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Once upon a time, there was an unwitting woman about to be eaten by a monster. A heroic stranger came to her rescue and vanquished the beast. To repay him, she vanquished the chill in his heart.
Leah tossed and turned in the bed. She was exhausted, but every nerve in her body was firing. With every sound she heard, she kept seeing shadows moving in the corners of the darkened room. Every click of the heater, every drip in the faucet, every rustle of tree branches outside made her heart jump and stutter in her chest. She rolled over onto her stomach, growling in frustration, and buried her face in the pillow. Which smelled distinctly of man. Of John.
Sighing, she thrashed back over onto her back and stared at the ceiling. She needed to sleep. Not only to heal, but to escape this hellish nighttime anxiety. She continued staring at the ceiling, and wondered if it was just a shadow she was seeing, or if it was a trick of her eyes that was making the corner darken noticeably.
Her pulse elevated, she blinked hard and looked back; the shadow was normal looking. ‘That’s it,’ she thought, ‘enough.’ If anything would help her sleep, it would be to get soundly drunk. Hopefully John was enough of a slob to have left out a whiskey bottle in plain sight. Opening the door carefully, she ventured out into the creepily shadowed hallway toward the kitchen.
John lay on the insufferably small couch and tried to sleep. His feet hung off the edge, and it was just a little too narrow for him to be confident that he wouldn’t fall off once he was asleep. How had this happened? He’d come up here to escape the world, but as usual, the world had other plans. Now he was saddled with a strange woman, albeit a tolerably attractive one. He just had to find a way to get her back to her normal life and out of his as fast as possible.
He thrashed moodily over onto his side and in doing so knocked his big toe against the coffee table. Cursing silently to himself, he rolled back over and stared up at the ceiling. They could drive back to her campsite in the morning and see if her Jeep was driveable. He would spend an hour or so helping her gather up her tent and supplies, and see her on her merry way. That was, if the weather held. There was news of a major storm on the way, which could bring snow and ice.
Giving up on the idea of sleep, he got up and paced to the window, pulling the curtain aside and looking out into the darkness, futilely trying to see the state of the sky and any incoming telltale clouds.
Hearing a floorboard squeak from the hallway, he turned to see Leah coming down the hallway and heading toward the kitchen. She stopped as soon as she saw him standing there.
“Oh, hey. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb you. I’m just having trouble sleeping, and was hoping to drink myself into oblivion.”
John walked away from the window and sat down on the couch, resting his elbows on his knees. It looked like any measure of solitude was going to be stripped from him as long as this woman was in his vicinity. “Don’t let me stop you.”
Leah looked at him for a moment. This guy seemed to be in a constant bad mood. It was extremely uncomfortable, knowing that she was very much unwelcome, but she had no way to leave and was completely dependent on this surly man. Maybe he would be more pleasant with some alcohol in his system. Unless he was a mean drunk… Well, one way to find out. “Do you want a drink?”
John ran his hand over his face and considered for a moment. “Yeah, sure. Why not.”
Leah found the bottle of good whiskey on the table where he’d left it. She went to the first cabinet, searching for glasses. Dry goods. She checked the second cabinet, but found only canned goods. The next bore fruit – glassware! She pulled down two tumblers and cursed at her graceless fumbling. Nothing like going out of her way to make it clear she didn’t belong here.
She set the glasses on the table and poured their drinks. “So… you couldn’t sleep either? Did you even change your clothes?” she asked, noticing that he looked the same as when he’d shown her to her room.
John closed his eyes and prayed for patience. It did not come. “No. No I didn’t think that far ahead. I’ve had a hell of day. By all accounts I should be exhausted. But I’m not. So pardon me if my night ruminations have cramped your midnight guzzling.” He dropped his head and sighed. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have snapped at you. I’m just… I’m really tired, and this week isn’t turning out how I planned. How I needed it to go.”
Leah regarded him quietly before pouring an extra finger (or two) into his glass. She picked them up and walked to the couch, where she handed him his slightly overfilled one.
“I could use some company, unless you were planning on trying to go back to sleep,” she said.
John looked up at her and slid aside to make room. “What the hell. I won’t be able to sleep for a while anyway.”
