|zeusian (zeusian) wrote in peripeteia_rpg,|
@ 2009-06-29 18:40:00
|Entry tags:||hera, zeus|
Who: Will (Zeus) and Kate (Hera)
What: Will and Kate play hide n' seek.
Where: St. George Lycabettus Boutique Hotel
When: Early afternoon
Will woke the next day on the floor of his room feeling stiff and sore from spending the night in a fetal position. He couldn't remember much of his fevered dreams save they'd been a horrible juxtaposition of sweet kisses and embraces and war and the empty yawning feeling of abandonment.
Using the bed, he stood on weak legs and stumbled into the bathroom to relieve himself and grab a shower and a cup of cold water. The liquid put a small dent in his dry mouth. Still swaying a bit on his feet, he dried off and walked back into the bedroom, glancing at the clock. Seven am? He couldn't remember when he'd passed out but it couldn't have been later than one pm the previous day... if it was indeed the next day and not two or even three days later. That had happened to him a couple of times so it wasn't beyond the realm of probability.
He slowly dressed and packed before he realized what he was doing, forgoing making coffee in his room for the coffee in the lobby and checked a newspaper laying on the counter when he reached the lobby. With a relieved sigh, he read it was only the next day. His Greek was halting, but the employee behind the counter knew enough English and he knew enough Greek to make themselves understood. The employee called up a cab to take him to a car rental place and Will settled into one of the deep chairs to wait.
The urge to leave Euboea was strong. He had to get to Athens and while he was blindly following instinct before, he had a little caffeine in his system and he remembered now why he had to get to Athens.
His memories were fuzzy but he remembered having lunch and then she took him back to his hotel room. That's right, she was going to drive him back to Athens because of that Connection. But it didn't happen that way. There were kisses, he remembered those quite vividly along with her laugh, her touch and her smile. Those stood brightly in his mind, but he couldn't remember what had happened after that. There was an impression of angry words and then she was gone. When she left... his memory shut down and the nightmares began.
The sound of honking outside jerked him out of his thoughts and Will, with the help of the nice hotel staff, settled his luggage in the trunk of the cab and he was off. A short ten minute trip later, Will was lugging his luggage out of the cab, paying the cabby and renting a car. Twenty minutes after that with directions in hand, Will was in a car and headed toward Athens. Where? He hadn't the faintest. He figured he'd worry about that when he got there. After all, how many medical conventions could there be in Athens?
Three hours later, Will was sitting in Athens traffic, absently tapping his fingers. He was headed toward the St. George Lycabettus Boutique Hotel as he'd been told by the gas attendant at the last gas station that it was the most popular hotel for the kind of convention Kate was attending and it was one of, if not the fanciest hotel in Athens. It was a stab in the dark but if the conference wasn't being held there, they would at least have resources to help him find the convention. Finally traffic opened up a bit and Will gave his car over to valet parking. There was no way in hell he was going to try to find a parking place on the streets or even attempt to try to find a parking garage nearby.
Stepping into the cool air conditioned lobby, he was shocked and surprised to find that he'd been right. There on a huge paste board written in English was a welcome sign for the Annual Reproductive Technology Conference on an easel next to one of the conference rooms that opened off the lobby. "Thank god," he muttered, walking over to the concierge behind the lobby desk. Kate Kate Kate... what was her last name. He stood off to the side as he willed his mind to remember the badges she had flashed in front of him. He remembered thinking about a president and how odd that seemed with her thick southern accent. But what president? Kate Roosevelt? No. Lincoln? No. Earlier. Adams? Noooo... Jefferson... Quincy.... Washington? His face lit up and he stepped up to the desk. "Hello, I'm looking for Kate Washington. Do you know what room she's in?"
The concierge gave him a suspicious look, eying his scruffy jaw, old grey Cubs jersey over a well worn white shirt, battered jeans and equally battered boots. He definitely didn't belong at this hotel. "I can ring for her. Name?" the man asked with a thick Greek and slightly British accent.
"Will Neuman," he replied, feeling his heart sink. She's going to outright refuse or deny she knows me, he thought pushing away from the counter, already preparing to leave.
Kate had just returned to her room after a morning attending the conference. She'd managed to strip off her suit and change into a swimming suit with the intention of going to the beach. She'd been in Greece for four days, and had yet to just lay on the beach and forget. And after yesterday, that was all she wanted to do. This morning, though, had been a presentation by one of her mentors, and she'd gone to that before playing hookie again. Just as she pulled a sundress on over her head and stepped into her sandals, she heard the phone ring. For a moment she debated not answering it. After all, she could always say she'd been in a talk, or already at the beach. With one longing look at the door, she looked at the phone, then, shaking her head at herself, stepped into the hall, made sure she had her wallet and key, and pulled the door shut behind her. Let them take a message.
"I'm sorry sir, no one is answering," the concierge said cradling the phone on its hook and looking up at Will without a lot of apology.
"Could you take a message?" he asked instead although he had no idea what to say.
It looked like the concierge was going to say something but bit back a response and nodded, handing over a piece of paper and a pen. Writing as neatly and legibly as he could, Will wrote:
Whatever I said, I'm sorry. Please, call me.
Carefully printing his cellphone number at the bottom, he folded the paper and slid it over to the concierge with a muttered thanks. Feeling dejected, Will turned away and headed back outside for the valet to get his car.
Kate was just getting off the elevator when she caught sight of a familiar face at the concierge desk. At first she wasn't sure, but as he turned she knew she hadn't been wrong. Her jaw dropped as she watched him turn to leave the hotel, and shrugging her backpack higher, she moved to catch him.
"Will?" she said softly, coming up from behind him, although she carefully didn't touch him. "What... what are you doing here?"
