Authors: Harper Steen,Lesley Schuldt
All rights reserved. Any reproduction or other unauthorized use of the material or artwork herein is prohibited.
Any similarities to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Liz rifled through her closet throwing her possessions into a large garbage bag. She ignored both of the men who were watching her as she sorted and packed. Gray looked like he was trying hard not to pull the pile of clothes out of the bag and fold them neatly into a box. As soon as Liz went into another room, Jeff laughed because his brother finally caved to Jeff’s conception of tidiness, pulled his wife’s clothes from the bag and folded them in a box.
It had been over a month since their first attempt at moving Liz’s things. Liz and Gray had gotten married seven weeks ago; enough time for them to get used to their new living situation, but Liz still struggled with the fact that she had married Gray. As promised, he had given her the freedom she needed, but not a day went by, that he didn’t constantly remind her of their common bond.
Liz didn’t like that she was being forced, as she saw it, to give up her old apartment. Her apartment had become oddly unfamiliar to her and no longer felt like home, yet the four old walls gave her a sense of security, almost like a small, secret, and above all, peaceful island. Here Liz could act like it was still the good old days and didn’t have to deal with her husband, who became more confusing the longer she was with him.
She clenched her teeth, pulled a drawer out of the dresser in her bedroom, and dumped the contents into an empty box. Then she thrust the drawer back into place and swept a strand of hair behind her ear, feeling helpless. Couldn’t she have done this by herself? At least she would have been able to say goodbye to her old life without an audience. And above all without the stupid commentary of her brother-in-law, who had gotten on her nerves hours ago with his unjustified accusations. That man could really be a pain in the neck.
“How can you be so careless?” Jeff said as he stacked the boxes. He watched her lips press together and expected a disgruntled snort or a, “
What’s it to you, moron?”
“Why don’t you mind your own business, Jeff? I do things as I see fit. One nagging Blackwood telling me about how carelessly I behave, is more than enough!” Then she stood from her crouched position holding her box, turned around and looked at Jeff. “Don’t you think it’s about time you got out of here? Your joking and running commentary, annoys the heck out of me!” She glared at him and walked out of the bedroom with her head held high.
“That was articulate!” Jeff looked at Gray, taken aback. Gray had been quiet the entire time and eventually turned his head so Jeff wouldn’t notice him smirk.
“What did you expect when you say things like that?”
“I’m just giving my opinion! Or do you think someday she’s going to stop this nonsense?”
“You’re completely right. It’s always the same. Without exception, Liz and Jennifer disregard our orders and then get into tough spots. Unfortunately, they’re indispensable specialists which is why they haven’t gotten pushed out of the unit yet. I wish Townsend wouldn’t constantly overlook their insubordination.” Gray let out a sigh which seemed to come from deep within. He snatched a stack of books off the shelf and put them in a box. When he looked up, Jeff stood in front of him, his arms crossed over his chest.
“At some point, your wives will get into serious trouble if they keep behaving like this. The way they do their jobs, it’s almost a miracle something worse hasn’t happened to them. Regardless of their problems with authority, Liz and Jennifer need to be more cautious when they approach their missions. They almost always put on a
number which won’t work in the long run. At some point they’ll…” His brother’s concerned glance made him stop.
“Get killed.” Gray finished the sentence as he ran his hand through his hair. “That’s what you wanted to say, wasn’t it?” Jeff just nodded but kept quiet. “Do you think I’m not aware of that … we’re not aware of it? Chris goes on and on with Jennifer about it and I do the same with Liz. Without success.”
Jeff pursed his lips and rubbed his chin. “Then I’ve got a suggestion,” he said, giving a boyish grin.
“And what’s that, oh wisest of all brothers?” Gray looked at his brother wide-eyed. “Your suggestions are cherished, but—”
“What about having children? Then your wives would definitely be out of the firing line, permanently,” Jeff said, completely serious.
“It isn’t like I haven’t tried that.”
Both men burst out laughing.
Quickly they became serious again and Jeff switched topics. “Am I really a burden to you? I can leave if I’m bothering you. Just say the word.”
“Oh, stop it! Besides, you’re not with us that often. And Liz only said that because you get on her nerves when you accuse her of things.”
“But you do it too! Maybe that’s the reason she doesn’t listen?”
“I’m allowed to! She’s my wife.”
Their renewed burst of merriment was fueled by the anger flashing in Liz’s eyes. She had just walked into the bedroom and had caught Gray’s last comment. She stood with her fists on her hips, furious.
“Listen up, chatterboxes. Either make yourself useful for once and carry something to the truck, or get lost. I can do it just as well by myself.”
The brothers snatched up some boxes, bounded hastily out of the bedroom and had the truck loaded in no time.
Back home, the boxes stacked in the garage, Liz collapsed into a chair on the patio and stretched her legs out. She was exhausted. She watched her dogs, Nero and Lucky, fight over a large piece of blue fabric and chase each other around the yard.
Somehow that looks familiar,
Liz thought. Then she laughed. “Um, Jeff, aren’t those your pants?” she asked and nodded toward the dogs. She didn’t even try to disguise her malicious pleasure. His hours-long nagging deserved this punishment.
Her brother-in-law jumped up and ran after the dogs. “Hey, sweethearts! Give me my pants back!” They thought he wanted to join their game and ran away from him, both holding tightly to the jeans, changing direction again and again to dodge their pursuer. After a while, Jeff grabbed Nero by the neck and pulled on the pants. Nero held tightly with his teeth.
