted.

The belt clacks, the trousers drop. Knowing his skill, socks joined them. You pull off his tee. Once it’s out of the way and he can move his arms, he starts pushing down his underwear. You unbutton your jeans and push them down. He drops on his knees, cups your buttocks, and pulls you to his lips. You wobble and then moan loudly. He’s just licked your stomach, and it’s so fucking sexy you’re going to combust. The knickers hit the floor, and he twists his neck, and covers your fanny with his hot open mouth. You bend backwards, with a loud groan, and his tongue sweeps greedily between your legs.

Your knees buckle, and you slump on the floor. He’s on top of you a second later, and suddenly a pair of burning icy blue eyes are in front of you.

“Yes… God, yes…” you breathe out, and wrap your legs around his waist. You’re on the pill, and you need him inside. Now.

He pushes in, you cry out. You squeeze your eyes, from the blinding dots of some mental fireworks dancing in front of them – and to feel it all.

“Wren…” he pleads, and you open your eyes. He needs you now, and here you are.

“John…” you breathe out, and he kisses you.

He starts moving, deeply, stretching you, purposefully, as if telling you something. And then you can’t think or notice anything anymore. You just feel. Him. He’s above you, in you, around you. Just John.

The two of you are sliding on the floor, with each thrust of his hips in you, and then the top of your head thumps into something. You throw your arms behind your head, press your palms into something cold, and it’s ace! Because now you have something to push from, and you wrap your legs around him more tightly, digging your heels into his arse; and you arch, shoulder blades lift off the floor; and you meet him with each movement. Again, and again. Together. More, and more…

…and the two of you come; he gives out a raspy cry, his massive, heavy body quaking, in you, on you, around you; and you arch even more, press him closer, wrap around him tighter, in a perfect orgasm – with him, only with him. Just him.

***

He’s exhaling in short funny pants, and you realise the two of you are in the kitchen. You turned left, while the bedroom was on the right, and your head is near the fridge. Your bum is cold on the floor. And then he starts laughing, and it’s your favourite guffaws, white teeth, and crow’s feet. So rare, but so John. Your John.

His whole body’s shaking in frolicks, and you stroke the thick silky waves at the back of his head. He lifts his face, and you quickly kiss his jaw. And then the neck, and you can taste the salt on the delicious skin.

“I had a Viagra with me. I was worried…” He barks a careless laugh. “I was going to sneakily take it before dinner if it looked like we were going there.” You snort. You think you’ve never felt happier.

“Oh we went there.”

“Yeah, we did.” He’s grinning, looking down at you, and you gently brush the tips of your fingers to his eyebrow, and then cheekbone, and along the long nose. He turned his face and places a small kiss on them. Your eyes meet.

“I love you,” you say it, and it’s the easiest thing.

“I love you,” he answers, and the two of you kiss.

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 4. Good Morning, Wrennie!

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You don’t do the stupid thing. It’s shocking, isn’t it? Wrennie Leary acting wisely… Wrennie Leary acting wisely around Dr Delicious – and yes, he’s gotten all his positive monikers back – is even more astonishing. You don’t jump his bones, which consequently does not lead to you prolonging your backache indefinitely. You don’t try to kiss him. You don’t raise any other emotionally excruciating for both of you questions. You just watch the film and enjoy it immensely. In the last third of it he starts whining that it’s quite obvious who’s the ‘baddie’ here. It turns out he hasn’t seen the film before, and hasn’t read the book, but of course he guesses right.

The two of you eat dinner, and then he leaves, after stocking up your fridge, and kissing you to the top of your head. You don’t insist he stays.

In the next week and the half you don’t invite him over. Well, alright, he comes twice. But he rang you up on his own accord! Gracefully accepting his groceries, and his cooking abilities still counts as acting wisely. And again, you don’t offer anything but a film, a long and jolly chat, one game of chess, and two kisses to his cheek. Wisely! It’s called ‘wisely!’

It’s in equal proportions excruciating and exhilarating. It’s like watching a romcom with oneself in the leading role, and the whole ‘will they, won’t they’ thrill; but just as in a romcom we all know they will, don’t we, Wrennie?