He stopped in his tracks, her voice at once a balm on his soul and igniting his desire. Taking a split moment to compose himself, he turned toward her, drinking in her beautiful face. Oh god and she was in a gauzy white sundress with the ties of her bikini rising above the collar and the bright blue of the fabric of her bikini showing through the white dress. That was bad. Very very bad. He had to shove his hands in his pockets to keep them from going places they ought not be. "I came to find you," he replied simply. "And to apologize for what I said yesterday." While he couldn't remember the specifics, he at least remembered that much.
She stood there a long moment biting her lip in indecision. "Well... here I am," she said softly. She took a deep breath, meeting his eyes and feeling her knees go a little weak with reaction as her body and soul remembered his kiss. She wanted to accept his apology, but something inside her resisted. It was as though this all felt familiar. Like they'd done this before. His hurting her with his indifference, her leaving. Him finding her and apologizing and her taking him back.
Except that this time, they hadn't been together to start with. Not really.
Although they could have been. She remembered the way her body reacted to him all too well. And then what? Be used until he got tired of her and was on to greener pastures? A part of her, the part that seemed to know him, was telling her that it was what she should expect, if she were foolish enough to trust him.
Deciding to play it as cool as she could with her tummy in knots, she shrugged her shoulders slightly. "What, exactly, are you apologizing for?" she asked, just as Peter her adviser in Medical school and the doctor who'd supervised her internship, came out of the elevator and waved to her. Apparently he could pick out her tension though, because he only frowned as she waved back and held up his hand in the universally recognized symbol for call me. Kate hardly noticed.
Will felt his hackles raise at the sight of the other man that Kate obviously knew and wanted her to call him. A challenger? No. Just a friend. He couldn't understand why he immediately assumed the other man was a lover. "Can we go somewhere to talk or were you on your way out?" he asked, gesturing to her attire. This felt familiar to him too, this chase and catch game, but unlike the last times (whatever that meant), this time he was going to chase and catch and keep only once. No continuous push and pull. Not again.
"I was going to get a gyro on my way to the beach and just... lay in the sun. I'd invite you to join me, but you should be in the air conditioning after yesterday!" she said as she shook her head at his folly. "Have you had lunch yet? No? Why am I not surprised. No wonder you passed out yesterday." She closed her eyes a moment. Her sense of self-preservation pushed under by that intangible something that separated the medical professionals who cared about people from those in it for prestige or money. Coming to a decision, she turned away from him. "Come on, we'll order up to the room. The room service is good here." She couldn't look at him as she said it. She really must be nuts to be doing this. Fuck it. Without waiting to see if he followed, she pushed the 'up' button for the elevator and waited, her eyes closed as she willed herself to be strong.
"I had coffee," he offered knowing that it was a pathetic excuse and not an excuse at all for a doctor. He was starving but his drive to get here was stronger and food had been put on the back burner. It was easy for him to forget to eat even with regular meals the past couple of years he could go a couple of days without realizing he was hungry until he felt faint or he misstepped because his mind had been wandering with lack of food. Some people horded food after being deprived of it, but that drive had never set in with him.
Still, he couldn't understand why she was so reluctant to be with him. Well, other than the fact that they'd just met the day before and he was still a stranger even if she didn't feel like one to him (and he suspected he didn't feel like one to her either). The elevator dinged and people dressed in business suits and business casual disgorged, heading for the conference rooms off the lobby and elsewhere. "Are you playing hookie again?" he asked teasingly, trying to lighten the mood as they stepped on to the elevator.
"Maybe. Sort of. I went to the meetings this morning to see Peter present, but there isn't anything this afternoon that I needed to hear, so I thought I'd get lunch and go to the beach. No one's expected to go to all of the presentations," she said with a shrug which made her backpack slide off her shoulder and lodge in her elbow. With a huff of frustration she pushed it back up.
The door opened at her floor and she stepped out, pausing a moment to wait for him, then went back the way she'd just come, sliding her plastic card through the card reader so the door clicked open. She saw the light blinking on her phone that she had a message, then ignored it. After all, it almost had to be from Will.
The carpet on the floor was soft, so she slipped her sandals back off, kicking them behind the door as it swung shut and dropping her bag on the coffee table in front of the tiny love seat positioned for watching television.
She went to the desk and picked up the room service menu, flipping through it a moment then looking at Will. "Shall I just order a few things and we can pick at them? Or are your teeth set for something in particular?" she asked after a moment, her hand pausing over the phone's receiver.
"No, whatever you order is fine. I'm not picky," he replied, wandering around her plush hotel room feeling completely out of place. He listened while she spoke in Greek to whoever had picked up on the other line and wandered over to the balcony. The room was of the pool below and the Acropolis beyond. It was a gorgeous view and Will felt something akin to pride and... homesickness and regret when he saw it. Leaning on the iron railing, he cocked his foot behind him and just stared, letting his mind wander and hoping that the nagging memories would finally float to the surface.
They didn't, of course, but something was lingering in his mind. The lack of talking behind him brought his thoughts back to the present and he straightened and turned toward Kate. It struck him once again how much she looked like the woman in his dreams though the more he thought about it, the more he thought that she and the woman weren't the same, just extremely similar. "Thank you for letting me talk," he began quietly. "I... honestly don't remember much about what happened after we went back to my room. My mind...." He winced and looked away. "I know I said or did something horrible enough to make you angry at me and I know whatever I said or did hurt you. Please know that that wasn't my intention. I'm sorry."
Kate looked down at her hand still resting on the receiver, and consciously stepped away from the desk to take a seat on the love seat. She didn't pat the seat next to her in invitation, but she angled her body so that if he sat there, it there was the potential for cozy conversation.
"You did," she said softly. "I... I don't have relationships, Will. They scare the shit out of me. I've seen enough of what men and women do to each other. Hell, I'm a doctor. I did my intern as an OB/Gyn, and I spent my share of time dealing with, well, the worst things that men can do to women. It's part of why I went into research. But when I tried to, to tell you what scares me more than anything," she closed her eyes and looked away. "It was a joke to you. You called me Hera, the harpy of history. Well, my concerns are the same as hers were. If hers were a joke to you, then so are mine." As she talked, she found it easier to harden her heart. "I'd rather die alone than be made a fool of like she was."
