Sarah takes a moment to really look at Patrick’s apartment this time. This time, he’s not bone-tired and she’s not flustered and frightened of putting herself too out there. So, as he takes her coat and bustles around flicking on lights, she toes off her shoes and lingers at the edge of the kitchen, taking it in.
It is a lovely, open space. From the kitchen she can see into the bedroom, and down the hall to the bathroom. The living room off to her left, and the kitchen – the kitchen. She thinks she could like it here. It sounds presumptuous in her head, the logical portion of her brain berating her for the notion. Yes, she matters to him. Yes, he matters to her. But there is the entirely separate issue of his dreams and her dreams and how they may lead them an ocean and a continent away from each other.
God, she’s done it now.
But the kitchen is beautiful. She steps from the hardwood of the entryway onto the cool tile, a tired hand trailing along the rose-grey countertops. The marble is cool to her touch. She shivers, her flush rising with the memory of Patrick’s words the entire walk to his apartment.
She could make this right, she thinks, glancing at him as he approaches her. There is a heat in his eyes she knows well know, something wild and sharp and focused on her. The lazy smiles are one thing; this is the inner bones of him coming out, just for her. Be careful with him, she thinks as she leans back against the countertop, tipping her head back for his approach.
That lazy smile curls over his mouth. “You read my mind,” he murmurs, resting his hands on either side of her, trapping her against the countertop.
“I didn’t really have to. You were pretty obvious,” she says wryly, even with the flush staining her cheeks. She wonders where this side of her has been hiding all this time, the kind who likes a man with his hand on her nape and who yearns at the thought of spreading herself for him on a kitchen countertop for her pleasure.
Perhaps it really is only for this man. She can’t imagine wanting to do so with the few other men she’s been with.
“It’s a new technique I’m trying with you,” he drawls, leaning down to kiss her. He brings her bottom lip between his teeth, biting gently. “You have such a blind spot for yourself.”
She tips her head back and sighs into him, her muscles relaxing under his touch as always. Perhaps it is not weakness or a lack to be so boneless, so wanting for him. Every moment of her life she has been striving for more, constantly pressing onwards and moving forward; perhaps here, she can let someone in for an hour or two and just breathe.
“Blind to how you matter,” he murmurs against her lips, touching her nowhere else.
Her hands rise and touch his chest, tentative and cautious. He had said once she could never get him wrong; she thinks she’s proven him wrong at least once on that point. But he comes back. They come back to one another, even when perhaps she wants to run in the opposite direction, back to her tiny shoebox apartment and the certainty of her solitude and her flickering dream.
His hips nudge hers, pressing her against the counter’s edge for a moment. She inhales silently and sharply, her fingers digging into his shoulders.
“Can you get yourself up, bébé?” he asks, voice gone sandy and slow, as his mouth moves along her cheek, her jaw.
She had come here yesterday with the intention of taking care of him, of watching out for him in a small fraction of the way he does for her every day in the kitchens. Maybe this is how, she thinks as she braces her hands on the counter behind her and eases herself up. She is at eye-level with him now. It feels better than when he kneels at the edge of her bed, as if she is bringing herself to his level in all ways, as opposed to his debasing himself for her sake.
That slow, lazy smile spreads on his mouth. His blue gaze darkens as it meets hers. Swallowing hard, she does not look away. Instead, she frames his face with her hands and runs her thumbs carefully along his cheekbones. Her mind seems fifty steps behind her body and her heart, unable to process his wanting her with her existence here. His caring for her is a strange alien sensation.
Oh, how he matters to her.
He matters so much that she will let him do as he wants with her, and she will like it. The first time in so long she can relax into someone else and not make a decision that may break the hearts of those she cares for. Choice has been taken from her since birth; she begrudges her mother nothing, how could she? But this, here, Sarah chooses to relinquish of her free will, with no shoulder-weighting guilt.
His thumb touches the crinkle of her forehead, between her eyes. “You are thinking very hard about something,” he says, blinking at her with curious eyes.
“About you,” she says. It spills out of her without censure. He thinks he doesn’t matter?
Eyes lighting up, he leans into kiss her throat once more. Shivers crest over her skin as his hands go to her t-shirt. “I do like the sound of that.”
He strips the shirt right off of her, and skims his fingers along the rise of her breasts and her stomach on his way to her jeans. “You should always think of me.”
“Even at work?” she asks wryly.
He slides her jeans from her legs, leaving her in her lace panties – navy blue today. The backs of her thighs touch the cool marble and she shivers again, her hands falling to her thighs.
“I am always thinking of you at work,” he says quite suddenly, his mouth twisting on the words as if they are hard to say. “You are in everything I make.”
Sarah wets her lips, her chest unbearably tight. Neither of them is very good with letting anyone in, she thinks in a moment of clarity. And here – this is how he tells her she matters. She matters.
Everything feels perfectly right.
