I apologise profusely for taking so long to finish this story but my life has been somewhat hectic of late.
Thank you to everyone who has reviewed and sent PMs urging me to complete this – your kind words are much appreciated.
A special thanks to Tidwell for giving me the inspiration to finish the story this very afternoon!
This final chapter is dedicated to my darling partner, Robert – the only doctor for me.
You're cinematic, razor sharp,
A welcome arrow through the heart.
Under your skin feels like home,
Electric shocks on aching bones.
You're All I have
She turns this way and that, shoves her bent arm underneath the malleable pillow and feels him drawing his knees up behind hers on the mattress.
She smiles to herself.
The darkness in her bedroom is almost as comforting as the gentle zephyr of his breath on her neck.
Blinking, she welcomes that familiar sensation… that heaviness of limbs, that certain intoxication… sleep coaxing her easily along…
…and with a sudden jolt, her pillow is snatched from beneath her. Her head bounces lightly on the cold cotton cover of the mattress.
"That's my pillow," he grunts, "I know this one is yours because it smells like fairies vomited papaya and grapefruit juice all over it."
The dull twack of a goose-down pillow against her thigh.
She giggles, snatching it from him and arranging it against the bedhead.
"Actually," she says, "they are all my pillows. This is my bedroom. This is my home."
"Whatever you say," he replies, deliberately nudging her as he turns on the mattress.
Eyes shut, she nestles into the bedding once more, sighing heavily.
"You don't like working in the emergency ward," his disembodied voice floats up to the ceiling where the words collide with the plaster and shower down on her in a thousand tiny pieces.
She props herself up on an elbow, reaches out to flick the switch on the lamp beside the bed. Squinting in the light she finds he is already sitting, staring at her.
"It's… different…" she says, "…challenging."
"Ah huh… did I not challenge you?"
"Yeah, maybe a little too much."
"Couldn't handle it?" His mouth twists into a wicked grin.
"That's not what I was talking about," she replies, "it was challenging working with someone – working under someone for whom you have such strong feelings. You were challenging me professionally and emotionally. I find that it's much easier to keep the two separate."
"So you won't come back?"
"You like working in the emergency ward?" he teases her.
"It's just a temporary solution. I will find another job. For the meantime it is giving me a new experience, ok? Now can we go to sleep, please?"
He nods, settling back against the pillows.
She sighs and turns from him, flicking the switch on the lamp to throw the room into velvety darkness once again.
She tries three positions before she is happy; back, side, other side. She draws her knees up to her chest and folds her arm under her pillow again. Breathing deeply she awaits sleep's generous offer to take her once more when…
"Why didn't we use a condom today?"
…he speaks again.
She opens her eyes to see his twinkling in the light from the streetlamp.
"We didn't have one handy," she says.
"No," he challenges her, "they haven't been handy before, and you've gone to great lengths to make them handy. This was different."
Now he turns the bedside lamp on.
"You were different today," he says, "angry."
He grins. "You're more fun when you're angry."
"Well no offence – but you were a saucy little minx this afternoon. You fucked me like you hadn't seen a man in ten years, you expect me not to enjoy that?'
"It's all about control, isn't it? Restricting your eating, insisting on condoms. Control. This afternoon, that anger gave you control. You let me see how you were really feeling and that felt good."
She thinks for a moment. Maybe he is right. Since the day she met him, she had felt as if he had taken control. She wants it back, or maybe just a part of it.
"Tie me up," he says.
"You heard me. Just do it before I change my mind."
She finds herself nodding and moving to the cupboard. Pulling out drawers, she snatches three silk scarves – lavender, gold and crimson.
Kneeling above him on the mattress again, she lifts his arms one by one and presses his hands against the frame of the wrought iron bedhead.
Slithery flicks of silk, tight knots and his wrists are fastened in place. She uses the third scarf to blindfold him.
Giddy with anticipation, her heart pounds in her ears.
She moves off the bed and stands back to admire her work.
Spreadeagled and tethered, his naked chest rises and falls.
After a moment of contemplation, she realises she is frozen in place. Proud.
"You'd better not leave me here," he says, and she is sure she detects a hint of anxiety in his tone.
It makes her smile.
"I promise," she whispers, as she moves back by his side.
She lifts a knee over his resting body and arranges herself on all fours above him. Lowering her head to the curve of his neck she inhales his scent.
