Chapter 1, 'Surance
By BG and Reaper
(extra big THANKS to Prpldphn for all the great beta work!!)
Vix was finally being released from the hospital. Jaci and Roxy had carried the mountain of balloons and flowers downstairs and were pulling the car around as Juice pushed Vix towards the elevator in a wheelchair.
"I cannot wait to get you home!!" Juice whispered in her ear as the elevator doors slid shut.
Vix smiled and looked up at him. "Um, baby…you know I'm gonna be… uh…out of commission so to speak for a while? It hurts to even cough right now. I can't even imagine like going at it."
"Oh, no, I totally get that. No problem babe. That's the last thing on my mind." Juice said but then smiled. "Ok, its not the last thing…" They both laughed.
Vix groaned and held her stomach. "No being funny! We'll pop my stitches!"
Juice grimaced and then squatted down. "Ok, I'll be serious then." He locked eyes with her and took her hand in his. For a half a second Vix thought he had lost his mind and was going to propose. They had had some long and intense conversations since she had woken up and started getting better. Her illness had definitely sealed the deal on their relationship. Both were completely and totally committed to each other. There had been talks of her moving in with him and marriage and kids, the whole nine yards but they decided they should put that off for just a bit. Hadn't they? Vix wondered and her thoughts started running wild. Oh God, please don't pop the question now. Not in a hospital elevator while I look like complete shit! I don't even have makeup on! I'll say yes but I want the fairytale proposal! Vix frowned slightly. Oh shit, I didn't KNOW I wanted the fairy tale shit but I do! I want a ring and a romantic dinner and there is no way you could possibly have a ring already! Please don't ask now, please don't ask now!
He swallowed hard. "My only care in the world right now is getting you better. Anything you need or want, anything at all…I'll get it or do it or whatever. You just get better. We got all the time in the world for knockin' boots, babe."
Vix smiled. "Is that all you wanted to say?"
He pursed his lips as he thought it over. "Mmm…and I love you?"
"I love you too, baby." Vix replied with a sigh of relief.
He grinned and stood up, kissing her forehead as the elevator doors slid open. "Let's blow this joint."
Juice had being staying with Vix at her house for two days, leaving only to go to work. As he left for work, Vix grabbed his hand.
"Roxy wants to cook the guys a big ole Southern dinner. You know, just a thank you for helping out with me and Jaci so much. Can you round them up for tomorrow night?"
"Hell yeah." Juice replied with a smile. "The guys will be tripping over themselves to get there. What are we havin'?"
The dinner party was a little smaller than Roxy had hoped with Jax, Tara, Clay and Gemma all declining due to other plans but they still had a nice crowd, what Jaci had called the 'core crew'. Roxy was getting picture happy with the camera, snapping shots of everyone randomly throughout the night. Normally the guys would have been anti-photo but none of them were about to tell the Queen of Alabama 'no'. There were some sweet pics of Vix and Juice all hugged up together, Bobby and Jaci cooking in the kitchen, a picture of all the guys together looking all tough, one of Jaci and Vix hugging and grinning, and one of Jaci being put in a head lock by Juice for reasons unknown with Half Sack trying to help break her loose.
Jaci was smiling as she watched Roxy taking a picture of Chibs and Half Sack arm wrestling at the dinner table. The evening was turning into a lot of fun. Everyone was just relaxed and happy and joking around with each other. She shook her head, thinking how great it would be if Bama and California were closer together geographically that way she could have the best of both worlds. Tig walked into the kitchen, a smile playing at his lips as he watched her. Vix's hospital drama had been tough on her but she seemed to be back to her old self again.
"What are you smiling about?" He asked as he snagged a beer from the fridge.
She shrugged. "Just happy." She walked across the kitchen and leaned against the counter in front of him. He stood next to her and stole a quick kiss as he twisted the cap off his beer. Ironic for them to be adults but sneaking around like teenagers in the kitchen. Neither one of them felt comfortable with signs of affection in front of Roxy. Hell they weren't really at ease about being a couple in front of the guys either so it was nice to steal a moment alone together. He leaned one arm on the counter behind her and she moved closer to him. They were smiling slightly at each other when a bright flash blinded them…Roxy and her camera.
"Roxy! No no no!" Jaci protested and held her hand up while trying to blink away the spots before her eyes. Ah hell, Tig is going to lose his shit! "I don't think we should…."
Tig backed away from Jaci with a grunt. He wanted to grab the camera and throw it against the wall but restrained himself. While he certainly didn't mind taking pictures of others, especially chicks in compromising positions, he hated being in front of the camera. Matter of fact, he was pretty sure the last picture take of him was a mug shot. He tossed a warning glance at Jaci. She was already watching him, like she was just waiting for him to blow up and make a scene. He didn't like that look on her face, like she was afraid. Chill out. No big deal. It's just family. Have to respect her family. He took a deep breath and forced a smile on his face. "It's ok." Jaci stared at him in surprise. Tig leveled a gaze at Roxy as he started out of the kitchen. "Keep that picture to yourself."
