A/N: Not much to say here. Just enjoy, and it's not mine. Oh, yeah, and Leah's parents (Harry and Sue Clearwater) are very OOC in this.


Simple Design

The Story of Jake and Leah

Part Two

Secrets

Tell me what you want to hear
Something that'll light those ears
I'm sick of all the insincere
So I'm gonna give all my secrets away

-Secrets – OneRepublic


Jacob

"I'm just saying she's a nice girl."

I'd had it. I stood up, turned without a word, and walked out of the room. I might be an asshole, but I wasn't about to yell at my dad after the news he just got. A part of me couldn't even believe he wanted to talk to me about my so-called relationship with Leah after hearing that his kidneys were only functioning at forty-five percent. They told him dialysis was an imminent future for him. He didn't like the idea, but I wasn't going to let him pass it by. He was too fucking young to just let it go like that.

"Jacob," Dad called. I ignored him and slammed my door shut.

I sat on the bed and sighed. Leah was a good friend. She wasn't upset with me for leaving right after fucking her our first time. Or the second or third. She did ask me to actually stay for dinner after the fourth, though. I figured it was the least I could do since she so willingly gave me access to her pussy. Not only was she not upset on top of still letting me fuck her, she was also just there. We talked about our situations with our families a little more at work. We never really talked on the nights we got together. Not about anything important, anyway. The times I stayed for dinner, we talked about stupid shit like things we liked or didn't like. I didn't tell her, but I sure as hell did not like how much I wanted to hear her answers when she told me something new about her.

I'd known her for two months. Two months and my dad was already trying to convince me to fall madly in love with her and give her a ring. I couldn't even count how many times I'd told him that neither of us were into marriage and shit. He didn't get it. It was like any time I told him to shut up about it, he automatically tuned it out. He sure as hell heard me when I'd slip and say something about her, though. Once, and only once, I'd made a major mistake by telling my dad I thought Leah was beautiful. Did it matter that I'd only said it once? No, it didn't. Because that old man could rehash anything to the point of it becoming everyday conversation.

I ran my fingers through my hair and pretended I didn't hear him hollering shit down the hall. I needed to get out of the fucking house. I grabbed my keys, stepped into my shoes, stared down at my dirty jeans for a second before deciding they were fine, and walked out of the room.

"I'm leaving," I said as I passed through the living room. "Take care of yourself, Dad; I'll be back sometime tonight."

"Where are you going?"

I shrugged. "Don't know; don't really care."

I drove around for a while until I finally decided to visit Leah. She wasn't doing anything since it was her day off as well, so she said I could hang out for a bit. She was making lunch and offered some, but I wasn't hungry.

"My dad wants to meet you."

I looked up at Leah and took another swig of the beer she'd given me. "Really?"

She nodded and sat down at the kitchen table with her sandwich. "Yeah. Apparently I talk about you too much. And he likes that you've been in construction for so long."

I smirked. "I'm sure he does. Now we've got both our parents petitioning for marriage."

She laughed. "Let them. We know what we want." She winked at me. I smiled and took another drink. "So do you want to meet him? At least so I can get him off my back?"

"Sure, I guess. Let him see what a jackass I am."

She snorted. "Won't matter to him. You've met some of the guys he tries to set me up with. There is no limit to the amount of douchebaggery that man will put up with if he thinks there's a potential husband for me."

"Yeah, but I'm not a douche bag. I'm a jerk. There's a slight difference." I sat up and tossed the empty bottle, then got a soda.

"You can have another beer if you want." She gestured to the fridge.

"Thanks, but I don't want to overdo it. Meds and all."

She nodded. "At least you're not a stupid jerk."

I smiled. "When you want me to meet him?"

She shrugged. "Doesn't matter. Sometime soon."

"Saturday?" We both had it off; it was convenient.

"Sure. I warn you, he's worse than your dad. I swear he will stop at nothing. And he'll probably want to make it a big dinner thing." She rolled her eyes.

I shrugged. "Eh, free food. I can't pass that up."

She smiled. "Thank you, Jake. I appreciate it."

She finished her lunch, and I just watched her. I wasn't sure why I liked watching her do shit, but I did. She did it with grace, no matter what it was. Even working on the site, she was graceful. It was strange because at first glance, a person wouldn't think she was capable of it. She glanced at me a few times, but didn't say anything. She'd gotten over the creepiness a while ago.

I stayed until it got dark, then I went home. Dad was asleep already. I woke him up just long enough to make sure he was okay then got myself ready for bed.


"So Leah tells me you've been in construction for six years," Leah's dad, Harry Clearwater, said on Saturday. Dinner wasn't ready yet, and Leah, Harry, and I were sitting on the couch while her mother, Sue, was finishing in the kitchen. I just nodded. "You look young. When did you get started?"

"When I was eighteen."

Everything was silent as he obviously waited for me to say more. Leah looked a little smug; she knew I wasn't impressing anyone.

"And how did you get involved?" he prodded.

I sighed and leaned forward, pretending to be more annoyed by his question than I really was. I had to make sure this man didn't want me near his daughter. "Volunteered for the community and got noticed by the foreman."

He raised his eyebrows. "That's impressive." No, it wasn't, asshat. "He got you hooked, huh?" He smiled, as though expecting me to just open up and laugh and tell stories with him like we were old chums.

"Yeah, I guess." I sat back. "Dinner done yet?"

"Uh . . ." Harry seemed stumped. Apparently I'd asked a question that wasn't in his arsenal. "Leah, why don't you be a sweetheart and go check with your mother." Well, fuck. I wanted him to get off his ass and check. I would have told her she didn't need to if I wasn't trying to come off as the biggest asshole in the world. She sighed and got up.

Almost as soon as her ass disappeared from the room, Harry scooted close and started talking shop. I groaned internally and just went with it, answering his questions as quickly as I could with as few words as possible. From the kitchen, I heard another conversation going on of Sue trying to convince Leah I was "charming and good-looking."

