Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 19. Wren Noticed

Author’s Note:

I just wanted to remind you that contrary to the previous plan to wait for Dr T Series to be over, I’ve already started writing the new webserial Official Town Business. It’s updated irregularly for now, sometimes twice a week; so your best bet to keep track of it is to follow/like my professional Facebook page.

Cheers! Hope to see you there!

Katya

It takes you eleven months to accept that – as good as the two of you are at shag – you aren’t good at conceiving a child.

You consider making an appointment with Graham’s Candice without letting John know. You might disagree with her retrograde outlook at women’s rights and prerogatives, but she’s bloody good.

But then you decide that’s now how you two roll these days. You sit him down at dinner one evening, and carefully approach the subject. He’s quiet all through your speech; you make sure to speak unemotionally. His jaw is locked; and he presses lips in a stern line – but you didn’t expect him to take it any other way. He says he’ll think about it. And you trust his judgement – and you trust him – enough to leave it at that.

For three days he’s subdued, his face dark; and you let him digest. And then he offers to go to the fertility clinic where Candice and Graham work. You give him a surprised look. The clinic is in the same hospital where he operates. The rumours will spread. On the other hand, it’s one of the best places in the country.

You two go; and tests start. Two weeks later you think that if any more people look at your fanny, or you’re asked to supply a sample of yet another of your bodily fluid, you might murder someone.

You get a ring from Candice; and she asks you to come alone for an appointment. It can only mean one thing – it’s you, and not John who is the barney. There was 50% chance that would happen, but on the other hand he’s a bloke over forty five here, while you’re a perky healthy young woman.

You tell her you think both of you should be there, and she agrees in a professional tone. You know she thinks you’re making a mistake.

John gets his results the next day; and you imagine how his specialist gives him a clap to the back, with a surprised but approving chuckle. Apparently the line of Thoringtons – previously having included sea captains, baronets, and somewhere there a copper who apprehended a gang of Irish bootleggers in New York during the roaring twenties – will not be so easily broken.

Three days later, the two of you are sitting in Candice’s disgustingly cheery office; and she explains that although there’s nothing drastically wrong with your reproductive system, your history of endometriosis, and several other issues you’ve dealt with through years, just isn’t a ‘favourable environment’ for conception. Basically, you have a resisting fanny. She isn’t sick or broken – she just doesn’t fancy a sprog. You’ve had time to prepare for this news emotionally; so you just ask what the next step is.

The next step is hormone injections. And of course Candice rushes to reassure you – that it’s shown itself very successful; that the side effects are very mild these days; and that there are all those other options afterwards, such as in vitro, and surrogacy; and so on, and so on. And you nod, and try to ignore how pink her cardigan is; and how sick you’re feeling.

And then she starts asking when you’d like to start the injections; and suggests a schedule; and you suddenly hear your own voice, “I think I’d like to take a month off. Just take the pressure off, and just stop thinking about it, you know…”

John stretches his hand, and his fingers wrap around yours. You grasp the familiar warm hand, as if you’re drowning.

“I think that would be a great idea,” he says, and it’s that quiet authoritative tone that is just so John Thorington. Candice shuts her gob, although she was clearly going to disagree. He lifts your hand to his lips, and you turn and meet his eyes. The expression in them is loving and supportive. “Just don’t hope for less shag, alright?” One corner of his lips curls up, and you give out a small weak laugh. To Candice it probably looks like a randy joke; you hear the reassurance and love he knows you need at the moment.

***

You return to the flat, and he’s supposed to go to the uni. You took a day off, having prepared for the meltdown you were surely to have after the convo.

“Do you want me to stay?” he asks softly, helping you out of your coat. You toe off your shoes, and lean your back into the wall.

“I want wine,” you say, and he throws you a surprised look. You give out a neurotic chuckle. “You know how they do in films? Sit on the floor, drink wine, and cry.”

“We have that bottle of Shiraz somewhere. And if you just pour and drink, without decanting it, you’ll start crying faster.” He gives you a soft smile. “And conk out faster too. It’ll be a short cry, but the hangover will be worth it.”

You nod and head to the pantry.

“I do want you to stay,” you answer without turning, and he pulls out his mobile from his pocket.

***

The two of you are sitting on the floor of the kitchen, legs stretched in front of you, the bottle and one glass between you.

You’ve taken one sip. Normally, you can manage one glass before you, as he put it, ‘conk out.’ And yes, the hangover will be a bitch. You monitor your state. Your cheeks are already burning. The next step is crying, or laughing, or jumping his bones demanding something very, very obscene, more obscene that your usual inventive and enthusiastic shag. But not today – not when you feel like shite; not after eleven months of ace shag, full of laughter, and hope, and words of love.

The first tears run down your cheeks.

He downs the glass, pours more, and passes it to you.

“I know I have no right to complain… or feel sorry for myself…” you mumble, your voice nasal, and he looks at you softly.

“You have a bit of a right…”

“I’m healthy, successful; I finished my degree; I have a great job… And Candice is right, the injections are the very beginning, and there are all those other options, if the hormones fail… And it’s not like I’m explicitly infertile…”

He nudges the glass with his index finger under its bottom towards your lips. You sip.

“Love, you’re human,” he says and picks up the glass from your hand. “You know I can’t stand emotions, even when they’re due, but even I think you are allowed to sit and drink wine and cry today.”

There’s about a foot of space between the two of you. And you aren’t touching. You might feel better if you press into him – but you don’t want to feel better just yet.

“Thank you…” you whisper, and he nods, his eyes on the opposite wall. You chuckle; it’s bitter and neurotic. You’re clearly bladdered already. “And I’m sort of relieved it’s me, and not you…”

He gives you a side glance.

“Because I’d take a failure much worse than you?” he asks, and sighs. “You’re right. It wouldn’t have been a civilized half a glass of wine, and apologetic crying, if it were me.”

“Apologetic crying?” you ask with a drunk giggle.

“You clearly feel like apologizing for being upset,” he reminds you.

“Yeah, but that’s not what I meant when I said that it’s better that it’s me… I just meant, in a sort of strange way, it’s only fair… I already have everything I’ve ever wanted in my life, and there has to be some karmic justice, isn’t there? All I’ve ever wanted is the career and you…” You take the wine, and lift it to your lips.

“You have very low standards,” he laughs, and you look at him over the rim of the glass.

“But it’s true…” Your head is starting to spin. “Since that day, when it was me and Phil and Killian, and we came to the mansion… And you came down for breakfast… All I’ve wanted… was you. And then I saw you in the evening jacket… God, the dreams I had afterwards!” You’re getting lost in the memories. “But even then, the first time… You were drinking coffee, and your throat moved… And the way you hold your cup, between the middle finger, and thumb, sort of twisting your hand…” You mimic the gesture. “That day, I… I wanted you so much then.” You drop your head back and stare at the ceiling. “You seem so… grown up… so… wow…” You sway the glass in the air, and he catches your hand with it. You try to focus on him. “I don’t think you even noticed I was in the room. And then next time we came over, you were jet lagged, and grumpy… and Killian said not to mind you…” You laugh, while tears are still running down your cheeks.

