Heartwood

Heartwood | Eleven: The Storm

Lia woke up later, while it was still night. Teo slept calmly next to her, his breathing heavy and slow with sleep. For a moment, lightning split the night sky and she saw a flash of his shape, his strong arms that had held her while she drifted off and his chest she had rested against. Then the light was gone, leaving her almost blind but aware of the position of his body in space. She reached out a hand to trace the shape of his arm and when he stirred, she took her hand away to leave him adrift in sleep.

The storm had woken her with its vivid lights and the pounding of rain. Instead of feeling a restlessness like the one that usually kept her awake, there was a different kind of energy in her body, ignited by lightning and strengthened by the rumble of thunder. She slipped out from under the blanket and pulled it over Teo’s shoulders before she padded out of the bedroom on bare feet, dressed in his oversized shirt.

The spectacle drew her to the windows. While she looked, another bolt of lightning came down, tearing the sky in two and leaving the image seared into her retinas. She walked to the window and placed her palm on the cool glass, feeling the energy of the storm in her hand as it threw all its power at the cabin. Teo’s walls stood strong, only releasing the occasional creak under the force.

Lia closed her eyes, smiling. She felt her own strength and power like the walls around her. It had felt overwhelming while she spoke with Teo, but after they spent the night simply being together, she could feel her fears easing as she got used to sharing. She opened her eyes and a great bolt of lightning lit up the sky, cast her hand against the glass in dramatic silhouette and bathed the garden outside in bright, white light. This lightning was closer than any of the others and she stared in wide-eyed fascination until Teo’s voice interrupted her.

“Careful,” he said.

Lia turned to where he stood half obscured in the dark. While he had offered her a shirt for sleeping in, he was only in bottoms and his chest was gloriously bare. He was stockier and hairier than any of her former lovers had been and she would have sworn once that this type of body didn’t appeal to her. Heavens, but she had been wrong about that. Her eyes were glued to him when he walked, to the movement of muscles under his skin.

“I’m all right,” she said, struggling to focus on anything but his half-naked body.

“I know, but you shouldn’t stand by the window during a thunderstorm.”

He walked over and drew her some distance away from the windows, into his arms with her back resting against his chest. All of her came alight with the awareness of him. His body was warm, his scent earthy and male.

The storm, Lia, she reminded herself. We’re talking about the storm.

“Oh,” she said. “But it’s… otherwise safe?”

“I have a conductor,” he said. “You’re safe, but it’s best to be careful.”

Lia sank into his arms. “Yes. Of course.”

She turned her eyes back on the landscape outside, but really most of her concentration was on him, his body that was folded around hers and seemed to shield her from the elements as much as the walls around them.

“Can’t sleep?” he asked.

“The storm woke me and I just had to see it. I don’t think I’ve ever been this close to a storm… or at least it doesn’t feel like you’re this close in the city.”

“Mm,” he said, his deep voice sending vibrations to her core. “It’s what I like about living here. In the city it always feels like, even though you’re close to things, you’re… far away from them.” He groaned. “That sounds stupid.”

“Not at all,” Lia said, smiling. “No, I think you’re right. I… I do feel closer to everything here.”

Her mind drifted once again; she took his large hands in hers and guided them to rest on her hips, over the shirt. The room was cool and his hands were a warm contrast to it. They had touched during the evening and night, careful and mostly chaste, but nonetheless so erotic that she hadn’t been sure she would be able to sleep for the longing. She fell asleep all the same as the weight of the day crashed down on her and knocked her out, but seeing him now brought back the restless energy and the longing.

Teo’s breathing changed, but he kept his hands respectfully still.

“Lia, I don’t want to do anything you’re not ready for.”

She shushed him. “It’s all right.”

He was frozen for several seconds, but then he dared to move his hands, let his fingertips move under the shirt to graze her skin. They moved upwards, following the curve of her abdomen and breasts. It sent a shiver down her spine, a delicious feeling of anticipation, but in spite of her encouraging sighs, Teo hesitated to go further.

“I don’t want to take advantage,” he said. “If you don’t want…”

“Is it because you don’t want to?” Lia asked.

“No, shit, I want to so badly, but I’m—”

She let go of his hands and turned towards him. While staring him in the eye, she slipped the shirt over her head and dropped it on the floor. She was only in panties and when she saw Teo in the light from the storm, his eyes met hers and were wide, full of desire. His hands, hanging at his sides, twitched to reach out for her.

“You were right to say no,” she said in a low voice. “I don’t think another man has ever said no to me before, not even if I was crying while throwing myself at them—they were always happy to comply.”

He blinked and looked away, his hands curling into fists.

“That makes you angry?” she asked.

Teo nodded. “I don’t know how you can look at someone who’s crying and not want to make them feel better first. It’s sick. I’m scared of being like that… of hurting you.”

Lia walked closer to him, nodding and weaving her fingers with his. She smiled at the size difference, the contrast between his hardworking hands and her slim, soft ones. Everything about him was so gruff and unpolished and yet he had this softness of his own. The way he treated her was so very gentle. She said his name to get him to look at her and when she talked, she made sure to pour all her gratitude and relief into the words.