Twenty minutes later, dinner was finally done. We sat down and ate, and I made damn sure I forgot every single manner my mother ever taught me. Had Leah actually invited me over as her date, she would have been devastatingly embarrassed. As it was, she was having a hard time hiding her smile. I tried to leave as quickly as possible once we were done. I was intercepted as I was saying goodbye to Leah, though.

"Could I have a word with you, Son?" Harry said. Right there I wanted to hit him. I wasn't his son, and I never would be. I glanced at Leah, and she shrugged. Her face showed her apology. I hoped mine showed her it wasn't her fault. I went with the man to his study. He started off by talking about a few of the conversation pieces he had sitting around. More like brag pieces. They were all from what he called his major accomplishments. Fifteen minutes later, I was really sick of hearing his voice.

"Was there something you wanted to say to me, or was this just to show off?"

He turned to me and folded his arms. "I like you, Jacob. You're direct, you don't take shit, and you're smart."

Shit. The whole damn night fucking backfired on me. "And?"

"I want to make you an offer. You see, my daughter thinks she can run this company when I'm gone. I don't think she can. It takes someone strong, direct, and smart to run a business like this."

"You don't think Leah's strong, direct, and smart?" He obviously didn't know her very well. I thought that was sad.

He sucked in a breath through his teeth. "Well, here's the deal. My wife gave me two kids, a boy and a girl. That boy was direct and smart, but he wasn't very strong. Then he got sick. I tried not to give up hope on him, but once the seizures got really bad, it was obvious he wasn't cut out to be a contractor. With him gone, I've only got her. I'm not going to live forever, and she needs to find a man who can do what it takes to keep this company alive." I ground my teeth together as I listened to him. I would hear him out only because I wanted my response to be well-heard. "I think you're that man."

"What if she's not interested in me as a husband?"

He shrugged. "Sometimes sacrifices have to be made in the name of business."

He'd sacrifice his fucking daughter for his fucking business. What a dad. "What if I'm not interested in being a businessman?"

"Well, now, that's where my offer comes in. You see, I want you, and I'm prepared to pay whatever it takes to get you."

I clenched my fists. "I'm not for sale."

"Every man has a price, Jacob. Name it. Not only do you get my daughter as a wife, but I'll give you money. A nice car. How much money do you want? Ten grand?"

Ten grand would have been hard to pass up if the situation was different. At the moment, it was really fucking easy. I took a few steps closer to him and narrowed my eyes. He seemed to get it that I wasn't happy, because he leaned back a little, and his eyes widened.

"Listen to me very carefully," I said. My voice was harsh. "I don't want to be a contractor. I've never wanted to be a contractor. If I wanted to be a fucking businessman, I'd start my own goddamn business. Your daughter is not a fucking whore you can sell to someone. She is smart, persistent, and I've seen her do things even I can't do. She's braver than most men I know, and now I know why she's intent on killing herself at the fucking site to impress you. Open your fucking eyes and see what you've got. If she's not capable of running this goddamn business, then no one is."

He swallowed and held his hands up. "Now, Jacob, come on. There's a reason contractors are men. Women can't handle the work."

I wanted to punch him on behalf of my mother. He was really fucking lucky I'd been doing so well taking my meds, or I would have pounded his face into the dirt for that comment. "I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that."

"It's true, Jacob. It's far too demanding. It requires a lot of skill and attention to detail."

I took a step back. "This conversation is over, Harry. I'm not for sale, and neither is your daughter. If you try to pawn her off for some random jackass to run your company again, I'll break your fucking legs."

"You're stepping on dangerous territory. Do not threaten me again, or I'll—"

"I don't make threats. That is a promise. You want to test me, go right ahead. I won't mention this conversation to Leah, and neither will you. Goodbye." I turned around and walked out without waiting for a response. It had been a long time since I'd been this pissed, and I needed to let off some steam before I hurt someone. Leah followed me outside to my car.

"Jacob, wait . . . are you okay?" She stood in front of the car door so I couldn't get in.

"I'm fucking peachy. Move."

She shook her head. "What did he say?"

"Move your ass, Leah."

"Jacob, talk to me. What happened?"

I growled and ran my fingers through my hair. I hadn't lied to Harry; I didn't want Leah to know just how big of a prick her dad was. If she didn't know already. "He said exactly what we both knew he was going to say. He wants me to marry you."

She put her hand on my arm. "You shouldn't drive when you're this upset, Jake."

"I can't stay here or I'll end up killing your dad."

"He said more than just asking you to marry me, didn't he?"

I sighed. "Drop it. Let me leave, please."

She moved her hand up to my shoulder. "Do you want to go to my place?"

I knew what she was asking. I shook my head. "Honestly, Leah, I'm afraid I'd really hurt you with the mood I'm in right now. I appreciate the offer, but no thanks."

She pursed her lips but nodded. "Okay. Well, drive safe." I nodded, and she moved out of the way.

I drove down to the limestone quarry where Adam had once showed me how to mine the stone. It was dark, but I didn't give a fuck. I took my flashlight, got some tools, then went to find a spot that had some crappy stone. I knew that what I was doing could get me fired if I got caught. If I only turned the shitty stone to dust, though, that was less likely to happen. I found a good spot and positioned the flashlight so I could see what I was doing, then I used the pickaxe to break off a few chunks of stone. The manual labor helped calm me down, but it was nothing compared to smashing the rocks with the sledgehammer. I pretended the rocks were Harry's head, and it really helped. Twelve large pieces of stone later, I felt calm enough to go home.


The next two weeks went by fairly smoothly. Leah mentioned that her dad had eased off on her a little bit, and I was happy to hear it. I honestly didn't want the police reports that would surely be involved with breaking his legs. I wasn't sure how Leah would feel about it, either. I knew she kind of liked him for some reason.