“I did notice you,” John says. “The first time you came over… You wore a green jumper, and had a braid.”

You gape at him, your jaw ungracefully hanging.

“Why?” you choke out. You were young, you still are; you aren’t the sexiest of them all, neither are you pretty. You don’t doubt he loves you now; and you know your worth. But sod it, you aren’t the kind of a bird men notice in a positive way. You’re noticed for the strange angular face; and the carrot hair – but not noticed noticed, as in remembering what your hair was like then.

He smiles to you – that very smile that still makes you weak at the knees. With crow’s feet, and the curled up corners of his wonderful lips.

“Why do people fall in love?” he asks.

And you lunge ahead, knocking the glass over, your arms go around his neck, and you catch his mouth.

***

You get pregnant six months later. Everything goes by the book: the good – your tits are much more noticeable now; the bad – your gingerness ensures you nasty nausea as a side effect; and the ugly – the mood swings are so hard to control that even John’s recently developed angelic patience slips sometimes. Two months in, you two develop a system when one of you leaves the room when you start hissing and narrowing your eyes.

The element of surprise is, of course, gone out of your pregnancy; and once the test results are positive, there’s no exuberance. The two of you, Candice, Graham, and couple more people in the know just keep your fingers crossed and wait. You take time off the work; and John and you have hols in Scotland.

You’re lucky. The first time, as Graham puts it, sticks.

And then the day of the ultrasound comes.

Bonus chapter:

Companion piece: Three Cheers to John!

 

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 18. Wren, Ties, and Questions

Author’s Note:

Just a reminder that I’ve started a new webserial since this one is coming to a conclusion; and you can find it here. I was going to start updating it after Dr. T is over and once a week on Saturdays – but I’ve already posted three chapters. I can’t seem to be able to stay away from it! Give it a read 🙂 

Also, the easiest way to keep track of my updates (I’m mostly writing here and on Wattpad) these days, is to follow/like my professional Facebook page.

Cheers,

Katya

The two of you enter the flat, and you head to the bathroom to take out your contact lenses. You aren’t taking your terribly uncomfortable stilettos off, because you have plans. Big plans. On the way you yell ‘Don’t you dare touching that jacket’ over your shoulder. You want to unwrap your gift yourself. The response to this is a guffaw and ‘I wouldn’t dream of it.’

And then he yells, “Can I loosen the tie at least?”

“Hells yeah!” is your enthusiastic response. You pull the damn plastic pieces out of your eyes, quickly put drops in, and give yourself a look over. Maybe, loose hair on the shoulders would be better. You pull the pins out and ruffle the curls. Your eyes are shiny, and the cheeks are flushed.

You step into the living room. He’s sitting on the sofa, one arm along the top of the back, legs planted widely. The blood red ribbon of the bow tie around his neck, ends hanging along the panels of the starched shirt – yum! The man is worthy of a harlequin novel cover – and all yours!  

“Hello,” you purr, and he smirks lopsidedly. From the hungry look he throws to you head to toe, your skin tingles. You slowly walk up to him, and then give a twirl in front of him.

“You’re beautiful…” He smiles to you, love and lust mixed in equal proportions – just like you fancy it; and you pick up the skirt and climb on his lap. You straddle him, and his left hand slowly lies on your knee and slides higher, along the thigh.

You pick up the tie and start wrapping it around your hand, making sure it slides slowly around his neck, under the collar. There’s a hardly audible hiss of the silk on the broadcloth.

“Did you have fun tonight?” he asks, and you lean in and brush your lips to the corner of his mouth.

“Not yet,” you whisper, and feel the corner curl up under your lips; the whiskers scratch at your skin.

You move your lips, hardly touching him, to his ear, and place a small kiss on the lobe, and then on the warm neck, where you can feel his pulse beating quickly.

You then straighten up; and a delicious idea comes. You take the ends of the tie, and then lean in, and place it over his eyes. A throaty chuckle burst out of him.

The ribbon isn’t too wide, but it’s the gesture that counts. He will keep his eyes closed. You loosely tie it at the back of his head, and start on the buttons of the waistcoat and the shirt. Not too much, just to give you one of your favourite views.

His second hand is now stroking your thigh as well, but he’s quite passive – just as you hoped. You run the tips of your fingers on his sternum, where the coarse chest hair is the thickest.

The belt buckle clicks, and you slowly open the zipper. To reach, you move back, squirming a bit, and his hips jump up. Someone is in anticipation.

You push your hand down his pants, and gently stroke the smooth, silky skin. The familiar length and width, your hand encircling it, the hardness, and the twitch it gives when you caress the ridge with your thumb – all of it sends sweet shivers through your body, and muscles clench between your legs.

You pick up his chin with your curled index finger and make him lift his face. His soft lips part slightly, but he’s still letting you fully control what’s happening.

You finally kiss him, you can’t hold it back anymore; and you feel him lift his shoulders off the sofa. His lips and teeth are moving greedily; and you press into him, your right arm wrapping around his neck. And then you lift your hips, and lead him inside with your left hand, deftly moving your knickers aside. There isn’t much, just a narrow strip of lace; and it springs from under your middle finger you used to shift it. You move, and the lace predictably rubs him at the base. He exhales a low coarse moan into your mouth.

Still holding tightly to his neck, you move your left hand behind you, on his knee – and start rocking your hips, lifting and slightly twisting.

You’re losing control and the clear understanding of what’s happening, sensations flooding you. You let your body take what it wants. Muscles clench around him; your back is arching; and you cry out with each dip.

His hands were kneading your buttocks; and then they shift, and he grabs your hips, his thumbs on your hipbones. The rougher you move, the tighter the grasp of his hands. You feel your climax approaching and you know he’s close too – he now can’t help but start pulling you into him, pushing into you deeper. Harsh exhales fall from his lips; and you jerk; and twisting your body you grab the back of the sofa with both your hands. The angle changes, he growls. For a few seconds you greedily watch his face – the pleasure, the hunger, mindless greed – and then you cum, and squeeze your eyes; and he joins you, his hips buckle, and your feel his cum hit your walls inside. You force yourself to open your eyes, you want to see – he’s so very beautiful at that moment!

And then he jerks off the tie, and the large hot palm grabs the back of your head. He pulls you into a kiss, and you moan.

A few seconds later sanity seem to come back to both of you, and you softly laugh into his lips.

“I want a bath…” you whisper, and he tenderly kisses your cheekbone and your temple, making you squint in pleasure.

***

While he’s filling the tub, you quickly take off the make up. You both changed into robes, and he pats your buttock through the silk. You stick your tongue at him in the mirror.

He sits down on the edge of the bath, and you can feel his gaze on your back. You turn to him and smile.

“I have a mad question to you,” he draws out, and you hum encouraging him to continue, wiping off your mascara. “Dea congratulated me. And couple other people at the party as well. So… Are you by chance pregnant?”

You straighten up and look at him. He lifts one finger. “And before you say anything, I did say it was a mad question. Because I in no way suspect that you knew and told Dea before me. I just thought maybe she saw something at the party, and then started blabbering to people…”

“I’m not,” you answer, and step to him. “She’s apparently been hinting on it for a while. Killian mentioned she’d asked him if he thought I was. But I haven’t seen her, since… before we broke up.”

