09 August 2010

The Dark Corner

She heard the door open and caught the dim flash of light from the doorway before the door closed again. He didn’t say a word, just walked across the room, in front of the window so she could see him, feel him in the silence of the darkness. He still wore a dark dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up. He walked before the ghostly moonlit picture window, his movements unhurried. Silvery highlights intensified the shadows of his face, the high curve of his cheekbone, the hard slash of mouth and chin to the endless line of his throat.

She took a deep breath as he turned and the ethereal glow bounced along his chest showing the shirt open with the tails fluttering untucked at the wide silver of his buckle.

She’d been lying there for what felt like forever, in the dark…in the silence just waiting, vibrating and waiting. He’d whispered the fantasy in her ear that morning, before her eyelids had even opened. His voice low and the instructions achingly clear. Even just the words had left her restless and wet the entire day.

The party had been far worse. She’d seen the glint in his eyes from across the room as he’d schmoozed, thanked and kissed enough cheeks to make everyone feel as special as the birthday boy. His eyes had flirted, heated and watched from the moment she’d walked in, but she did as he’d asked and stayed away from him the entire evening.

She’d worn the required red China-silk dress with the thirty-six buttons that went from her neck to her knees without a wisp of anything else. She’d felt the rub and slide of the silk at her unencumbered breasts, and the sensitive line of her hairless lips that buzzed against the backing of the buttons each time she brushed against someone.

By the time the last person had left she’d been near whimpering with the need for release. The pleasure in his eyes had made it all worth it though. He, in his casual silk shirt and dress pants in that jet black that emphasized the lean line of his toned body, tugging at his jacket to hide his reaction to the red silk each time she moved the crowd made everything worth it.

And here and now, with the blinds pulled to maximize the lines of moon glow on the bed and a light breeze that lifted the wooden slats to tick and bounce off the woodwork. She lay in the dark with her red dress and her heels in the center of the bed, crisp cotton sheets beneath her and her man watching.

Her heart fluttered as he sat in the corner. She could picture the club chair in her mind, with the clean lines and the nubby texture of the male tweed colors. And the moon shone just enough to give a soft outline to his cheekbones and curving line of his abs as he sat low on the chair with his legs outstretched, a hand on each thigh with fingers splayed.

She waited, swallowing the nervous pool of saliva that kept backing up in her throat. Could she really do this for him?

“Open the first button,” he said from the darkness.

Her heart thundered in her ears so loud she wasn’t sure she’d heard him. “From the top or the bottom?” she asked.

“Bottom,” he said roughly.

She flicked it open, her fingers shaking with nerves and excitement.

“Open your legs a little.”

She let her thighs spread and felt a whisper of the breeze from the window. It felt good on her overheated flesh. She moaned a little as he ordered two more buttons to be opened.

Her hips undulated with restlessness as she pushed two more silk covered buttons through the stretchy loops. She sat up, too edgy to stay down as she took it upon herself to undo another two from the top. “Is that alright?” she asked the darkness.

“More,” he said with a husky rumble.

Another three were freed as she felt the light, cool air kiss the curve of her breast. The material cupped the fullness of her breast, holding it in even as it left her free.

“Touch your breast and tell me how it feels.”

Air lodged in her throat as she lifted her hand to her skin. “You know how I feel,” she said softly.

“Tell me,” he said on a near croak as he shifted on the chair, his eyes glittering in the dark corner.

She cupped herself, letting her palm cover her nipple as she coasted higher onto her chest, to the slope of her shoulder. “Soft,” she felt again, “Cool but hot in the center where my nipple is hard.”

“More buttons,” he said with his breath heavy in the stillness of their quiet.

She spread her legs a little and popped buttons at the bottom, until she felt the night hit her upper thighs.

“Tell me more.”

She slid her fingertips from her knees to her thighs. “Warm now, hot at the tops of my thighs.” She gasped as her fingertips brushed over her center. “I’m so sensitive,” she said and let her head drop back. “I shaved to the skin, wanting to feel everything under the dress.” She opened another one, lost in the sensations now as nerves slipped away. “You told me no underwear, but it wasn’t enough. I was glad I did it though, glad until the metal backing of the buttons rubbed against my lips all night.”

