Diane fires off the single-word text and immediately begins the next:
I'm leaving work early. Long day. Sure yours was longer.
What time does your plane get in?
She steps into the waiting car, greeting the driver and arranging her bag on the seat beside her. She assumes it will be a while before he sees her message and is free to respond, but when she looks down at her phone again his reply is already there.
A little after 8. Should be home by 9
She grimaces, for his sake as well as her own, just wanting him back where he belongs. And now she has nothing but time to kill.
I could meet you at the airport
She texts back, expecting the kind refusal that soon comes.
It's ok. I'll take a cab. See you soon
She smiles to herself, glancing down at her watch, quickly calculating the hours.
All right. I'll have everything ready for you.
She adds a red heart emoji for good measure, making her feel a bit childish as it does every time, but it's the only one she uses, and only when she means it. And it is only, for that matter, for him.
Her smile deepens into a devilish smirk, hoping the implication, whatever he takes it to be, is enough to see him through a couple more hours with Trump's lackeys and a last late-night flight.
Diane is curled up on their favorite couch, a blanket across her lap, absent-mindedly paging through a book without making much sense of it when she hears his key turn in the lock. As if called to action, she throws the blanket over the back of the couch and tosses the book on the nearest table, not caring to mark her place. She arranges herself artfully before he enters the room, one arm slung across the couch, the other draped languidly across her legs, after ensuring her robe fell open just a touch.
“Hey,” he calls out before he has even entered the room, and then, as his eyes land on her there, he repeats with greater emphasis: “Hey.”
“Hey,” she says in a soft imitation of him, a hint of a smug smile tugging at her lips. She rises and crosses the distance between them, quickly and fluidly. He simply stands there and watches her, barely out of the doorway, entranced simply by the way she moves.
“If this is everything--” he begins, eyes drinking her in, but she cuts him off with a long, lingering kiss, her lips just pressed to his, her hands flat against his chest. His arms fall around her waist automatically, finding in her hips the perfect resting place, and clasps his hands lightly over her ass.
“This is not everything,” she purrs, pulling back just an inch and then quickly returning her lips to his, deepening the kiss, but still slow, and then she stops. The night is still young.
“Then I'm a lucky man,” he says.
“You are,” she agrees with definite meaning, reaching behind her to break his grip and take one of his hands in both of hers, turning to pull him into the room. He allows himself to be led – too tired to resist even if he wanted to, though he absolutely does not want to – back to the couch where he found her.
Once there, she loosens and then removes his tie, tossing it to the table. She then sets about unbuttoning his dress shirt, making quick work of it, sliding it off his shoulders and free of his arms. She slings the shirt over her elbow as she sets to work on his belt buckle.
“Hey, hey, hey, where's the foreplay?” he jokes, but making no move to stop her.
“Not yet,” she singsongs. “Just want you to be more comfortable.”
“Shirt, shorts, and socks?”
“Please.” She looks up long enough to roll her eyes at him. “I was thinking more robe and slippers.”
“So it's a sleepover.”
“I sure as hell hope so,” she says, her voice suddenly dropping an octave. She gives him a quick peck on the cheek and, before he can react, crosses the room again to retrieve those items. She is conscious of his eyes on her as she goes, and he makes no secret of his sustained enjoyment as she returns. “Why don't you get comfortable, relax, and leave everything else to me?”
One side of his mouth quirks into a smile as he finishes what she started with his belt. “A man could get used to this.”
When she returns, carrying a tray laden with food and drink from the kitchen, she finds he has obliged her by changing out of his work clothes, and he has taken over the spot she had occupied on the couch. But far from striking a sexy pose for her, his head is bent over his phone, a look of frustration creasing his features.
“There are few rules for tonight,” she says, setting the tray down on the table, “but one has to be no work email.”
“Sorry,” he murmurs, still distracted. “It's just this stupid...” He trails off, rather clumsily typing out some message of which she would probably prefer not to know the details.
She indulges him, popping the cap on one beer bottle and then a second, handing one to her preoccupied husband. He takes it, looking up for a moment with a quick smile of gratitude, then continues to attempt to finish his message single-handed, his long thumb slowly sweeping over the screen.
“I got takeout from Lou's,” she says, portioning out their dinner onto two plates, hoping to tempt him back to reality but getting only a grunt of acknowledgment in return.
