Warning: NSFW near the end….
“We’re here,” said Cris when he pulled into the driveway at his house. Cass had been unusually quiet on the ride over and he began to second guess his decision to bring her there. It’s just there were so many things left unsaid after our kiss, and at the time it seemed like the right thing to do.
“It’s nice,” she muttered dryly, the only words she’d spoken since they left the party 20 minutes ago.
“Thanks,” he replied, wondering if he shouldn’t just turn around and take her home. Maybe this was a mistake, he thought, and she’s not ready. It was just a weak moment for both of us, and now she’s having second thoughts. Fuck it. I’ve come this far, might as well see it through. If this isn’t going anywhere, better to know now than later.
He got out of the car and ushered her inside. “Make yourself comfortable,” he said as he lit the fireplace to try and create a cozy atmosphere. “Red or white?”
“Red,” she replied in the same monotone, and instead of sitting down, he watched as she slowly walked around the living room taking it in.
He tried to see his house through her eyes. It was sterile, just furniture filling the space. He wasn’t sure what she was looking for and it made him nervous. Women never made him nervous, quite the opposite, but somehow Cass had that power over him. Because I’m in love with her, he thought, and what she thinks is important to me. I’m so screwed.
“Thank you,” she said simply when she made her way back to the bar and picked up her glass. Then, finally she settled on the couch.
“I thought we should probably talk about … us,” he said, trying to sound upbeat, when he joined her on the couch.
Her head jerked around. “What about us? God, you’ve changed your mind already.”
He’d unnerved her even more. Why was she so damn skittish now that they’d admitted their feelings for each other? And why would she think he’s backing out? He took a deep breath before speaking, afraid he would scare her off. “Cass, relax, not at all, I just thought you might want to talk, ask me any questions you want. No pressure for anything more.”
She sighed deeply before answering. “I think … I’m still trying to come to terms with this,” she said, clearly having an internal struggle.
Why is she so unsure, he wondered? She should be happy. This isn’t how this was supposed to go at all.
“It’s just, Cris … you’re you … you’re sexy, smart, have a successful business, a group of successful friends, and even though you recently starting exhibiting caveman tendencies, you could probably have any woman you wanted. Lord knows enough of them throw themselves at you. On the other hand, I’m not successful or smart and my friends are just out of college. So why on earth would you choose me? Why Cris?”
Why doesn’t she know her own self worth, he wondered then thought, survivors guilt, surely that’s what this is about and until she lets that shit go … fuck. He took her glass and sat it on the table. “Cass, look at me, I need to ask you a couple of questions.”
“Nope, you didn’t answer mine yet,” she countered.
There’s my feisty Cass, he thought a little relieved. “I will, but I have some of my own first, and if I’m overstepping, tell me … and when you’re ready to go home, you tell me that too.” She nodded nervously, so he continued. “Tell me about Alexandra, what made her special, other than she was your sister and clearly you loved her.”
“Wow, I didn’t expect that question. But why does it matter to you? She’s gone.”
“Humor me, okay?”
She looked at him suspiciously before turning away. “She was the smart one,” she mumbled, “the one headed for greatness.”
“She would’ve made my parents proud. She came by it naturally, like my brother Grayson. He’s studying to be a doctor. She would’ve gone to an Ivy League school and done something great too.”
She’s idolizing her sister. “You don’t think you’re smart?” he asked.
“Pffft. Look at me. I dropped out of college to be a bartender.”
“And what’s wrong with working in a bar?” he snapped a bit more harshly than he intended.
“Nothing – for you,” she sneered, “you went to college, and now you own the business … I just work there.”
Fuck, I pissed her off. He wanted to shake some sense into her beautiful head. “You don’t just work there Cass, you are the heart of the Blue Velvet, that’s why I promoted you. On the job training is better than classroom learning for some occupations. Alexandra might’ve been a great scientist, but you are a natural people person. You are good at reading the patrons, you remember their names, their favorite drink, you make them feel important and so they come back. You also have a knack for diffusing situations that could get out of hand. Those things you don’t learn in school. It’s just who you are.”
“You give me too much credit.”
“And you don’t give yourself enough. Tell me something, are you ashamed of where you work?”
