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 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 15. Wren, John, Ice

He hoists you up, his palms under your buttocks, and your bag loudly smacks onto the floor. Yum, someone’s prepared! And you don’t mean this quickly building pressure in his denim. It’s the glasses, the white button-up, the dark denim, and bare feet. It’s like he carefully assembled the ‘let’s conk out Wren’s self-control’ kit – and now he’ll pay for it!

You grab handfuls of his waves, and pull, making him drop his head back and meet your eyes. Recently, he’s been cutting his hair shorter; it’s below his jaw, curling behind his ears; and it’s all kinds of soft and lush.

“I’ve missed you.” You’re so randy, and high-strung, and almost mental from desire, that you’re shaking, and you have trouble unclenching your jaws. “I really missed you…”

His eyes are dark, and no more sane than yours. The kiss that follows is so fucking hungry, and the two of you are going so hard, that teeth scrape, and then you bite into his bottom lip. His hands squeeze your arse, probably leaving bruises. You bite into his jaw now, and then drag your teeth along the beard, and then catch the helix of his left ear.

He smacks your back into the wall; and you gasp, gulping air with an open mouth. Supporting you on his right arm, he batters the left one to the door, trying to close it; and then he turns and ends up back kicking it. You’re jerking your coat and jumper; he’s still assaulting the lock. He’s properly uncoordinated. It might have to do with how thoroughly you’re devouring his mouth. He sways, he’s always somewhat dazed if snogging is going full scale, which is properly adorable, if you think of it. Normally, you find this – almost innocent – look on his face, when his eyes are clouded, and he looks almost trolleyed, his gaze unfocused, so different from his confident machismo and vast experience – well, it’s endearing. But right now, you don’t need him loved up. You need him to shag you into the wall, until you don’t remember your bloody name.

“John…” You lick his neck, and he exhales noisily. “I haven’t had sex for twenty nine days, and I haven’t had a single orgasm without you.” You push one hand down his back, under the shirt, between the shoulder blades. The skin’s as if burning your palm. “I need you to do your fucking best here.”

You look in his face, and there’s a feral grin on his lips. He looks almost mad. And there’s some low noise in his chest. The fact that he doesn’t notice he’s growling means his ‘sanity valve’ has gone off. You’ve only seen this look – teeth bared, eyes narrowed – couple times. The results have been bloody spectacular.

He takes a giant step ahead, and plops your arse on this lovely chest of drawers you have in your parlour. And before you can praise the idea; he roughly picks you up, under your arms and flips you. You fall ahead, your stomach on it, and he jerks you towards him, his hands grabbing your hips painfully. Your lower half slides off, now hanging in the air. One hand lied on your back, pressing you down, and he quickly opens the buttons on your jeans. The trousers are jerked down, and you whine. You can hear his belt clank, and it feels like it’s taking him bloody forever!

“C’mon!” you grit through your teeth, and then he suddenly brushes his fingers between your legs. A loud holler that bursts out of you doesn’t even sound like something a human would make.

He presses his hips into you, and you can feel the scorching length, on the sensitive skin of your inner thighs.

He leans ahead, and his lips are near your ear. “I have missed you too…” His voice is all rasp; and a shudder runs through you. “God, I have…” The hand on your back moves, under your tee now; and it’s hot and possessive. “Tell me if it’s too much…”

“Oh, I doubt it,” you choke out, and he pushes in, making you cry out.

He start moving, roughly, forcefully, and you can’t keep quiet. It has indeed been a while, and after all, you’re no acrobat. A normal woman can’t possibly take some convoluted comfortable position, wrap her legs around him, or something. All you can do is to press your hand into the wall in front of you, and control the movement this way.

He’s not holding back, for sure; and it’s like your body had forgotten the length, the width, the stretching. You’re quickly losing any understanding of what’s going on, some mental shivers of pleasure running through you. Like an almost orgasm that has started and just doesn’t end…

The chest is actually banging into the wall, and you shortly wonder if people in the lift can hear it. The loud wailing that you can’t keep back will surely clarify to them what’s happening here.

Your pelvis is hanging in the air, his fingers are digging into your thighs, and the edge of the top surface is cutting into your stomach – but you don’t give a fuck!

Just before he comes, he’s thrusting so hard, that your arm twists, and your head loudly bangs into the wall. It makes you laugh, and then you forget about it, because nothing is more delicious that those last seconds when his brain has conked out, and he’s all lust, all animal. You can actually feel his cum hit your inside walls; he barks a very, very dirty swearing, and then he falls ahead, his elbow thuds into the chest, and he presses his forehead to your nape.

He emits a few pants, and then rubs his nose to your neck.

