The New Book and Other Pleasantries

Hello!

It’s been a while, hasn’t it, my lovelies? Life has been truly hectic, but fun; but if you stuck by, and are still here, here’s what’s happening in kkolmakovland 😀

  1. Hammer Up! is out!

I know, right? Shocking! Somehow amidst the new job; and the online childcare courses I’m taking; and the Comic-Con I had a table at; and the everyday life that shouldn’t be abandoned (Stop glaring at me, Laundry Pile! I’ll get to you, when I get to you!)… I released the second book!

It’s available here on Amazon… or alternatively, if you trust me (I swear you can, but you’d have to take my word for it 😛 ) you can send $25 to my PayPal and get a SIGNED copy into your mailbox. Just don’t forget to send the address where Hammer Up! should be shipped. You can contact me through my Writer’s Facebook page.

If you contributed into the Kickstarter campaign for Hammer Up! (it’s sad it didn’t work out, but it was loads of fun to try!) you know that there’s a print.

If you want it, it’s yours with the book for additional $5.

Those of you who already sent some funds that way, your books and prints will be sent out next week!

2. My new job is AWESOME! I’m now working in a childcare centre in a room with 16 three- to five-year olds – and it’s the best I’ve ever felt at work! Who knew after years of uni teaching; interpreting; translating; working in a bakery; and tutoring, that I belong in childcare?!

And the best part is that the schedule – early rise, and done at 5 p.m. – is quite perfect for writing, and drawing, and still being a good mum!

I will of course have to cut down some of my projects. Let’s face it, when I just started I had quite unrealistic expectations; but most of my stuff will stay. Here’s what’s happening:

A. Wattpad: several webserials are ongoing – and going strong! You can see the update schedule on the left of my Wattpad page. Jack in the Box is almost complete; and I’m still pondering which of the hundred ideas swarming in my head will take it’s Thursday slot 😀 Let me know if you have a favourite among those I mentioned before.

B. Art-ing is happening, and will go to DeviantArt, and Etsy, and you can see it on my Instagram.

C. I’m still planning to write some FF. The Four Corners of Middle Earth is the story I want to continue writing; and perhaps some others will get some attention 😉

Also, I’m planning to watch Thor: Ragnarok next week, and we all know what large amounts of Loki do to me 😉

D. I’m planning to revamp my Patreon page in the next few days, so feel free to support me 😉

E. My next big project is turning Blind Carnival (remember this one? she writes erotic novels; he’s boring in bed? 😀 ) into… a book? a webserial on Wattpad? something completely new? I don’t know, but let me know if you do!

That’s all, folks!

I’ll go write a new chapter for Second Time Around. Hogwarts Thorin and Wren need me! 😀

Here’s a photo of me from the Comic-Con if you missed it 😀

 

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 20. Happy Ever After

From the author to my readers:

Here it is, my lovelies – the final chapter. Three years, ninety four chapter, four companion pieces; more than 150K words; the very first modern pairing; the hottest smut; the biggest heartbreak. The longest journey; the favourite characters.

It started as a one-shot based on a prompt ‘camping’ on fanfiction.net. It went on hiatus. It has been moved from FF to my blog. It could have ended twice since then. It had had a different wedding in it; and then the protagonists had to part their ways – because I’ve grown and learnt in the years it took to write it; and I just couldn’t do it to my dear Wrennie. She grew up as well, into Dr. Leary, and not Mrs. Thorington. She changed from the woman who finds herself accidentally pregnant; into a woman who offers her wonderful, progressive, feminist husband to have a child. It could have ended on a melancholic but gingerly hopeful note – with her walking away from their relationship, and then perhaps giving it another chance – but it turned out there were still people reading the story…

And you made it all possible, my dear readers! You guided, supported, asked questions, mused, disapproved, and sympathized. And you gave Wrennie and Dr. T their happily ever after.

And I will never forget it. Thank you.

Katya

P. S. I always thought that giving the soundtrack to one’s writing is a cheap trick, but since it’s my last chance…

The songs that travelled with me through the whole story:

“If I Didn’t Know Better” Nashville for sex and dance; first proposed by RagdollPrincess on FF. There was no dance scene in the charity auction chapter, but I could just see them in my head, and feel the warmth of a touch of a hand.

“As Cold As It Gets” Patty Griffin a song that caught my attention as a background music to a Thorin fanvideo, and that travelled with me from my first Middle Earth stories into this modern AU. When it was time to crank up drama in the story, Patty was in my earphones.

“Closest I Get” Katie Hertz the sound of Wren’s heart and Wren’s love for John.

And when the story gained the second life, after Wren walked out on John: “Slow” Leonard Cohen. Sometimes, we all deserve the second chance.

