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WitFit Jan/Feb 2013
90's Sex, drugs and rock-n-roll
Word Prompt: Drape, grape, scrape
"Hey, Bella, would you come into my office when you're done?"
I glanced up from the article I was proofing for an office friend in a time crunch. "Sure, Peter. Gimme just . . . a . . . sec." I finished the page I was on, flipped it to the next, and rose from my chair, scraping the legs on the old wooden floor.
Even though I was still proofing my fair share of the work, I'd come to appreciate this place so much more than the store and was glad Edward convinced me to quit. The pay wasn't much better, but it felt nice to want to go in to work.
Edward was always offering to pay for things, and sometimes I let him, but I just liked paying my own way. While things with the record hadn't taken off quite yet, there was money flowing in from shows and he had some left from the advance, too, so we were both doing pretty good right now.
I walked into Peter's office and took a seat. My boss looked wiped; puffy bags under his eyes and he'd skipped a button on his shirt today.
"How're Charlotte and the baby doing?"
"They're doing great. Not getting a lot of sleep of course but it's been good." He scrubbed a hand over his face.
"I figured. You might want to . . . um, check your shirt."
He looked down and cursed; I snickered. "Well, that's embarrassing. Remind me to go fix that when you get ready to go back to your desk. Anyway, what I wanted to talk to you about were your reviews from Grunge Fest."
I put on a serious face. "Were they okay?"
"Great, actually. We've gotten some good feedback on them from our focus groups—they really like your style, Bella. I think you're above par on where I needed you to be when I offered you this job."
"Oh! Thank you, really. That's such a cool thing to hear. And thank you for letting me help on reviewing the Fest. It was such a fun article to 'research' and write afterward."
"Those sorts of shows are always great. If my wife hadn't been busy delivering a baby . . ."
"You'd have been all over it, right? I had fun, though. Still not sure why they put Safe House on the bill, but . . . what do I know?"
"That sort of things happens all the time with the bigger shows. Bands get dropped or axed, have to pull out for some reason or another, and they add in with what's available. They didn't really fit in, but the rest of the ticket was pretty sweet."
"I understand your guys were quite a hit."
"Yeah." Although I tried to keep it cool when talk of Edward's band came up at the office, I couldn't stop the goofy grin from spreading. We were all still riding the wave of awesome that day had brought on, and the guys had heard back from their label about a lot of positive press as a result. "They put on a phenomenal show."
"So I've heard," he said distractedly, rummaging around his desk for something. He grabbed a red folder, opened it. "While we're rolling at the height of this thing, I want to cover some more of the local bands. There are a lot of them out there, and quite a few are poised for the big leagues. This is where you come in . . ."
"Okay?" I was excited at the prospect of doing something new. Nerves vibrated like guitar strings in my stomach.
He passed me some papers from the folder: group shots, a few press releases. "This one in particular has been gaining some ground. I'd like you to check them out and do an interview with their lead singer. Know anything about Vertical Fish?"
I nodded, remembering the awful night Emmett had played a gig with them. "I do, a little. It's been a long time since I went to one of their shows, though."
"You have a basic knowledge of them, then. Excellent. They've got a show coming up next week and I have passes for it. Go check it out, set up a time to interview some guy named" —he peered at the paper in his hands—"James."
A vague memory of that night and a guy in the band I wasn't familiar with surfaced. I knew the other guys in the band in passing, so I figured that plus the press pass would get me what I needed.
"Well, that's all I have for now. Now, get out of here so I can fix my shirt. Got an editorial to finish and then I'm ducking out early. If you need me for anything, I'll be at home on Daddy Duty."
I laughed. "I think I'll be okay. Besides, I know Marcus would love to help me if I get stuck."
"Yeah, good luck with that. Look, I know he's not the easiest guy to get along with right now, but he's a damn good editor. He's going through a nasty divorce and sometimes his judgment isn't always the best. Don't let him bother you."
"I . . . I didn't know that," I said, feeling bad for complaining about a coworker. Even though I'd said it in jest, I shouldn't have said it to my boss. "I'll keep that in mind from now on, though. And I'll get to work on the Vertical Fish research. Thanks, Peter."
He nodded, his normal casual dismissal, and I left the room feeling like I understood Marcus just a little bit better . . . and excited for my new assignment.
I rushed to Edward's place after work to tell him all about my day.
It felt silly, but I was strangely disappointed he hadn't brought up the living together thing again since he'd been home. I stayed at his place most nights, but it was his apartment, and he'd have to be the one to ask.
There was also the fact that they were slated to leave in less than twenty-four hours for the East Coast that kept the topic from crossing my lips. Edward's place was still scary when I was alone.
They had some dates lined up with a bigger band and a stop in New York City for some promotion of the upcoming album. This time around, I was okay with him leaving. Maybe it was just knowledge of how these things had gone the past two times, or maybe it was because we'd been on such a good wavelength.