“Oh…” That’s a hell of an ‘oh.’ Call Wrennie barmy, but that’s a disappointed ‘oh.’ A very, very disappointed ‘oh.’

“I’m on a pill, John,” you remind him, and cup his jaw, making him look up at you. “You do know that, right?” He does. So, this reaction is a bit… confusing?

“Well, they aren’t 100% reliable,” he answers. So, definitely disappointed.

He wraps his arms around your middle, and pulls you closer. He pushes his nose in the opening of your robe, and nuzzles between your tits.

“Why do you think she did it?” you ask, and he sighs, tickling your skin with his warm breath.

“To piss me off. To humiliate you. It’s an intrusion into privacy, and she’s a big fan. People would ask, and you and I would have to react to it. Whichever way it goes, whatever you actually think about it…” He kisses your sternum. “It would still be unpleasant.”

“That’s mean,” you mutter, and he slightly turns and kisses the inside of your right breast.

“It is. I can talk to her about it.”

You thread your fingers in his hair. The silver and the ebony run between your fingers, and you feel love, and tenderness. You feel safe, and loved, and… home.

“Or we can make the rumours true,” you say, and he freezes. You feel him take a careful breath in, and then he lifts his face to you. Emotions splash in his brilliant cerulean eyes.

“I mean, it’s nine months. We can plan it accordingly; and I can organize my studies around it. I’d have to work less of course, but I do need to balance my life and work anyroad, and…”

His arms tighten around you, and he’s still staring at you.

“That is of course if…” you start asking.

“I’m in,” he breathes out, interrupting you.

“Yeah?” You bite into your bottom lip, and he grins widely.

“Oh yeah…”

The two of you laugh, and then he shifts, and pulls, and topples the two of you into the tub. He’s careful, one arm around you, another pressed into the opposite side of the tub; but you theatrically squeal, as if terrified.

“I’m in my robe, your plonker!” you holler, and start snorting and spitting water that got into your mouth.

He’s laughs, and kisses you; and you two move, and arrange limbs, snogging, and running hands over each other. Neither can stop grinning.

Live Well and Proper || Chapter 17. Wren Repeats Herself

Author’s Note:

At the moment it seems that there will be five more chapters (including two one-shots about the kiddies previously posted in Medical Cabinet) before this saga is finally over, and Wrennie and her Dr. Sexy will say goodbye to you, and disappear into their happily ever after. I’m a bit sad, but it’s light sadness.

I’m less sad than I expected, since last night a new idea for a webserial came to me! I conjure my plots and characters in the strangest of circumstances, but I have to say, I’ve never had a story come to me in a dream!

Nonetheless, here it is: Official Town Business. Give it a read, and let me know what you think! If you approve, it’ll be updated on Saturday, just as Dr T Series is right now, and you can see it in the menu on the top of the blog.

After a short amicable chat with Elvig, you make couple rounds, mingling and being the ace young professional you are – making connections, smiling to the very important people, charming their pants off. But not literally, of course – although the glimpse of your own very important person, in that perfectly cut jacket quite often directs your thoughts to this one specific pair of pants, and immediately down into your gutter. You quite fancy him in jammies, or nothing at all; but a bit of occasional formal shirt and black trousers are just the treat your libido can’t say ‘no’ to!

The next part is toasts. Thrandon pops up, and drones some sort of a string of banalities. If he wanted to let the guests know he isn’t that chuffed with the union, he made just the right amount of effort to show – clearly, zilch of preparation went into his speech; and the lazy haughty expression on his face speaks volumes. People clap; a few exchange confused looks. Lan kisses Killian. It’s the theatrical Hollywood kiss, with dipping the partner backwards, and lots of tongue. You giggle into the upper arm of your Dr. Sexy.

“I’m next,” John whispers to you, and you lift an eyebrow questioningly. You’d expect Dea to be the ‘father of the bride.’ “Killian asked for me.” John gives you a meaningful look, and you smile to him.

John’s speech is touching, loving, funny, and… just perfect. He shows support, happiness for his nephew, warmth, understanding, and finishes it up with a small anecdote from Killian’s childhood. Dea isn’t featured. People laugh, people sigh; couple peeps discreetly wipe tears.

“All I can say…” He lifts his flute, and smiles to Killian and Lan. He’s especially gorgeous at the moment, and you swallow a knot in your throat, from how lucky you feel, how much you love him, and how happy you feel. “Congratulations for finding each other, and I’m sure the two of you will be perfectly happy! After all neither of you will have to suffer like my partner.” He salutes you with his glass, and you laugh. “All the love and happiness in the world to Lan and Killian!”

The crowd cheers; Dea and Thrandon look like they’re smiling through toothache. Another Hollywood snog from the happy couple follows; and you get a soft kiss on the cheek. You pat his waistcoat converted tummy; and you two smile to each other.

***

An hour later, there’s dancing, and excessive drinking; and it’s obvious the crowd has thinned out, only the young and the strong left behind. You dance with both betrothed; and then sneak away onto the balcony for some fresh air. And some Dr. Sexy, judging by how he caught you looking at him and then pointing at the balcony with your eyes –  and nodded. The poor ducky can’t dance due to his ‘human pyramid-ing,’ but you think you two will snog a bit on the balcony, then maybe one slow dance – you basically dancing around him, not that bad either – and then you’ll go home. There’re enough enthusiastic guests here; and you can always blame John’s ‘early to bed due to old age’ routine.

You step outside, and drop your head back. The sky is pearly grey; and the night is wonderfully balmy. You still could use some skin to skin contact – for warmth purposes, of course – but otherwise you’re comfortable and pleasantly tingly from the excitement of the event, and for how lovely the two plonkers look together.

Fingertips slowly brush at your bare back, between the shoulder blades, and goosebumps run down your spine. You smile and slowly turn around. And meet the cold blue eyes of Elliot Thrandon.

“Miss Leary.” He smiles to you, his eyes unfocused, his grin totally arsed up. Yeah, he’s been poached like a pear.

“Mr. Thrandon.”

That was creepy. And disgusting. You now feel like starting to wiggle trying to wipe your back with a napkin. But you aren’t going to start a fuss just for that – for Lan and Killian’s sake. But one more thing…

He steps closer to you and looks down at you. Oi, mate, personal space!

“You look ravishing tonight, Wren.” He lifts his hand, clearly planning to pick up a curl near your cheek.

“Seriously?” You give him a sarcastic look. “What makes you think you can approach me like this?”

“I just thought you might be done with Thorington by now.”

You emit a short disbelieving laugh.

“Even if, say, I were done, and even in the mood to leave this place with someone else; and even if that someone were you… you still can’t touch me without my consent. It’s as simple as that.”

“Oh, the feminist rubbish,” he theatrically groans and takes a sip from his glass.

You decide the conversation is over, and start walking by him. He grabs your upper arm, and you give him an astonished stare. Really? You mean, really?!

