Title: Better than a Teddy Bear
Author’s notes: I own nothing from Breakout Kings and make no money. No infringement intended.
This is number 5, and the current end of my "Beyond Bars" series. But it’s a little further down the line than I’d thought the next scene would be. It’s late and Julianne should be sleeping. Julianne/Lloyd established relationship.
Better than a Teddy Bear
She couldn’t sleep. She should be fast sleep all alone in her bed, wrapped tightly chin to toe in her favorite quilt. The doors were all locked and even the windows were checked and secure. The clock sat on the nightstand with its comforting glow counting the seconds until daylight. Safe, alone, and locked up tight.
Julianne had been able to sleep for years and years just like this, only like this actually. Until Lloyd came along. Now she needed at least one more thing to get a good night’s sleep. Warm blankets, a locked door, and a nightlight weren’t enough. She needed him now. Julianne needed to be wrapped as tightly in his arms as she was in the quilts. She needed long, expressive fingers warm against her skin. She needed his breath against her neck and his voice in her ear. He was better than a teddy bear.
And damn him, he was late getting home. Very late. Julianne was so going to kick Ray and Charlie’s butts the next time she saw them. If they’d let her work on this case, the runner would already be back in cuffs and her husband would be home and in bed with her. If she’d gotten to go to their headquarters with the familiar smells of coffee, musty papers and chalk dust, the team would have had one more mind on the evidence, one more set of hands to wade through the bits of information.
Together the six of them were a hell of a team and Julianne knew she was more than a good addition to that success. She could see it in the confidence Ray and Charlie had when they asked her for information. She read it in the proud little smiles Lloyd sent her and the respect in the way Shea and Erica trusted and acted on her answers.
God, she missed that right now. She missed the sound of Lloyd muttering to himself over the contents of a runner’s cell. She missed muttering and debating theories with him over those boxes, missed the way he leaned in close to smell her hair, missed the warm touch of his hand on her arm or back. And if she’d been there to help, the Breakout Kings would have already caught their escapee and Lloyd wouldn’t be out there hunting down runners this late at night. He’d be home, right here so she could cuddle into his chest and listen to his heartbeat.
Julianne sighed and turned onto her back. It was useless to try any longer. She simply wasn’t going to fall asleep like this. A glance at the clock showed the time just clicking past midnight. She resisted the urge to reach for the cell phone sitting right next to the clock. Lloyd was fine, but he was probably busy enough that he shouldn’t answer the phone. But if it was her number on the caller ID, he would, probably worried. Julianne knotted her hands up in the edge of the quilt. She wouldn’t call. You couldn’t know when a cell phone ringing was a just distraction or something even more dangerous. She wouldn’t call, at least not now. It wasn’t like late nights weren’t pretty common. And one of them would call her if anything went wrong.
A floorboard creaked downstairs, followed by the quiet but distinct sound of a deadbolt clicking open and shut. Lloyd was home. Julianne rolled onto her side and arranged the quilts to make it look like she was asleep, or still asleep. But it was so much harder to close her eyes and wipe the smile off her lips. Shifting her back to the door was her only shot at fooling him for even a second. Forcing her eyes shut, Julianne tracked his movement through the house by ear. A softened thud in the kitchen was followed by the opening and closing of the fridge. A coat hanger dragged along fabric before clinking against the bar in the hall closet. Soon quiet steps trailed up the stairs. Julianne fought to relax into the sheets and clear the emotion off her face.
“Julianne?” His voice was very soft at the door to their bedroom, if she had been asleep, it wouldn’t have woken her up. Barely keeping her face blank, she didn’t move a muscle. Lloyd didn’t speak again. In fact the only sound was the rasp of a belt unbuckling, followed by the sound of clothing dragging across wicker. She knew when he finally made it to bed, she would finally get his skin against hers. The bed shifted under his weight and Julianne mentally tracked the removal of his socks. Any second now.
The blankets were lifted in the instant before a long, lean body replaced them against her back. His arms gathered her close and curled around her waist. Lips brushed against her cheek before he nuzzled into the curve of her neck. Long fingers stroked the mound of her stomach a few times and she could feel him smiling against her skin. Julianne couldn’t hold in a giggle any longer. “Lloyd?”
“I thought you were awake.” His arms opened just enough for her to turn and see his smile. “You actually move more than that when you’re asleep.” She found herself leaning up to meet the dip of his head, wanting his kiss. His hand curved around the back of her neck, his thumb rubbing back and forth behind her ear to hold her closer against his lips. “How are my home girls?” Blue eyes were warm as they followed the spread of his fingers over her stomach. The child inside loved her daddy’s hands almost as much as her mother did, kicking into his palm.
“You don’t know it’s a girl.” Julianne covered those wide stretched fingers with both of her hands, snuggling her side into the bare heat of his chest.