Leah sat bahis firmaları on the couch with her back to the arm and her feet up tucked up in front of her. She took a long swallow of her drink and watched as he all but drained his. “So, do you come here often?” she said, trying to lighten the decidedly brooding tone of the room.
John didn’t take the hint and answered seriously. “Not as much as I’d like,” he said, looking around the old, but comfortably lived-in surroundings. “My friend has had this place in his family for years. He keeps it available for… some of his friends.”
John emptied his glass and set it down on the coffee table. “That’s really all I can tell you. I’m sorry, but it’s for the best. Every relationship I’ve ever had, whether friendship, romantic, family, has ended up with the other person either dead or hating me. I don’t want to drag you into any of this. You ended up here by accident, and you shouldn’t get punished for it. I’ll get you back to your life tomorrow.”
Leah set her glass next to his and leaned forward to put her hand on his forearm. “John, you saved my life. Whatever weird shit you’re into, I’m selfishly very thankful for it. In all of the commotion and excruciating pain, I never said thank you for that, or for sewing me back together. Thank you. Really,” she said as she looked him fully in the eyes, for the first time.
“You’re welcome,” John said as he looked up to meet her gaze. He meant it. He’d been working the evil angle of life for too long, and meeting her had reminded him of why he did what he did to begin with. She reminded him of the reason for fighting; that it was more than just the fight itself. “How is your arm?”
“Intermittently burning and throbbing. It’s okay, though. It’s nothing compared to the painful horror throbbing in my memory.” She noticed her hand was still on his arm. He hadn’t tried to move out from under it, so she let it be. It was reassuring to have contact with another human. He was warm, and while he should have smelled like stale sweat and whiskey, he smelled like autumn. Earthy dead leaves, tree bark, and campfires. The stubble on his jaw had grown just a bit, edging it over into the scruff category. She’d had enough whiskey and lost enough blood to know that she probably shouldn’t be anywhere near an attractive man, but the alternative was going back into the scary darkness of a strange room possibly full of monsters that had followed them from back the campsite that had permanently drawn the line between “what’s fucked up and everything’s alright” forever. She moved her thumb slightly. She could feel the hard, round edge of his bone under the flannel of his sleeve.
John noticed her thumb stroking him, but pretended not to. He didn’t want to entertain any ideas, but her gaze was deepening in an alarming way. Stalling, he said, “Let me check your arm.” John pushed her sleeve up her arm, and pulled the tape off of one side so he could peel the bandage back and take a look at her stitches. The wound was red and angry, but it wasn’t excessively swollen or weeping. As he refastened the tape, his fingers brushed the skin of her arm. He made a conscious effort not to let them linger.
Leah took a deep breath and leaned forward quickly before she lost her nerve, and kissed him on the mouth. John pulled back out of reflex, and looked her squarely in the eye. He knew he should push her away, but it had been so long since he’d held a warm body. Longer still since he’d touched someone that he’d had a shared experience with. Most of his romantic encounters were with waitresses or strangers in a bar. There was little conversation involved. That was also what made him hesitate; he was comfortable with the way things were. He had no real substance, but no expectations, either.
Cutting off the flow of thoughts, he decided to go on instinct instead. Consequences be damned. He put his hand on her face and kissed her back. He felt her breathe in sharply, and tasted the whiskey on her tongue. He closed his eyes and his hands moved down her neck, to her shoulders and down her arms. She was soft, and she smelled like warm skin, with a hint of antibiotic cream mixed in. She flinched when his hand grazed her wound. He pulled back again, remembering that he was likely taking advantage of an injured, shocked woman who was completely cut off from her normal resources.
Leah sat up, and crawled forward until she was kneeling in front of him. She took his hand in hers and kissed his raw knuckles. She moved up so that she was straddling his lap and kissed the side of his neck, where his jaw met his throat. Her teeth grazed his skin, and he sucked his breath in sharply. Pulling away, she put one hand on each side of his face and met his eyes squarely.
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
John pulled her hand into his. “Are you?”
Leah breathed, “Yes, definitely.”