You kneed him in the bollocks then, couple years ago, for exactly this bloody thing! If then he thought you were a chavvy bint, with no one to protect you and to back you up if the things went pearshaped – you’re the leading specialist in the Rivendell Institute right now! And you have signed a lovely pre-nap by the way – John insisted, mostly to facilitate you inheriting everything of his, in case of his death. If anything, you’d be able to pay off any charges of bodily harm, if Thrandon sues you, after he manages to straighten up.

“Let me go, Mr. Thrandon. I don’t want to hurt you,” you say calmly, and he smiles one of his wide barmy smiles. Is he on drugs as well?

“I love how feisty you are, Wren. But trust me, most women eventually choose me over Thorington.”

“Then you have scanned quite a narrow sample group,” you answer, and pull at your arm. He has three seconds to let you go: three, two, one…

Not only he doesn’t let you go, he starts leaning down to you. You can’t believe the pillock! Does he think he’s James Bond, and you will change your allegiances like Pussy Galore, after a glorious snog from him?

“I fancy the new classy you, Wren. But I bet the hungry ambitious girl is still under there, and she knows I’m a much more promising choice than Thorington.”

You jerk your arm out of his grasp.

“Both of us choose to refuse your generous offer, Mr. Thrandon.” You lift your chin and leave the balcony.

In the door you see John, and he opens his mouth to ask, his eyes darting between you and Thrandon; but you wrap your arm around his waist, turn him, and he obediently follows you.

“You got this?” he asks with a chuckle.

“I got this,” you answer with a confident nod.

***

You do end up kneeing Thrandon. You truly tried not to! It would be just bad taste! And repetitive! But the wanker asked for it!

While you were enjoying your slow dance with – or more precisely – around your wonderful husband, Thradon fell into the room; had more booze; and when John goes to pick up your coats, you overhear the blonde bastard and the Japanese.

The thing is you’ve learnt the language – as much as one can learn Japanese without living in the country for a decade. You started learning it when you were hoping to get your first Yamataki grant, and continued studying ever since. And then John – who speaks it as fluently as a Westerner can – helped you a bit. And yes, you two have turned it into a fun sex game. What didn’t you?

So, you can understand what Thrandon’s telling the Japanese about you. And about your relationship with John. And apparently about how little you charge for a night.

Luckily they’re in a secluded corner, sort of behind a nice ice center piece. You walk up, knee the wanker, and give the astonished looking Japanese a bow. You know you’re doing it right. You tested it on John. Formal, polite, perfectly executed – he had you against the wall after that.

O isogashī tokoro, shitsure shimashita.” You give them another bow, and happily bouncing go to pick up your dessert for tonight, who’s waiting you near a cab.

“What did you do, minx?” he asks, wrapping your coat around your shoulders, and kissing your cheek.

“I practised a bit of Japanese,” you answer with a smile. He hums.

“Shall we continue the lesson at home?” he asks, and you brush your hand to his chest, and then claw at it a bit.

“Yes, we shall, anata.” He laughs, and in the cab you press into him.

“John, could you do me a favour?” You press your cheek to his chest.

“Of course.”

“Could you rub my back between the shoulder blades, please?” You feel his hand snake under your coat, and the scorching familiar palm lies on your skin.

“I’m not sure it’s favour to you,” he whispers in your ear, and you feel the helix flame up. “I’m quite enjoying it too.”

“Well, let’s consider it an aperitif then.”

He catches your mouth, and you wrap your arms around his neck.

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 16. Wren at the Engagement Party

Author’s Note:

Just a reminder to, please, support two of my current endeavours: Hammer Up! on Amazon Kindle Scout (there’s still time to nominate it and get a chance to receive a free copy in a couple weeks); and Due North on Inkitt.com (sign in and grab a free copy of the full story before they’re all gone and the contest is over! You get a funny story, and I might win a publication contract. And please, leave a review. Just a few words are enough!) 

Thank you,

Katya

Killian and Lan’s engagement party is the acest, raddest, most hilarious thing ever!

But first there was this one thing… When the two muppets told you and John that they’re tying the knot, and they were thoroughly congratulated, Lan nonchalantly announced that his Dad was throwing the engagement party. The four of you were having dinner at your place; Killian and John cooked. The piece of news was released over the dessert, and you choked on your Black Forest cake, while John lifted one eyebrow – especially highly.

“Your Dad… Your Dad, Elliot Thrandon is throwing you an engagement party?” you asked, and Lan also cocked an eyebrow. This one wasn’t questioning; it’s more of a half wiggle. “I mean, he’s perpetually arsed up, so he knows how to… be merry; but I thought he didn’t approve…” You bit your tongue, but Killian seemed to be fine with it. He chuckled, and shook his finger at you.

“I’m a Durinson, and a nephew of the Dr. John Thorington, Wrennie.” He saluted you with his glass. “I might not have tits, which he’d hoped for Lan; and especially not such glorious ones as yours, but I’m the best Thrandon could get in this family.”

“What do the gloriousness of my tits have to do with it?” you snorted.

“They’ve been mentioned,” Lan drew out, and it’s John’s turn to choke on his cake.

“Pardon?” You gawked at Lan.

“My Dad is still not over them. It’s going to be fun at the party. His nose is looking even better than before, by the way.” Lan gave John a meaningful look.

“What the actual..?” you muttered. “I’ve only met your Dad once. And it’s been years!”

“He’s mentioned you since then… Might have something to do with how much you look like Mom.” Lan shrugged, and you whipped your head, and gave John a death glare. Seriously?! He could have bloody mentioned that!

“Only in size. And the eyes I guess. Well, the hair, and the mouth too…” John innocently sipped his wine. He was so getting an earful later!

“I thought he was chatting me up to cock you up!” you hissed at John.

“Oh, he was,” John answered, and smirked. “But we’ve always had similar taste in women.”

“Oh, that’s just grand,” you groaned. The three men laughed. “Thank goodness, it’s all complete bollocks, and you three are just taking the piss.” You threw a hopeful look around. “Right?” Three glasses were lifted in a salute, and you stuffed a forkful of cake into your mouth.

Oh c’mon, that would be simply ridiculous if they weren’t joking. You had indeed met the man only once; and it’s not a harlequin novel where He would been harbouring some sort of obsessive desire for Her for a long time. Also, men get fixated on the likes of their previous paramours only in the books of Jude Deveraux.

That evening you googled Imogen Thrandon, née O’Sullivan.

All you can say is ‘oh poop.’

***

The hall rented for the party is as posh as they come. Everything is decorated in white and silver, probably to go with Thrandon’s personal monochrome style. He’s almost always dressed in black and white, probably to match his long white hair and the surreal black eyebrows – you always get surprised when you see them. Seriously, like a jack-in-a-box toy, they just jump at a person, no matter how much one prepares oneself for them.

Lan and Killian look amazing, a blond and a brunet. And then you snort when you see that Killian’s wearing a burgundy tux, with a blood red waistcoat and a bowtie of a slightly darker shade. Way to stick it up to his future father-in-law! And John’s choice of a red bowtie with a white jacket becomes so much more understandable.

