“Exactly, an average person. I-I.” He stopped looking at me confused as he did. “I guess I didn’t realize that I in any way could have such an affect on someone though.” He shook his head watching. “And thank you, like I said when I want to, I can kind of cook.”
“More than can kind of cook, this is actually amazing. God I miss home cooked food, and if I had more time I’d consider cooking more often but I don’t.” I just shook my head as I looked at him sighing as I did.
“You have a crock pot?” He asked looking at me for a minute as he did. “If so there’s a multitude of things you can do and not need a whole lot of time other than to eat and about 45 minutes to prepare. It’s amazing the things that you can do with one of those, really it is. I’ve got a recipe book at home for one; while I’m there I’ll bring it back with me so you can start looking through it. You going to be ok for half an hour or so by yourself?”
“Yea Ill be fine, I’ll be here at the piano trying to put in some real practice time because it’s not like I’ve accomplished a whole lot in that area this last week or so. I wait much longer and I’ll begin to forget everything I’ve learned so far and that would just be bad.” I shook my head falling quiet as I ate for a few minutes.
“You play the piano as well?” He asked looking at me as he did. “You’re a story just waiting to unfold now aren’t you? You just never know what you’re going to say. Is there anything else that I should know right now?” He asked thought the look on his face said that he was merely teasing as he did.
“Maybe you’ll find out some day.” I offered with a small smirk before getting up setting my plate in the sink. “Thanks it was wonderful, dishes can go in the sink, I’ll load the dishwasher later on.”
“That I can do, you want to pull out a container to put the left overs in, and then I will be off.”
“Yup, can do.” Digging through the cabinets that while they weren’t bare, they were hardly ever used, and it was almost as if they had finally found a use again. “Here you be.”
“Thanks. Now go find something to do, if it should lead you back to the piano then I’m thinking it was meant to be.” Once the left overs were in the container he put it into the fridge looking at me for a minute. “And then I’ll be back in a little while and we can do whatever you’d like.”
“It’s a keyboard but, yes I know what you mean. I wish that I had a real piano but unfortunately in this house there’s just not room for one, even a stand up one.” I sighed. “But yes that’s where I’m headed I think. Move the keyboard out of the guest room and into the living room so that it’s out of your way.”
“It’s up to you, whatever works best for you, you can leave it where it is if that’s where you’d like for it to be. Don’t let me cause you any major hassles; after all I am merely a guest in your house.”
“It doesn’t bother me to move it; I drag it out here all the time. In fact I do some of my best work out here really. I just stick the keyboard in there because it’s a little easier than trying to find somewhere to put it in the living room.”
“If you insist, it truly is up to you. If you want to play in there, then go ahead. Wont bother me, in fact I enjoy your company, I guess that was something I learned at the bar.”” Grabbing his keys he headed for the door. “See you shortly, numbers on the fridge if you need anything while I’m out and about.”
“Alright, be careful, I’ll be here when you get back.” Heading for the guest room I wasn’t too terribly worried till I heard the door shut. Then the fear I had earlier felt set in again. I would make it though, this wasn’t something I wasn’t used to, and after all up until earlier today I’d lived all by myself. Then again up until yesterday I had pretty much all but forgotten about my ex as well, perhaps that was the difference that had to be remembered here. Just move the keyboard out into the living room and then we’ll figure it out from there, after all it wasn’t going to be that long that he was gone. Picking up the keyboard I moved it out into the living room setting it on the coffee table I used as a make shift stand for it. Sitting down on the edge of the couch while I did I flipped the on switch sighing some as I did. I’d taken a year of piano when I’d first started college to keep my musical knowledge from drifting off on me. That was almost two years ago now and I was still fighting to figure it all out. It was true that I didn’t practice as often as I could have but I didn’t exactly have time to all the time either. He had asked if there was anything else he needed to know about me and of course there was, there was a many of things he didn’t know yet about me yet. All in time, all in time.
Letting my fingers slide over the keys for a minute it finally hit me, my muse had decided that she needed to make an appearance and inspire me. Pressing down on the keys I began to quietly sing along, “There you go taking my breath away again. All I have to do is touch you and there I go, my heart is fluttering, make me feel like I’m thirty thousand feet off the ground and still climbing.” Hmmm, it actually didn’t sound too bad, it wasn’t great but it was a start that was for sure. Grabbing a piece of paper I began to jot down the keys that I had pressed and the words before going back to try and make it further. “Just one little thing you do, and you’re driving me insane, you say you’re ordinary, I see extraordinary. Save me tonight when I want nothing more than to curl up and die tonight, Oh tonight, Hold me one more time, and tell me you won’t leave me tonight, cause for tonight all I want is to be just yours.”
