Between the Bars Pt. 05bycarsonshepherd©
"So how's the dissertation coming?"
I groaned. Fuck. Why did she have to ask me this every single time she saw me? It bordered on nagging. I especially didn't need this in front of Daniel, who was now listening curiously. Families were so damned embarrassing.
"You know how it's coming," I muttered.
"You're still not finished? And have you even worked on it at all?" Charlotte prattled on, stubbornly oblivious to my stare of death. "It's been how many years now?"
"I've worked on it."
"Opening the file from time to time doesn't count as working on it."
"How is it any of your business anyway?" I said under my breath; I almost hoped she didn't hear me, but Charlotte had inherited my grandmother's radar ears.
"Oh, I don't know, maybe it's my business because I want you to get your doctorate?"
"Nothing but a worthless piece of paper." I scowled at her, turning red under Daniel's slightly confused look. "My publisher doesn't care if I have a PhD. after my name and neither do my readers, so why should it matter to you?"
"Your readers think you're a woman named Cassandra," Charlotte reminded me sarcastically. Daniel laughed softly and even I had to crack a slight smile. "I just want you to get something out of all those years of hard work, even if it is just a worthless piece of paper. You've earned those letters after your name and if you'd just get off your ass and finish your dissertation, you could get a teaching job instead of sitting around staring at a computer screen all day."
"Wait a minute," Daniel said. "I'm confused. I thought you already had your doctorate."
"Well, I do and I don't." My face was blazing. Charlotte had an uncanny ability to hit on the one thing that would embarrass me most. "I've finished all the doctorate course work at Auburn and I picked my dissertation and had it approved... I even have it mostly written." I cringed, waiting for the inevitable question, and of course, it came.
"What's it about?"
"The Death of Spencer: Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and Byron's Assault on the Elizabethan Virtues." Reluctantly, I told him the title and waited for the blank stare of "Huh?" Shit. I hated talking about it with people not in the academic world; it was so embarrassing, having to spend five minutes explaining what the title meant. To my surprise Daniel actually seemed interested, so I talked a little bit about George Gordon, Lord Byron, and his wild life of debauchery that shocked society, the rumors of liaisons with both sexes, and the affair with his half-sister that eventually led to his downfall.
"Well, it seems like you have all your information; so what's the hold up?"
Now, I was really embarrassed, squirming in my chair like I'd just been called on in class and everyone was staring at me waiting for me to answer and I was frozen. "Um... I have to present it to the committee and it's just... not ready."
"At the rate he's going, it never will be," Charlotte said, as if I wasn't even in the room. She was being a total bitch, which was nothing new. I understood her frustration and I knew it was motivated by her loving me and wanting the best for me, but at the same time, she needed to butt out. Nagging and pushing were the two fastest ways to get me to dig in my heels. You'd think after knowing me my whole life, she would know that. It barely took Daniel a week to figure it out. The thought amazed me, the way he could get me to do anything, say anything, get past issues that I'd struggled with my whole life, and he did it without pushing one bit. How could he know me so well when he knew almost nothing about me?
He smiled at me and I blinked, startled out of my cloud. I'd been staring at him like a crushed out schoolboy again; it was mortifying, but Daniel slid his hand over under the table and gave my thigh a squeeze. He thought it was cute, even if my aunt did roll her eyes as she got up from the table and grabbed the coffeepot to refill our mugs.
"Besides, you know I don't want to teach," I growled at Charlotte.
"Then what do you want to be when you grow up, Rylan?"
"I think he wants to be a writer. Wait. He is a writer." Daniel gave me the full intensity of his smile and my heart did the flipping thing it seemed to have just begun when I met him. I stared into his blue eyes, speechless, awed by the way he always said the right thing. He was fucking wonderful. His hand rubbed light circles on my leg and I just slowly melted down into a big, quivering puddle on the kitchen floor. So much joy he gave me but such sharp stabs of sudden pain, realization that it was almost over.
"He'd be a good English professor though," Daniel added, eyes twinkling at me. I could just see the dirty little ways he could earn extra credit dancing through his head.
"Not likely," snorted Charlotte as she banged around. "This is the kid who deliberately got a B in honors chemistry senior year in high school so he wouldn't have to be valedictorian and get up and give a speech at graduation."