She sighed and laid her head back on the back of the couch. "I spent the night pointing out to myself that I was skipping about fifty or so steps there. But logic and emotion rarely match up. And something about you makes my heart scream at me to protect it. I don't even know how else to say it. Its like you, unlike anyone else, could crush me. If you think that's a joke, well, then that just goes to show how... how easy that would be."
Now that she was talking about it, his fuzzy memories were becoming a little clearer. "I remember that," he murmured, walking back into the room. He wanted to sit on the small coffee table so that he could look at her but the warmth of her body, her bone deep familiar scent and the smallness of the couch called to him. He settled on the cushions and turned toward her a little bit, stretching his arm along the back of the couch. "You call Hera a harpy and perhaps she was or at least she was made out to be that way but did you not earlier that morning just call her misunderstood? I thought you respected her and liked her so in my mind calling you Hera was a term of endearment. That's all I meant it as. There was no intention to call you a fool or make light of your emotions."
He watched his fingers absently play with the piping along the back of the couch, gathering up his thoughts. "You say that I could crush you, but I should let you know that that road runs both ways. I hardly know you but the thought of you drives me. I can't explain it. I want you, I want to make you mine and yet every time I look at you I feel this crushing guilt and loneliness. And yet I know I can't fuck this up." Finally he shook his head in exasperation but had to stop when a mild light headedness swept over him and he propped his elbow on the back of the couch, putting his head in his hand to anchor himself. "I already told you my luck with relationships and complete lack of them in the past two years. You're the first woman who's made me want to change all that."
"I do think she was misunderstood. I think she was given the short shaft in history. But that doesn't change that you called me that when I was telling you I wouldn't put up with the shit she put up with. And I don't know why it's so important to me for that to be clearly understood, but it is. It's not a joke," she ground out, once more feeling her muscles tense with an anger that didn't seem entirely real. "Hera turned the other cheek, looked the other way. Got mad, but in the end forgave Zeus for treating her as less important than his own desires. She was a fool for a very, very long time, because she believed him when he made promises. But when you break your sacred vows, even fools stop believing." She didn't know what that meant, even as the words fell from her lips, and she shook her head trying to clear it of an image. Walking into a courtyard of sorts, open to the sky, thrones in a semi-circle with two larger and more ornate ones in the center. And sitting in hers... another woman. Feelings of rage and despair and hurt and anger and utter bleakness and betrayal, her heart feeling torn in two, a boundary crossed, a line in the sand wiped away.
But Kate had never sat on a throne!
As the rage and hurt overwhelmed her, she felt the blood draining from her face, much as it was in the memory that was taking over and trapping her. Strangling on a sob, she stood, pushing off the couch like the vision pushed off a pillar and bolted for the bathroom to vomit until her face hurt.
Alarmed, he followed, sitting on the lip of the bathtub to hold her hair back. When it seemed she was calming down, he stood and ran a washcloth under the cold faucet, wrung it out and folded it to lay on the back of her neck. What was she reacting so violently to? Sacred vow? What sacred vow? He had a sense-memory of a vow given but he couldn't remember it broken. Other promises were broken but no sacred vows. "It isn't a joke and I didn't mean it as one," he murmured, taking the cloth off her neck and wetting it once more. He also filled a cup of water for her and handed it down to her as he returned to his seat on the edge of the tub. "You mentioned a sacred vow. I remember a little bit about my mythology from school and I remember that there were serious consequences involved with sacred vows and that they were hard if not impossible to break anyway. I don't know - it doesn't matter right now. Are you all right? Do I need to go downstairs and find someone to look you over? This place is crawling with doctors so if you're sick you got sick in the right spot." The grin he gave her was small and a little hesitant. He wasn't sure if he should be trying to cheer her up for fear of her taking it the wrong way again.
"I think I'll be all right," she murmured back, her voice a bit rough from the violence of her reaction to the... memory? Was that a memory? It felt like one, but not hers.
Odder and odder. Scary, even.
Just then there was a knock on the door. Their food. "Could you get that? Just sign the receipt," she said, still leaning with her face over the sink.
"Yeah," he murmured, standing and walking to the door. The bellhop wheeled in the cart, deposited their trays on the table and Will signed the slip and tipped him. He was gone within minutes. Not wanting to be rude despite his stomach knotted with hunger, he returned to Kate in the bathroom. He didn't know what to do or say, so he stood there silently and worriedly, watching her and waiting to do whatever it was she needed him to do.
For another long minute Kate just stayed there bent over the sink. Then something seemed to pass for her, and she stood up and looked at him, as though seeing him for the first time. "Come on, Will, let's eat. Nothing ever seems as bad on a full stomach. I'll be all right. Really." Although that sounded more like she was trying to reassure herself than him. She debated with herself for a moment, then finally reached for his hand, much as she had in the car the day before.
He took her hand with silent relief and threaded their fingers together even for the short walk to the couch. She'd ordered small little appetizers which suited him fine as he didn't think his stomach could handle anything large or heavy. He lifted the lids and set them aside, handing her a plate and filling his up. "Thank you for dinner. Again," he said with a small sheepish grin. "You must think I'm a bum. I'll pay for dinner next time." His words made him pause and look over at her cautiously. "If there is a next time," he added, the hope and question underlying his voice. For all he knew she still hated him and he didn't want to get his hopes up (or his heart for that matter) if there wasn't going to be a next time.
She smiled, though. "Are you sure you want a next time with a nagging shrew with no self-esteem and trust issues?" she asked curiously, feeling her heart pound slightly in her chest as she waited for his answer.