Roxy smirked and replied sweetly, "Sure thing, honey. No worries." She waited until Tig had made it back to the living room before she turned to Jaci and winked, saying, "I'll send ya a copy."
Dinner had been wonderful. The guys had just about stuffed themselves on fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, biscuits, fried okra and squash when Roxy announced it was time for dessert.
"Oooh, what are we having?" Bobby asked. Stuffed as he was there was always room for dessert.
"Possum pie." Roxy answered and headed for the kitchen to dish it up. The sisters tried not to laugh as they watched the guys shoot questioning looks between each other.
"What the hell kind of fucked up redneck shit is possum pie?" Tig finally whispered.
"Where the hell did she get a possum?" Bobby mused.
Juice was wondering the same things and trying to figure out how the heck she had managed to make a pie out of it and if meat really counted as dessert. Chibs just looked amused by it all and was ready to try whatever it turned out to be. He was sure he had eaten way worse in his life.
"Possums are those grey furry things right?" Half Sack grimaced. "Yeah…I can't eat that…I got to skip it like I did the chicken."
Vix just smiled. "Trust me boys…it's fine…you are going to be very happy."
And they were…as soon as they found out that possum pie didn't contain any actual possum. It was actually a chocolate pudding, cream cheese and whipped cream concoction that Bobby quickly dubbed 'heaven on a plate.'
After dinner, the crew decided to watch that night's UFC fight. Jaci and Roxy started clearing the table as the guys headed to the living room to grab their seats for the night. As Juice grabbed the remote and started trolling for the right channel, Bobby sat down in the leather chair leaving Chibs and Tig to grab seats on the huge leather sectional sofa. Half Sack headed for the sofa as well but Chibs held up a hand.
"What do you think you're doin'?" Chibs asked.
"Um, watching the fight?" Half Sack stopped and answered with unease in his voice.
Chibs shook his head. "Those dishes aren't gonna wash themselves, Prospect."
"But the girls are…" Half Sack frowned and glanced back toward the kitchen. "They have a dishwasher."
"Yeah and his name is Half Sack. Move your ass." Tig added with an up-nod of his head. "Tell the girls to get in here."
"Better hustle. You're gonna miss the fights." Bobby chimed in as he propped his feet on the ottoman. Vix just grinned from her perch on the couch. She was absolved of all clean up duty due to her current medical recuperation.
Half Sack dropped his shoulders and sulked back into the kitchen to get started with clean up. He had to physically shove the women out of the kitchen finally begging them to just go already or else Chibs would have his ass for screwing up a Prospect chore.
The fights began and so did the yelling in the living room. Roxy must have not followed the UFC much because she was picking her fave fighter based on how cute he was. There was some discussion between the girls concerning whether or not Forrest Griffin's ears made him resemble a monkey but they determined he was a cute monkey nonetheless. Jaci and Vix called MMA the 'gayest sport ever' and when the guys tried to defend it, the girls pointed out how obvious the signs were: hot muscled up sweaty guys, rolling around on top of each other. Vix declared if she were a gay guy, MMA fighting would be her profession. Next the crew moved on to critiquing the ring girls. Apparently there was a new redheaded girl that Bobby was convinced to be a post op tranny.
All the kidding stopped when the fighting started. The sisters were very into the fighting and yelled comments like Come on already, punch him! Are you kidding me? Take him down! Oh for the love of God, JAB!! Vix kept forgetting that yelling and laughing actually hurt, since her stomach was still tender from her surgery so most of her comments sounded like Yeah, fuck him up!! Ow, shit that hurts. Tig and Chibs shared an amused look after they saw all riled up the Parker chicks got. Although Chibs had lost some of his enthusiasm, as he was now spending the bulk of each match trying to figure out if any of the fighters were in fact, gay. The girls' theory had given a whole new meaning to ground and pound.
Jaci was being nice and stood at the edge of the living room so she could yell updates to Kip in the kitchen. Everyone laughed at her play by play. "Kip, you better hurry!! Bisbing's getting his ass handed to him!" She heard him groan in response. She watched the screen again and shook her head. "Oooh, he just gave up his back. Oh man, here it comes…guillotine! He's tappin'! It's over!"
Kip finally finished his chores and took a spot on the floor in front of the TV. Jaci decided to settle in and headed for the couch. Juice and Vix were laid out and cuddled up on one side of the sofa with Roxy sitting at their feet. Chibs and Tig were sitting next to each other on the sectional's other side. She almost opted to sit in the floor with Kip but then thought Fuck it. Everyone just has to come to grips with this. She squeezed in on Tig's left side. He just glanced at her and raised his eyebrows. She smirked but stared straight ahead at the television. A normal guy would have put his arm around her but Tig was far from that. They sat awkwardly side by side until everyone's attention turned away from them… then he rested his beer on her knee. She fought back a smile.
The next night, Jaci waited until the house was quiet and then she invited Tig over. Roxy had called it a night and headed to bed. Juice and Vix were in her room watching some dramatic dumb shit on the television. No comedy for the recuperating Vix, since laughing still hurt.
