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Li woke in BJ’s embrace. Once again, he’d slept in a position he normally didn’t, to accommodate her presence. She snuggled closer to him, resting her head on his warm chest. Though he was still asleep, she was embarrassed as she wiped away the bit of drool she’d dripped onto his skin. She listened to the sound of his breathing and the steady rhythm of his heartbeat. She was charmed by the peaceful quiet of the moment, the security she felt with this man.
Her gaze moved around the room. It was neatly arranged, unlike her chaotic bedroom in Florida. BJ made a wonderful counterweight for her spontaneity and sometimes-flighty nature. He was organized and tidy. He had a schedule, and he stayed with it. He kept everything controlled, calm, and quiet. Stepping outside of this put him off balance and made him uneasy.
A smile slowly stretched across her face. It would take some time to set things up, but she knew what to do about the thong situation. In the meanwhile, Li wanted to just enjoy their limited time together. She repositioned herself to lean on her elbow and look down at him. Her hair must have tickled his face because he suddenly made an annoyed expression, then blinked up at her. She lie back down so her hair wouldn’t dangle into his eyes and they cuddled for a while.
She must have drifted back to sleep, because between one blink and the next, BJ had left the room. It was the sound of the door that made her open her eyes. He smiled apologetically from the doorway as she stretched and yawned. “I didn’t mean to wake you up. I know you don’t get a lot of sleep.”
He closed the door softly and sat on the side of the bed. She scooted over to put her head in his lap, wrapping an arm around him. He toyed with the end of a lock of her hair. Clearing her throat, she said, “So… I’ve completely thrown off whatever plans you had, huh?”
“Yes, but the things I was going to do didn’t have to be done at any particular time. I did need to go grocery shopping.” He grimaced.
Li smiled and kissed his thigh lightly before sitting up. “Well, at least now we can see if I’m enough of a distraction to prevent shopping from being a miserable experience. I’d offer to go while you stay here, but I don’t have a clue how to get there… and I might buy you nutritious food, instead of cookies and hot pockets.” She added the last part teasingly. She was always saying she wanted to make him start eating healthier.
“I just need to take vitamins!” He responded. BJ only ate things that tasted good, whether or not they were good for him. He was a strong supporter of vitamin supplements, while Li felt that all he was doing was creating rather expensive pee.
“But human bodies don’t process vitamins as well in capsules. We do better when they’re in our food.” Li laughed. She knew they’d never agree, and didn’t actually mind at all. It was just an excuse for banter. As long as BJ stayed healthy, he could eat every strip of bacon in the world on the biggest cheeseburger ever, and follow it with every cookie those little tree elves could bake.
At that thought, Li’s smile faded. She glanced around for her phone with a guilty expression. Her father had been in the hospital several times earlier that year, and his entire diet had been changed. She had promised to spend time with him during her vacation, but had been so excited to see BJ; she hadn’t even called to say when she’d be around.
“What’s wrong?” BJ asked, wondering why her mood had shifted so quickly. Li just shook her head. She hadn’t told him much about the situation with her father. In truth, she’d spent a few weeks early in the relationship, trying to find a way to ask BJ to go with her to meet her father. She’d wanted her father to meet BJ before he died, and know that she was going to be okay.
Instead, she’d said nothing. She was afraid it would put pressure on BJ. She was afraid it would put pressure on herself. She was afraid of what it meant that she was stating she’d be okay because BJ was around. Was she ready to make that kind of commitment? Most importantly, she was afraid that putting the thoughts to words would make something happen, that it would make her father’s death a reality. It was silly and superstitious, but there it was. While logically, she knew that talking about it couldn’t make anything happen, she knew she’d carry the guilt around for the rest of her life.
Li reached for her phone, lost in thought. She was decisive about a lot of things, but when it came to emotions, she was just a scattered mess. She could help her father pay bills, but she couldn’t tell him she loved him. She was strong enough to handle almost anything, but when it came to “simple” things, like falling in love, she was a disaster. She paused at that thought. Was she falling in Love? Was it more than Like? That thought terrified her more than she cared to admit. She turned to BJ, who was starting to look concerned.