You’re wearing a black silk, floor length dress, tunic like, with a low V-neck right down to your waist. The back is bare, and John’s warm palm lies below your shoulder blades. A pleasant shiver runs down your spine. The two of you are still riding the wave of your sort of reconciliation. The ‘old couple’ mode hasn’t kicked in yet; and you two just can’t keep your hands off each other.

“Wren, darling, you look dazzling!” Dea’s voice is the first thing that greets you when the two of you come in.

You haven’t seen her since the wedding dress shopping trip. Oops.

John’s hand on your back twitches, and then he rubs your skin with his thumb in a comforting gesture. You stretch your lips in a polite smile.

“You’re simply glowing,” she purrs, before you can say anything, and her eyes run over your body. Hm, what’s this about? And then she notices the brace on John’s ankle. It does look good paired with one black Ferragamo, doesn’t it? “John, dear, what happened?”

“We were building a human pyramid,” you answer without missing a beat, and John emits a loud guffaw. All her toff upbringing forgotten, Dea’s gaping; the two of you pass her and go inside.

“Minx,” John whispers in your ear, and you throw him a side glance from under your lashes. He kisses your naked shoulder; and goosebumps gallop down your spine.

You see couple of your and Lan’s colleagues from the Rivendell; and you give them a wave.

“Oh, please, don’t leave me alone,” John whines in a fake high pitched voice. “Everyone here is either your mate, or old and boring.”

“Tough tits, love,” you answer to him. “Welcome to my life.”

You let go of his arm, and head to your friends, pretty much feeling his eyes on your arse. You’re feeling very good about your arse today. The black silk hugs it just the right way – which has already been confirmed by how you had to quickly take it off, once you got dressed couple hours ago and were putting on your jewellery, to save it from being crumpled when Dr. Sexy threw you on the bed and ravished you shamelessly. You might be adding extra bounce to your step.

Half an hour into mingling and chatting, you feel peckish. It’s the ‘standing and decorously eating canapés’ part of the evening, and you slowly make your way to the tables. You find Killian there, his plate loaded – and Phil in front of him, with some tall skinny brunette glued to his side.

“Wren!” Killian greets you, and you give him a tight, one-armed hug, and an almost kiss to his cheek – no need to smear your Guerlain Kiss Kiss Red Passion on him.

“Wren, this is Amanda, and you’ve met my brother Phil,” Killian sing-songs in a innocent tone.

“No need to pussyfoot around it, Killian. Amanda is aware of my past,” Phil announces in a toff voice, and turns to you. “Good to see you again, Wren.” His tone is a bit sour.

You give him a polite smile. “Hi. The pleasure is all mine.” You turn to his date. “Hi. I’m Wren.”

She’s stretched her hand to you, and you shake it. Her eyes are coldly studying you.

“Nice to meet you, Mrs. Thorington,” she greets you. Ouch. And brava, on the other hand. That’s a hell of a demonstration of being in the know, if you’ve ever seen one. That’s basically a ‘I know all about you, pet; and I don’t approve’ line, in a neat package consisting of two words.

“I kept my surname, actually.” You smile to her widely. “Men in this family tend to get a smidge possessive. I like to remind them it’s post Lady Rhondda era we’re living in.

She blinks uncontrollably. That was a low blow, Wrennie my dear. The chick is clearly American; and the historical reference was obscure at best.

Phil gives you a glare, and steers his plus one away from you.

“What’s a ‘lady rhondda?’” Killian asks, futilely trying to hide his sniggering under coughing.

“Look it up, love,” you answer with a flair, and snatch a vol-au-vent off his plate. He bursts into laughter; you’re chewing and smiling.

“She’s American. Daddy is a big pharmaceutical company. We hate her,” Killian reports, and you sneak a peek while loading moreish looking bites on your plate.

“We as in you and your Mother? Or you and Lan?” These would be radically different things, yeah?

“Lan and I,” he answers, and gives you a pointed look. “Mother is elated. Amanda has a sister, couple years younger. I think Mother contributed into Phil’s choice between the two of them more than Phil himself.” You cringe.

“What are we gossiping about?” Lan asks coming up and wrapping his arms around your and Killian’s waists.

“We’re being unfairly cruel about Phil’s private life,” Killin answers, and quickly kisses Lan’s cheek.

“There’s nothing unfair about being cruel about his private life.” Lan is perusing the table. “As I said before, he should’ve rebelled and did what you and John did – chose an undeserving slag.”

Al three of you snigger, and you throw a look over your shoulder. Your rebellious, slag loving Dr Delicious is on the other end of the hall, chinwagging with a couple of Japanese gentlemen from the Yamataki Fund. And then he turns and meets your eyes. Awww, he felt your looking! You smile to him, and don’t even find your own loved-up ogling that daft. C’mon, the man is a sex god, a grand husband, and he just gave you a wink! Can it get any better?

“Mom has been hinting you’re preggers, by the way. To anyone who listens,” Killian deadpans near you, and some sort of a fancy pork tapa gets stuck in your throat.

“What?” you rasp out, and quickly pick up a glass of water.

“Yeah, what’s that about? She even asked me if I noticed anything.” Killian gives you a theatrically inquisitive squinted look. “Are you in the family way, Mrs. Thorington?”

“Not that I’m aware of,” you answer, still trying to push the appetizer down your throat.

“Hm… Maybe just another of her bennies.” Killian shrugs.

You throw a quick glance at Deadre. She’s standing near the central piece, with none other than Mr. Elliot Thrandon himself. And then he turns and catches your eyes. You whip your head, like the last moron. He’s seen you looking, you daft cow! You should have smiled politely! And now it looks like you stared and then tried to hide it. Bollocks.

You pick up your plate and escape into the safety of the company of Dr. Elvig. At least here you know what to expect.

“Miss Leary,” he greets you, and you smile sincerely. “You’re positively glowing tonight.”

What the fuck?!

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 13. Wrennie Hears an Answer

Author’s Note:

Chapter 13 after Friday 13. Are you worried, my lovelies? 😉

He takes off his glasses, and gives you a long calm look.

“No, I am not.”

You nod, sit down in your favourite armchair, and fold your hands on the lap.

He watches you in silence for a few seconds; and then he puts the book and the glasses on the side table and sits up in a swift forceful movement.

“You do believe me, Wren, right?” he asks in a low voice.

You nod again.

“I do.”

“But..?”

You sigh.

“But now that we’re talking about it… And I hadn’t thought of it before… But it sounds like you’d expected this conversation.” You lift your eyes to his face. It’s pointless really. Not even a Jedi can read his emotions when Dr. John Crispin Thorington is intent on hiding them.

“I didn’t expect it. I was aware of its possibility.” His pointed level tone makes it bloody worse – about ten hundred times worse. “Wren, I didn’t know if you’d even noticed…”

“Noticed that your TA has a crush on you? It’s quite obvious.” Now you also sound emotionless, but your tone is more dull than his levelled cautious one.

“You seemed oblivious.”

“I hid it well,” you answer quickly, and then something painfully spasms in your right temple.

“Wren, I’m sure you know that nothing happened…”

Does he notice that he uses this mind-control voodoo on people? ‘I’m sure that you know…’ and ‘you do believe me…’ Fucking relationship Darren Brown.

