The three of them stepped outside, and the detective jerked the collar of his preposterous Belstaff up.

"Mr Holmes, would you be so kind to go without me in the first cab?" Wren asked mannerly, and John quickly looked at her. The perfectly polite face and the even tone meant he was in more barney than the Stock after the Brexit. "I'll catch you later."

The detective shifted his eyes between the two of them, and the upper lip curled even more. John suppressed a violent urge to punch the otter face. He properly didn't fancy being studied.

The coat swooshed, the door slammed, and the first cab was gone.

"When did you come?" Wren's voice was hollow.

"In the morning. Tom is with Mrs Harris." John carefully watched the small twitches of her lips. Maybe, there was still a chance she was just angry, and would start yelling at him now.

He knew all she had to say; but her being silent, her lips pressed in a strict line, meant she thought the current situation was beyond discussion - and that was bad.

He knew he was supposed to stay home. He was jealous, and consequently potentially violent; after all 'possessiveness and paranoia enhanced by PTSD' were written almost in every notepad of every therapist he had been seeing, including the two he was seeing together with Wren.

He should have stayed home. Or he should have told her that he wasn't processing her staying in the city longer in any way healthily. He should have asked for help. Instead, he'd just broken into a garage, with a SIG Sauer P232 in his hand - and he enjoyed it. He'd felt acute relief when he heard the noise from inside - he finally had an excuse to stop keeping distance.

He looked at her again. She was still quiet, and he felt churning discomfort inside.

"Wren..."

"I'm going to tell you one thing," she started in a dark voice, and then turned to him sharply. The cat eyes were narrowed. "I'm going to tell you one thing, and you are going to think very, very hard about it. I want you to get over your lack of sensitivity and your inability to empathise with another person, and I want you to use all your immense intellect and all the bloody skills your bloody job had given you, and imagine yourself in my shoes. Are you ready?" Her lips were now white from anger.

He nodded.

"I want you to feel like it's your own stomach right now, John. And imagine how close I am to throwing up at the thought that while I was sitting on that bloody bench two hours ago, eating my pasty, you were watching me." She took a shuddered breath in, and gave him a long look. "I'm nauseous right now, and in physical pain in my abdomen. That is how much of a breach of trust this was."

There was a knot in his throat, and he swallowed the bitter taste in his mouth with difficulty.

"I wasn't… coping," he rasped out.

"No, you bloody weren't," she scoffed. "But you said you were. I told you everything; I told you I was shot, I told you I was going to stay..."

"You called him 'Sherlock...'" John really should have shut his gob, but they had never had a fight like that. He had never felt that worried.

"That's his name!" she hissed back.

"Your voice changes when you say it."

Wren called her own inability to keep her thoughts to herself 'Leary-Tourette' after her - now classified - real name. Apparently, it was contagious - and potentially sexually transmitted.

She rolled her eyes and shook her head.

"I am not going to answer to this comment of yours," she said. "You know that all you allow yourself to think and to feel at the moment is wrong; and a huge setback in your recovery process. To say nothing of how damaging it is to our relationship!" She made a dischuffed noise, and waved to a passing taxi. "Why am I even talking about this?" she mumbled under her nose. "What's the point now..."

"Because you haven't given up," he said, and she looked at him askance. "Wren, I'm sorry… And you know it… I have no excuses. I was never good… at bringing up arguments for you to be with me."

"John, it's not about me being, or not being with you! And it's especially not about me choosing! It never was!" she raised her voice, and then a cab stopped near them; and he needed her to continue talking, but she already turned to the car. He rushed ahead and opened the door for her.

She gave the cabbie the address, and pressed into the opposite end of the seat, purposefully keeping distance between their bodies.

She liked to sit close. He liked when she sat close. She was often cold, and loved pushing her right hand in the pocket of his coat, intertwining their fingers. He loved it probably more than she did. At the moment, her arms were crossed on her chest.

"Please, talk to me." He could hear how pleading he sounded.

"If you were worried I was in trouble, you could have said so. You could've asked me to come back," she muttered in a dull tone. "Or we could discuss you coming here. But you were jealous. And that's why you came and... spied on me. Because you allowed yourself to make it about him. About Sherlock Holmes... while it had nothing to do with him."

John properly had nothing to say to it. He also didn't want to talk about it. All he needed to know was where they're standing. And what he was supposed to do to fix it.

Wren continued muttering something, gesturing, and making faces; and he just waited.

"You aren't even listening to me!" she hissed, and he focused on her.

"I am. I just..." He didn't know what to say, especially since she was giving him an exaggerated expectant look, one eyebrow raised sarcastically. He shook his head, and lowered his eyes. He wasn't playing in repentance; he was just intently waiting for her verdict. After all, that's all that was to it. It had always been up to her.

She was very quiet, and he was taking careful breaths in. And then the cab stopped, and he pushed his hand in the jeans pocket looking for cash.

"What hotel are you in?" she asked, and he whipped his head towards her.

"The Radisson we stayed in last year," he answered, after clearing his throat.

"I'll finish up here, and I'll be there," she said in an emotionless voice, and their eyes met.

"And then what?" he asked. The cabbie took the money and coughed pointedly. John pushed another note into his hand.

Wren chewed at her bottom lip, and shrugged.

"And then we'll see."

There was a knock at the window, and John knew it was the detective.

And then Wren leaned in and pressed her lips to his.

