Laura heard that soft meowing again. She was getting used to waking to it and realized instantly that sound was more precious than a kitten. Her daughter. Chloe was awake.
She tried to shift out of those strong arms wrapped about her shoulders without waking Ryan. The man must be shattered as she had heard it called in London. She lifted her head from the comforting sound of his heartbeat and stared up at the man.
Too late. Those spectacular blue eyes were open already. He leaned down and kissed the top of her head. “Good morning, sweetheart. How do you feel?”
Laura frowned as she considered his question. “Much better than yesterday, that is for sure. Did we hear any more from Mama or Mercy?”
He reached for the phone on the nightstand beside him as the baby’s fussing got louder. He shook his head, put the phone down, and reached for Chloe in fluid movement. How he managed that without ever loosening his hold on her was a miracle. He helped her get the baby attached before grabbing his jeans on the floor.
“I’ll be right back. I need to pee,” that smile challenged her. “Then, I’ll help you to the bathroom and change her diaper.”
“Are you for real?”
Ryan leaned down and captured her lips in a slow-burn kiss, “Morning breath and all, counselor.”
She was still laughing as he pulled the door closed. The very fact that she could laugh at all, given everything that had happened and all the unknowns, was thanks to that man. And the little girl in her arms.
Laura had to admit; he had been right, sleep had made all the difference. She felt more positive this morning. They were safe, at least for now. And although Grandfather and the little girl were a bit odd, she could tell these were ‘good people’ as Mama said.
Mama was safe with Jack’s friend, and Ryan believed Mercy was as well. Perhaps this morning, they could contact them and come up with some sort of plan? The fog had cleared from her brain enough that maybe she could even contribute. A couple cups of coffee would help, but that was still a big no-no, at least until Chloe was weaned.
Almost two years without the elixir of the gods, she must love the little thing. Laura placed a kiss to her daughter’s head just to prove it. Yeah, she was worth going without her six or more cups of coffee per day. And wine. And Poopsi. Yeah, still worth it.
“What are you smiling about, sweetheart?” He came to lie beside them on the bed. Laura smelled the mint, so much for that morning breath hero.
“I was just thinking that she is worth everything I gave up to have her.”
The quiet was uncomfortable as Ryan held out his finger, and Chloe grabbed it once more. Laura considered apologizing again, but what was the point? How many times could they have that same conversation? Besides, honestly, what would have happened to them – her baby, her, her sisters and Mama, all of them – if this man had not shown up when he did.
Laura was not the type to believe in some god. She would not have said she even believed in karma, fate, or destiny. You controlled your life, your choices, the paths you took determined the outcomes. Perhaps that was so, she had chosen him after all, but at this moment she felt damned lucky she had.
“Do you think you can walk?” His calm voice interrupted her thoughts.
She nodded her head, and Ryan reached down to pick up Chloe, who had fallen asleep and come off her breast. He put their daughter back in that basket, “Where did the moses basket come from?”
He frowned and shook his head as she explained, “The thing that Chloe is sleeping in?”
He tucked the blanket around the baby, “Jaycee. I asked Rex last night if they could get something more comfortable for her to sleep in than that car seat. I thought maybe they could go to a store or something today, but evidently, we don’t have to worry about anything. Rex has bought out the stores.”
He stood up and held out his hands. Laura rolled to her side, surprised at how much easier that was this morning. But she did still need his help to stand. “I’ll walk you down the hall to the bathroom. Then come back here, burp and change Chloe, while you pee,” Ryan winked and kissed the tip of her nose.
“You know this peeing thing is getting old?”
He laughed and stopped outside what she thought she remembered as the bathroom door. “I don’t think so, sweetheart.”
He opened the door and helped her inside, “It shows trust. A level of trust that some couples never achieve. I don’t know about you, sweetheart, but in this crazy situation, that reassures the fuck out of me. That one day we will be like all those other couples.”
He paused, and that smile ripped her heart out. Guilt and hope warred in her head. “Shit, I forgot. Can I get you something from the bags before I take care of our little girl?”
Laura was so stunned by the accuracy of his observation. Those damned tears misted her eyes again, but not in fear or despair. She was not certain she could find her voice to answer.
She cleared her throat, and tried anyway, “One of the pads from the Walmax bag, and fresh underwear and my toothbrush from my bugout bag. The toothbrush is in the front pocket, actually just bring the plastic bag of toiletries that it is in, please.”