You take a slow breath in, and close your eyes. The headache is rapidly spilling all over your head.

“John, I… I noticed Eva. I just didn’t know what you were feeling…”

“Flattered,” he interrupts you. Judging by the speed of the answer, he’s losing his composure. Funny, he’s just said he’d been preparing for this conversation. What’s throwing him off? “Wren, I was egotistic, and self-centered, and enjoyed attentions from a young woman. It was unfair towards both of you…”

You lift your hand stopping his clearly rehearsed speech. You somehow find it hard to speak. It might be the migraine. Or maybe, you’re just so fucking tired.

“I had a conversation with Eva, two weeks ago,” he says. “I tried to… discourage her from her behaviour.” His voice is growing emotional. “I might have been too subtle, but if you think I need to discuss it again with her, to make it clear to her…”

“It’s none of my business, John,” you interrupt this time. “You two are adults, and how you handle it, it’s up to you. Both of you… But you hurt me.” You stop and rub your temples. It takes two purposeful exhales to start talking again. “No, I’m wrong. Not you… It. It hurt me. The months of doubting, and worrying, and…”

“If I had known it bothered you – and for so long, Wren! – I would have put an end to her ridiculous flirting right away.” He’s raising his voice, and leans ahead, and makes a forceful gesture with his hand.

“You didn’t have to. You weren’t obliged to… It was just difficult. With my studies, and work, and never spending time together… And constantly feeling guilty about it…”

“Wren, we talked about it. You shouldn’t feel guilty. You’re building your career, and we’re both in it. It’s important for both of us.” More Darren Brown shite. Really, John?

“We haven’t talked about it.” You sound disinterested. You aren’t. You’re just knackered. “I remember you mentioning it once…”

“It is ‘we talked about it’ from a male’s perspective,” he jokes, but his eyes aren’t laughing. “Wren, you have nothing to worry about. Neither about our marriage, nor about Eva.”

You nod again.

“Wren, you’re pale, you look as if you’re in pain. And I recognise the apathy and the silence.” You look at him in confusion. “You had the same face when you came to break up with me.” Ah, so that’s what got his knickers in a twist. “I’ve learnt to accept that there’s always a storm brewing in your mind – but can we talk, please?”

“John, I’m not… questioning our relationship.” You search for words. “I’m happy we are… good, and that you feel good about… us.”

“I do,” he confirms readily.

“Good. And I was probably just… tired, and paranoid, and you did take her home that one time…” He opens his mouth, but you don’t let him interrupt. “John, really, everything is fine.”

“It doesn’t look fine,” he answers slowly. “It might be my turn to be paranoid, but, Wrennie, what’s going on?”

“I want to… take a break. My exams are done in two weeks, and after that… I’d like some time off. Maybe, even before it.”

He’s silent, and you wonder how to explain it to him. There’re so many ways he can take it wrong. The fact that he’s not roaring and blazing his eyes at you is a good sign.

“A break? You want a break… from our marriage?” Here we go. That’s the first of many wrong ideas he can get.

“No, John, it’s… not that.” You rub your face with your hands. “I just need… silence. Around me, and… inside. I know it seems all wrong to you, since the whole aggro started because we hardly saw each other but… I need to be away. To be alone… And then I’ll be back, and everything will be back to normal.”

He’s thinking it over.

“I just can’t think about it anymore,” you continue. “I can’t talk about it anymore.”

“I wasn’t aware my alleged inappropriate relationship with my TA was a public knowledge,” he grits through his teeth.

“There were rumours,” you tell him. He surely isn’t that naive. “There’re always rumours, and you knobbing a long-legged student of yours is the best one the university staff can hope for.” Wow, that was a fucking epitome of bitchiness. It was so bitchy that he cringed. “Sorry, that was uncalled for.”

He shakes his head. “You aren’t supposed to be apologising here…” he starts, but you just don’t want to go there.

“John, please. We were talking… about me staying away for a bit. I… I’m asking you to trust me.”

“Trust?” he repeats. “That’s an odd angle you have there, Wren.”

“John, I love you,” you say in an even tone. “I value our marriage. But I’m tired. I have nothing… nothing left inside. I can’t… be in a relationship right now. I need to get through my exams, and that’s all I have energy for. And then I want to sleep, and…” Your voice breaks. “And nothing, really. I can’t even think of anything else to do.” Your throat spasms, you’re close to tears. But crying right now would be as much as an emotional blackmail, and that’s not what you want in your marriage.

You want – and need – two adults to talk, to discuss, and to understand each other.

“I’m properly confused right now, Wren…” he draws out. “But I’m trying, yeah?”

He covers his mouth with his hand – that’s his typical frustrated gesture. You let him think it over. Or maybe you just have no energy to talk, or even just move.

“Alright, what do you want to do?” Here we go. He sorted the info into neat boxes in his noggin, and now he’s strategizing, and he’s ready for action. That’s what made him successful. the cunning, the ruthlessness, the calculative mind. You just hope he’s currently playing for the same team as you.

“I’d like to stay in a hotel for the next two weeks.” A second ago you didn’t have an answer to this question, but it’s suddenly all clear to you. “And after that I’d like to have a week, or two in some B’n’B.”

“Alright. Do we talk on the phone then? Emails? Will you let me know how long you’re staying away?” he’s pressing, but you give him a look, and he back off. Literally. He leans back on the sofa, and it’s easier to breathe right away.

“I’ll email you after the exams, and… no, probably no telephone rings.” He nods, more to his own thoughts than to what you said.

“When are you leaving?” That’s another question you didn’t know you had an immediate certain answer to.

“Now. I’ll pack a bag, and will ring up Savoy, or something.” Another nod follows.

You decide you need to leave while it’s all seemingly peaceful and quiet, and you get up.

“One question, Wren.” He looked up at you, his eyes of astonishing bright colour. “Are you sure you aren’t just punishing me?”

You give him a long look – and then you shake your head.

“I have nothing to punish you for, John. You didn’t do anything wrong. If I were you, I’d talk to Eva, and apologise to her, because you led her on, and let her… hope. But me… I have nothing to blame you for.”

You head to the bedroom, to get a suitcase and some clothes from the walk-in wardrobe, and then you stop and look at him.

“And thank you. For understanding,” you say softly.

“I don’t understand, Wren. But I’ll do anything possible not to arse up our marriage. You say you need time away, you get it.” He swallows, his throat bobs. “But don’t think that I’m happy about it.”

“It would be alarming if you did,” you attempt to joke, but it falls flat.

You leave the room. It takes surprisingly long to figure out what you might need. You wander the wardrobe, pick up clothes, put them back. John stays somewhere in the other end of the flat. You have a total brain glitch in the bathroom, staring at your bottles and jars. Eventually you decide that a few pairs of clean knickers and socks, denim, and tees, are all you need. It’s not like you can’t come back here at any moment to take more stuff.

“I rang up couple hotels, and there are options,” John’s voice comes from the bedroom, and you stick you head out. He’s standing in the door frame, quite obviously giving you space. “Do you want to hear them, or do you want to call them yourself? I don’t want you to feel like I’m intruding.” He sounds unemotional, keeping himself in check, but you detect no sarcasm in his tone.

