Previously: Chapter 34 [U]
I wrote this while sitting on a balcony, overlooking the ocean, having snorkelled and gone fishing. I felt it was a very appropriate place to write some CUFA. I don’t get a lot of holidays, so I thoroughly enjoyed them, even if they only lasted 4 days.
I’m back now. Work beckons. **sigh**
In response to the few people that commented, updates that don’t include my random one-shottage will be concentrated on: CUFA, Point of Impact (because I promised the random angry person) and Inside Skin. Just don’t know when.
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Chapter 35, Cephalapoda Larvae
I chew my bottom lip thoughtfully and try to figure how to phrase what I’m thinking. When it comes down to words, I’m much better on paper than I am out loud. In fact, I can be almost poetic sometimes, but then I never really show anything non-work related to people, even if it’s on paper. After all, once you put something on paper, it’s there forever. There’s no taking something back.
Right now, however, this is distinctly work related and it’s bothering me. I’m pretty good at writing research papers. I’ve been doing it since I started college. Danny and I have been working on a project involving planktonic cephalopoda larvae on the eastern seaboard. We did most of our collecting over a year ago, and some of the information we’ve gathered is completely new. It’s exciting. Well, it is to me anyway.
I always struggle a bit with the conclusions of my papers, though. In my opinion, some of the information we’ve gathered on how cephalapoda spawn and mature may completely change the approach to some of the marine sanctuary work being done on the eastern coast of Australia. The problem is, I’m not good at saying how important something I’ve done is. I want to make an impact, but I really don’t want to sound arrogant.
I blow some hair of my forehead and lean back and stretch.
“Y’all right there?”
Ashley looks up from her iPad and smiles. She’s been reading something — I have no idea what. We’re in bed. We often are. Whatever else I can say about our relationship, the physical side is not a problem. I still want to jump her almost every time I see her.
I’m in my underwear and a loose t-shirt. Normally, I’d still be dressed at 3pm, but then again I wouldn’t normally be in bed at three in the afternoon. We did get up — honestly, we did — but at about midday Ashley gave me that look. Then I melted and she kissed my ear. That was pretty much the end of that. Now, I’m trying to get work that needs to be done done.
Well, my anal-retentive nature means that, although it really doesn’t need to be done for some time yet, I’m still pushing myself. Everything I do gets done early. This, however, is getting done later than it normally would because Ashley is very distracting.
It surprises me how good we are. Not just in bed. I guess after our first mind-blowingly hot encounter, I’m really not surprised about that. We’re good out of bed. I’ve kept my promise to her, and I’ve tried. I’ve tried really hard. I won’t pretend I don’t feel like a bit of a sociopath with the amount of pretending I have to do when socialising, but, since my heart is in the right place, I probably don’t count as forensic yet.
She’s kept her side of the bargain: when I’m struggling, she either lets it slide and lets me off the hook, or she helps me out.
So, we’ve been good. I won’t pretend we haven’t had our ups and downs in the past few months. It can’t be easy for Ashley to date someone who is so thoroughly obsessed with marine life and spends an inordinate amount of time at work, but, then again, it’s just plain hard for me to date.
“I have no idea how to say what I’m trying to say,” I confess to her, leaning back against the pillows and stretching.
Ashley sits up and looks at me. I try very hard not to look back at her with too much intensity. If I let my eyes wander, I’m likely to get very, very distracted.
It’s slightly obscene, actually. We’ve already made love twice today. Which explains why we’re in bed at 3pm.
“What are you trying to say?”
She’s trying to be helpful but all that happens is that I chuckle. “I don’t know!”
Ashley takes the laptop from me and slides it down the bed. “Then I vote you stop trying to say it.” She wiggles her eyebrows. “After all, you may end up saying something entirely different and that would be bad.” She finishes her sentence with such solemnity that I can’t help laugh again.
“Oh, really? Bad, huh?”
Her eyes are sparkling. “Yup. Very bad. There would be badness. I can’t be letting you have badness in your paper thingy.”
She waves her hand in the direction of my laptop. “Mm-hmm. It would be unprofessional.”
Settling back against the cushions, I grin at her. “So what should I do?”
“Oh, that’s easy! You should take a break.” Her impish grin is just adorable. “You should definitely take a break.”
“I’m not sure. What would I be doing on this break?”
Ashley sticks her tongue in the hollow of one cheek and pushes it out, wiggling her eyes at me. “Me?”
She says it so innocently that I laugh again, and then lean over, sliding a hand behind her head and pulling her in for a kiss. It’s slow, and I keep it that way deliberately. It’s hard, because the taste of her as her lips part, the feel of her tongue on mine, is enough to send desire spiralling through me. Before it can become too intense, and I know that the two of us can implode in mere seconds, I pull back.