He groaned and she heard the clink of his buckle. She watched, fascinated as he lifted his hips to free himself. Groaning, he left it to snap hard against his belly, the silver glint of moon and night highlighted the hooded cap of his cock.

Her fingers drifted up to release another button as her knuckle brushed against the swollen line of her center. “I’m hot and slippery now. I have been, all night, thinking about this room, doing this for you,” she said softly.

“How wet?”

“Dripping,” she said and let herself press her knuckle harder against the ridge at the topside of her lips. She found her slim folds and opened them until her clit was revealed to the night and to the cooler air. She felt open and aware as she rubbed one finger down and back up under the sensitive pearl inside of her. “I wish it was your hands,” she said and let her head roll back on her shoulders. “My clit is tight and hot and I know that just a flick or two would finish me.”

“No!” he said roughly. “Not yet.”

She let her hand fall away and returned to the center of her dress where the buttons lay. “What do you want me to do?” she asked, content to hold off…for now.

“Cup both breasts; let me see them in the moonlight.”

She did, lifting them from the light silk as she rubbed a thumb over each tip. “God, they’re so tight that they ache,” she said. She took a deep breath and pressed down lower so she could release another button. “I can feel the smooth muscles of my belly tighten. I want to open my legs and take you in. Feel you deep,” she breathed out and lifted her breasts again. “I’m so wet; you’d slip right in until you couldn’t go any further.”

She closed her eyes for a moment, dragging the tip of her thumbnail over the swollen nipples of each breast. When she opened them, she saw his hand caressing his shaft, his thumb mirroring hers as it coasted up and over his head and back under the silky soft ridge.

She hissed and plucked at her nipples as she knelt on the bed. With a frustrated groan she undid the last of the buttons and felt the night air kiss her from sternum to thigh without the stifling silk. She wanted it to be his mouth, his kisses, but she dragged the tips of her fingers down between her breasts and the line of her belly until she found the swollen folds of herself. She opened wide and watched as he kept his strokes slow and purposeful, a light twist as he reached the base of his cock.

Mesmerized she followed his slow, soft touches and moaned as her cream coated her fingers.

“Tell me,” he moaned from the corner.

“Hot. Hot for you, only you,” she whispered. “Wet, with the juices that make me ready for you.” She panted a little as she let two fingers coast over her clit.

“Push inside,” he said darkly. “Tell me how tight you are.”

She opened herself and felt her body swallow her two middle fingers until she couldn’t reach any further. “Is that what if feels like when I take you inside?” she said and rocked against her own hand. “So warm,” she said as she plunged back inside.

She heard the soft groan as he started pumping faster. She wasn’t sure if it was from him or from her. She leaned forward and coated her fingers and came up to rub against her clit, and then back inside until she felt the quiver of release pulling at her. She opened her eyes as he arched against his own hand and she heard the swift and sharp groan.

She watched, fascinated as the shadows revealed the line of his shaft, the veins as he arched and the tight fist of his hand as he brought himself over. Her eyes rose along the V of his belly, his muscles quivering as he arched off the chair. The line of his neck as he sucked back a breath and the soft curve of his mouth open in ecstasy as he let go.

She’d never seen anything like it. All because of her, and the dress and the touches she’d inflicted on herself. She felt drunk on the power as she pushed and plucked where she knew she needed and let herself slide into the orgasm that waited for her.

“Happy Birthday,” she said breathlessly. “Did your present work out for you?”

His only response was a flash of moonlit teeth pulled back in a wolfish grin.

20 July 2010

Fly By Night (End)

Jon tipped his face up in January’s decadent shower. The rain-esque showerhead gave up a steady downpour, soaking into his skin, into the muscles he’d used and abused the night before. Nights of marathon sex were far and few between for him these days.

It wasn’t like he didn’t want to have a fuck-a-thon, it just wasn’t in his schedule to do so. But he had to admit, he should do it more often...he felt loose, easy and refreshed for the first time since his Christmas break. The kids always revitalized him. London had sucked at him--too much press, too much spotlight, and too little time to really dig in and play husband and father.

