Page 15 of The Other Man

This actually did make me feel better.  At least what he did had been controlled and had been done at someone else’s orders, not some compulsion of his own.

“I’m trying to be upfront with you,” he told me earnestly.  “But, and I know I’ve said this before, you do not need to be afraid of me.  I swear I’ll never hurt you.”

My heart did a slow turn in my chest.  The more vulnerable I realized he was, the harder I fell.  I knew it was naive of me, but I believed him.  Completely.

“I know you won’t,” I returned.

He took a very deep breath, sitting back, and as I watched him I witnessed some of the tension leaving him.

“Thank you for that,” he told me solemnly.  “Even my own sister is afraid of me, and while I understand it, it messes me up.”

A sister.  I tucked that bit of information away.

I was content to learn about him slowly, if that was what he needed, just so long as we were making some kind of progress.

“I’ll tell you what,” he began in a gruff tone.  “I’ll let you touch me when we aren’t having sex.  You let me tie you up when we are.”

Oh God.

With just a few words, he had me turned-on and alarmed in equal measures.

But then . . . as much as I knew I was jumping in head first, I did trust him, at least with something like this.

“Will there be exceptions to this rule?” I prodded.  “Or is this an every time deal for you?”

He ran a hand over his face, looking tired.  “I’ll work on it, okay?  I’ll try my best to be accommodating, but it might take some time.  My wiring is off.  Has been for a long time.”

“I understand,” I said.  I didn’t, not really, but we both knew what I really meant, which was, I’m trying to understand.

We were sitting a few feet apart, our chairs aimed at each other.  I moved mine, scooting in closer to him, until I was in easy arm’s reach.

He sat stiffly, posture rigid, arms folded across his chest.  He looked uncomfortable and mean, not the most inviting combination, but I pressed on.

I placed my hands on him for the first time, one on his pectoral, the other on his neck.

He twitched once, like a nervous animal, but let me do it.

Progress.

He was trying, undergoing something that clearly went against his nature, and he was doing it for me.

My heart softened for him all the more.

I’d always had a tender spot in my heart for wild things.

When I was young, I couldn’t count the times I’d taken in stray dogs and cats that weren’t close to being tame.

I had a patient nature, even as a child.  I recalled how I’d handle those feral creatures, caring for them, feeding them, waiting endlessly until they came to crave the touch of my hand.

My lover was not so very different.  An untamed challenge, to say the least.

But I could be very tenacious.  If anyone was up to the task of housebreaking a man like Heath, I figured it was me.

His flesh felt amazing under my hands, his neck corded and strong, his chest hard and soft in all the right ways.

I rubbed my hands over him in small circles, staying focused on his chest and neck, massaging, soothing.  I knew to take it slow.

“Is this okay?” I asked, tone soothing, almost a croon.

He let out the breath he’d been holding, then sucked it in, out, in, out, finally saying, “It’s okay.”

I kept going, stroking his body with a light touch.  I tried to chat him up while I did it, but as usual, he was not too chatty.

“It was nice waking up with you still here, for once,” I said.

His only response was a less than encouraging grunt.

“Do you have to leave soon?  Or can you stay for a bit?”

“I need to make a few phone calls tonight, but aside from that, I should have some time.”

I leaned into him, hanging my arm over his nape so I could put my cheek to his chest.  My free hand slipped down to his stomach, rubbing.

“So we have the day together?”

“If you’re free, yes.”

“I can take the day off.  I’ll need to make a few phone calls this morning, but nothing important.”

“Perfect,” he said succinctly.

We stayed like that for a long time, with me straddling his lap while I ran my hands over him tenderly, getting him used to my touch.

At some point (something sneaky on Heath’s part) my top and bra disappeared.

He was still fully dressed, and I was decent from the waist down, but it was one of the most erotic experiences of my life.

I stroked his hair as he fondled me with both hands, his face buried between my soft, sensitive breasts, nuzzling endlessly.

