A/N: Hello all of my readers (if I have any left). Welcome to the overdue sequel to Until We Bleed. I've been trying to write this story since the other one, but it just evaded me. I know that At The Beginning is due for an update, but between personal issues and another story that has been giving me hell, I just haven't had time to really write the next chapter for it. I find that my writing groove only comes between the hours of 11 at night and 4 in the morning, so I'll try writing the next chapter of ATB then. In the meantime, enjoy the first chapter of Beside You and tell me what you think. Be mindful, though, there is a sex scene. It's easy to spot because it's an entire section.
Warning: Rated M for adult situations and language
He sat with his back facing the crowd; diligently sipping his beer as his eyes remained trained on the reflection of the brunette beauty in the mirror behind the bar. Her body moved fluidly to the beat of the music, attracting attention from every red-blooded, straight male. Her olive skin glistened with sweat, making it glow in the florescent light of the night club. Dressed in a baby blue strapless mini dress, she was definitely the main attraction; dripping in confidence and sex appeal. Causing all eyes to gaze upon her whether they wanted to or not. Arousal stirred beneath his navel as she lifted her dark eyes to catch his in the mirror. Her full lips formed a smirk as she stared at him beneath a lidded gaze. He smirked in return before dropping his blue eyes to the beer bottle in his hands. Almost a full minute later, he felt a presence ease up beside him before her voice broke over the sound of the music and requested an appletini from the bartender. He glanced at her from the corner of his eye, taking in her profile as she waited for her drink.
"It's rude to stare, you know," she said; acknowledging his presence.
He tore his gaze away from her. "So I've heard." Looking into the mirror in front of them, blue met brown. "But it's hard not to admire true beauty when I see it."
"I'm sure your wife wouldn't be too appreciative to know that her husband has been ogling another woman."
Smiling, he looked down at the gold band on his left ring finger before meeting her gaze once more in the mirror. "She knows I only have eyes for her."
He nodded. "If I didn't, then I wouldn't have denied the advances of the multitude of women I've had come up to me tonight."
"She's lucky, then," she said, grinning.
"As am I." The moment the words left his lips, her grin turned into a full smile and he was treated to a truly beautiful sight. Before he could continue their conversation, they were interrupted by another male walking up and sitting beside her.
"Hey, sweetheart, buy you a drink?"
Just as she opened her mouth to answer, the bartender placed her ordered drink in front of her and she smiled gratefully. "No, thanks," she answered, "I've already got one."
"Then how about a dance? I saw you earlier; you've got some sweet moves."
"I'm actually quite exhausted, at the moment." He could tell that she was trying to get this guy to go away, but he wasn't catching the hint.
"Well, if you're tired, maybe we could take this party back to my hotel room," he said, suggestively.
"Sorry, but," she held up her left hand, a gold ring glittering in the light, "I'm married."
"He doesn't have to find out."
Getting fed up; Troy stood and glared at the other man with menacing blue eyes. "She's not interested, alright? So, take a hint and go away."
Blue and hazel met as the other man stood and stared him down. "Hey, listen, buddy, why don't you mind your own business? This is between me and the lady."
"She is my business, so, technically, this is between me and you."
"And who, the fuck, are you?"
"Her husband, that's who, dumbass." The stranger's hazel-green eyes looked down at the woman between them; taking in the smirk on her face and the pride in her gaze as she focused her attention on the blue-eyed male standing over her. Without another word, he stepped away from the couple and fazed back into the crowd. Once he'd gone, Troy sat back down and sighed in frustration. "Arrogant fuck; don't know when to take a Goddamn hint."
She laughed, softly; catching his attention and easing his frustration. "What's wrong, Troy; jealous that some other man tried to make a move on your wife?"
"No, not jealous. More like…annoyed." She lifted a brow; not believing his explanation. "Alright, alright. I was jealous. Is that a crime?"
"Not at all. Besides," Seductively grinning, she placed her hand on his knee and leaned into him, "I like it when you're jealous."
"Really?" he asked, smirking.
"Uh-huh." She moved her hand from his knee to his thigh, inching it closer to his crotch. "It makes me so fucking horny."
Despite her wandering hand, he managed to maintain his smirk and keep eye contact with the beautiful woman in front of him. "I can fix that for you, you know."
"I know," she said as her hand brushed against the now prominent bulge in his jeans. "But not now." She sat up straight on the bar stool and removed her hand from its place between his legs. "Right now, I want you to dance with me."
He groaned, mourning the loss of contact, and ran a hand through his hair. "You're killing me here, Gabriella."