He was only gone a moment or two before that blond head popped back into the bathroom with everything she had asked for, “Are you sure you’ll be okay alone?”
This time she knew she could not respond without breaking into more of those tears, so she turned her head, nodded, and shooed him away with her hand. Once she heard the soft click of the door, she managed to stand on her own, and disrobe enough to take care of business. To pee – as he insisted on calling it.
She sat there way longer than necessary. It hit her then. How very different things might have been had she chosen anyone else in that pub that night. She could be in federal custody right now, separated from her baby, or in Kerr’s jail, heaven forbid. Or worse. Because even with all Mama’s plans, there was no way she could have made it to the cabin. Ryan had given them the heads up. Otherwise, they would have been caught by surprise and unable to flee.
It was so much more than that. It was how he looked at Chloe, sure. Laura did not doubt that if the worst happened, the man would make sure that their daughter was cared for, and more importantly, loved. If that was not enough, how he was as worried about Mama and her sisters as she was, tore her heart to shreds. And the gentle way, he watched over her: made her eat, drink, sleep, and yes, pee, spoke volumes.
As much as she hated to admit it, this guy was her hero. A knight in shining armor saving the damsel. The problem was she was not sure how to play that role. All her life, or at least for as long as she could remember, she had been the one that everyone turned to…when Mama was not around.
She remembered the woman that Mama had left them with when she went back to work. Laura could not remember her name or more likely did not want to. But the woman had ten children, four of them her own, running around the little house that was in as bad a shape as their trailer.
There was no way that one person could look after that many kids. At six, Laura had been the one who changed and fed Mercy and made sure that Elena ate. That had not been a problem, but when the woman’s son had broken Elena’s favorite doll out of pure meanness, it was Laura who the woman had spanked for pushing her son down. She had gotten better at hiding the nasty things she did to that little boy after that, but he never messed with her or her sisters again. By the time she was ten, she finally convinced Mama she could care for Elena and Mercy.
Yeah, she had no idea how to let anyone look after her. But this past couple of days, she had not had much choice. She managed to stand and brush her teeth, even run a brush through her hair and pull it back into a ponytail. Heck, she also put on a bit of deodorant. It was about the best she was going to get for a while, especially this early in the morning.
The gentle tap at the door drew her attention, “It’s just us, sweetheart.”
Laura smiled at her reflection and how very much she liked those words. She reached over and opened the door. Her breath whooshed from her lungs at the sight of him, naked except for those too tight boxer briefs. Ryan held their daughter in the crook of his arm and smiled as he held out the other arm for her to take. She did not need to lean on him as much as she had before; that was a good sign. And each step she took down that hall was more confident.
By the time they made it back to the room they were staying in, and she got settled back in bed with Chloe happily feeding on the other breast, a plan was coming together in her mind. Well, coming together may have to wait for a few weeks, but there was no reason he could not now.
He leaned his head against the palm of his hand and observed them. As usual, he held out his finger, and Chloe grabbed for it immediately. “What time is it?”
“A bit after six. I heard Grandfather go out earlier for his morning commune, but I did not want to disturb him. Breakfast is usually around eight, so we can all talk and try to come up with a plan then. Maybe call your Mama and sisters for updates?”
That sounded like perfect timing for her plan. “I need to speak with Mercy, make sure that everything is really alright with her. Are you sure about this Williams guy?”
He nodded as Chloe’s little eyes began to drift close. Laura appreciated how he met her gaze directly as he answered, “Yes, I honestly am. I don’t know the details or how the hell Will came to be involved in all this shit, but I know the man, his character, and yes, I do trust him.”
His promises would have to do, at least for another couple of hours. Chloe’s suckles were becoming weaker and less frequent. Her daughter was drifting back to sleep, but she was wide awake. Her mind was rushing in a million different directions.
But her next move was clear. “You want to put your daughter in the basket, counselor?” Ryan nodded and gently picked up the sleeping baby, “You’re good at that. Where did you learn so much about babies?”
He laid Chloe in the basket and arranged the blankets, “Lupe showed me how to hold her. Everything else is from those damned books. I bought half a dozen from Walmax, but Lupe was right. I like the Dr. Spock one best. But it turns out he is not a Vulcan.” He came to lay back by her side. His arm scooped her head onto his shoulder, and he kissed the top of her head, “You should get a couple more hours sleep, counselor.”