“I'm sorry,” he says again a moment later, pressing the off button with a small flourish and then, as if deciding that wasn't a grand enough gesture, or not fitting his mood, he raises his hand above his head, cocks his shoulder back, and sends the phone flying, skittering until it hits the baseboard across the room.
“Wow,” she says, her eyes going wide as she hands him one plate. “Everything ok?”
“Thanks,” he says, trying to communicate with a weak smile that he has noticed she picked out all his favorites before answering her question. “Boss wants to talk to me tomorrow.”
She groans sympathetically as she eases back on the couch, her feet beside him on the cushion, balancing her own plate on her knees. “About your... viral moment?”
“About that,” he sighs heavily. “About everything. 90-day performance review, he says, which isn't an actual thing. Just an excuse to call me in and discuss my... general lack of enthusiasm.”
“If you need someone to vouch for you, I could tell them that's just how your face works,” she teases, hoping to bring him back to a good mood.
It does elicit a small laugh from him, the skin around his eyes crinkling adorably. “Worst of it is, I guess it's true. I mean, I knew what I was getting into when I took the job, Diane. But stupid me thought maybe I could make some kind of a difference anyway.”
“That's not stupid,” she says, reaching out to rub her hand along one arm, resting at his shoulder and squeezing. “You don't know how much I admire you for that.”
“Yeah, well. You can't make a difference from the inside. And I could probably just about deal with that, if I didn't have to put on a goddamn happy face about it as well.”
“I can't stand seeing you so unhappy,” she says, feeling every bit of his frustration and futility now.
He makes a sort of dismissive gesture with the hand holding his fork, waiting to swallow before responding. “It was a bad day. I'm sorry I'm going on and on. Don't take it too seriously, please.”
“But yesterday was also a bad day.”
“And you're dreading tomorrow, too.”
He sighs. “Diane, I meant what I said. And that was the deal I made when I took this job. This is how we get to be together, all this, this life we've made... It's worth it.” He pauses, holding her gaze for a long moment to be sure she understands. “It's more than worth it.”
“I don't--” she stops mid-sentence, her voice breaking with emotion even she didn't see coming.
“You don't what?” he prompts her gently, nudging her hip with his foot.
She closes her eyes, not sure exactly why this is suddenly so hard to say. “I don't like to think of you sacrificing so much for me.”
“Diane,” he begins, and she hears the dull thud of him setting his plate back on the tray. Her breath hitches as she feels his hands close around her ankles and pull her feet into his lap. “Diane,” he says again, even more softly.
She takes a deep breath and opens her eyes, finding a smile for him but no words to quite explain what has come over her.
He begins to rub her bare feet, making small circles with his thumbs, the pressure beginning to soothe her. “I don't feel like that. It isn't like that.”
“You promise me,” she says fiercely, sort of laughing back the old fears suddenly threatening.
“Diane, I promise. I'm doing exactly what I want to do. Maybe it's time to start looking for another job, but I promise, I'm not...” he drifts off, looking for the words. They both know what she's talking about now, and he will be the one to name it. “I'm not punishing myself. I'm not trying to be a martyr.”
“Okay,” she says, nodding, relief flooding through her. “I didn't think that, really. I just – needed to be sure.”
“I know,” he smiles back at her, his hands making their way up her feet to her ankles and drifting beneath the hem of her robe. “We said we'd check in with each other. You're checking in.”
She nods and takes a long drag of her beer, her mind drifting over conversations on other couches, other nights, at his cabin, at her old apartment, when they had sorted all this out. When she had told him, no matter how rough those conversations might get, her forgiveness was final and unconditional, and it would never work if he felt he must make it up to her forever, putting his own needs below hers. They had to go on as equals. Partners. Finally true, absolute partners.
And she understands he is saying to her that is exactly what he is doing.
She sets the beer back down on the table, and then her plate, no longer hungry for food so much as she is for his arms. She pulls her legs back and then scoots toward him on the couch, wedging herself under his arm and letting her hand rest on his chest. She inhales deeply, taking in his scent, his warmth, the pressure of his arm around her, his palm finding a place on her hip. This is infinitely better than the pillow she had tried to make do with the night before.
“I do want you to like your job, though,” she says softly, playing with the edge of his robe, and then, idly, the chest hairs springing free beneath it.