"I see a woman whom I drawn to on all levels who's going through some unexpected and hard changes," he replied honestly. "And I'm not that much better mentally. I jump at the oddest things, I have night terrors, I see things that aren't there and if I relapse into a particularly violent flashback, I could kill you or anyone around me. So I'll ask you a similar question: do you want to hang around with a mentally damaged and physically scarred war vet?"
She looked at him carefully for a long moment, then slowly nodded. "I think... I think we don't have all that much choice. Or rather, we do. We can be miserable apart, or... or try for something better together. I'd rather try." She scooted a hair closer to him then. "But... but I think we're going to have to learn to trust each other. I... I don't trust easily, and given your experiences, I doubt you do, either. Is it worth the effort?" Do we even have a choice? Or is something pushing us to this?
"I don't trust easily, no. But with you... with you it's worth the... effort. I was going to say try but I have a feeling I had tries in the wherever. Past maybe. And those tries were useless. I used them all up and now I have one last chance. I heard a voice in my head yesterday - I thought I was going crazy and that my PTSD was acting up - but in a voice that was mine and yet not it said, Don't fuck this up. I still don't fully comprehend that and I can't promise I won't make mistakes but I can promise they'll be minor ones and I won't fuck this up." He took her scooting closer to him, however minute, as a good thing. Reaching over, he took her hand in his and gave her fingers a kiss. "It's the only promise I can make."
"Not enough," she said sadly. "Or... or maybe it is. I can live with mistakes. I'll make them too. I told you, I don't even bother with relationships. But... but i need to know that... that you won't..." she trailed off. It felt ridiculous to even say it. But something inside her was shrieking at her that she was being a fool. Damned if she did, damned if she didn't. "I want your word that you won't ever cheat on me. Ever. At all. If it isn't something you would do in front of me, then you won't do it. And... and that you won't ever treat me as if... as if I can be taken for granted. That I'm as important as you are. And that my feelings matter, too." Once more the crushing despair that wasn't hers rose up, but this time she pushed it aside. "Because everything I said the other day is true."
"Cheating on you would be fucking up and I promised you I wouldn't fuck up so therefore I promise you I will never cheat on you," he murmured, that deep guilt and sense of loss rising up again along with the absolute assurance that whatever force was also inhabiting him either by memory or spirit would refuse to let him do that even if he had a desire for it. Which he didn't. "Whatever happened to us in the past, if this is indeed something like a past life intruding on the present, whatever happened then, won't happen now. A part of me feels as if this my last chance and I'll have no more after this. Even sitting in that cave, waiting to be beheaded, I've never felt as afraid as I do now at that thought."
Her earlier inching was given up for the pretense it was as she moved closer to him, close enough that they now touched all down one side, his arm fitting perfectly over her shoulders. "You won't have any more. I promise you that. But, Will, I also promise to give you this one," she said softly as she reached for him. The something inside her wasn't thrilled, but it accepted the decision with a sense of resignation that she pushed away even as her hands found his shoulders and pulled him closer, the food all but forgotten. At least for now.
Sliding his arm down her back, he kissed her deeply as he pulled her in closer to him. This was where he belonged, finally. It ultimately didn't matter where he lived so long as she was at his side completing him. "You're staying in Greece right?" he whispered, trailing his lips down her jaw, tasting her. They needed to take this slow even if his body was screaming at him to sink inside her and close the hole that still yawned open. This was too fresh, too new and too important to rush.
"I don't know. My research is at a point where I can break and move. There isn't any reason not to stay other than the hassle of paperwork and finding a lab that will have me. But... in the end, I don't know. Will it matter?" she asked. "Are you tied down somewhere?" Her body was screaming at her to finish what the kiss had started, and that part inside of her that had been quiet, for once, seemed to be in agreement, as though it thought that the conclusion would seal the deal, so to speak. Hadn't she read that physical consummation had once been believed to be the irrevocable point of no return for the types of promises they'd been making? Her own childhood religion of Catholicism had taught that.
Still, she wanted to be sure before they accepted those promises, and so with an impish grin she pulled back, picking up a stuffed grape leaf and holding it to his lips. "Eat. No passing out on me today. You need your strength. Besides, I still want to go to the beach!"
"No. I don't really have a job. I've been out on medical leave and the bonus the Air Force gave me was substantial enough to live on plus the disability and my retirement I get every month. I've gone from fighting for my country to just mooching off it. It's about American as apple pie and cheese," he said with a grin. He bit into the filled grape leaf and chewed. "I don't feel like passing out much either."
Picking up a slice of pita, he scooped a good portion of hummus on it and took a bite. "I don't have a place to stay and I'd like to stay here with you - I'll pay my portion of course - but if you want space, I'll go find a hotel close by after we visit the beach."
She stopped midway through lifting a grape leaf of her own to her lips and glared at him. "You're staying here, and stop worrying about paying for things. Will, the hotel room was paid for by my grant. As was the plane ticket, the food, the rental car, the computer I did my presentation on, and the valet parking. But even if it wasn't, I'm not lacking in funds. I'm not saying you are, but I'm telling you, I'm not. Really, you don't have to worry about what I spend. Or don't spend. I'm not saying I'm going to support your lazy, mooching ass. But I'm not worried about it, either, all right?"
"I've always paid my own way and I've always taken care of myself ever since I was little. It's... hard for me to be dependent on anyone," he replied with a sheepish smile. "I have to at least offer to pay my own way to ease my own mind." He looked around her hotel room. It wasn't the biggest but the appointments were palatial compared to the small place he had just left that morning. He wasn't sure he'd be able to afford half anyway so it was a little comforting to know that he wouldn't have to pay.
"Well, consider it eased," she murmured, finishing the grape leaf and snagging her own pita and hummus. "And... maybe... maybe we should wait on the beach until tonight after the sun goes down. After a heatstroke like you had yesterday, you'll be more sensitive for a while." She offered him a slight smile. "We can just stay here and... talk... if you like."