John looked up at her. He grabbed her around the waist and lifted her as he stood, walking them down kaçak iddaa the hallway to her recently appropriated bedroom. He stopped short of the bed, and Leah unwrapped her legs from around his waist to stand on the floor in front of him. She opened his flannel shirt and pushed it off his shoulders. She ran her hands down the soft t-shirt covering his chest and grabbed his waistband, tucking her fingertips between his skin and the fabric of his jeans as she kissed him. She pushed her hands under his shirt and over his stomach and up to his chest, lifting his shirt as she went. John lifted his arms, allowing her to pull his shirt off completely. She tossed it down on the floor and went back for his skin, standing on her toes and wrapping her arms around the wide breadth of his shoulders and kissing him again, hard and fast.
John pulled her closer to him by her hips and untied the drawstring at her waist. She let the ill-fitting sweatpants fall to the floor, and kicked them away. He ran his hand down the side of her thigh, and back up again, reaching behind her to cup her ass and pull her closer to him.
Leah could feel his sizeable hardness pressing against her, and she pushed him away enough to make space for her to unbuckle his belt. While she fumbled with it, John ran his hands over her back under her shirt and was pleased to find she wasn’t wearing a bra. He hated fumbling with them; much easier this way, he thought as he moved one hand forward to cup her breast, brushing her nipple with his thumb. Leah bit his lip in response as she finally pulled his belt free. She felt the whiskey burning through her blood, ignited by the heat of him so near her, but she wasn’t drunk anymore. She was intoxicated all right, but on John, not alcohol. She closed her eyes at how good his hands felt on her body, and the stubble on his jaw scraping against her skin. His body was hard and warm, and hers for the moment. And her body was his, as he pulled her shirt free over her head, being considerate with her injured arm.
With the blasted belt out of the way, she turned her attention to his fly and managed that somewhat easier. She reached down and took him into her hand, exploring him. She pushed his jeans down with her other hand, until they were low enough that he could kick them off. She took his hands and walked backward toward the bed, pulling him with her.
John hesitated, and Leah swallowed at the heat of his gaze fixed on her eyes. She took his face in her hands and pulled him closer to kiss her, but John pulled away, looking down at her. “I don’t know if this is such a good idea. It doesn’t really feel right. You’re not exactly here because you want to be.”
Leah smiled sarcastically up at him and said, “You’re not taking advantage of me. If anything, I’m taking advantage of you by luring you into bed so I won’t be terrified all night. Don’t worry. I’m not reading anything into it. It’s just sex. I promise you’re not going to wake up tomorrow to find me making a wedding scrapbook.”
She laid back on the bed and pulled him down on top of her. She ran her hand over his bicep and up his arm to his shoulder, reveling in the distinctly male feel of him. “But if you don’t want to, I completely understand,” she said, moving one knee out from under him so that both of her legs were around his hips. He closed his eyes and submitted to his urges. She felt so good under him, and he had done everything he could to make sure she was not under the influence of alcohol or microbes. All he wanted right now was to succumb to the want inside of him for human connection; to touch something without hurting it. To make someone feel good instead of making them bleed.
John kissed her on the mouth, soft at first, and then hard, nudging her lips open with his tongue. He again tasted the hard whiskey on her soft tongue, and sighed at the warmth of it; at the sweetness of her kissing him back, matching his rhythm. Her hands roamed over his back, gently but needful. He moved his kisses along her jaw and down her neck, inhaling her scent where it was strongest; where her pulse throbbed, quickly. He kept his mouth there, where he could drink in her smell and moved his left hand to cup her breast. He thumbed her nipple gently and smiled to himself when he heard her gasp lightly. He moved his mouth away from her neck to cover her nipple, tasting her in a different way, his tongue matching what his thumb had been doing. Leah arched her back to give him more of her flesh, and grasped his upper arms. She hadn’t had a man, a strange man no less, naked in her bed in a long time, and she had missed the gasoline and fire of it. The heat of his different-ness. She was soft flesh and smooth skin; he was hard muscle and rough callouses. He held himself above her so that she could feel how much more he weighed than she, but without making her feel trapped or crushed. He was good at this.
