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It was almost embarrassing, how soon after watching her boyfriend get ripped to shreds by those dog-like creatures, Joyce Byers began to once again feel that pool of desire low in her belly. No, it was embarrassing, because took little more than a month.

 

It gets easier every day, Hop had said. It not her . The paralyzing, killing grief, the pain- that was supposed to get better in little increments, but it wasn’t. She woke up every night, clawing at her sheets and screaming until her throat was raw from the effort, because every night she was back in the lobby of the laboratory watching it happen. Sometimes, her legs would go heavy and lead-like in the dream, and Hopper wasn’t able to pull her away from the sight, so she had to watch it all and scream and scream.

 

So, that wasn’t getting easier at all. But the need for contact; to be held and caressed and fucked? When she wasn’t dreaming about watching Bob Newby die, she was dreaming about their more intimate moments, and similar moments with Lonnie and Hopper. Bob had been about as considerate a lover as he had been a person, so Joyce had no complaints when he was alive. It was a nice, physical representation of the devotion he expressed with every action and word in their day-to-day existence. Sweet and satisfying, but not terribly intense. Lonnie had been intense in the beginning, but lazy and withholding when things became routine. Hopper had been… well, they had both been young and energetic the last time they had come together. Their lovemaking had reflected their personalities; reckless and dizzying.

 

Joyce usually woke up crying from frustration after those dreams. It had taken three nights of consecutive wet dreams before she even attempted to quell her shame long enough to bring herself off with her right hand- her left stifled her moans as she writhed shamelessly on her cold bed. She felt less guilty when her mind flew to times with Bob- she still felt terrible, but not as terrible as she did when the memory of Hopper going down on her in the empty band classroom trickled into her subconscious.

 

Those nights certainly made her days more awkward. It was not unusual for Joyce to find herself at Hopper’s grandad’s old cabin two or more times a week with Will and Jonathan’s old textbooks, or homework she had stealthily obtained from the Middle School Xerox machine when picking up Will.

 

“If she can’t truly come out of hiding for a year, she had to spend that time catching up with people her age, Hop,” Joyce had lectured, the first time she stepped into the cabin with a cardboard box filled to the brim with books. She liked to check on the girl’s progress regularly, to make sure that El was doing more than staring at the TV day in and day out.

 

“I can’t believe you let her watch Soap Operas. That junk is going to rot her brain and mess with the way she perceives relationships,” Joyce lamented one afternoon, as she and Hopper stood on the front porch of his cabin, sipping coffee and smoking cigarettes. Joyce had quit when she started dating Bob, but she had fallen back into, as she had many, many times before. “I thought you smoke Marbs, by the way,” she observed, studying the Camel light pinched between her thumb and forefinger.

 

“I switched brands ages ago. I can’t really mess with Cowboy Killers anymore.” Hopper jerked his head towards a nearby window. Joyce peered through it to see El sitting in front of the television. She smirked.

 

“All cigarettes are bad, Hop. Not just those ones.”

 

“Yeah, well…” he trailed off and gave her a quick and concerned look up and down. “How are you holding up today?”

 

Joyce shrugged and lied. “Better.”

 

“Have you been sleeping?” His eyes were fixed on her face, and she knew her pasty pallor and the dark smudges under her eyes told him the story she was unable to vocalize. She broke under the intensity of his stare and stifled a sob with her hand.

 

“N-no,” she stammered as she squeezed her eyes shut so she couldn’t see the pity shining in Hopper’s kind, heavy-browed face. “Not since before that night,” she sighed, jerking her shoulder away from his large, comforting hand. “All I see is him getting ripped apart, and I’m so tired, Hop.” Her cigarette fell from nerveless fingers as she turned her back to him, let her arms dangle useless and lifeless at her sides as she fought back the exhausted tears that were falling like rain. She hated letting people see her cry, and lately it was a somewhat regular occurrence.