“I think,” she says slowly, as he stares at her with unfathomable blue eyes, “that it is the same for me.”
In everything she has ever made in that kitchen, she has made it for him. To be exactly right for him.
On the edge of the counter, his hands flinch and flex, knuckles whiting. He curses low under his breath, a flush spotting his cheeks.
“Sarah –“ And he pauses, gaze a little wild. “Will you –will you let me in?” he asks, voice hoarse.
A large warm hand comes up to the nape of her neck, pulling the elastic from her hair. It spills over her shoulders and his hand, his palm settling on the curve of her nape. She shudders and reaches out to grasp his t-shirt in her small, burn-covered, callused hands.
“Let me in,” he breathes as he leans into kiss her throat. “Let me – “
For a moment, she wonders if she doesn’t understand. Her French is nearly perfect – it had to be, with her mother constantly monitoring her grades and her homework and her performance reports – but sometimes she can’t place a word in its meaning.
Then, she remembers his words in her ear as they walked home earlier. Yes, Patrick, that’s just perfect. And the slow spread of her body for him. And here and now, on the very counter he bought for her months ago, her thighs are pressed together, her body locked tight in default.
Taking a deep breath, she shifts slightly on the counter. His forehead sinks against her neck. She’s sure he’s watching her every move, waiting.
Slowly, she moves her thighs apart an inch. Two inches.
“You will make me wait, Sarabelle?” he breathes against her collarbone. His tongue traces the hollow created by skin and bone there.
“Convince me to go faster,” she murmurs, emboldened. He makes her brave.
A huff of warm breath against her skin. His thumb moves along the nape of her neck, sending shivers down her spine. “Like this?” he asks huskily, his other hand creeping up along her ribs to cup her breast. Her nipple pebbles through the lace and she moans softly, her back arching into his touch. His hand covers her whole breast, compact as she is; she is enveloped by warmth.
Her thighs part another inch.
“Oui, chérie,” he says, all possession and tender care. His fingers sink under the cup of her bra and push her breast out of its confines, bringing it to the cool air. His mouth follows the line of her clavicle and to the swell of her breast, tasting and leaving a deliciously wet trail on her skin. “Let me in.”
She leans back, braces herself on the counter behind her with her palms as she pushes into his touch, the curve of his mouth. Shuddering, she parts her thighs yet another two inches. She wants to drape herself on the counter and push his head towards her thighs, to feel that talented tongue between her legs. The fierce sensation of wanting to demand and push is strange; she thinks he may like it, someday.
Now, she just moans, soft hungry sounds of want that don’t sound like they should be coming from her throat, as his tongue licks at her taut nipple, the soft underside of her breast. His other hand stays at the nape of her neck, fingers rubbing there in slow maddening circles, sending hot shivers over her skin.
“Is the marble cool?” he asks against her skin, his gaze flickering up to hers. “Do you like how it feels?”
She nods, her spine all but a crescent as she arches into his mouth. Her thighs spread another two inches, and he is almost there, his hips between her thighs. But still he does not push.
“I want to stretch you over and press you down into it,” he murmurs, voice dark and low with want. “Can I, Sarah? Can I?”
His thumb presses at the base of her neck as his teeth sink delicately into the curve of her breast, his jaw stubbled and prickling against her skin. She swallows a shout and presses her tongue to the roof of her mouth, breathing stuttering.
“Patrick – yes – “ she reaches for the words, the right words – but her thighs fall open as his mouth moves to her neglected breast, tonguing the peaked nipple through the fabric. She spreads herself wide on the edge of the counter, feels the cool air on her wet flesh before he steps in and presses himself to her. He is hard against her, and she rubs against him through his jeans, the need for friction unbearable.
“Sarabelle,” he groans, lifting his head from her breasts to look at her. “You are just – you are so pretty,” he says, voice thick with want and meaning. She shudders under his gleaming gaze, her arms trembling with the effort to keep her weight off the countertop.
He cups the back of her head for one moment and kisses her, hot and wet and deep, his tongue searching out hers with fierce need. She shuts her eyes and arches into the kiss, her mouth opening under his.
“Don’t move. Don’t – don’t move – “ he breathes into her mouth before his body is gone from hers. Cool air fills the space where he once lay against her and she shakes with the shock of it, straightening her spine to watch him. He is as fast as lightening as he moves from his bed and the nightstand and back to her, stripping off his shirt and leaving it on the floor in the process. The muted lights gleam in his hair, gold and perfect and wonderful. She wants to sink her fingers into him and never let go, be swallowed by him.
“God,” he says as he comes back to her, his fingers at her lace panties. “God, you are so pretty.”
He says it so much, and she thinks sometimes he is trying to say something else. It warms her through, even though her brain cannot jump to logical conclusions as to why. She just spreads her thighs further as he peels her panties from her and sinks to his knees, his hands warm on her inner thighs.
“Oh my god,” she moans, startled into speech.
