TIMELINE: 6 weeks after the end of Company Man.
"What? I'm here," she mumbled, sitting up with a start at the sound of her name. There was no one there. Except for the man sleeping beside her. He stayed with her because she was prone to dreams. Or so he said. She hadn't had a bad dream in weeks, but it seemed to make him feel better.
This was the first time she thought that he might be the one with the dreams. That maybe he needed her, too. His breathing was returning to normal but she was pretty sure he was still asleep. It was rare for her to be awake when he wasn't. He seemed to have a sixth sense where she was concerned. So she seldom got the opportunity to look at him.
She didn't think she'd have it for long. He'd sense she was awake like he always did and that would end her time to just look at him. She doubted her father had envisioned them getting this comfortable when he sent them away together. She really liked him. And was pretty sure he liked her back.
The sheet had moved when she sat up, giving her a view of his bare chest. He was always careful to keep space between them. She sometimes wondered if he slept at all. She slid her hand so it hovered above him, testing to see if he was still asleep. Assured he was, or wasn't going to stop her anyway, she brushed her fingertips along his stomach. She expected him to wake up at the touch.
When he didn't she got braver, bolder, sliding her hand up along his stomach to his chest. She found his nipple and circled it with the pad of her fingertip. Once. Twice. He moaned softly. The third time he groaned softly and she smiled, lifting her finger to the other nipple.
She watched, fascinated. She found a collarbone and traced the length of it outward toward his shoulder and down the length of his arm and along each finger, repeating it on the other side. She had to lean over him a little and she slid one of her legs between his for balance. It was then that she realized even asleep he was reacting to her touch. She wasn't trying to turn him on. She just wanted to touch him.
She was thorough in her trip along the curves of his body. She took her time. It was still late so there was little light to see by. She didn't need it, though. She'd watched him enough to know where everything was. She just hadn't had an opportunity to explore like this before now. It passed through her mind that he had woken her by calling her name. She imagined she should wonder what he was dreaming about, hoped it was something good.
His skin was warm and smooth to her touch. Her fingertips glided over the bumps and curves with ease. He was, as far as she could tell, perfect. He had no blemishes, no scars, nothing that would make him stand out from anyone else. Or make him less beautiful than she saw him.
The longer she touched him, the more she felt the need to touch him. It wasn't just her hands she wanted to use either. She'd never really thought to try any of it, but she had ideas on how and what to do. She wasn't completely clueless.
She could tell by his breathing when he woke up. Funny how used to little things like that she was becoming. He wasn't totally awake yet. It always took him a minute to complete the process. She took advantage of the way she was leaning into him, touching either side of him and kissed his stomach just under his ribs.
He groaned softly, reaching for her head with his hands. He shifted and she felt him hard against her thigh between his legs. She kissed him again as he whispered her name, a little lower along his stomach this time.
"Claire," he murmured, but made no effort to stop her or pull her away. Instead, his hands at her head almost seemed to encourage her.
She found his belly button, kissed a path around it, and then dipped her tongue in it. He groaned and she smiled with a light laugh. She slid higher, tracing a path with her mouth and tongue from his stomach to his chest.
Her eyes met his briefly when she lifted her face to look at him. He was watching her, his fingers took hold of some of her hair. Otherwise, he was quiet and seemed to be watching to see what she'd do next. His guess was as good as hers since she wasn't exactly sure.
One of his hands slid to her hip and it was her turn to groan. The boxers she had on were thin enough that it was almost as if he was touching her skin to skin. As her mouth found one of his nipples, she wished he was.
"Claire," he whispered. She recognized the tone in his voice and she whimpered softly. They weren't doing anything wrong. She could argue that point, but she knew he would still feel they were moving too fast. Weeks of living with him didn't seem too fast, though.
He looked at her sometimes in a way that made her get all hot and bothered. She hoped it was mutual but he never said. She just wanted a minute to taste him, touch him before things returned to normal. It was night, the time for dreams. Couldn't she for a little bit have this?