 

“Jonathan home with Will?” Hopper inquired, stepping forward so she could feel his warmth blocking the winter wind without any part of him actually touching her. The low timbre of his voice caused an involuntary shiver to run down her spine, even as his question confounded her.

 

“Yes, why?”

“Call them and tell them you’ll be home later tonight.” Hopper turned and opened the front door of the cabin. “Kid, I’ll be back later tonight,” he announced to El. The girl turned and studied both him and Joyce with her large, intelligent brown eyes.

“A date?” the inquiry was soft, with the barest upward inflection. Joyce blushed furiously at the implication and shifted her weight from her right foot to her left as she studied the warped plank of wood beneath her.

“An errand,” Hop clarified, casting Joyce an apologetic look. “Do you want anything while I’m out?”

 

“Moosetracks.”

 

Joyce smiled. “That’s my favorite ice cream,” she admitted, poking her head through the door.

 

“I know,” El stated matter-of-factly. “It’s so we have it here for you. Nancy says chocolate helps when you’re sad, and you’re always sad.”

 

“Okay, kiddo, good talk,” Hopper announced abruptly, closing the door and placing one gentle hand on the middle of Joyce’s back and leading her to his Blazer.

 

“Where are we going?” Joyce asked as he assisted her into the passenger’s seat.

 

Hopper walked around the front of the Blazer and climbed into the driver’s side. “Taking you to my trailer so you can get a nap in.”

 

Joyce just shook her head and studied her hands as they lay clasped in her lap. “That won’t help, everytime I close my eyes --”

 

“I know. Would it help if I took a nap with you?” Joyce jerked her head up and gave him a wide-eyed look as her breath caught in her throat. “Okay, maybe that was a little presumptuous. I just know I always used to sleep easier when I was sharing a bed. My other thought was to just give you someone place quiet to-”

 

“You can take a nap with me, Hop.”

 

_________

 

The trailer was clean, but almost bare. Most of Hopper’s furniture had been moved to the cabin, but there was still a neatly made king-sized bed in one corner of the bedroom.

 

“I’m mostly here when I need someplace quiet to think, and the bed's too big for the extra room at the cabin. It’s comfy though, I really miss sleeping on it every night.” Hopper sat down and patted the mattress with a dopey little grin.

 

Joyce gave him a trepidatious little smile and sat down next to him so she could remove her shoes and work vest. She thought it over for a moment before reaching one hand behind her back to unclasp her bra through the material of her blouse. Hopper’s jaw dropped slightly before he looked up at the ceiling as she maneuvered to push down the straps and pull the bra safely through one sleeve and place it on the ground. It wasn’t the sexiest of underthings, but Hopper’s eyes travelled downwards to study it as it lay, a slightly faded white bit of cotton with a tiny pink bow between the two cups.

 

“It’s really uncomfortable to sleep in one of those,” Joyce explained apologetically before crawling up towards the headboard and resting onto her side, facing the opposite wall, her head sinking into one fluffy, white pillow.

 

“I wouldn’t know. I like to keep mine free and unbound,” Hopper joked, scooting up near Joyce and resting on his back, his fingers steepled as his hands rested on his stomach. He turned his head towards her and smiled softly as she snorted and rolled her eyes at his comment.

 

“You’re ridiculous,” she teased, reaching out to rest one hand on his chest as her eyes grew heavy. He took her hand and raised it to his lips, giving it a chaste kiss before placing it back on his chest. She felt a curious warmth in her heart that radiated throughout her body at the sweet gesture. She was smiling as she closed her eyes.

 

When Joyce awoke, she realized that she had scooted closer to Hopper in her sleep; in fact, she was flush against his side with one leg thrown over his and her left hand clutching the material of his henley as it rested against his chest. He had one hand in her hair as he snored softly, and one hand resting between her shoulderblades.  She was mortified when she realized her center was aching and throbbing with want as it pressed against his denim clad thigh. It had been a Hopper dream that had woken her up. This one was not a memory but a very vivid fantasy involving handcuffs and hair pulling as Dream Jim grunted against her neck and thrust into her drenched folds.