***

{From now on “Official Town Business” will be take this webserial’s place and will be updated on Saturdays. I hope you might consider reading/following the story.}

A/N: Leave me a goodbye comment, my dear reader. I want to remember you forever.

Six years later…

{Companion piece “Triple Trouble”}

Ten minutes into the drive all four men of your life are asleep; and you and Unna are left to think your deep feminine thoughts alone. Judging by a foot constantly digging into your ribs, your six month old fetus of a daughter is busy planning her Olympic athlete career. You’re pondering that blasted article you’re supposed to submit to a certain peer reviewed journal. Given a choice you’d rather shovel fish guts. The second pregnancy – which eventually will be thrice less productive than the first one – is much more difficult for you as a scientist. All you want these days is to curl in an armchair with a good book – something by Tolkien preferably – and a cuppa; and damn the articles, experiments, and grants!

John stirs on his seat, and mumbles something in his sleep. Poor duckie, he hasn’t had proper kip in the last four years. Funny enough, he’d been suffering from insomnia since he was a teen, and he’s still taking it worse than you. Maybe, it’s because less time passed for you between the mad uni years – survived on caffeine and refined sugar – and taking care of three babies. Or maybe, it’s just because you’re a woman, and thus, generally more of a badarse.

Unna inside settles on punching your bladder with an elbow; and now you have to choose between suffering and squirming; and making a stop at the nearest garage – and risking at least one of the boys waking up – most likely Othin, of course.

You sigh and slowly drive off the motorway, following a sign pointing at the nearest loo. You park, and gently touch John’s shoulder. His eyes fly open. Panic readily slashes into the blue irises. OK, you’re exaggerating – it’s just mild terror. In the habit still left from the days when a hiccup of one baby in one room could wake up the other two in the other room, he silently mouths, ‘What?’

“I’ll be right back,” you mouth in return, and point through the window at the washroom sign. He nods.

You carefully climb out of the Rover, and half close the door. The smack will wake up at least two; and just a lock clicking is enough for Othin.

In the queue to get some water and crisps, you’re lazily studying your reflection in a fridge door. Couple years ago you started cutting your hair very short, and this morning you forgot to brush it. It’s standing on your head in a very peculiar way. You consider quickly buying a tacky brush with Frozen characters that you see on the counter and trying to rein the daft orange semi-curls. You are after all going to a wedding.

It’s Thea’s wedding, as shocking as it sounds. Jimmy had finally ‘worn her out’ – his words, not yours. It’s been as long for them as you and John have been together. Together-ish. Just like the two of you, Thea and Jimmy had their ups and downs; but while for you it’s been a rollercoaster, those two have been in a bloody blender. They seem to break up and make up every month. But hey, who are you to judge? You’ve dumped poor Dr. Sexy couple weeks before the wedding. You bet there will be a dramatic falling apart just after the honeymoon is over – and perhaps, another wedding right away. Or a couple.

Killian and Lan are coming too. Thea has become their NGBFF, and they are her ‘run-to household when Jimmy’s once again fallen from grace.’ They call her ‘our practice baby.’ Altogether, clearly there’s a harmonious arrangement there.

You still see a lot of her, but mostly when you have ‘you time’ away from your family. Babies terrify – and honestly speaking, disgust – Thea. Six-month old Thomas spitting up on her best Dior coat didn’t help the case. Quite often you and Thea are joined by Candice – now Candice Dwalinson. Her son is two now; and the three of you go out, dance, and drink – except you, of course – away from all that manky testosterone.

Well, since we’re going through the list of your closest relatives and friends, Phil gets an honourable mention as well. The poor sod is in the middle of his divorce. His American viper has caught him cheating, and will now sue his arse off. According to Killian – the two of you are insufferable gossips, and couldn’t care less – she hasn’t been exactly the picture of marital faithfulness, but the plonker got caught first. Worse so, it was a drunk party shag. With three chicks. There has been a sex tape in the making involved. He’s in deep shite.

You take your bag and head to the car. Predictably, there’re voices inside.

“Giraffe!” Dain’s yelling, pointing at the piece of paper in John’s hand.

“Cow!” Othin offers another option.

You climb in and look at the back seat.

“Da can’t draw,” Thomas offers you an explanation. Apparently, your old man decided that drawing a deformed looking animal and letting the boys guess what it was must be the most engaging activity.

You look at the drawing and snort.

“It’s a dog, isn’t it?” you join the game, and get the very John Thorington, Roger Moore style eyebrow. “Cat?” you try again, and he theatrically crumples the paper.

There’s a protesting shout from Dain. He’s in the collecting stage, ahead of his brothers – everything has to go on the wall. Especially anything that has been touched, breathed at, or looked at by their father. Not that Dr. John Crispin Thorington ever needed an ego boost, but he has three avid fans. For them, he’s god. You expect this next one will just join the club. You bet they absorb this adoration towards him through the amniotic fluid.

