For the first time in Sara didn’t know how long, the house was quiet, she and Michael were alone in their bedroom, and one or both of them weren’t already asleep at 10 pm. Michael leaned toward her over the bed, the mattress dipping with his weight as he bent to kiss her cheek. She closed her eyes, waiting to feel where his lips would land next. Instead, the mattress dipped again and he rose. “I’m going to go fold that laundry on the couch.”
Her eyes blinked open. Really? Henry had just gone down. They had time for…other pursuits…before mundane chores and sleep retook priorities #1 and #2. Truth be told, they’d had time to resume such pursuits on several occasions this past week, as the baby finally settled into a predictable sleep schedule, but Sara had been rebuffed each evening. She wasn’t typically someone who let a man’s sexual interest (or lack thereof) determine her self worth, but…this was her husband and she didn’t think it made her any less of a liberated woman to want him to want her. Michael hadn’t shown any interest in the bedroom since Henry was born, and Sara supposed she could understand why that would be when she’d been in pain and always in sweatpants and he’d been sleep deprived, but dammit, he’d slept at least seven hours last night, and she’d made a wardrobe change.
“Do you need to do that right now?” she ventured.
“Is that a problem?” He already sounded impatient to be away.
She tried very hard not to allow the hurt of this to show. She answered him lightly, even though it felt forced to flirt. “You may not have noticed, Scofield, but I’m not wearing a spit-up stained t-shirt tonight. Nor am I already passed out asleep.”
He touched her bare shoulder, allowing his hand to travel southward far enough to run the silk strap of her chamise under his fingertips, but no lower. “I noticed,” he conceded quietly. “This is one of my favorites.”
“I know,” she answered meaningfully. She lifted herself up off the bed to kiss him, her hand circling his wrist where he braced against the mattress, halfway away already. Maybe what he hadn’t noticed was her throwing herself at him.
He met her kiss briefly, but almost immediately planted another on her forehead in distinct dismissal. “I’ll be back before you know it.”
Hurt slid mercifully into anger. She rose from the bed swiftly before he could exit, costing her only a twinge of pain, really, and ducked under his arm to push past him. “I’ll do the laundry. I’m not tired anyway. Like I said.”
She didn’t wait for him to answer, leaving the room in quick strides so he wouldn’t see that the hurt was back, the anger that had spurred her up already dissipating in the heat of rejection. Her eyes smarted, which sucked, because she was sick of having red-rimmed, fatigued eyes.
In the living room, the laundry pile awaiting her consisted of a veritable mountain of cotton onesies, school and soccer uniforms, burp cloths, and tiny socks tangled into impossible-to-sort balls. She flipped on the lamp by the couch angrily.
“Please go back to bed.”
She didn’t turn around. Instead, she focused on fishing a blue striped sock and its mate out of the pile. “Why? Are you coming with me?” His hesitation felt like a slap. “I didn’t think so.”
“I don’t want to start something I can’t finish,” he said softly.
“Then finish it.” She said this to the socks, nearly, but not quite, under her breath. The fact that she was now begging brought resentment to the party, rising on the tide of hurt, rejection, and anger.
“Sara.” He said her name like a platitude. He stood directly behind her now, but she still didn’t turn. “Please don’t think - “
She reached for a pair of Henry’s tiny pajamas, tangled in Mike’s soccer jersey. Michael touched her shoulder, trying to turn her, but she shook him off. “Don’t think what? That you’re not interested? You didn’t need to come all the way down the hall to tell me that.”
He reached out for her again, this time grasping both of her shoulders to pull her slowly back from the laundry, flush against him. She sucked in a sharp breath of surprise; his arousal was obvious, hard against the curve of her backside.
“Do I seem uninterested to you?”
His voice had gone dark and breathy the way that made her blood heat, but she didn’t let herself press back into him the way she wanted to. “I recall a time you’d do something about that,” she bit out.
Her anger didn’t seem to lessen his arousal at all. If anything, his voice went darker. “Please don’t incite me, Sara.”