And then you’re back at work, and so much has to be done; that when a week later you resurface, you feel like you’ve been on a deserted island. You even get a haircut, because it feels like you need to clean up now that you’re back to the civilised society.

And then it’s Thea’s birthday – and somehow, at some point, you get arsed up. In your case it’s two drinks. The first one makes you jolly and very, very friendly, but you don’t remember this stage. You reckon in the morning that there was no pause between the two bevvies, and you can only assume that either the person you were drinking with didn’t know about your intolerance, or they did try to get you bladdered.

The investigation will have to wait, since your priority number one – once you open your eyes and stare at the unfamiliar window curtains – is to figure out where the fuck you are, and how much aggro you’re in.

The room is dark, the curtains are drawn. You quickly look around. Everything is posh, elegant, but spartan. And then you recognise the painting on the wall. Unless the person whose place you are at has a copy of the Kandinsky that you’ve observed so many times above John’s headboard, you’re in Dr Delicious’ bed. You know very little about art, and Kandinsky seems to do the same thing again and again, but you’ve spent so many hours in various positions looking at it that you can’t possibly be wrong – here is that blueish greenish blob you always thought looked like a fish. OK, OK, a cock! You’ve always thought it looked like a cock. You’re a chavvy bird, what can you do?

You do the most logical thing you can in this case. You sniff the sheets and the pillow case. Yep, definitely John’s bed. Or at least the one he has slept in. You exhale in relief and plop back into his sheets. Out of all possible beds, this one is the jammiest for you to find yourself in.

After a few seconds of relief, you of course start panicking and hyperventilating since you are – Rassilon help you – in John’s bed. But it’s a mild panic and only a semi-hyperventilation. What’s the worst that could have happened? You shagged him? Fine, it was coming anyway. Pity you won’t remember it. You didn’t shag him and fell on the floor in a precise impersonation of Aunt Pittypat? Not bad either. Perhaps better. Whom are you bloody kidding?! All gods and deities, please, don’t let you two have shagged!

You are predictably as much as starkers. Predictably, because that is the cliche, and altogether this situation does seem like a beginning of a short but sweet romance story, or a scene from the aforementioned romcom. And also because you hate sleeping in a bra. It’s still with you under the duvet, so you assume you took it off yourself. The dress and the shoes are near the bed, neatly placed on a very elegant valet stand. My oh my, you do know that tie near your dress.

The knickers are gone, though. You rummage your hand under the sheets, but they are nowhere to be found. That’s a proper mystery! They were lacy thongs, and you hate those; so it makes sense that you’d take them off, but where are they?

You carefully climb off the bed and mince to what you think is a bathroom. You’re right, and you quickly make use of it and the loo. You also once again seek confirmation that you are indeed in John’s flat – though, clearly not the flat you remember. Products are the same, and there’s a long dark hair in the brush. You breathe a wee bit easier now. You find his robe and wrap in it. Your head’s splitting, and you properly don’t want to get dressed. Besides, you still don’t have any smalls.

Somewhat splashed with cold water, terribly hungover, pale, and disheveled you crawl out of the bedroom into a large living room. Even if your brain didn’t feel like black pudding, you’d be feeling all confused right now. The view in front of you is exactly what they call ‘it was like a dream.’ Here and there you see familiar things – the cursed Ming vase; the painting of that fashionable Japanese painter you always forget the name of; John’s laptop bag; other bits and bobs that you’ve seen and cohabited with for months – but the furniture is new, and it’s clearly a new flat.

You make a few careful steps, and then you see a note on the table. It’s definitely John’s confident, flamboyant handwriting.

Morning, love!

How’s your head? (The meds are attached.)

You see a glass of water and couple pills nearby. You’re still at sixes and sevens, so you decide to finish reading before taking strange pills in a strange home.

Last night I received a call from the concierge of my former building who claimed that my – also, former – paramour was hollering under windows, demanding entrance, threatening to start serenading me from under the balcony. (As flattered as I am, I find it necessary to remind you that the building had no balconies.) As my Romeo appeared mobile, though unreasonable, Mr Deel loaded the Hope and Pride of the Rivendell Institute in a cab, and I received the parcel here. Welcome to my new flat!