He was hoping for a booty call but Jaci made it very clear, very quickly that there would be no funny business while Roxy was still staying at the house, it would be disrespectful. Tig was getting frustrated and wanted to tell her just where she could shove her respect but kept his mouth shut. She was obviously tired, having just pulled yet another twelve hour day at the office. She was scrambling to make up for the week she lost while Vix was in the hospital. He resigned himself to just being glad he got any alone time with her at all.
They headed to the back deck for some solitude. He was stretched out on the patio loveseat, his feet propped up on the corner of the fire pit. Jaci was curled up against him, with one leg pulled up and resting across his hips, her head laying in the crook his arm and her arm on his chest. He had an arm wrapped around her back. Since seeing her almost choked to death by a Nord, Tig didn't mind displays of affection, as long as they were private ones. He finally made up his mind that there were much worse things in life than having a beautiful woman lying in your arms. He should stop bitching and just go with the flow. Both had their eyes closed and were completely relaxed…well, one of them was.
"What are you thinking?" Tig asked. "Feels like smoke's gonna come out your ears."
Jaci didn't move from her comfortable position. "Mmm, I'm thinking of getting a second job. How much do strippers really make?"
"The fuck you talking about?" Tig snorted a laugh.
Jaci rambled aloud. "I've got a good body and can dance pretty well. I'm strong and fairly coordinated so I should be able to get those little pole tricks down pat. Probably need a boob job to get any big tips but I should do ok without it, right? Could I pull down an extra couple hundred a week?"
"Your tits are fine." He mumbled lazily. "I'll give you $5 to strip right now."
Jaci slapped his chest. "I'm serious. It's either stripping or bartending. I think something tip oriented would be best; fastest way to build a bank up."
He wasn't sure why she was talking about this subject but decided to play along. "You'd never make it as a stripper. Strippers are basically whores without the fuckin'. You're too… nice…and selective. Some old fat nasty dude would ask you for a lap dance and you'd run the other way."
"I could get dirty." Jaci said defensively.
"If you're getting dirty, it better be with me." Tig warned with a laugh. "Besides, when are you going to have time for this second job…you're already working too much as it is. What's with the sudden need for money? Thought you were loaded."
Used to be loaded, moving to Charming is started to put a big dent in all of that. She thought. She hesitated then said, "I have a little confession."
"Shit…what now?" He opened his eyes and stared upwards.
Jaci sighed but stayed curled against him. She ran her finger along his cut as she blurted her confession. "Vix doesn't have any health insurance. I had been on her ass to get some and she finally filled out the paperwork and I was supposed to handle the rest of it but the papers caught lost in some of my work stuff and I forgot about them. I'm such a fucking idiot. I'm normally so on top of stuff, but it's been goddamn crazy around here since the day we set foot in this town again."
"See what happens when you try to do everything." He had told her a million times to stop helping every damn body and make people do shit for themselves. He rubbed the back of her neck. "How much is the hospital bill? Maybe the crew could do a charity run thing or something. Some kind of fundraiser thing… I don't know."
"Well thanks for the offer to help but Vix doesn't exactly know she's uninsured and I plan to keep it that way for as long as possible. She doesn't need to add worry to her recovery. Besides, there's no way we could cover this with a fundraiser." She pulled away from him and sat up. She grimaced as she spoke, "It's a hundred and seventy five thousand dollars, Tig."
"Holy fuck." His mouth dropped open. "Are you shitting me??" He sat up frowning in stunned amazement. "How can it be that much?!"
Jaci shrugged. "She was in there a week, surgery, ICU; plus the hospital charges more if you don't have any insurance."
"Jesus. What do they expect you to do, rob a bank?" Tig stood up and began to walk around the deck. "Isn't there some kind of government assistance program or some shit? I mean Vix can't make much money cutting hair."
Jaci leaned against the back of the couch and crossed her arms. "Well, yeah, there's charity care but you have to sign up for that during treatment. You have to disclose damn near everything in your life and I think sometimes the doctors skip out on treatment when they know you're a charity case so I didn't sign her up. In hindsight that was a really stupid fucking decision." She raised her eyebrows at him. "See why I want to jump on a pole now? Could I practice on the one at the clubhouse?"
Tig pointed to her quickly. "No poles! Everybody keeps their clothes on. Just sit tight for a few days, ok? Let me think on this." He pulled her to her feet. "Shit…we'll figure something out." He didn't have a damn clue how to come up with that much money but at least he sounded encouraging.
Two days later, Jaci was cleaning house after work one night when the door bell rang; Gemma was standing on her front step. Jaci opened the door while wondering what kind of hell was coming her way now. She let Gemma inside after apologizing for the loud 80's music that was blaring but she had to have tunes while cleaning.
"Is Vix around?" Gemma asked.
"No, Roxy drove her over to Juice's place. She's starting to get cabin fever, can't drive for a bit yet."
"I bet. Well, it's better she's gone anyway." Gemma handed Jaci an envelope she had been slapping against her palm. "I believe you misplaced these items?"