“Didn’t we already do this today… twice?”
Her lips trail down my jaw, finding the right angle, heading for my ear as my eyes close. I let out a shudder because she feels so good. She always feels so good. She does this thing with her tongue in the hollow under my earlobe and… Oh God, she’s doing it now.
“Ash,” I moan.
She pulls back, grinning at me. “I think we can manage a third round.”
I stare at her, my entire body humming, and wonder how we got here. How did I, Spencer Carlin, failure at relationships — and, well, people — end up in bed with the hottest, most amazing woman on the planet? How did I end up being her girlfriend?
My laptop is on the floor, her iPad is on the beside table, and her body is suddenly pressing mine into the bed. As her hand slides up under my t-shirt, making the skin there super sensitive to every nuance, every touch, I hear her whisper, “Stop thinking.”
My shirt, her loose tank, our underwear are all gone as she takes me somewhere else. Round three is slow, sensual, and insanely erotic. Her touch is everywhere, and I don’t have time to think. Her mouth is hot, searing, and finds places on my body that suddenly cry out for her touch. When she leaves them, I feel bereft, but the next place is so exquisite I don’t have time to care.
I try so very hard to reciprocate, to let my fingers read her body like Braille, but I don’t have time. I can’t order my body to stop feeling and start doing. I begin to touch and she finds somewhere that makes me arch, spasm, cry out and my fingers tighten on her skin, gripping, not caressing.
Ashley doesn’t seem to care. She keeps using her whole body to love mine.
When her fingers find me, slide inside me, I’m wetter than anyone else has ever made me. The twinge of soreness, that ache from all our previous activity, just draws things out. The long slow build, her tongue, her fingers, her constant touch all over me, push me to the brink of insanity.
When I explode, it’s with the proverbial whimper. There is nothing left in me when she’s done. I float along in a post-orgasmic haze like so much cephalapoda larvae. She has accomplished what she started: I’m not thinking.
When I do open my eyes, she looks inordinately pleased with herself. Ashley Davies can give the very definition of a ‘shit-eating grin’, a phrase that has always disturbed me no end.
I cock one eyebrow up at her self-satisfied expression and draw together energy I didn’t know I had. Another expression I have no time for is ‘cow-girl’, in the purely sexual sense. ‘Reverse cow-girl’ is even worse. I don’t need her reversed. I need to watch her eyes as I tug her to straddle me and pull her down for an intense kiss.
I think she expected me to take more time to recover because her moan is half-arousal, half-surprise. Without letting her off me, I let my hands do the work. When I finally slide inside her, hot, wet, silken, I take one of her nipples deep inside my mouth and listen to her cry out.
She took me softly: I take her hard. The feel of her fingers digging into my hip, and the definite way her hips ride my digits, tells me she likes it. I gently bite down on her nipple and then suck, all the while, thrusting as deep as I can, curling my fingers.
When Ashley comes all over me, she does it crying out my name. My name.
I’d be lying if I denied my pride, but mostly what I feel is the most insane level of contentment. That feeling is heightened as she collapses against me and we hold each other, sweaty, utterly exhausted and, for my part, thoroughly in love.
I’m in love.
This is not a surprise to me right now. I’ve know this for quite some time. I haven’t said anything, and neither has Ashley. For me, the words choke in my throat. Forcing them out would feel wrong, alien. Saying those words to someone who isn’t family feels like a noose around my neck.
But I feel them. And I think she knows I feel them.
So many times they were used against me, those words. I once promised myself they’d belong to me, and me alone. Then again, I swore I’d spend the rest of my life alone, with just my fish, and that would be safety and happiness.
I didn’t count on meeting Ashley. I didn’t count on the easy-going, almost rhythmic flow of our relationship. I didn’t expect to just be able to be with someone, and feel content, feel happy. I didn’t think this happened. I thought this was a myth promulgated by Hollywood and cheap-ass television.
It’s not a myth, and it’s mine.
I’ll be the first person to admit I don’t know what’s going to happen. I have a job here. I can’t really say I have a life here, because I have a rented apartment I can leave in a minute, and it’s not like I can’t find a job somewhere else. That’s not to say it’s easy for me to find a job — it’s not — but I probably could. Ashley has a life back in America, and her music career is starting to really take off. Her last album did really well in the alternative scene, and she’s been invited to play some sizable festivals this year.
And we’ve talked about this, sort of. We don’t know where we’re going, but Ashley has made it it very clear that she wants to work on us. We’re a couple. She’s my girlfriend. I’m her girlfriend. We’re both willing to work on that, make it work.