I suggest you take the pills, cook yourself a substantial breakfast, and then you will have two choices: 1. You could go home and have a lie-in. I took the liberty to text your friend Thea after you fell asleep informing her you’re safe, and in return she said she rang up the Institute and told them you had an appointment with your acupuncturist and weren’t coming into work today. 2. You could stay. I’ll be home at seven fifteen.

As you can imagine, everything mine is yours. None of your old things are left, sadly. As you recall, I sent you the forgotten items in the first week of our separation. But I’ve always loved the view of you in my shirt. Just a shirt.

You’ve been reading the note in his voice in your head. The last three are a sexy purr.

By the way, don’t look for your knickers. Among many other things you blurted out into my face last night, you mentioned you had thrown them out the cab window. You called it ‘burning the bridges,’ and then offered to describe them to me if necessary.

You’re suddenly not feeling that great, and hurriedly take the meds. Fuck you, Wrennie, you just had to go all in, didn’t you? Literally, couldn’t keep your pants on. And, what the bloody hell did you also blurt out into his face?!

If you happen to be still in this flat, at around six thirty, please, feel free to order dinner. There’re menus in the kitchen (second drawer to the right from the stove), but none of the choices is obligatory. I trust your taste completely.

Just to make the following hours more difficult for you (consider it the revenge for the sleepless night I spent trying not to think of the naked backside you gleefully demonstrated to me), I will inform you that the second most popular topic of your blabbering was your self-pleasuring habits, and my recent reappearance in the leading role in your fantasies. And yes, Wrennie my dear, I do think about that one time in my office quite often as well.

Love,

John

You finish the water in the glass, and plod to the kitchen to make a brekkie. To stay, or not to stay – that is the sodding question.  

 

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 3. Wrennie and the Demons

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Author’s Note:

Oh wow. This is post #100 on this blog. And there are exactly 500 comments. I love neat stats, don’t you? 🙂 

I thought I’d just use this opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to all of you – for reading, and for commenting, and for just being here, and being you. Thank you, my dear readers. Without you, none of my writing would have happened, and none of the good things that came with it would have taken place. 

K.

***

You’re flipping through Netflix, on your comp on the laptop table, and he’s sitting in the recliner by the wall, a tray with tea on his lap. He made the tea, he apparently had brought some sweets; and chicken with roasted veggies is in the oven, on a timer. The man is properly taking care of your nutrition, isn’t he?

“Some oldie, but goodie?” you ask, feeling his eyes on the side of your face.

“Your choice of poison.”

Your choice of poison are the tall, dark, and delicious; so you’re only happy the smallest movement causes you immense pain; because, otherwise, you’d be climbing on his lap, and not for a bedtime story.

You decide on The Da Vinci Code, since you’ve never fancied Hanks, and Bettany whom you do fancy has been changed enough in it; thus, you’re in no danger of any shag related thoughts to bloom. You do tend to catch moods from films, and make unwise choices.

The film starts, you’re sipping tea; he seems to be watching as well.

And when you’ve finally managed to forget he’s in the same room with you, and got at least partially engaged, he asks, “How much movement can you have with your back?”

And you do know him well. And as much as he thinks he’s hiding it, you can hear it – the low, velvet, caramel and truffles, shag cadence in his voice.

“None.” You sound raspy. “Just sitting and not twisting the spine is the best. I even wake up if I shift at night.”

“Good,” he answers quickly, and you turn your head and stare at him. He realises what he’s just said. “Not the fact that pain wakes you up. But it’s good that you’re somewhat restricted.”

“Oh?” You pause the film. He makes a cautioning sound, but you properly need an answer now. “And why is it good?”

“Because out of us two, you have less ability to resist the temptation…” You open your mouth to tell him to sod off. “And I can’t resist you.”

You’re feeling somewhat pissed off, actually. So, he thinks you have no self-control? Does he mean in general, or – what an arrogant arse! – just around him? And apparently he thinks you’d try to cop off – or more – with him just because he’s in the same room!