Scribbling out the words as I went I couldn’t help but smile a little bit. It had been so long since I’d actually done any decent writing, and finally my muse was speaking to me again, well that was a start at least. I knew I wouldn’t get much further than this and still needed to get some work done on practicing the music that I was attempting to get through. Hmmm what was first? Elton John or Journey? I’d been working on both of them for awhile now and it was going to drive me nuts if I couldn’t figure them out. Sitting there quiet for a minute, I let out a small sigh as I could hear the rain falling against the roof. Off in the distance the rumble of thunder could be heard, a very unwelcome sound to my ears really, ever since I was a little girl I had hated thunder storms, but I hated them more while I was alone than anything else.
I was only brought out of my day dream by something furry and fuzzy brushing against my leg. Letting out a small gasp as I looked down, I couldn’t help but laugh. “What’s the matter Maverick? Huh? Don’t you like storms either puppy?” Patting the couch I waited for her to get up, I couldn’t believe what a good dog she was, even though she was used to being alone more than having company. Watching her as she just stood there I shook my head. “Well come on girl, it’s ok, I’ll let you up on the couch, even if daddy doesn’t.” Yup, he’d left her alone with me I was going to spoil her in the short time that he was gone. After all wasn’t that what baby sitters were supposed to do? Spoil those who they took care of and then send them home to their real parents? That was how it worked at work anyways.
Once she was settled in on the couch she began to look around before looking at me as if to say, well hey, where’s dad at?
“He’ll be back in a little while girl, he had to run home and get a few things so that you guys could crash here for a couple of days. It’s alright though, I promise I wont let anything happen to you, that big old bad storm wont get to you don’t you worry.”
Reaching out to pet her head, I began rubbing her head cautiously as I did. I knew that certain dogs really didn’t like to be touched and others didn’t like strangers and really after only a day together, we were still strangers to each other. Instead of growling though she rolled over onto her back putting all four paws into the air, I took that as a sign that she wasn’t going to take me as a threat. “Well are you going to be my new buddy? Huh?” I asked shaking my head as Gage came running in and stopped looking at the two of us. “Well come here you big baby there’s room for you too,” I couldn’t help but laugh as I patted the couch on the other side of me for him to get up on. “I can’t believe how jealous you’ll get, she hasn’t even been here two days yet and you’re already upset cause I invited her up here.”
With that Gage hopped up on the couch beside me. “Alright now, are you both happy?” As if to answer they both curled up on their respectable side laying their heads down on their paws as they did. Letting out a small sigh I went back to debating which music I was going to play, Elton was looking better and better, harder music but I needed less of a hand span to play it. Yea, that sounded like a good plan for today, start with that and then if I had time, I’d work on Journey. Pulling the music out of the folder they were kept in I let out a sigh looking at the music, there was very little about this music that was simple, in fact none of it was, but with a little practice I hoped it would get better.
Alright so it might take a lot of practice but the optimist in me hoped it wasn’t going to be too long before I could do it, because if not I would soon be getting frustrated all over again. When I’d first started playing I’d learned how to master “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” which wasn’t so bad, so I knew that with enough practice I could do this as well. Just as I was about to start working through it, there was a crack of thunder, causing both Maverick and I to jump. Damn, that was close, and getting closer by the second I was pretty sure. I was definitely beginning to hope that Nick got back shortly, even with the dogs this close, I didn’t like being alone. The way that the thunder echoed through out the house scared me in more ways than I could imagine.
Nuzzling in close between the dogs I let out a small sigh, they made me feel a little better about it but not by much. The pitter patter that had been the rain outside was beginning to sound like ping pong balls bouncing off the roof and windows, wonderful, that was more than likely hail instead of rain. The one thing that bothered me most though, I supposed was the fact that the wind blowing against the house caused it to creak, and each creak and groan made me think that there was someone else there.
Hearing the front door creak open though, I almost let out a sigh of relief. Thank god, he was back and safe and sound at that. “Hey you,” I called from the couch pushing myself up onto my feet as I did.
“Hey, how’s the mutt doing? I know she doesn’t do well with thunder. I suppose it’s best that it’s not still raining right now and that it’s hail or else I’d be drenched.” I wasn’t sure why but there was something comforting about his voice as he moved into the living room. “Maverick, come on girl you know better, off the couch.”