“Let go! Those are my favorite jeans.” When Lucky started pulling wildly on the pants, flinging his head back and forth, Jeff’s patience was at an end. “Lucky, drop! Now!”
After a lengthy struggle, he finally took his shredded, slobbery blue denim jeans and went back to the patio. He held up the torn pants to his brother. “You owe me a new pair of pants. I can’t wear these anymore.”
“What’s the matter? That’s all the rage. Trendy, torn jeans like those cost a fortune these days. But if you can’t use the pants anymore, just give them to the dogs.” Gray took the jeans out of Jeff’s hand and threw them in the grass. Both dogs lunged for the pants and tugged at them, growling. A ripping noise indicated the seams gave way. Then the dogs darted in opposite directions, each holding a piece of torn denim in his mouth.
Jeff watched Lucky retreat to a corner of the yard. He dropped the pant leg and tried to bury it. Then he circled the pile of denim, dirt, and grass before he lifted his leg and marked the small hill. Jeff looked in the other direction at Nero who was contentedly chewing on the torn fabric under an ornamental bush. “I would love to know why they only just pick out my clothes,” Jeff said, looking at his brother. “First the two T-shirts, then the sneakers, three socks and now my favorite jeans. What’s with that?”
“Maybe they do it out of respect?” said Gray, shrugging.
“If they respected me, they would leave my stuff alone!”
“I meant more out of respect for Liz and me.”
Jeff rolled his eyes and grimaced, and Gray burst out laughing.
“Do you want something to drink?” Liz asked as she stood up.
Both men nodded.
“Something cold would be nice,” said Gray as he watched her. They had been married for almost two months, but up until now, Liz had never once let him know, that she loved him. And he still hadn’t revealed his feelings to her, knowing she might withdraw even more from him if he did. Whenever they made love, she gave all of herself and didn’t hold anything back. But otherwise, she kept her distance. That was something that concerned him. Gray was biding time, but that didn’t suit him at all.
“She won’t say what you want her to say either,” Jeff said, tearing Gray from his thoughts.
Gray turned and looked at Jeff. “What do you mean?”
“You know exactly what I mean. I notice how much you think about it. Why don’t you just take the first step?”
“And if she withdraws even more? Then I can’t do anything!” He stared straight ahead.
“At least then she’ll know. Maybe she’s just waiting for it. You ever thought about that?”
“You think so?” Gray’s face spoke volumes. He was full of skepticism, and wrinkled his brow.
“It’s definitely possible. Tiptoeing around one another certainly can’t last.”
Liz emerged on the patio with the drinks. After a short chat, she went back into the house and Jeff pointed at her with a nod, “Come on, just do it! At worst you’ll feel rejected. And you’ll still be where you are now and you’ll just have to wait it out.”
Of course, Jeff’s comment didn’t completely resolve Gray’s doubts, but he nevertheless followed his wife. “The way you tell it, it sounds pretty simple.”
“That’s exactly what it is—simple.”
Gray slowly opened the bedroom door. He heard water running and knew where he would find Liz. On the way into the bathroom he got undressed and let his things fall on the light brown carpeting. He stood in the doorway to the bathroom and watched his wife through the glass shower door which was obscured by steam.
She slowly lathered herself, then stretched toward the showerhead to rinse the lather from her skin. Just watching Liz shower made Gray’s heart beat faster. He looked down and wasn’t surprised to find himself fully aroused. That seemed to be almost a permanent condition these days. Smiling, he shook his head and turned his gaze back to Liz before he walked to the shower and pushed open the door.
Surprised, Liz looked up as Gray gave her a sensual smile and joined her in the shower. He pulled her into his arms, tilted his head, and gently ran his lips over hers before he kissed her deeply and full of passion.
She returned his kiss fervently and moaned when she felt Gray’s hands tenderly exploring her body. Liz slid her arms around his neck, pushed against him and rubbed her body against his, almost aggressively. She wanted him. And right now! Without any foreplay.
Gray stopped kissing her and framed her face with his hands. He looked into the stormy depths of her beautiful blue eyes where a challenge smoldered. “Liz?”
Her answer was a barely perceptible shake of her head. No words were needed, and Gray understood that. He pressed Liz’s back against the tiled wall, put his hands around her waist, lifted her up and thrust into her with a moan.
That’s exactly what she wanted now. That’s exactly what she needed now. No words. No whispered terms of endearment. Just wild, unrestrained, quick sex. Liz embraced Gray tightly with her arms and legs. She buried her head in the crook of his neck, closed her eyes and enjoyed the roughness that was typical of their union.
In the throes of passion bordering on desperation, Gray took possession of her body. With his hands propped on either side of her head on the cool tiles, he repeatedly thrust his hips in an aggressive rhythm. Again and again he penetrated her damp warmth until they both climaxed.
Gray’s breathing was heavy and ragged. His heart beat hard in his chest, and he felt Liz withdraw emotionally. She always did that. And each time was more obvious than the last. Gray felt the familiar seed of doubt and wrapped his arms around Liz holding on tight. He didn’t want to let her go, not yet.
They stayed in that position for a small eternity enjoying the aftermath of their short, stormy lovemaking. Gray raised his head and swept her hair tenderly out of her face. Liz still embraced him tightly. The warm water ran down her back and collected on the floor. A fallen bath sponge blocked the drain.