She giggled and stood; latching on to his arm to drag him onto the dance floor. The moment they were in the middle of the crowd, her body began to move to the beat; begging all eyes to pay attention. But there was only one pair that she really wanted to look upon her and they did so with eagerness and lust shining beneath their crystal surfaces. She beckoned him forward with her chocolate eyes and took a hold of both of his wrists, pulling him closer. He never liked dancing, but he made an exception for her. His body molded against hers as he wrapped his arms around her lithe body to hold her close. Their bodies moved as one to the beat; their eyes never leaving each other's. Like two magnets drawn to each other, their lips met in fiery kiss; igniting the passion that lingered between them. Tangling one hand in her hair, he pushed her head closer to his and plunged his tongue into her mouth; coiling it around hers. Feeling his arousal against her stomach, she moaned and pulled out of the kiss. He moved his lips to the expanse of her neck and suckled on her pulse point.
"Troy," she groaned, the vibrations of her throat catching his attention. He brushed his nose against her neck to let her know he was listening. "Can we get out of here?"
He kissed her throat once more before bringing his lips to her ear. "I thought you'd never ask," he said, his breath sending chills down her spine. He took her hand and led her towards the exit.
Just barely making it to their hotel room, lips and hands began to roam; searching for things to touch, to grope, to embrace. Pushing her against the door, he devoured her mouth while searching his back pockets for the key card. Her fingers made quick work of the buttons on his shirt; prying it open and grazing his skin. Finding the key card, he swiped it through the mechanism and the couple fell through the doorway. He closed it behind them with his foot and pressed her body against the vertical surface once more; his lips seeking the sweet spot just below her jawline. His hands found her breasts beneath the fabric of her dress and kneaded them in earnest. Wanting to feel her skin against his, he reached for the zipper on the side of her dress; pulling it down and letting the baby blue garb fall to the floor. He took a small step back; eyes roaming over her newly exposed, half-naked body. The intensity of his gaze sent jolts of electricity through her spine, causing her to visibly shiver. Realizing the effect he was having on her, he smirked and took pride in it. She rolled her eyes and grabbed the back of his head, reattaching their lips. As their tongues battled for dominance, she reached for his shirt; slipping it off his shoulders and running her hands over his chiseled chest. Feeling the ridges of his scar, she traced its path from the right side of his collarbone to the underside of his left pectoral. It was the only thing that marred his otherwise perfectly sculpted chest that looked as if Michelangelo, himself, had created. It was the physical reminder of the past he'd underwent and managed to survive through; though not without a few bumps along the way. She pulled away from his lips; kissing his jaw, then his neck, his clavicle, and then his scar. She loved his physical imperfection as much as she loved him. It was a part of him; part of who he was.
Attaching her lips to his flat nipple, she outlined the areola with her tongue and looked up at him. One of his brows rode high on his forehead while his electric blues were clouded with lust. "That's new," he said, his voice husky and low.
She smirked and kissed her way to his ear. "If you can play with mine, why can't I play with yours?" she asked as she tweaked the nipple her mouth had previously been attached to. A low, guttural growl escaped his throat as he attacked her lips and pushed her as far against the door as possible. Grabbing one of her legs, he wrapped it around his waist before doing the same to the other and lifting her off of the ground. His arousal was evident through his pants as he pressed against her. There were too many barriers between them and he wanted them removed. Carrying her over to the king sized bed in the middle of the room, he dropped her, gently, onto the mattress and proceeded in taking his jeans off. She watched his every move; licking her lips as he disrobed. Once his pants were on the floor, he stepped out of them and crawled to her. He kissed her as he came to hover above her and barely felt her blunt fingernails scrape their way across his shoulders. He ground his hips against hers; wanting her to feel how turned on he was at that moment. She moaned into his mouth and returned the gesture. Releasing her lips, he trailed his own down her body; pausing only to give attention to her breasts. He took one nipple in between his teeth while the other was receiving attention from his fingers. She pushed her hand into his hair and grasped onto the locks of his auburn hair. She watched him through lidded eyes as he continued down her body; kissing every part of her he could reach. He dipped his tongue into her navel and she sighed softly as he played with her belly ring. Moving further down, he reached the edge of her lace panties and used his teeth to slip them off of her hips. Once they reached her knees, he pulled them off the rest of the way with his hands. His fingers traced their way up her legs before coming to a stop at her thighs. Wrapping his large hands around her upper thighs, he pushed her legs apart and grazed a thumb along her slit.