"We can do that," he replied amiably, smiling and feeling as if his whole life had been waiting for this moment. No. Not this moment, that moment will come and soon but he'd been waiting for a chance at that moment and it had come. "What would you like to talk about?" Reaching around behind her, he wrapped his arm around her back again and ate with one hand while his other ran up and down her back or played with her hair.
"Us. You. Me. I don't know anything about you really. Well, other than you were in the Air Force and are now retired after being POW. I know how your story ends, but not how it starts. I don't know anything about your family, or well, anything about you. And I'd really like too." She paused a moment, frowning. "And I am willing to tell you about mine, which is... odd. Since I'm not at all close to my family and I don't feel at all like the girl I was growing up." She hadn't for some time, and so she could understand if he felt the same about his own childhood. But it still had shaped her, still made her who she was. As his had him.
"I don't feel at all like the boy I was growing up, thank god. I never want to be that boy again," he replied fervently. He opted for a neutral tone of voice because all of this was in the past, he was over it and he didn't want her to think that he was trying to get sympathy rather than just telling her his history. "I was never close to my parents either. I grew up in Chicago as an uh-oh to two kids barely out of high school. My dad had a good job for a while and then he was laid off so we had to move to a really shitty neighborhood. My mom worked odd jobs where she could until she found something steady at a grocery store. We lived off food stamps, Mom's barely minimum wage check and Dad's unemployment. He... started pushing me around when I was about three or four and hitting me when I was about seven or eight. I can't really remember. Sometimes he'd smack Mom but he knew never to bite the hand that fed him. I don't know why my mom didn't leave him, but I got up the courage to when she couldn't. On the day I turned eighteen, I packed up my mom's stuff and mine, and dropped her off at her sister's house. I don't know if she ever went back to him, I haven't talked to her since and my aunt made no mention of it whenever I talk to her so I guess she didn't. That day I went to a recruiter, signed up to the Air Force and never looked back." It was as simple as that and yet not, but the details would come in time. "The Air Force became my home but it didn't really feel like... home. No matter where I was stationed, I haven't felt I guess embraced is the word until I came here."
She nodded her understanding, meditatively chewing on another grape leaf. She'd take enough coursework to know that abuse did one of two things. Either the abused became an abuser, or they swore never to do that to their loved ones. She just wondered if he'd ever had a loved one to test that on. "So, no marriages, no babies, no siblings. Just an aunt?" she asked, trying to grasp how large a family he had, even if he wasn't close to them. And whether his lack of relationships meant there were no children. As he'd said, he'd been an oopsie. It was possible he had a child of his own somewhere.
"No marriages, no siblings and I'm fairly positive no kids. My relationships didn't work out but I used protection with all the girls I dated - there weren't many - and all of them are married now with kids of their own and none of them were born conveniently nine months after we broke up." He took a sip of the muscat she had ordered. "Just a mom, an aunt and a sperm donor. Both sets of grandparents died about ten or fifteen years ago, my dad's brother died in Vietnam and that's about it really. How about you? You sound like you're either from a very large family or a very small one."
"Small, I suppose. I was born in New Orleans in a very catholic family. Very. A very old catholic family. Actually, my mother was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the chairwoman of the junior league. Apparently, someone on her side of the family converted to Catholicism, but I have no idea who. I should, of course. If I were my mother, I would know. But I never cared that much about the past. I was stuffed into a white dress at sixteen and paraded around as a debutante, and my father tried to decide who I'd marry as soon as I was eighteen by sitting me down and talking about my prospects. Well, like you, as soon as I was eighteen, I was gone. I cashed out my trust fund and ran north. I got my bachelor's degree from UVA, then went to medical school at Hopkins. Worked for a time delivering babies at Bethesda, but research called to me, so I gave up my practice and threw myself into a project with the man who oversaw my internship. I told you about that already, though. But as for family, I haven't heard from them since I ran other than Christmas cards. I've been disowned, you see. And now that I'm way past my prime at thirty-three, not married, with no children, even the Christmas cards have stopped."
"Aren't we a pair," he replied with a grin. It was amazing how similar their lives were despite their extremely disparate backgrounds. He grew up poorer than dirt and she grew up privaleged but their ends had essentially turned out the same. "So even though you have trust issues with men and you're not too fond of us, how come you never had a kid? Too dedicated to your job or just no maternal drive? Because I can see you as a mom. I think you'd be a good one."
She shrugged. "Both, I suppose. I finished medical school when I was twenty-six, then did my internship and took my boards and worked for a year and a half before going back into research. There was no time, and, well, I didn't want to do it alone. Not that I don't think single mothers are fully capable. But my life, the hours I keep, well, it would be hard enough with a partner. I never wanted a baby so that I'd never see it. Maybe someday." With you, she didn't add. Aloud, at least.
The urge for kids had never been strong in Will. He'd always thought maybe some day whenever he thought about the future, but the truth was that he was terrified of becoming his father. Now though, he felt so unlike his father's son or his mother's son or anything to do with those people who gave birth to him that the thought of children wasn't so terrifying. Still, he felt old. He was approaching forty and he'd had such a life and was still recovering from (if he'd ever recover) a mental illness that made him ill equipped to raise a child. At any rate, he shouldn't be thinking such things anyway, not when he'd just started (or picked up where they left off) his relationship with Kate. "Maybe," he replied with a small grin. "Have you talked to anyone in your journal yet? I haven't written in mine yet, but I've read some of the entries. They're... interesting to say the least. I feel like I already know them and I feel... a sort of paternal affection toward them. Which makes NO sense."
She shook her head no. "I haven't met any of them, no. And I haven't been terribly drawn to any of them, either, when I read their entries." She shrugged. "It seems as though some of them have planned meetings through the journals. If you feel so strongly towards them, maybe you should try and do the same." Her eyebrow slowly crept up. "Maybe you should do that before you make any more promises to me."