“She’s fine, I invited her up here, she was trying to crawl up in my lap. And then jealous wanted up so I invited him up as well.” Letting out a small yawn I sighed as I glanced to the clock on the wall, already eight pm.
“You look like you could use some sleep right now.” He offered dropping a duffle bag just inside the living room entrance way moving towards the couch as another crack of thunder went through. “You don’t like storms do you?” He asked as he looked at me obviously having known that I had jumped at the sound of the thunder.
“No, not really I don’t.” I sighed looking up at him for a minute before looking down at the floor. “Does it show that bad?”
“Oh no its not that bad, how’d you piano practice go?” He asked laughing as I jumped over another crash of thunder. Almost reluctantly seeming, he reached out and pulled me close. “You’re alright.” His touch was gentle; it wasn’t the normal overbearing presence of a male but yet it was still comforting. “I won’t let anything hurt you.” There was something in the way he stopped the sentence that made me wonder if there wasn’t more to it.
“It went alright, I managed to write part of a new song and then got started on practicing but I think I’m done for the night because you’re right, I am kind of tired.” Looking up into his eyes I couldn’t help but get lost in them again, he had such a power over me and yet he didn’t dare use it over me, I couldn’t help but wonder why.
“Well then, how about we take you upstairs, tuck you into bed and I’ll stay with you until you fall asleep.” He said still as he looked down at me placing a gentle kiss on my forehead. It hurt but I didn’t bother to tell him that, after all the last thing I wanted was for him to feel sorry about it.
“First I’ve gotta load the dish washer and then that sounds like a perfectly wonderful idea.” Wrapping an arm around his neck lightly I’d have almost sworn he flinched, but it was possible I had imagined it. “As long as that’s alright with you that is.”
“I’ll get the dishes, don’t worry about it, it’ll take me maybe five minutes to do anyways. I can manage it while you’re asleep, lets get you tucked in.” Without warning he scooped me up heading for the stairs. Letting out a screech I clung a little tighter to his neck, partially from the fear of falling and partially because I really just wanted to be closer to him. “I won’t let you fall, I wouldn’t let anything happen to you, I promise.”
“Oh I’m sure you wouldn’t, however, I’m not real big on heights and even at this little distance. I don’t really like having my feet off the ground, but I’ll live with it, just means I won’t let go.”
Once he’d set foot at the top of the stairs, he carefully set me down on my feet again. “There that better? “
“Yes, in fact it is, now listen don’t worry about coming to sit with me or anything like that. I’ll be alright while I’m in bed, especially knowing that you’re around. As long as you’re in the house then Ill be fine to sleep.” Reaching out to brush a hand against his cheek, I leaned up kissing it lightly.
“I want to Stephanie, this isn’t something that I think I have to do, you’ve been through hell the last couple of days, and I think you deserve the break. I’m sure Maverick will come lay at the foot of you’re bed and keep us company as long as you don’t mind it and we’ll make room for Gage, find something on TV to watch and you can curl up and go to sleep, after I’ll get the dishes washed and find somewhere to sleep.”
“Alright, Alright.” Letting out a sigh and turning away from him, heading down the short hall way that led to my room. Crawling up on the bed I let out a small sigh. The truth was, I was exhausted, absolutely positively exhausted at this point.
“You’re not going to change?” Nicholas asked leaning on the door frame as he did, almost as if he wasn’t going to move closer until he was invited to.
“No, I’m fine like this, I changed earlier on and I can live with the shorts I have on. You can come in.” I watched him a little curious about his behavior, but I wouldn’t press the issue. Patting the edge of the bed I curled up against the blanket. It was warm outside but I had a rather strange quirk that I couldn’t sleep without a blanket on me during the night. “The remotes on that side of the bed I think so if you’d like to find something on TV to watch you’re more than welcome to.”
Leaning back he let out a small whistle that brought both dogs running stopping in front of him, they both looked up at him as if to say yes? You called? Is there something I can do for you? “Go get up on the bed.” Was all he said and Maverick hopped up on the foot of the bed laying down before looking at Gage as if to say well aren’t you coming? He hopped up as well laying besides her looking at her as if to say alright I’m here now what did you want? Nick let out a laugh before sitting down on the edge of the bed. “She sleeps with me at night, she’s used to lying at the foot of the bed, in the middle of winter she makes a great foot warmer, but sometimes I wonder why I’m still sleeping along with just a dog.” He shrugged. “Sorry, I didn’t mean for that to seem like I was rushing it or anything.”