But I don’t know how.
That scares me, too. It’s too easy to back out. The way forward becomes more and more frightening for me. I keep waiting for the boogey-man to jump out of the closet and expose this for what it really is. I can’t believe that I’m supposed to be this happy.
But right now, I am. Right now, I’m so happy it hurts. It’s a delicious ache deep inside that I savour and focus on. It’s accompanied by a significantly more anatomical ache down below. I think I’m probably done with sex today, and Ashley’s damp body next to mine seems to agree.
She groans, rolling away from me and stretching. “God damn, but you’re good at that.”
I grin. It must be natural talent because I really haven’t slept with enough women to call it practice. “You ain’t half bad yourself, Davies.”
A repositioning of limbs and bodies, orchestrated by the great musician herself, has us cuddling, me in her arms. She presses a kiss to my forehead and I snuggle in.
“You know it’s four in the afternoon, right?” I whisper to her.
“Correction,” she says with authority. “It’s four on a Sunday. An entirely appropriate day for us to spend in bed with each other.”
I smile into her neck, nuzzling.
The silence is comfortable, warm, and the feel of her hand stroking my shoulder makes me slightly sleepy. Then she sighs, and there’s something not quite right about it. Inside, I tighten, and I press my face into her more, trying to keep it out. Whatever it is, whatever is lurking out there, outside of this bed, I want it out for now.
But Ashley won’t be deterred.
“Aiden called yesterday.” Aiden is her manager. He calls a lot, and normally I wouldn’t pay any mind to it, but I know this is part of it.
“And now that the album is nearly done, they’re going to release Motion as the first single.”
I pull my face out of her neck. “That’s awesome, Ash. That’s the song you wanted.”
She nods, smiling. Long rants and explanations have taught me a lot about the music industry. One key fact is that they seem to insist that songs Ashley doesn’t want as singles are more marketing-friendly than the ones she thinks are actually better songs. The fact they’ve given into her this time is fantastic.
“And they’re talking tour.”
This isn’t a big surprise, I knew that was coming. “Okay.”
She chuckles. “I’ve done it a few times now, babe. Don’t you remember how we met?”
I do. And this really isn’t unexpected, but I hate talking about it. She’s going to leave, probably for months. And when she does get time off, her home base is LA, not here. These are things I did not want to think about right now. Why is she bringing them up?
I settle against her and decide to hope she’ll just stop talking about us being apart. It has to happen, but I don’t want to focus on it.
She doesn’t get the hint. “Anyway, they’ve set up a meeting to talk about it. It’s in a month.”
I freeze. She’s leaving in a month? That’s… sooner than I’d thought. Well, I hadn’t really thought, but I knew there was a lot more work to be done on her album. Not song writing so much, but, you know, mastering and stuff. I thought… I thought she’d be here longer.
She pulls back and looks down at me. “I tried to get them to video conference it, but they won’t. They want me in person.”
It must show on my face, my dismay, because she laughs and kisses my forehead. “It’s a trip to LA, Spence, not a funeral!”
“So you’re coming back?”
She kisses my head again. “As long as you’re here, I’m here.”
No. That wasn’t what we’d talked about. In fact, we hadn’t talked about anything, but she’s not relocating from LA for me. That’s ludicrous. That needs more discussion. I try to find the right words to spill out of my mouth, but she beats me to the punch.
“For the time being anyway.”
Oh. Okay. That’s a bit different. I try to calm my racing thoughts.
“Anyway, if you can get some time off… I was wondering, did you want to come with me?”
Oh. Oh! I have a lot of holiday time owing, and it’s not the school holidays, so I would probably be able to get time off. That’s not the point. While I can take a few weeks to go home to the US, I’m not sure I actually WANT to go back.
I ran. I ran so far and so fast that I left a trail of dust.
Ashley is asking me to pick myself up and go back.
Okay, granted, I didn’t run from LA, but it’s close enough from here. And there’s no way I can go back home without literally going back home. I’d have to fly to Ohio.
“You can think about it. I don’t need an answer right now.” She settles me back in her arms, seemingly content to just hold me. Ashley is pretty good at reading me but apparently a lot of awesome sex has thrown her off her game because she seems completely unaware that I’m in turmoil on the inside.
I don’t know. I just don’t know.
I open my mouth to tell her this, to let her know I can’t. I need to find the words to explain that I’ll do anything for her, but I can’t do that. I need plagiarise Meatloaf. I just can’t go back yet.
My lips part as I get ready to tell her, to apologise and make my excuses. Another of my excuses.
“Yeah, I can come,” is all that comes out of my mouth.