Dain receives the smoothed out masterpiece; and he pressed it to his chest. Thomas is eyeing it with jealousy, but he’s too much of a Thorington to beg. Othin is already distracted by a dog outside.

John turns on Octonauts for them. They have a ration of an hour of ‘screen time’ a day, and they immediately grow quiet, fully absorbed in the adventures of Peso the Penguin and the Spook Fish. You’ve seen – sometimes with one eye, another peering into your laptop – about six hundred times. You properly hate the bloody Spook Fish. 

When they’re watching telly, only a live T-Rex barging in could make them hear or see anything around them.

You start the car, and then John’s hot hand lies on your knee. You press your lips to hide a smile. It might still be an affectionate gesture, and not a hint on shag. Nope, it is definitely a hint on shag – he’s stroking your skin with his thumb.

“What is it, Dr. Thorington?” you ask in a nonchalant tone.

“Why does it have to be something, Dr. Leary?” He mimics the intonation. “It’s my wife’s knee. I’m allowed to touch it if it’s not interrupting her immediate activity.”

“Uh-huh,” you draw out. “And the fact that there has been none of… a certain unmentionable activity in our house for fifteen days has nothing to do with this.”

“Sixteen, but who’s counting,” he answers, and the palm shifts higher. “And you fell asleep despite our ‘plans’ twice in the last week.”

“Well, at least I haven’t fallen asleep mid-process,” you snort, and he chuckles.

“No, we aren’t that bad yet.” You know his shoulders are shaking in his full body laugh. “But I’m serious, Leary. We have three months of life left. Let’s live it in full.” He then yawns, which gains him a quick sardonic glare from you.

“May I remind you that in most cases it’s you who loses consciousness before anything can start?” you point out. “I did try to poke you on Tuesday. You were nonresponsive. And I had a new… outfit on.”

“Oh? Damn it.” He emits a theatrical groan. You decide to take mercy.

“It’s in my bag right now.” You bet he’s just preened up.

“What colour is it?” he asks in a tone of a boy inquiring about a toy car under a Christmas tree.

You decide it might be a nice new game.

“Remember that day you came back from Japan for the first time?” A pleased hum tells you he remembers. “The same red. And it’s two items.”

“Two items? Hm…” He pretends to ponder it. “What else can you tell me?”

“There’s a bow.” He has a mild bow kink. There’s a low rumble in the throat.

“Any buttons?”

“A lacing.”

“You’re spoiling me, Leary.” His voice is dropping lower.

“I’m only returning the favour.” You quickly cover his hand, and intertwine your fingers. “I feel properly spoiled on everyday basis.”

***

The boys are placed in a guest bedroom in Jimmy’s parents house; and you two are in the next one. You’re closing the door between the rooms, when his fingers wrap around your upper arm, and he pulls you in.

You press into him, as much as your stomach allows; and ogle the sexy smile playing on his lips.

He makes a step backwards; and you follow. He leans to a bedside table, and pushes a button on the radio. You Don’t Own Me by Dusty Springfield starts playing, and you burst into laughter. He clearly has prepared, while you were tucking the boys in.

“Interesting choice,” you murmur, and he theatrically picks up your hand in an invitation to a dance.

“There was either this, or Dylan. Jimmy’s parents still aren’t over Woodstock.”

“Oh, so your generation then?” you ask impishly.

“Don’t push it, Leary. I’m still capable of throwing you over my knee…” He wiggles his eyebrows. “That is if I don’t fall asleep standing up.”

You laugh, and the two of you start dancing.

Dancing is one of the things that he does best. Oh wait, that would be all things requiring physical coordination! Bollocks, whom are you kidding? He’s basically 87% of a perfect man. Alright, maybe 92%. You’re biased, though. You’re madly in love with the bloke.

You move closer, and hide your face in his chest. He wraps his arms around you; and you breathe in the cologne, and the familiar, endlessly dear smell of his skin, fresh and spicy.

You two dance a lot. It’s your thing. Other things are ‘your thing’ too – reading the paper together; taking the boys to book shops; buying each other house plants; his magnificent back rubs, and the acupressure you’re certified in and that is the only thing that helps with his migraines. But dancing is special – it’s intimate and raw and vulnerable and open. It’s talking without words; it’s sex in clothes – not that they’re always present during dancing; or stay on for long.

Suddenly, you feel your eyes prickle, and a few seconds later you sniffle. By then you two are just rocking side to side holding each other tightly.

“Alright, Leary?” he asks, and moves away slightly, to look into your face.

You give him a teary smile.

“I am… happy.” You sniffle again, and the following little laugh from you is somewhat shaky. “I might be soppy from sleep deprivation.”

He guffaws.