I wasn't sure, but I did know I felt so much more connected to him since the trials of separation, and the way we'd fit together so easily once he was back gave me the courage to accept that we were going to be okay.
Tyler even seemed to be doing better. No one had seen Lauren around since the festival show, and he was starting to revert back to someone I actually recognized. He stayed for dinner some nights, bullshitting with Edward and me, and it eased some of the worry that had clouded my head since the L.A. show.
Not even paying attention to the drunk guy on the third floor that regularly hung out on the landing, I bounded up the stairs and opened the door. Normally, Edward would be sitting on the couch and immersed in his notebook and guitar, or one of the guys would be over, but the apartment was empty.
"Hello? You here?" I checked the bathroom and the kitchen, headed to the bedroom.
I shrugged and tossed my bag on to the bed, glanced at the open suitcase lying next to the dresser, and flopped backward on to the bed. I was just kicking off the heels I'd worn to work when I heard the front door open.
"I'm back here," I called.
He paused in the hallway, hands over his head and resting on the lip of the doorframe. "That's a sight I like to see," he said, all low voiced and suggestive.
I ignored it. "Where were you?"
He sighed. "Taking out the garbage."
He moved in to the room and dropped down on the bed, too, head on my legs and feet on the floor. I threaded my hands in to his hair, rubbed his hairline like I knew he liked.
"I missed you today," I said. "Thought about you all day long."
He turned his head, and those pretty green eyes crinkled at the corners when he smiled at me. "That's the sort of thing I like to hear."
My eyes found the suitcase again and I sat up carefully, trying not to jostle him, and leaned over him. "Of course you do." I kissed him then, sweet and slow, and it was the best sort of hello.
"Wow. I kind of like being a domesticated rocker if I get this every time you walk in the door."
"Mmm," I mumbled, kissing him again.
There was the slightest tinge of whiskey on his tongue. Where the taste would have made me gag a year ago, it was something I equated to him now. He kissed me back, arms rising to drape awkwardly over my shoulders so he could tangle his fingers in my hair.
We went on like that for a few minutes until I laughed and sat back. "That's just uncomfortable," I said.
"Yeah, not the smoothest way to kiss."
We settled back to our original position, and he stroked the inside of my calf with his thumb. "How was your day?"
"So freaking rad," I said.
"You're excited about something."
"Maybe." I held my fingers in front of his face, formed a C with my thumb and pointer finger. "Just a little."
He twisted his body to look at me, propping his elbow to the side of my thigh and his chin in his hand. "So, tell me about it."
"Well . . . I kind of got my first big assignment today."
"That's great. What is it?"
"Peter wants me to go see one of the local bands and get an interview set up. I'm stoked."
"Anyone I know?"
His eyes tightened. "Huh. You interviewing the entire band?"
"I mean, I might, if I think it'll round out the piece, but for right now I just have to talk to someone named James. You know him?"
He sat up quick. "Nope. No fucking way. You're not doing it."
"That guy's a fucking douchebag. He's not the lead they started out with. Emmett used to play with them sometimes before he took over, and now he won't go near them."
"Well, that's all interesting news, but it's not really got anything to do with the review I'm supposed to write. I've been around jerks before, Edward. I know how to handle them."
He leaned forward, got close to me. "That guy likes to play the rock star card and bang any chick that gets within five feet of him. There's no way you're going around him."
"Well, I'm not going on a date with him. I just need to see a show and then ask him a few questions."
"Not a good idea."
"I have to go. The assignment was given to me; this is my job."
"Fucking take someone with you then. Get Leah to go. She won't put up with his shit."
More than being angry that he was telling me where I could and could not go—and I was plenty pissed about that—the fact that he'd reacted as if he didn't trust me set my teeth on edge.
"You know, that's really fucking rich. How often do I have to put up with some skanky chick trying to get your attention or rubbing all up against you? And I don't say shit about it because it's part of the territory and I learned to deal with it. And you wanna know why? Because I trust you. But I guess you can't say the same about me."
I pushed off the bed and went to stand by the dresser. My arms immediately crossed in front of me, and I stared at him, waiting for his reply.
He said nothing, just stared back with a stubborn set to his shoulders.
"Why do you think I can't handle myself?"
"Because I know what that fucker is like." The words exploded from his mouth like angry missiles.
"And you think I can't deal with it?"
"It doesn't matter if you can or not. I would prefer you didn't deal with him at all."
I clenched my teeth together, working the muscles around my jaw. "So, you're telling me what to do now? Awesome."
"Can't you just interview someone else or the whole band together?"
"That's not my assignment! Peter wants an interview with this James guy, and my job depends on me doing the tasks set before me. If I can work around it, I will, but I have to get this interview."