I was at Leah's one night, having dinner after sex, when she brought something up.

"My dad thinks we should take a vacation," she said as sat down with her plate. I'd helped her cook that time, and our steaks turned out pretty fucking good.

I raised my eyebrow. "What kind of vacation?"

She shrugged. "I don't know. He just said he'd pay for a two- or three- day vacation somewhere for the both of us."

"Hmm. Sounds fishy." I'd have to have a chat with Harry about this.

She laughed and took a bite. "Yeah, I know. But, I do know you could use some relaxation. That's the only reason I didn't tell him to fuck off."

I met her eyes for a second, then I nodded. "What about my dad? I can't leave him alone for that long."

She pursed her lips. "That, I don't know. Maybe my dad would pay for a caretaker for a few days."

"I would be the one to choose the person; I don't trust just anyone with him."

"Well, duh. I'll talk to my dad about that, okay?"

I nodded. "Let me know."

"I will. He wanted me to ask you where you would want to go."

"Somewhere without any other people."

She smiled. "You're an extrovert in the extreme, you know that?"

I snorted. "Do I detect a hint of sarcasm there?"

"No, none at all."

We both chuckled a little, then finished our dinner. As I got ready to leave, I told her I'd talk to my dad about the possibility of having a caretaker for a few days. I wouldn't even consider it if he wasn't comfortable with the idea.

Turns out, he was fantastic with the idea. I should have known he would be if it meant I went somewhere alone with Leah.

"I think you should go, Jacob," he said to me as we played a game of poker the next week. "Get away from all of this and get to know that girl better. You never what could happen when you're away from all the stress." He raised his eyebrows as if suggesting I could get lucky with her. I smirked. If only he knew.

"Sure, Dad."

He stared at me for a second, and I had a feeling I just let the cat out of the bag. "Jake, tell me you're not already sleeping with her."

I rolled my eyes. "No, I'm not sleeping with her. There's a big difference between that and fucking her."

His eyes widened. "You refuse to call her your girlfriend, but you've been intimate with her?"

I put my cards down and looked over at him. "Dad, listen to me. I don't live in the same world you grew up in, okay? Just because I kissed her doesn't mean I'm madly in love with her. She knows perfectly well where I stand with all this relationship shit, and she's happy with the arrangement we have. Believe me, if she wasn't, I'd hear about it." One of my stipulations for having Leah as a fuck buddy was that she did talk to me if she wasn't happy with how we set things up. I wasn't big enough of an asshole to not give a shit about her feelings. If she got too attached, we'd call it quits. No harm, no foul. She made me promise the same thing.

"Do you know what your mother would say?" he asked, obviously still upset.

"Yes. I know exactly what she'd say. She'd say I'm an asshole and she can't believe I could be so insensitive and stupid. I already know I'm a jerk, Dad. Leah knew that within five minutes of meeting me. She was the one that brought up the damn arrangement to begin with."

His brow furrowed. "How long is this going to go on? And are you two being careful? Lord knows you should use protection even with a goddamn girlfriend."

"I always wear a condom, and she's taking birth control." It wasn't the most comfortable thing in the world talking about this with him, but I wasn't going to lie.

"Well at least she's not as stupid as you are."

I rolled my eyes. "So are we done playing cards?"

"I thought I taught you better than that, Son. Women are not toys you can simply have your way with then discard. Leah deserves much better than you." He put his cards down and leaned forward on the table. "One day you'll regret the way you're treating her. You'll wish you had better sense about you when you had the chance."

"Whatever, Dad. Are you done lecturing me?"

He glared at me. I'd known he wouldn't be happy about my situation with Leah, but this was ridiculous. "I really don't want to look at you anymore anyway."

"All right. See you later." I got up and walked away.


"What about a camping trip?" Leah suggested.

I scowled. "At a crowded, lame-ass camp site?" What happened to no other people?

She smiled and shook her head. "No, we could go to the Rockies in New Mexico. There are places we can go that are set up for camping already but are all alone where no one can hear you scream."

I chuckled. "Sounds better than anything else we've talked about so far." All the stupid attraction sites like the crater, the Grand Canyon, steamboats or whatever the hell this goddamn state offered would be swarming with people.

"So do you want to do that? I haven't been camping in a while, and I've never been up in the mountains like that. I think it would be fun." She put a map in front of me. "We could go somewhere around here." She pointed to northern New Mexico.

"Okay. You get everything planned and mapped out, and I'll go with you."

She glared at me. "Knock it off, Jacob. If you want to do this, you're going to have to at least put in your opinion."

I nodded. "I know. Ask me anything, and I'll give you my two cents. It was your dad's idea that got us into this, Leah. I don't like him, and he doesn't like me. I don't get what he thinks he's going to accomplish with this damn vacation bullshit."

She sighed and sat next to me. "I happened to mention that your birthday was coming up, and he wanted to do something for you."

I raised my eyebrow. "He hates me, Leah. Why the fuck would he want to do something for my birthday?"

"Okay, first of all, he doesn't hate you. Second of all, maybe I asked him to do it." She looked down, and my stomach dropped.

"Leah—"

"I'm not falling for you or any of that, Jake. I just wanted to do something nice for you because I'm your friend."

I met her eyes and stared her down for a minute. She stared back, and I saw everything I needed to see in her face. She wasn't lying to me. I could handle this if it was just friends. "Okay. Camping trip it is. You worry about the location and how we'll get there and all that, and I'll get the shit we need, okay?"

She nodded. "Okay, but my dad's paying for everything. You can choose anything you want, but let me go with you so I can use his card."

"Sounds like a plan."

