Keeper Ch. 07byArdella©
Three twenty two. Jeez, it was three twenty two in the damned morning.
Blue blinked owlishly at the glowing light of the clock at her bedside, wondering what it was that had caused her to wake. The answer to her question came in the form of a low growl. Abe lay at one corner of her bed, head up, ears perked, and tense. The quietly rumbling noise made the hairs on Blue's arms stand up.
Sitting up in bed, she held the covers in a fist against her chest, her eyes darting around the darkened third floor room. Seconds ticked by. Abe seemed to relax, enough so that he laid his head down on his paws and sighed the way dogs sometimes do before falling asleep.
"Hey." Blue whispered. "You can't just do that and drop it. What were you growling at?"
Abe rolled over for a tummy rub.
Slipping her legs out from underneath the warmth of the heavy covers, Blue blindly felt for her favorite fuzzy socks with her toes. Finding them beside the bed where one usually kept slippers, she slipped them on, gave Abe a look that was ignored, and padded softly to the window.
Peeking outside showed her that it had stopped snowing, but a snowplow had come by at some point and had cleared the road in front of the house. Maybe that was what had caused Abe to growl? Leaning close enough for her breath to fog the cold glass, Blue peered from side to side down onto the snow covered lawn as far as she could see. Nothing moved. A quiet, muffled stillness that often came with a blanket of snow and late night-early morning hours had settled in.
"Well." Blue whispered still, making Abe's ears flick back and forth. "No more growling at snow plows at three in the morning, okay?"
A flip of a tail was the only response. Blue walked toward the bed, hoping the warmth was still trapped under the blankets. But instead of climbing in, she surprised herself by grabbing the robe that was hanging over the back of her overstuffed chair and continuing on to the stair well.
The old wooden stairs creaked in their usual spots, the only sound as she descended. Pausing in the hallway on the second floor in front of Aunt Jean's bedroom, she tilted her head and held her breath to listen. There was nothing to hear but the usual, familiar sounds that one often takes for granted until forced to hear them. Before she continued on, the soft clicking of Abe's nails on the stairs told her that the dog had decided to join her. Abe paused in the darkened hallway and looked up at her expectantly.
If there was anything hinky going on, the dog would be telling her, Blue was sure. Even so, she continued on to the next stairwell and down to the first floor. She could go back to bed, or she could keep going on downstairs. Judging by the restlessness now flowing through her body, she knew she would have a tough time getting back to sleep.
Before she took the next step down, she paused. Standing at the top of the stairwell, her stomach quivered. She knew what she would find if she went down. Taking a deep breath to shore her nerves, smelling the faint musty scent of the ancient wallpaper due to her oddly sharpened senses, Blue moved out of the comforting glow of the little night light plugged into an outlet along the baseboard and stepped down into the dark stairwell.
By the time she reached the bottom, a faint, flickering light welcomed her, growing brighter as she moved on fuzzy socked feet toward the living room. Stopping at the entryway, she saw him. He was still asleep, the light from the muted television casting itself onto the form of his body with a soft, lazy strobe. Pressing a hand to her fluttery stomach, Blue took her time and looked her fill of the man stretched out on her sofa.
He was still here. She'd half expected him to have awakened. To have gone home sometime during the night. But there he was.
She had been half disappointed, half relieved when he hadn't pressed for sex after they had come inside. She'd invited him in, yes, although she had been somewhat bemused when he had suggested she go make that hot chocolate she had tempted him with while he scrolled through the TV listings to find a movie.
They had snuggled on the couch, sipped at the frothy mugs of hot cocoa, and watched the movie that he had chosen, occasionally making quiet, companionable comments. It was wonderful.
She wasn't sure who had fallen asleep first, but she was willing to bet it had been her. He had brought her up close beside him for movie watching and soft, absentminded touches, and the next thing she knew, the movie was over and she was tucked snugly into his side, the solid chest under her cheek rising and falling regularly in his own deep sleep.
Though she'd tried not to wake him as she extricated herself from the warm, heavy arm around her shoulders, he had come awake enough to mumble something about how he should go home. She ignored that, and by the time she had brought a blanket to him, he had stretched his long legs out along the sofa and was sound asleep. She'd covered him and trudged drowsily up to her own bed, Abe following along after a moment of hesitant indecision about who to stay near.