“Lots of people hate their jobs.” She feels rather than sees him shrug at this. “Don't know if I ever liked my work, exactly. I liked feeling... capable. Knowledgeable. Expert at something.”
“Well, I want you to have that,” she says, leaning forward now and kissing the bared part of his upper chest, her lips lingering there. “You have... so much... to give.”
Laughing, he raises his hand up to play with her hair, turning strands slowly around his fingers. “You curled it again, while I was away?”
She laughs, too, a soft hum against his chest. “I had some time to kill this afternoon.”
“I like it,” he appraises.
“You're easy to please.” The thought leads her to wonder if he is wearing anything at all under his robe. With a mind of its own, her hand drifts slowly lower down his body.
“In fairness to me, have you seen you?” His fingers tangle deeper in her hair, slowly massaging her scalp.
“Had time to take care of a few other things, too,” she says, her voice low, and the groan this elicits from him delights her, not least because she knows very well he thoroughly enjoys her whatever she has or has not done to her body, each time unwrapping her like a present, eyes wide and gleeful at what he finds. That groan is less about any specific expectation than the general promise he understands she is making.
She shifts in his arms, shimmying against him slightly so that she can reach his neck, placing a slow trail of kisses upward as her hand continues to work its way lower, coming to rest at the belt of his robe now. She presses a long kiss against the corner of his jaw, and then pulls his earlobe between her teeth, biting down slightly, then kissing the spot.
“You take such good care of me,” she whispers in his ear. “Let me take care of you.”
He groans again and she smirks in response: he is so easy.
She sits up again, pulling away enough to look him in the eye, letting him see that her mood has shifted in a definite and irrevocable way.
“I need to warn you,” he says with a sheepish smile, the fingertips of one hand slowly caressing her side from breast to hip. His touch makes her shiver involuntarily, her eyes drifting closed like a happy cat. “I'm a little tired to give you my best tonight.”
“Well, that's fine,” she purrs in return. “I said I was taking care of you.”
He raises his eyebrows, his other hand now parting the opening of her robe slightly, peering inside with interest at her burgundy negligee. “Oh, I like that one.”
“I know you do,” she says, leaning back slightly so he can get a better view.
He lets his hand dip underneath, his palm lightly cupping one breast, then moving lower, opening the robe to his inquisitive eyes still further. “Mind if I just... watch?”
“Mm-mm,” she hums. She presses his shoulders back against the couch firmly with both her hands, indicating that he is by no means to expend enough energy to so much as lift them from their resting position.
He shifts his hips into a more comfortable position, slouching slightly in his seat, clearly accepting the terms she is proposing. His hands continue to move freely over her body, his touch so light and separated by layers of silky fabric her back arches in delicious frustration. “I'll love you lazy,” he whispers hoarsely.
The tone of his voice, the way his eyes darken as he says it, makes her shiver in anticipation. No way in hell her cowboy would ever leave her unsatisfied; but if she wants it, he will make it slow torture.
She scoots backward and then comes to stand, his fingers trailing a line down her legs as she goes until she is just out of reach. He makes a quiet noise of protest as his hands fall uselessly to his thighs. She nudges his knee with her own, her hands resting on the knotted belt of her robe. He looks up at her expectantly, and she nudges him again, this time hooking her leg around to the inside of his. Catching her meaning, he slowly spreads his knees wide, his own robe riding up slightly and exposing more of his legs as he does.
She steps between them, her hands still poised there at the tie of her robe, looking down at him as if posing an innocent question.
“Take it off,” he rasps, needing to see more of her.
“You,” she orders with a slight playful pout, leaning forward to hover over him so she is again within reach.
Obediently, he works to untie the belt, clearly struggling against his own instincts to rip it free eagerly. He holds her there as long as she will let him, two large hands firmly clasping her sides, kissing whatever she will offer him, her neck, the top of her breasts, and he makes a sort of whimpering sound as she pulls away again, standing out of his mouth's reach, obeying her directive to sit back.
She begins to sink down, never breaking eye contact with him for a moment, a challenge neither of them are about to back down from. When she is just about to her knees he can reach out for her again, briefly caressing her neck with the sides of his thumbs, and then he slowly pushes her robe free of her shoulders. She shrugs it loose from her arms, tossing it behind her with no care for where it lands.