Jaci frowned and looked through the envelope. Inside were some documents and two insurance cards with Vix's name on them…stamped with a date of two weeks before her hospital drama. She stared at the cards…Are these REAL?...oooh Tig…what did he do? She glanced up at Gemma who must have read her mind.
"Yes, they're legit and Tig told Clay, who told me. Just so happens Luann has some good dirt on Mr. Harvey at the insurance office…seems he has quite the appetite for questionable porn. He was very happy to backdate a few documents to keep that info far away from his wife's mailbox." Gemma explained. "Just take those to the hospital, tell them you had misplaced them during all the excitement. They'll file everything and you'll be left owning a few thousand."
"Well, normally I am against blackmail and bending rules but in this case…thank you very much?" Jaci ventured. The hospital would discount most of the services because of the insurance; she could handle ponying up less than ten grand over time to settle the bill.
Gemma smiled and tapped the papers. "You're welcome very much. Hospital is a damn racket anyway, taking advantage of people. This shit isn't free though. You owe me $500 bucks…had to pay first and last month's premiums."
Jaci nodded without hesitation. "No problem. I'll go hit the ATM."
Gemma waved her off. "No rush. Just drop the money by the shop whenever." She thought for a moment and then smiled. "Or better yet, just give it to Tig next time you see him, he can pass it along."
"Tig…yeah." Jaci smiled good naturedly and nodded her head. "Guess you want to throw in your two cents on that subject too? Go ahead…free country…everyone's entitled to an opinion I guess."
Gemma wrinkled her nose. "Eh, you're a smart girl. Nothing I could warn you about that you haven't already thought about, right?" She waved her hand and walked to the door. "I say enjoy yourself." As she stepped onto the front stoop, she added, "I hear he's a hell of a good lay."
Jaci couldn't stop herself from busting out with embarrassed laughter. Holy shit she doesn't pull any punches! A thought suddenly stopped her laughing fit. "Oh God, please tell me you don't know that from personal experience??"
"You got nothing to worry about from me, darlin'." Gemma replied but cocked her head. "Now the rest of the town…that's another story."
"And that's why we aren't going full on public." Jaci said with a laugh. "I don't want to see all the dirty looks from past conquests while I'm grocery shopping." Jaci smiled gratefully at Gemma. "Seriously though, thanks for the…help. I owe you one."
"No problem." Gemma gave her a wink. "And I won't forget that favor either…that'll come due some day. Tell Vix to get her ass well, with her and Cherry gone there's no one to do my hair the way I like it."
Teller Morrow had just closed for the day. Bobby and Chibs were seated a table at the clubhouse while Half Sack shot a solo game of pool. Tig paced around the room.
Bobby glanced at Tig. "Ok, I may regret asking, but why the hell are you so antsy? You've been jittery all day."
"He's got a hot date coming up." Chibs replied with a grimace as he tried to get comfortable in his chair. He had managed to screw up a muscle in his shoulder and it was giving him hell. He winced. "Ahhgh…goddamn back!"
Tig shot Chibs a harsh look while Bobby raised his eyebrows. "Date huh? Jaci know about this little event?"
"Yeah, asshole… she does…it's with her." Tig smirked and then explained quietly. "She's sneaking over to my place tomorrow night."
Chibs rolled his shoulders, causing him to flinch in pain. "Remind me again why the hell you agreed to that?"
"Ass, bro. Her house has turned into a convalesce home with Vix trying to recoup. Juice is always over there and her aunt is still there. Add the damn ATF maybe still lurking around and I'm getting cock blocked at every turn." Tig replied. While complaining about not being to get any alone time with Jaci, she had reminded him his house would be the perfect get away, he was standing in his own way of being with her. The thought of her being at his place unnerved the hell out of him, but he had already turned her away from coming over once with damn near tragic results. If he balked at her coming over again, it would surely cause problems so he had relented.
Bobby shook his head. "If she's coming over you've got some serious damage control to do with that house."
"No shit…when's the last time a woman even saw your house in the daytime?" Half Sack joked from across the room. "Jaci's a big neat freak ya know?"
"Stay out of this, Prospect!" Tig yelled and tried to be cool but he was actually nervous about the whole event. "I cleaned house last night, straightened up and stuff."
"Is this a date night or a fuck night?" Bobby inquired.
"There's a difference?" Tig laughed and shrugged. "It's no big deal."
Bobby and Chibs looked at each other and then began to rattle off questions and comments, rapid fire; both being helpful in their own way.
Bobby's comments were aimed to toward making Jaci comfortable:
"Oh, it's a huge fucking deal to her, trust me. Is your bathroom clean and I mean really clean? No dirty dishes in the kitchen? Are you cooking her dinner? Make sure there isn't anything growing in your fridge. Don't want to give her food poisoning. Did you sweep and mop and vacuum? Please tell me there are fresh sheets on the bed. It wouldn't surprise me if Jaci carried one of those little black lights in her purse. You should probably buy some candles too…your house probably smells like ass. Get vanilla or coffee ones, not some overwhelming flowery bullshit. She's not a girly girl, she's more modern/contemporary."