“No! Of course not, I love the Blue Velvet, it’s like … home.” Her words trailed off at the end like she was surprised at what she’d said.
That made him smile. Now he was getting somewhere. “That’s right. It’s important to you and you take pride in it and in your work, those are admirable qualities and not so easy to find. There’s so much more to you than you want to admit. You don’t have to have a doctorate to be special or make a difference.”
Cassie looked up and narrowed her eyes at him, but still frowning. “I see what you’re trying to do, sneaky man.”
He chuckled at her seeing through him. “See … smart.” She looked down, embarrassed, so he gently pulled her face up to meet his eyes so she could see the truth in his words. “You’re worth so much more than you know Cassandra, never doubt yourself.”
“You tricked me,” she said.
“Perhaps, did it work?”
Finally, she smiled. “I suppose, a little, it’s just talking about Alex tonight – I guess it brought back all of those feelings of guilt.”
“I figured as much, feeling better now? Any other questions?”
Her smile got a little bigger. “I’m okay now, I think, thanks for talking me down.” Then she looked around. “So, did you decorate this place?”
He laughed, feeling much more relaxed. “I went to that room store place and bought ‘rooms’.”
“Cris, it looks like no one lives here,” she said with a big grin.
“I spend most of my time at the bar,” he said with a slight grimace, “and actually, except for Walker and Paul, you’re the only other person that’s even been here, so I guess I just didn’t bother.”
“Seriously? No other women?”
“Seriously Cass, other than the maid that comes once a week to clean, you’re the first woman I’ve invited to my home.”
She smiled at that and looked at him curiously. “Speaking of Walker, where is he?”
“I told him I was having company, to make himself scarce.”
“You kicked him out because of me?”
“Hey, he’s a big boy, he can figure it out, tonight was for us.”
“Can I have a tour or your ‘rooms’? Well, except for Walker’s – that would just be weird.”
He stood up and picked up his glass. “Sure, grab your drink, this won’t take long.”
“Obviously the kitchen,” said Cris.
“It looks like it’s never been used,” observed Cassie.
“No comment,” replied Cris with a chuckle.
“The formal dining … and before you say anything, nope, never ate at that table.”
Cass snorted a laugh.
“The loft/game room. You can see the living room over the balcony. Two bedrooms to the right with a full bath and one behind us, also with a full bath. Walker lives in the one behind us.”
Cassie walked over to the railing. “Nice view,” she said and he found he really wanted her to like it.
“And the room where Walker and I spend most of our time when we happen to be home.”
“Why am I not surprised,” said Cassie and shook her head at the sight of giant TV and gaming console.
“And that brings us back downstairs – to my bedroom.”
“God Cris, even your bedroom is sterile. Worse even than a hotel room. At least they have pictures and curtains. I thought at least your room would have some personality.”
“Like I said, I only sleep here.”
She let out a soft sigh. “It seems sad and lonely,” she said, seeming to feel sorry for him.
“The Blue Velvet has been my life,” he explained with a shrug of his shoulders, “it was easy to simply immerse myself into it after I left Brindleton Bay, because keeping busy kept me from thinking.” He reached out and pushed a strand of hair away from her face. “But now, I’m hoping that will change.” And that one day you’ll make this house a home, he added in his head. He held his breath waiting for her to make the next move. He knew she needed to be in control right now.
Finally, her face relaxed into a soft smile. “I hope so too Cris, because – I want to make you happy.”
“You already do,” he said as he put his arms around her. Then he leaned in and whispered in her ear, “We can make each other happy.”
She looked up at him and he waited, just about ready to release her when she closed her eyes and kissed him.
Their passion became heated very quickly and they tumbled onto his bed. This is what tonight was supposed to be, but now he didn’t know if she was truly ready for this step. He pulled back and looked at her while they still had clothes on. “Cass … you’re sure … this is what you want?”
“God Cris, yes, stop talking,” she commanded, “and get your clothes off.”
