In their bedroom, Tori got ready for bed, paced around and thought about what she was going to do, and waited for Richie. And waited. Finally, she turned on the T.V. to help her stay awake. She was just about ready to give up and go to sleep when he entered the room.
“You’re still awake.”
He glanced in the cradle as he walked by. “Where’s Peanut?”
“In his bed.” She turned off the T.V.
“No he’s not.”
“In his bed in his room.” She clarified.
“Oh.” It was then he noticed the monitor on her bedside table.
“Since he’s sleeping through the night now, I thought it was time he slept in his own room.”
He nodded and felt his insides clench as he slowly removed his clothes. “Whatever you think is best. I thought you were tired.”
She shrugged and watched him strip and pull on a pair of pajama pants. “I’ve been listening to make sure he settled okay in the crib.”
“Any problems?” He slipped in beside her.
“Nope.” She moved over to cuddle close. “Not a peep.”
His arms closed around her and squeezed briefly. “Night angel.”
Tori rolled to half lie on his chest and reached up to kiss him. “Not so fast there mister.” Leaning forward, she pressed her lips to his. While she explored his mouth with her tongue, sucked and nibbled on his lips, she sent her hands skating over his chest.
He took her sweet torture for several minutes, but when her hands slid down towards his waist he grabbed them. Surprised, she lifted her head and raised a brow at him. He searched her eyes. “Are you really ready for that?” She hesitated, and when she would have spoken he shook his head. “I mean here.” He tapped her forehead with one finger. “Are you ready here?”
“Honestly? No.” She answered. “But that doesn’t mean that you have to suffer.” She started to lean forward again, but he caught her shoulders and stopped her.
Taking a deep breath he shook his head. “No. We’ll wait until you’re ready. I’ll wait.”
She frowned. “But, it’s not necessary....”
He pressed a finger to her lips to stop her flow of words. “No angel. We’ll wait.”
“But...” She tried again, wanting to explain her feelings.
“Tori no! I don’t want that.”
She sucked in a sharp breath. His words were like a knife to her heart. Rolling away from him she reached to shut off the bedside lamp. They lay in silence for several minutes, then Tori rose and left the room, closing the door behind her.
In Stevie’s room she stood staring down at the sleeping baby. She felt like a fool. Obviously Jon was wrong, but she’d managed to convince herself he was right. That Richie’s physical withdrawl from her was due to sexual frustration. Her snort was loud in the silence of the room. Right! Guess that theory just got blown out of the water! It wasn’t desire that was causing his tension – at least not desire for you. She stroked Stevie’s cheek with a fingertip. “Guess it was just you he wanted after all Peanut. But don’t worry. We’ll be okay.”
Across the hall, Richie lay waiting for his body to relax and his heartbeat to slow and thought about what had just happened. As the fog of suppressed desire lifted from his brain, his last words to her came back to him. He winced and prayed that she didn’t take them the way they sounded. A noise had him looking around until he realized it was coming from the baby monitor. Listening to her talking to the baby, his heart sank. His prayer had gone unanswered. “Nice going Rich. Real smart move. Fuck!”
Throwing back the covers he stood and stalked across the hall, stopping in the doorway. “Angel, let me explain.”
She raised a hand to stop him. “No explanation necessary. You were pretty clear. You don’t want me. I get it. I just wish you’d been man enough to be honest with me before I drove all the way back here and allowed myself to hope that we actually had a chance of regaining what we had. That you truly wanted to. More fool me.” Stiffening her spine she pushed by him.
He followed her back to their room and closed the door behind him. “I swear to God woman, you’re going to drive me crazy! Not want you?” He gave a short bark of laughter. “I want you so bad just being in the same room with you makes me hard! Sharing a bed with you has been pure agony! But I didn’t want to push. I was told to take it slow and let you tell me when you’re ready. I’ve been taking cold showers two, sometimes three times a day just to keep from embarrassing myself in front of the guys.” Her skeptical look made him want to growl in frustration. “Why won’t you believe me?”