“We could go to bed,” he offers; and you decide that it just won’t do.

You pop open the top button on his shirt.

“We could. Or we can enjoy the life in full.”

You lick your lips, and open two more buttons. Oh hello, chest! Look, Wren’s fully awake now! You place a slow, open mouthed kiss on the pectoral muscle, and give it a small bite. The chest rises in a sharp inhale. You tread the fingers of your right hand into the thick chest hair. There’s a lot of salt in this pepper now. Everything about the man makes you so randy – but fucking hell, the chest is pure magic!

You tilt your head and murmur, “I just think that if we don’t do something nasty on the Bofursons carpet, giving my knees and your arse proper rug burns… we’ll end up shagging tomorrow in some random place, once we can’t hold it back anymore… And then we will get caught…” The shirt is now on the floor, and you’re working on the belt. “And people will say, ‘Aren’t they too old for this? Look, she’s already preggers, and it’s still not enough for them…’”

He’s cupped the back of your head, and he leans in and catches your ear between his teeth.

“How about some carpet now, and then a quickie in the Bofursons’ pantry tomorrow?” he whispers, and hooks the finger of the other hand on the collar of your tee. The long nose brushes on the muscle between your neck and the shoulder, and your head spins.

“Should I go change in that new set?” you ask. You’re breathy, and your legs are wobbly – he’s kissing your neck just the right way.

“Nah.” He actually says ‘nah’ – in that posh voice of his, and you momentarily get distracted from your bosom heaving and giggle. “Keep it for when we’re old and disinterested in shag.”

“That will never happen,” you say solemnly. “You’re too lush.”

“Well, and if it does…” He kneels in front of you, and is unbuttoning your trousers. “Then we can buy a sleeping bag, unroll it on the bedroom floor, and reenact you crawling into my tent to ravish me shamelessly.”

“That never happened!” you protest loudly. That’s not the first time this conversation is taking place. “I legitimately thought there was something in the dark out to get me.”

“Poppycock!” He pops the ‘p’ and emphasizes the second half of the word. Cheeky bastard. And yes, of course you’re thinking about his cock at the moment. You’re intimately familiar. “You barged in to lure me in your web with your sexy PJ bottoms and your scratched ankle.”

“And wellies…” you pant out. He’s pulling down your knickers, and his tongue has just brushed at your right hipbone. “I had wellies on…”

“A definite turn on,” he purrs, and the tips of his fingers brush between your legs.

“Perv…” you breathe out.

“Beautiful…” he murmurs.

He’s kissing, and stroking, and undressing; and you push your fingers in the silky, heavy curls at the back of his head. Your body feels weightless and fluid and cherished. His wonderful hands caress your hips, and he starts leaning back. You’re even smaller this time with Unna, and you can still move very easily. He lies back, you crawl on top. Between the two of you, you have one shirt, one bra, and one sock left on.

You press your hands in the Bofursons’ carpet on two sides of his head, lean down, and look into his eyes.

“Dr. Thorington.” You smile widely; and the crows feet run into the corner of his mesmerizing cerulean eyes.

“Yes, love?”

THE END

Katya on the Mend

Yellow! 🙂

I seem to finally start crawling out of the dark and scary place where my poor psyche had cornered itself in the last couple weeks; and I’m making tentative steps towards a semi-functional creative existence.

So – quite gingerly – here are the plans for the nearest future 🙂

  1. I’m back to writing fanfiction. Just as I mentioned before, I’m planning to focus on Letters to Your Heart and Old Wounds, Fresh Scars; and the smaller stories (such as Here Be Dragons) on FanFiction and AO3. I’m not giving up on fanfiction completely; but I’ll try not to start anything new for now, and I’m planning to drop the stories that bring no joy (sorry, Gilmore Girls, but I just have no energy for something less than my beloved Tolkien-verse 😀 ). Just as I mentioned before, I’ll need to find a job in May; and I just won’t manage if I overload myself.
  2. I’m writing two webserials on Wattpad: the dark and tense psychological drama Jack in the Box {updated on Thursdays}and the humorous murder mystery Official Town Business {so far updated irregularly; after Dr T Series (which has only couple chapters will the completion, can you imagine?! O_o) is over, it’ll be updated on Saturdays, and published on the blog as well}Thorin/RA inspired male protagonists and new versions of Wren included 🙂
  3. Due North is still available on Inkitt. It’s gathering votes, and I’m waiting to see what this site can do for me. For now, you can still claim your free copy.
  4. Voting for Hammer Up! on Amazon Kindle Scout is over. The campaign is under review at the moment. Let’s see what happens 🙂

I’m still drawing and ‘playing’ with polymer clay. You can see and buy my stuff on Instagram, Etsy, and Society6.