Over the next two weeks, Leah made all the arrangements and we got everything we needed like a tent and sleeping bags and all that shit. I interviewed countless caretakers until my dad stepped in and told me he was going to choose one. I didn't like that idea, but I didn't argue with him. He decided on a middle-aged woman with a thick Italian accent named Sofia. I had a feeling he just liked the way she talked about food. I took her aside and made sure she understood exactly what my dad could and couldn't have to eat.


"I know how to pitch a damn tent, Leah."

She stood beside me with her hands on her hips. "Have you ever done that before?"

I huffed but didn't say anything in return. She didn't need to know my dad and I never went camping after Mom died. Instead of lying or admitting that I didn't know what the hell I was doing, I just pounded the stake harder into the ground. She put her hand on my shoulder.

"Take it easy, Jake, or you'll break it."

I shrugged her off. "I'm not breaking anything."

I could almost hear her roll her eyes before she walked away. A half an hour later, I was ready to bomb the whole fucking thing. Who in their goddamn mind thought the fucking tent poles were a good idea? I could probably build a shelter faster than I could put this thing up. I was able to get it to the point of being lopsided and droopy, but at least one of the damn poles stayed up. I declared it done and walked away before I ripped it.

To Leah's credit, she didn't laugh the way I'd expected her to. I did catch her fighting a smile, though. Instead, she took my hand, walked back to the tent, and silently began to show me what the fuck I was supposed to do.

We were halfway done when she finally spoke. "The good news is that these stakes are so deep I don't think a hurricane could move them. Good job on that."

I don't know how the fuck she did it, but she actually made me feel good about the whole tent thing.

By the time our tent was set up and all of our shit was moved inside, the sun was starting to set. I stood up and looked out over the mountains, awed by the beauty. The sunset was always a beautiful thing in the city, but my God . . .

"Pretty, isn't it?" Leah said as she came to stand beside me.

I took her hand and smiled at her. "Gorgeous." I swear I was talking about the sky and the light reflecting off the peaks. My eyes flickered to her tits then back up to her eyes. She was smiling that soft, gentle smile again.

"Hungry?"

I nodded, and we went back to the tent to dig out our dinner. We brought sandwiches and sat inside the tent while we ate. We were just about done when I noticed Leah shivering.

"You cold?" I asked.

She looked at me for a second as if she hadn't thought I'd notice, then she shook her head. "No, I'm fine."

Of course she was. Just like I was fine with the tent. I figured if she could help me with the tent, I could warm her up. I didn't really know what to do without calling her bluff. I got an idea and smiled to myself. "I'll be right back."

If there was one thing I knew how to do, it was start a fire. Granted, I'd never started one that I intended to contain, but I figured that wouldn't be too hard. I got some dry logs, kindling, and the paper wrappers from our sandwiches, then sat down outside a ring of rocks that had obviously been used as a fire pit before. It took me a half an hour, and it was nice and dark by the time I was done, but I had a good fire going.

"Leah, come here," I called.

She stepped out of the tent and smiled. "Oh, my God! Caveman made fire!"

I snorted and moved back a few feet. "Shut up and come here."

She raised an eyebrow. "Why?"

"Because I told you to." I held out my arm and beckoned her with my fingers. She rolled her eyes and came over to me. I made her sit in front of me so I could wrap my arms around her and keep her extra warm. She held out her hands toward the fire, rubbing them together a little. I was surprised by just how cold her skin was. She was in a t-shirt, though, so I probably shouldn't have been. "Didn't you bring a jacket?" I asked as I rubbed her arms.

"Yeah, but it's just a thin cotton one. It's over 100 degrees at home, Jake. I didn't think it would be colder than the ninth circle of hell here."

I chuckled and kissed her head. It surprised us both, but neither of us called attention to it. "I'll keep you warm; don't worry."

She snuggled into my embrace a little more. "Who's going to keep you warm?" she asked.

I rested my chin on her shoulder. "Are you kidding? I don't get cold."

"Oh," she chuckled. "Okay."

We were both silent for a while as we both just watched the fire. She leaned her head back on my shoulder, and my eyes flickered to her throat. I couldn't help but kiss her lightly.

"My God, Jake," she said softly.

"I knew I was good, Leah, but damn."

She laughed and smacked my arm. "I was talking about the stars."

I smiled and looked up. The sky was pitch black but littered with more stars than I'd seen in a long time. "Wow."

"It's so beautiful." Her voice was breathless. I'd never heard her say anything that sounded so reverent. She looked at me and smiled. "Are you having a good time?"

"Yeah, it's not so bad." It was actually a lot more peaceful than I'd thought it would be.

Leah smirked. "That's what you say when you have to suffer through mini-golf or something."

I chuckled. "I'm having a great time."

She kissed my cheek. "Good. I am, too. Who knew I'd actually have fun with you in the middle of nowhere?"

I smiled and held her a little tighter. It was starting to get chilly despite the fire. "Well, I knew you'd have a good time. I mean, you are with me."

"That's my point." I poked her in the ribs, but she didn't squirm. "I'm not ticklish, Jake."

I didn't push it. I knew that absolutely no good could come of her finding out I was. We were both quiet again until the flames started to die down. The air was cold, but I didn't want to get up and get a jacket or anything. If she was okay in a t-shirt, I was fine, too.

"Aren't you going to stoke it or something?" Leah asked.

"Afraid you'll lose your warmth?" I joked. I patted her arm and she moved out of my way so I could revive the fire.

"That's okay, if the fire goes out we could always make our own heat." She raised her eyebrows and turned, sticking her hips out a little more than necessary as she walked the few feet to the tent. I laughed to myself as I rolled the logs around and put a few more on. I wouldn't be opposed to some mountain fucking. When Leah came back, she had a blanket. I raised my eyebrow in question, and she smirked. "This is for you."

I rolled my eyes. "I don't need it. I told you I don't get cold."

She didn't look convinced. "I'm sure. How about for us, then? Wrap yourself in it, then cuddle with me. It'll be romantic." She fluttered her eyelashes.

