I nuzzle into him again as light is gently streaming through the windows casting a warm glow around his still sleeping form. The blankets filled with our warmth, like a cocoon holding our entwined bodies, lightly I begin to trail a fingernail across his chest waiting for the slow flutter of his lids. For what seems like hours I wait until finally his eyes open, still drowsy with sleep.
“Good morning…” I whisper.
“Morning…” he says, his voice still thick with sleep, his arm snaking around me pulling me closer.
I briefly wonder if he is a morning person before I move away from him, causing him to frown as I untangle my legs from his.
“I’ll be right back…” I say with a smile as I walk towards his bathroom.
“Okay,” he says a flicker of worry crossing his face before i turn away.
When I’m washing my hands and taking stock of my morning appearance I think about how neat he is, for a guy. There are no dirty towels waiting for a basket, his clothes all picked up, no errant shoes lying around. I chuckle to myself as I open the door to find him propped up against the headboard, his short hair sticking up at odd angles.
“I’m going to put on a pot of coffee and then go out and enjoy your beautiful backyard,” I say as I lean in to peck him on the cheek. Before I can escape to the kitchen though he catches my hand in his.
“Good morning beautiful…” he says pulling me in for a deep kiss.
“Awake now?” I laugh after breaking the kiss.
“Yep…” he answers with a shy smile.
“Not a morning person?” I ask playfully watching him lean to one side.
“Not when there is a gorgeous girl in my bed…” He says wincing as he rights himself again.
I still then, wondering if he is in pain, “Still stiff?” I ask, trying not to let my worry show.
“A little. It’s no big deal,” he answers his smile fading some.
“Alright, I need coffee, Elliot…” I say deciding to let it go at the moment.
I flash a big toothy grin and make my way to the kitchen in search of the brown nectar that fuels me. After a little searching, I find both the coffee filters and the coffee and set to work brewing us up some joe. I’m not surprised when I hear the soft whoosh of his chair behind me while I’m finishing up the dishes we made the night before nor am I shocked when his strong hands find my waist, pulling me down to his lap. I flick water on him as I try reaching for the towel and he doesn’t let me go.
“Really?” he says in mock horror.
“Hey, you interrupted,” I grin devilishly.
“Small price to pay…” he replies before crushing his lips to mine.
I pulled back after a moment, noticing the taste of mint, “You cheated!” I yelled smacking his chest, “Not fair, I didn’t brush mine yet and probably still have nasty morning breath…”
“Taste good to me, cupcake,” he laughed, the deep laugh I loved.
“I’ll be back, ugh,” I groaned climbing from his lap as he just shook his head.
She had made herself at home with her cup of coffee by noon and before I knew it we were getting ready to head to Mark’s house. Was I nervous, fucking right I was, I thought as I wheeled through the bedroom trying to hurry a little before she got bored. It was taking me longer than usual to get ready, my back was still bothering me from falling asleep on the couch. I didn’t normally have much pain with my injury, thankfully, but even little things like that could throw me out of whack for a few days. After pulling a t-shirt over my head I grabbed a backpack and threw a pair of trunks and a change of clothes in with the other things I might need while at his house. I wasn’t surprised that she was still in the bathroom when I wheeled past, stopping to watch her for a minute she caught sight of me in the mirror and winked.
“I’ll be done in a few minutes,” she said.
“We have plenty of time,” I responded, watching her finishing her makeup.
I’d seen women in my life cake that stuff on, Meagan never went anywhere without it, never. But Taylor was different, she only used a tiny bit and it wasn’t all the time from what I’d noticed. I let my eyes trail down her body, thinking that she could wear a sack and still look amazing.
“This isn’t too casual right, Elliot?” she questioned.
“You look awesome, Taylor,” I answered honestly.
“I mean, I’m meeting your family for the first time and I don’t want to look like a schlump…” she said.
“It’s not a formal thing. We will probably end up spending most of the time in the pool anyways so don’t worry,” I tried to reassure her.
“Okay, should we stop for dessert or something on the way?” she asked.
“I was thinking that maybe we could stop at the farmer’s market and try to score some pies…” I replied, wheeling from the doorway.
“Sounds perfect. Just let me grab my things and I’m all set,” she called after me.
On our way we stopped at the farmers market and lucked out with three fresh homemade pies. It takes about a half hour to get to my brothers and the whole way there she was quiet. I wondered what she was thinking about, I know I was thinking about the possibility of her running screaming from his house at something one of my two brothers would say. Or maybe it would be because I knew with absolute certainty that my mother was going to smother her with a thousand questions. Part of me was just nervous in general. It had been a while since I had been forced into attending one of these weekly dinners. Not because I didn’t want to go, or be around my family, but because I’d seen what my insecurity could produce at one of these. I didn’t trust myself. Today was different somehow, though. It had been different for some time now, I was just afraid to admit it.
“Nervous, cupcake?” I asked as we pulled up outside my brother’s house.
“No…maybe…” she answered.
“Don’t be. They really are harmless… they mean well and they will probably monopolize you the entire time, but it’s because you are… you’re the first person… because it’s been awhile, ya know?” I managed to mumble.