She put her hands on his chest and pushed him away and to the side, signaling to him that she wanted kaçak bahis to roll over. He obliged, rolling them smoothly so that their positions were reversed. He brushed her hair back and buried his hand in it as fell over his face while she licked his earlobe and nibbled down his jaw before kissing him on the mouth again. She sat up so that she was straddling his waist and looked down at him, smiling. He was beautiful with the moonlight streaming in from the window cast across his face.
His eyes met hers with hunger, but still held the sadness she’d sensed earlier. That would be a question for another time. She may not always know when to keep her mouth shut, but now was one of those rare times she did. She looked down at his chest while she ran her hands across the muscles of it and down to his stomach. She saw several puckered knots and lines, and ran her fingertips lightly over the scars, as though trying to read their stories. It was clear he had known a lot of pain over the years, and she suspected it was not all physical. She moved her hand to his, where it rested on her hip, and ran hers down his arm and across his shoulder, across the line of his clavicle, and then gently up and over his Adam’s apple. She brought her fingertips to his mouth, and he kissed them while she moved her hips up, giving herself room to grasp him in her hand and lead him inside her body.
Leah closed her eyes and breathed out sharply as she lowered herself fully on to him, and began to rock slowly against his body. His grip on her hips tightened, and he watched her, moving above him with her eyes closed. She felt so warm around him, so natural, not rushed or frantic. He matched her movements, feeling his blood heat up and sweat start to form on his skin. The room was chilly, but neither of them felt cold at the moment.
Leah felt him watching her, but oddly didn’t feel self-conscious about it. It was almost insulating, knowing that he was a stranger. He didn’t know about any of her hang ups, he wasn’t trying to show her what he liked, so she could please him during an extended relationship. It was just what it was, with no pressure or expectations. They were just two people doing what came naturally. She felt herself slipping into a higher state of pleasure, and braced her arms on his chest.
John felt her posture change, and sat up, putting his arm around her waist and rolling over with her so that she was under him. He kissed her deeply and resumed their rhythm. Resting his forehead against hers, he heard her breathing quicken and she moaned softly. Feeling his own pleasure build, he put one hand against the side of her face and kissed her again, moving fast. She arched her back against him and wrapped her legs around his waist, matching his thrusts. Both sweating, their skin slid against each other’s and the feel of her hot, damp skin was driving him crazy. He struggled to hold himself back, wanting to make sure she had a chance to get there with him.
Leah wrapped her arms through his and gripped his back tightly, urging him on. Her pleasure was building rapidly, and she lifted her head to find his mouth with hers, kissing him hard and fast, her tongue probing his, mingling their breath as she shuddered.
“Don’t stop, please,” she whispered, and nipped at his jaw. She was on fire; every nerve was oriented to his body. John quickened his pace started to let himself go when he felt her body tighten around his and her moan of pleasure. Burying his face in her neck, he growled with his own release, and their bodies slowed gradually, until they both lay still in the moonlight, breathing hard.
Leah ran her hands through John’s hair and rested them on the back of his neck as she listened to his breathing grow more normal. The cold in the room was starting to chill the sweat on her skin, but the heat of John’s body and his weight on hers was keeping it from bothering her. He had his head tucked down, on her shoulder, and was running his fingers over her shoulder and halfway down her upper arm, then back up again. This was the part she dreaded. She wanted to stay in this pleasure-bubble as long as she could, where they could just speak with their bodies and not have to figure out what to do next. She wanted to ask him what he was thinking, but refused to stoop to such a cliché. He seemed satisfied to lie here longer, and so was she.
John was trying but failing not to think. He was disturbed to find that he seemed to be having the start of feelings for Leah. ‘Stop acting like such a woman,’ he told himself. ‘You’ve fucked without catching feelings before, this shouldn’t be any different.’ But still, she brought something out in him that he’d rather have kept stuffed away in the shame box of his soul closet. Say these feelings grew, and he let her know about it; she would end up dead. Dead or hating him. It was always some minor variation on one of those themes. He couldn’t do that to her. He was poison to the people he cared about. He just wanted to enjoy these few minutes of peace he had with her, and then try to get her back to her life. That was the best way he could take care of her; show her he cared, even if she wouldn’t understand it.
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