And then you think it might be some pervy reverse psychology, where he reminds you that you can’t, and tells you he wasn’t planning to, so that you rebel and do go for it.

He smiles to you softly.

“You’re thinking so hard, Wrennie, that your hair is drying in front of my eyes,” he jokes, but that doesn’t improve your bloody mood a bit.

“I was watching the film,” you sneer defensively. “Why do you think I’d even consider any… temptation?”

“Because it is you. And it is me.” He sounds very chuffed, and you’re properly cheesed off now.

“And that’s a given then? If it’s you, I would just drop my knickers right there?!” You raise your voice, and immediately regret it. Maybe, it’s his smart plan. To get you pissed off. Because you’re a bloody popper when you’re angry.

“Wrennie, you need to give me some leeway here. And a bit of trust wouldn’t harm, either.” He tilts his head, his eyes still smiling. “I only meant that you with your intellect have thought this evening through; and since you invited me, you’ve given sex a thought.”

“A. I was clear on what this evening entitled from the start.” You huff some air in indignation. “And B. Even if there was a chance for a shag, it doesn’t mean I’d jump you as soon as you’re in my bedroom. I’m not fixated on having sex with you.”

“I am,” he answers, and you press your lips. Great, just great. He did lure you into talking about It. Was he hoping you’d get randy just from discussing his cock?!

“Wrennie…” he says softly, and you’re ready to bristle, but then you notice the lack of condescending note in his voice. “Please, hear me out without judgement. I’ve had a heart attack and am now worried about my performance. I’m at risk of rising my heart rate too much and too fast; and let’s face it, just a kiss with you gives me palpitations. So, yes, I’m fixated on the thought. I’m sorry I said it was good you were in pain.”

Your anger deflates immediately. You’re an idiot, aren’t you? You feel blush lick your cheeks painfully. You open your mouth to apologise for being a judgmental, presumptions bitch, when he says, “And please, don’t apologise. Nothing in our previous history predisposes you to assume I didn’t try to snooker you into a quickie. I’ve used shag against you before. We’ve had sex too early before; and at all possible wrong moments as well.”

You’re a bit uncomfortable from how medical he is about it, but then you think it’s his defense mechanism – he’s feeling insecure, he’s worried about his health; and perhaps, for the first time in his life, he doesn’t feel like an alpha male and a god of shag. And all that after the drama he went through. Which you caused. And which would break a lesser man completely.

“I just realised how difficult it must be for you,” you speak in a low voice. “I’m sorry… I just haven’t thought about it, never tried to see it from your point of view…” You haven’t, and now it’s all rushing through your mind.

The months after you broke it off; the heart attack; the seven months he stayed away, after having given up a project he’d spent half his life on; the Summer in Japan after the kiss and the conversation at the Elvig’s… Your mind boggles. Sodding hell, what could it have possibly been like?!

“Well, there are medications for that…” he answers, giving you a smirk, and you puff air out.

“I didn’t mean shag! I meant the emotional part… And how much it hurt, and it was all my fault…”

“OK,” he interrupts you, and then puts the tray on the floor at his feet. “Can I sit near you on the bed? I do prefer to be nearer; but if it’ll shake the bed, or you’re emotionally uncomfortable from such proximity, I’m alright here.” He’s being very open and direct. You truly appreciate how much effort such line of behavior must take of him.

“I’m more than comfortable in any sort of proximity toyou, and the mattress is firm enough,” you answer earnestly, and pat the bed near you.

He comes up, toes off his shoes, and sits down, stretching his long legs along you. He’s not touching you, but it immediately feels as if you two are in a bubble of sorts.

“Firstly, I do not need any medication for that sort of activity,” he deadpans, and you give him a confused look. He chuckles. “Just putting the information out here, for later reference. I’m fully functional.” You purse lips suppressing a grin, and he crosses his legs and leans back onto your headboard. You surely have a very narrow bed. His thigh presses to yours through the duvet, his trousers, and your PJ bottoms.