And the only time he and Dottie got going like the days of his teen years, they both needed to be drunk and frisky. Lining up that kind of evening was worse than his tour schedule. And who the hell wanted to plan a fuck-fest anyway? It was the spontaneity that made it memorable.

And if he was honest, he couldn’t call what he’d had with January a simple bounce. There’d been an intimacy he’d missed. He’d learned long ago not to share too much. People always wanted something from him, people were always looking for an angle to work. He was sick of being on all the time.

January hadn’t given two fucks who he was. She’d simply wanted to enjoy another person. To push away the loneliness for a little while. And the demons she carried around weren’t even close to being released. He could feel it in the way she slept, the way she gave her body, but nothing of her mind. And still, he couldn’t pity this strong woman.

Drying off, he hooked the crazy purple towel at his hip and walked back into her room. Seamus gave a low growl. Protective to the end, he thought, dropping his hand to the wiry grey muzzle to let him sniff. He bumped his hand, allowed a quick scratch and dropped his head back to the carpet. “Are you sure you’re not female?” He mused and stepped over the small mountain.

January laughed into her pillow, her golden eyes peeking out from the snowy sheets and pillow she’d snuggled down into. Sunlight crept up the bed, little fingers of light chasing their way up her feet and calves that peeked out the bottom of her cocoon. The only thing he really knew about her was that she hated her feet covered in her sleep, kicking out in the night, no matter how cool it had gotten.

He sat down next to her, tucking a lock of her hair away and behind her ear. “Morning.”

“Barely,” she mumbled.

He reached for his phone on the floor in his jeans, snapping them out quickly and tossing them at the end of the bed. He flipped off the cover and cursed his inner body clock. It wasn’t even seven in the morning. Of course he was used to the hotel rooms and their blackout curtains. Sunlight meant morning to his body. And a house full of windows couldn’t be blocked.

He peered up at the cloudless sky that stretched above them like a limitless blue heaven. “I’d never get anything done, all I’d want to do is lay here and stare up.”

“Right,” she snickered.
“What?” He climbed over her and stretched out, his arms folded behind his head.

“You don’t know how to stay still and stare at nothing.”

Frowning, he turned to her. “How do you know?”

“I know.”

Disgusted that she seemed to read him pretty easily and she was such an enigma, he stared back up.

“I’m not sure why you get such a bug up your butt when I read you correctly.”

“You don’t know me and yet you’ve pretty much nailed every little thing down about me in less than 24 hours.”

“Nah,” she rolled over, laying her cheek on his chest. “Your face is just expressive. And I make my living on the nuances.”

“You seem like you don’t see many people,” he said gently.

“Oh, I don’t, but I’m a graphic artist. I have to show things on a face, set a mood, make people feel everything within a glance.”

“Would I know your work?”

“How old is your oldest kid?”

He hooked his arm around her, idly playing with the ends of her hair. “Seventeen, but she’s a girl. My eldest son is fifteen.”

“He’d probably know me. I write The Darkside.”

“Well, shit.” Jon laughed. Jesse was fairly obsessed with January Wilde’s graphic novels. To the point where he’d pretty much bribed everyone he knew to get copies of the artist’s back work. Most of it had been underground before she’d hit it big with-- “Violet.”

January grinned into his chest. “That’s my girl.”

“My son Jesse would kill to meet you. He’s always going on about how you never go to the comic-cons and no one has a picture of you...hell, I thought you were a guy.”

She sat up suddenly, clutching the sheet to her chest. “You can’t say anything.”

He sat up as well, his hand on her shoulder, thumb grazing over the smooth skin. “Relax, January. No one will know about this, or us.”

“No one can know who and where I am--no one.”
She trembled visibly and Jon hauled her back into his arms. She resisted, but he just held on tighter. Something violent had to have happened to her, there was nothing else in this life that could strike fear into a woman like that. Add in the scars and the secrets, and she was a bundle of fascinating loneliness. And as with the last time she’d had a little freak out, Seamus was up and in his face, standing over him on the bed.

The musical lilt to her tear clogged voice had the dog easing between them, his head on his mistress’s lap even with the low keen of doggie distress. “What is that you’re always saying to him?”

“It’s Gaelic. He was trained to only listen to my commands.”