“I perfectly trust your expertise in hotels.” And this joke pathetically flops down just as the previous one.

“I say you need to rent a furnished flat for four weeks,” he answers, and stretches a hand with a list of phone numbers to you. “I have an agent who can set you up immediately, it might be a bit more dear, but we can afford it.” He gives you a joyless smile.

You walk up to him and take the paper.

You can smell his aftershave, and you can feel the warmth coming from his body. And then you realise that you want to hug him. And kiss him. And make love to him. But if you touch him, even just brush your hand to his sleeved arm – you won’t leave. You’ll change your mind. And you need to leave. Otherwise you’ll break. The pain and the emptiness you feel right now will stay inside, forever, and rot, and slowly kill you. As overdramatic as it sounds.

You nod gratefully and go back to the wardrobe. You can hear him leave and turn on music in the living room. It’s On the Level by Cohen.

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

lwap9

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…

copy-of-lwap7

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 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.

Heal All Wounds || Chapter 19. Wrennie and the Calm Winter

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You’re standing on the sidewalk in front of the hotel, wrapped in your shawl. It’s September, and you can smell Autumn in the air. The porter offered to get you a cab, but you explained that you’re from the party inside, and just needed a break.

The door behind you opens, and John steps out, engaged into a conversation with a man whom you vaguely recognise from the Rivendell presentation. The man’s leaving, they are hastily finishing their amicable conversation, and you’re awkwardly stuck in front of them on the sidewalk. You have to endure yet another ‘no, thank you, I don’t need a cab’ explanation. You are half tempted to actually agree and leave. The man’s finally in a cab, John waves to him, and you cowardly edge towards the door, hoping to sneak in without talking to him.

“Are you alright?” he asks behind you, and you cringe. You turn around and meet his attentive eyes. “Hello.”

“Hello.” You give him an unnatural smile. “Lovely evening.” His eyebrows jump up from your daft remark. “Congratulations.” You sound unsure. Is one even supposed to offer congratulation to a retiring person?

“Thank you. I’m officially old now.” His eyes are gleaming with some merry light. “Wren, you seem distressed. Are you alright?”

“Yeah, yeah… Just… I don’t like parties, you know,” you mumble your half arse excuse.

“No, you don’t. You don’t get to get drunk and make unreasonable choices. And I doubt you’re here to see whether I’m senile or feeble.” He pushes his hands into the trousers pockets. “Which is what most of my guests are here for.”

“You have made a surprising move. They are all wondering.” He nods, and then throws you an impish look from the corner of his eye.

“Are you?”

“Wondering? Of course I am. But unlike the others, I don’t feel you owe me an explanation.” He smiles to you softly, and looks up into the smoky sky above him. There are of course no stars, but you know his interest in astronomy. And you know him. He’s seeing the constellations in his mind.

“I did it for you.” He looks down at you, his face calm and open. “The project is your life, your career, your future. You need to be able to build it the way you want, without looking over your shoulder all the time. Without people wondering whether I had any hand in any of your achievements.”

“But… What?” There is some strange buzzing in your right temple. “Have you considered asking me? If I need it? If I want it?” Here you go. You can’t fucking believe it! It’s just the same story again! Him making a decision that directly affects you, and you’re supposed to… what? Thank him?! Admire him for it?! Give him another chance?!

“It was my decision.” He’s still completely open and almost serene. “I can’t work with you. I can’t be near you. I don’t want to one day come to the lab and see you with Anderson, or any other man. And I don’t trust myself. I can’t be sure that if I’m near you, I won’t do something… harmful, in an attempt to manipulate you, to get you back. I’m just making sure that I’m not around to arse up your life again.”

You’re staring at him, your mouth ungracefully half open.

“I’m not making a sacrifice, Wren. I’m doing what I think is right.”

“I don’t know what to say…”

“You don’t have to say anything. On the other hand, if you want to talk about it, you know my number. The line is always open for you.” He waits a few seconds, in case you have something to squeak, and then he nods to his own thoughts, and goes back to the party.

You decide it’s time to take that cab and go home.

***

The next seven months are the calmest time in your life. After a while, it starts feeling like that film with Bill Murray. You work Monday to Friday; you spend Saturday cleaning and cooking and shopping; on Sunday you sometimes hang out with Killian and Lan who seem happier and more and more disgustingly mushy every day; sometimes you hang out with Thea, but she’s once again on good terms with Jimmy, which means you see her much less now.

After the initial shock of the conversation at the retirement party, you processed what he said, and you feel grateful. Until he left, you didn’t realise how tense you were – jumping when a door would open, dreading project meetings, always worried that ‘Thorington’s ex doxy’ is all people see in you.

You are Wren now. Wren Leary, an excellent specialist in biochemistry, single, independent, a ginger. You have your work, you have your flat. You’re saving money on your bank account. You have hobbies. You’ve started drawing and painting again. There is a new Yamataki grant everyone is talking about, and you’re considering entering the competition. The focus of the research isn’t exactly what you’ve done before, but you can study, and manage it, and diversity is always good, isn’t it? And a bit of challenge would be nice too. You wouldn’t want to stagnate in your academic career. You’re starting to look into postgrad schools as well.

You make two trips to Rivendell Institute, for the project, and hang out with the students you met there during that eventful presentation. Elvig is continuing his attempts to ‘seduce’ you to switch labs, and you let him. It’s flattering, and you prefer to keep your options open.

It is his interest in your academic capacities that leads to him inviting you to his birthday celebration. It’s a week in his country house, ‘only family and friends’ he says, but you don’t believe him. You’re neither, and nonetheless you’re provided with a car sharing companion – also, not a friend or relative of Elvig’s – and you are to be picked up at your place at seven o’clock in the morning. You take a week off, pack your suitcase, and at six fifty there is a buzz into your door.

***

You do know who your car sharing companion is, but the view of him – stylish denim, a brown leather jacket over an olive jumper, and suede Timberlands – hits you to the temple like a sledgehammer. You’re so mesmerized by the soft smile in his bright blue eyes that you forget your meticulously prepared line of behaviour.

“Morning, Wren. Do you need any help with your bags?”

You mumble a ‘good morning, John’ and point at your small suitcase. This is going to be a long ride.

Heal All Wounds || Chapter 17. Wrennie and Two Pieces of News

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You meet in a Chinese place not too far from his hotel, and you’re wearing a nice teal dress, and heels. You even put liner and mascara. You ask yourself why. Surely, you aren’t trying to impress him. You are so past impressing any man – or not there yet. He looks as delish as they make them, in his charcoal waistcoat over a white shirt, and you realise that’s the first time in five weeks you noticed a man’s cologne. He also has absolutely gorgeous hands, which is a big deal for you. They are large, but palms are narrow, and fingers – long and strong – are drumming on the menu on the table in front of him.

You’re no psychic, and don’t believe in them. But at the moment you’re more sensitive than usual, and you’ve just been through an emotional trauma. Your nerves are strained, and you’re like a satellite dish when it comes to any sort of tension. And at the moment your alarms are blaring.