“Sorry. I just realized I haven’t called my Dad yet.” She looked at BJ with a smile. “You don’t look dressed canlı bahis for grocery shopping. Why don’t you get ready, and when I’m done talking to my Dad, I’ll get dressed, too.” She pushed buttons while BJ reluctantly got up. He hated to go to the store.
She chatted with her father, telling him about her flight to Connecticut and explaining that Katie was with Tori. She scolded him into taking his medicine and putting on his oxygen, promising to visit him within a few days. She forced a smile into her voice as she added, “So you have to stay healthy, because I don’t want to visit you in the hospital!”
Li finished talking to him and got dressed while BJ watched something on television. She shyly stepped out of his room and was relieved to find that his roommates weren’t home. She was a little nervous about how they’d react to all of her noise earlier. They went shopping and Li paid close attention to try and learn what things in particular triggered anxiety from her boyfriend. She smiled at how protective she felt, which was something she’d never had a chance to feel with anybody, other than Katie.
They returned to the apartment and spent the day in his room, leaving only to get dinner. The next day, Li flew back to Ohio. Katie was thrilled to see her mother, but surprised that two days had passed faster than she’d feared. Li told them about her trip, minus a few details. Tori met her eyes with a laugh when Li said she’d been incredibly tired and stayed in bed a long time the first day.
That night, Li called David to discuss something very important. Li had traveled to Ohio for a few reasons. One, she’d suspected it would be her last chance to see her father before he passed away. Two, she had wanted to see her best friend. Three… she had to burn the last bridge connecting her to David.
It was a sad truth that Katie was not a bridge connecting them. He’d abandoned his fatherly duties years before. No, the thing that kept her tied to him was in Dayton. It was a five by ten storage unit with everything that had been in their apartment. He could have it all, as long as she could have sentimental items, like Katie’s baby pictures. Li hadn’t had the time and funds to retrieve her things, but every time she’d asked about it, he had said everything was fine. One day, his mother had accidentally let slip that he was over a thousand dollars behind on rent.
So for this trip, Li had made arrangements. The management had offered to let her into the unit for five hundred dollars, as long as everything was moved out that day. David had neglected to put her name on the paperwork, so he had to give them a letter on Navy letterhead or get something notarized, saying she had authorization to do this. On her arrival to Ohio, it hadn’t been handled. David had given her a ton of excuses and assured her things would be taken care of before she had to return home. It came as no surprise to her that when she arrived in Ohio, nothing had been handled, and David was back in Virginia.
He made countless excuses and tried talking her out of getting her things. During the explanations, she realized how stupid it was. She was done arguing. She was done trying to maintain peace. She didn’t have to do it anymore. She’d been reluctant to cut him off before. If she did, and BJ left, she’d have nobody left to care about… nobody who cared about her, even as horrible of a job that David was doing… but this wasn’t the way somebody who cared behaved. David was just trying to manipulate her. He was trying to control her, own her. She took a mind clearing breath, and then calmly said, “If you cannot get it handled by 2pm tomorrow, just forget about it. I’ll pay the full amount. I’ll pay the thousand dollars, because it’s worth it to be done with you. It’s worth it to be free.”
It was the next day before she realized how powerful of an impact BJ had made in her world. He probably would never fully understand how significant a thing it was for him to remind her that she deserved more, and to give the support she needed. She knew that he’d helped her to fix one of the deepest wounds in her heart. No matter what happened from this point in their relationship, Li would always be grateful for having known him.
She had let BJ know that at some point during his upcoming visit, he would be punished for stealing her thong. She wasn’t really angry with him for keeping her panties, but for sneaking around to have it. Besides, it was a handy excuse to “punish” him.
Li’s birthday was on Valentine’s Day, so it was a bigger deal for them to spend time together than it was for most couples on that day. BJ flew down the night before, and they cuddled in front of the fireplace while he read comic books to her. While Florida wasn’t as cold as Connecticut, BJ was surprised that the temperature was as low as it was. Li explained that Florida often reached temperatures around the mid-thirties, and this year was colder than usual. At one point in January, it had been so cold that lizards were falling out of the bahis siteleri trees. “People keep saying I brought winter back home with me from up north.”
