She’d imagined it numerous times. At one end of the scale, his wife would overhear them having sex in the dressing room, would slam doors, scream and shout about betrayal, perhaps even throw divorce papers at his chest. Sometimes she thought it would be less dramatic. He would come over one day, suitcases in hand, asking for a place to stay. She’d say, “You always have a place with me.” And that would be it.
She hadn’t anticipated that the day would never come, though. Maybe she should have stated her hopes more explicitly to Lindsey? He’d always had trouble turning her down, after all.
There were still moments, of course: the moment when he made a genuine offer to help her pack, the moment when he rang her just to tell about Will getting on the football team, themoment when he told Karen to fuck off because he didn’t want to share his time. Moments were good. Sighing melodramatically, Stevie jabbed at the piece of paper in front of her, making sure to twist extra hard when she reached that adorable little squiggly love heart at the close of the missive. He made it frustratingly hard to hate him sometimes.
“Stevie?” Karen questioned, a note of warning in her voice. “You’ll regret ruining it later, you know. It’s much nicer to cry over a letter you can still read.”
“Spoil-sport.” She laid a hand flat on the two sheets of writing, letting herself take in those last few words again. It was almost pathetic, that she’d not become immune to ‘I love you’s from him. “Did he tell you when he was planning on getting here? He was his usual uncooperative self when I asked him earlier this week.”
“I think Stan said something about a late flight? Friday maybe? Or Thursday night? Sometime before the weekend, anyway, I’m sure.” And obviously her assistant didn’t know. She was an expert in hemming and hawwing, and all thanks to Stevie’s obnoxious ex-boyfriend. He’d perfected to a fine art the ability to say a lot without saying anything at all, one of his most irritating but useful skills, she’d long thought. She’d even told him that once and the man had been FLATTERED. Typical, really.
“Can you ring him and ask?” Stevie asked, as blasé as she could manage, watching thankfully as her assistant rolled her eyes and went to make the call. As much as she loved being in Australia, it had been several weeks since they’d talked in person and that always made her a little edgy. She wasn’t worried that he’d forget her, per se; just concerned that the longer the time, the more things would change. Changes could be good and she tried to embrace them as ‘opportunities’, but there were certain things which she needed to stay the same. The way he looked at her was one such thing. She’d had a nightmare once. He’d stopped visiting, stopped calling, and she’d finally asked Karen to drive her over. Just to check the fool was still alive. And when he’d answered the door, his face had been blank. He’d said the right things - “How are you?” “How’s the album coming along?” “Chris well?” - but his eyes had been cold and there’d been no INTEREST. He just hadn’t cared. And it had hurt like a bitch.
Karen walked back into the room, shrugging when Stevie asked the question. “Not sure.”
“Oh, what a liar! Of course he’s sure. He’s not going to book the flight five minutes after he makes his mind up, for god’s sake.” She frowned. “Did you tell him that *I* wanted to know?”
“Well, he laughed, actually.”
At first, she wasn’t sure WHY she was awake. Squinting her eye open, the room appeared to be dark, the sun not yet peeking through the sides of the curtains. Groaning, she buried her face in the pillow. Just her luck, trying to have a sleep-in and waking up for absolutely no reason at all.
And then she sensed him.
His hand was over her mouth before she had the chance to attempt to scream, and so she nipped at his palm, and kicked out at him. Bastard. His arm was tight around her within a second, and she looked up at him, beyond shocked. She shouldn’t have been, really. He was woefully predictable in his pleasure in irritating her.
“Glorious day, isn’t it?” She pointed towards the clock and bit again when he simply chuckled. “Surprise?” he said quietly, his breath soft against her cheek. Annoying man. “Are you going to behave if I remove my hand? Just nod.” SHe nodded. “There you go. Easy.”
As soon as her hand was gone, she punched his arm. His bare arm. What the fuck? “Are you naked!?” she shrieked.
“Not the tone a man wants to hear when in bed with his beloved, really.” He kissed her forehead. “It’s okay. I’m not under the covers.”
“I hope you freeze to death.”
“In Australia?” he laughed, infuriatingly. “Sorry to disappoint you. I’d be happy to share the covers….”
Stevie groaned, burying her head against his chest. Bare chest. She’d say a prayer of thanks to god the day he no longer tempted her. It just wasn’t fair.
“Is that a yes?”
She mumbled something intended to sound like “No”, but let him crawl under the sheets with her. She didn’t want to be rude, after all. They were stuck touring together for the next few weeks and getting off on the wrong foot was always a bad idea. His hands were warm on her hip and stomach, the satin of her pajamas somehow making it feel more intimate than it was. Turning on his side, he pulled her back against his body, softer than it used to be but no less comforting.
Once upon a time she’d mocked the idea that a person’s body could feel like HOME. She wasn’t averse to romance and going all in, but she wasn’t dependent on someone just to feel at peace and right either. As the years went by, however, it was moments like this (quiet, playful, comfortable) which she treasured the most. His hand on her back, fingers splayed, knowing exactly where to press to relieve the pain. His leg between hers, a solid reminder of his presence. His lips trailing down her neck, soft and provocative, a preface to the rest of the night.
“Go back to sleep, Stevie. Stop thinking.” His voice was warm and slightly hoarse, and she wanted to bottle the sound. “There’s time for that tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow,” she agreed sleepily.
“Yeah, tomorrow.” She could hear his smile and wasn’t that the strangest thing? “I missed you.”
She smiled back.