Jon turned off the TV and eased away from a sleeping Tessa. After his less than stellar reaction to seeing her earlier in the night, he’d made sure to finish off the evening with a little light teasing, a bath and some mindless TV.
Just being around her had grounded him more than he realized. The afternoon had been a haze of blind anger. He rolled off the bed and tucked the blanket over her shoulder before he opened the French doors to his balcony. He rolled his shoulder and winced as his abused muscles let him know just how much rage he’d worked off in the gym.
He reached for the pack of cigarettes he kept hidden and lit one, dragging in a lungful of smoke before slowly letting it stream out. He watched the mixture of smoke and breath curl into the air and felt the last of the anger coil in his belly.
Tessa had been right on a number of levels, but waiting was something he’d never been good at. He’d learned nearly all he could about the industry, business and anything else he set his mind to, but to this day patience was something he still couldn’t get the hang of.
Everything Tessa’d said was right on the money. He knew he needed to step back and regroup before he spoke to Dorothea again. He’d been blindsided by the venom in her eyes. If anything, his ex-wife was really good at the remote and reserved reactions. She’d perfected them over the years until he’d rarely felt anything beyond a luke-warm reception to him. But to see her lose her cool like that made him wonder just what kind of anger she was hiding under her icy reserve.
How much of it had he caused? And how much of it would haunt him? Was it his punishment for finding Tessa and truly finding happiness for the first time in too many years to count?
He jumped a bit as two hands slid around his front and lightly raked through the hair on his chest. “Hey there.” He blew out the last of the smoke and flicked his butt off the balcony.
“Are you performing nasty acts out here?” she asked and kissed just between his shoulder blades.
He caught her hands as her thumbs found his nipples and rubbed back and forth. “Depends on the nasty act,” he said and pulled her around the front of him. He leaned down to kiss her and laughed when her nose scrunched up. “Ahh, don’t like my little nicotine habit, huh?”
“Not my favorite aspect of your vices. I prefer the naked and willing part of your personality.”
He looked out on the river and the dark tumble of trees and bushes that dotted his landscape and smiled as she rested her head on his chest. This is what a night was supposed to be about, not the endless worrying about exes and what was right for his kids.
A pretty girl by his side and not a care in the world. He wondered if he’d ever find that kind of night again.
“C’mon let’s go inside.”
She walked ahead of him and linked her fingers around his from behind. He closed the doors and dropped his sweatpants to the floor. He turned her around and lifted the worn jersey for the second time that night.
Without a word they climbed into bed and settled. She always seemed to know just what he needed. Perhaps she needed it just as much, he thought. She curled into him flush with her back to his front as their legs tangled and he wrapped his arms around her. The skin to skin contact was comforting rather than tantalizing now and the pears that would always say Tessa lured him in.
He felt her relax against him, and her breathing evened into sleep as he stared into the dark, holding her close.
He didn’t remember falling asleep, but the annoying buzz in his brain that matched his phone on the bedside table told him it hadn’t been that long ago. He looked at the display and flipped open the phone immediately.
“Hey sweetheart, what’s up?” He sat up, mouthing Steph to Tessa. She nodded and kissed his cheek. She pointed to the shower and he smiled. Ever the intuitive one, she left him to talk to his daughter alone.
It was his daughter’s private line which surprised him. She rarely sacrificed her minutes to talk to him, instead used the house phone.
“Do you have something going on today?”
Sleep deprivation did not make for a quick mind. He winced as he remembered the meetings he had in the afternoon. “Nope, I’m always free for my favorite daughter.”
“Dad, I’m your only daughter,” she said in that exasperated teen sigh.
“That’s right, I always forget that. So what’s up?”
Her voice had slipped into a serious tone. “I was wondering if I could come over today and we could talk.”
His first reaction was to say of course, but the scathing voice of Dot bellowed in his head. “Why don’t I come over there?” he asked easily.
She paused, “I’d like to talk to you alone,” she said quietly.