Chibs' comments were aimed at keeping Tig alive though the ordeal:
"Porn mags hidden? Cleaned out your medicine cabinet? Women like to pilfer through that shit. Bedroom check: did ya hide all the kinky shit…well, at least the stuff she's not into? Check under your bed too…don't want her coming across another bitch's knickers when she's looking for hers. Might want to check your couch cushions too. Good point on the sheets…do not try to fuck her on dirty sheets, brother. She will kill you. Think of tonight like a mini ATF raid…sanitize your shit man or you'll get busted. Hide your blow up doll collection and tell the croweaters to steer clear for the night."
"Oooh, flowers!" Again Half Sack piped in lamely from his pool game. "You could buy her flowers. Chicks love that, right?"
Tig stared blankly as he listened to the barrage of advice and questions. He was getting that overwhelmed feeling again that he had been fighting off ever since he agreed to let her come over to his place. "You know what? Fuck this, I can't have her in my house. This was a bad idea. I'm just going to call her, tell her to forget it…we'll go to a motel. Problem solved." Chibs grinned and nodded in agreement.
Bobby blasted him. "She's not some whore, Tig. You can't take a woman like Jaci to a goddamn roach motel on the side of the road somewhere. She'll dump your dumbass for sure."
"Well, what if it was a nice motel?" Tig tried to counter with a forced laugh. "Ah, fuck it. Whatever happens, happens; she doesn't like it, she can leave." He hoped that his fake bravado would have time to translate into reality by the time the event rolled around.
That statement ended the discussion and Half Sack hollered for Chibs to come play a round of pool against him. Chibs whined about the pain in his shoulder every time he took a shot, cussing loudly most times. Tig suffered through a game before he had had enough of the Scotsman's bitching.
"Chibs, fucking shut up already, man. Take a pill for Christ's sakes. The fuck did you do?" Tig asked with annoyance.
"I got a goddamn knot back 'er or something. Hurts like a bitch. I think I pulled something fuckin' that stripper the other night." Chibs replied as he gave up trying to play pool and tried to get comfortable on the couch instead. He smiled widely. "It got a little acrobatic if you know what I mean." Tig laughed and took his place at the pool table with the Prospect.
Bobby smiled and shook his head as he continued to thumb through the newspaper. After a few minutes his mind wandered to Tig's impending date night. He had wanted to think Tig's being with Jaci was a joke or a fluke but all the signs were pointing to something different. Tig came clean to the crew in Church of all places, watched over her and her family for a week, and now he was having her over to his house? That was some serious shit. He thought back to the other night at the Parkers' house. While Tig and Jaci had kept their distance from each other physically for the most part, Bobby had been surprised to see how playful the pair was with each other. They had tossed barbs at each other during dinner and while watching the fights. He had never seen Tig smile so much. And it wasn't that creepy predatory smile of his, it was actually genuine. He seemed to be very taken with her. Bobby would have thought Jaci would have known better than to get mixed up with a guy like Tig but it was obvious she saw something in him. All very odd indeed.
Tig left the pool table and head back to the bar to grab another beer. Bobby pushed his reading glasses on top of his head and lowered his voice. "You like her don't you?"
Tig didn't even bother asking who Bobby was talking about. He knew. He just shrugged but didn't answer.
"No, I can see through all your macho bullshit here." Bobby warned. "You're nervous about her coming over…you don't want to fuck things up with her, right? There's really something there with you two."
"Maybe…so what?" Tig replied defensively.
"Well, so…her coming over is a big deal…at least to her. And your 'fuck and chuck em' track record does not translate to much experience in how to treat a lady right. So seriously, let me give you some advice."
Tig stifled a laugh. "Bobby, the last time you had a real date, it was probably to the opening night of Dances with Wolves; you were sporting Hammer pants and an earring. What advice are you possibly going to give me?"
Bobby threw up his hands. "Fine, act like you don't give a shit but I'm going to do you a favor, ok? I'm going to take a quick run around town and get you everything you need for tomorrow." Bobby got up from the barstool to leave. "I'll leave it at your front door; you just follow the instructions inside alright?" He clapped Tig on the shoulder and said seriously, "Jaci's a hell of a woman, Tig; don't fuck up tomorrow night with her."
He slapped Bobby on the back in return and nodded.
Tig made yet another run through of his house to make sure everything was in order. He glanced at the clock on the wall again and ran his hands through his hair and then began to pace around the living room and kitchen. He smoked a cigarette as he paced. Ah, shit. Now the damn place is going to smell like smoke instead of the fucking candles. He finished smoking outside and then came back inside to pace some more. He had nearly called her three times to cancel the whole damn night. Her coming over just didn't feel right to him. He checked on dinner again, which was baking in the oven; it seemed to be alright but what the fuck did he know about baking? He took another swig from the bottle of Jack Daniels sitting on the kitchen counter. He was leaning against the counter when he heard footsteps and then a knock at his back door. His date had arrived. He ran his hands through his hair one more time and crossed the kitchen to the backdoor chanting, don't fuck this up, don't fuck this up.
He pulled open the door while Jaci was mid-knock. She froze with her hand in air. She raised her eyebrows and smiled at him. "Hey."