“Secondly, it wasn’t your fault. You did what you considered right, and what was most beneficial for you. Partially, your actions were the direct consequence of my own behaviour. That’s all by the way the direct quote from my therapist, but I do agree with all of it wholeheartedly.” He pressed his hand to his chest theatrically. “Ignore the sardonic tone. It still feels rather barmy to talk about my feelings.” He gives you a small, but sincere smile, and you return it, encouraging.

“And lastly, I did hate you. Right after we broke up.”

You freeze, your eyes on his face, and he’s giving you a direct look.

“You left me, and I hated you. Because you were the first thing that I wanted and couldn’t get. And then after several extensive sessions I was reminded of the most astonishing fact: you aren’t a ‘thing.’ And there’s no ‘getting you.’ I made plans for us, it was all neat and pleasurable in my head, but you are a person, and my plans didn’t work for you. So, yes, it was bloody horrible, but I got over it.”

You’re sitting in silence digesting it. He’s letting you, not talking, and not touching you.

“I had a revelation in Greece…” you say slowly, and he lifts one brow questioningly.

“So, that’s where you disappeared right after…” You nod.

“Yeah. And I just sat in front of the pool for three weeks, and thought… about us. And I realised that I was just too preoccupied with myself, so wrapped up in how I wasn’t good enough, and inadequate, that I lost the ability to look at it from your point of view. And it’s lethal for relationship. We need to try to always see the other person’s side too…”

“That’s what second chances are for,” he notes softly, and you sigh.

“Yeah…” You carefully shift, and press your temple to his shoulder. “And it properly helps that you are now so good at discussing it, and trying to understand…”

“Oh don’t give me all this credit yet,” he draws out, with a cheeky side glance at you. “I’m only doing it to lull you into a false sense of security, so I could shamelessly ravish you.” That makes you feel hot. Very hot. As in a hackneyed wave of heat licking the back of your neck. “Not today, of course,” he adds in a light tone. “It’s all lulling for now, by the means of feeding, and making you a cuppa, and looking at Audrey Tautou’s legs.”

You emit a loud fake gasp.

“So that’s why you agreed on it! Perv!” You remind yourself that laughing – or better so, poking him under ribs; or kissing him soundly – will hurt.

“What can I say, love, I’m a leg man,” he purrs, and shifts just a millimeter closer to you. It’s enough to make you aware of his long heavy leg near yours.

“Hm… You’re forgetting something…” You feign a nonchalant tone. “I do know your tastes. And it’s not her legs you’re looking at.”

“You got me. It’s Hanks’ backside. Love me a pert backside.” He hums and shakes his head, as if lost in pleasant fantasies. You giggle and start the film again. He stays on the bed, and you properly don’t mind.

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 2. Wrennie in a Pinch

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After the coffee date, you have one more. A week later you meet up for a nice cozy dinner in a small Italian bistro. There is a tea candle on the table, and he looks delicious with soft shadows dancing on his face. You two laugh a lot, and just can’t stop talking. The food goes cold; and then the waiter has to cough twice to make the two of you stop chinwagging and finally order some pudding. Both you and John don’t wants any, but it seems neither do both of you want the evening to end.

Instead of taking a cab you walk, continuing your chat. It’s a greedy, jumping from topic to topic, picking up previous lines kind of chatting. Both of you raise your voices, interrupt each other, laugh loudly, and gesture wildly. At some point it calms down, and you just walk, he’s carrying his coat, you pushed your hands in the pockets of yours. The conversation is calmer now, more pensive, and then suddenly you’re in front of your building.

Of course, you’ve thought of what’s going to happen after. You’ve considered and ‘overconsidered’ the question of kissing, and, of course, the question of shag. And it’s the second date, but on the other hand, you’ve been as much as married. And it’s all new, and tentative, but on the other hand, you want him so much that your hands are shaking.

You walk couple steps up, not sure what you think, and then you turn around sharply, still not knowing what to say, and see that he’s lingered behind you on the sidewalk, one foot on the first step. He’s not following you, just looking at you, and you catch the unguarded loving expression in his eyes.