“You don’t know she isn’t a girl. You’re the one who wanted to be surprised.” He was giving her the ‘you’re cute when you’re silly’ smile. “But just you wait, one more month and we’ll be holding our little girl on the outside instead of you holding her on the inside.” Lloyd shifted against her arm, pressing a soft but somehow heavy kiss just above her belly button. His head turned, a cheek against her stomach. “Then you’ll know.”
“What if it’s a boy?”
His smile widened and his hands tightened on her hips, tucking her body closer against his own. “Then those pink teddy bears Shea and Erica gave me will have to wait for the next kid.”
“I never said I was giving you another kid.” Her words tried for serious, but they weren’t making it. Not when her fingers were running through his hair. Not when she was smiling down at the genius wrapped so possessively around her baby bump. Not when he was rubbing the hands she loved so much up and down her sides and pulling her closer. “But I guess we’ll see.”
He should be sleeping. It had been a hell of a long day and it was already well after midnight. He was home, in his favorite place in the world to be. But sleep just wasn’t coming. Not even with the most beautiful woman in the world fast asleep against his chest. Lloyd smiled against her hair, cuddling the pronounced curve of her stomach closer against his skin. Julianne, his Julianne responded simply by tightening her arms around his neck and murmuring something that sounded like his name. He’d known the second he’d said her name from their doorway that she wasn’t asleep. His Julianne responded to his voice, always. If he leaned down to her ear right now and whispered her name, his wife would completely unconsciously react. Her chin would angle upwards, inviting a kiss. Her arms would tighten around him or reach out if he was too far away. And some hidden tension in her muscles would melt away. Julianne trusted him so much it made his chest ache and his breath get stuck in his throat.
He knew the odds, better than he’d like to on most days. And putting it mildly there was no chance in hell that he should have this, even a little bit of this moment. Instead of a grave, a prison cell, or even a halfway house, he was home, in his own bed with his pregnant wife sleeping in his arms. He helped people every day and then came home to wrap his arms around this precious woman who loved him. And soon he would even get to hold his own child close to his heart. He had everything he’d ever wanted and so much more than he ever thought he’d get. Lloyd was so fucking lucky he had no idea what he’d ever done to be worthy of any of it, let alone all of it.
Gathering her just a little closer in his arms, Lloyd planted a kiss on her temple and quit holding the words on his tongue back. “I love you, Julianne.”
“Hmm, love you…” Her cheek nuzzled against his, her lips just glancing his skin before she cuddled impossibly closer. “Lloyd,”
“I’m right here, Julianne. I’m not going anywhere.” Burying his face in her hair, he imagined his future.
It was a very different image right now then he’d ever seen before. The child tucked against his ribs was definitely a girl. He could see her, a little, well, littler version of Julianne.
She was five, maybe six years old and she was hiding behind him with her tiny hands fisted in the knee of his pants. A blond head buried itself into the edge of his jacket, trying desperately to slide inside the cloth. His hand ran through her hair to coax her out of hiding. The little girl merely buried herself deeper against his side and relaxed into his hand. Just as stubborn as her mother. Lloyd finally picked his daughter up to the sound of a whispered, “But…Daddy....” Hooking an arm around her knees, he tickled her ribs and let her bury herself against his chest for a moment. Tipping her chin up with one finger, he smiled at her comfortingly.
“Come on, Sweetie, what would your mommy do?” Eyes exactly the color of his own gave him her mother’s wide-eyed plea for understanding. “Come on, Sweetheart.” A tiny forehead rested against his own for a second before a small back went stiff and turned her to face the new person in the room. A little hand was on his chest over his heart.
Her voice was soft and a little scared but clear. “Do you have the time?”
Lloyd couldn’t quite help a soft chuckle at the thought of their little girl. He couldn’t wait for his future now. After years of just surviving, only existing, marking off hopeless days and weeks, everything was different. And it was all because of the amazing woman in his arms. He looked forward to each day with his Julianne. And sometime in the next thirty days, another tiny blonde was going to solidify her claim a great big chunk of his heart.
He should find a way to thank someone for this gift, but too many people were on that list. If you went back far enough, the whole thing wouldn’t have happened if Ray hadn’t caught and locked up his stupid ass to begin with. Ray was also the reason he was invited into the Breakout Kings. Ray had brought Julianne into the team as her second chance at joining the Marshals. And third time’s the charm, Ray hadn’t killed him or slapped his ass out of the team and into 50 years behind bars when he found out Lloyd cared about Julianne. Charlie was the reason the team had been put and kept together for long enough to earn him parole. Erica and Shea had stopped him from dying or being terminally stupid more times than he could count.
He pretty much owed the whole team more than he could ever possibly repay or even put into words. Lloyd nuzzled his face further into the line of her neck, pulling the curve of her stomach even closer against his chest. There simply wasn’t a thank you present in existence big enough for this. But in the morning, he would get Julianne to help him figure out something in the right direction. Lloyd smiled against her skin and finally drifted off to sleep in her arms. He couldn’t sleep without her anymore anyway. Julianne in his arms was better than a teddy bear.