She'd read those entries. It seemed that many of them shared the same sort of memories she seemed to with Will. If so, she wished them all the happiness. But she had no real desire to meet any of them. In some cases, reading their entries, she felt a downright aversion to the prospect.
"No," he replied firmly and that was that. "I mean I'd like to meet some of them but I've already made my promises so therefore I won't be breaking them whenever I meet them. I made my own sacred vow to you again." Something was nagging at the back of his mind but it slipped through his fingers like sand. "But if it should come up that I meet one of them, you don't have to come with if it makes you uncomfortable." There had been a flash of... distaste on her face when he had mentioned his desire to meet the others in the journal which made him wonder why she didn't want to meet them but he was ok.
She looked away. She didn't want to dictate to him who he did and didn't see, although that voice in the back of her mind was pointing out that such was the road that led to trouble. That trust was bad, that it should be earned, and he hadn't earned hers. But she ignored the voice and instead took a sip of her wine. "Perhaps I shall wait and see who it is you're meeting." She knew she sounded distrustful when she said it. And jealous. And she suddenly understood completely some of the things one of her clients had told her back when she'd been delivering babies. A client who'd delivered alone because her husband had moved out and left her when she'd been seven months along for a woman he'd met while she'd been working to support him.
Trust. But this Will had never done anything to show her a reason for distrust. Why were the twistings of petty jealousy tensing her stomach then? Hell, he didn't even have a meeting in mind!
He looked at her for a long moment then nodded. "All right," he said quietly. A strong independent part of him strained against the jealousy and distrust in her voice, but the presence that was him but not him inside stomped on that hard. Play by her rules for once, he was told and the military side of him snapped to attention at the authority in that voice. "I'd like for you to come with me whoever I meet but I haven't actually reached out and talked to anyone so until I do we can discuss it then. I'm not going to leave you. I feel like I've been waiting my whole life for you so I'm not going to give that up."
She met his eyes and saw the hurt in them at her reaction, but it didn't make her back down. This was too important. She reached up and cupped his cheek. "Will, it's easy to say that now, when it's just us. It's something else when you're out there, face to face with some woman with the body of a goddess and the face of an angel. We don't know who's on the other side of that journal. And... well..." she trailed off. "There's nothing that says that we're all... friends." That felt right, too. "Most of the... the dreams... they're not happy. If that's the sort of... connection... I share with those people, then I don't really want to share it. But if I must, well, I'd rather not be stabbed in the back again." Again with the again. Where was this coming from? "You may mean your promises. You may even do your best to keep them. But they may do everything they can to get you to break them." That felt right, too. "I'm sorry if I sound like a jealous bitch. But that's who I am. I'm not the woman in your dreams. Maybe you should get to know me before you decide you really want to be with me. Maybe you won't like me when you really get to know me."
"I've already met a woman with the body of a goddess and the face of an angel," he murmured, cupping her hand under his. He felt as though she were slipping from his fingers, that she was throwing all of these walls up to keep him out and no matter which wall he climbed over there was a taller stronger one on the other side. It was hard to remain calm when she was all but accusing him of future cheating and it frustrated him like hell that she was hiding behind it as an excuse. He dropped his hand and clenched it on his knee. "Will you ever trust me?" he asked quietly, unable to look at her. "Because if you don't think you will, then I'll just go. I know we barely know each other and I know we already have issues we need to sort out but no one on earth or in heaven can sort through those issues if there's no foundation of trust. Even if it's a shaky one, relationships are rebuilt because the other person still trusts the transgressor."
Did she still trust him? Could she? How could you trust someone who'd broken every promise they'd ever made you?
That was a thought that stopped her cold.
But he hasn't broken any promises to me! something inside her cried.
"I already told you that I would give you this chance, Will," she finally said quietly. "I also told you I have trouble with trusting men. I'll do my best to not... react automatically. I can't promise I'll be successful, but I will promise that I won't... fly completely off the handle in reacting to you. I think, in time, that deeper trust could grow. But part of growing it is going to be getting to know you as you are now. Not... how you were in my dreams. Will you... give me that time?"
"As long as you give me time to prove to you that whoever I was in the past is not who I am now," he replied, wondering why it was he felt so strongly that this was an issue from the past and not some sort of shared psychosis. "We both have work and I'm more than willing to do whatever is needed to get us to where we need to be, I just need to know that despite whatever you say or whatever you feel, you still trust me, that we have a foundation and we're working on strengthening it. You can point out my behavior if I can point out yours."
She didn't answer in words, but she did nod her head as she let his words sink in. Closing her eyes, she leaned into him, resting her head on his shoulder and trying to get a sense of him.
Could she do this? Did she have a choice? She didn't think so. Mostly because it felt as though her soul had been yearning towards this since the moment it was conceived, eons ago.
Which made her wonder about their past, even as she was consciously deciding it didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was now.
"I'm not hungry any more. Do you want to go to the beach? Or... stay here?" she asked softly. Because that would truly be the point of no return.
"I think... we should stay in," he murmured, wrapping his arms around her and tucking her head under his chin as he leaned back against the couch. "The beach isn't going anywhere and right now I just want to hold you." If they made love he'd be the happiest man on the planet but he wasn't about to push it especially when she seemed so vulnerable.
She nodded her agreement, burrowing closer. After a moment she stood, then repositioned herself sitting in his lap, cuddled as close as she could get. There was something healing in this touch. It was sexual, but not. Gentle. His arms were stronger than she'd realized, and she could only smell him, his scent tickling her nose and making her think of long lazy afternoons. "And I just want to be held," she whispered, lifting her head to look into his eyes and feeling like she was falling. The moment dragged on and on, and that feeling of connection grew and grew until she couldn't take it anymore. Stretching up, she pressed her lips to his, her eyes shutting as she teasingly nibbled on his lower lip.