“You’re right,” she said. “At first, your refusal put me off, but when I thought about what you said, I remembered so many times when all I needed was someone to talk to. I always ended up having sex instead because that was easier than being vulnerable, like I was with you. Nobody ever sensed that, least of all me, so the fact that you looked at me and saw that… I’m endlessly grateful for it.”

Teo placed his forehead against hers.

“I’m so scared I’ll hurt you. I never want to do that.”

“I know, but I’m not scared of you.”

Lia closed her eyes and placed a careful kiss on his lips, then another that was less careful and longer. She made each kiss linger one more second, deepened them until her tongue was dancing with his and their bodies pressed close. By the time she pulled back, his breath came in shallow bursts and he held onto her hands like his life depended on the touch. Lia opened her eyes and took him in, from his hands that clung to hers to his gaze that seemed to eat her up.

“Thank you for being so considerate of my feelings. I appreciate you for how gentle you are and how protective you are when I need it. That said…” She looked him in the eyes, this time with all the sexual frustration that had built up over these months around him. “I don’t need it right now, so stop being so considerate and touch me.”

She saw a flicker of hesitation in his eyes, but then he cupped her head in his hands and their mouths met in another kiss that hit like a bolt of lightning. All consideration left as he allowed himself to explore. His hands were rough and demanding without the restraint he usually showed. She had tried to imagine how his coarseness against her body would feel, but her fantasies hadn’t done it justice. Every touch was charged with electricity as he gave into his own want.

Lia explored the planes of his chest, each line lit by intermittent lightning that allowed her to see only flashes of him. The quick glances were enough to steal her breath away, but mostly it was the sensation of him that got to her, the feeling instead of the sight. She trailed her hands low, to his hips and to the band of his pants so she could slide them down. Lia bit her lip, excited as she exposed all of him and took it in. It was a long time since she had been with anyone and she forgot how much she loved it.

There was a point to her using sex to cope with the heartbreak and boredom and isolation, but there was also a part of her that had always gone for the sex because it felt so good. It made her feel in control, gave her a feeling of power that she rarely had outside of the bedroom. She enjoyed the feeling of driving him crazy, listening to the way his breath caught and then bled into a frustrated moan as she got close to touching him and then drew away again, teasing, playing.

“You’re doing that on purpose,” he said in a low, gravelly voice with a touch of impatience.

She kissed his shoulder and smiled into the skin, continuing the slow back and forth.

“I wouldn’t.”

He let out a low laugh, but that became a moan as her hand closed around his erection and he went silent except for the laboured breaths that changed with each touch. She moved slowly at first, letting his breathing guide her and all the while Teo held onto her, gasping her name and losing more of his careful control. It was a long time since she had made a man feel like this. She pulled back and looked him in the eye, seeing the pure desire she felt reflected back in his eyes. Teasing was all well and good but it wasn’t enough. She wanted him.

“I don’t take it you stock up on protection?” she asked.

He let out a ragged laugh. “Take a wild guess.”

She gave him a quick kiss and went to fetch a condom in her purse and he waited for her, a tall shape bathed in shadow and lightning, naked and gorgeous. Lia walked up and pushed him gently to the sofa. Then, while he watched, she slipped out of her panties and lowered herself into his lap. Her control was slowly slipping, her last bit of precision spent on opening and rolling on the condom before she gave herself up to him. One of his big hands wrapped around her hip, the other drew her head down to his in a deep, longing kiss, while she dug her fingertips into his shoulders.

They moved in time with the storm. Lia forgot everything but Teo, the smell of him, the sensation of him inside of her. She rode the waves of his shallow breaths and their shared pleasure, the push and pull of his hands, the roar of the storm outside. Her mind emptied of everything but the sensation until he stopped, gasping out her name and convulsing one final time. Relaxing.

His quick breath mixed with the sound of pounding rain.

“Wow,” he said.

Lia ran her hand along his chest, feeling the hard beats of his heart under her fingers. Teo took her hand from his chest and pressed a soft kiss to the palm.

“Lia,” he said, voice reverent. “Sweet Lia. What am I going to do with you?”

She cocked her head. “Take me back to bed?”

He looked tired and lazy, ready for a good night’s rest, but he shook his head and brushed hair behind her ear. Every little gesture was careful, sweet. Loving.

“And what kind of lover would that make me?” he asked.

“A wonderful one?” she replied.

Teo shook his head and gave her a kiss.

“That’s not how this is going to work.”

He stood suddenly and lifted her with him to the floor in front of the fireplace. He placed a pillow and laid her down, then pulled away. She watched him from where she lay on the floor as he put his pants back on and lit a fire while he talked.

“Don’t think I didn’t notice you didn’t finish,” he said.

The fire came to life, casting warm light over them both. Beyond the fire, the rest of the room was dark and it felt like he had made a little haven for them, a warm, safe place. He knelt in front of her and bent down to press a kiss to her mouth.

“It’s all right,” she said.

She couldn’t count the times she hadn’t finished, as he put it, and she usually enjoyed herself in any case.

“Lia… is that how it’s been for you?” he asked, letting a hand brush her hair. “They banged you while you were crying and left you frustrated?”