 

She rolled away from Hopper so sudden that it gave him a violent start, pulling him from his slumber. “What happened? Are you okay?” he asked, scooting closer to her so he could pull her back into his arms.

 

“It’s late,” Joyce squeaked, sitting up and turning away.

 

Hopper leaned forward to grab the alarm clock that was sitting on the table on Joyce’s side of the bed. “You’ve only been asleep for an hour. Is that going to be enough?” he inquired groggily. She said nothing, but pulled her knees up against her chest and stared at the wall. “Hey- was it the nightmare again?” He sat up next to her and put an arm around her shoulders, pressing a kiss against the top of her head. She leaned into his touch, reveling in his warmth and strength.

 

“No.”

 

“Talk to me, Joyce.”

 

The barrier of decency within her broke, and in a quick maneuver, Joyce pulled herself onto his lap, straddling him as her arms went about his shoulders and her lips came crashing down against his. Hopper’s mouth was stiff and unyielding beneath hers for a split second before he gave a little moan, brought one hand up to cup the back of her head, and the other to stroke her back as his lips parted and matched her reckless passion with his own. They went on like this for about three minute; Joyce, the aggressor as she licked into his mouth, and nipped at his lower lip with her little white teeth. His hands didn’t seem to know where to rest until they slide up the front of her shirt and over her bare breasts as she rolled her hips against him. .

 

“I don’t really want to talk,” Joyce moaned as Hopper’s fingers found her nipples and pinched gently. She tugged her shirt over her head and threw it to the ground. The next time she went in for a kiss, he jerked his head away, his arms dropping to his sides. “Hopper?” She narrowed her eyes as she studied his face. His icy blue eyes were focused on a fixed point over her shoulder, and he was biting his lip. “Jim?”

 

“This isn’t okay.”

A wave of cold settled over Joyce, feeling for all the world as though someone dumped a bucket of ice over her head. “Why?” she inquired, scooting from his lap to the floor and bending over to pick up her blouse. She pulled it over her head and crossed her arms over her chest.

 

“You know why. Don’t make me say it.”

“Bob.”

 

Hopper winced and looked up at her, his eyes shining oddly, his face tight with pain. “You don’t think it’s too soon?”

 

Joyce scoffed and then sighed heavily. She bit her lip and shrugged, not meeting Hopper’s pained stare. “I just don’t want to feel bad anymore. I want to numb it a little, you know?”

“I know. This used to be my favorite method of forgetting after Sara... “ Hopper buried his face in his hands, unable to finish. “It only works for a little while, Joyce.”

 

“Then it will be like getting a moment to breath. Like a smoke break during a busy shift at the store.” She sat next to him once more and put one hand on his knee and squeezed before letting it trail upward. He covered the roving hand with one of his own and guided it back to his knee, holding it there.

 

“No, Joyce. I can’t be your band-aid. Not like this.”

 

Joyce jerked her hand away, irritated with his soothing, patient tone. It was as if he was talking to a difficult child, and not a woman who wanted nothing more than to ride his cock into oblivion. “Why?” she snapped.

 

“Because I think we should be-…” he trailed off and groaned, before raking one hand through his dark blonde hair; it stood slightly on end when he released it from his anxious grip. “Because I don’t want to.”

 

I don’t want to. I don’t want to. I don’t want you .

 

Joyce was on her feet and searching for her bra. “Okay, well, I’ve thoroughly made an ass out of myself. It’s nice out, I think I’ll walk home.”

 

Hopper cast a cursory glance out of his bedroom window. “It’s dark out, Joyce. Also you live on the other end of town, and it’s snowing.”

 

“The Hideaway isn’t that far. I’ll just walk there, have a drink and find my own way home.”

 

Hopper shot to his feet. “What do you mean by that?” There was an irritable edge to his voice. He wasn’t yelling, but he wasn’t exactly sotto voce in his inquiry. His eyes were burning, and his jaw was set firmly.