“I waited up for you tonight because I wanted to take the first step towards trying to put some intimacy back in our relationship and you stopped me and told me you didn’t want it. Those were your exact words Rich. ‘I don’t want that.’ Not too many ways to interpret those words. In fact I can only think of one.”
“I meant that I didn’t want to selfishly take my pleasure while you took none. That wouldn’t be fair to you.” When she just shook her head, he strode across the room, grabbed her hand and pressed it against his aching erection. “Does that feel like I don’t want you?”
“Then why Richie? Why did you turn me away?”
“I told you. Because it wouldn’t be fair to you. Lovemaking is about sharing, not one person taking while the other gets nothing.” She shivered. “Come back to bed and get warm.”
Climbing into bed, she waited until he joined her then rolled onto her side to face him. “What if we can’t get it back?” She murmured.
“Get what back?”
“What we had. What if.....what if I’m never ready? What if we’ve lost that connection and we can’t get it back?” Her eyes filled at the thought.
“Oh honey.” He opened his arms and held her close when she accepted the invitation. “We’ll get it back. It’s just going to take some time.” He kissed her. “If we both want it bad enough, we’ll get there.”
She sighed. “I hope you’re right.”
For a long time Tori laid and listened to Richie’s heartbeat under her ear and his even breathing as he slept and thought about everything that had happened earlier. The more she thought about it, the more her pain turned to anger and determination. Once again Richie was making decisions for her without discussing them first. She understood and appreciated that he thought he was doing the right thing and was being considerate of her feelings, but once again it backfired. And since when did she sit back and let anyone make decisions for her? She knew what she wanted and what she had to do to get it better than anyone else. It was time she reminded Richie who he was dealing with.
Tori awoke early and planned her strategy. Richie shifted in his sleep to lie on his back, one arm curled over his head. A slow smile curved her lips. She reached over to her bedside table and opened the drawer, removing several scarves.
Richie stirred and frowned in his sleep when he couldn’t move his arms. He opened his eyes to find himself naked and tied to the bed, his wife sitting beside him. She smirked. “You really are a sound sleeper.”
“What’s going on?”
She ran one finger down the centre of his chest. “I don’t think I made myself clear last night. I’ll be damned if I’ll let you play the martyr and make me feel bad.” Reversing direction, she stroked back up his chest, then circled his nipples over and over. His back arched slightly. “You see, while I’m not ready to....go all the way...” She smirked. “...today, I know that I have to work towards that.” Her expression turned serious. “What’s holding me back is the fear of losing control like I do with you everytime we make love. You know how hard it was for me to accept that in the beginning.” He nodded. “It’s the trust factor. So....I figured that the best way to overcome that is to start slowly, in an environment where I feel comfortable, and in control, and work from there.”
“And this is it?” He looked pointedly at the scarves binding his arms.
She grinned. “This way I can have my way with you and you can’t stop me.” She sobered. “I want to do this Rich. I need to do this. I need to try to reconnect with you this way. You’ve been trying so hard. It’s my turn.”
He searched her eyes for a long moment, then blew out a breath, bracing himself for what was coming. “Be gentle with me.” His lips twisted wryly. “And don’t expect it to last very long. A hundred and twenty-six days is a long time.”
Her glance drifted over his torso to his shaft standing tall and proud. She ran her fingers lightly up and down it. “Did he miss me?”
He closed his eyes briefly as he fought for control and groaned softly. “Baby, you have no idea!” Sweat broke out on his brow when her hand closed around him and squeezed. “Jesus!”
For long minutes the only sound in the room were her soft chuckles, and his groans and harsh rasping breath as she stroked him. Suddenly, he couldn’t take it anymore. “Angel, I can’t hold on much longer, I....I’m going to....” His breath caught in his throat as she took the swollen head into her mouth and sucked. Pressing his head back into the pillow, his body stiffened and he exploded.
Raising her head, she licked her lips, but before she could speak, the baby’s cries came through the monitor. She glanced at her watch. “Fifteen minutes later than yesterday.”
He watched her rise from the bed, pull a blanket over him and head for the door. “Hey! Aren’t you going to untie me?”
She turned to look at him and slowly shook her head. “No. I’m not done with you yet.”