"Fuck," he cursed, outlining her lips with the single digit.
"Troy," she moaned. He smirked and did it again; feeling himself hardening in his boxers with each breathless moan that escaped her lips. "Please, stop teasing me."
"I like teasing you." Pushing his thumb inside of her, he watched as she arched her back off of the mattress and, silently, screamed. After a few seconds, he decided to switch fingers and plunged the middle one into her heated core. Resting his other hand on her pelvic bone, he used it to stimulate the pink bundle of nerves and bring her further to her orgasm. He kept his eyes on her face as he brought her into a state of ecstasy; enjoying the look of pure pleasure that vacated her features. He waited until she came down from the high she was riding before moving to get something from his pants pocket. He returned seconds later with a small foil package between his teeth. Removing his boxers, he ripped open the wrapper and pulled out the latex condom; sheathing himself in it. She could see the trepidation in his face, but knew he would never voice his agitation. Even though he would rather make love to his wife without the glove, he did not complain. He understood, perfectly, why he had to wear it; understood the reason why she would not let him anywhere near her without one. Still, she knew that he wanted there to be a time when they could have intercourse without using one. That time would come, but it wasn't now. Her fear of getting pregnant was on the forefront of her mind and would remain there until she felt comfortable with the prospect of having children. He removed both his shoes and hers, realizing they were the last articles of clothing they still had on. Kneeling between her legs, he kissed her knees before crawling back up her body to connect their lips. He positioned himself and, slowly, pushed his way inside. She gasped as she felt her walls adjust to his girth once more and his tongue took that opportunity to dive into her open mouth. As their tongues fought for dominance, their hips performed nature's oldest dance; joining two bodies and two souls into one.
Her nails dug into his sides as she slid closer and closer to the brink of another orgasm. Wrapping her legs around his waist, she pressed the balls of her feet into the small of his back and changed the angle at which he penetrated her; causing him to go in deeper than before. He groaned at this change of position and buried his face into the crook of her neck. Using one hand to prop himself up, he used the other to hold on to her hip as he thrust into her with reckless abandon. His intention, at the beginning, was to go slow, but he could no longer find it in him to do so. He kissed her cheek before pressing his lips to hers. She came not long after, but he was far from done and eased her into another. As she felt her third build up, she tangled her fingers into his hair and grazed his scalp with her nails. He leant his forehead against hers as their breathing came in shallow. He looked at her face, wishing she would open her eyes. "Gabriella," he said, breathlessly. "Gabriella, look at me." Molten honey brown met Caribbean ocean blue the moment she parted her long lashes and gazed at the man hovering above her. "I love you."
She smiled; the most precious smile that he'd ever seen. "I love you."
Moments later, her eyes closed; unable to stay open as her body was rocked by her third orgasm of the night. He didn't mind. He loved watching her face contort as pleasure vibrated through her. Between the look on her face and the feel of her fleshy walls clenching around him, he followed her off the edge. Still riding their mutual orgasm, he continued to thrust into her until her muscles let up on their assault. When they finally did, he pulled out and rolled off of her. He removed the used condom and deposited it into the nearest trash can before retaking his place beside her. She sighed, happily, and curled into his side; resting her head onto his sweaty bare chest and listening to his heart as it returned to its steady beating. She fell asleep to the sound.
They walked along the sand together; hands laced comfortably with each other. She'd never walked the beach at this time, when the sun was half-way visible on the horizon. It wasn't quite dark, but it wasn't quite light. It was a balance of the in-between: Twilight, you could call it. She'd never seen anything so breathtaking in her life. With her eyes trained on the setting sun, his eyes were trained on her. He was still trying to figure out how he got here; how a woman like her could be with a man like him. A man who had made so many mistakes in his life that he was sure he was destined to be alone. And, yet, here she was, loving him. Reaching into his pocket, he fingered the small velvet box inside and held onto it for a burst of confidence. Stopping in his tracks, he caught her attention and smiled at the confusion that crossed her face. He pulled her to him and kissed the knuckles of the hand he had been holding. He stared into her eyes before kissing her lips; never getting enough of how they felt against his own.
"There's something I want to ask you," he said, his forehead resting against hers.
"What is it?" He watched the curiosity play within her eyes and knew there was no going back from this. He knew what he wanted to say, but didn't know how. Should he just come out and say it? Should he try and make it sound romantic? Should he…? "Troy?" Her fingers touched his cheek; bringing him out of his thoughts. "Troy, what's wrong?"