 

“I’ll call home and have Jonathan pick me up?” Joyce’s voice was soft and confused as she attempted to suss out the meaning of Hopper’s sudden outburst.

 

“Oh, Okay. No, actually,  not okay, Joyce! I’ll take you back to the cabin so you can get your car and go home, if you want.”

 

“I want to go home, but I don’t want to bother you anymore.” She headed for the bathroom, intent on putting her bra back on and maybe letting the faucet run as she cried in embarrassment for a few minutes.

 

Hopper followed, his tone, contrite. “I need to go to the cabin anyway, it’s really not a big deal. Please, please don’t get upset over this.”

 

“Okay,” Joyce agreed, before stepping into the bathroom and slamming the door in his face.

 

________

 

A week went by with no end to the nightmares and the “other” dreams. Joyce went to the cabin on her lunch breaks, a choice that ensured Jim wouldn’t be present on her visits with El. Unfortunately, it meant her visits were extremely brief, so Joyce only really had time to check the girl’s homework progress, and maybe sneak a scoop of ice cream.

 

“Why don’t you visit when Hopper’s here anymore?” El asked as they finished a bowl of ice-cream in front of the television.

 

“It’s complicated, sweetie- and it’s only been a week.”

 

“So, it’s not forever?” Joyce averted her eyes from El’s intense stare.

“No, I don’t think so. I’ve just got to work through some awkwardness; after that I’m sure my visits will be longer and in the afternoon.”

 

“Good,” El stated, picking up the empty bowl and taking it to the sink. “He misses you,” she announced over the running faucet.

 

“Hop?”

 

El didn’t answer, her attention was focused on washing the small pile of dishes.

“I have to go, sweetie.”

 

“See you when you get done being awkward, Mrs. Byers.”

 

As Joyce drove back to work, she thought about El’s parting words. She had made things awkward with Hopper by overplaying her hand. He had always presented himself as a listening ear, a good friend, someone who cared deeply about her and her family. Putting those facts together with their romantic past, Joyce rationalized that her reaction to him during the nap was perfectly natural, given her vulnerable state. She wanted contact, and he was the closest person within reach, and then one she had thought wouldn’t turn her down.

 

Maybe she had misread the intensity of his regard; the soft and long way she sometimes caught him staring, or how he would sometimes lightly touch the small of her back or an elbow when he wanted to guide her attention to some place. The way he offered up his own bed so she could get some sleep… his offer to nap with her.

 

Mistaken or not, it did not help the predicament Joyce was currently in. She drove past The Hideaway, she thought about how upset Hopper had been when she had put forth the idea of walking there and--

 

“Finding my own way home,” she breathed as the sign for the bar disappeared in her rearview mirror. He took it as her going to the bar to pick up men. That was exactly it. Joyce would have laughed if she had made the connection days ago, but in that moment, she was more contemplative than anything.

 

Ten minutes later, Joyce walked through her front door and immediately picked up the phone to dial the Wheelers’ number. “Hey, Karen, it’s Joyce. Hi! Yeah, I was wondering if I could take you up on that Ladies’ Night offer? Tomorrow? Great.”

 

______


“You look great, Joyce!” Karen gushed from the driver’s side of her car as Joyce stepped down from her porch and wobbled down the driveway in her black high heels. She was wearing a black leather jacket over a royal blue cocktail dress, and she was shivering in black nylons. A hat would’ve messed up her carefully curled and coiffed hair, so she opted not to wear one.

 

“So do you,” Joyce complimented as she settled into the passenger’s seat. Karen was a vision in her red pleather miniskirt, blue, low cut blouse and white boots; her hair, as always, looked professionally styled. Not a wisp out of place.

 

“Thank you! I’m so glad you decided to come out for once. I understand why you haven’t, of course, we all do, but it’s great to see your pretty face. Kind of like the old days, huh? You and me.”

 

“Double Trouble,” Joyce murmured with a shy, half-smile.

 

“On the prowl!” Karen whooped, hitting the roof of her car with an exquisitely manicured hand.