“What about you? Aren’t you going to sleep some more, Ryan?”
“Nay, I was trained to run on almost no sleep. I can go forty-eight or sometimes seventy-two hours without sleep or food and still make half-decent decisions, sweetheart. Those few hours were more than enough for me.”
“Then you get night duty if she has colic,” Laura teased.
“No way. That would wreck me, bring me to my knees in complete surrender. Seeing her in pain, not being able to do anything to make it better. No fucking way, sweetheart.”
“Our hero,” Laura reached up and caressed his cheek. He was right; those dark circles beneath his eyes were almost gone.
But they got a far off look as he shook his head, “No, sweetheart, I’m no hero. I’m not even sure that such a thing exists in this world. We all do shit that we are not proud of, that we wish we could change. Sometimes we even have good reasons for doing it, but that does not make it any easier to live with the guilt or regret.”
Her fingers traced the deep crevices in his forehead. She felt the tension inside of him. She did not know specifics of those things, but she would damn well bet those reasons had been fucking compelling for this man to make those tough decisions. The very fact that they still weighed on his conscious was what made him a hero in her book.
He sighed and forced a smile as he tried to pull his arm back. “I should go. Let you get some sleep, sweetheart.”
Laura wrapped her arm around his neck and drew him closer, “I have a counteroffer, counselor.”
He chuckled but did not try to break her hold, “Oh, really, and what would that be, counselor?”
Laura felt her insecurities rising once more. Honestly, she was not as sexually experienced as all that. She had been in college before she lost her virginity. And besides Stewart and Ryan, she had had only a couple other lovers. She had always found BOB, her collection of battery-operated boyfriends, to be a more straightforward and more effective solution to satisfying her relatively healthy libido. Until this man…
At least, her relationship with Stewart had taught her to take the lead, she called on that now. “I think a good morning blow job is in order, don’t you?”
Ryan knew he was out of his ever-loving mind. He could not have heard her right. There was no way that Laura Reynolds just offered to suck his cock. Not that it was not an amazing fantasy. That was it, he’d fallen back to sleep, and this was all a dream. His fantasy come true. Cum true?
But the tiny hand moving between their bodies, finding his morning wood and wrapping around it, squeezing and stroking it, that could not be his imagination, right? Fuck, that felt good. Better than anything had since the last time he had cum inside of her that morning, nine, almost ten months ago. “Laura?”
His hand covered hers as he stared into those dark eyes, “What are you doing?”
“I thought that would be obvious,” her voice had an edge to it. But what? Anger? Hurt? Disgust?
“You don’t have to do this. I mean, you just had a baby. I know you’re not…” This is even more difficult to discuss than peeing. But he sucked it up. Fuck, why did his mind use that word? “I know you aren’t… That you can’t…” Damn, he was screwing this one up.
“You don’t have to. Just because I… I’d do anything for you and Chloe. You shouldn’t think I expect…” His hand tried to pull hers back, but her fingers wrapped tighter about his dick. Damn, that was amazing, and the fucking traitor hardened even more.
“First of all, counselor, I offered. Of my own volition. Secondly, I’m not doing this simply out of gratitude. Yes, I am grateful for all you have done for us. Yes, I want to show you how appreciative I am. And no, I can’t have sex for a while. But that does not mean you can’t.”
“So, are you going to be stupid and turn down a half-decent blow job when your cock is hard as a rock? Or are you going to take off those damned briefs and bring your dick over here?”
Damn that stare; he’d hate to face this woman across the table. Her negotiation skills were excellent. When she put it like that, Ryan felt even more ridiculous. “Are you sure?” Damn, what was wrong with him?
“I would not have offered otherwise, counselor.”
What was he to do? He was not totally crazy. He pushed his underwear down a bit, freeing his erection. He considered the situation a moment. If they were going to do this, and suddenly it didn’t seem like such a bad idea, especially since he had fallen asleep last night without that relief he had promised himself.
But if he was, they were, then her comfort mattered most. He got to his knees next to her. He had not even reached the pillows to adjust them under her head before her mouth joined her hands. “Fuck, woman,” was the limit of his vocabulary at that moment.
Damn, how did that feel so incredibly? The gentle suction on the head of his dick, the way her tongue swirled the head, and those soft hands moved up and down the shaft combined into a cacophony of stimulants to his already overwrought body and mind. Ryan knew he would not last long. Though, he wanted to stretch this unforgettable sensation out for eternity.