Cassie woke up hot and sweaty. When she tried to kick the covers off, they didn’t move. Then she remembered and smiled. Cris’ arms and legs were wrapped possessively around her, he was her hot sweaty blanket. She giggled to herself. Protective caveman. But he made me feel cherished … so she added and amazing lover. But maybe it’s because I’ve only been with ‘overgrown boys’ that were just in it for themselves.
She pinched herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming because she’d dreamed about this moment more than once. “Ouch!” she said aloud and jumped making her human blanket stir.
“Cass, are you okay?” he mumbled, still half asleep, yet still pulling her tighter against him.
“Sorry, just trying to make sure this wasn’t just a dream, so I pinched myself.”
Cris laughed, and it was a glorious sound, one she wanted to hear for the rest of her life. She got a tight feeling in her chest at the thought. What does that mean? Before she could ponder the meaning any longer, he took her hand. “Cass, I have a less painful way to prove you aren’t dreaming.”
After their morning romp, she grabbed his T-shirt and pulled it over her head. “I’m making breakfast. I assume you do have some food in the house.”
Cris looked embarrassed. “Not sure. There is coffee though.”
“Okay, I’ll rummage, I bet I can find something. You hop in the shower, it should be ready by the time you’re out.”
Cassie managed to find a few eggs and bread – so she decided to make French toast. Then she scrounged around and found the coffee and started a pot. That’s what I really need, she thought, and apparently so does Cris, unless … it’s Walker’s addiction. Crap, I don’t even know if he likes coffee.
“This house has never smelled this good before,” said Cris coming up behind her and kissing her neck. “I’m definitely keeping you.”
“Aaaaand the caveman is back,” she said and laughed. “You’d probably want to keep me barefoot and pregnant too.”
“Sassy woman. Not a bad idea though. That way I could keep you hidden away from everyone else that might try to steal you from me.”
Cassie suddenly felt bad, he didn’t believe she wasn’t going anywhere. She took the French Toast out of the pan, then turned around to face him. “Look Cris, I’m sorry if I seemed like I was unsure earlier, but believe me, there is nothing I’m more sure of than my feelings for you.”
“I just want you to be sure.”
Damn him. He still doesn’t believe me. “I am sure, there’s no where I’d rather be than right here with you,” she reiterated. Why does he keep asking if I’m sure? He even asked me that last night.
“Cassandra, I’m falling in love with you, I can’t help but worry.”
“Cris …” was all she could get out as her thoughts went into overdrive at his words. I’m not his ex wife, I would never cheat on him, but what did he mean by falling in love. Does he love me or not? Do I say it back? I do have strong feelings for him, so am I falling in love too or am I already there? I’m terrified of losing him, hurting him or getting hurt. I don’t know what I’m supposed to say. I’ve never been in love before.
Cris ran his hands through his hair. “It’s okay, you don’t have to say anything. I realize this is happening fast for you. You’re young and – “
God, that’s what’s wrong, he’s afraid because of how I acted last night and now he thinks I’m an immature airhead …. I’m screwing this up so bad. “I’m sorry, you’re right, all of this did happen a bit fast, and the whole thing with Alex, it just brought up terrible memories and feelings.”
“Why don’t we eat before the food gets cold?” he asked, clearly changing the subject.
She’d lost her appetite and needed to just think. “Okay, but I have to go right after, Veronica wants to go shopping. I’ll just … um … text her to let her know where I am. Yeah, and she can swing by and pick me up.”
“Right,” he said, “you text her, and I’ll get the coffee.”
God, why did he have to say he was falling in love with me? wondered Cassie while she texted Veronica, well, he sort of said it at the party, at least he implied it. I really do need to talk to Veronica. “All done,” she said, thankful Veronica was home and agreed to get her. “I need to go change before she gets here. I’ll be right back.” She practically ran to the bedroom.
She walked back into the kitchen at the same time the doorbell rang. “That’s probably her,” said Cassie, as she looked over her shoulder. Then she looked into the kitchen. “Ugh, I left a mess, I’m sorry, but I really gotta run. See you at work this afternoon.”
Cris followed her to the door and pulled her close before she could open it. “Bye Cass,” he said and kissed her cheek. Then while he still had her in his arms, he whispered in her ear, “FYI, you’re a terrible liar.” Thank goodness she could hear the smile in his voice.