In the warm, sparkly light of the streetlamps, he looks like a prince from a fairy tale. Not those glossy, anti-feminist Disney ones, like the abusive Beast, or the vague one from Cinderella. Somehow you think back at the only VHS you had in one of your foster homes. It was Gulliver’s Travels, from 1939; and as prickly and as ballsy as you were when you were eleven, you secretly watched and rewatched it, and you’d rather die but admit that you watched that doll looking prince with tears in your eyes.

You’ve seen John’s face millions of times, but how much do we actually notice about people around us, until that one crisp moment when the lines suddenly stand out for us? The thick black eyebrows, the elongated shape of bright blue eyes, the crow’s feet, the curve of the lips. He’s endlessly dashing in his navy jumper, the lines of the strong neck and wide shoulders, as if etched in the darkness of the night, and the coat thrown over his arm, which makes him look even more of a romantic figure.

There is a soft smile on his lips, and his eyes are shining, and you step towards him, and your eyes level to his, and you lean in and kiss him. He wraps one arm around your waist, still in accordance with this suddenly manifested charming princely nature; and you gingerly place one hand at the back of his neck, while another lies on his chest. His lips are warm, and gentle. There is no hunger, but still plenty of passion; and tenderness; and some sort of vulnerability.

It’s a Hollywood worthy moment, and you’re melting into it, your heart fluttering, and your breathing shuddered. Sod all cliches, you’ll take it as it is, and will be happy that this is the place you’re in right now.  You’re in love with the man, and you’ll stop analyzing, and just cherish the second chance you two have gotten.

The kiss is long, and it’s starting to heat up, when he softly steps back, and you see him take a deep calming breath in.

“Good night, Wren.” His voice is thick and smoky, and you lean in again ad quickly kiss his cheek.

“Night.” You twirls on your heels and rush to the door.

***

Three days after it, you’re getting ready to go to work. You bend down to pick up a sock you threw on the floor the night before, and something twists in your hip – in a sadly familiar way. You cry out and press your hand into the wall, supporting yourself. That’s the pinched nerve in the right side of your pelvis. You were a breech baby, and had a few injuries in your teen years: two nasty falls in a dancing class, and one encounter with a ditch due to a daft boyfriend with a bike.

The pain is excruciating. The tears immediately run your cheeks, and you take careful breaths in. You know the drill, really. First, the pain will be centered, just in one spot, white and furious; but then it’ll spread, through the pelvis, and the lower back, blinding and burning; and in an hour you will be properly immobile. You need to ring up the lab to take sick days, arrange someone to take you to your masseuse, then acupuncturist, and then five days in bed, each movement accompanied by the shot of pain similar to someone burying an ax into your spine. That’s just bloody ace, isn’t it?

Thankfully, you reach Thea, and then the two of you go through the good old dance called ‘Wrennie is in so much pain she will take any drugs you can give her.’ No drugs help here, though. A good mattress and no extra movement will. 

You’re taken in in the clinic right away, and the next three hours pass in the habitual tortures. You’re squeezed, twisted, and kneaded; and then there are needles, with wires attached to them; your body protesting, and your mind succumbing to overwhelming self-pity.

Thea drives you home and offers to stay. You know she doesn’t want to. Thea can’t stand sick people. You let her go with sincere thank-you’s, and relax in your bed. It’s clearly Netflix time.

You order takeaway, and the first two days pass in Doctor Who marathon; Interstellar, which you’ve been meaning to watch for a while; Jessica Jones; and then Princess Bride to detox from a man wearing the face of Ten being the creepiest fuck there has been shown on telly.

The evening of day two of your sudden hols – not the good kind – John rings you up to offer to go to cinema the next day. You have half a mind to tentatively agree – you properly want to go – but then you remind yourself that inadequate self-care will cripple you for a month or so.

“Um… I have that back thing again…” You’re trying to remember if he’s even born witness to it. Hm… You definitely mentioned it, but you think the previous episode was when the two of you just started dating, so he wouldn’t have seen it. “I have a pinched nerve in the… pelvis. Nothing serious. Just need a bit of rest, and as little movement as possible. Should I ring you when I’m up for going out?”

He’s silent a bit on the other end, and you wonder what he’s thinking about so hard there.