His grin is positively evil as she watches him lick his lips. “You are beautiful everywhere,” he says with that sandy voice, before all she can feel is his tongue on her slick flesh, his hair brushing the insides of her thighs. Moaning achingly, she arches forward and tries to shift her hips into his touch, almost off the counter itself. Only the hold of his strong, broad hands on her waist keep her in place and drive her insane, reducing the motion of her hips until it is just the smallest of motions, just the most precise rocking of her hips against his eager tongue.
Soon she is all shivers and moans, wanting him to envelope her, to circle her, to surround her so she can sink into him. She grounds out his name and reaches to sink her hands into his hair, tugging as the tip of his tongue circles her clit. A cry rips itself from her throat and she inhales sharply, her fingers trembling against his scalp.
“Patrick – “ she whimpers. “Please –“
And oh, she begs. She begs, and he immediately rises, his mouth wet from her. A thrum of arousal bursts through her at the sight. Flushed and smiling, he leans into kiss her, still tasting of her on his lips, as his fingers push at his jeans.
“You know I cannot resist when you say please, bébé,” he murmurs, pressing her back against the counter. There is the tear and rip of the condom wrapper as she shakes, spread out and flat against the cool marble. Her back sinks into the countertop as she stretches her arms out behind her. Her hands curve around the opposite edge as he looms over her, a golden flame of promise and power, and all in his smile.
“Yes,” he murmurs, a hand slipping under her to brace the small of her back, to change the angle as he slides into her, fills her in one easy stroke. She all but sobs with it, pleasure cresting within her like a great wave, but she does not turn away. She keeps his gaze even as her knuckles tighten around the counter and she arches her hips against his. Her thighs lock around his waist and hold him tight, matching the shift and rhythm of his movements inside her.
He kisses her mouth with ease, his breathing short and labored against her lips. With one hand anchored at the small of her back, the other locked on the counter to keep the majority of his weight from her, he is all-encompassing, a warm bright fire sinking into her skin, loosening her muscles until she is limp from him. The pleasure of her climax shudders through her as she moans his name, arching beneath him. Her bones melt and her skin rises in goosebumps, clenching around him as he murmurs her name over and over, coming after her with his mouth on hers and his hand flat at the base of her spine.
Shaking, she keeps her thighs locked against his waist even as he slips out of her, tosses the condom in the trash bin under the sink. He keeps a hand on her, flat on her stomach, the span of her ribs, as she stretches out flat on the counter, her breathing hard and flushed. She wants to anchor him as he does her, wants him to fall into her with the same ease she does with him.
“Sarabelle,” he breathes, picking her up in his arms like she weighs nothing. She sinks into his chest and buries her face into the join of his neck and shoulder. “Sweetheart, you are beautiful here. I knew you would be.”
She moans and kisses the hollow of his throat, lets him carry them to his bed and lay her down. As he strips himself fully, she peels off her bra and sinks under the clean white sheets, stretches out just as she had thought they would the night before. This is better, even as the bitterness from the miscommunications and missteps linger in her mouth.
Patrick is a stretch of heat along her side as he slides in next to her, wraps his arms around her as if he never wants to let her go. She drags her hand over his chest and sighs, limbs heavy with pleasure.
“Last night, I wanted to make sure you were all right,” she says after a long spell of quiet, her cheek tucked into his shoulder. “Because – you take care of me. I wanted to do the same.”
His hands still on her back, his warm breaths stirring her hair. She feels his long exhale in his chest, the press of his muscle against hers.
Smiling slightly, she kisses his shoulder, smoothes her hand over his chest. She feels loose-limbed and relaxed, at home in this apartment she’s been in for less than an hour, she thinks. The city lights twinkle through the wide windows, a view she loves already.
“I’m sorry,” he says hoarsely, startling her.
She sits up, brow furrowed. “For – “
“For choosing my words carelessly last night,” he says, reaching up to smooth the line from between her eyes. His touch is delicate and light, as if she is precious.
“You were tired,” she says slowly.
Half-shrugging, he looks up at her with his deep blue gaze. She feels utterly transparent under his eyes. “Still. I wanted to – “
He pauses, throat working against taut muscles. There is something he cannot say. She doesn’t quite understand it. But instead of waiting for him to force it, she reaches out and runs a hand through his hair.
“Okay,” she says quietly, smiling at him slightly. She sinks back down into bed with him and tucks herself under his arm, where he can keep her at his side.
She ought to feel strange, subsuming into him like so. But when his muscles too relax and he turns to kiss her mouth with a sweet Sarabelle tripping from his lips, his hand easy under her hair at the nape of her neck, it doesn’t feel like sublimation. It feels like a partnership. It feels like it could be so much more than these few nights together, these months of working together.
It should scare her. Perhaps in the morning, in the clean light of day when her brain is fully aware and working on all cylinders once more, it will scare her. Tonight, she is just going to enjoy.