"Don't do that; it looks like you have something stuck in your eye. I'll take this, but it's only because I don't want to spend the night with a block of ice." I sat down again and put the blanket around my shoulders, then wrapped my arms around her in front of me. I wouldn't admit it felt good.

"Neither do I, Jake. Deny it all you want, your skin is cold. You're usually hot." She ran her fingers over my arm, and I shivered. It wasn't because I was cold. It also wasn't because I liked it.

"Damn right, I'm hot." I kissed her behind her ear. "You always want me because I always turn you on."

She snorted. "Yeah, that's it."

"Admit it. I make you want babies."

She laughed out loud. "Babies with you? Are you kidding me? I'm never going to be a mother. And, let's face it; you're probably never going to be a dad."

"I can only hope. Can you imagine me getting up in the middle of the night trying to help a crying baby?" I shuddered at the thought.

"Poor thing wouldn't last a week."

"I think it would be funny to see you do it, though. Little Miss Tough Guy breast-feeding." I chuckled; the image was hilarious.

"You'd be jealous that you couldn't make milk." She shifted back a little bit, and I tightened my arms around her.

"You'd pump just so I could feel the little leech, too."

She turned to look back at me. "Are you saying you'd want to feed the kid?"

I shrugged. "As long as you took care of all the shitty diapers, I suppose I could handle shoving a bottle in its face every now and then."

Her shoulders shook as she laughed again. "Let's pray you never have kids, okay?" She turned around again and pressed her back against my chest.

"Sounds good to me."

"So if you're never going to be a dad, what do you want to do with your life?"

I rested my chin on her shoulder and sighed. "I don't know. Take care of my dad until I can't anymore then go from there, I guess."

She nodded. "Sometimes I wish my dad was sick, you know? Then again, if he was, he'd probably be pushing ten times harder for me to find someone to take over for him."

I kissed her neck. "Do you really want to take over the business for him?" I was sure I could somehow talk him into letting her give it a shot. Or intimidate him into it. Either way.

She sighed. "I don't know, Jake. I thought I did. The more I work on the site, though, the more I think I like the actual work than I do the technical aspects of it. I've seen what my dad does, and I used to think it would be perfect for me. I can do it, don't get me wrong, but getting my hands on the building itself, being a part of its creation like that, is really cool."

I laughed a little at the way she put it. "Yeah, that's why I don't want to be a contractor, too. I considered it a while back, but I like getting my hands dirty. I'd give it a few more years to decide, if I were you. Not saying you need it, but you've only been doing it for three months. It could be the novelty talking."

She nodded. "O, Wise Man, thank you for the advice."

"You're welcome, young grasshopper."

She giggled and turned her head to look at me. "When did you find out you were bipolar?"

"I was diagnosed three years ago after I hit the foreman on a job. When did you find out you were annoying?"

She jabbed me with her elbow. "When I was five. My brother sometimes called me 'Leannoying.' He thought it was clever."

I couldn't help but laugh at that. "Leannoying? Should I call you that from now on?"

"You better not. I'll kick your ass." She hit me again, harder this time.

I grabbed her arms and made her cross them, holding tightly so she couldn't move. "I'd like to see you try." She pushed back against me and tried to move, but my hold was too strong for her. She grunted and turned her head to bite my shoulder. "Now you're just turning me on. Come on, Leah; show me what you've got."

She huffed. "I'll get free, then I'm going to beat you."

"Don't threaten me with a good time."

She turned to glare at me. "You won't be saying that when you're laying on the ground in pain."

"Sure, sure. How exactly do you plan on kicking my ass and making me writhe in pain if you can't even break out of a simple hold?" I double checked my hands to make sure I was holding secure enough.

"Simple my ass. Give me a minute."

I timed her. She struggled for five minutes before she finally gave up. Or I thought she did. Almost as soon as I began to relax my hold, she started to fight me again. She still couldn't break loose.

"Give up yet?" I asked.

She shook her head. "Hell no." Another two minutes passed before she gasped and stopped again. "Jake, stop," she whimpered. "You're hurting me."

I loosened my hold immediately. "What? How? I didn't do any—"

She pulled her arms free and turned to smack my shoulder. "Ha! Gotcha." She stood up and got away before I could catch her. I got up and chased her around the fire.

"You have a strange way of beating me, you know," I teased.

She stopped and turned around abruptly, and I stopped just before I ran into her. "Maybe I changed my mind."

"Oh, decided to go easy on me, huh?" I rubbed her arms when she shivered.

She hit my chest lightly. "Yeah, you are dealing with a lot, after all. It would be wrong of me to pick on you like that."

I nodded. "Ah, with my sick dad and all that. How kind of you to spare my dignity."

She shivered harder and stepped closer to me. "That and I kind of like being warm."

"I know what sick and twisted game you're playing, Leah." I wrapped my arms around her and rubbed her back to warm her up. "It's not fair to play with my emotions like that. One day I think I can trust you, the next you're threatening me."

"I should totally make up my mind." She rubbed her face on my shirt.

I leaned down and kissed her head. "Yes, you should."

"You know what else I should do?" she asked.

I shook my head. "No, what else should you do?"

She smiled. "I should convince you to get back over by the fire because I'm freezing."

I walked backward to where we had been sitting, taking her with me. "So now you're cold?"

"Shut up and make me warm."

We sat down again, and I held her tightly with the blanket wrapped around us. "Better?"

She nodded. "Yeah. Thank you."

"Sure."

She took a deep breath, and we watched the flames die down again. It was nice and so relaxing. The near silence all around us was something I'd never experienced before. There had always been cars passing by, trains in the distance, and occasionally people talking. Out here, there were animals and insects, but the chatter was so different.

"Are you getting tired yet?" Leah asked. Her voice was soft.

"No. Are you?"

She yawned but shook her head. "I'm fine. What time is it?"