"Won't you ever shut up?" The embarrassing secrets were too much and I got up from the table and stalked off. They were laughing at me; I just knew it. Charlotte was telling Daniel all about what a dork I am, how I threw up when I had to give class presentations. I always ended up getting good grades, but there was always a moment, when I first stepped up to the lectern and all the eyes were staring at me, that my throat closed up, my knees got weak and I was sure I couldn't do it.
Presenting my paper to the dissertation committee was a black cloud over my life. It had to be done, and eventually I would do it. I would finish the dissertation and present it, but not until it was perfect. My facts were perfect. The paper was impeccably researched, arranged, edited and just waiting. Byron was a natural choice for me, it was easy and I knew the work would be highly praised; the academic publication would be good for my "legitimate" writing career and the people whom I was supposed to be eager to notice me would finally know my name.
Charlotte and the rest of my family knew that and they didn't understand why I still hesitated. They were thrilled at the prospect of having a doctor in the family even if it was a doctorate in English literature. Frankly, sometimes I wondered myself why I couldn't do the deed and get it over with; but the fact of the matter was, something in me wouldn't let me because it wasn't what I really wanted. And in order to face that committee, those strange faces all gathered around staring at me and listening to me and judging me, everything that comprised my worst nightmare, I had to really want it.
Daniel seemed to understand when he came into the living room and sat down beside me. I tried to explain it to him and he nodded thoughtfully. It was something I'd never tried to articulate until now and the vague dissatisfaction I'd always felt with my academic career was much clearer now. Making sense of it all filled me with relief.
"So... just start over," Daniel suggested with a shrug.
"You don't just start a doctoral dissertation over."
"You have to re-apply to the program, get a new advisor, submit a prospectus and get it approved by the committee, which can take months and then you have to research it and-"
He lifted an eyebrow and I stopped.
"You know, maybe I could start over. Maybe not at Auburn, but I could get into a doctorate program somewhere else, and write about something I really like." I thought of my scribbled-in notebook, rapidly filling up. "Science fiction doesn't get much respect in the academic world; it's certainly under-represented but there's so much there, so many possibilities..." Suddenly, so many possibilities and so much to say, a door opening on the boredom, freeing me from my work on Byron which, I now realized, I'd grown to hate so much I'd never finish it. It wouldn't be easy to admit defeat, to leave behind several years' worth of work, but to get free of the corpse of Byron that I dragged behind me, the failure would be worth it. I actually felt giddy. "I think I can do this, Daniel."
"Sure you can."
"You did it again. How do you know?"
"I don't," he laughed. "It's all you. All I do is ask the questions, the answers are yours."
"But knowing the right questions to ask..." I turned to him and buried my face in his neck. He was fucking amazing. Dammit. He smelled incredible too, clean and soapy and delicious from our shower. I knew I shouldn't, being in someone else's house right out in the open where the kids could walk in any minute, but I couldn't help myself. My lips begged for his taste, and I pressed my mouth to his collarbone and flicked my tongue over the satin skin, making him tilt his head back against the couch to allow me better access.
"I should stop," I whispered in his ear as I nibbled the edge. He laughed softly, almost a purr. He made me so hard. I didn't want to stop and I let out a little growl as I caught his bottom lip between my teeth. I tasted coffee when his tongue twined around mine. I felt him groan in his throat as I reached down and circled the head of his cock with my thumb through his jeans.
The back door banged right behind us, startling me, and the house filled with the kids' loud laughing voices and the stomping of snowy boots. I jumped away from Daniel to the other end of the couch, grinning at him. His mouth was red and damp from my kisses, and he quickly crossed his legs as Maddie and Jeremy trooped in, followed by their dad. Paul came over and greeted us, shaking hands with Daniel; and as he walked away toward the kitchen where the kids were clambering around Charlotte, he dropped a small brown paper bag in my lap.
When I peered inside, my breath caught. Condoms. A whole box of them and a small tube of KY jelly. Finally, at last, after all this time, Paul got out of the frozen house, and once on the roads he actually thought to stop and get condoms for me. Flooded with gratitude, I pictured him stopping at the convenience store for coffee with the rest of the county road crew and casually buying condoms and lube, unconcerned with the stares and the crude joking remarks. That was Paul. I wanted to run over and kiss him but that could wait until later.