Watching the goosebumps appear on his skin triggers a surge of adrenalin within her.
"Touch me," he demands, his voice hoarse.
She observes his cock, already standing straight, straining against his cotton boxer shorts.
He arches up, pressing his belly to hers and she reels back.
"Isn't it funny how this works?' she says with certain bravado.
"The controlled attempts to regain control. You're giving me orders. It's not going to work that way. Don't make me gag you as well."
He laughs – confidently at first and then emits a sharp gasp as her fingers slide beneath the elastic waistband of his shorts, tugging them down and bunching them at his ankles.
She wastes no time taking his cock into her mouth.
She sucks hard and works him with her hands – quickly and firmly.
His exclamations of pleasure sound more like violent sobs.
He writhes and arches beneath her.
She stops suddenly and sits back.
He is panting, sweating.
"Don't sto…" he utters before hushing himself.
Control is hers.
He waits patiently.
She counts to ten and traces the arch of his right foot, the bulging blue veins inside his left arm, his clavicles, his hipbones, his navel.
She scoops her hand between his legs and presses firmly on the skin behind his testicles.
He grunts and pulls against the scarves, causing the bedhead to rattle in protest.
She takes him into her mouth again, cupping his balls and sucking gently.
He comes quickly.
It was a gesture, an offer. He relinquished his control – gave it willingly and she kisses him now in appreciation.
She unties him and they lie down together.
"Things have changed," she says.
"Yes," he replies softly, "yes they have."
It takes them three months to settle in their new apartment.
After much debate, they had agreed on purchasing a place together – "neutral territory."
Her apartment had too many familiarities, his too many memories.
It takes three months before he acknowledges the perks of buying real estate with a joint income.
"This place is good. Lotsa space. Close to work. Nice view," he comments.
"I know," she laughs, "that's why we bought it."
She watches him watching the soapy rivulets of water streaming over her torso.
"You've put on weight," he comments, lazily cupping her breast in his hand.
She raises an eyebrow at him, causing him to quickly add; "that's a good thing!"
She nods, smiling playfully.
"A very good thing," he continues, eyeing her approvingly.
The sincerity in his voice prompts her to drape an arm around his neck and stand on the balls of her feet, coaxing him to lean in so that she is able to kiss the tip of his nose.
"Come on," she says, "let's get out. My skin is all wrinkly."
In the grocery store, she fusses with lists – diligently crossing items off, checking for discounts and reading labels.
He watches her, leaning against a nearby pole, eating grapes from a display.
"You're one of those people who eat grapes they haven't paid for," she says.
"You're one of those people who disapprove of the people who eat grapes they haven't paid for," he teases.
She shrugs. "I can live with it."
"Sure," he grins.
"I like doing this sort of thing with you," she says.
"Grocery shopping?" he questions her with a raised brow.
She nods. "The simple things."
"Domestic things," he clarifies.
"I know you want to be the Catherine Zeta to my Michael Douglas," he says, "but…"
"But you're not into that sort of thing… marriage and kids…"
"Sex addiction and a hot younger wife to take it out on," he jokes in return, "oh I'm totally into that."
"Besides," she says, "we are closer in age then them, their age gap is something like 25 years."
"Oh, I'm impressed," he says, "you've been studying People Magazine. And you're right, we have more of a Tom and Katie type gap."
She rolls her eyes.
"Now I'm not sure who I'd prefer to be compared to," he says, "Michael was cool in his time, sure, but Tom, despite his apparent madness, is more attractive – Top Gun, Mission Impossible. Anyway, the point is, I love you but I am not jumping on any couches for you."
He taps his cane against his shoe, shrugging. "Bum leg and all…"
"I don't expect you to," she says, "I don't have any expectations of you."
He flashes her a doubtful expression.
"Well of course I do," she says, "to some extent, I mean I expect that what we have is mutual, and is based on commitment and all the rest of it, but I don't expect a ring on my finger…"
"We'll see," he interrupts, his lips curling into a smile.
It sounds like some sort of promise.
"What's that supposed to mean?" she asks.
"Let's just see what the future has in store for us," he says.
For once in her life, uncertainty is comforting – even exciting.
She smiles, taking the grape – poised at his mouth from his fingers and placing it in her own mouth. "Ok."