You poke a prawn on the appetiser platter the waiter placed between the two of you when he brought the menus. You chew, swallow, and ask, “August, why don’t you tell me what it is that you so don’t want to share but think you have to?” His eyes fly up to your face.

“You’re a scary little thing, Wren Leary.”

You give him a small smile. He sighs. While he’s chewing a bit of marinated aubergine – to stall, no doubt – you’re patiently waiting, asking yourself again what you’re doing in this restaurant with this man.

“And only my mother calls me August. It’s weird hearing this from a woman. Well, at least a woman I’m hoping to sleep with…” He gives you one of his wide smiles, signalling that it’s only a joke, but it doesn’t reach his wonderful, coffee coloured eyes.

“So, Auggie…” You suddenly have no appetite. He twirls the fork in his fingers, and then sets it aside and wipes his mouth with the napkin. Not only you aren’t hungry anymore, you feel nausea rising. You almost don’t want to know.

“Five years ago I was representing Amrod pharmaceuticals in another Yamataki project. Rivendell Institute was involved as well. And Thorington was there most of the time.” Your head swims. You bite into your bottom lip painfully. “There was a girl. Yuri. I really liked her. She didn’t like me back. Happens a lot.” You doubt that happens to him often, if ever, but that’s beside the point at the moment. “Thorington offered her to be his mistress, for the length of his stay in Japan. She agreed.”

“He does do that, doesn’t he?” You sound bleak.

“He does. He was open about what it was he expected from the relationship. And of course, that ended up not being enough for her. The project was over, he left. She got hurt.”

“And you think he knew she’d get hurt, and went for it anyroad,” you offer, and he nods. “And yes, if you’re asking me, that’s exactly what happened. That does sound like him.”

“I cared for Yuri, I honestly did, and…”

“And we met all those months before, you chatted me up… what, out of petty revenge?” you ask. You almost don’t need his answer. What you need is to go home and wrap your mind around the fact that whatever you do, your private life still seems to be built around Dr John Thorington. You also need to suss out what you think about the fact that John was right, and Auggie was dangerous.

“At first, Wren. Only at first. When we met and I knew you were his fiancee…” He leans ahead, trying to convince you. His eyes are earnest.

“You pretended to be ignorant and asked me if I were single.”

Somehow all this is suddenly funny, and you snort and shake your head.

“Wren…”

“Please, don’t.” You lift your hand, and he stops. “Please… I believe you, yeah? I believe you. You saw an opportunity to arse him up. A young girl who can be charmed easily. His new shiny toy, that he seemed to even care about a bit. And then I broke it off with him, and we chatted, and you sort of started to fancy me…”

“Not sort of, Wren. I do fancy you. That’s why I decided to come clean on the first date, so it’s behind us, and we can…”

“We can’t,” you interrupt him, and sodding hell, why are you chuckling? It’s not at all bloody funny. “We…” You point at yourself. “…are going to ask for the bill now, and call a cab, and go home.”

He gives you a studying look, and then nods in defeat.

“I’m sorry, Wren.”

“As you Americans say, no worries.” You’re still laughing for some reason. Mostly because there’s no bill to pay. You haven’t even ordered anything.

You leave couple coins for the tip on the table, pick up your coat, and walk to the door. You could promise him you’d consider ringing him, but that would be a lie.

***

What happens next happens because you’ve recently developed this strange habit of turning off your mobile when you leave work. It’s some odd defence mechanism. You leave work at work, and at home you read and watch Netflix, buy groceries, and cook, and clean. Maybe, you’re keeping anything to do with Dr Thorington out of your private life. Or maybe, you don’t have private life anymore. Just work.

Two weeks after the ‘void’ dinner with Auggie, you’re leaving home early morning Monday, and pushing keys and your Oyster card into your pocket, while blindly pressing power button on your mobile. It lights up, and then a cacophony of beeping and yelling bursts out of it. The whirring of Tardis that is your notification signal, Sherlock’s insults that you use for email alerts, and beeps and squeaks that you’ve never heard before – all of these noises explode in your hand, and you are flipping through the notification while running down the stairs. They are from Killian, and Lan, demanding you to ring, to text, there are emails from them too, and you ignore them for now. The most astonishing thing is a voicemail from Graham Dwalinson. It turns out to be five of them, and you listen. He’s roaring into your phone, you’re told to ring, and then again and again, ‘emergency’ and ‘Thorington’ growled in the gyno’s thick accent, and then the last one makes you drop your bag and press your hand over your mouth.

Fuck me, petroica! Pick up the fucking phone! I don’t care if he killed your puppy, or what, but you’ll haul your perky arse in this hospital and you’ll be the first thing he’ll see when he opens his eyes!

He once again is giving your the address of the hospital, and the room number, and you’re running outside. You have to come back, to pick up your handbag from the floor, and you stumble out again. You yell at the man who’s trying to get a cab, and as much as push him away. He didn’t look like he was in a hurry, and you doubt his loved ones are in the hospital after a heart attack.

***

Through the ride you chew at you bottom lip so much that you have to wipe blood off it while you’re running through the halls of the hospital. There’s now a red stain on your sleeve. The receptionist is familiar, it’s the hospital you’ve had several classes in, and you had your vagina patched here a few months ago.

The first person you bump in is Phil. He’s standing in the corridor, speaking quickly and tensely into his mobile. You reckon it’s Deadre on the other end of the line. Phil lifts his eyes at you, and you have neither time, nor desire to read their expression. Graham is in the visitor’s parlour, and you grab his log like arm.

“He’s fine now. He’s resting. Where’s the fuck were you?” the Scot hisses at you, and you shake your head.

Your eyes are glued to the white door to the room, blinds on the window are closed, and your heart is in your throat.

“What happened?” You sound raspy.

“He collapsed yesterday morning. During a surgery. They say a mild heart attack.” It’s Killian talking. You haven’t noticed him in the room.

Everything is swimming before your eyes.

“We couldn’t reach you,” Killian continues. “He was asking for you.”

“What are they saying now?”

“The prognosis is good. Medications and rest.”

Graham’s giant hand lies on your back, between the shoulder blades, and he pushes you gently towards the door.

“Go ahead, petroica.”

***

You don’t know what you expected. You’ve seen plenty of sick people in your life, and yet your mind got stuck on some sort of an overdramatic image of a pale face, thinned features, and – even more absurd – a white shirt. Something from an Austen adaptation, perhaps, or some other sort of rubbish.

He looks just as he always does. He is indeed paler, there’s a greyish tinge to his tanned skin, but he just looks like he’s sleeping. One hand is on his chest, and you stare at the finger with heart monitor clip on it. And there’s no bloody daft white shirt, just a tee. And the hair is scattered on the pillow, and your lips start trembling.

“Stop staring at me, Leary. You creep me out.” His voice is low and velvet, and you jump up. The blue eyes open, and he gives you a small smile. “I have to say you look more like a person with a heart attack than I do.”

You suddenly don’t know what to do, and what to say. Are you supposed to politely wish him to get better and get your arse out of here? You have no right to be here, after all.

He pats the bed near him with the free hand. You edge towards it, and slowly lower your backside on the pristine sheets. You can feel the warmth of his body through the sheets and the comforter.