John was still stretched out, one leg bent at the knee, the other straightened so that his foot hung over the arm of the sofa. He had snugged himself cozily against the back cushions, and had one arm flung above his head, the other hand resting on his hip bone. The blanket she had given him had slid off sometime during the night.
Realizing she was staring, she moved forward to lift the blanket off the floor. Her mind's intent was to re-cover him. Her eyes had other ideas. As she stood over him clutching the soft blanket, her gaze traveled from his face, his features still intensely masculine even when relaxed in slumber, to down over his torso. He had, at some point, unbuttoned the checked flannel shirt he wore to expose the snug white t-shirt underneath. Even in the dim light from the television, or perhaps because of the shadows the light created, she could see how the thin, well worn cotton material lovingly molded to the solid form of his chest and stomach.
Her eyes skimmed lower... and stopped. His hand rested, relaxed, thumb and fingers spread in just the right position on his groin to frame the very male bulge there. The snug fit of his jeans helped greatly, and Blue swallowed against the sudden watering of her mouth.
"Stop staring at the man's crotch." Blue mouthed to herself soundlessly.
She allowed herself one last appreciative glance, though. Thinking it a shame to cover up such a nice view, she lay the blanket as gently as she could over his legs and up to his waist. Her careful attempt at not waking him was for naught. When his hand closed over hers, her gaze flew up to his face to find his eyes, heavy lidded from sleep, trained on her.
His stare remained steady, trapping her, daring her, as his hand tugged gently on hers, bringing her palm flat onto his abdomen, edging under the blanket. When she didn't pull away, his half closed eyes glittered in the dim light. The large hand engulfing hers guided her fingers lower.
When her palm curved over the bulge of his cock, his eyes drifted closed. A low 'mmmm' rumbled up from deep within his chest. Blue settled onto the edge of the sofa at his hip. John's hand still lay across hers, but not insistently, only following along as she pressed and tested, rubbing her hand back and forth experimentally. All the while she watched his face, saw the corners of his mouth tighten, his jaw clench, his tongue dart out to wet his lips.
Inside his jeans his cock swelled and hardened, and she traced the impressive ridge with her fingers. Just as she was about to search out the zipper of his jeans, he moved her hand away, settling it on his thigh. John's chest heaved with a gust of breath and he opened his eyes, more awake now, to look up at the ceiling.
"Dear Diary." he murmured in an exaggeratedly wistful voice. "You'll never believe the awesome dream I had this morning..." He caught her eye and winked teasingly.
Blue wasn't sure whether she wanted to laugh or just be confused that he seemed to want to stop when her own body was telling her go, go, go.
John rubbed his hands over his face and groaned. "Oh, hell. What time is it?" He grabbed onto her hand when she stood. "Uh-uh. Don't go away." His thumb brushed back and forth over the back of her hand.
"It's about three-thirty. Quarter to four, probably. You've got time to sleep a little longer. I was going to wake you around five." She had set her alarm to get John up in time to make his flight. Her own flight was later in the day.
Keeping hold of her hand, he leaned up on his elbow, looking drowsy and sexy as anything she'd ever seen.
"Well, honey, what are you doing up at this hour? Something wrong?"
"Abe woke me. He was growling at the snow plow going by."
John suddenly appeared more awake, and swung his legs off the sofa, his feet flat to the floor. "He growled at a plow?" His brow creased and he looked to the dog curled up next to a chair across the room, halfway asleep. "No. That's not something that would alert him. You sure?"
"Well, no. I don't know." Blue shrugged and looked over her shoulder at Abe.
"Abe?" John got the dog's attention. Abe lifted his head, licked his chops and gave his owner a dog smile, then settled his snout back down between his paws, not a care in the world. "All right." He rubbed his fingers over the dark stubble that had grown on his jaw since he'd last shaved, his now sharp gaze flicking to the nearest window. "If there was a problem right now, Abe would still be alerting." He spoke as if he were talking to himself.
Rising from the sofa and releasing her hand, John walked to the window and stood looking out into the darkness beyond. After a moment he turned, sat on the edge of the nearest chair, and began pulling on his boots.
