“Oh, baby,” she whispers, her lips parting. “My sweet, beautiful, precious lad. I want only to cherish you, to protect you, to pamper you. To give you everything I can.” Her eyes search mine. “Is that so very wrong? Is that such an unwelcome, unwanted thing to you?”

“No….”

“Then stop running from me, Bash,” she implores me, those incandescent eyes holding fast to mine. 

“I’m- I’m not. At least, I don’t think I am.”

“Then are you… playing hard to get with me?”

“No. No!” 

“Then stop running away from me! I need you, Sebastian.” The pain in her voice, her eys, is raw, stark. 

Ohhhh, holy shit. 

This makes everything different. 

She needs me. This beautiful, fucked-up, amazingly strong and yet incredibly hurt woman needs me. She said so.

Could she possibly need me as much, as deeply, as I need her?

“Will you accept that, Sebastian,” she murmurs huskily. “Will you?”

I nod, acquiescing to my fate. I want to prove to myself that I am man enough for her, that I can give selflessly to her. Like how she says she wants to give me everything. “Yes,” I whisper, my throat strained. For tonight, for now, I will be hers, I will accept what she offers, I will give myself over to her. 

“Then let me take care of you tonight. You didn’t let me take you to dinner without fighting me on it. You didn’t let me do anything for you tonight without fighting me every step of the way,” she reminds me, and I flush with shame and guilt. 

“Besides,” she adds, her eyes twinkling with amusement, “it would behoove me to see that you have a satisfying meal and are well-rested before such a significant first day of employment,” she whispers, eyes earnest. “It’s my job to take care of you, after all.”

Woah.

“I’m sorry,” I whisper.

She strokes her hand through my hair again, sending every nerve ending in my body soaring.

“Then,” she says, “since you invited me in tonight, and wanted me to see your place, I’ll stay here with you now. Agreed?”

“Agreed.” My heart leaps in my chest.

“The least you could do, as a host, is offer me a drink.”

“Oh!” I flush again with hot shame. This place must seem like such a slum to her, compared to her own places. “I, uh, don’t know what we have, but… but I think there might be some wine. Probably not very good, though. Not, you know, expensive.” I’m ashamed. Aiden usually grabs a couple bottles of two-buck-Chuck, and there’s beer, but unless he’s pulling out all the stops to impress some girl, our place is pretty dry. 

She’s laughing yet again, and the sound is like crystal wind chimes. “Bash, I’m just teasing you,” she says. “It’s late, and you need to sleep now.”

“Oh. Okay.” I’m relieved she doesn’t expect me to make her some fancy cocktail or something. 

“Are you ready to go to bed now?”

“I guess so.”

“And are you done crying?”

I hang my head. “Yes. I’m sorry,” I whisper.

“Don’t be sorry. If you need to cry, you should do it in front of me instead of hiding it from me,” she tells me.

“Do you want me to cry?” I ask, but without my earlier belligerent.

“Not particularly. I only want to know how you’re feeling. If our relationship is going to continue, that is an essential sign of trust.”

“Oh.”

“Lie down, Sebastian. I’ll stay with you until you’re safely sound asleep”

“I’m not sure-” 

“I am. Lie down.”

“I’m still dressed,” I murmur, red-faced, gesturing at my jeans and pullover hoodie. 

Her eyes dance again. “Ah. Yes, then, by all means, do change into your pajamas.”

I flush anew. Why is it she makes me feel like I’m about to put on feetie-pajamas and snuggle with a blankie and teddy, like a toddler? It’s mortifying. 

I shuffle over to the drawer where I keep my at-home-wear, and look at the jumble of stretched-out sweatpants and pajama bottoms and frayed t-shirts with boxers. What is appropriate for me, alone, isn’t appropriate for a night with Lark Blackwood. 

On top of the dresser, folded neatly, are the sweatpants she had Carter get for me after she rescued me from the Mexican restaurant. That was the first night we spent together.

Now we get to have another. 

In the week or so since I’ve met her, we’ve already had five nights together. And it’s still not enough. Selfishly, greedily, I want more. 

“Go on, Bash,” she says. She’s already unbuttoning her silk blouse, revealing an elegant brassiere, and her perfect, perfect breasts. 

Breasts I’m not allowed to touch.

But she’s here, I remind myself, and that is all that matters. I have to be grateful for what she allows me.

“Are you going to sleep naked?” I ask her, biting my lip, my body already surging with excitement at the thought. 

“Perhaps you might lend me one of your t-shirts?” she suggests, eyes dancing with merriment. She undoes the fastener on her skirt, letting the garment fall. 

My heart goes into 7/4 syncopated drum beats with triplets and double-bass.

“Sure, yes, of course. If you want,” I stammer. The thought of one of my t-shirts hugging her perfect, rounded breasts is almost as good as getting to do it myself. I extract a clean, white t-shirt, and hand it over to her. Mouth open, I watch as she removes her bra, standing in front of me in only a scrap of lacy panties, and pulls my t-shirt over her head. Her tousled bronzed curls emerge, and she shakes her head, laughing, as she tugs the oversized shirt down over her hips, and her flawless ass. 

I’m breathless at the sight. 

Hastily, I shuck off my own jeans and sweatshirt, and pull on the morning-after-the-rescue sweatpants. Should I wear a t-shirt, too? I usually don’t, but maybe tonight I should? I tug on a well-worn Ramones t-shirt.

“I suppose this will do,” she says ruefully, looking down, pulling at the hem of the t-shirt some more, and then coming over to straighten the t-shirt I’m wearing, too. 

“This is like two college kids having a naughty dorm-room overnight,” she whispers, her eyes alight. “You look so delectably young, Sebastian, with your hair all tousled.”

I can barely breathe. Still, I manage to murmur, “You look beautiful too, Lark, even just in a t-shirt.” I can’t take my eyes from her.  

“Go get into bed,” she tells me, and I obey.

I’m beyond elated when she slides under the covers next to me. 

“Are you comfortable,” I ask her, worried. While I’m thrilled with the closeness, I can’t imagine that she’s used to an old double-sized mattress and down comforter. Not after her California King bed with bespoke Porthault linens, luxury hotel quality pillows.

“It will do,” she says dryly, propping her chin up on her hand as she studies me. 

“What?” I finally ask nervously.

“What about you?”

“What about me?”

“Are you comfortable?”

I swallow. How to answer that? I’m glad she’s here, in my room, my bed, with me, but at the same time, her presence has my nerves twanging. 

I settle for a nod. Ultimately, it’s true. 

She smiles softly, and then leans to plant a soft, chaste kiss on my lips. “Then lights out, and goodnight, my sweet Sebastian.” 

I reach to turn out the light on my night-table.

“Now roll over, facing away from me,” she whispers, and then slides her arms around me, pulling me close in a tight embrace. “Good boy. You’re learning.” She snuggles close, her breasts–oh, God, her breasts that I’m not allowed to touch–pressed against my back, separated only by our cotton t-shirts.

“Mmmm, nice,” I dare to whisper.

I feel her kiss on the back of my neck before she nuzzles against my hair. “Shh. Go to sleep,” she orders me, and I smile. My high-handed, bossy, beautiful Lark. 

I’ve been so reckless tonight, out of character, provoking her. But she’s here now. And I’m exhausted from all of it, from being in her presence this way, from her demands, from trying to resist when deep down, I know I can’t. This is where I want to be, no matter what it takes to get here: in her arms, with Lark Ellery Blackwood’s body entwined around mine like vines around a sapling.

I fall instantly asleep, a smile on my face.

MBO Playlist: “Beige,” Yoke Lore

 

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