His heart ripped right out of his chest. “Tell you what, I’ll come over there and we’ll see if Mom’s cool with us going out to breakfast. How’s that?”
“Why wouldn’t she?”
“Well, she might already have plans for you guys since you’re off this week,” he hedged.
“Dad, what’s going on?”
“Nothing sweetheart, I just don’t want to upset your Mom if she had plans already made,” he said lightly.
“Well she’s already mad so what’s the difference. She’s been-“ she cut herself off.
“She’s been what, Steph?”
“I don’t know. I just can’t do anything right lately. She’s always yelling. Even more than when you guys broke up. Then it was different. It was more like…” she trailed off.
Jon swung his legs over the side of the bed and leaned his elbows on his knees. “Go ahead,” he said gently. His little girl had always been so much more sensitive than the rest of them. So quiet and in her own head sometimes with her drawings that he forgot she was also very aware of her surroundings at all times.
“Relieved, you know?” she said carefully.
Jon’s gut twisted. He couldn’t even put his finger on what had went wrong between the two of them, but if he’d known it had caused that much heartache in his household he would have done something sooner. Dot had been the one to ask for the divorce, but he certainly didn’t fight her when she asked. Maybe he had been just as relieved.
“Dad?” she asked quietly.
“No, it’s okay honey. I tell you what…this isn’t the kind of thing we should talk about on the phone. I’ll be over in about an hour and we’ll see if it’s okay with you Mom if we go out for a late breakfast. Just me and you.”
She paused as if she was going to say something else, then thought better of it. “Okay, I’ll see you in a little while. Bye, Dad.”
“Bye, sweetheart,” he snapped his cell shut and looked up when gentle fingers slid through his hair. He tried to smile up at Tessa but just couldn’t seem to make his lips work.
“I know, babe,” she said with a soft sigh. She stood in front of him and he let his forehead rest on her towel clad stomach. She kissed the top of his head.
He tugged the towel loose and smoothed his lips over her flat tummy, letting his nose bump along the heavy curve of her breast as he licked the underside. Her fingers sifted in his hair as he looked up at her.
The remarkable green of her eyes were trained on his. “Take what you need,” she said softly.
He reached up to the rich pink of her lips and traced her lower lip, letting his thumb open her mouth until she bit the pad. He opened his hand, resting it along her jaw to the graceful line of her neck.
He touched her with a reverence he’d forgotten last night. He took her nipple into his mouth as she moaned and let her head tip back. Watching her just like that, wanting and wanted was exactly what he needed. He felt himself harden as his hand trailed lower, between her breast as he curved his hand around to cup her. His tongue traced the pink tip with the flat of his tongue, then the very tip.
His thumb brushed the other until it was just as hard and aching as the one in his mouth. He plucked and rolled the tip until he heard the low moan inside of her rumble under his lips. He continued the torture with his fingers and moved his mouth lower to the tiny ladybug on lower belly, tracing it with the very tip of his tongue.
He let his hands fall to her hips, as his thumbs smoothed over the lightly muscled flesh as he slowly made his way to the dusting of red hair between her thighs. He used his thumbs to open her, ducking to taste her.
She was wet for him and he savored her taste, the scent of her so ready for him and only him. His tongue darted inside to find the nub inside and curled around it and wrapped his lips around her and sucked hard. Her thighs began to tremble so he turned her onto the bed and opened her wide.
“Jon,” she gasped and arched off the bed.
He slid two fingers into her and lifted the tiny part of her that ached with his thumb and rubbed gently as he watched her go over. Her slim body arched as she let go and her fingers fisted into his sheets as she cried out his name.
His cock, hard and full pushed tight against his stomach as he rose above her. His fingers left her a split second before he plunged inside of her, riding the spasms that had teased his fingertips.
Her arms surrounded him as he took her, losing himself in the one person who seemed to make everything else okay. A woman who’d never asked anything of him but himself.
He buried his face into her sweet smelling hair and shattered with her name on his lips.