This challenge had her pressing her silk-clad ass into his groin.
He snarled a protest, but couldn’t resist grinding back against her, making her breath hitch again. She hoped she hadn’t given him the satisfaction of hearing this. Into her ear, he said in defeat, “This was exactly what I was trying to resist.” He sounded tortured, somehow both sorry and not at all sorry, and she felt more of her anger dissolve, this time on a slide of desire. At this rate, she wouldn’t have any anger left, and she’d need it by her side if he walked away from her again.
She turned in his arms. “Please don’t resist.” She cupped his backside and drew him against her again.
“Dr. Coleson said at least six weeks,” he growled.
“It’s been eight.” She pulled his hands from her waist to guide them upward.
He stopped her when his fingers spanned her ribs, then caved, reaching up to close his palm over one breast. His touch toed the line of brusque, as though his usual finesse had failed him. She felt herself grow very wet, very quickly. But even while kneading her with his fingers, he said - no, nearly whimpered - “I can’t…we can’t…”
“We can,” she whispered. She ran her fingers under the hem of his cotton pants, feeling his stomach muscles quiver. “I’m ready,” she told him, because God, was she ever, but he pulled back, reaching to remove her hands from his body. Frustration, sexual and otherwise, sluiced through her, along with the leftover rejection. “Michael.”
He’d completely retreated to sit on the edge of the laundry pile, his head in his hands. “Why are you doing this to me?” he gasped. “I could cause you pain.” He hesitated, then added in a rush, “You could get pregnant.”
Was that what this was about? “I can’t,” she countered. “I’m feeding Henry.”
“No, no, no,” he moaned. “That’s not enough. That mini pill thing you were prescribed? Doesn’t guarantee anything.” In the light from the lamp, his eyes looked almost wild with anxiety.
She sat down next to him. It took effort not to touch him. Her body still hummed with her own arousal. “What was your plan? Never touch me again?”
“No, no,” he moaned again. “I don’t know.”
“That’s not going to work for me,” she told him severely.
He reached out to her, clasping her leg. Then he seemed to register the feel of her bare thigh under his palm and moaned again. “You cannot get pregnant again. I cannot…cannot…”
“Alright, Michael.” Personally, she felt the subject of their reproductive future deserved its own, separate conversation, but for now, he clearly needed reassurance. “I’ll have Dr. Coleson prescribe me something stronger. We’ll get condoms. Whatever you want.” She clasped her hand over his before he could retreat again. Running their hands slowly north up her leg, she forced him to make eye contact with her. “In the meantime, get creative, Scofield.”
His eyes darkened again, a new surge of hunger chasing away the panic she’d seen there. He swallowed hard as their tangled fingers reached the soft heat between her legs. “I can do that,” he said roughly.
“Oh, I know.” She arched into his hand as he finally took the edge off her desire. He ground the heel of his palm against her experimentally, looking carefully at her face. She knew he watched for pain there, not pleasure.
“It’s good, Michael,” she breathed. “I’ll tell you if it’s not.”
“Promise,” he whispered, pressing her back into the couch. She landed amid the clean clothes, breathing in the floral scent of fabric softener. Michael followed her; she watched his eye track the sight of her chamise riding up her thighs. He bent to kiss her breast, leaving a wet circle from his mouth on the silk.
“Mmmhmm. I promise.” She reached for his pants again, and this time, he let her. His hand between her legs slowed as her fingers dipped under the elastic waistband to curl around him. He released a low hum of a sigh.
Suddenly, pleasing him seemed an even more appealing option than coaxing him into pleasing her. As difficult as it was to move away from his hand, she rolled off her back to slide on top of him. He eyed her guardedly. “What are you…we said no - “
Instead of answering, she shifted down his body and closed her mouth around him.