Jon dropped his hand on the dog’s head, but the low growl had him sliding his hand away slowly. “Easy,” he said on a low, even tone.

“Hush, Seamus.”

And instantly the dog stopped growling. Evidently she was right about that. “I promise that no one will know where I’ve been. I don’t even have my GPS to show I’ve been here. The satellites wouldn’t pick me up.”

She leaned back on her pillow, still clutching the sheet close. “That was a fluke. We’re wide open spaces here.” She pointed up at the crystal clear blue sky above them. “Your GPS will work when you leave.”

He shifted until he could scoop her in close again. With a soft command the dog was back on the floor, though not at all happy about it. “It must have been the approaching storm.” She eased into him, but she wasn’t really there with him. She’d gone into whatever memories and demons haunted her. “Can you tell me what happened?”

“You don’t need to live with what happened to me. No one needs to imagine what happened, and even if you could try to understand--you don’t.”

Her voice was flat, even as she turned into him. Even as she climbed back onto his lap, he knew the soft and giving woman was gone. The peace he’d thought to find in her arms was only one of her facades. He touched her face, his thumb gliding over the impossibly high bones of her cheek. “All our life experiences change us, it’s up to you how you allow them to resonate.”

Her golden eyes shimmered with emotion, but no tears fell. “Be with me, one last time.”

If all he could give her was this, just a small measure of pleasure in her endless pain, that’s what he’d do. He wished he could give her more, wished that he had enough to give her more, but his family was his core and she needed more than he could give. But he would give her what he could, and hope it helped in some small way.

And as she took him inside her, as her smooth, pale skin and white silky hair curled around him, he watched her beautifully warm eyes go blind. It wasn’t slow, it wasn’t easy. He followed her lead, chasing her demons out as he filled her with something else for just a moment in time.


He clutched the printed directions, watching Seamus with wary eyes. His guitar case was by the door and the dog was waiting patiently beside it.

“I know I sound like a lunatic, but please don’t turn on your GPS.”

Brushing her bangs aside, he wished he knew what was going on in the lovely and haunted eyes staring up at him. Instead of asking questions she had no intention of answering, he nodded. He knew all too well what it was like to have people constantly thinking they were entitled to know everything there was to know about him. If she needed to keep her secrets to feel safe, he would abide by her wishes.

“I don’t mind doing things the old school way,” he said with a grin.

She pressed her hand to his chest. “I’m very glad you found me.” She looked down at her smudged hand on the cotton tanktop. He trapped her hand and she finally looked back up at him. “I never thought I’d say that.”

He brushed his nose along hers, then his cheek to hers—petal soft to stubble. “I didn’t come looking for you, but you were exactly what I needed.”

She stood on her tiptoes until their lips met. The kiss was soft and gentle. It was a goodbye kiss that was all giving, all open, and all the way honest. She cupped his face, tracing each line, each bone and ridge as if she was memorizing him. Her golden eyes were so sad.

He covered her hands one more time. “I hope you find what you need someday, January Wilde.”

She closed her eyes, one more kiss before she pulled back. That phantom smile flirted with her lips, her swan white eyebrow quirked and the woman that had lured him into her steel and glass fortress was there again. The sadness buried under some impregnable force of will.

And as he loaded his guitar into the car, he looked back at the steel door with their sunshine sentries. In the shadows she stood, a woman and her warrior dog.

That night, the wind kicked up and he signaled his brother for an audible extra to the setlist just before the encore. And to a Canadian crowd he and Richie sang Wild Horses under a single spotlight.

05 July 2010

Fly By Night (3)

Jon stretched out behind January. She’d fallen asleep, leaving the room silent for the rain that had died down to a patter. The room was a ghostly grey and again, it showed little of her personality. White sheets and an oversized down comforter curled around them on a mattress low to the ground. One of those platform beds that reminded him of his time in Japan.

More dark wood behind his head as the dark slats rose up along the wall as a sort of simplified headboard. Shelves held a few knicknacks and one picture frame that he couldn’t see without waking her.

Content after a bone dissolving orgasm, he longed for one of the cigarettes he’d given up. She shifted restlessly against him, her curvy bottom sliding against his dick. It should be too tired to think about a second round, but he laughed lightly as he hardened anyway. The sheet pulled away from them and he finally noticed that her cotton tank hadn’t made it off in the quick rush of hormones.