 

Joyce laughed nervously. “I mean, not really, right? You’re married.”

 

Karen rolled her eyes and repeated. “On. The. Prowl.” She nodded with every word.

 

“Yes, ma’am.”

 

Joyce realized that she had not seen her friend in months, but she had heard talk around town. After Holly started going to preschool, Karen… changed. She and Ted had always had a bit of a distant relationship, but now Joyce was hearing that the woman was disconnecting from her children as well; she had quit the PTA; stopped volunteering at the library and day care,  and according to Gina Glass from the Supermarket, wine ate up quite a bit of the Wheeler grocery budget.

 

Joyce hated the rampant gossiping that went on in town, and she felt horrible that her old friend was now a target of it, but seeing Karen’s flashier new looks, louder personality, and getting the implication that she would not be the only one looking for a bed-warmer (Joyce’s word. She liked it because it covered what she was looking for for the night and nothing else), Joyce wondered if there was something more to this rumored personality change.

 

“You know, I went a little crazy when both of the boys started school. It really gave me a second to look around and see what had become of my life… the man I married.”

 

“Ugh, yeah, I bet you had egg on your face when you realized you were married to Lonnie Byers,” Karen replied, glibly before pulling into the Hideaway parking lot. Well, whatever was going on, her reply told Joyce that a heart-to-heart was definitely not on schedule for the evening, which was fine.

The bar was packed, which Joyce reasoned was going to happen. There was a fairly elaborate winter festival in the next town over, and it always tended to bring in a lot of tourists, especially now there was a brand new Holiday Inn nestled between the two towns. It was perfect, Joyce didn’t have the luxury of being Chief of Police or a man; ending up in bed with someone from the town proper would do nothing more than fuel the gossip mill, especially when she had no intention on seeing said person ever again. Especially when there seemed to be a special calendar that denoted a set amount of time a grieving woman was supposed to be a nun that Joyce wasn’t in possession of.

 

“I see a spot!” Karen announced, taking Joyce’s hand and pulling her towards a row of booths.

 

“Those all have people in them, Karen!”

 

Karen paused and turned to Joyce with an expression that read ‘that’s the point, you idiot’ before jerking her head in the direction of the last booth. Two men sat across from each other, both nursing whiskeys, both dressed in suits… both reasonably handsome and age appropriate -- which, thank god for that, Joyce did not want to play -- what was it called? Leopard? -- Mrs. Robinson to some twenty year-old. That was Lonnie’s territory.

 

“Gentlemen, this place is crazy tonight, and we’re both wearing heels. Would you mind?” Karen asked, batting her eyelashes and smiling appealingly. Of course, George and Frank (their names), obliged. Karen’s charm was legendary.

 

Joyce found out that the two of them had actually organized the winter festival. They were brothers, and  had grown up in Absalom (the host town). Both of them had gone on to better things in bigger cities (Indianapolis and Chicago), but they loved their hometown so much, they always used their resources to make the festival special. Joyce thought it was very touching, as she cautiously sipped her red wine and tried to shrink into the corner of the booth. Karen gushed over the concept as she went shot for shot with the increasingly rowdier brothers.

 

“Oh look, Joycie! It’s the Chief!” Karen shouted, nearly standing up in the booth to wave her arms toward the door.

 

Joyce felt winded by the news. “Sit down!” she hissed, reaching forward to push at her friend.

 

“Uh-oh, do you two have fake IDs? Underage drinking?” Frank teased, putting an arm around Joyce’s shoulder. Karen laughed raucously, Joyce just held up her hand in front of her profile like a barrier, hunched over in her seat and stared at the wall.

 

“Oh, hey Karen. Leaving the husband home tonight?” Hopper asked cheerfully. Joyce heard his sharp intake of breath, and knew her attempts to hide had proven fruitless. “Joyce.” His utterance of her name was cold and flat. She put her hand down, straightened up in the seat and turned her head to meet his gaze - it was intense, disapproving and disbelieving, and when his eyes shifted to take in Frank’s close proximity and stance towards her, another emotion flashed in his dark, narrowed eyes that Joyce couldn’t quite place.