"Just a minute," she whispered, blowing on his nipple. His fingers at her hair stopped, but he didn't say anything else. And he didn't pull her away. She took that as a good sign. She knew what he was afraid of. There was an age difference and they were stuck here together. But she knew friends her age who while they hadn't gone all the way yet had done some things. A lot of things. Most things. She considered herself an oddity really.
She was just as thorough with her lips and tongue as she had been with her hands moments ago while he was still asleep. She doubted there was a patch of skin on his upper body she hadn't kissed, licked or sucked. She tasted him now. When she lifted her head to look at him and licked her lips, he was there on her lips. His essence. She got horny at the idea. She felt the pulse point at his wrist jump and grazed over it again with her tongue.
He pulled on her hair then, gently but enough that she lifted her head to look at him. Even with little light, she could see he was watching her intently. She kissed his chest and then his chin.
"I guess my minute's up?"
"You will be my undoing one of these days."
"That's the general plan," she said.
His hand slid to the back of her neck and he drew her head lower to meet his. He paused mere inches from meeting her mouth with his.
"I'm finding the plan more and more acceptable," he murmured before kissing her. She kissed him back, hoping she wasn't bordering on attacking him she was that in to it. She let out a squeak when his arms went around her and brought her all the way on top of him without breaking the kiss.
"You woke me up," she murmured when they both broke the kiss.
"I'm not sure if I should apologize or not. That was a most pleasant way to get woken up."
"I'll remember that."
"You called my name. Were you dreaming something?"
"I," he frowned. This close she could see it was a frown. "I don't remember. I was dreaming, but I cannot remember what. Did I sound upset or worried?"
"I don't know. I just heard my name. It woke me up, and I was kind of afraid, like someone was here or something."
He brushed aside some hair from her face. "We are safe, Claire."
"I know. How much longer do we have to be here?" In some ways she wanted to stay here forever. In others, she couldn't wait to get back to civilization. The world.
"Not much longer. Soon it will be safe for us to go where you need to be. We just need to ensure enough time has past they are no longer watching."
"Where are we going?"
"I cannot tell you that yet."
"Why the secrecy?"
"If something happens. If we're separated or you're caught it's safer for all concerned you not have information."
"Oh. You think I'd betray you?"
"I don't think you would intentionally. No, of course not. But they are very good at what they do, Claire. You'll believe someone is on your side, your father's side. There are no sides any longer. There's me and you."
"I've never heard you say so much."
"You're asking the right questions finally."
"That should offend me."
He chuckled. She felt his chest under her vibrate. "Perhaps. It is not meant in that way. You are starting to realize there is no going back. I do not know if you will ever see the Bennet's again, but if you do it will be a very long time from now."
"Thank you for being honest with me."
"You are welcome," he whispered with a kiss. "I am sorry I need to relay such disappointing information."
"I can feel it. Your aura for lack of a better word. It shifts with disappointment at the idea you won't see your adoptive family."
"Well, yeah, I mean, I lived with them."
"I know. And now you have me."
"Will you leave me? Will I have to leave you like I had to leave them?"
"No, so long as you want me."
"I think so, too. Now, go back to sleep, it's still hours until morning."
"Are you going to take me fishing again?"
"If you'd like."
"It was fun. I'll bring a hat this time, though."
"I told you."
"How was I to know that the sunburn wouldn't go away for hours? And would hurt in the process."
"I do not know."
"Hmmph. A lot of help you are." She kissed his collarbone followed by a laugh.
"So you say."
"Well, I might be able to think of a couple of ways you're a help."
"Yeah, but I'd rather show you than tell you about them."
"How long will it take?"
"How long until morning?"
He glanced at the window.
"A couple of hours at least."
She wasn't sure how he could tell that way. There was a clock in the room, but it was too dark for her to read it.
"I think we might have just enough time."
"What does it involve?"
"Mm," she said, lifting her head again to kiss him. "Lips and mouths and tasting you. Lots and lots of tasting. Very little conversation."
"I like it already."
"Me, too," she whispered and went in for the deep kiss. This was definitely starting the day off right.