It had ridden up her back and more of the distinctive purple of her tattoo came into view. Deep green leaves were outlined in a graphic purple, but underneath the tattoo there was a distinctive puckering to her skin along her hip. Without thought, he traced his hand over the obvious scar tissue with an inward wince. He didn’t have many scars, but those he did always seemed to hurt more when he got too much sun, he couldn’t imagine the stinging needle of a tattoo gun over one.

She moaned in her sleep, murmuring a semi-coherent, “no,” into the half light. Stroking her hair automatically, he tried to soothe her. She jerked awake, her golden eyes blind as she twisted and thrashed.

“January!” He said her name sharply and ducked as she threw an automatic punch. She glanced off his jaw and he caught her tight. “Hey!”

She tensed, the shudder as all consuming as the passion she’d shown him just a few moments ago.

Seamus barked, the dog’s nose about three inches from his. Where the fuck had he come from? She murmured something lilting in an otherworldly language and the dog settled, leaning heavily against the bed until he could slide down to a prone position. He gave a small woof of dismay, but put his head down on his paws.

He could feel her relax by degrees in his arms, almost as if it was an exercise she did often. The only outward reaction was the grip she still had on his arm as she took measured breaths. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.

He pressed her cheek to his chest and stroked her hair at the nape of her neck. It was as soft as goose down, light and whispy around his wrist. “It’s okay, shhh.”

She rolled her forehead against the center of his chest. “Man, talk about sexy, right?” She blew her bangs out of her eyes and looked up at him.

He traced his thumb down her cheek. “We all have demons.”

She blinked away the tears from her dream and looked down at the two of them, very naked, and very intimate. Then back up at him. “Um...I--”

Sensing that she was about to head into uncomfortable post-afterglow territory he grinned at her, settling her more comfortably around him. “Hey, I like to play the big strong guy. It doesn’t happen very often.”

That smile returned to her oddly golden eyes, but her pretty face was still deadpan. Damn if that didn’t amuse the hell out of him. “That’s because you’re too busy being a pampered rock star.”

He hooked an arm behind his head, gathering one of the scattered pillows to get more comfortable. “Oh really? How would you know I’m pampered?”

She tunneled her fingers through the hair on his chest, following the lines of  his body. Suddenly rather glad that he’d kicked it up in the gym, he relaxed under her touch. “Your hands were just all over my body. They’re softer than mine.”

He lifted her ink smudged fingers. “Well, I don’t play in finger paints like some people.” When she tugged on his chest hair he winced. “Hey, I write songs, my hands look just as smudged when I’m in the studio.”

“Or when you color with your kids?” she asked with a tap on his ring.

He looked right into her eyes. Guilt stabbed at him, but he swallowed it down.  Unconventional life or not, he rarely cheated on his wife these days, but it did happen. “I’m not an angel, January.”

“And that’s exactly why you’re in my bed.” She leveraged up until she straddled his thighs. The tank rode up and she tugged it down. “I know you’re going to leave in the morning. And I know you’re taken. You’re about as safe as I can get without using my vibrator.”

He let out a bark of laughter. “Well, that’s one way to look at it.” Relief and an ache he didn’t want to think about hit him square in the solar plexus. He cupped her face, his thumb tracing her bottom lip as she sucked it into her mouth. He felt himself harden immediately. Christ, there was just something about a woman’s mouth with a little suction that never ceased to entice him.

She found him, her fingers gripping the base of his shaft as she loomed over him. He pushed at her tank, wanting all of her skin to skin as she rode him. She pushed it down again, even as his hands fished underneath.

She shook her head, her hips undulating against his shaft, trying to take him inside her body. And he wanted it. Wanted to lose himself again inside her welcoming heat and peace, but the peace was gone.

He could feel it in each desperate grasping pull of her fingers. She already knew just what button to push, and the secrets of a woman’s knowledge dragged him under as she fit herself around him. He arched up under her, his fingers digging into her hips as she rode him hard and fast.