I checked my watch. "Two-thirty."

"Wow. Well, I guess just let me know if you do get tired."

"Mm-hmm. You, too." We'd see who cracked first.

Leah turned herself a little to rest her head against my shoulder. "Tell me something, Jake."

I waited for her to specify, but she didn't. "Tell you what?"

She shrugged. "I don't care. Something to keep me awake."

I smirked. "You can go to bed if you want."

"I know. But I don't want to yet, so tell me a story or something to keep me awake. Tell me about your mom."

I'd never really told anyone about her. I didn't feel comfortable telling people about the one woman that actually mattered in my life. And yet, I found that I didn't mind Leah asking about her. I took a deep breath and decided on something to tell her. "I don't know; she was always there. She had cancer. She didn't let it slow her down, though. Not until the last few months. She was the reason I liked teddy bears so much; she always called me her teddy bear." I tried to discreetly clear my throat so Leah wouldn't know I was having a hard time talking about this. I should have known she'd see right through me.

She lifted her head and kissed my cheek. "You don't have to tell me, Jake. You can talk about all the trouble you caused in high school."

I chuckled to myself. "I got more detention than I can count, broke the Vice Principal's car window, started a fire on the track field—they never caught me for that one—and tried to blow up the chem lab."

She sat up to look at me. "Damn, Jake, how did you never spend time in Juvy? Or did you?"

"No, I never did. I was just damn good at getting away with shit. Everything except skipping class and breaking the window, anyway. I had to talk to sheriff about the window, but the Vice Principal was nice enough to not press charges. She just made me work it off by shoveling her driveway and shit like that." I hated that woman.

"Why did you break her window? And was it the windshield?"

"Yeah, it was the windshield. I don't know why I did it. All I remember was that I was really pissed off at her. I think it had something to do with the chem lab incident, but I can't be sure anymore." I shook my head.

"Hmm. Why did you try to blow up the chem lab?" She seemed genuinely interested. I wondered briefly if she liked learning about me the way I did about her.

"The douche that shared my table pissed me off one too many times. I actually wanted to blow him up, but I only ended up breaking the beaker and making everything smell really bad. It wasn't so much what I actually did, but it was what I'd intended to do that got me in trouble. The teacher said it was the first time he was actually happy one of his students never paid attention." I laughed.

Leah smiled. "I bet that pissed you off even more, didn't it?"

"Yeah. I beat the shit out of him after school the next day, though. Then I got more detention for fighting on school property." I was a stupid kid. "What about you? Did you get into loads of trouble in school?"

She snorted. "Are you kidding me? I was a straight-A honor student. I never got detention, I never got into trouble, and I never tried to blow anyone up."

I raised my eyebrow. "I don't believe that for a second."

"The fire needs attention."

"Maybe you should flash it." I tried to lift her shirt, and she laughed as she smacked my arms.

"Stop it. You need to poke it, Jake."

"I'd like to poke something else." I kissed her neck.

She giggled and pulled away from me. "Knock it off and fix the fire, or you won't get any pussy for a week."

"Don't make threats you don't intend to keep, Leah." I patted her arm, and she moved out of my way so I could fix the flames again. When we sat back down, I wrapped my arms around her tightly. "Now tell me the real story of you and high school."

She sighed. "I really was an honor student, but that's because I was smarter than the average cookie. I paid attention in class and passed all my tests. I refused to be on the cheer team, even though every guy I fucked said I could make it."

"I knew fucking was in there somewhere. You had to learn your skills somewhere." I kissed her neck again, opening my mouth to nibble a little bit.

She shivered and leaned into me more. "Oh, yes. I was often told by the football guys that I could make a good porn star. I was never into being taped or having anyone watch, though."

I licked her under her ear. "You should have told me sooner."

She turned her head to look at me. "What?"

I smiled. "I'm joking. So how many guys did you fuck before you met me?"

She rolled her eyes. "Probably twelve or so. Between twelve and fifteen. I'm not sure. What about you?"

"You're number seven for me. I've been outnumbered." I sighed dramatically.

She kissed my lips. "Don't worry; you're still the best I've ever had. You and your nine-inch cock."

"Nine and three quarters, thank you very much." I bit her lip.

She pulled back from me. "Oh, excuse me. Can't forget those three quarters."

"Damn straight. They're very important. Are you tired yet?" I tried to kiss her again, but she turned away from me. I kissed her neck instead.

"I think so. Aren't you? Isn't it like six o'clock?"

I looked at my watch. "It's four o'clock. I guess we should try to get some sleep. We're heading back tomorrow, right? Or, well, tonight. You know what I mean."

"I don't know if I want to. It's so peaceful out here." She sighed and looked up at the stars again.

"It is, but eventually you'll miss things like the store and a real bathroom."

She yawned and nodded. "You're right. Shopping and convenient pissing are important to me. Let's go to bed. Will you put the fire out?"

I figured I probably wouldn't get to fuck her tonight. I kissed her cheek and pushed her up. "Yeah, you go get in bed; I'll put this out and be in there in a second."

I got up, and she turned to hug me. "Thank you. And happy birthday a little early."

I wasn't sure what it was she was thanking me for, but I just patted her back. "Sure." She went into the tent, and I put the fire out. I took a few minutes to stare up at the sky and the stars before I followed her. She was already asleep, so I just laid down beside her and closed my eyes. I wasn't really tired, but it was a long drive back home.


Nothing major had changed on the site when Leah and I went back to work after our trip. Don had been arrested for assault and battery, which didn't surprise me. My dad was still pissed at me about the situation with Leah. That didn't surprise me, either.

The caretaker Sofia hadn't done a very good job. She made sure Dad was fed, sure, but she hadn't done much in the way of making sure he ate the right things. He ended up in the hospital again two days after I got home because his blood sugar had gone over 900. It was the last time I'd leave him with someone, that was for damn sure.