“Next time… Your turn… All for you… And slower…” he mumbles, and you snort. Someone’s ambitious.

And then you hiss, because you’re being sawed in half like a magician’s assistant.

“Tummy…” you whine, and he mumbles apologetically and straightens up with a groan. He gently puts you down, his cock sliding out of you; and you both groan and moan, swaying, and sort of not sure where you are.

And then he looks and you, and you both burst into laughter. He’s disheveled, trousers and pants around his ankles. Your tee and bra have been properly dislocated, and your jeans are only around one of your ankles. You’re both grinning and look like morons.

“Hi,” he says, which makes you laugh only louder. You step forward and wrap your arms around his middle, pressing your cheek to his chest.

It’s ace to be home.

***

There’s the second time, and it is indeed all for you – but for him as well. After a shower, the two of you spend two hours in bed, and it’s not just shag, although the shag is ace. There’s a sense of reassuring each other a bit, there. Kisses, touches, looks – purposeful, meaningful, savoured… You orgasm twice, in a proper missionary, with his loving, smiling eyes in front of you.

The next day starts about the same. Half-asleep shag, breakfast, shag, shower, a long walk. The weather is nasty; it’s cold again, and drizzling. You two stop and kiss on corners, buy couple trinkets for your place, go to a couple of bookshops – and to you personally the day is sunny, and spring is in the air. Is Wrennie a loved-up idiot? Yes, she is. Does Wrennie regret? Hell no! You haven’t felt this sodding happy for months.

You’re chewing your lunch in a small sarnie shop near your place, when he makes that gleeful throaty hum of his. If he were a cartoon character, there would be a light bulb above his head.

“Yes?” you drew out and snigger.

“Indoors ice skating,” he announces and wiggles his eyebrows.

“Definitely not.”

“Why?” He stretches his hand and snatches a slice of cucumber off your plate. “It’s May, we can’t wait till Winter.”

“I can’t skate. And to be honest I have trouble standing right now.” You give him a pointed look.

“I’ll teach you.”

“Oh c’mon, you skate as well?” You dramatically flail your hands. “Is there something you can’t do? Your omnipotence is getting annoying.”

He guffaws.

“It’s alright, love. I’m really not that good.”

***

He bloody is, lying bastard! The two of you strap the terrifying gizmos onto your feet, and the muppet turns into a hybrid of Ovechkin and Plushenko in front of your eyes.

You’re clutching the railing in the corner, like a cat whom someone is trying to drag off a sofa and into a carrier; and he makes fluid – sexy as hell – swirls in front of you.

“Give me one hand, love.”

“No!” you yelp. “I’m staying here forever. How can one move on these?!” He rolls – skates? glides? – to you and stops. Sodding hell, it’s like he was born in them!

“C’mon, one hand. Or better two. I can support you. Do you trust me?” Ugh, damn his emotional blackmail!

“Not when I have cleavers tied to my feet!” you bite back, but put your hands into his.

He starts moving backwards – you’re no physicist, but how is this even possible? – and pulls you after him. You emit a choked squeak.

“You just need to learn to be stable,” he preaches, and you give him a glare. The ice looks very cold, and very hard! And you know more about fractured bones than any person on this rink! “Just bend your knees a bit, and trust your body. It’s really not that…”

He doesn’t get to finish, since some sprog in a jolly bobbled hat smack under his knees, cuts him down, and Dr Sexy is falling!

He lets go of your hands – you’ll appreciate this later – at the moment you gasp, and he lands on his back. That was a bad fall. You know injuries, and you know falls. This one wasn’t good.

“John!” You can’t do anything! You’re frozen in an awkward position, legs like the letter x, hands splayed in the air.

“Are you alright?” he asks the kid, who already sat up and is rubbing her knee.

“Yeah. I’m good.”

And of course the damn muppet then jumps up and disappears, her skates making jolly scratchy noises.

He guffaws and sit up. And then his face twists in a painful grimace. He laughs again and shakes his head.

“Maybe they shouldn’t let pensioners on the ice.”

“Are you OK?” you ask, making – very small – fretting waves with your hands. You can’t afford any more movement.

“I think, I twisted my ankle.” He looks down at his leg, still smiling.

He takes off his skate right there on the ice, and starts carefully examining his leg.

“Well?”

“Yeah, a sprain. You’re driving, I reckon.” He gets up, and smiles to you reassuringly. Oh poop.

***

By the time you two are back home, you’re properly fed up with his age and decrepitude jokes. He ends up getting a brace on his ankle, and you help him into bed.  

“If you suggest to put you out of your misery one more time, or leave you on the ice to die, I might actually do it!” you hiss at him and point your index finger at his long nose. He’s smiling, very jolly and apparently proud of himself.