Her head was thrown back. She pushed him to the brink with a roll of hips, the way her body tightened and welcomed him. But distantly he knew manipulation was a large part of the quick trip up. She was hiding with only half her body on display, only half of herself open to him.

She didn’t look down at him as she sought her release. He was just a tool this time, just a way to escape. He reared up, seeking some sort of connection again. But biology took over and he came, hard and deep inside her--even if it was one of the emptiest orgasms he’d ever had.

Breathing heavy, he clamped a hand around her wrist before she could get off him. His system was still on overdrive, but something was off. “Where’d you go?”

“What are you talking about?” She swiped her forehead with her free arm and smiled down at him, but it certainly didn’t reach her eyes.

He sat up, throwing her balance off until she fell against him. “Hey, I’m all for a mindless orgasm, but I really didn’t need to be here for that one. I could have been anyone.”

She rolled off him, her back to him as she sat on the side of the bed away from him. “Let’s not get this complicated here.”

Christ, he felt like a girl, but he scooted up onto his knees behind her, the sheet tightening across his hip as he tried to get closer to her. “I don’t want complicated. What this is, doesn’t have anything to do with complicated. It’s just that you’re hurting--and sometimes it’s easier to tell a stranger.”

She looked over her shoulder, he ultra-fine hair curving against her chin. “You just don’t know how to be an asshole guy today now do you?”

“Oh, I can be an asshole.” He sat back on his feet. He drew a knuckle across her back from one shoulder blade to the other. “But this little interlude wasn’t about that, right?”

She sighed, her head lowered. “Even anonymous sex can’t truly be anonymous.”

He leaned forward, pressing a kiss to her shoulder. “You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to. I’m just a good listener. Just putting that on the table, that’s all.”

She leaned back on him and he curled his arm around her waist, dragging her back into his arms.  He spooned around the back of her, their legs tangling as they settled against the pillows. For awhile she didn’t say anything. Then finally, she took his hand, pushing her shirt up.

Delicately, he traced her belly, finding more raised ridges of scars. “I don’t want to go into it, but I was hurt.” Her voice was softer than air. “Hurt so bad, that it took seven surgeries and countless grafts to try and put me back together.”

He eased back until he could look down at her.  He looked into her eyes as he traced each scar and overlapping purple edged leaf that peaked from the top of her neckline with his tongue. He tugged at her shirt, drawing it up so he could see all of her. Her breathing stuttered and her arms raised to help him. She was beautiful, no scar could hide that beauty. So he reinforced that with reverent touches until she eased. He wanted her to show him everything--to be as naked as two people could be. He finally looked away from her eyes and outlined each leaf and curling bell of the flowers that bloomed on her skin.

She shuddered under his hand, her skin sensitive to his touch as he lowered his mouth to her breast and traced the ink that climbed there. He could see silvery lines under the art and he ached. What kind of monster could have hurt her like this?

He gently rolled her over, following the scars and the purple lines that created a forest of flowers that told a story. And in the center of her back, right along her spine he found a Celtic symbol among the vines. He flicked the tip of his tongue over the knots. “Strength,” he said softly.

She rose on her elbows, lifting to his mouth and the pleasure he sought to give her. He pushed the cornsilk curtain of her hair over her shoulder and found her neck. Slowly and gently he drew on her ear, tasted the salt of their combined sweat, and trapped her legs between his.

“Will you let me inside you again?”

She nodded mutely as her hips lifted just a little. He didn’t pity her for the pain she’d suffered, but could only marvel in the strength she showed by using her scars to make something beautiful. He buried himself deep, the angle tightening every part of her around him as he watched himself slide in and out of her. The pure white skin and the unrelieved graphic texture of her art left a stark honesty that touched him.

And instead of two people looking to lose each other in a mindless bounce, it became about giving. He didn’t have much to give these days. Too many people wanted something from him, but here in this moment he couldn’t think of anything but giving to this woman that had lost so much.

His hand slid under her until he could find where they joined. Slick with intimacy and the slow build of excitement, he could feel each glide of his cock inside her. He could feel the light quiver of her body’s reaction to the angle. It would be good for her this time.

It would be good for him.