My dad insisted on holding a birthday party for me. I made Leah promise she wouldn't get anything for me since she and her dad had done the mountain trip thing. We kept it small; it was just my dad, Leah, and myself. Dad was as sweet as ever to Leah, of course, but he still gave me dirty looks when he thought I wasn't looking.

Leah and I kept to our system. Anytime either of us needed a night of sex, we knew where to go. We tried new positions and new tricks; some worked and some failed miserably. We always ended up laughing when something didn't work. We were talking about all the things we'd done before when Leah brought up anal sex.

"Tell me you didn't," I said.

She smirked. "I did. I didn't like it, though. Have you ever tried it?"

I shook my head. "I don't like the idea of sticking my dick up someone's ass."

"Well, at least we both agree on that."

I chuckled. "True. What other kinky things have you done?"

"You name it, and I've probably tried it. Unless it could hurt me, I'll usually try anything once."

I nodded. "I'll have to think of something weird to try, then."

"It doesn't necessarily have to be weird. Just something neither of us has done. We should watch some porno together. I've never done that."

I raised my eyebrow. "You've never watched porn?"

She pushed my shoulder. "I meant I've never watched it with someone while we fucked. Of course I've watched it before."

That made more sense. "Oh, okay. Neither have I. Maybe we'll get some good ideas."

"Sounds fun. Bring what you've got next time and we'll decide what we want to start with."

I nodded. "Sure."

We didn't watch porn every time we fucked, but it was something that we both ended up liking. Somehow it made everything hotter, and sometimes we decided to try whatever the couple on the TV was doing.

Two months passed easily. My dad seemed to be doing a little better after his trip to the hospital, and it seemed when he felt better, I did better taking my meds. Leah helped, too. For a week, she asked me every single day if I'd taken my meds. For the most part, I was able to say I had, but there were two days I'd forgotten. I think she could tell when I hadn't. I was beginning to tell when I hadn't as well. It should have been obvious before, but with Leah pointing out when I was more aggressive than usual, it was easier to see.

I was having a bad day one Monday. My dad didn't know when the hell to let up, and I was really beginning to hate the day he found out Leah and I were fucking. Leah came up to me on lunch.

"You okay? You seem upset about something."

I moved back a few steps. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just my dad pissing me off. Nothing new."

She nodded and came close again. She reached out and put her hand on my arm. "Try to calm down, Jake. Did you take your meds today?" I nodded. "You can come by tonight if you need to."

She seemed hopeful. I couldn't deny that I wanted to be with her anyway. I nodded again. "Yeah. Thanks."

She smiled. "Sure."

I went home after work only long enough to make sure my dad was still breathing. He was up reading something in his room and asked me where I was going when I told him I'd be gone for a while. I didn't answer him. I knew he'd figure it out.

When I got to Leah's, she smiled and let me in. I pulled her close to me as soon as the door was shut and kissed her deeply. She pulled back and laughed. "What, no hello?"

"Hi. Living room or your bedroom?"

"Bedroom. It's more comfortable there."

I nodded, and we both went back to her room. I shut the door out of habit and pushed her against it as I attacked her neck. She grabbed my hair and gasped when I bit her and pushed my hips into her. I made damn sure I marked her skin up to her mouth.

"I need you to suck my dick, Leah," I said against her lips.

She smiled and licked me. "Then I need you to move so I can."

I ground my hips against her one more time before I stepped back. She dropped to her knees and helped me take my pants off. She stroked my dick a few times, teasing me. She smiled up at me, giving me a look I knew well. She was waiting for instruction. I grabbed her hair and pushed my dick down her throat. I closed my eyes and grunted, fucking her face until I felt the familiar tingling in my balls. She moved back so she just had my tip between her lips, then she pumped my shaft expertly until I exploded into her mouth. She took everything, then pulled back to show me what I'd given her. I touched her cheek, and she turned to spit it out on a towel she had laying on the floor.

"Why don't you swallow?" I asked.

She made a face when she turned back to me. "Have you ever tasted cum, Jake? That shit is nasty."

"I can't say that I have. I'll just trust you. Now lay on your back so I can eat your pussy." I helped her up and got her on the bed where she spread her legs for me. I got down on my knees between hers and kissed her thighs a few times before I went in. I really liked knowing that blowing me made her so horny. I spread her lips and only used my tongue, alternating between flicking her clit and toying with her entrance. She had my hair fisted in both hands, and she was squirming by the time she climaxed, cumming in my mouth. I wasn't sure what the difference was between her cum and mine, but hers wasn't half bad. I'd always enjoyed eating a woman out; it turned me on.

I was ready to fuck her when she sat up. "Get on your stomach," I said, helping her turn over.

"Do you want doggy style?" she asked.

I shook my head as I put on a condom. "No, I said stomach, not knees. Cross your ankles and stick your ass in the air." She did what I'd said, and I spread her ass cheeks to give me better access to her pussy. "Now just let me fuck you." I pushed into her, and she moaned.

"Oh, Jake. This feels good."

I kept my hands on her ass, holding her down where I wanted her as I thrust hard. "Fuck yes, it does. Now shut up and enjoy it."

She laughed, but it turned into a moan when I pushed against her faster. Her pussy seemed tighter in this position, and I closed my eyes and let the sensation wash through me. When I opened them again, she had her fists clenched in the bedspread. She'd already started to tense up again, and I smirked as I decided I'd try to make her cum a few more times.

"Tell me what you need, Leah," I grunted.

"Jesus, Jake . . . faster. You've got the right spot, just move faster and harder, please."

I squeezed her ass cheeks harder and gave her what she wanted. "Like that?"

"Oh . . . yes!" I wasn't sure how much longer I would actually last. Another release was starting to build again, and I just kept my pace. "Slap my ass," she asked.