"I..." He sighed and pulled himself together; summoning all the courage he could find. "Gabriella, you mean everything to me and I still have a hard time believing that you're real. When I close my eyes at night, I'm afraid that I'm going to wake up and you'll be gone. Afraid that one day you'll realize that you could do so much better than me. I know I shouldn't think that way, but…I haven't had the best track record of people staying, so…" His clear blue orbs searched her russet-colored gaze, "if you'd be willing to and if you think I'm worthy, I was wondering," He moved down to a single knee and pulled the velvet box from his pocket; opening it and looking up at her with hope shining in his eyes, "will you marry me?"
She laughed and choked back a sob as tears slid down her face, nodding furiously. "Yes," she whispered. "Yes, Troy Bolton; I will marry you."
He smiled and slipped the ring onto her finger. He stood as she stared at it with adoration. It was a single, half carat diamond cut and set in a white gold band. It was simple and she loved it. "I know it's not much, but…"
Silencing him with her lips, she pulled away seconds later; smile still on her face. "I love it."
She nodded. "It's not the ring that makes this special," She wrapped her arms around his neck, "it's the man."
He brought his arms around her waist and pulled her close. "I love you," he said before kissing her.
Gabriella breathed in the fresh ocean air as it drifted through the early morning. Not far from where she stood, the waves crashed against the shore; providing a soundtrack to her thoughts. She fiddled with the gold band around her finger with a soft smile on her face, remembering the day that Troy proposed to her. It was so out of the blue. She hadn't been expecting him to do it so soon, but had known her answer since the moment he told her he loved her. It was in that moment that she knew that he was the only one she wanted to spend her life with. He meant so much to her and she didn't think she could live without him. Their wedding ceremony was small and only included close friends since he had no family left and her father disowned her. Their friends were all they had left besides each other. Sighing, she shifted the bed sheet that she had flush against her chest; shielding her naked form from the cool night air. She wished that they could have a little more time in this paradise before having to go back to their real lives. A week-long trip to Puerto Rico had been their wedding present from her best friend and they enjoyed every moment of it. But, now, it was their last night. In just a few hours, they would be boarding a plane back to California; back to reality. She wasn't ready to leave just yet. Her thoughts were interrupted by a pair of arms wrapping around her midriff and a pair of lips descending onto her exposed shoulder blade. Smiling, she leaned into the strong chest resting against her back and turned her head so she was able to kiss his jaw.
"What are you doing up?" she asked.
"I should ask you the same question," he answered, his voice husky and heavy with sleep. "It's no fun waking up alone, you know."
Sighing, he leant his head against hers and looked out at the horizon. "Waiting for the sun to rise?"
"Kind of. I just...I don't want to waste our last few hours here sleeping."
He nodded; an idea forming in his mind. "Well, I know what we could spend it doing."
She smirked and turned in his arms. "What do you have in mind, Mr. Bolton?"
With a smirk of his own, he brushed his nose against hers and stared into her warm brown eyes. "How about I just show you, Mrs. Bolton?" Without another word, he kissed her lips and pushed the sheet from her body. He grabbed her thighs and lifted her; allowing her to wrap her legs around his waist. He, then, proceeded to carrying her back inside where they made love until the sun came up.
One Month Later
Back and forth.
Back and forth.
She could not keep still; she wouldn't, not with this possibility looming over her. Biting her bottom lip, Gabriella paced the confinements of her bedroom; worry lines etched on her forehead. As of late, she had been feeling rather ill; headaches, upset stomach, fatigue. She was, at the time, contributing all her ailments to stress, but when she realized she'd missed her period, she knew she couldn't just turn a blind eye anymore. So, that morning, she went to the nearest pharmacy and picked up a home pregnancy test. She really didn't want to believe that she was pregnant, but she knew it was better to be safe than sorry. Tiring of pacing, she took a seat on the bed and stared at the open doorway of the adjacent bathroom. It should only take five minutes, at least that's what the box said, and five minutes should have passed already. So why hadn't she moved? She was afraid, that's why. She was afraid of what the barely one inch thick piece of plastic would say. Pregnant or not pregnant. There was fifty percent chance that she wasn't…and a fifty percent chance that she was. That stick was the only thing that knew the outcome and she wasn't ready to find out. But it had to be done.