I cupped his head to my bosom.  I was rubbing my sensitized nipple back and forth, back and forth, dragging it along his rough cheek until he moaned, snapped his head to the side, and took it in his mouth.

I’d tried to prolong for as long as I could before it turned purely sexual, but our chemistry was an explosive with a very short fuse.

I was kind of impressed we’d lasted as long as we had.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

It was a strange day, but not strange in a bad way.  For the most part, it was just the opposite.

And surprisingly, we didn’t spend it all in bed.

I worked a bit, and then we went for a long walk.

Heath held ’Tato’s leash, and my dog walked just behind him, clearly showing deference to Heath’s dominant personality.  I swear all Heath had to do was look at him and he dropped to his back in submission.

In his other hand he held one of mine.

Unfortunately, before we’d gone far, we happened to pass by one of my neighbors, Deborah Dillon, and I could tell by the way her squinting eyes latched onto our clasped hands that we’d just made ourselves the hot topic of the day.

Dammit.  I knew it was too much to hope that she wouldn’t notice how young he was.

It was bound to happen with us walking around my neighborhood like this.  I just hadn’t given it a thought until I saw my least favorite neighbor hanging out in her front yard, which was surely an odd thing for her to be doing, since most days her kids were outside, roaming the neighborhood.  I couldn’t remember the last time she’d actually been caught out with them.

Here’s why I (and the entire neighborhood) didn’t have much tolerance left for the Dillon family, otherwise known as The Dickhead Dillons. (I swear I wasn’t the one that came up with that.)

No one blamed their children, who were nine, seven, and five, and boys, but that didn’t mean we had any patience left for them, either.

The nine year old had recently slapped the neighborhood sweetheart, a precocious little eight-year-girl named, Gilley, who wouldn’t hurt a flea.  I’d actually been witness to this (it was a hard slap and shocking to see), as I was walking ’Tato when it happened.  His parents hadn’t reprimanded him.  They’d blown the whole thing off with the disclaimer: ‘That’s a nine-year-old boy for you.’

I’d had two nine-year-old boys of my own once, so I knew very well that was not the case.

This wasn’t even the nine year old’s most grievous offense, just the most recent one I’d seen firsthand.

The seven-year-old could be found on any given afternoon pounding his five-year-old brother senseless.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, that saw this, tried to interfere and stop it, but the parents were adamant that the youngest brother needed said poundings, to ‘toughen him up.’

And the five year old, who I pitied the most out of all three feral boys, was best known for digging beach ball sized craters in other people’s nicely tended yards, or in general just destroying property, as all three kids were left unsupervised most hours of the day.

They were all bullies or headed that way, but you didn’t blame kids that young for things like that.

Everyone blamed the parents.  Because the parents were dickheads.

Messy dickheads.  The kind of messy that literally fell onto everyone around them.

Literally because of the unruly dog they let loose to roam for hours, day and night, pooping in everyone’s yard and going after any dogs that crossed his path.

My dog, ’Tato, left a mess in my backyard, but I knew said mess was my responsibility to clean up.

Their dog, in typical dickhead fashion, left its mess everywhere except their backyard, i.e. every front yard on the block.

When it was mentioned to them by Virginia Gant, a sweet old lady of sixty-four that lived three houses down from me, that this was perhaps a rude thing to do, their response was to send their three boys door to door, with custom made business cards, offering to clean up the dog poop around the neighborhood . . . for a fee.

They’d turned being irresponsible parents and pet owners into a business.  I almost admired their nerve for that one.  And of course, the story made for a good laugh.

The dad (when he was around) was the type you had to keep out of arm’s reach as he tended to find any excuse to get touchy feely with women who were not his wife.

And the mom, who was always perplexed when anyone confronted her for her many, many messes, had backed her car into the side of the back bumper of mine just a few months back.

My car was in drive, hers in reverse as she’d been zipping like a speed demon out of her driveway, music blasting, right as I’d been pulling away.


Tags: R.K. Lilley Romance
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