 

“Jimmy, this is Fre-Frank and George!” Karen exclaimed. “They let us sit in their booth ‘cuz there was no room at the inn! Like Jesus.”

 

“How nice.” Hopper turned, grabbed a chair from a nearby table and pulled it to the head of the booth. “You mind, Freddy?” he grunted at Frank, who immediately shook his head.

 

“J-Jimmy, no one likes a fifth wheel!” Karen scolded.

 

“Oh, I didn’t realize you both were on dates. I thought you all just met.”

Karen leaned forward towards Hopper’s ear. “Don’t be naive,” she hissed in a stage whisper. “Joyce is lonely, so she’s gonna go home with a tourist.”

 

“Karen!” Joyce cried, setting her wine glass down with such violence that a crack appeared on the stem.

 

“Would you look at the time,” George announced, glancing at his bare wrist. “Frank, we’ve got a lot of work to do tomorrow.”

 

“Yep. Night, ladies. Officer.”

 

The two men moved from the booth and headed towards the door with determined haste, barely giving Joyce, Karen or Hopper so much as a backwards glance. Joyce’s face was still in her hands as she processed the sheer embarrassment of Karen announcing her plans.

 

“Karen, let’s get you home.” Joyce’s announcement was muffled against her palms.

 

Karen leaned back against the booth and heaved a forlorn sigh. “That time already?”

“I’ll take you ladies. I just got here, and I was only coming in to pick up a frozen pizza and a six-pack.”

 

“Weekend at Aunt B’s?” Joyce asked. Hopper was getting better about keeping healthy foods in the cabin, with a few exceptions on special days. It wasn’t Tuesday, so it wasn’t pizza night for him and El.

 

“Yeah.” His response was terse, and Joyce realized that he was avoiding eye contact with her altogether -- this rankled her. Who was he to judge? Marissa still couldn’t see him in the library without rolling her eyes, not to mention the countless others who had ‘gotten the business end of Big Jim’, as Donald Melvald once remarked.

 

“Well, if you want to take Karen back, that would probably be for the best.” She cast a glance around the room and caught a few curious stares. More than one person had heard Karen’s announcement. Fantastic. “If you could give me a ride home too, I would really appreciate it.”

 

“I already said I would.”

“Stop. Fighting.” Karen groaned as she slumped over the table of the booth.

 

________

 

“Are you mad at me?” Joyce asked once they had Karen safe on the couch at the Wheelers and were back on the road.

 

“Why would you even ask that?” Hopper inquired, lighting another cigarette as he kept his eyes on the road.

 

“You won’t even look at me.”

 

“I’m driving.”

 

“Not just in here. Once Karen told you what I was doing, you just shut down.”

 

“So she wasn’t lying.”

 

Joyce hugged herself and shivered. “Not really.”

 

“I told you it wouldn’t help.”

 

“I like to figure things out for myself. You don’t need to protect me all the time.”

 

Hopper’s knuckles went white as he tightened his grip on the steering wheel. “So what, you were just going use your wiles to get a free room at the Holiday Inn?”

 

“Fuck you.”

“Yeah, I remember that offer too.”

 

Joyce’s eyes flashed as she felt a scorching heat travel up and down her body. She waited until Hopper’s Blazer paused at a stop sign before unbuckling herself, throwing the door open, and exiting the vehicle.

 

“Jesus Christ! Joyce, what are you doing?” She heard the vehicle go into park, the click of the hazard lights, the driver’s side door slamming shut and Hopper’s heavy boots against the snow as he followed her up the road. She increased her pace, but knew she wouldn’t get far in heels. “It’s fifteen degrees out here, Joyce, you are going to freeze! Come on, get in the truck.”