“We have Killian’s engagement party to go to in three days. Could I at least tell people it was during sex? That we were building a human pyramid…” he starts, and you grab a pillow and smack him to the face. There’re muffled guffaws coming from behind it.

“I’m going to make a cuppa and when I’m back, I want to hear some sense,” you announce haughtily, but a long arm wraps around your waist and you’re jerked into the rumpled sheets.

Decrepit my arse.

Author’s Note:

Please, don’t forget to 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 (sign in and grab a free copy of the full story. There’re less and less left every minute! And please, leave a review. Just a few words are enough!)

Thank you,

Katya

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 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 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!

lwap7

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

lwap4-1

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 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.

 

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 1. Wrennie and the Importance of Caffeine

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The Summer goes well. The highlights of it are the trips to Blackpool with Lan and Killian; Thea’s birthday do, with karaoke, and her yet another noisy making up with Jimmy; and that day when you marched into Maya’s office and put your resignation letter on her table. Yeah, maybe you could have done it by email, but where’s the fun in that? You wouldn’t be able to enjoy the expression of shock on her face – the one she properly tried to hide, but couldn’t, since you made sure to milk the moment as much as possible, smiling smugly and blathering about how much better Rivendell’s research focus fits your impressive credentials, which now include an acceptance letter to a grad school. Arriving to Rivendell was ace too; the grads threw a quick lunch party, meaning you got a small cupcake with your first lunch there, and Lan popped a cracker above your head. There was a bit of confetti in your hair even the next day, and Elvig gave you a knowing smile.

You date. Well, it’s an exaggeration. You go on two dates. One is a disaster. The bloke is a friend of Thea’s, and you just yawn through it, and hope it ends quickly. Another one is a decent dinner with a semi-decent one-off afterwards. It’s a one-off because it’s only semi-decent. You two had fun, but something just didn’t click. It happens, and the two of you were adults about it in the morning. You’re asked out by a fellow student again, in August, but by then you’ve made up your mind.

Two weeks later, an email comes. It’s a photo of John near a panda in an enclosure in the Tokyo Zoo.

The email says,

They weren’t invited for coffee on a Tuesday, and look how few of them are left!

J.

P.S. Back tomorrow. Need caffeine.

You burst into loud laughter in your new lab, and Lan turns on his swivel chair.

“Good news?” he asks, cocking an eyebrow sardonically, and you have to concede that, indeed, it is.

It is Thursday, and you laugh at yourself for ridiculous teenage thoughts of whether you should wait couple days to answer, or text him right away. You swirl on your chair, chew at a pencil, and enjoy every second of it.

You wait till Saturday; then you think that if you text on a Saturday morning it’ll look like you have no life; then you laugh at yourself, and end up texting him at strange 11.45 on a Saturday; and then you laugh because it really doesn’t matter. And then there’s even more giggling because you find a typo in your text as soon as you hit ‘send.’

You’ve invited him to a coffee date after your work – indeed on Tuesday; and then you’re lying on your bed on your back, dangling your feet, holding the phone above your face, waiting for his answer, excitement bubbling in you. The mobile beeps; and of course, it’s like a Jack-in-a-box, no matter how prepared you are, it still startles you. You drop the phone on your nose, curse, and finally open his text. It says, You weren’t joking about coffee?! I thought it was a euphemism! And yes, please. You stick your tongue at the screen, and go to the kitchen to make your lunch, hopping and humming Lady Gaga.

***

On Tuesday you’re so distracted by your jitters – the good kind – and daydreaming – the naughty kind, you’re embarrassed to admit – that Lan ends up throwing a crumpled piece of paper into your head. The git has an amazing aim!

“Leary! Get your head out of where it’s stuck!”

You rise off your chair and go to the kitchenette with your mug. On the way you stop by him and place a loud kiss on his cheek. His thick Thrandon eyebrows jump up.

“My head is in the clouds, my mind is in the gutter, and life is good!” you sing-song, and dance out of the room, wiggling your hips.

“Have you finally fallen off the trolley completely?!” he yells after you, and you laugh.

Maybe, you have. But you properly don’t mind.

***

You’re off work, and you’re running down the stairs, pulling on your jacket in a rush. The coffee shop is three blocks away, and you’re already late. The last tests of the day took longer; and now you’re galloping through the streets, jumping over puddles, at the risk of slipping.

You clearly imagine how you flop into a dirty puddle; your carefully chosen outfit – casual, but with a lot of thought put into it – gets soaked, and that is how you’re presented to the Sun of the Modern Neurosurgery – dripping grotty dirty water on the floor, wet, and pathetic. But probably, still grinning, because it feels like you won’t stop smiling even then.