He took a deep breath against her lips, responding to the press of her teasing nibbles as if he were thirteen again and he'd never been kissed before. That tingle of new and erotic ran up and down his spine, pooling in his stomach and his groin. His arms that were wrapped around her pulled her tighter to him until she was as flushed against him as she could get in the slightly tangled position they were in. He tried kissing her but every time he moved in close she would move away. "Tease," he murmured around a soft chuckle before swooping in and kissing her deeply. Now he was home.
His rough hands slid down her back, hip and legs then slowly back up her gauzy white dress. "Will I get to see your bikini?" he asked, nibbling on her ear and pressing kisses to her throat.
"Well, you have been a good boy. Although it's nothing to write home about. You keep forgetting that I'm past my prime," she said with a playful pout as his lips moved away. Wriggling her ass against the bulge she felt growing under her, she slid from his lap with a soft sigh, her back still to him, and bent over to grasp her hem. Slowly, teasingly, she lifted the sundress a millimeter at a time, letting the thin fabric slide up the backs of her thighs and stopping just under her ass. She looked back at him them, once, just to make sure he was watching and looking at least a little appreciative. She need not have worried. His eyes were glued to her hem.
Feeling strangely better by that, as though maybe he really had meant it when he said she'd be enough for him, she lifted the dress over her ass and pulled it off, tossing it on the floor. The bikini was a thong, one of her few friends had insisted she buy it for this trip. This was the first time she wore it, and she felt more than a little self-conscious in it. Which actually was why they'd insisted she buy it. They thought it would do her good. She didn't see how. At 33, she wasn't as firm as the women she'd seen similarly attired. She was in good shape, great shape even. But she was no teenager. Finally, almost hesitantly, she turned to face him, her chin up as she awaited his reaction. After all, he'd been bared to his boxers the day before. She could be as brave as he'd been.
Will's jaw was on the floor. He had NOT been expecting a thong and now his jeans were even more uncomfortable than before. And then she turned around and he nearly had a heart attack. Her stomach was flat, nicely toned with just a hint of bump that he found so sexy on women. Her breasts were a good size, not as firm as a woman ten or fifteen years younger, but much firmer than probably most women her age. Her legs were long and seemed even longer with the high cut of the turquoise blue bikini bottom. "Nngh," he grunted, unable to articulate anything remotely resembling speech.
He swallowed hard to get past the lump in his throat and when he spoke, the first couple of syllables came out in a squeak. "You um...." He cleared his throat and shifted uncomfortably on the couch. "You look amazing. I wasn't expecting a thong that's for sure but damn that ass looks firm." Ok not exactly the most articulate thing he'd ever said.
She choked softly on a shocked something at that last sentence, but recovered with a grin. His reaction actually went a long way toward healing whatever was broken between them. Although that voice inside told her that there had been a time when He had felt the same. Still, Will wasn't him, and she just had to remind herself of that. She took a step closer to where he was sitting, and leaned over, bending at the waist and laying her arm across his shoulders. "If you're a really, really good boy, I might even let you see what's underneath. But only if you deserve it," she whispered against his lips, then stood back up slowly, so her breasts were right in his face for a long moment.
Turning away again, she walked over to the bed and laid down on top of the duvet, crossing one leg over the other. "Actually, make that a very, very naughty boy. Because naughty girls have more fun, and right now, I want to feel utterly appreciated. Worshiped, even," she said, watching him for a reaction. "Tell me, Will, are you good at praying?"
"Only when I'm in trouble," he replied, standing and walking over to the bed. An article of clothing disappeared with every step until he was only in his boxers standing next to the bed. "But I do believe that whatever prayers I may have had have been answered." Crawling onto the bed, he kissed her deeply again, sliding his lips and tongue down her neck to her chest. Reaching up, he pulled the knot behind her neck then slid his hand around to release the ties at her back, freeing her breasts from their confinement.
Tossing aside the scrap of cloth and string, he kissed down her chest to her nipples, wrapping his lips around a hard nub and giving it a little bite. With a soft moan of contentment, he kissed over to her other breast to give it the same attention. "You have spectacular breasts," he mumbled appreciatively against her skin.
"If you say so," she said with a soft smile. "Maybe it's just as well we didn't go to the beach first. This way, your memory of any comparisons is hazier," she teased lightly, moaning softly and arching her back into his lips and kisses when he found just the right spot on her tip. But what he was saying and doing was just right. Just the right amount of pressure, just the right amount of tenderness. It felt amazing. Perfect. And she relaxed back into the mattress to enjoy it. It had been almost a year since she'd last taken a lover, and that had lasted only a month. Though she didn't want to admit it, she was starving for human contact, much like she thought he might be.
As he bent over her, she could see the scars on his back again, though they didn't seem to be limited to his back. She wanted to look at them more closely. But later. For now, she wanted to simply lay back and enjoy what he seemed willing to do to her. For her. For them?
Grinning up at her, he kissed down her flat stomach and untied the laces of her bikini bottom. Tossing those away, he looked over her tanned toned body and whimpered softly. "Perfection," he murmured kissing down her mound to her inner thighs and up to her lower lips. Parting her, he slid his tongue inside, flicking and rubbing her clit and sucking on it with his lips. Slowly, he slid two fingers into her moaning against her clit when he felt how tight she was. How long had it been for her since her last lover? And why did the thought of her being with anyone but him want to make him go into a rage?
His tongue was magical. His fingers had been amazing, but his tongue was magical. She was pleasantly amazed when he dropped without her asking, and she spread her legs a bit more, her knees coming up as she planted her feet on the bed. His head between her thighs made her giggle, though, and his hair brushing against her tickled. Still, nothing had ever felt this good before, even when other men had done this same thing. Moaning as her body heat up, her eyes closed as the first tingle of the orgasm that was fast approaching took her, making her hips arch towards his mouth.