They woke the next morning, still snuggled up on the sofa. Li took BJ and Katie to the mall with her, and after shopping, they met Li’s mother at a restaurant for a birthday lunch. Then, her mother stayed with Katie so Li and BJ could go out. They got in the car, and she slid a CD into the player. He didn’t know where they were going or what they were going to do. “It’s a surprise,” she’d told him.
Li’s hair was up in some elaborate way to show off the interesting streaks of purple she’d put into her locks. BJ admired the coils as they glistened in the dim light. She had applied her makeup carefully before they left, a little darker than anything he’d seen her wear before. Her violet shirt had black ribbon trimming and was cut low. Every time she moved, her breasts jiggled against the fabric. Li was wearing a black skirt that went to her knees. As she sat, it grazed the tops of boots she had bought while they were at the mall. She glanced over at him and smirked. He smiled at her hesitantly, uncertain what to make of that expression.
“So, uh, what” he started. She shushed him, and he cut his sentence off abruptly. She normally was happy to have him chat with her, so he figured there must be something important she wanted to say. He waited, but she said nothing at all, just pressing buttons on her CD player. He tried again. “Sweetness….”
“Shh!” Li waved a hand at him dismissively. He frowned, then slumped back in his seat. They finally had some time alone, on Valentine’s Day, and she was more interested in a CD than in him. He wasn’t thrilled with this development. The music wasn’t even playing yet, but apparently, he wasn’t allowed to disrupt the mood, or whatever the hell she was messing with.
They were at a red light when she pressed the button again, and the song began. A weird noise like a large insect echoed through the car. A girl sang, “I wanna feel your touch,” and from that point, BJ stopped paying attention. The music was soft and echoing, until it suddenly sped up into some sort of techno beat. Li didn’t seem especially interested in it, herself. She wasn’t bobbing her head or singing along. She seemed calm and quiet, driving with focus. She produced a piece of paper that he guessed had directions. Great. Even Li didn’t know where they were going.
The song was set to repeat, and by the time they had driven to what seemed to be their destination, he’d already memorized part of the lyrics. They pulled into a parking lot. It was crowded, and he glanced around. They were surrounded by people wearing the stereotypical Goth clothing. Music was pouring out of a building.
Li had brought him to a Goth club? That was weird. She knew he was uncomfortable in this type of setting. What was she doing? She got out, walked around the car, and opened the door behind him. Then, Li retrieved something and tossed it to him. BJ grabbed the bag awkwardly, caught off guard. “Change.”
He raised his brows, looked at her, and then looked at the bag. There were clothes in there, things that would allow him to fit in better than the clothing he was wearing. “Here?” He looked skeptical.
She arched a brow. “Why not? It’s just the shirt. Your pants are fine.” BJ started to complain about the cold, thought better of it, shrugged, and changed. Li removed her jacket, exposing black fishnet sleeves. Once he was dressed as she’d requested, she smiled at him, then reached into her purse.
“I wouldn’t stop this feeling from taking over,” crooned the radio as she pulled out accessories. She fastened a bracelet onto his wrist, black leather set with fake amethysts. Then, she leaned up, slipping her hands around his neck slowly. He felt the cold of metal links at his throat. Then, there was a click he both felt and heard. She smiled at him, showing him a key. He reached up and felt the collar she’d put on him, secured with a little padlock.
“Do you remember when I said you might be permanently wrapped in my chains?” Li said it teasingly, a smile in her voice. Then, she gestured at the club behind them. She smiled reassuringly before stepping back and offering him a hand. He took the hand, but when she tugged, he hesitated. There was so much noise and so many people. BJ glanced at her, then back at the building, standing still a moment. Li swiftly brought a hand down and grabbed him firmly between the legs. He bent slightly at the pain and she whispered sweetly into his ear. “Walk, bitch.”
The pain wasn’t enough to make him double over, but it was certainly enough to make him accompany her meekly. She smirked knowingly as she felt his erection grow in her hand. A few people glanced their way, but nobody paid much attention to them. One girl actually noticed what was going on and nudged her friends, who stared openly and laughed.
They went into the dark building with its neon lights, and he grimaced. This was not his bahis şirketleri sort of thing. He wasn’t sure how he’d do in here, but could not think of a way to get out of it. The music was even louder than he’d feared it would be. She paid their entry fee and dragged him to a seat. Once there, she perched on his leg, not resting her full weight on him as she searched her large purse. There was a little matching pouch inside of it, which she clipped onto her belt. He assumed it held whatever valuables she might have.