You arrive to the shop unsullied, and you push the door, the bells rings, and you see him at the table. One step, two – you should be feeling shy; you broke up with him more than a year ago; you two have history; you haven’t seen him in four months; you kissed on Elvig’s veranda, and then haven’t spoken two words to each other – but you speed up, and he opens his arms and bends down a bit, and you hang on his neck.

You’ll question it later. You might feel embarrassed. You will definitely overanalyze it all. But for now he straightens up, and presses you to him wholeheartedly, and makes that warm, happy groan like noise he used to make.

“Oh, Wrennie, so good to see you!”

You laugh happily, and nuzzle his temple. The soft curls tickle your nose, and you kiss the delicious cheekbone with gusto.

“Hi!” You sound very excited, and he laughs as well, and puts you down, but somehow he’s holding your hand, and you sit down, your fingers still in his. He sits down across the small table, and you greedily look into his face.

Have you ever before noticed just how handsome he is? Of course, you have. But you also see the warmth in his eyes, and how happy he is to see you, and that he missed you. You don’t know whether it’s because he isn’t hiding it anymore, or maybe you’re looking more attentively now. You really used to be too wrapped up in your insecurities before. You didn’t appreciate him enough.

“You need to let go of my hand,” you say and grin to him. “I need to order.”

A waiter pops up and puts a cup of earl grey in front of you, and a raspberry tart, and the man in front of you gives out a ridiculous ‘Ta-da!’ looking very pleased with himself. You laugh again. It seems it’s all the two of you have been doing since you came in; it’s just the tone of it changes, from exuberant, to tender, to playful, but it’s all beer and skittles, apparently.

“Still need my hand,” you draw out, hiking up one eyebrow. “How am I supposed to eat?”

“I can feed you.” His eyebrow is up as well, and you snort. He lets go off your fingers, slowly, with a loud theatrical sigh, and you pick up the cup and hide behind it.

“How have you been?” you ask after the first sip, and he leans back in the chair. His mug of black coffee is half empty.

“Busy. Annoyed. Yamataki was driving me bonkers, and I wanted to go back… home.” You didn’t miss that pause before ‘home.’ Was it supposed to be ‘to you?’ That would be too soppy, wouldn’t it? “How are you?”

“I’ve moved to Rivendell in June.” You pick up your fork.

“Tell me you took Maya’s photo when you told her you resigned.” The smirk is devilish, and you really want to kiss him right now. You pick up some raspberry and custard and stuff them into your mouth – as the second best option, so to say. You chew, he’s drinking his coffee.

“Sorry, I didn’t. But I did it in person. As a more personal gesture, to show my gratitude for the opportunities she’d given me, as I explained to her.” You batter your lashes innocently, he guffaws. That only adds to your giddy randiness. It’s not even the physical desire to rip off his clothes and ravish him – though, there’s plenty of this too. It’s you wanting all of him. You want to make him laugh. You want to parade how bad arse you’re before him. You properly should stop seductively eating raspberries, because he’s already noticed and is staring at your mouth.

“Wren, I…” He’s croaky, and clears his throat loudly. He then looks you over, his eyes bright, and it makes you tingle all over. “I want you back.”

He pauses, and you get it. That was a heavy statement. You give him time. That’s the smart part of you. You’re also frozen, fork midair, and eyes like saucers. You aren’t made of stone, and you might still be in love with him. So, he’s not the only one who needs a mo, alright?

You bloody want him back too, but it’s not that simple, is it?

He exhales through rounded lips, and then he covers his mouth with his hand for a second. That’s a defensive, reserved body language, and you wait, holding your breath, to see if he’ll continue hiding the tight line of lips you know is behind his hand, or he’ll open up.

He puts the hand on the table, palm up.

“I don’t want to play games. I don’t know if I can…” He shakes his head, apparently dissatisfied with his own words. “I missed you, and I thought hard about us. Four months are more than enough for that…” He gives you a direct look, and you put down your fork. “I want you back, and I’m asking you to give it a thought… But… If there’s someone, or you don’t think you will… Just tell me as soon as you can, OK?”

You put your hand in his, and smile to him.

“I want you back too.”

You could say you want to try, that you want to trust him, and that you want to see if it could work out this time around. You could tell him the two of you need to learn on old mistakes; and there are old wounds to heal; and that the two of you have to be careful; and smart about it; and work hard.

But you’re sure he knows.

He exhales with obvious relief, and nods.

“Perfect.” His voice is warm, and velvet, and a brilliant smile blooms on his face, and you quickly squeeze his hand. And then you let go and pick up your fork.

“Perfect,” you echo his line, and there is a pause.

And now it’s time to start working on it.