 

“Leave me alone, Hopper!” Joyce screamed, spinning around to face him. Unfortunately, she was standing on a patch of ice during this maneuver. Her heart jumped clear to her throat as she slipped and fell backwards. Hopper’s arms closed around her before the back of her head could hit the pavement, pulling her close against his chest, which she promptly began to pummel with her fists as she burst into tears.

 

“Hey, hey, hey… I’m sorry, okay? I’m sorry, just come back to the truck. Please, come back to the truck,” Hopper pleaded with his face pressed against her hair. His hands were large and warm as he stroked comforting circles against her back.

 

Joyce stopped fighting, and didn’t protest when he scooped her into his arms like a bride and carried her back to the Blazer. “I’m so sorry, Joyce,” Hopper repeated as he strapped her into the car. One big hand cupped her cheek, his thumb wiping away at the tears that fell. “I’m an asshole, okay? A colossal piece of shit, so don’t listen to me. You have to deal with this in your way, and if going back to that bar and finding someone to make you feel a little less empty for an hour is what you want, I’ll drive you back. I’ll even pay for your hotel room, just stop crying, please.”

 

Joyce covered the hand that was cupping her cheek and guided it to her mouth. She kept a steady but watery gaze on Hopper as she kissed his palm and guided the hand to her chest, placing it over her left breast. She sniffled as she studied his face for signs of acceptance.

 

“Okay.”

 

Hopper sped on his way back to the trailer, neither of them exchanging a single word. Joyce took the time to compose herself; she worked on her breathing, smoothed her hair, and tugged at her skirt. Mostly, she battled with her sense of reason. She didn’t even realize they had reached their destination until Hopper threw open the passenger side door to let her out.

 

“Do you want this?” Joyce inquired, her voice wavering. He said nothing as he leaned over to unbuckle her. She felt his hot breath against the side of her neck as he worked at the buckle -- an involuntary shiver ran through her, and a moan escaped her when his fingers brushed her thigh as he pulled away and waited for her to get out. She sat frozen for a moment, worrying her bottom lip with contemplative teeth.

 

“Do you want this?” Hopper asked when the moment stretched onward.

 

Joyce nodded started to get up to exit the vehicle before Hopper scooped her into his arms again. Her stomach fluttered as he carried her over the threshold into the trailer, her fingers playing with the hair near the nape of his neck as he entered his old bedroom. He kissed her hard before setting her onto the mattress, leaving her lips warm and tingling as he went to work on removing his jeans and flannel.

 

Joyce sat up and kicked off her heels as she watched Hopper disrobe. He was leaner than he had been in the past, the softness of his upper arms and belly had begun to melt away to reveal hard edges and solid muscle. The image stirred something hot and primal low in her belly, and she was glad she was going home with him and not Frank.

 

“Are you gonna just stare at my ass all night, or…?” Hopper’s tone was amused as he stood in front of her in his noticeably tented boxer shorts. Joyce was still fully clothed.

 

“It zips in the back,” she managed.

 

“Stand up and turn around.”

 

Joyce obeyed. She shivered when he pushed his hair to the side, his fingers brushing the back of her neck before going to work unzipping her dress. One hand was dry and warm as he caressed her bare back while the other pulled the zipper down, down to her waist. Joyce moved her hands to her shoulders to push the dress down, but he caught her gently by the wrists. “Please, let me,” he murmured against her ear before pressing a kiss to the side of her neck. She closed her eyes and nodded. Her dress pooled at her ankles as he unclasped the back of her bra and moved to stand in front of her. She was shivering in her nylons and panties, her eyes to the floor and her arms crossed over her chest as he studied her with dark eyes.

 

“Are you just going to stare at my tits all night, or…?” she attempted to joke.

 

“You are so fucking beautiful. Jesus Christ, it hurts.” He tugged her arms away from her  chest and bent low to give her a soft, achingly tender kiss. “Are you sure?” he inquired, pulling away,  his lips a breath away.

 

“Yes.”