Grabbing Daniel's hand, I hauled him to his feet. "Um, Daniel and I are tired, we're going to go downstairs and take a nap."
"Oh, um, okay," Charlotte said, lifting an eyebrow as she watched me steer Daniel to the stairs. Paul glanced at us; he didn't grin but I saw his eyes twinkling. "I made the bed for you and put towels in the bathroom."
I slammed the basement door. On the stairs, I thrust the little paper bag at Daniel. When he opened it the puzzled frown left his face and a huge grin replaced it. He wrapped a hand around my wrist and pulled me down the stairs with determination. The dark-paneled guest room was spacious and warm from the furnace humming right beyond the wall and the freshly made bed was deliciously tempting. Daniel twirled the lock on the doorknob. As he turned to me grinning, my mouth was suddenly dry and my feet seemed frozen to the spot, the backs of my calves pressed to the bed.
"No, I just... I don't know, I'm kinda nervous but I don't know why, I shouldn't be, I mean, that flashlight was a lot bigger than your dick." I grinned nervously.
Daniel stared at me until my babbling stopped. I blushed in a way I thought I was over with him and he waited until it had faded a bit.
"Yeah." I nodded, voice suddenly harsh. A little pulse started in my throat. It was stupid to be nervous with him. "Just so much expectation, you know, so much waiting and I don't want you to be..." I stopped before I could say disappointed.
He didn't need me to say it. "I won't be."
My heart thumped hard against my chest. Daniel took the condoms and lube out of the little sack and placed them on the bedside table while I watched with my knees shaking. He smiled at me, and then I was going backward, falling, landing on the soft mattress with Daniel's weight pushing me down and his body lean and hard on top of mine. Clothes came off, I didn't know how but I was naked, tugging at Daniel's shirt while he unzipped his pants and let out his long shaft, already hard again, brushing my inner thigh.
"Shit." He looked down at me already flushed and panting lightly. "I can't wait to be in you." He pushed aside my hands, still trying to get his clothes off. "Roll over," he growled and I was helpless against his demands, I did exactly as he said and rolled over my stomach. His shirt never made it off. Hands all over me, lips, tongue, down my spine to the top of my ass, parting my legs. My cock leaked into the sheets. I shivered when I heard him groan and pause as he looked down at my spread ass.
His hands were shaking when he stroked my ass cheeks. His palms drew them apart and I jumped when I felt his tongue slide down my crack and circle my hole, painting a wet circle around the tender flesh, teasing, then darting away when I tried to push back against it. Even down here with the door closed, we still had to be quiet and when his tongue slipped past the rim of my ass, I buried my face in the pillow to stifle my cry. Silence wrapped us. I wanted to tell him how good it felt, his sweet tongue buried in my ass, but my mind couldn't find the words and I just clutched the sheets and rubbed my cock against the mattress. Needed more than a tongue, needed him...
"God. Turn over."
I rolled over. I lifted my knees. I wanted to look into his eyes, at his red mouth, teeth catching his lower lip. That armpits of his shirt were dark with sweat. He caught the backs of my legs and put my ankles on his shoulders. I loved his eyes when he was turned on like this, on the edge, the way they got dark and clouded with lust. His fingers fumbled with the condom while I watched, lazily stroking my own cock. The empty ache inside me was overwhelming.
"Can you take it hard?"
I groaned under my breath as his slippery index finger slid in me. He teased, stroked, lubed until I twisted in frustration, his dark eyes pinning me down, burning right through me.
"Need it now."
The finger slipped out and the thick, blunt head on his cock pushed in. It burned, but I tried not to wince because I didn't want him to think he was hurting me. I took a deep breath and pushed down, letting him slide into me, letting him fill me all the way to the top, the burn was intense but I welcomed it, oh so very long since I had a real cock inside me and I wanted to feel it. Daniel's eyes rolled back as he felt my tight muscles surround him. I felt him tremble a bit, fighting the need to thrust; he didn't want to hurt me. I moved my legs off his shoulders and wrapped them around his back, pulling him down onto his elbows. The shift in weight adjusted the angle of his penetration and I let a moan escape. God, it felt good.