Sliding one hand up her thigh, he held onto her hip to keep her steady as much as he could. She tasted like... well, like he would imagine ambrosia taste. He nibbled very gently on her clit then slid his tongue down to her entrance. His tongue was an inadequate substitute for his fingers or his cock but he wanted more of her flavor and he shuddered between her thighs. "Gods," he moaned helplessly, sliding his tongue back up to her clit and moving his fingers back inside her. As his fingers thrust into her, he sought that spot inside her that would have her come apart and it seemed with unerring accuracy born of years of lovemaking they did not have that he found it judging from the way she suddenly thrust her hips up into his mouth and whimpered.
"Will!" she screamed, feeling her climax drawing closer. Her body felt like it was all the stars of the galaxy, trapped in her skin, and that any moment she was going to burst open in an explosion of light. Every muscle in her body quivered with anticipation of that moment as his lips and fingers and tongue drove her closer and closer. When his lips returned to her clit, sucking on it as his tongue danced with the pearl at her tip, she could last no longer. Hips thrusting, she came with a roar, coating his face with her release, her own fingers tearing at the bedding beneath her.
When she came he was surprised by the force of it and how uninhibited she was. She'd been quiet throughout but he was pleased to find out that she was not shy about expressing her pleasure. He lapped up her release as best he could then licked his lips and placed kisses up her body to her lips. She was still trembling from the force of her pleasure as he kissed her deeply and covered her with his body. "Should I get rid of my boxers?" he murmured teasingly against her lips.
"Hmm... that is a good question, now isn't it. On the one hand, I want to say no and make you suffer and wait," she teased, kissing the end of his nose. "On the other hand, I don't think I've ever wanted anything quite like I want to feel you inside me right now and..." she trailed off, "and complete whatever it is that feels like it's driving me until it is finished." She met his eyes as she started to slowly and lazily stroke his back, her fingers finding the ridges and dips from his torture with a sense of horror and sadness at the brutality he'd endured. That he'd seen her then spoke to a deeper part of her soul. "Are you ready to make love to the only woman you'll ever be with for the rest of your life?" she asked softly, needing to hear it, though not in the threatening way she had earlier. This was more a reassurance that he didn't find her wanting, lacking in some way.
"I feel like I've been waiting for this moment for my whole life," he murmured back, kissing her deeply as he shoved down his boxers and kicked them away. The feel of her pressed against him from head to toe and then the feel of her wrapping around him as he slowly slid into her were probably some of the best feelings he'd ever had in his life. This was the moment he'd been waiting for all his life - not just the sex, but this deep soul connection and yes, trust he felt looking into her eyes. "I won't fail you again," he whispered, sliding her legs higher up his slim hips as he began to slowly move inside her.
"No, you won't. You'll love me instead. And this time, you'll only love me, like you promised," she whispered, the words spoken by that something else to that something else. But then the time for words was passed as his cock found that spot his fingers and earlier discovered. Her own fingers gripped his shoulders in response, and she moaned her pleasure, striving to meet his thrusts with a gentle rolling of her hips. "Will!" she gasped softly, wanting to brand him with herself, wanting to be branded in return. Impulsive in a way she seldom was, her neck arched and she bit him lightly, playfully, growling a soft, "Mine," against his throat.
He chuckled around a moan, arching his neck to bare his throat to her more. "Yours," he murmured, rocking against her for a few moments just enjoying her wet heat around him. Leaning down, he kissed up her lightly tanned shoulder imagining it was milky white for just a moment before reality returned. "Mine." He nipped at the join where her neck met her shoulder, hard enough to bruise lightly. Slowly, he thrust against her, taking his time and learning her body like this. Relearning it, it felt more like. "Where do I know you from?" he whispered, looking down into her deep brown eyes.
"I wish I knew," she answered, gasping as she felt his teeth close on her flesh. She tightened her thighs around him, pulling him closer, and bit him a bit harder, marking him in return. "When we manage to get to the beach, I want everyone to know you're very, very taken," she told him. "Even if we've only known each other a day. It doesn't feel like a day," she whispered as they continued to touch each other so intimately. Fuck, it felt so right. Each thrust sent a spark of lust, of pleasure, of perfection through her, and she lifted her legs to let him slide deeper. "Need you," she panted. "Fuck me, Will. Hard. I want it hard."
He more than happily obliged. His smooth deep strokes were replaced with harder, faster, slightly shallower strokes. Bracing one arm on one side of her, he used his free hand to cup her breast and gently nip her nipple. He couldn't get enough of her breasts, they were so luscious. Pounding hard and fast into her, the base of his spine tingling and his balls feeling heavy, their skin began to shine with a sheen of sweat. "You're my goddess," he whispered against her lips.
"Forever," she whispered back, feeling whole and complete and perfect in that moment. "I love you forever. I always have," she said, her eyes glowing with love and trust for that one moment of bliss before with a cry, she found another release, her arms and legs tightening around him in the same ages-old rhythm as her sex.
"And I've always loved you," he replied in the voice that was his voice but not his. Thrusting hard into her a few more times, he came with her, shouting her name and straining to give her all of him. Drained and exhausted but feeling so alive and so whole, he dropped down on top of her with a soft moan of contentment. "I always loved you, I never stopped. Even now I never stopped."
"Well, this time I expect you to act like it," she said softly, clueless as to where that came from, even though it felt right. "Not just love me best. But only love me. Still. I feel... peaceful now. Even if I'm also feeling a bit squished," she said, shoving his shoulder playfully. And she did. Calm. Peaceful. It was almost meditative. She couldn't explain it. Wouldn't even want to try. "Shall we nap, then have dinner and attempt to get to the beach again? Or rather, actually attempt to go, since, uh, I don't think either of our hearts were in leaving before," she said with a wink.
Laughing, he rolled off her and snuggled under the comforter with her. "We can make an attempt," he replied, tucking her head under his chin and enfolding her in his arms. "Just don't be surprised if we don't make it that far."