He stood from the bed and brushed past me. It took me a few minutes to calm down enough to even move, but then I followed him out. He was standing in the kitchen, cupboard open behind him and the bottle of whiskey in his hand. "Seriously? You're so mad you need a drink?"
He turned to glare at me. "If I want a drink, I'll take a fucking drink." He drained his glass and poured another.
Hot tears clouded my vision. Frustrated and mad, I turned on my heel and stalked back to the bedroom. My nerves felt like a grape being squeezed, just on the cusp of popping and making a mess, and so I grabbed my book bag and begun digging around under the bed for my shoes. Running was a bad answer, I knew that deep down, but right now I wanted to get away before we said something that couldn't be taken back.
"Where are you going?"
I hadn't heard him follow me, but I didn't turn around. "To my place. I need to get some work done."
At his shout I finally looked up, saw that he no longer had a tumbler in his hand.
I slammed my bag back down on the floor, sat on the bed, and stared at him. "I'm not going to try to have a discussion with you if you're pissed off and drinking. It won't be positive."
My chest heaved in and out, too tight to be comfortable. The urge to flee was still there and nagging at me to just go already, but I pushed it down because that was an old habit I had been working on breaking. He rubbed his hands over his face and then crossed the room to sit beside me. "We have to leave tomorrow and I don't want things left like this when I do."
I held my body stiff, fighting the easy way out of just sinking in to him and letting it all go, because, if I did and didn't let him know what he'd said had bothered me, we couldn't figure this out and move forward.
An errant tear escaped and I sniffled, trying not to show the emotion.
"Don't do that. Don't cry."
"I'm a girl. We cry sometimes."
"That was pretty shitty of me."
My emotions felt like a pressure cooker full of volatile ingredients that didn't mix well. Anger because I was pissed he didn't trust me. Happy that I even had my job in the first place and that I was doing so well at it. Hurt because my job was important to me and he knew that. Sad because they were leaving again and now our last night together was going to be tense. And I was scared half to death because all of the warring emotions were too much right now.
My breath hitched as I tried to speak. "I need you to trust me. Trust me that I am not going anywhere or going to let anything affect us. If you don't, we're going to have problems we don't need."
He grabbed my chin gently, stroked his fingers over it until I looked at him. "I do. I overreacted, I know this. But, Bella, you're mine, all right? And I don't want anyone to touch something that belongs to me. I know that asshole, and I know he'll try."
"I can handle myself," I said, again, and took a big breath. "But, if it will make you feel better, I'll take someone with me, okay?"
"Sometimes I think I must be the luckiest son of a bitch in the world, do you know that?"
I nodded, allowing that, because, really, I had the right to tell him off and walk out the door if I chose to. But I also knew where that would lead, and it wasn't something I wanted.
Pulling my face in to his, he kissed my jaw, behind my ear. His lips moved to my temple and into my hair.
He spoke against my skin. "I love you, Bella. It's why I act crazy sometimes. You gotta know that."
"I do," I said reaching up to touch his cheek. "I feel the same, you know?"
Then there were no words. There were hands and lips and whispers of breath over skin; the click of buttons as he moved his hands down my front and then the swish of fabric hitting the floor.
Disposing of his shirt, too, I ran my hands down his chest and traced the patterns of vibrant ink on top of skin. The awful feeling from earlier was kissed away by his lips, discarded with nips of teeth and slips of tongue until I calmed completely under his touch, melted into a puddle right there on the floor.
Knowing that I might not see him for weeks on end, my hands started to wander a little more, to feel and catalogue and turn every touch into memories that would keep me going.
My skirt was pushed up, panties pulled down, and his fingers replaced the fabric, cupping and sliding and making me crazy.
We moved against each other, taking our time, and it all felt so good, but not as good as it felt when he was inside of me.
"I want you," I whispered, closing my legs around his hand and trying to pull him up by his arms.
"Hold on, baby." He bent down to take my nipple into his mouth and pulled it with his teeth until I arched into him.
I loved the ache of want; needed him everywhere, all at once and driving me to a place I had only ever found with him.
Impatient, I moved, too, turning my body until he was flat on his back and I was poised above him. I grasped him in my hand, slid until he was inside, stretching and filling and perfect. We rocked slowly at first, my head thrown back and his hands everywhere, moving me, exciting me.
And then I moved until his chest and mine were touching, until I could breathe his exhales and let them give me life, until our skin stuck together and he began to move his hips fast underneath mine.
The action spurred me on, made my body tense until it fell apart in to a million little pieces, and when I reformed I cried out to God and the universe, thanking whoever gave me this person to find and love with my whole heart all over again.
"I'm gonna miss you," I said, later, when we'd both caught our breath and words could be formed once more.
"I think I'll miss you more."
I laughed a little. "Nah, you'll have throngs of people wanting to be with you."
"But all I really need is you."
Thank you for your lovely words. Happy Heart Day!
Song – Disarm- Smashing Pumpkins