I did, and it almost surprised me how good it felt. She cried out and begged for more, so I gave it to her. Her ass was red when she started to shake.

"That's right, baby," I said as I reached out and grabbed a handful of hair to pull. She cried out again and asked for harder. "Cum on my dick, Leah." I tugged her hair hard and smacked her ass.

Her pussy tightened with her release, and she pushed her face into the blanket as she moaned and her body jerked. I tried to hold out long enough for her to ride it. I pulled out of her and took the condom off to cum on her ass.

I laid down on my back beside her, and we both took a few minutes to calm down. When we could breathe normally again, I sat up, and she went into the bathroom to clean up.

"Jacob," she said. She was irritated about something. "Never cum on my ass again. This shit is hard to clean up."

I laughed to myself. "I can't promise that. I promise I'll try to remember, though."

"Oh, I'll remind you."

I started to get my pants on, and she put a t-shirt on when she came out of the bathroom. I smiled when I realized she'd never taken off her socks.

"Leaving so soon?" she asked. I could have been mistaken, but it sounded like she was serious.

"Yeah. Why not?" I looked over at her.

"I kind of thought maybe you could stay." She looked down. Something was really bothering her.

"Stay? As in . . . for dinner, or what?" I wasn't sure I liked the look on her face.

She sighed and looked up at the ceiling for a second. "Maybe I want you to stay the night with me."

I raised my eyebrows. "Stay the night?"

She nodded. "Yeah. You know, sleep over. I have a shower you can use and everything."

"Why do you want me to stay?" And why the fuck didn't I want to tell her to find someone else to get mushy with her?

She crossed her arms over her stomach and took a deep breath. "I . . . well, Jake. I think . . ." She closed her eyes tightly and shook her head. "What I mean is that we've known each other a while now, and we've talked a lot. I've learned a lot about you and why you are that way, and I just think that maybe . . . No, I mean—"

I was a little worried about what she was going to say, but even more worried when I realized what I wanted her to say. "Just spit it out, Leah."

She met my eyes, and I had to force myself to keep my hands at my sides. I would not reach out and wipe her tears away. That was too . . . boyfriend-like. Too nice. But I still wanted to do it. I didn't like seeing Leah cry, especially if I was the one who caused it.

She huffed. "I think I'm falling in love with you."

I had two very different reactions at the same time. On one hand, I wanted to tell her we were through. No more fucking, and no more spending time together outside work. On the other hand, I wanted to kiss her and tell her I felt the same. It fucking scared me. I wasn't supposed to fall in love with Leah. She was a bitch, and I was an asshole. Then again, she was kind and knew how to be there for me in a way I never thought someone could. As much as I disliked other people, she had somehow managed to worm her way into my circle of people I trusted. I couldn't deny that it felt good to have her in my arms.

I raked my fingers through my hair and sighed. "Well, um . . . that's something I didn't expect to hear." I swallowed and looked her over. She looked so vulnerable standing there in her t-shirt and socks. I didn't want to do it, but I couldn't really stop myself either as I took a few steps forward and pushed her hair out of her face. "I guess I am, too."

She sniffled and wiped her nose with her forearm. "Please tell me you're not just saying that to make me feel better."

I raised my eyebrow. "You know me, Leah. Have I ever said anything just to make you feel better?"

She smiled. "No. So will you stay with me?"

"Yeah, I guess so."

She threw her arms around my neck. "Thank you. You know this doesn't mean anything has to change."

I kissed her. "Yeah, it does, Leah. If we both . . . like each other like that, we can't keep up what we've been doing and you know it. We've got to give this a shot." What was I saying? She gave me the perfect opportunity to keep all the relationship shit out of this. And yet, I knew that couldn't work. I wanted her, and at this point I'd probably get irritated if other guys tried to ask her out.

She nodded. "I think you're right."

"Of course I'm right. So what do you say? I stay tonight and take you out sometime next week?" What the fuck was wrong with me?

"Sure. Oh, God, Jake, what will our parents say?"

I chuckled. "My dad will probably say it's about damn time I put some kind of claim on you. Your dad will probably wonder where the ring is."

She pushed back and wiped her face. "Probably. I may date you, Jake, but I will not marry you."

"I don't see me on one knee, Leah."

"I could kick you." She looked like she was contemplating the idea. I took a step backward, and she laughed. "I'm just kidding. Are you tired?"

"Yeah, a little. You wore me out."

She smiled and took my hand to pull me back toward her bed. "The feeling's mutual."

I pulled back, and she turned to raise a questioning eyebrow at me. "I need to call my dad and check on him, then we can go to bed."

She nodded. "Okay. I'll wait for you."

I made the call quick so I wouldn't have to deal with my dad too much. He said he was fine and asked too many questions about where I was staying and why. I was as vague as I could be and hung up as fast as possible. Leah was smirking at me when I put the phone in my pocket and took my pants off again. We both got in her bed, and I wrapped my arm around her. It felt different, but right somehow. I kissed her head, and she snuggled into my chest.

"Goodnight, Jake."

"Night, Leah."

"It sounds strange, but I love you."

I chuckled. "Love you, too."

"Promise me we'll at least be friends. No matter what happens with this, I never want to lose that."

I touched her cheek, and she looked up at me. "You're too stubborn to lose that, Leah. And besides, I kinda like your bitchy perseverance. If it weren't for that, I wouldn't be doing nearly as good with all this bipolar shit, and you know it."

She lifted herself enough to kiss me. "Thank you. And you're welcome."

"Go to sleep."

She laid back down and sighed deeply. "You, too."

"You first."

"Shut up, Jake."

"You shut up."

She laughed and hit my chest. "You're not in second grade anymore. Shut your mouth or I'll smack you around."

"Promises, promises. Goodnight, Leah."

She kissed my shoulder. "Goodnight."


A/N: Thank you for reading! The third part may take some time, but it'll get up eventually.

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