As the sweat pooled at the base of her spine, he couldn’t hold on any longer. He lifted her off the bed and slid deeper, his arm holding her up as she cried out for him to drive harder. And the mindless took hold until all that filled the room was the slick slaps of skin and rain, until all that mattered was following her off the edge into a tangle of limbs.


“God,” she curled up her knees into her chest and held on as her body still spasmed in the aftermath. “God,” she muttered once again as his soft lips kissed the nape of her neck with a low, satisfied laugh.

Utterly wrecked, she let him hold onto her lulled by the rain and an orgasm that defied her plane of existence. She’d never felt more beautiful and wanted in her life. She didn’t think she’d ever feel either of them after what happened to her.

But here, in the kindness of a stranger’s arms, she couldn’t begin to thank him. He’d seen all of her and had still wanted her. He’d wanted her more if that was even possible. She blinked away a quick rush of tears. Damaged goods--that’s how she’d seen herself for far too long.

The only damage that had been done this afternoon was the sexually liberating kind. She turned in his arms, her lips brushing his chin, then his neck, then finally his lips as she settled into him.

A few hours later she woke to a dark room and the soft chuff of Seamus at the side of her bed. She detangled herself from Jon’s arms and reached for the robe on a chair in the corner. He moaned, curling into the pillow, his face away from her. Absently, she stroked down his back where all those muscles bunched and moved. Mercy, he was beautiful. Stepping back, she looked down at her oh so patient companion.

“I’m sorry, baby,” she said on a low, toneless voice. The poor dog was probably ready to cross his own huge legs. She padded down the stairs, her body ached in the most amazing ways.

She’d been invaded in the best possible ways that day. She flicked open the peephole and looked around. Only her truck and Jon’s ridiculous sports car sat in her driveway.

She hated to let Seamus out of her sight, even long enough to go to the bathroom, but he needed to run. Well, as much as an Irish Wolfhound could run. Intimidation and stature were his strengths, but it left her feeling naked when he was gone.

Rubbing her arms against the slashing rain, she jumped when Jon came up behind her. “Christ,” she said between clenched teeth. “Don’t do that!” The rush of fear was absolute and blinding. She bore down on the doorjamb, forcing herself to relax.

He ran his hand down her hair. “Sorry.” He shook his keys, stopping as he noticed her grip. “Are you okay?”

She forced her voice to sound natural, even though the adrenaline coursed through her like fire. “Yeah, you just startled me.”

He frowned, but took a step down.  “I’m going to grab something out of the car, okay?”

She nodded. Almost there. Focusing on her breathing, she forced her system to ease. She was safe. Pasting on a nonchalant smirk, she leaned on the jamb. He truly didn’t need to know just how nuts she was. “Are you hungry?”

“Starving.” He ran outside, his jeans still unsnapped, and no shirt on, and her body went haywire for a totally different reason. He really was the most beautiful specimen of male. Turning her back on the door, she wandered to her kitchen.

She was totally safe.

After only a minor archaelogical dig into her freezer, she found a Tupperware bowl labeled, veal and peppers, and shoved it into the microwave.

Getting the initial frost off the edges, she plopped it into a pan and turned it to simmer. Every few months, she drove out to Edmonton for supplies and part of that run was an Italian place that made nice, big portions.

The door shut, and the flap of Seamus’ wet fur and floppy ears as he shook himself off, immediately eased her. An oddly tuneful whistling started in the living room, making her grin as she filled a pot of water for the pasta, leaving it turned off. The sauce would take a bit.

“I hope you like veal and peppers,” she said as she walked back into her living room. He was settled on her couch, a guitar on his lap, his chest bare and dotted with rain.

“What’s not to like there?”

She swallowed her tongue and curled into her favorite chair. Indeed, there wasn’t much not to like at all. A scattered sheaf of papers littered her coffee table. She picked one up, realizing it was a setlist. Jon’s bold print was on a few of them, and some were blocky type from a computer printout.

A lot of the songs were the same, but a few different songs were peppered in. She didn’t have a lot of knowledge when it came to live music. She enjoyed music, but her concert going days had...she swallowed and put the paper down. Best not to think about how long it had been.

“Are you studying your own setlists?”