“It sounds so crass when you put it like that. I wasn’t frustrated,” she said. “Well, perhaps I was a few times, but I assure you I’m perfectly capable of taking care of—”

She stopped, sucking in a breath as Teo’s finger circled her nipple. His other hand caressed her skin, drawing loving lines down her chest and stomach before settling on her hip. He bent lower and moved his lips to her mouth.

“When was the last time someone took care of you?” he asked. His breath was hot against her lips.

“I can take care of myself.”

“Yeah, I know you can. That’s not the point. I can live all alone out here forever and hide because I’m scared that I’ll hurt somebody, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. You make me think it’s not right for me.”

He kissed his way to her nipple, and sucked it into his mouth, letting his tongue dance around the tip so she could barely register anything else because the feeling overwhelmed her senses. When he stopped, she almost screamed.

“I see the way you’re working, day after day, never taking a rest,” he said. “You could keep doing that and never enjoy anything, but at least try something different. Let me take care of you.”

His fingers trailed down and found her core, drawing lazy circles that became fire and pleasure throughout her body. She already knew the man was good with his hands, but this… Then, suddenly, he stopped, leaving her body aching with want and her skin still on fire. This time, she almost did scream. The only reason she didn’t was he met her eyes and his were shining with amusement.

“You’re doing it on purpose.”

Teo grinned. “Yeah, I’m returning the favour. But don’t worry…” He touched a hand to her cheek, eyes glowing. “I’m not done. Let me take care of you?”

She looked at him, at his eyes that were full of caring. There was another hurdle there, the fear that if she allowed herself to lie back and relax now, she would be using him. Taking and never giving. But no… Lia reached up and trailed her fingertips over the roughness of his jaw, his lips.

“Okay,” she said, her voice cracking.

He locked his eyes to hers while he manoeuvred himself between her legs and pressed soft kisses to her inner thigh, inching closer to her core. Lia’s breath sped up. This was new.

“This okay?” he asked.

Lia nodded mutely. That was new, too. She couldn’t think of the last time somebody asked if she wanted something, but as he continued lower, he explored and asked questions. That okay? You like that? It was consideration, but at the same time he was teasing her still, he moved close only to pull away and ask if it was okay. Her heart ended up beating like mad, her hands curling in equal parts joy and frustration.

“Teo, I swear…” she said.

He chuckled and the touch of his mouth hit her. It was a warm, soft sensation that sparked fire throughout her body. He stopped being careful then, let his mouth work sweet magic as she came apart and lost control. Lia couldn’t sense the storm or the warmth from the fire or the ground underneath her body, only the sensations that raked through her body and left her undone, gasping for breath once he pulled away.

Teo’s face appeared over her with an uncharacteristically smug smile.

“Didn’t take you for a screamer,” he said.

“What? I-I, that—you—” she sputtered.

He threw his head back and laughed before he drew her into his arms and lifted her with him to the sofa. He wrapped them both in a blanket and pressed a kiss to her temple.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pleased.”

Lia let out a huff. “I didn’t scream.”

“Sure you didn’t.”

Deep laughter shook his chest. She pouted, but still entwined her fingers with his and snuggled up by him, enjoying that warm, relaxed sound.

“Teo?” she said.

His answer came as a low rumble.

“I have to ask you something.”

She tipped her face up to meet his. “Did you learn that from a book?”

He frowned. “What?”

“Darling, you’ve lived in the woods for over a decade, so you have no right to be as good in bed as you are. So, was it because you read a book and learnt it magically?”

As understanding hit, he snorted.

“Nah, I’m just that good.”

Both of them laughed, wrapped up in each other, but soon they went still as exhaustion caught up. Teo smoothed a hand over her hair, but the movement stopped and his breathing fell into the cadence of sleep again. Lia curled up in his embrace, falling asleep to the twin sounds of the storm and his beating heart.

Author’s note: Hi guys! It’s been so long since I posted a chapter. Don’t I know it. And then when I do, I throw breasts in your face. What can I say but: you’re welcome.

On a more serious note, it was my goal to make this sexy, but not crass. In my mind, sex scenes come on a scale from ‘Drawing a curtain before it happens’ to ‘Vivid descriptions of the genitals.’ I try and stay somewhere in the middle. I like sex scenes, because they serve as a good emotional climax (pun just a bit intended). It’s a chance to discover what a character is like at their most open and vulnerable. I mean, yeah, it’s also sexy and that’s pretty nice, but I’m still trying to tell a story about these characters and I wouldn’t add a sex scene to a story unless I feel like it makes sense emotionally and story-wise. I may be a pervert, but I am still a storytelling pervert.

So with that said, thanks if you made it through this salacious content and I hope to see you in the next post.

Love you all,

4 Comments

  • Violincat

    All I can say is a big “Wow!” This chapter was perfectly done. Both the picture editing and the moments between them.
    I think, after all they’ve been through, they deserve someone who makes them feel like this.

    • NotJustaBook

      Thank you so much, Violincat. 😊 I spent ages on the editing so I’m glad it was worth it. 💕 I agree with you – they both deserve this.

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