"No, not yet. I'm going to take a look around. Just a look-see." He rose and she followed him to the entryway where his coat was hanging on a wall hook.
"But... it was probably just the plow." Blue fully admitted to herself that she was glad he was here, that he wasn't leaving yet, even though she thought going outside at quarter to four in the morning to check out what was basically a little dog grumble was an over-reaction.
John shrugged into his coat and slipped out the door, letting Abe follow when the dog nosed through to join him. Blue stood at the window for a minute and watched as man and dog stood silently for a moment, Abe sniffing the air, and then moved slowly out of site.
Unsure of what to do with herself at first, Blue then came to a decision and made her way on restless, fluffy socked feet to the kitchen. She could at least make some coffee...
Close to half an hour later, she stood at the old, battered but still reliable stove that Aunt Jean had used since way before Blue was born. "It's ugly, but it works. The damn thing's going to outlast even me", she'd said. Flipping a pancake to brown on the other side, Blue heard the front door open, and Abe's nails clicking softly on the linoleum flooring as the dog trotted into the kitchen
"What are you doing?"
She glanced over her shoulder. John was standing in the wide entryway. She refrained from giving him her best 'well, duh' look before she turned her attention back to the pancake. "Making breakfast." she murmured, sliding the spatula under the flat, round circle and lifting it onto a teeteringly high stack of pancakes.
He was silent, and she didn't turn to look at him. Carefully, she dipped a ladle into the remaining batter in a bowl beside the griddle and poured the mix onto the hot, oiled surface. "Did you find anything out there?" she asked, staring at her handiwork.
"No." He paused, then, "Blue, I don't want to fuck and run."
She dropped the ladle with a clatter, the rounded metal bowl of the spoon end making it bounce as it hit the floor. Turning, she found John still in the doorway, his hands shoved and fisted into the pockets of his jeans.
"Ex... excuse me?"
"Abe, no. Go sit." Blue followed John's eyes to see Abe stop just before licking the splatter of pancake mix on the floor.
"Are you telling Abe to sit, or me?" Blue raised her brows. Abe obeyed and backed off, lowering his haunches to sit.
"Why did you get up so early?"
"I told you. Abe woke me when he growled." She shook her head as if to clear it. "And... if you're trying to confuse me you're doing a bang-up job."
"I know. Sorry." He pulled his hands out of his pockets and leaned a shoulder against the dark-stained wood of the entryway. When he was done rubbing a hand over his face a sheepish smile appeared. "Sorry."
Blue shook her head and waved her hand dismissively in a gesture that said 'forget about it'. Grabbing a hand towel she knelt down to wipe up the splotches of batter from the worn linoleum. When she stood, he was right there, taking the ladle from her hand to set it on the counter top. When his hands were free he framed her face with his palms, forking his fingers into her hair. A second later his mouth was slanting over hers, taking and giving. Covetous and generous.
When she was properly breathless and giving back enthusiastically, he lifted his head, his own lungs getting a workout. Keeping her head tilted up, he remained leaned in close.
"You've gotta know I want you." He took a moment to swallow against his thickened voice. "And I'm thinking it's mutual." Blue nodded, dazed. "But not much more than twenty-four hours ago we established that you aren't the type to just jump into bed with someone-" When she opened her mouth to say... well, she wasn't sure what she was going to say, but he slid his thumb over her cheek to lay it over her lips, effectively hushing her. "Which is fine, and a trait that sits good with me. Real good. So then we spend an amazing day getting to know each other, and that's good too, but still it's only a day."
He took a breath, narrowing his eyes. "Fast forward to three thirty in the morning... I'm willing to bet that when Abe stopped alerting after he woke you, normally you would have gone back to sleep. Except you didn't. You got up and came down here... because maybe... you were needing. And now you've made an Eiffel Tower of pancakes, because you didn't know what else to do, because you're still needing." Clear topaz eyes bored into hers. "Now, if I'm way off base, please stop me now because I'm going to be real damned embarrassed-" Relief was plain on his face when she made no denial.
A thin, ribbon cloud of white, wispy smoke wafted between their faces, causing Blue to wrinkle her nose and rear back in surprise. Pulling away from John, she looked down at the stove beside them, alarmed to see pancake and cooking oil on the hot griddle smoking, seconds away from bursting into flame.