“I just hope they like me… I don’t normally get this way, Elliot…” she nearly whispered.
“Taylor, they will more than like you, believe me… and even if they didn’t, too bad. I lo-like you and that’s what’s important,” I said catching myself, but pretty sure she heard it.
She didn’t say anything then, just blushed, the redness creeping up her neck to warm her cheeks. “Come here babe,” I said, taking her face in my hands, “You are amazing. You are intelligent, gorgeous, funny and you do something to me that I can’t even explain. If they see that, even a little bit, then they are lucky,”
“Elliot…” she breathed out before covering my mouth with hers.
I could have kissed her forever, but as luck would have it Ethan decided to show up at that exact moment.
“Yo, El, there’s a kid in there ya know…” he said slamming his open palm against my window, causing me to flinch and Taylor to scream.
“Ethan James, leave them alone!” I heard Becca shout.
I watched as Ethan took in the beautiful woman beside me through the glass, his eyes as big as saucers before he opened his mouth, “You would never find her in a strip club dude…”
“Shut up asshole…” I yelled through the closed window before hearing her laughter.
“I don’t know what he’s talking about but the look on your face Elliot, priceless,” she managed through her laughter, giving my hand a squeeze.
“I’ll tell you later…” i said through gritted teeth, this was going to be a long day.
“You better!” She said still laughing as she opened her door.
I pulled my frame through the truck trying not to let the pain I was in show and almost knocked Ethan out as I turned to set it down, “a little room here?”
“She’s hot El,” he whispered.
“She can hear you, too,” Taylor said coming around from behind my truck.
“Taylor, this is my little brother, Ethan. Ethan, this is Taylor,” I said clicking my wheel in place.
“Nice to meet you, Ethan. I’ve heard a lot about you,” she said extending her hand to him.
“Likewise. I can’t say the same, though, tight-lipped this one…” Ethan said pointing at me.
I just hung my head as I settled down into my chair. I knew that Ethan would get along well with her, so when the banter started as I followed them into Marks I just smiled. It was nice not to worry about if he’d like her or not or whether he would set her off with something he said. We entered through the garage, Mark had anticipated my arrival, knowing I couldn’t swing all six steps to his front door. The two small steps to the garage door were much less challenging I thought as I bumped up them. My parents weren’t here yet but as I came around the corner into the kitchen Alex nearly launched himself at me. His little body taking up residence in my lap causing me to cringe at the sudden movement.
“Easy little buddy,” I chuckled, enjoying his hug.
“Uncle Elliot, is this the girl that makes you smile?” he asked innocently.
I could feel my face flush, “uh, yeah bud. Sure is.”
I looked over at Mark, who stood chopping veggies and he just shrugged.
“Alex, get down off your uncle, he isn’t a jungle gym,” mark’s wife said joining us, “You must be Taylor, Ethan if I catch you trying to steal food before dinner I’m going to cut your hand off. Seriously, Taylor you’d think they were born in the wild sometimes,” she laughed.
“Listen, I’m just making sure it’s fit for consumption,” he said caught in the act of stealing a handful of cherry tomatoes.
With a huff, Alex climbed down from my lap, but not going far, while Taylor set the pies down on the counter.
“Nice to meet you,” Taylor said with a little wave.
“Beccs, where did you go?”Ethan yelled before popping a tomato into his mouth, “She’s always disappearing lately,”
“I’m right here, jeez, you’d think he wouldn’t survive without me. Hi Taylor, glad you could come today,” Becca said, after cuffing Ethan on the back of the head.
I took one good look at Becca and knew why she was disappearing on my little brother, she was pregnant. Despite the smile on her face, I could see the slight green tinge to her skin. She caught me looking and the look in her eyes told me to keep my mouth shut. I wasn’t sure if anyone knew yet. I nodded in understanding before swiping a slice of cucumber as I wheel past them, “Taylor I’ll show you around.”
I started in the kitchen and pointed out the bathroom, the basement door and then Alex showed her his room where he promptly asked if she wanted to build Legos with him.
“Maybe later okay Alex, I’d love to build stuff with you,” she said with a big smile.
“Alex, do you want to go in the pool?”I ask in hopes that a good soak will loosen up my aching back.
I know that something is bothering him, I can see it in his expressions. The way he doesn’t quite propel himself with his normal effortless ease is troubling me. Those hours with me leaning on him on the couch must have bothered him more than he is letting on. I want to ask him again but for some reason, I decide against it as I change. I wonder just how much pain he is in, though. I’m almost done changing when there is a knock on the bathroom door.
“Almost done,” I respond.
“Oh sorry, I wasn’t sure who was in here,” a female voice answers back.
When I open the door I’m a little surprised to see Marks wife waiting in the hall, she’s only a little taller than I am and wearing a cute little two piece. Her blonde hair is pulled back in a messy bun and she gives me the once over.
“Sorry it took so long, one of my straps was caught in my suit,” I say, wondering if she’s gonna give me the third degree.
“No problem. I was wondering if we could talk for a minute Taylor,” she starts.
“Sure,” I answer, knowing what’s coming.