So deep in me, possessing me, finally, finally filling me up and soothing the empty ache that had roared inside me like a blaze. Daniel's mouth caught at mine as he thrust steadily, slow at first and then building, gathering the burning fullness into a tingly knot. So good. His tongue pushed into my mouth; he moaned and his hips faltered. "Yes, Daniel, come inside me, yes." I whispered in his ear, fingers digging into his back, and he buried his face in my neck to muffle the sounds of his orgasm. Somehow, while he was still hard, he slid his hand between our stomachs. I didn't think I was close until his hand wrapped around me and then I came so hard. We lay there like that, in a sticky and panting heap, until I could finally gather up my wits to speak.
"I thought you wanted me to ride you."
"I do. That'll be round two, but I need a little time." He wiggled off me onto his side next to me, his half-limp cock still pulsing contentedly against my thigh. After a moment, he got up and went to the bathroom, bringing back a warm wet cloth. After I cleaned up, he wrapped his arm over my chest. His lips played at my ear and I relaxed just letting the euphoria slowly ebb. "You know," Daniel whispered in my ear as he stroked my arm that was resting over my head, "at home I have some black Velcro wrist restraints. They're nice, a lot more comfortable than the handcuffs."
I swallowed and mumbled something, trying not to blush. Not because I didn't like the idea, or the mental picture, but because I did. And he knew it.
"They'd look very sexy on you. You can try them out on me first, of course. Would you like that?"
"Yeah," I whispered shyly. Just saying it was an overwhelming relief. I felt wrung out and exhausted but in a good way. I liked it when he took me hard. I never thought I'd want someone to have that power over me again, but my trust in him was surprising, simple and transcending.
"Yeah... it's just... I'm not used to thinking of myself as a bottom, you know?"
"You're not. Not any more than I am. I like being bound just as much as I like being in control. You can have it both ways, at different times. With the right person, it's soothing to know that whenever you want, you can relax, let go, just be."
I closed my eyes, letting his warm weight calm me. "I don't think I want to do that with anybody but you," I admitted without meaning to. The honesty was a little more than I wanted to let out but there was no way to stuff it back in now. Shit.
"Good. You shouldn't. I'll always take care of you, Ry. Promise."
His voice was getting thick and drowsy and I felt my eyelids droop. "And who takes care of you?" I asked, but we were both asleep before he could answer.
The scent of food woke us with growling stomachs. No idea what time it was, no clock in the room, but it was probably close to dinnertime. I lounged on the bed watching while Daniel picked through the mound of clothes we'd thrown on the floor. Wearing nothing but the cum-splattered t-shirt he'd never managed to take off before fucking me, he was dangerously sexy. I stared at his ass in amazement when he bent over and the shirt rode up and exposed his round, pale, delicious cheeks and the little dimples just above, right at the base of his spine. The muscles carved out smooth indentations in the sides that offered his ass cheeks up like plump fruit just waiting to be plucked. Somewhere, a heavenly choir sang in joyful exaltation at the sight.
"Aren't you changing?"
"Nope." He grinned and buttoned his flannel shirt over the t-shirt, instead of taking it off like I'd expected. "I like the thought of sitting around the table with your family, with your cum smeared all over me."
I shivered. So sweet and so slutty all at once. The combination blew my fucking mind. "It'd be rude of us to stay down here and fuck until morning, wouldn't it?"
"Yeah, but we have a big day tomorrow, so we'll need to get to bed early and get plenty of rest," he reminded me with a smirk.
I grinned, but only briefly. I lay back and watched him pull some pants on before I finally asked the question that had been nagging at me for days. "So what about tomorrow, anyway? Have you figured out your next move?"
He tossed me my clothes. "As soon as I download my video files and send them to my captain, I can go to Chicago and get the rest of the evidence."
"But won't that video feed clear you of the murder charges?"
I clutched my clothes in my fingers, but I didn't make any move to put them on. "Then... it'll all be over. You can go home. Back to your life."
"No, I can't. Not until the case is closed."
All the worry and frustration I'd been bottling up suddenly rushed into my mouth and choked me. "But all the charges against you will be dropped and Adkins will probably go to death row for killing a cop. Justice will be done, Daniel, isn't that enough?"