She leaned close and spoke clearly. “We’re going to dance,” she said. He was surprised, though he wasn’t sure why. What else could they do in a place like this? He certainly wasn’t going to drink. She must have misunderstood his expression. “I know you don’t dance, but just hear the music and feel the beat. Okay?” BJ grunted. He could hear the damned music and feel the damned beat. That wasn’t the problem at all, even though he really didn’t like music. He wanted to make a complaint, but she didn’t look interested.
She pulled him and they made their way onto the floor. He practically growled as they were immersed in the crowd of moving bodies. He just stood there unhappily, and she smiled pleasantly. “Aww, don’t be a Mr. Grumpy Pants. It’s my birthday!”
A guy near them heard her and shouted, “Happy birthday! Wanna dance?” She turned and flashed the guy a brilliant smile. BJ muttered to himself and started looking around for the door. He didn’t want to dance, but he liked the idea of his girlfriend dancing with this other guy much less. He wasn’t really sure what he’d do about it, but doubted it would go well. He waited to see what Li would say.
“Maybe later, thanks!” She turned back to BJ, wrapping her arms around him and stepping in to close the distance between them. “Uh-oh, Pookie… maybe you should start acting like you like me, a little.”
BJ frowned as she held him and gently pushed him around. Of course he liked her, though he wasn’t sure how much he liked her at that exact moment. He just hated all of the noise and how crowded it was. Everything and everybody here was unpredictable, and he had no control over the situation at all. He realized that during his internal complaining about the situation, he’d been distracted enough to move to the music with Li. Damn it, he was dancing. Now he wasn’t even controlling his own movements.
Li reached up and touched his face and he flinched at the unexpected contact. Looking down, he saw her arch a brow at his reaction. Then, she looked rather gentle and soft, her expression one of concern and care. He could hardly hear her shout over the music. “Pay attention to me, BJ. Nothing else here matters. Just you and me.”
He tried to stop glowering and hunched down a little, gathering her close to him. It was, as she’d pointed out, her birthday. For whatever reason, this was what she’d wanted to do, and he was the person she’d wanted to be with. He decided to ignore how annoying and frustrating it was and at least pretend he was enjoying himself.
Li felt him relax slightly and stood on tiptoe, cupping his face, pulling it down to her. He met her halfway for the kiss, which was more passionate than he’d expected. He pulled back and she casually smacked him between the legs. She spoke in a direct and firm voice. “More.”
There, surrounded by the sweltering mass of dancing bodies, they locked lips for what was probably the longest kiss he’d ever had. When he came up for air, she started biting at his neck, her hands moving over his body slowly. He became aware of the people who were watching them with amusement and he flushed with embarrassment. He tried to pull away, and she clutched him to her. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“People are looking,” he said.
“So?” She asked, well aware that he was uncomfortable. He didn’t want to be the center of attention, even if it was only for a few strangers who would never see him again. “You’re not ashamed of being with me, are you?”
“No, but…” BJ sought the words to explain himself without offending Li. She didn’t allow him to finish. Instead, she pulled him back to her, kissing along his jaw and nibbling his ear. He felt her hand move over his chest, and down his stomach. It rested at his waist, deliberately threatening him by waiting so close to his dick. It was obvious to him now- give her what she wanted, or be publicly punished.
He buried his face in the curly mass of her hair, surrendering to her mouth as it licked and bit its way back to his mouth. Her small teeth clamped gently onto his lip as she tugged it into her mouth, sucking lightly. BJ groaned, torn between enjoyment and panic. She moved back to kissing his throat, feeling his pulse race under her tongue. Li finally released him, and they both stood a moment, breathing heavily.
Of course, by this time, nobody was looking any more, but BJ was still embarrassed. Li prodded and pulled him back to their abandoned seat with her purse dangling from its back. He fell into it, almost exhausted by the situation. The room was a swirl of flashing lights and colors, the chaotic noise of music and conversation, and movement. Li was speaking to him, asking him something, but he was missing it. “What?”
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