He could not stop his hips from gently rocking in time with the motions of her hands. Each thrust took him deeper into her mouth. He watched her face; he wanted to remember every single fucking moment of this for all eternity.
Those dark eyes danced in challenge as her hands increased the tempo, and her mouth took him even deeper. Fuck, did the woman just manage to smile around his damned cock?
“Laura…” His breathing became faster. His heart was pounding so fast that he could hear the damned thing like some hard rock or techno beat in his head. But none of it mattered when one of those soft, tiny hands slipped lower, and her nails wracked along his balls. “Fuck, woman. What are you doing to me?”
She released his cock from those incredible lips, just long enough to stare up at him with laughter in those eyes, “I thought that was obvious, counselor. But if it isn’t, then I guess I need to try harder.”
He felt like he had been sucker-punched to the solar plexus, or tackled by a three-hundred-pound lineman, or taken a bullet to his Kevlar. With a pleased and knowing smile, her mouth wrapped even tighter around the head of his cock, and her tongue licked at the slit. He gritted his teeth, “Dammit, sweetheart, you have to stop. I’m going to come if you don’t.”
She did not even fully release his dick as she laughed. The vibrations were incredible, pushing him even closer as she muttered around his cock, “That’s the idea, genius.”
“No, you don’t understand…”
She stopped once more, except for her damned hands. Those alone felt better than anything he could remember, other than that night. “I understand perfectly, Ryan. Now, shut the fuck up and feed me a morning snack.”
Her words sucked all thoughts from his brain, as surely as her lips and tongue were sucking the cum right up from his balls. Then her fingers on his balls moved lower, pressed on something, he had no fucking idea what, just below. “Fuck,” he screamed as he lost the battle to hold back, and won the biggest fucking orgasm of his life in return.
It seemed to last forever as he watched her swallow each spurt. Fuck, that was a spectacular sight, to watch the woman he loved take each drop of his cum down her throat. The spasms continued for several moments, leaving him weak in the knees as he gripped tighter to the headboard of the bed.
He reached down and caressed her cheek as she released his cock and licked her lips. Did she actually lick her lips?
“All better now, counselor?”
Ryan shook his head and leaned down to kiss her sweet lips. When she moaned, he could not resist the need to take it deeper, his tongue swept inside her mouth. Though he tasted himself on her, it was not unpleasant. In some way, it only heightened the need he already felt for this woman, strengthened their growing bond.
He drew back reluctantly, caressed her cheek, then tugged his shorts back up. “Get some more sleep, sweetheart. I’ll wake you for breakfast, and we can talk to the others then. Call your Mama and sisters, and hopefully, come up with some fucking kind of a plan for what we do next.”
Her eyes began to drift closed, “After the sleep and that perfect breakfast of champion sluts, I think I’ll be ready to face the world, counselor.”
He pressed a kiss to the top of her head, “Together, counselor. We make a hell of a team -together.”
Laura opened her eyes, though they were sleepy, he loved the smile on her lips. “That we do. I give you Exhibit A in the moses basket.”
He laughed and felt like the weight of the world lifted for a single heartbeat from his shoulders, “As soon as this shit is over, we’ll discuss Exhibit B, counselor.”
“Maybe…” her voice faded as those eyes drifted back closed.
He sat for a moment just watching them sleep, his girls. He did not consider himself a chauvinist or one of hers and Jaycee’s misogynists. He did not mean those words like that. They were a team, and he would be perfectly content to be her ‘boy’ for the rest of his fucking life. And if he wanted that to be very long for either of them, then they needed to get their shit together and come up with a plan.
He kissed the top of her dark head, then grabbed his jeans and pulled them on. He bent and ran a finger over their daughter’s sweet cheek. She moved into his touch but did not waken. He grabbed one of the t-shirts from his to-go bag and pulled it on. He glanced back at them both, sleeping so peacefully before he closed the door quietly.
She’s been right. That blow job, combined with those few hours sleep, was just what he needed, besides coffee and then food. Then they’d be ready to conquer the world or at least take down whoever McBride had been working with and keep their family safe. Because Stacey, Elena, and Mercy were his family now too. Every bit as much as Rex, Jaycee, and Grandfather were hers. And between them, they would come up with something.