He sighed, sitting back on the couch. A battered black guitar settled against his belly. The natural curves of his body seemed to follow the guitar and it only highlighted how different he could be. Jon the man was blurring into Jon the musician here.

Fascinated, she saw the entire conversation in his mind before he sat up. She knew and valued privacy, so she just waited, a smile curving her mouth.

Jon sat up again, his fingers automatically curling around the neck of the guitar as his other arm hung low off the body. Muscles shifted and flexed as he got himself more comfortable. Her fingers suddenly itched. She’d already known his blue eyes would follow into her work. Would her editor freak out, or crow with delight when black and purple got a dash of blue in the mix?

Finally, he spoke. “Setlists are my own personal hell, right now.”

“Why?” She snagged her notebook off the table and a shard of graphite as she crossed her legs and settled.

He looked down at his strings, strumming absently as the words swished around in his mouth like hard candy. She made a few slashing gestures to the page, capturing the high cheekbones and unruly hair until his face popped from the page.

“I’ve been taking the easy way, and I know it. I hate being called on it.”

She could see the frustration, and the disgust on his face and it translated into her drawing. Making a brief outline of his guitar, she started a new study in the corner of the notebook. His fingers around the neck, the quick and graceful as he picked out random notes.  Random to her, no less beautiful in their randomness, but she didn’t know the tune.

Instead of answering him, she just let him talk it out. Sometimes all you needed was an outsider to dump on. She was pretty sure he didn’t really have that with anyone. She could physically see him stiffen up, winding up in his head with a frustration that she understood. The Jon that had first come to her door was emerging again.

She set her notebook on the chair, stepped over a snoring Seamus and climbed behind him to sit on the headrest of her hugely oversized couch. He laughed, but leaned back against her thighs as she hugged his ribs with her knees. Digging her fingers into his shoulders he hissed, then groaned his appreciation.

“So, you’re the boss right?” He stiffened, but she dug in again until he relaxed. “C’mon, Jon, you radiate boss. I’m sorry, it’s true.”

He sighed, disgust and ascent in the shake of his head. “It sucks sometimes.”

She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed his scruffy cheek. “It’s supposed to suck. Being a leader is three parts stress and one part pleasure, no matter what anyone thinks.”

He rubbed his cheek against her jaw as she dropped behind him, her feet splayed. “Yeah, and that’s what this little drive was about. It’s been four parts stress and no pleasure for way too long.”

She scraped her teeth over the freckles dotting his shoulder. “Play for me. Play something you love--play something for you and let it be for me as a side benefit.”

He strummed for a few minutes, then a rough and smoky voice buzzed along her chest and resonated through her thighs. She didn’t know the song at first, but then smiled and tucked her chin in his shoulder.

His fingers picked over the strings, strumming softly as his voice strengthened with each line as if he needed to warm up. As the song came to a close, she laid her cheek on his shoulder. “The Rolling Stones never sounded so good.”

He laughed and trapped her back against the couch. “Right, the Stones are the Stones, darlin’. I just like to pretend I can do a good impression.”

She wrapped her arms around his waist, her fingers teasing the line of hair that trailed into his jeans. “I’ll never hear Wild Horses quite the same way again.” She flicked a tongue over his freckles. “Sing one of yours.”

“All I do is sing mine.”

Undeterred, she pushed him forward. “Sing one that you love. Don’t play for the crowd, just the audience of one.”

He sighed, but she could feel the build inside him. Songwriting was his art, singing others was for fun, but his own soul was in his songs, just like her art was a looking glass into her mind.

His voice instantly changed, whisper soft and resonate at the same time. Her whole body shivered in reaction. He sung of loneliness, of endless nights, and losing yourself in a strangers arms. Of holding onto someone for just one night. As the last strains told her there was a helluva lot of lonely out there.

She moved his guitar, setting it into the opposite corner of the couch and climbed on top of him. Her lips on his before she could stop herself. “You sing what you want,” she said against his mouth. His fingers dug into her hair, holding her there as the kiss deepend.

The man had no idea just how emotion could come out of him when he let it go. She didn’t know how she knew that, but she could feel it. As she lost herself in his distinctive flavor, she held onto her lonely stranger, and hoped they could both keep it at bay for one night.

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