“Oh, no you’re fine. There’s nights I wonder the same thing, and then I meet another idiot at the bar and remember why.” I couldn’t help but shrug as I looked at him. “Then again they’re also a pretty good reminder as to why I also don’t drink anymore.”
“You work in a bar and you don’t drink? Not even in small portions?” He asked looking at me for a moment as he did before gently reaching over and giving me a push against the bed. “You’re never going to get to sleep sitting up you know silly.”
In response to that I playfully gave him a shove against the bed. “You promised you’d stay with me.” I gave a small smirk and when there was no response I carefully rolled myself up and over on top of him resting on my hands and knees carefully. If I had known what would happen next, I probably wouldn’t have done it. Before I knew it he’d given me a shove causing me to let out a yelp, defensively rolling myself onto my back as I did, getting away from him seemed like the smartest idea. After all he had at least five inches on my five-five frame, add in the weight and he’d have me beat easy.
For the first time since I’d gotten him, Gage let out a defensive snarl, the hair standing up on the back of his neck as he did. “Easy boy. I’m sorry?” I somehow managed to say though the fact that the wind had been knocked out of me and partially because I still wasn’t really sure why he’d acted like he had. Closing my eyes I pressed my lips together fighting the urge to cry, right now I hurt, while I didn’t think he had intentionally tried to hurt me, right now I wasn’t sure.
“No, I’m sorry.” He reached up running a hand through his hair as he did. “A-are you alright? You aren’t hurt are you?” His voice sounded fear stricken still as he spoke, but if he wasn’t going to share why he had acted the way that he did, then I wasn’t going to push it. “Please tell me I didn’t hurt you.”
“I’m fine.” I responded opening an eye to look at him as I did though it was hard to fight back the tears. He was genuinely concerned or he faked it well, but because I always thought the better of people I was going to choose to go with the first answer. Which in turn meant the last thing that I wanted to do was to upset him; after all I was finally happy in my life, the last thing I wanted to do was push him away. “A little sore but that’s to be expected after everything that’s happened in the last couple of days. Listen, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to, I trust you enough to know that there’s a reason that you acted like you just did, but if you want to talk about it, I’m always here.”
“I’ve never told anyone, but it’s a lot like why you aren’t the fondest of being touched.” He closed his eyes for a moment reaching up and rubbing them as he did, I’d have almost sworn that he was wiping away tears, but I didn’t press for information. I understood if he wasn’t comfortable enough with me yet to tell me, then I could understand that. “You’re sure that I didn’t hurt you?”
“Positive.” I said gently forcing myself to sit up. “I’m fine, like I said just sore, I’ll be alright. You didn’t hurt me, no.” I was still a little shook up myself after what had just happened, after all I had learned to trust him in the short time that we’d known each other and then he’d acted like this, it was a scary thought. I wasn’t sure what had triggered it, but I did know now that it and probably anything like it was a bad idea.
“I-I’ll leave if you want.” He’d turned his back to me to push himself up off the edge of the bed and part of me couldn’t help but feel bad. It was then that I managed to move to my knees, moving behind him and carefully wrapping my arms around him.
“Please don’t leave,” I couldn’t help but whisper as I leaned my chin on his shoulder. “We all have our pasts, we’ve all had something happen that shaped who are today, I don’t know your story, but maybe some day I will. Until then, if I do something that bothers you, please let me know. Believe me, I understand demons haunting you from the past, I’ve got my fair share of them.”
“I’m sorry, really I am.” He whispered reaching up and setting a hand on top of one of mine. “I guess I should have warned you from the beginning that I don’t really do well being pinned to anything or tied to anything. I’m sorry; I’m never really sure what I’ll do if it happens. I could have hurt you worse than you already are and for that I’m sorry.”
“Stop being sorry, it didn’t happen and now I know.” I placed a gently kiss on his cheek. “No harm no foul, at least no one got hurt.” Sighing some I looked at Kilo who had begun to growl again. “Enough boy, it’s alright, I’m fine.” He let out a dramatic sigh and laid his head back down besides Maverick again.
“I thought you said he wouldn’t hurt a fly?” He asked shaking his head as he did. “Lay down, you really should get some sleep, don’t let me bother you.”
Curling back up on the bed I shrugged. “He’s never acted like that before with anyone, I didn’t think that he would. Obviously though under the right circumstances, I would have to say that he definitely will. I’m impressed with how Maverick took it though.” Pulling the blanket back up over myself I set my head on the pillow watching as he turned to face me again.