"Hey." Tig replied and stood blocking the doorway. He looked her over and noticed she had a large brown leather purse hanging from one shoulder. He couldn't really remember even seeing her carrying a purse…this one must be serving as an overnight bag. Shit.
After standing for a moment in silence, she tapped the door jab with her finger. "Uh, can I come inside?" Her heart continued to pound heavily, just as it had been since she left her house to drive over to his place. It was weird to be so nervous going to see a man that she had been sleeping with for months now but she had butterflies in her stomach nonetheless.
"Huh? Oh shit… yeah." Tig moved away from the door and she slipped inside.
"It smells really good in here." Jaci commented as she walked further into the kitchen.
Tig followed her and explained. "Uh, that's candles. Dinner's in the oven too." He stood next to her and suddenly didn't know what to do with his hands, touching her seemed wrong though, which made no sense to him since the whole point of her being here was to be able to fuck her. He finally settled for leaning against the kitchen counter again and crossing his arms.
She seemed a little shocked with the mention of candles and dinner making. "Wow. I'm impressed." Her expectations for the night were extremely low so he was already ahead of the game. She watched him fidgeting and wondered if he was as nervous as she was. She crossed her arms too and tried to make conversation. "Um, is that shirt new?" She asked. He was wearing a dark grey vintage style t-shirt that she had never seen before; it was a little tight and highlighted his muscles and eyes nicely.
Tig frowned and looked down at his shirt. "This? No, it's old." He lied; he had bought it that very morning.
"Oh, well it looks…nice." Jaci replied. She blasted herself internally, 'It looks nice'…God, Jaci, you are such a tool! Damnit, why is this so awkward?!
He watched her struggling to think of something else to say. She had shoved her thumbs in the back pockets of her jeans and rocked on her heels, which turned out to be a little sexy because it made her jeans ride lower on her hips and the thin dark blue v-neck t-shirt she was wearing stretched tighter across her chest. He could see just a bit of skin right above her right hip and knew that her dove tattoo was just to the south. He was thinking she looked hot and meant to tell her that but when he spoke all that came out was, "You want a beer?"
"Yes!" She blurted gratefully. She actually felt like she should drink the entire bottle of Jack Daniels that was on the counter behind Tig to calm her nerves but a beer or six would do nicely too. He brought back one for each of them from the fridge.
They fumbled the bottle handoff and Jaci nearly dropped hers. "Oops!" She exclaimed as a little beer sloshed over her hand. Tig mumbled goddamnit under his breath and looked around the kitchen, helplessly, for a towel.
"It's ok…no big deal." Jaci soothed. Tig looked pissed as he stood watching her wiped her beer soaked hand on her jeans. "It's what jeans are for, right?" She eyed him more closely. "Are you ok?"
He grimaced and blurted out, "No! You being here's turned me into a goddamn idiot! I'm fucking wired up like I've been on a coke binge. It's fucking weird having you here, like you're out of place or something."
Jaci's face fell as she listened to his rant. She had been super nervous about coming over to Tig's place but she didn't expect him to be so freaked out. Shit, this was a bad idea. He's had months to invite you over and he hasn't…because he doesn't WANT you here dumbass. Leave! "Well…um…ok then. I can go if I'm making you miserable or something. Roxy is leaving tomorrow morning, so you can come by if you want." Her voice didn't hold any anger, just disappointment. She had hoped the night to be better. She sat her beer down and started to walk toward the back door but stopped and turned around while pulling an envelope out of her bag. She shoved it into his hands without looking at him. "Oh, here, give this to Gemma for me please. And… thank you…for…you know…helping with that." She started toward the back door again.
He looked down at the envelope, confused. He quickly glanced inside to see several hundred dollar bills. Gemma…Insurance money. He closed his eyes for a second and months' worth of images of them went through his head. Eating Valentine's candy with her in her car. her laughing while playing BINGO, staring at her by fire pit light, sitting next to her in jail, making love to her that night after that pool party, pulling her away from that Nord in the stairwell. The memories made his heart slam harder in his chest. Come on, you're fucking this up!! He closed his fist around the money and made it to the back door in three big quick steps. She had one hand on the door knob so he grabbed her right arm.
"Shit, wait…don't leave." He pulled her around to face him and struggled to explain himself. "Look, do you have any idea how many women have been run through this house?"
"Actually, I try not to think about that…" Jaci said quietly. She was sure Tig was in triple digit territory with women in general which was simultaneously awe inspiring and disgusting.
"I'm just saying there's been a lot of bad shit done in this house. I don't like the idea of you being in the same place." He waved his hand around for emphasis. "It's like Good and Evil meeting or something. It feels wrong."
Jaci understood exactly what he was feeling; she did feel out of place. But maybe they were just being stupid and worrying too much. She tried to break the ice. "Well maybe you should have had Father Carlin perform a skank vibe exorcism before you invited me over." She smiled slightly.