 

Soon they were on the bed, Hopper propped onto his elbows as he tried not to crush Joyce under his weight. His lips were strong and sure as they ghosted and then pressed against hers. She sighed and parted her lips to accept his tongue. Hopper settled onto his side so he had a free hand to cup her face, deepening their increasingly desperate kisses. Joyce felt heat pool her thighs, despite the niggling echo of shame deep in her chest.

 

“Beautiful,” Hopper whispered hoarsely as he pulled his lips away from hers and trailed them over her cheeks and the sensitive spot behind her ear. His hand moved from her cheek to her right breast, palming the weight and circling his thumb around her taut nipple. Joyce’s body was on fire under his strong calloused hands and sure, knowing lips. His beard tickled sensitive flesh as he moved to capture her other nipple into his greedy mouth. The motion drew a sharp gasp from her and her hips began to move of their own volition against his thigh.

 

“Please,” she murmured, moving his hand from her breast and guiding it down to her center. There was still a barrier of cotton and nylon between his hand and her aching need, but she knew he could feel the heat and dampness that signified her acute want. He looked up from her breast, his eyes glazed with lazy desire as he searched her face for what she imagine was hesitation. “Please,” she repeated, lifting her hips and pushing the material down from her hips. Hopper moved down to assist her, pulling down the nylons along with her panties and throwing them to one side.

 

Tears of relief sprang to Joyce’s eyes when Hopper settled his face between her thighs, hooked her legs over his shoulders, and pressed a kiss against her center. “Yes, please,” she moaned. It was all the invitation he needed, and Joyce felt her back arch and the muscles in her thighs go tense as his tongue swiped and then explored her soaked folds. “Fuck,” she swore as he teased and tasted. Her thighs began to twitch under his ministrations and she swore he could sense she was edging the precipice. He slide two fingers inside of her, pumping slow and then fast as he suckled her swollen clit, making her scream his name. She broke apart violently, shortly after, her whole body shuddering as she went tense and then relaxed. She tasted herself on his lips and beard as he moved up to kiss her trembling lips.

 

“Should I return-”

 

“No, this isn’t about me,” he cut her off, leaning over her to reach into the nightstand drawer from a foil wrapped condom. She took it from his hands, ripped open the package and slid the rubber over his rock-hard cock. It twitched in her hands as she rolled the material down, and he moaned softly against her neck.

 

“Lie back,” Joyce urged, pushing at his chest. He obeyed and she moved to slowly slide down onto his cock, sighing as his impressive girth filled and stretched her almost painfully.

 

“Are you okay?” he asked, his hands moving to rest on her waist, his face stricken with worry.

 

“No more talking,” Joyce urged as she began to rock her hips. Her body adjusted and accommodated, and soon she began to feel an almost forgotten heat rise up from her core, increasing in intensity with each stroke of his cock. Hopper’s fingertips were sure to leave bruises as he clutched her hips, urging her to increase her speed as he gasped and groaned beneath her, muttering senseless little sentiments about her beauty, her skill, her tightness, and how he felt about her- she tried to ignore the latter as she climbed higher and higher to the precipice.

 

She came hard, her walls clamping tight around Hopper’s cock as she trembled and cried out, her nails digging into his chest as she slowed and collapsed against him. “Don’t stop,” he pleaded, moving so she was beneath him, one leg thrown over his shoulder as he thrust into her, desperate and erratic, the rhythm completely lost; this went on for barely thirty seconds before he gave a shuddering groan and spent himself. When he finished, he rolled onto his back and struggled to catch his breath. Joyce panted quietly as her heartbeat slowly returned to manageable cadence. She was glowing, and completely unable to prevent a smile from crossing her features as she enjoyed the euphoria of her intense orgasm.

 

“Jesus,” Hopper muttered, as he disposed of the condom and grabbed two cigarettes. “How do you feel?” he inquired softly.

She turned to him and took the cigarette, the inquiry pulling her away from the moment and reminding her how she had gotten there. Her insides twisted and the corners of her mouth fell. The illusion was gone.

 

“I don’t know,” she replied, allowing him to light the cigarette as she rested against the pillow.