“Wren, I’d really want to help, but I’m not sure where we are with visitations…” Ah, that explains it. His tone is adorably uncertain.

“I’d love to see you,” you answer. “I can’t move much, but if you’re OK with sitting and watching telly with me…” He laughs in your mobile.

“I’d love to come and watch telly with you.”

You agree on him coming in two hours, and you make a superhuman effort and go to the shower. You took one yesterday, but it was just a quick rinse. Being a thick, thick hen who decided to clean up for her fella, you’ve overestimated the healing you’ve done by now, and mid-shower you realise that you might have to sit in the tub and wait for him to come and pull you out. Although, he’d need to break your door down for that, since he has no key. That would be a rather ridiculous situation, wouldn’t it? And definitely not how you imagined him seeing you starkers for the first time. Well, not the first time, per se… You breathe through another wave of piercing pain that feels like a metal belt with daggers turned inwards around your pelvis, quickly wash off the soap, and step out of the tub. You wrap in the robe and sit down on a chair in the hall near the bathroom. If you go and lie down right now, you won’t be able to get up to let him in.

Thankfully, he’s here twenty minutes later. He buzzes, you get up with a groan, and let him in. And then you have to stand on the same spot, leaning onto the wall, taking careful breaths in. Isn’t Wren a bleeding idiot? You properly should have decided on a date in a week, and come to it – pretty, fit, and bendable. As opposed to wet, sad, and stiff as a mop handle.

The door opens, and he comes in, with grocery bags, and a bouquet of your favourite red carnations. He sees you, and the smile on his face drops.

“It’s really not that bad!” you squeak. “I am fine when I’m in bed. I just… The shower took too long.”

He carefully puts down his treats and steps to you.

“What do you need, Wrennie? I can carry you, or…”

“No, no, it’ll hurt more. Just… I’ll go lie down… And you come…” You’re momentarily regretful that you invited him, and that he just saw you so pathetic, and that he’s now studying you with worried eyes. Stupid, stupid Wren.

“So you know, you’re still super sexy,” he deadpans, and you stare at him. “The wet hair, rosy cheeks… And your robe covers very little. So I’ll go stick my head under cold water, then make us a cuppa, and come to pretend to watch telly while lusting over your body. OK?” A wide smile breaks on his face, and you giggle.

“Thank you,” you answer softly. It’s your gratitude for coming, and for reassuring, and for not being a prick, but a loving man that you momentarily forgot he has always been capable of being. He nods, and you slowly walk to the bedroom.

And then you realise you really fancy to have fresh sheets right now. Thea changed them two days ago, but you’d love to have clean ones. There’s another set in your wardrobe, and you chew on your lip wondering if it’s OK to ask him to help.

He finds you still standing staring at your bed.

“I put the kettle on. And I’ll cook you dinner, because you will soon succumb to scurvy like a proper seadog, considering the rubbish you’ve been eating.” He then hikes up one eyebrow. “What are we looking at?”

“Could you… help me with sheets?” you ask in a small voice, and he throws a long look at your rumpled bed.

“No.” That was a bloody decisive answer. What did you expect? It’s all awkward, and it’s your bed, and the two of you… “There’ll be no ‘helping.’ You sit, or stand, whatever works, and I’ll do it. Where are the sheets?”

You point at the drawer and lean on the wall.

You’re watching him deftly move around your small bed, pulling, taking off, tucking, and straightening. Blimey, you love to watch him move, whatever he does. There’s the assurance, and the gracefulness, and then he throws you a cheeky grin over his shoulder.

“Are you agonising about me being in your bed?” He wiggles his eyebrows, in complete accordance with the genre.

“No, I’m staring at your arse,” you bite back, and he guffaws.

“Help yourself. I checked yours out in the hall. And you should tighten up the robe too.” He points at your cleavage with his eyes. The low, purposefully husky voice, and a ridiculous Casanova smirk are funny – and whom are you kidding, very sexy too.

He leaves for kitchen to manage the kettle, and you pick up PJs from the wardrobe, and change as quickly as your body allows you. You’re very glad you didn’t refuse his offer to come.