Gabriella sighed and mustered all of the courage in her. She stood slowly and took tentative steps in the direction of the bathroom. When she came to the doorway, she stopped and closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. Crossing the threshold, she reached out for the white stick and picked it up from its place on the sink. Her eyes went out of focus for a second and she had to shake her head to clear them. She bit her lip as she brought the test closer to her face. It crashed to the ground as she dropped it, her head spinning. She moved to the toilet seat and dropped to her knees, emptying the contents of her stomach into the porcelain bowl. When she was sure that nothing was left, she wiped her mouth and moved away. She rested her back against the frame of the bathtub and stared at the floor, her eyes seeing nothing but the two solid lines that confirmed her suspicions and her worst nightmare: Gabriella was pregnant.
She was nervous; when she was nervous she counted. As she sat in the doctor's office, waiting to be called, she counted the tiles on the floor. She wanted nothing more than to just get up and leave, but she was desperate for a second opinion on the situation she found herself in. Her mind was unable to believe that she was…pregnant. She'd taken too many necessary precautions just to slip up once and get knocked up. Visiting her doctor seemed like a reasonable plan. Still, she made sure that the home pregnancy test and the box it came in was buried deep in the kitchen garbage can. She could not run the risk of Troy finding it. That was the last thing that needed to happen. Just thinking about it made her nervous all over again and, forgetting her previous place, she started from the beginning.
Lifting her eyes from the floor, she stood and followed the red-haired clerk to one of the empty examination rooms. As she waited for her doctor to make her appearance, she tried to recant all of the moments when she and Troy had sex to figure out if she had slipped up on any of these days. But nothing came to mind. She remembered taking her birth control pills like normally and remembered him using a condom every time. It had to be a fluke, then. There was no way that she could be pregnant. It just wasn't possible. As she went through every memory in her head, the door opened and in stepped her doctor.
"Good morning, Gabriella," the Australian-born woman said, smiling warmly.
"Good morning, Dr. Edwards."
"So," she said, sitting at the desk, "what can I do for you?"
"Well, I haven't exactly been feeling well."
"And what are your symptoms?" She pulled out a pen and pad; ready to write.
"Fatigue, mood swings, nausea, headaches; stuff like that."
"Tender breasts?" Gabriella nodded. "Tell me, when was the last time you had your period?"
Thinking back on it, she realized it had been almost two months since she last had her monthly. "Not since March. You don't think I'm…?"
"It's a possibility," she answered, setting her pen and pad aside. She stood and went into one of the cabinets above the sink; pulling out a medium sized Ziploc bag with a paper cup and a vial inside. "Let's get your urine tested and see where this leads us."
Nodding, she took the bag from the doctor and left the room to find a bathroom. She returned minutes later and handed her urine sample to her doctor and was told that it wouldn't take long for the results to come back; that she was welcomed to wait in the examination room. Gabriella took the woman up on her offer and sat in the empty room, waiting; thinking. She silently hoped that the results would come back negative. She wasn't ready for this. She wouldn't be able to handle it. It felt like years had gone by until Dr. Edwards finally reentered the room; test results in hand. The woman had a look on her face that Gabriella couldn't decipher. The Aussie had her poker face on and was revealing nothing to the nervous brunette.
"I have the results of your urine test back and…"
A smile spread itself across the woman's face and Gabriella felt her heart drop. "Congratulations, Mrs. Bolton; you're five weeks pregnant."
Five weeks? But then, that would mean…It all came rushing back to her; the moment she conceived, the event that caused the inevitable. On their last day in Puerto Rico, Gabriella had forgotten to take her birth control pill, but she didn't think it would matter. She thought that as long as Troy wore a condom, she wouldn't have to worry about being impregnated; that she would be protected. She was wrong; and the only explanation she could come up with for her current predicament was that the condom broke at some point during their activities. When that had been didn't matter. What mattered now was that Gabriella had a life growing inside of her. As Dr. Edwards rattled off about neo-natal vitamins, the shocked brunette buried her head in her hands and fought the urge to break down.
"Gabriella, are you all right?" the Australian woman asked, her accent heavy with concern.
Lifting her gaze, she nodded and forced a smile. "I'm fine, I just…I have to go. Thank you for seeing me on such short notice." She took the filled prescription notes from the doctor's hand and shoved them into her purse before leaving. The moment she stepped onto the streets of Los Angeles, she could feel her resolve starting to slip. Reaching into her purse, she pulled out her cell phone and dialed the only person she needed to speak to at that moment. "Hey, it's me…Listen; do you think you could meet me somewhere? There's something I have to tell you…The restaurant by the beach? Okay, I'll see you there in twenty. Bye." Ending the call, she wiped a stray tear from her cheek and started towards her car.