"I'll see you soon," she whispered into the kiss, pushed her door open - and she was gone.

"Where to?" the cabbie asked, and John closed his eyes.


In his room, he took a shower, ordered food, and ate, without turning the telly on. He left his mobile in the pocket of the coat; the volume was turned up enough for him to hear a ring; while the phone was far enough for John not to glance at it every three seconds.

He then lay down on the made bed, with a book. He knew he wouldn't read, but the weight of it on his stomach was something his mind could use as an anchor to stop from spinning out of control.

Three hours and twenty three minutes later the clerk at the reception desk let him know she was here, and John got up and walked up to the door. He could hear the lift open at the end of the corridor; and the steps, once she'd passed half of the distance; and then a knock at the door.

John peeled his forehead off the inside of the door, and opened it.

He was so focused on her face that it took him extra three seconds to notice the dirty coat, torn left sleeve, and a virtually obliterated stocking on her left leg.

"We tried to catch the culprit, but he got away," she said, while his eyes roamed her head to toe. "I fell off a fire escape. You know, those external metal staircases…" She exhaled and looked him directly in the eyes. "I'm not hurt."

He stepped aside, letting her in. There was a blood stain on her right shoulder. The coat was new; she'd bought it just before the visit to the detective.

"You're bleeding."

"Yeah, it's the gun wound. It's opened again, from all the running, I reckon. We had it patched..."

'We' scraped at John's hearing, and judging by a small cringe she'd noticed his reaction.

"I'll go take a shower, alright?" she said, and he nodded.

When she came out of the bathroom, her hair wet and curling - she didn't have that gizmo of hers with her - he was sitting on the bed, his hands steepled in front of his mouth, elbows on his knees.

She came up to him, and her hotel robe covered chest was in front of his eyes. He looked up, and she smiled to him softly.

"That really wasn't good, John." He exhaled through rounded lips.

"No, it wasn't," he answered with relief. The jury was back, and apparently his hanging had been cancelled. Or at least postponed.

Her left hand cupped his jaw, and she gently brushed the tips of the fingers of the right one to his temple, and then pushed the hand into his hair. He splayed his hands on her lower back, and carefully pulled her in. The adrenaline and the numbing effect of the hot shower would wear off soon. She was still moving on inertia, but he knew she'd be in pain and knackered in a few minutes.

She bent down and kissed him firmly.

"Wren… You shouldn't..." She didn't let him continue, her lips moving insistently.

He always had little control with her. Something had just clicked for them, from the start, and every time. He didn't know - and didn't care - why it was great. They just were.

But then he carefully placed his hands on her waist - almost encircling it - and moved her away.

"We'll make it worse..." He saw how red and swollen her lips were, and how hungry and brilliant the eyes were. "Wren..."

"We won't, if you just lie down and let me lead." She gave him a cheeky grin. "That is if that won't make you feel even more emasculated..."

Keeping their eyes locked, he picked up the end of the belt and pulled slowly.

"Just make sure you don't pull your stitches..." he said absent-mindedly, distracted by the pale skin that had opened to his eyes.

"You say the most romantic things..." she laughed, and then pressed her hands into his shoulders, and pushed.


**YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME AT**

Blog: kolmakov dot ca

1. Facebook Writer's Page: /katyakolmakov

{PLEASE, FOLLOW AND LIKE!}

2. AO3 (Archive of Our Own dot net) as kkolmakov

3. Wattpad: Katya Kolmakov

Romance/erotica webserial Jack in the Box

Armed with several degrees in psychology, sociology, and literary studies, as well as a particular set of skills and abilities, Gemma Wright works as a muse for artists in various creative fields. She can inspire a hit album; pull a popular novelist out of a writer's block; or organize an international tour for a dance company.

Gemma has strict rules and a precise plan for her personal life - and Jack Richards, a famous mystery writer, definitely doesn't fit her criteria. Perhaps, his direct competitor, John Barnett, with his soft manners and seemingly humble disposition, is a better match for Gemma than the dark and handsome Richards.

Understanding others and leading them to the fulfilling and rewarding life is Gemma's specialty, but does she know the answers to the same questions when it comes to her own life?

{Updated every Thursday!}

4. A romance/erotica/drama webserial "Dr. T Series" on my blog kolmakov dot ca

Summary: Wren Leary, a young biochem student is placed before a choice: Will it be Philip Durinson, the self-assured ball of sunshine and a uni stud, or his cantankerous and mistrusting uncle, John Thorington? The first one is her friend, the second one regrets that night in the tent. Wrennie is in a pickle.

{Updated every Saturday!}

My ART is available on:

5. Instagram: kkolmakov

6. DeviantArt: kkolmakov

Also,

7. Twitter: katyakolmakov

8. Pinterest: Katya Kolmakov


My book on Amazon!

CONVINCE ME THE WINTER IS OVER

Available on Amazon in Kindle and Paper!


Summary:

Renee Miller is a reclusive web designer who, after several hours of delirium from flu, wakes up to find a stranger in boxer briefs standing in her bathroom.

John is an archaeologist who finds himself stuck in a stranger's flat in a snowstorm.

Frozen in her neat and clean world of highly functional anxieties and her history of childhood trauma, Renee is perhaps the worst possible host for her flatmate's boyfriend's colleague. Yet, while the fervent gush of life that is John Greaves disrupts her carefully guarded existence, Renee finds herself gradually yearning for more.

Is John the first breath of Spring in her frigid world?