Couple projects that are at the planning stage for now:

1. A webserial on Etsy. I’m currently working on the character design for it.

2. Blind Carnival (!) this one is a bit of puzzle at the moment. I took it off JukePop, and I’m not quite sure what I want to do with it. I could just edit it and start selling it on Amazon. On the other hand, I could try to run a fund raising campaign for it on Kickstarter to be able to afford better editing and cover design. On the other hand, I’m not sure I have enough readers these days to pull it off. What do you think, my darlings?

So, here’s what’s up with kkolmakov 😀 How are you doing, my duckies?

 

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 19. Wren Noticed

Author’s Note:

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

Cheers! Hope to see you there!

Katya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

You nod and head to the pantry.

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

***

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

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

The first tears run down your cheeks.

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

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

“You have a bit of a right…”

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

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

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

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

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

He gives you a side glance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You gape at him, your jaw ungracefully hanging.

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

And then the day of the ultrasound comes.

Bonus chapter:

Companion piece: Three Cheers to John!

 

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

Author’s Note:

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

Thank you,

Katya

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Pardon?” You gawked at Lan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All you can say is ‘oh poop.’

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What the fuck?!

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 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 14. Wren Rests

Author’s note:

Please, support my book Hammer Up! on Amazon Kindle Scout. By nominating by simply clicking a button, you will give me a chance to win a bit of cash (which I’m in dire need of currently) and an opportunity to be published on Amazon Kindle. Follow this link, please: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/3MXGEE2A2MXMD. If my book gets enough support, everyone who voted will get a FREE COPY of the book in 30 days. Please, encourage as many of your friends and relatives as possible to do the same.  

Thank you in advance!

Katya

The next two weeks pass in a blur. You move to the flat that John’s agent suggested, and study; revise; and study again; write proposals, outlines, reviews; you hardly sleep, and try really hard to eat regularly. Every evening you write a short email to John. Sometimes you send them right away; sometimes you rewrite it the next day, add more, and then send. He answers in a line or two. You don’t get any impression of apprehension from his answers; and if you had a moment to ponder it, you’d feel excruciating gratitude. But you properly don’t have time or energy to.

Once you’re out of the torture chamber they call your studies, you take a week of your vacation days; and you spend it in the rented flat.

In the previous fortnight you didn’t even unpack the small bag you came with, and now you wash your clothes; clean the fridge; buy groceries. The flat is tiny. The bed in on the mezzanine; the ground floor is an open plan flat. It’s very clean; the location is perfect. It’s generally perfect, because it’s so faceless – with all this light beige furniture, and Scandinavian style decour – that it’s impossible to feel that it’s anything but a hotel. You aren’t trying to make it a home – you have one. You just need a shelter.

On the fourth day of your third week away from home, in his usual quick response email that comes to your Inbox around eleven in the evening, John asks you to ring him up ‘whenever it’s convenient’ for you.

You tumble off the sofabed you’re sitting on with your Mac, and rush to your handbag on the kitchenette’s table.

He picks up after couple tones.

“What’s wrong?” you ask, your heart beating in your throat.

“No, no, nothing’s wrong.” He gives out a soft chuckle on the other end. “I’m sorry, I should have phrased it better. I was just hoping to… chat. Nothing happened. Everything is OK.” You exhale loudly. “Sorry again.”

“Jesus, John…” You give out a shaky laugh. “The things I’ve imagined…”

“Everything is fine,” he reassures. “I should have explained better.”

“No, no… It’s OK! And… I’m glad to chat.” You climb back on the sofabed, and pull your knees to your nose.

“I just… needed to hear your voice,” he says after a pause. You smile in the empty flat.

“And here it is.”

“Yeah… How are you doing?” You imagine how he’s lying on the bed, legs crossed in his ankles. He is such a large man, he always takes a lot of room. And he always feels as if he can pounce to his feet at any moment. Must be the fluidity of his movements.

“I’m… resting. I took a few days off work as well.”

“Oh?” He sounds a bit surprised. “Good idea.”

So, he didn’t check. You realize you had a tiny doubt that did he would. Perhaps, you’re still a bit cautious. Perhaps, you still expect something manipulative and controlling from him.

You both are quiet, but it’s not tense, nor uncomfortable.

“Thank you, John,” you blurt out with a loud exhale, and he chuckles on the other end.

“You’re welcome, Wren.”

“I mean, for understanding that I needed it, and for not taking it a wrong way… And I know how it could look to someone else, not that you ever care what others think… But I know that it was bloody unorthodox, and…”

“Wren,” he interrupts your increasingly nervous blabbering. “You took time off. You didn’t deprive me of anything. Well, shag… But you’ll just have to repay me later.” He clearly signals with his tone that he’s joking. “Things you’ll have to do…” he draws out, in that purry shag voice of his; but you don’t let him distract you, and hide behind the flirting.