"Skank exorcism…nice." Tig replied, but he was smiling too and a moment later they both laughed. Jaci realized she would have to be the one to make the night work. She started to say something else when a smoky smell started to fill the kitchen. They both frowned and glanced around. He shut the back door and she dropped her bag by it. Tig was halfway thinking he might have set something on fire in the house with one of the candles. Jaci, being the cook that she was, headed toward the oven. She opened the oven door and smoke rushed out; sizzling could be heard as well. She immediately slammed the door shut, coughing as she looked at Tig. "Umm, what exactly are you cooking and how long has it been in there?" She sniffed the air. "Smells like a soy sauce explosion!"
Tig looked dumbfounded. He opened a drawer and rifled through it, pulling out a note card. "It's some concoction of Bobby's…Chinese Chicken or some shit. And the reason it smells like soy sauce is because there is a whole damn bottle in it." He handed the recipe card to Jaci.
"A whole bottle?" Jaci asked as she looked over the card. A smile broke out on her face. "Uh, Tig…I think it was only supposed to have a tablespoon of soy sauce?"
"Bullshit." He stepped closer so he could read over her shoulder. He pointed at the soy sauce line. "See? It says BTL…bottle."
Jaci shook her head and squinted at the writing. "I think that's a T…for TBL…for tablespoon. Are you dyslexic?"
"Fuck no…Bobby just has shitting handwriting!"
"No argument there." She walked back over to the oven and turned it off. "Well, whatever is was supposed to be…it's pretty much inedible now. We'll just let it cool off in the oven, don't want to flood the house with smoke. You can trash it tomorrow."
"Goddamnit!" Tig exclaimed and stomped out of the room. Jaci followed him into the living room and watched him slump down on the couch. She couldn't help but smile at his pouting.
He frowned at her. "It's not fucking funny. This was a stupid fucking idea. See? There's proof that I suck at this domestic shit. You and Bobby just don't fucking listen."
Jaci rolled her eyes and disappeared back into the kitchen for a moment. He could be such a pouty little kid sometimes. She returned holding her cell phone to her ear and her beer in her other hand. She decided it was time to take control of the situation. She walked over to Tig and thrust the beer at him. She smiled and climbed on top on his lap, facing him. He took a swig as he listened to her finish ordering a pizza; all that effort and they were back to pizza and beer. "Yes, that's all….yep…1304 Blair Street… Trager...ok, thanks."
She ended the call and looked at him with her eyebrows raised. "What?"
Tig smiled but said nothing; he had oddly liked hearing his last name being said by her. "You know you have to wait in the closet when the pizza guy comes by. Can't have anybody seeing you here." He teased.
"You gonna get in there with me later? Wouldn't be in the first time we've been in a closet, although this time would be much more fun I'm sure." She countered. Jaci tossed her phone onto the next couch cushion. She stared down at him from her perch on his lap and pulled at the bottom of his t-shirt. "Ok…enough of this being nervous and weird shit, you hear me? We're being stupid. This is no big deal. It's just you and me tonight, hanging out…pizza, beer and sex. Can you handle that? If not, just say so and I'm out the door…and you won't be able to stop me this time."
"Pizza, beer and sex…that was my plan from the beginning. Bobby's the one that made me get all fancy with candles and dinner and shit." Tig explained as he rested his hands on her hips.
"Well, Bobby had the right idea…just overestimated your cooking abilities. No big deal. It's all appreciated." Jaci replied with a grin. She leaned in and kissed him for a few minutes, waiting until he was getting into it before she pulled away. "You just need to relax a little bit." She began unbuckling his belt as she slid backwards off his lap. He watched in surprise as she slid onto her knees on the carpet in front of him and then glanced up at him. "You've got about fifteen minutes."
"I won't need but half that." Tig said with a smile as his right hand found the back of Jaci's head and helped her find the rhythm he needed. Holy shit. He leaned his head back against the couch. Hell, I'll fuck up dinner twice a week if I can get this every time.
The rest of the night went much smoother than the beginning. They ate and drank and made out on the couch intermittently while watching TV. Really shockingly normal behavior; Tig was amused by how much he liked it. They got caught up in a COPS marathon and spent two hours laughing their asses off about the dumb criminals on the show and swapping stories about people they knew in similar situations. They got around to making out again and things were heating up when Tig suddenly clicked off the TV and stared at her.
"What? What's wrong?" Jaci frowned. "Why are you stopping?"
"You really ok with being here?" He pushed up on one arm while next to her so he could see her face.
"I'm fine." She ground her hips upward into him. "Don't I feel fine?" When he didn't laugh, she explained. "I think I had your place blown way out of proportion. Like I was going to walk into a frat house and see horribly weird shit." She smiled. "I mean, I fully expected to see bongs and beer cans everywhere and a stripper pole in the living room." They shared a laugh and then she continued. "The real issue is if you're ok with me being here. You were seriously freaked out earlier, Tig."
"This place has a lot of baggage. I didn't want you drowning in it." He said as he climbed off of the couch and stood up. He was suddenly serious. "I don't want to fuck things up with you."
Holy shit, that's a HUGE statement coming from him. Don't get all mushy on him. Be cool. Keep it light. "So don't." Jaci replied and smiled. "Give me the bedroom tour, stud."