“God, you're beautiful,” he breathes, his fingertips just able to trace the neckline of the garment, his eyes drinking in everything he cannot quite reach. “That, too?”
She smiles wickedly. “We said lazy. Not greedy.”
He growls with a frustration she knows is partly for show, partly very real. She doubts very much he would stop her for the world right now, but he likes to see her, to touch her, to taste her while she is driving him wild. It will be slow torture for them both.
She bends down, pressing a kiss to the inside of one knee, then another further up his thigh, right where his robe has naturally come to fall. She rests her head there, turning to look up at him. “I've been thinking about this all day,” she confesses, her hand reaching out to the opposite knee, slowly sliding up that leg.
“Jesus, Diane,” he whispers, brushing a stray lock of hair out of her eyes.
“I had a lot of time to kill,” she goes on, her hand moving higher, up his thigh, over the material of his robe. She lets it come to rest right at the top of his thigh, squeezing his leg between thumb and forefinger. “And I have a good imagination.”
He chuckles at that. “I know you do.”
Grinning, she turns her attention from his eyes to his groin, gratified to see his robe tenting temptingly there. She turns the back of her hand over and lets it graze lightly over the bulging material and then, experimentally, repeats the movement with her palm, slightly more sensitive to the touch. She can feel him growing in response, and she is deciding moment by moment whether it will bring her more pleasure to feel him or to see him.
“You're killing me,” he sighs, evidently less purely curious about the whole endeavor than she is.
She sits up, coming to rest on her heels now, finally pulling loose the belt of his robe, but pausing to smile up at him again. She takes in every line on his face, more pronounced than usual with the tension he is holding. She watches him as she pulls the robe slightly open, one hand slipping underneath to feel his stomach, warm, rising and falling irregularly with his hitched breath. His eyes squint and his lips part slightly as her hand slides downward, slowly but steadily now, until it finds what it is seeking and grips him, harder than he expects. She memorizes every slight contortion and softening of his features as she runs her hand down the length of him once, and then slides back to the base.
And then she looks down, eyes wide with fascination and eagerness no matter how familiar, at what she has been longing to see all day. She places an almost chaste kiss to the tip of him, settling down on her hips into a more comfortable position. And then, almost without warning, she devours him.
He is not yet fully hard when she takes him in her mouth and somewhere in the back of her mind the thought flits across her consciousness that this is really the best part, feeling him grow for her, responding inexorably to her every touch, something beyond his own will, completely at her command. And she loves it, the way he takes up more of her, blooming inside her until it is almost too much, and then she adapts to make room for him. Her body buzzes with warmth and love as he fills her up with everything he has to give.
She begins slowly, or tries to, alternating between licking and stroking the length of him, then lashing his head with her tongue, then sucking as much of him as she can, now softly, now harder. But almost without conscious intention she is working him mercilessly, as if desperate to access something more, something deeper, just outside of her reality. It is as if she is trying to swallow all her love for him whole.
“Diane – fuck -” he growls, both his hands deeply entwined in her hair, and she knows he is resisting every impulse to squeeze or push her, and she isn't making it very easy for him.
She isn't even sure if this is what he wanted, exactly, but this is suddenly what she needs, all of him, more somehow, solid and real and not ever too far out of her reach. She presses his thighs wider, wanting him more open, more vulnerable to her, and he groans at the new sensations this brings, shifting his pelvis upward to offer her everything. Of all the ways they love each other, this is as raw as it is intimate, worshiping him even as he is at her mercy.
“Diane -” he says again, unable to add any more, no matter how ineloquent, but she never gets tired of her name on his lips like this, pleading, grateful, full of love.
She looks up at him finally, her hand replacing her mouth, and her voice is so low with desire it surprises even her. “Tell me how you want to come.”
He looks back at her, almost comically dumbstruck, at this question that impossibly demands every answer, no single one able to negate all others. Finally he lets one palm drop, exhausted but extended toward her in invitation. “C'mere.”
Grinning, she rises, finding herself a bit wobbly on her legs, her body protesting the length of time she spent in that position, further thrown to fully realize how wet and needy she is herself. Yes, yes, he made the right choice – thank god.
His knees still splayed wide, she must stretch her legs still wider to straddle him, hitching up her negligee as she places one knee and then the other on either side of him on the cushion. He helps guide her, his hands lightly on her hips as she finds her balance. Her hands rise to cup both sides of his face, hovering over him and seeing him return the look of unrestrained wonder she knows she is projecting down at him.