“John, I feel guilty. I asked for it, and I truly believe I needed to do it, but I still feel…”

“Guilty,” he finishes your sentence. “Love, you need to learn to… actually hear me when I say something. I haven’t felt you had anything to apologise for because of your studies. I have the same judgement regarding you staying away for a bit. You need it. You can have it. I miss you, but I’m not dying here. More hot water for me in the shower.” You can clearly imagine the smile, and the crow’s feet, and the soft expression in his eyes.

“I’m almost done,” you mumble in a pathetically small voice.

“Good. I’m starting to get bored here.” His tone is light.

“And I miss you too. In case you doubted.”

“I did a bit, but now we talked, and you can go back to your hermit existence.” You lean back on the sofabed, with a relieved exhale, realising how tense your muscles were.

“If you ever need something… of the sort,” you start clumsily, and clear your throat. “If there’s something you need, something just as mental as this feat of mine, I’ll be very understanding.”

“Wren, as much as I hate bringing this up, you have been understanding regarding Eva. I consider us even.”

“No, no, John! That’s not the same.” You shake your head though he can’t see you. “Eva was your business. It was just the wrong time, and I couldn’t… think straight. Nothing happened, but I let it add up to my stress…”

“I wouldn’t have been that calm in your place,” he says darkly. “If there was some wanker making eyes at you, and bringing you your coffee, and…”

“Picking up lint off my lapel?” you supply.

“What?” You snort. It’s not a funny conversation, but he sounds utterly shocked.

“Nothing. Just something from films. But what I’m saying, me being away has nothing to do with Eva. Nothing in my life has anything to do with her. I trust you. You said it’s nothing – it’s nothing. So, how about if you ever need some time off away from me, I’ll be understanding. And if an Eva starts bringing me coffee, you’ll give me the same benefit of the doubt?”

He’s quiet for a few seconds. You were half joking, of course, but he’s apparently giving it a proper thought.

“Wren, I talked to my therapist yesterday. He says ‘Eva’ happened because of my fear of old age and death. Which one properly doesn’t need a PhD to suss out,” he adds venomously. “So, if some young git starts circling you, I…”

“You will ask me whether I’m having an affair, or considering an affair, or compensating for something lacking in our relationship. And I will tell you the truth, just like you did. Deal?”

He gives out a long exhale, that tickles your ear. You suddenly remember how such exhale feels on your skin, on your nape.

“Honesty for honesty, Wren,” he says, leaving the question hanging in the air. “You going away did cock me up. I’m… worried. I’m not taking it as well as I say…” His voice dies out.

“I didn’t take the Eva thing as well you think I did. I had doubts. I had… a melt down on the tube once. We’re human, John. We’re trying. We’re doing our best.”

“We are indeed.”

“And… we’re good, John. We really are.” You’re sure. You sound sure. He exhales again.

“Well, then… Deal, Wren.” You snort, and he joins you with a velvet chuckle. “By the way, unlike some cute gingers here, I do listen. And I did hear that you’ve just suggested that I let Eva behave this way because I felt something was lacking in our relationship.” You bite into your bottom lip. Oops, Wrennie, how about watching what you’re saying, love? Bugger. “And that’s just rubbish,” he continues. “I let it go on for so long because I’m having a midlife crisis, and many would say she was fit.”

“Would you not say she was fit?” Oh look, Wren, just can’t shut her gob, can she? “I’m not into the dominatrix thing, but she has an exceptional arse.”

“I’m not a serial killer, Wren. I’m not interested in a woman in parts.” You laugh. It’s a rather half arse joke, but you both are coming down after an intense conversation. You’re both entitled. “And thank you. Now I’m thinking of your arse.”

You can ask. Or elude. Or hint. And you’re bloody sure that in three minutes the two of you will be having a phone sex. And then he’ll jump in his car, and then you’ll be shagging on this very sofabed.

“Um… John… I think I should go.”

“We aren’t good at staying apart, are we?” he asks impishly. Damn him and his knowing tone. Well, yes, you are now thinking about shagging him into every possible surface here, so what? It’s a good sign. You’re getting back to normal.

“We don’t really need to be,” you answer softly. “And we’re doing well enough.” You bet he just nodded.

“Alright. Go to sleep. And email me soon, please.”

“I will,” you promise.

You say your goodbyes, and you throw the mobile on the coffee table. You then climb the sliding ladder onto the mezzanine, crawl in the bed, and fall asleep in seconds.

***

By the evening of the second day after the conversation, it becomes absolutely clear that you have nothing to do in this flat. You spend the day after it packing, cleaning, and wandering the neighbourhood you still hadn’t had a chance to explore. You find a nice coffee shop, and read a book in it for a couple hours. You buy a scarf, eat in a small Chinese place, and then have an ice cream watching children play in a park and a funny old lady chat with her dog.