Quickly, she flipped the burner knob to the off position, then reached out to move the griddle onto an unused burner. A split second later she cried out, having forgotten that it was Aunt Jean's ancient relic of a griddle, the one that required an oven mitt to protect one's hand from the hot handle. With a loud clatter she dropped the pan immediately.
Just as quickly, John was there, pushing the griddle away with a towel and grabbing Blue's stinging hand.
"Jesus, Blue..." He pulled her toward the sink, holding her by the wrist.
"I'm fine, I'm fine." she objected, yanking away from the stream of cool water that he had turned on and plunged her hand under. "I didn't get burned." she insisted, wetting a towel and holding it against her palm.
When he scowled skeptically, she held her hand up in front of his face, palm out.
"See? Fine. Just a little red. Won't even blister or anything." Blue shrugged carelessly. "I've been burned before, anyway. This is nothing. absolutely nothing. Okay? I'm fine."
She snapped her mouth shut on the last word, hearing her teeth click together. He stared at her, waiting to be sure she was done. When she began to lower her hand, he took hold of her wrist and brought her palm up to his lips, kissing the sensitized flesh softly.
"Are you really fine?"
Blue blinked and stared at the man before her.
"I'm not going to fuck and run, Blue."
"You said that already. And you've also said you made a resolution not to swear. Looks like you didn't get very far with that."
"Why don't you like to be called Sweet Baby?"
It took a moment before Blue could respond with anything at all. "Am I having this conversation in the Twilight Zone?" She shook her head and made a move to turn away, but John stopped her with a hand on her shoulder.
"Blue Waters, I'm going to court you."
The proclamation dumbfounded Blue nearly as much as the fuck and run announcement.
"Are you?" was all she could think to say. 'Court' her? How... how... old fashioned.
"Mmm-hmm." John's lips had landed on her cheek and were busy working their way to her ear, so apparently they couldn't be bothered to move in actual response. Somehow, Blue found the strength to push against his chest, however weakly. He pulled back, but kept his hands on her shoulders, where his fingers were doing some sort of magical movements underneath the collar of her robe.
"I have a plan. When I get back from this trip, I want to take up where we're leaving off. I'd like to court you."
"A plan." Oh, still so articulate. But really, it was hard to think when his mouth was back against her skin, leaving little kisses along her neck under her ear, and his hands... sneaky hands... had pushed the robe off her shoulders without her realizing it. The tie at her waist, and the curve of her breasts kept the robe from falling, so she was still covered from robe to fuzzy socks, but the way he was looking at her made her legs tremble with arousal.
"A plan." he echoed, pulling back to look into her eyes. "I think you probably have some abandonment issues, and it's difficult for you to trust-" At her raised brows he laid his thumb over her lips. "I want to earn that trust. I'm going to earn it. So, I am not going to seduce you into sleeping with me this morning before we have to leave each other, even though I've a feeling it wouldn't be too difficult at this point to do so."
Torn between huffing at John's arrogant belief that seduction would be so easy, and the urge to beg him to please, just go ahead and take her, Blue chose to stay quiet and let him continue.
"You aren't the type for a one night stand, and that's not what I want anyhow. I want you to wait for me, and when I get back... well, that's the plan. If you can wait for me, I promise you, you won't be sorry." Not giving her a moment to respond, John's arms wound tightly around her. "In the meantime," he whispered into her hair, "Baby... I know you're needing... I can take care of that, if you'll let me." He lowered his body enough to wrap his arms around her hips, and when he stood he lifted her, holding her against his body. The moment she felt her feet leave the floor she put her arms around his neck, clutching his shoulders.
She knew she was no lightweight, but he'd lifted until her feet were dangling, and was holding her as if she was light as a feather. Should she protest? Did she want to?
"Hush." he mumbled, his face buried into her chest. He breathed heavily, hotly, between her breasts through the tank top uncovered by the partially open robe. Even through the material it was an exciting and heady feeling. "We don't need any more pancakes."
John nuzzled, and the room spun. Blue grasped John's head, fingers trying to find hold in his short hair, and realized the room wasn't spinning, but he was moving, headed toward the living room.