“God, I love you,” she breathes, pressing her forehead against his.
“I love you,” he responds, kissing her face wherever he can reach until she, laughing, adjusts to find his lips, pulling his face toward her where it belongs.
Almost at once, his hands at her hips coax her lower, lower, where he needs to feel her just as desperately.
“This is coming off now,” he laughs, easily pulling her negligee free of her hips and over her head, finding no resistance from her. She lowers her arms around his neck now, leaning back just enough to give him a good look. And he drinks her in, making no secret of how much he appreciates every inch of her, his eyes slowly traveling the length of her body until they land on her center, still poised just above his now-straining cock.
“Come on,” she practically coos, cajoling him to look back up at her again. “Love me, lazy.”
With a playful little growl he adjusts his hips to make it easier for her, and she slides herself along his length and easily pulls him inside. They both let out a long sigh of relief at the sudden change in their awareness as they join, then laugh at how utterly predictable they are, so in sync, so ridiculously, giddily high on each other.
She kisses him more deeply, their tongues mingling and exploring as he presses into her, and fills her up. Again there is a feeling of blossoming, of blooming, and he takes up all the space she has to give, a perfect home for him. She is in no rush, at first, to do anything but feel him, holding him there, all love and need both tangible and potential, pushing against him to find more, impossibly more.
He is the one to break the intensity of this deadlock, shifting his hips beneath her in small encouraging circles, nipping kisses at her jaw, every movement languid but purposeful. He runs his hands down the length of her back, fingertips tracking slow waves from shoulderblades to spine to the hollows of her waist and then finally coming to rest at her hips.
She responds to his every touch, beginning to move on him, clasping his body to hers and burying her face in his neck. It won't last long now, she knows, even if he is lazy and she does try to draw it out. She began too intensely and their bodies are aching too desperately for each other to pull back. Is this what one night apart does to them now? How did she ever go so long without the relief of his touch before? Not very well, she hears in his voice. Not very well. She wraps her arms around his neck, her hips moving a bit faster now in frustration that she cannot have him any closer.
“God – I want...” she breathes against his neck, not quite sure what it is or how to say it.
“What do you want?” His voice is gruff but she knows he would give her anything in the world if it were his to give.
She growls a little, biting his shoulder. She wants him inside her, his whole body, his mind, his soul if she believes in it, fuck knows, but she wants, wants all of him inside her. A home where he can never escape, not even for one night. “Pull me against you,” she settles for this in frustration, absurdly protesting the limits of language and physical space when she just. Wants. Him.
But he understands what she is asking, or at least what he is able to give, and moves his hands around to her ass, holding her there for leverage and matching her rhythm, pulling her into him as she moves on his cock. “Like this?” he asks, and it's as loving as it is goading, asking her to tell him what more he can give her.
Her answer comes almost instantly as an explosion of noises and utterances both familiar and always new, moans catching in her throat and then allowed to fill the room, her fists clenching at the air and then the skin of his neck and then his hair and then releasing as she loses and then comes back to her senses, still pulsing around him long after the first wave overtook her.
She knows he is trying to wait until she slows and then stops and then tells him it's over with a kiss, but he can't this time, his own release boiling over sooner than expected, before he can manage it, his hips jerking rapidly into hers, groans half-buried in her shoulder, sparking her waning flame again briefly, until they are both completely consumed.
They stay like that for a long time, holding onto each other tightly, slow careless kisses, their bodies joined until they cannot any longer. Finally she releases him, sitting back further on his legs, her arms draped across his shoulders.
“That was... quite a welcome home,” he laughs, always one for a magnificent understatement.
“Sorry if I wore you out,” she says, smiling slyly.
“No,” he shakes his head, returning the smile in kind. “I'll sleep well tonight.”
“Good. Me too.” She gives him a last, long kiss, then pulls his robe back around his shoulders before sliding off his lap onto the couch beside him. She leans her head against his shoulder, and takes his nearer hand in both of hers. She pulls the blanket around her, just for a moment, just until they can stumble to bed. “Don't leave me again any time soon.”
He squeezes her tighter against him and chuckles, and she can feel the rumbling in his throat against her head. “Where would I go?”