As he walked her down the hallway, he wrapped her up close to him and whispered into her ear from behind. "You know that stripper pole you were so worried about…I moved it from the living room… to the bedroom." He waited until her head snapped around before telling her he was only joking.
They walked into the bedroom together. There was no need for turning on any lights, candles were already burning. With his hands on her hips, he whispered to her again. "See? Nothing weird. No stripper poles, no sex swings, no gimps on chains in the corner. New sheets on the bed waiting for you to break them in…I think they're 300 count so your pretty little ass won't be completely offended by sleeping on them."
Jaci was stunned. She honestly didn't think he was capable of anything remotely romantic. She smiled and said, "Damn, very nice."
"Just wait…I've figured out some pretty kinky shit to do with all that melted wax." Tig replied with a grin and shoved her toward the bed.
Whatever apprehension they had been feeling dissipated when their clothes came off. They were playful at first but it had been awhile since they had been together so it was hard to keep the intensity level low key for very long. Things were progressing nicely until Tig, without thinking it through, rolled on top of Jaci and pinned her arms downs by her head. He kissed her neck with the full weight on his body on her. Under normal circumstances, Jaci would have loved the position but in light of recent events, i.e. being held down by a Nord in a stairwell, the weight of him and the sense of being helpless jolted her. She tried to twist away from Tig but he thought she was playing with him so he held her down harder.
"Tig…let go." She whispered, trying to keep the panic out of her voice. It was an odd sensation, her brain knew she was safe with him but her body wasn't listening. He ignored her and kept kissing her. She gritted her teeth and growled, "Tig…get off of me!" He stopped what he was doing, let go of her wrists and pushed himself up on his hands. "What's wrong with you?" He asked with a frown.
With his weight off of her, she took a few deep breaths. She didn't want to ruin the moment or make him worry about her. She stared up into his eyes…eyes that didn't want to hurt her. It was ok. An idea clicked in her head suddenly and she smiled. What better way to gain control back than to be in control? "Let me on top."
He looked down at her. "Wanna ride, do you?" When she nodded, he grinned and twisted swiftly onto his back. "Oh, hell yeah. Come on then." She usually let him set the pace in the bedroom, so any time she wanted to take the lead, he was more than happy to let her do it; it usually had great results and this time was no exception.
Jaci woke up a few hours later and was slightly disoriented. The clock on the bedside table said 4 am but the room was brighter than it should have been. Then she realized they had left all the candles burning in the room. Shit, we could have burned down the whole house! She pushed Tig's arm off of her and slid out of bed to start blowing them out.
Tig awoke to find her walking around the room naked. He lifted his head and smiled in confusion. "You look fucking great in candlelight."
Jaci blew out the last candle. "Well, thanks but we're lucky we not on FIRE right now." She sat back down on the bed, the room was pitch black. "I'm going to hit the road."
"It's only 4."
"But isn't this about the time you usually kick out chicks? Don't want to make you uncomfortable." She was teasing, but only partially.
"I do usually have a strict 'no daylight' policy…but you're the exception to that rule." He replied with a smile in his voice. More seriously he added, "Hell, I think you're the exception to most of my rules." He sat up, throwing back the sheet and reached across the bed until he could grab a hold of her wrist. He pulled her towards him as he laid back down. "Get your ass back in here." She obliged and intertwined her body with his until they were both comfortable. They talked about the previous night for a few minutes and then settled into silence.
Jaci had been debating with her self for days over whether or not to bring up the subject that was running through her head. Given all the drama they had just been through with Vix and the Nords and the insurance money and how he had came through for her… things had shifted between them. They were both dancing around it but things had definitely been taken up a notch.
She was lying on her back with his arm across her stomach. "Tig?" She asked quietly, checking to make sure he was still awake.
She took a deep breath and was thankful for the bravery that the dark room gave her. "I don't want to freak you out, but…you know where I'm at with you, right? How I feel?"
He was pretty sure how she felt about him; she had to be feeling something pretty solid to have stayed with him this long. They certainly had been through some shit. Tig thought for a moment and his mind wandered over that night after the pool party when he had told her that words were bullshit. Now it seemed she was trying to tell him something without actually saying it, trying to respect his feelings toward all of that, trying not to spook him.
"Tig?" She ventured when he didn't respond.
"I heard you." He paused and added playfully. "And I think you should be probably be in a mental institution for feeling that way about me."
"Padded room huh? Well, maybe." She conceded. "But you're not running away from all of this either…maybe you need the cell next to me?"
"Maybe." He replied.
She settled in next to him and they fell asleep. She snuck out a few hours later, took a shower, got dressed and headed to her place to pick up Roxy and take her to the airport. Tig woke up for a few moments when he heard the back door open and shut. He fell back asleep thinking that maybe there was some compromise to be had with Jaci, a way to keep them both happy.
He sucked at hardcore domestic life and wouldn't go back down that path for any woman again, not even her. But maybe there was some grey area on the Domestication Scale that would suffice, that could be enough to keep her around and enough to keep him from going stir crazy.