And then in the evening you text John that you’re coming home. You take a cab, and drum your fingers on your lap through the drive. It feels like the cabbie is doing it on purpose, and the cab is basically a snail; and as soon as the car stops, you shove the money in his hand, grab your bag, and rush to the entrance of your building.

You’re jumping over steps, and then you’re in front of your door, and you bang into it with your fist, somehow forgetting that you’ve got a key, or at least that there’s a bell. And it flies open immediately, and he scoops you in his arms.

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 11. Wrennie and a Pub

The two of you spend Christmas in the Alps. Both of you can only spare three days for the hols, but it goes truly brilliantly. There’s a fireplace in the chateau; you eat, shag, and chat. He reads you books; you tell him of your childhood. It’s as sincere and as real as it gets.

You even go skiing. Once. He endeavours to teach you; you’re pathetic. The two of you laugh, and topple over into the snow. His bright blue eyes – like a husky dog, as if outlined with black – are shining. You lean in and kiss him.

The nights are as amazing as they ever are, and feel new and exciting. After the skiing, you complain that everything hurts. You get a massage – and three orgasms.

You wake up in the morning, and you just can’t get enough of him. He’s guffawing, insincerely battering your hands away, whining that he’s an old man with a weak heart. The two of you shag against the wall, and then again and again – and then there’s a breakfast, and you go back to bed. Soon, it’s hard to separate cuddling and reading – and it is Khayyam after all – from sex. You’re straddling him, and your hips are moving in the rhythm with the ten century old poetry. And then afterwards, he’s nodding off, his cheek pressed to your buttock, his head heavily pressing your pelvis into the sheets, and you close your eyes, feeling the acute and definite happiness.

***

When you’re back home, there’s so much to do that you even stay at Lan and Killian’s couple nights. They live closer to the lab.

And then one evening you’re chewing Thai takeaway, and John makes that funny throaty noise of his. It means he remembered something he needs to tell you. You snort. This ever growing feeling of knowing him well, and loving it – is ace.

“What?” he asks, and you give him a wide grin.

“Go ahead. What is it?” you say and encourage him with a wave of chopsticks.

“You know me too well, and it’s discouraging,” he answers with a smirk, and you snort again. “Graham has a favour to ask, and I said I’d inquire.”

“Oh?”

“His Canadian gyno is lonely,” John announces, and you know he’s paused to let you appreciate the statement.

“He should put it on a t-shirt.” You giggle. “Does he want me to take her for a walk?”

He nods, and you roll your eyes.

“I’m the worst possible option here,” you remind John. “I’m introverted, constantly busy, and alcohol intolerant. I assume I’m not expected to take her to an art gallery? After those time I’ve seen her, she doesn’t strike me as an artsy type.”

“He meant a pub,” John answers with a chuckle. “And you should take Martin.”

Ah, Thea. That makes sense. Thea can organise a satisfying night out for the Pope.

“OK, I’ll ask her.”

“Thank you.” The two of you chew for a while, and then he yawns. “Can we go to bed early today? We’re having this cocktail party tomorrow, another book signing of another professor whose dull work no one will read…”

You pretend to be very busy grinding a baby corn with your teeth, while in reality you’re trying to unclench your suddenly spasmed jaw. Another party that you’re hearing about in passing; and for some reason feel like you’re being politely excluded out of? Is Wrennie mental? Aye, she is. Should she be? Hm… Eventually, you jerkily nod, and he leaves for the kitchen to get some water. You’re staring at his plate.

***

It takes you three weeks to find an evening when Thea and yourself can finally introduce Candice, the Canadian gyno, to the joys of a pub bender.

She shows up, all perky and bouncy, in a jolly pink jumper. Her blonde curls look almost unnaturally golden, shiny, and even. They remind you of cup-a-noodle, or buttercream in Mary Berry’s Victoria sandwich.

There’s a small moment of awkwardness, and then she offers to buy the first round.

You’re still on yours second virgin Pina Colada – and you do know how pathetic this drink sounds – when the ladies switch from lager to ‘something with a kick,’ as Candice puts it. Somehow a kick in Candice’s understanding gets best delivered by rum. Thea doesn’t mind at all.

Candice gets arsed up astonishingly quickly. And chatty, she gets very chatty.

“God, girls, you’re awesome!” she hollers, and her arms lie on your and Thea’s shoulders. “So awesome… I’m so glad we went out together. It really sucks here, without my girlfriends…” She gives you a shaky smile. “I had friends I went to med school with, and we would always get drinks on Friday, and I miss it, you know? So good to be here with you.”

Thea gives you a sardonic look from under a hiked up eyebrow. She had as much as Candice, but Thea Martin is a hard chicka. For her, it’s just an appetizer.