“Oh,” he gasped, his eyes rolling back in his head, and she took this to mean her move was boundary-approved. Needing to get creative wasn’t so bad, she decided a few minutes later as she brought him almost to the edge. But then she felt his stomach muscles tense under her palm, his hips arching toward her in want, and she felt the tug she always felt to have his weight on her, to bring him inside her. She slid back up his body, legs wrapping around him before she could stop herself, and his fingers tangled in her hair as he tried to keep her at bay.
“Sara,” he cautioned roughly, and warning trilled along her spine, too. His skin felt way too good, naked and slick against hers. “Maybe you could just…you know, pull out,” she managed hopefully. She sounded like a misguided and very horny teenager.
“You are vastly overestimating my self control,” he growled. “Don’t even let me think…about…that.” His entire body had gone rigid with tension, with hers on top like this.
She indulged herself one more moment flush against his body, kissing his neck then tangling her tongue a bit desperately with his, before surrendering again to his rules. She slid back down his torso and lowered her head again with a smile, taking him back in her mouth. This time, it was to tease him with her fingers and thumb as well, rubbing and touching while she tasted him, until he bucked up against her with a broken cry. He came in her hand, half-heartedly cursing her.
She smiled unapologetically down at him, snagging a burp cloth to clean up. “I’m going to be reliving very inappropriate memories next time I use that,” he mumbled, snatching it from her to toss it onto the floor. He flipped her onto her back, and she felt her smile die on her lips at the single-minded determination on his face. “Your turn,” he told her gruffly, and she grew instantly wet again. So wet, she actually wondered what else they would need to run back through the wash. Then he ducked his head and his mouth opened against her and his tongue and fingers stroked her simultaneously and she no longer cared about anything else at all.
He began softly, but at her moans of pleasure, he grew less hesitant with her and more assertive. Much more assertive. His hands roamed from between her legs to trail back toward her ass, sending a quick surge of vulnerability and surprise through her as he pushed the slippery silk of her chamise up out of his way to bunch up above her hips. He was certainly rising to her creativity challenge. He pressed her hard into the couch, exploring and kneading everywhere below the belt, and Sara was still trying to decide how she felt about this when she came hard, answering her own question. She arched to meet his mouth and hands on a gasp followed by a string of syllables sounding a lot like, ‘What…was…that?’ Because yes, it had been awhile, but it was possible tonight had ended up being just about the best ever.
He smiled against her abdomen almost shyly, and she forced herself to glance down at him without succumbing to self-criticism. Her stomach wasn’t exactly her favorite body part at the moment. “I’ll make sure we have condoms next time,” he promised her.
“Or you know…this works, too,” she answered, still breathless.
He lifted his head to study the blush that had crept up her face. “You liked that, then?” he ventured.
She could still feel the heat of his hands on her body. He’d never been quite so exploratory before. Necessity really was the mother of invention, she guessed. “Maybe,” she admitted with a coy smile, suddenly just as shy. His question had only been meant to out her anyway. He knew she had liked it.
He captured her mouth, kissing the smile off her lips, tasting her languidly with his tongue. “I’m sorry,” he said, when he finally pulled back from her, “for before.” He rested his head on her chest, his weight warm and solid on her; she shifted her shoulder to roll off the buckle of a pair of jeans. “I’m still so desperately afraid when I think about - “
“I know,” she interrupted. “But, please try not to dwell on it.” Because if he did, she would, too, and she didn’t need to dwell on either of their mortality. Not with so much to live for. “I’m fine.” She found his hand through the mess of clothes and squeezed it. “We’re fine.”
“I’ll ask Dr. Coleson about - “
She cut him off again. “You know, Michael, I’m qualified to issue medical advice as well.” She tipped his chin from her breast to force him to look up at her.
He conceded this point with an indulgent smile. “And what would you advise?”
She ran one toe up his bare leg, looking him in the eye to maintain her authority. “Don’t ever neglect your wife again. She’s healthy now, and only human, and as such, wants you very regularly.”
He dipped his face to kiss her belly. “Yes, Dr. Scofield,” he promised against her skin.