“So, what is it that you do, Thea?” Candice asks, and starts waving her right hand in the air, trying to catch the attention of the waiter. Her left hand is still tightly gripping your shoulder.

“I’m dabbling,” Thea give her usual answer.

“A what?” Candice blinks her large blue eyes.

“She’s good at a lot of things,” you explain. “She tries different things. She sings too. Like a siren.” You salute Thea with your glass, and she winks to you.

“Oh wow! We should go to karaoke next time then.” Candice takes a deep breath in, her lovely round tits rise in the tight jumper. “I’m rather OK myself. Have the right apparatus, you know?” She laughs and pats her cleavage. You believe her. She’s short, curvy, and all and all delicious. Graham is a lucky duck.

“I’m in computer science right now,” Thea explains lazily. “But I won’t last. It’s dull.”

“Wow, looks and the brains, all in one package!” Candice throws an admiring look over Thea. “You’re so cool! You both are!” she rushes to reassure you, and you laugh at her eagerness. “No, no, no, I’m serious!” Her words are a bit slurred. She’s as bladdered as a poached pear. “You, Wren! You’re a genius! Graham told me, and my Graham knows what he’s saying, you know?” Her round pretty face gets all loved-up, and Thea shakes her head and topples another shot of rum into her throat.

“Thank you, Candice, that’s very nice of both of you,” you answer, your voice shaking of laughter. You’re properly in the dark how to respond to this exuberant friendliness.

“I mean, with your studies, and your work… And you’re a fucking pixie, Wren!” She gestures an inch away from your nose, and you shy away. “I mean, the eyes and the cheekbones. You’re like an elf, or something.” Did you just hear a hiccup? “And your head is… Just wow. You deserve the best, Wren. All the best! And you too, Thea. Do you have a guy? Does he treat you well?” the Canadian asks in a strict tone, and Thea barks a throaty laugh.

“Chicka, you should ask whether I treat him well. I’m the bad one here.” She gives Candice a salacious wink.

“Good, very good! Let’s drink for it!” Candice finally catches a waiter – by a sleeve no less; and orders three shots, apparently having already forgotten you don’t need one.

“Men need to be kept under control, you know? Not all of them are as nice as my Graham.” She shakes her finger somewhere in the space between you and Thea. “And we deserve all the best, right? Especially you, Wren, you need to take it under control, you know?” She focuses her peepers on you. “I mean, it’s your man, after all, you can’t let that slut just steal him. You need to fight for him!”

You know how they say ‘like a bucket of cold water?’ That’s exactly how it feels. Scorching wave all over your skin, first like a burn, and then cold; then pain, in all joints, and full petrification. You have trouble breathing, and the glass starts shaking in your hand frozen mid air.

“I mean…” Candice continues, so clearly full of good intentions. And we all know where that sodding good intention pavement leads. “I’d just go and pull her hair out. Kick her skinny ass! Tell her to keep her hands off him. I get it, you guys might things differently here.” She lifts her hands in a defensive gesture. “Maybe you can talk to him too – but I say, what can a guy decide, right? They think with their dick, and this one is clearly a goner. I mean they left that book signing party together, and Graham agrees that she’s got her claws in him…”

Thea’s drink falls on the table, and rushes across the table, and pours onto Candice’s lap. The Canadian swears loudly and jumps off her chair.

“Oh shite, sorry, darling.” Thea starts pushing napkins into Candice’s hands.

“It’s OK,” Candice laughs. “I guess, you’re a bit tipsy too, heh?” She gives Thea a wide grin, and Thea nods.

“To be honest, I think I’ve had enough.” Thea’s as smooth as ever. “How about we call it a night, Candice?”

“Only if you promise me we’ll do it again soon.” She wraps her arm around Thea’s waist, she wouldn’t reach Thea’s shoulder. “Yeah?”

“Definitely.” Thea gives her a brilliant smile. “I’ll get you a cab, love. You’ll be here, Wren?” She throws you a quick look, and you’re still in the same pose as before, your eyes on the slowly expanding puddle of lager on the table. You give a short nod, and the two of them disappear.

“Be right back.” Thea’s whisper is the last thing you hear.

You don’t notice how time passes, and suddenly Thea plops back on her chair in front of you.

“What the fuck is going on, Leary?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Wren?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

You exhale sharply and follow him.

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

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

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

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

“Wrennie, are you OK?”

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

“Can I come in?”

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

You hear him come in.

“Wren?”

“Yeah?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

***

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

“Mrs. Thorington?” she asks.

“It’s Ms. Leary, actually.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

“Good evening?” you ask with a giggle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You giggle.

“We would be arrested for inappropriate behaviour.”

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

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

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

He shrugs and pulls you closer.

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

Something pushes you to ask.

“So, you just go alone then?”

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

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